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Civil discourse

Dear Editor:

I am worried about the quality of civil discourse in our country. Not since the Vietnam era have I observed hate, anger, fear and distrust in such prevalence. My hope — as we remedied the ills of that era and returned to normal democratic disagreement, so hopefully shall we in this era.

Inevitably, we shall disagree on policy in our nation. To expect otherwise is folly. However, it is the manner of the disagreement that causes concern. Several years ago I read a book by Daniel Coleman, which revolutionized our thinking about the factors contributing to success in life. Coleman introduced “emotional Intelligence” as a concept, and he asks an important question in his book: “The question is how can we bring intelligence to our emotions — and civility to our streets and caring to our communal life?”

The question seems terribly appropriate right now!

I protest that the bill under consideration in the Senate right now concerning banking regulation lacks a fundamental piece — prevention of the too-big-to-fail phenomenon. I suggest that financial institutions in that category be forced to divest until they are no longer a threat to our country. Some would call that socialism. I call it a realistic understanding of the limits of unbridled capitalism of which we have seen overwhelming evidence recently, including the most recent revelations about Goldman Sachs.

That is a deep philosophical divide and we must learn to negotiate it and others with civil political discourse, free from the hyperbole induced by hate, fear, anger and distrust. Basically, we must trust that our form of government, which began as an unlikely experiment and, some would say, continues as such, will prove its viability because of it basic trust in human intelligence (both intellect and emotions) and good will.

Pauline Benetti


Dear Editor:

This letter is to clarify an issue brought up in Chuck McGuire’s piece on the top of page A7 of the April 15th issue of The Pagosa Springs SUN about the PAWSD candidates. In fairness to Chuck, he was just repeating the less than accurate details about Harold Slavinski’s most recent term heard at the April 13 PAWSD meeting.

In 2006 a PAWSD board position opened up and the board advertised for candidates wishing to fill that vacancy. Contrary to what a board member stated at the last PAWSD board meeting and then repeated in print in Chuck’s article, Lee Vorhies and I stepped up and interviewed for that position. The board member who stated that “no candidates stepped up” most certainly should have remembered, since he was involved in the interviews. I did not correct him at the PAWSD meeting as I saw no value in injecting my comments into the board conversation at the time. Now that it made it to print I feel compelled to correct the story.

It may be a small point, but as the saying goes: You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.

Allan Bunch

Twilight Zone

Dear Editor:

I stepped into the Twilight Zone Friday. I went to the community center thinking I was going to attend a Tea Party of fed-up overtaxed citizens. Instead, it was literally a tea party, complete with cookies. Our forefathers, that fought and died to give us this nation that is supposed to be based upon a Constitution and to rid us of the insidious control of the wealthy elite, must surely be rolling over in their graves in disbelief. The only thing offered up was a governor-want-to-be by the name of Dan Maes. In one breath, he spoke about states rights and small government and in the next breath, he spoke about government mandated ID checks prior to employment. This was to qualm the fears of the crowd over illegal immigrants taking all of our jobs. Fear mongering. I guess only illegal immigrants will be subjected to those ID checks. If you don’t look like an illegal, you won’t be subject to this law? How stupid can you get? His other comments about how immigration will be handled under his administration were met by head shaking by Sheriff Pete (not head nodding), and the crowd applauded. No wonder the Republican Party and our nation are in the state they are in. Next to speak was a sheep rancher from Ignacio, a Mr. Brown, running for state senate. I listened to his drivel for 15 minutes and left because I did not have my hip boots on and the manure was getting too deep for me. The Republican Party keeps promoting small government in one breath and follows in the next breath with how they intend to increase the size of it. G.W. must be their national hero, he started two unjust wars while tripling the size of the government’s debt and our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be paying for it. I believe our government is no longer “of the People, for the People,” it has become “screw the People.” I believe the toilet has already been flushed and our nation is going down the drain because good people quit using their brains. I have one suggestion, a sign post similar to a “no parking” sign, with red lettering on a white background, worded “Warning Twilight Zone Ahead,” should be placed outside all government buildings.

Fed up overtaxed “citizen,” not a “resident of the Twilight Zone,”

Greg Giehl


Dear Editor:

Someone needs to take responsibility for the mistake in changing our high school graduation and be held accountable. I picked up the ugly insert to put into the very expensive graduation announcements I purchased for my son’s graduation and find it to be a blatant lie. It reads: “due to district and state scheduling conflicts” the graduation ceremonies have been changed. There is no conflict with district or state scheduling. The conflict is with the high school and the local school board calendar. The Colorado High School Athletic Association has their calendar of events posted for the next two school years on their website. I can tell you right now that district and state finals for soccer, track and baseball conflict with the graduation date in 2011. Will that date also be changed? Who is the inept person responsible for double checking the district calendar against the CHSAA calendar and why did we not change graduation last year when the same conflict arose? Why didn’t someone check the schedules at the beginning of the school year? Why did this only come to light two months before graduation? And why are we changing the date for a handful of kids (less than 10 percent of the graduating class) at the expense of the rest of the students? I believe I will print up my own insert and at least tell the truth to those I’ve invited to my son’s graduation who may not be able to attend now because of the last minute change and the travel conflicts that now arise. In my announcement it will read: “Due to the ineptitude of our high school administration and school board the graduation ceremonies have been changed.”

Leanne Goebel


Dear Editor:

Ronnie Zaday worked so long and hard to get the “nuisance” ordinance passed, and it was thought that we might see some action addressing problems in Aspen Springs. It has been brought to our attention that the county has six cases going, and they are waiting to see if the courts will support them when they try to take action. I have talked to Rick Bellis, county planner, and he always has some sort of excuse.

For a while, it was because they hadn’t hired a code enforcer. The code enforcer was hired and still nothing (that we can see) has been done. Of course, the heavy snows held things up, but at least the mess was covered.

The mess is much, much worse now — just spread all over. People live there (surely this creates a health issue). They have at least two dogs — could they be pit bulls? And, sometimes we see a horse around.

Help! We need action taken here.

Cindy Gustafson


Dear Editor:

Last Thursday, my partner and I attended the Tax Day Tea Party. Although many of my friends thought I was crazy, I thought it was important to go so that someone represented people like me within a group that claims to be the majority. I do believe there should be more communication between opposite sides, so that we can find common ground. After seeing the movie, “Lord, Save Me From Your Followers,” I had vowed not to just harbor resentment towards Christians like I have done in the past.

So, I waited through the calls for revolution, anti-president slander and heartfelt talk about God. I wanted to know what the Republican candidates proposed for our county. When I asked, I was told: a Republican-run state will create a business friendly atmosphere for large businesses. That large business will include drilling and mining. This frightens me, because the environment is my God. Drilling and mining will eventually cease because the supply will run out. Why not find an alternative business now? I am not against economic growth. I like prosperity. I believe we can sell and create something that has long-term business opportunity.

I am grateful the candidate took time to answer my questions.

Anyone who can attend a meeting during business hours on a work day is in the elite, including myself. There was a time I did not have the money or resources. But, because I have struggled, I think it is important to voice my opinion now. I don’t think the majority of the people would want to make a large, short-term profit now at the expense of our natural resources.

Christa Laos

Graduation 2

Dear Editor:

How dare the school and the school district change the graduation date from Saturday to Sunday?

I have a family member that is due to graduate this year, she has family coming in from overseas, California and Texas to join her in this celebration. Now some plans will have to change because of some thoughtless people that just want the sports to overshadow the graduation.

I worked in the school system for 20 years and I have never heard of this type of thing before. I am so angry at the system, and I know I am not alone. If something needs to be done, it is the superintendent that needs to step up and take over for the principal of the high school that does not answer phone calls from parents, he knows he is wrong, but then again the sports win out. What kind of example are they setting for the future classes? The other question is who is going to pay for all the postage and changed plans? The answer is the parents, because the district will not step up and help. They don’t seem to care what inconvenience they are causing the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends.

C. Mullavey


Dear Editor:

I don’t usually have the opportunity to sit in the audience to enjoy the musical theater productions offered by the high school and Music Boosters, since I am usually involved in helping with the music in one way or another. However, I am very happy to say that last week I got to be a proud parent and audience member when Pagosa Springs High School presented “High School Musical.” I was absolutely delighted with what I saw.

As a parent, I can attest to the amount of work that was put forth by directors Dale Morris and Dan Burch, the musicians, actors, technicians, set designers, costumers, choreographers and parents to help make this production a reality. The payoff was obvious. We saw 53 very diverse high school kids on stage working as a team, stretching their acting, dancing and musical abilities to new levels, and enjoying themselves immensely. Their joy and exuberance was contagious, igniting their audiences night after night with a profound sense of awe and pride in these wonderful young people.

Following the final performance, I went to the school to pick up my son who was one of the performers. I heard music coming from the stage area so I went backstage to see if I could locate him. What I encountered brought tears to my eyes as I watched a display of unfettered joy unlike any I have witnessed in a long time. The actors were all on stage spontaneously dancing, laughing, singing, and generally celebrating an experience that can never be duplicated. They had done something extraordinary and they knew it. They had given their best night after night, they had provided excellent entertainment for many people, and they had grown as individuals and as a group.

If anyone has any doubt about the importance of arts in the schools and in our community, this production should put these doubts to rest. Thank you, kids. Thank you, directors, musicians, parents and school administrators. Most of all, thank you, Pagosa community for standing behind the arts in Pagosa.


Sally Neel


Dear Editor:

Last Thursday my partner and I attended the “Tax Day T.E.A. Party” hosted by the Republican Women at the community center. We did so to see where we differ and agree on some of the issues. We also were interested in hearing the candidates speak.

Two things struck me as we stood amongst the attendees. One was that we stood out as some of the youngest people there; certainly we were the only ones inside the room with a young child. The other was the almost unified response to predictably partisan talking points.

All this I took in against the background of the book I’ve been reading by James Surowiecki (not Jim Sawicki) called “The Wisdom of Crowds.”In his book, Mr. Surowiecki, through constant citation of numerous studies, asserts that groups of diverse, independent individuals can consistently be shown to be smarter than the smartest person within them. The key words seem to be diverse and independent.

The caveats in the book are that experts can be shown to be wrong as much as 50 percent of the time and crowds are dumbed down by following trends, or herding. The author of the book is especially adamant that business should use bottom-up group decision making, but instead relies on more top-down in spite of knowing better. Mr. Surowiecki argues that CEOs and top executives are overcompensated for making decisions when they are woefully underinformed simply because of the structure of their organizations.

My concern with movements like the T.E.A. Party, that have been co-opted by certain media and pro-business candidates, is that they will follow each other like lemmings off a cliff like the one the economy just went over.

In my opinion, what we need are more parties (i.e. Green, Independent, Libertarian) to stop the pendulum and the blame game of one majority then the other. Perhaps if Congress looked more diverse, like the population of the country, it would get smarter and get something done.

Bernard Reinhardt


Dear Editor:

I’m still trying to wash soot from my face after the explosion our kids ignited Friday night on our high school stage. And, I was sitting way back. It was beyond sensational.

“High School Musical” was sung, acted, danced and played with all the precision artistry and athletic prowess of a professional production. This is not unusual with Music Boosters and/or Pagosa Springs High School productions. But, I just couldn’t restrain myself from shouting from the rooftops about this one Every last one of the 53 students on stage earned their cheers.

Notable is the collaboration of two giants of stage and musical direction, Dale Morris and Dan Burch. And, it never hurts to have Venita (Dan’s wife) on piano. This was truly a family affair.

And, what about our new sound system? Thanks to Community United Methodist Church and Music Boosters, every line uttered by anyone on stage was crystal clear. Our little mountain town is blessed with direction, talent and technology.

Oh, and by the way, as I mentioned in The SUN’s letters here last spring after his concert, Dan Burch has developed world class band and chorus programs at the high school which are thankfully to be intact this fall, but not so his feeder program. Chorus at the junior high is being cut. And, Shawna Carosello’s jazz band, which has produced some very fine graduating talent for Mr. Burch in the fall, is being cut. Other students who were very excited about joining next semester have not been told as of my writing this. What a loss.

Harvey Schwartz

Faith and love

Dear Editor:

Who are we who call ourselves American?

We profess, live and are directed by our Pledge of Allegiance that we are “One Nation, Indivisible, Under God, with liberty and justice for all.” Now, what does it mean to be a nation of people, indivisible (undivided), under God (no specific avenue, but simply a believer), with liberty (freedom) and justice (fairness) for all? Where did those thoughts come from? Dating back to ancient times, it was written by the Essene Community prior to the birth of Christ, that we should love our God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves — that commandment is repeated in the writings of every major religion to this day. That is what our “Pledge” challenges us all to do if, indeed, we are “One Nation Under God.”

What about those who wrap themselves in the very flag that protects their freedom, but profess and display hate for that very government — the very government that keeps them safe and provides a safety net for those in need — a federal government that, during the recent crisis, pumped millions of dollars into every state government to be used as that individual government so desired?

I ask those who make time to profess their hate and greed, their lack of faith, what volunteer service have you provided to your community or your neighborhood? It appears to me that you live in fear with no faith at all, such hypocrites — you poor, pitiful, miserable souls.

Faith and love have helped our government and our peoples through many crises over the past, and faith and love will help us overcome this one.

Blessings to all,

Patty Tillerson


Dear Editor:

Join Pagosa Water and Sanitation District candidates April 29, Thursday evening, 6 p.m. at the Extension Building in a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Archuleta County.

Out of the field of five candidates, two new members will win seats on the PAWS Board of Directors. Listed in the order on the ballot, the candidates are Roy Vega, Ron Decker, Sue Walan, Ray Finney and Allan Bunch.

The forum will begin with each candidate giving their answers to several questions prepared in advance. Then the floor will be open in a town-hall style meeting to the audience’s questions.

The newly-elected directors will be delivering on the PAWSD mission “to provide safe drinking water and wastewater services in an economical and environmentally responsible manner and to educate the community with regard to water conservation, now and into the future.”

The League of Women Voters is nonpartisan. The League does not support or oppose any candidate. LWV is dedicated to promoting political responsibility with informed and active citizen-voter participation. Visit the LWV website: or contact Mary Beth McAuley, or 264-2566.

Please join us to meet these five candidates for the two vacancies on our important PAWSD board. The election will be May 4.

Beverly Warburton


Dear Editor:

After hearing so much about our county Road and Bridge Department being top heavy with management, I decided to look into it myself. First, I looked up the 2010 budget on the Archuleta County website. On page 241, the road and bridge administration budget shows a director, superintendent, engineering technician, right of way technician and an administrative assistant for a total payroll of $284,400. Now in 2007, it shows that amount to be $126,165. It has more than doubled in just three years. The road and bridge maintenance payroll found on page 244 in the same document shows a superintendent, three foremen and 12 equipment operators. I am not sure how you have the same superintendant coming out of both budgets. I have to assume that is an oversight and should only be in the administration budget. 2007 has a total payroll amount of $1,027,634, and then in 2010, a total of $844,600. A decrease in payroll. Since 2007, we have decreased the maintenance payroll by $150,000 and increased the administration payroll by more than double.

If a person wants to improve the roads in our county, then you hire more operators to do the maintenance and you give your current operators raises. Then you buy good equipment and materials and let these people work and get the job done. Adding a very expensive superintendant and a director are not going to fix our roads, as this has been proven, our roads are only getting worse.

This is a small county without a lot of money. Let’s start acting like it and quit spending money on unneeded overpaid supervisor positions. The numbers speak for themselves.

Tink Wilson