Bookmark and Share

Headline for Story

Pay Czar

Dear Editor:

Let’s all pray the upcoming actions of the “pay czar” claiming Congress has authorized him to issue non-appealable decisions doesn’t (re) tank the economy and lead to further and more prolonged job losses. If politically motivated retribution judgments are issued, so much for the sanctity of United States Contract Law, the pillar of a free-market economy. The sanctity of law fundamentally distinguishes a democratic form of government from all others. A democracy can pass any law it chooses, but these laws must be honored unless changed by the actions of the courts and Congress. The Bill of Rights and the United Stated Constitution don’t give “czars” the right to violate the laws of the land.

Changing the rules of the game retrospectively for companies that have already paid back government assistance? Right or wrong, the government previously accepted repayment of the federal assistance these companies received. Therefore, these companies have repaid their debt to the tax payer. If the Federal government then says “Wait, I forgot to inform you,” what differentiates the Federal government from the dictatorship of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez? If this recasting of contract law is actually perpetrated by the leadership of our federal government by a “pay czar” that is not accountable to the voting public, Obama, Pelosi, Reid and Frank have far more in common with Hugo than meets the eye. They just lack Hugo’s guts.

Nobody likes the mega bonuses paid to those that worked for financial institutions that subsequently imploded. Most of these guys have exited the workforce with a wad of cash. The “czar” isn’t looking at their compensation, only those persons that remain behind. We can’t demonize those currently holding the keys to the farm and also entrust them to make investment decisions that generate profits for their employers and restore fiscal soundness to the economy. It is impossible to have it both ways.

The boards of directors of the companies receiving taxpayer assistance, the group that had ultimate power to structure of the executive compensation plans, are the bozos that should bear the political wrath of the public. The stakeholders of these companies have suffered the consequences of inappropriate decisions, the destruction of asset value. If we demand more, the jails will also be full of past and present politicians. Perhaps that’s a message needed to remind our elected politicians of their accountability to We the People.

Bill Egg

Bad management

Dear Editor:

Re: PAWSD.

In response to the letter from the Board of Directors at PAWSD, I would like to offer the following: I again agree that we need water and, if we return to a reasonable growth level, it is important that Archuleta County be guaranteed that water resources are available to support that growth.

Their letter to the editor demonstrates real problems with their management of this issue:

• They purport the only way of financing Dry Gulch is an either-or method, either Water Resource Fees or a surcharge to current users. They ignore, however, other alternative financing methods that can be employed. Why not a higher surcharge for “new” users and a lower surcharge for current users, particularly since we all benefit from this new water source? Or, instead of the objectionable Water Resource Fees, if only new users should pay, spread the fee over the 50-year plan that the board says it has developed.

• The assumption that new growth pays for new water when we all benefit from the water resources provided by Dry Gulch. Again, it’s the onerous and disproportionate method of financing that is highly questionable.

• Saying that PAWSD will only build what they can afford ignores the substantial debt that has already been incurred for this project and will not be met with the Water Resource Fees as originally planned and budgeted.

• A failure to acknowledge that the current method of financing isn’t working and, instead, current users will be required to pay for the already established debt service, whatever the source of that debt may be. As a result, on the horizon are increased water rates, in effect the dreaded surcharge they decided not to employ at the outset of the decision to pursue Dry Gulch. Or, is the board prepared to guarantee that current users will not be obligated to pay through increased water rates for the various current debts?

• The failure to recognize, acknowledge and correct the negative impact the Water Resource fee has had on a major portion of our economy.

• Incorporating into a 50-year strategic plan to acquire water resources a funding method that is tactical in nature and fails to reflect any changes in economic conditions.

• The failure to respond to numerous requests for change that will benefit all who live in the county.

Any board of directors is obligated to review its policies and practices to ensure that they are acting in the best interest of the citizens they serve. As I have previously mentioned, when a board of directors becomes wedded to a failed policies, that is bad management.

Jan Jorgensen

Enough is enough

Dear Editor:

We are doctors with 60-plus years of medical experience between us. We have differing opinions on politics and religion, but we both agree that our health care system is badly broken. Here are the facts: when the World Health Organization (WHO) looked at standards of care throughout the world (measuring such things as percentage of babies who died within the first 30 days of life), health care in the U.S. lagged far behind any other developed country in spite of spending 2 1/2 times more dollars/person than the average amount spent in other developed countries. In fact, WHO places U.S. health care at about the level of Cuban health care even though Cuba spends far less money for health care.

Americans don’t get the health care that they pay for and that they deserve! Their health care dollars go to insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry that in turn use that money to lobby for no reform, to pay stockholders handsomely, and to advertise for more expensive medications. Paying for health care is low on their list of priorities.

The United States stands at a crossroads. We can do nothing and let the health care system collapse entirely to the point that no one gets health care or we can come together to solve the problem.

We don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Let’s look at how other developed nations deliver health care cheaper and better than we do and let’s learn from them. We’ll make changes to the details of course but let’s use their experience of the past 30+ years as a guide for our health care reform. If we leave health care to the insurance industry, we will get more of the same. They may ease the pressure temporarily, but their priorities won’t change and our health care won’t improve. We’ve already seen how they’ll take care of us. Why would we trust our health care to the insurance industry?

If health care is provided by the government, we have more control through contact with our congressmen and how we vote. We can be sure that their priorities are health care, not making a profit. Let’s take back our power from the health care industry and put it in the hands of the people.

We are convinced that not only will a single payer system save the total amount of money spent on health care in this country but also that health care will be improved as measured by objective standards. We will join the rest of the developed world in the quality of our health care.

Now is the time to get serious about our health care in this country. Our lives depend on it! Contact your congressmen, talk to your friends, write letters to the editor, etc. The time to do something about health care is now. Enough is enough!

Pam Kircher

Mark Kircher

Confused

Dear Editor:

I’m confused. I have had a few people get pretty emotional lately whenever the topic of health care comes up. One person told me that public health care was a terrible idea that would never work. I told him that it was working, albeit not perfectly, in every industrialized country in the world except the United States. I also told him that I had lived in Canada from 1988 until 1999 and had raised two children there. It cost me $1,200 per year to insure my entire family. There was no deductible, but there were $15 co-pays for things like x-rays and lab work. My daughter did have to wait once for services. She went to see our family doctor due to a backache. He scheduled her for an MRI and told us there was a six-month waiting list. My wife called the doctor back the next day and said the pain was pretty bad. His response was to move my daughter to the top of the list. She had her MRI the next morning. There was no charge.

When I told this story to my friend, he hollered that I didn’t know what I was talking about because he had a friend of a friend of a friend of a cousin (I’m not making this up, but I might have one person wrong in this list) who had died in Canada because they had to wait for medical care. I offered my condolences and said that fortunately none of the hundreds of people I knew there had experienced any major difficulties.

More recently, someone I know was ranting that public health care was like asking to shorten your lifespan and that the government had no business running the health care system. I told him that I really hadn’t seen anything drastically wrong when I lived in Canada and used the system there. I reminded him that here we use governmental agencies to fund and run our roads, libraries, military, fire department, and many other services that are too big for each of us to do individually. The question on my mind is not who is running the health care system but rather who is actually running our government. How much influence does the insurance industry, which controls a sixth of the U.S. economy and spends untold millions on public relations and campaign contributions, have on the health care debate? My friend told me there was no way that could happen in this country. That is the beauty of this country, I said, you can believe whatever you want. He stomped away grumbling.

I really got confused a few minutes later, when I remembered him saying how high his insurance premiums were before he was able to go on Medicare and how much better his finances were now. The last time I checked, Medicare was a government insurance program. It appears to me that some folks think it is okay if my taxes go to pay the bulk of their health care but none of those taxes should go for my own family’s health care. I’m probably all confused again.

By the way, in the province of Alberta, health insurance is now funded by royalties paid by oil and gas companies. Individuals are no longer charged for their basic health care.

Bill Trimarco

Revisit

Dear Editor:

The PAWSD Board has an awesome responsibility to plan and prepare for the future water needs of this community. A plan that spans over 50 to 100 years necessitates predicting unknown circumstances and events in a number of different areas. They have worked very hard to meet that responsibility and very often are not given the credit they deserve in this endeavor.

Planning, while necessary, is not inherently good in itself. Anyone living during these tumultuous times realizes that plans must change and adjustments must be made as time progresses. It is this principal that is at the heart of the matter. Any entity dealing with hundreds of millions of dollars of other people’s money has a fiduciary responsibility not only to plan, but to make adjustments to that plan as the future unfolds. With a project as enormous and expensive as a new reservoir, every effort must be used to get it right.

PAWSD’s current stated policy is that ”new growth must pay its own way”. At first glance it makes perfect sense and few would argue with that logic. It is also a very convenient policy to maintain in that the burden is placed on future residents and businesses who do not yet have a vote. I take that back: Actually no one voted for this project, nor the method of collecting funds to finance it. In 2004, when the project appeared on the ballot, the citizens of this community voted it down.

Let’s look a little closer. For what, exactly, is “new growth” being asked to pay? The U.S. Supreme Court, in Dolan vs. City of Tigard, ruled that charges imposed on new development for the purpose of generating revenues to offset capital improvement expenditures must meet a three-part “rational nexus” test: 1) that there is a need for the proposed capital improvement. 2) that development’s share of the fees paid are proportional to its share of the projected costs, and 3) that the projects funded with the fees will benefit the development.

The one test that fails in this instance is No. 2; that development’s share of the fees paid are proportional to its share of the projected costs. Because the new reservoir will benefit the entire water district, PAWSD’s current policy flies in the face of the Supreme Court ruling concerning proportionality. If new growth must pay 100 percent of the cost, then only new growth should benefit. Since that is not the case, then existing customers, in order to benefit, should also bear their proportionate share of the cost.

To be fair, PAWSD has made an effort to mitigate the impact of the Water Resource Fee by offering to spread that fee out over time. In addition, the change in using a fixture count when assessing equivalent units has reduced the burden on commercial enterprises. PAWSD has made some great efforts in this regard and they need to be acknowledged for that.

The fact remains, however, that new growth is still being burdened with the entire bill. Many in this community believe the burden is too great. Due to the nearly complete halt in new development, PAWSD itself is only collecting a fraction of the fees budgeted for this purpose; an unintended consequence of its own policy. One cannot stubbornly stick to a plan just because it is ”the plan”. PAWSD must revisit “the plan” and summon the courage and leadership to adjust and change its current policy to reflect a fair allocation of charges based upon proportionality.

Steve Van Horn