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Letters to Editor

Traffic problems

Dear Editor:

This is to the Pagosa Springs Police Dept., Archuleta County Sheriff’s Dept. and the Colorado State Patrol in Archuleta County.

We should get rid of all your departments here in Archuleta County because you don’t do your job. We should also get rid of all traffic signs and solid yellow lines. No one in this county obeys these signs and lines and the departments that should enforce these signs and lines don’t do their job.

When are we going to get rid of all the concrete curbs and paver islands at intersections on U.S. 160? People don’t follow the signs posted at these intersections about what direction they must turn. I have seen county trucks not obey these signs at these islands. These islands are also a hazard to drivers who ride the shoulder of the road and have to cut back into the lane to get around the island. It looks like county snowplow trucks have hit some of these islands. Two of these intersection islands have been installed at the Pagosa Lodge which is a private business and I understand that the taxpayers paid for these islands. Why?

David Brewster

Big box

Dear Editor:

If CDC Executive Director Steve Vassallo and the county commissioners are successful in wooing a “big box” to locate at U.S. 160 and Vista, then when the town attempts to annex the commercial property, I believe it would be prudent for the county to require the town to also annex a substantial number (1,500-2,000) of full-time Archuleta County residents. As an owner of a business located within town limits but who resides in the county, I am weary of taxation without representation.


Ann Bubb

Kill the goose

Dear Editor:

I am always delighted when Mr. Jim Sawicki mentions my name, especially when he calls me a name that sends me to the dictionary. The next time he tells me to leave town, I may take him up on it. Next winter, I may go to Farmington and visit my daughters for a couple of days. But then who will plow the county roads and cut firewood for the old folks? (I picked up a brand new chainsaw at the TARA auction, but it may be a bad investment if global warming puts me out of business.)

My interest in writing about global warming has been to present the science as best I could in short letters. I must tell you, there are people, including scientists, that will lie for money. As Yogi Berra said, “Déjà vu all over again.” The tobacco war morphed into the global warming war, right down to the same cast. The plot and tactics remain the same. Buy a few eminent scientists to confuse the gullible public. Spend metric tons of money on media disinformation campaigns. The legacy of the tobacco war is the premature deaths of millions (over 400,000 annually which includes my beloved Rosie. For a detailed discussion, see Merchants of Doubt: How a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming. By N. Oreskes and E. Conway.

I have space to mention only one villain, Fredrick Seitz. Seitz was an eminent solid state physicist. He was at the physics department at the University of Illinois during the time I was a graduate assistant in the ceramic engineering department. In 1979, Seitz was hired by the R.J. Reynolds Company to head their Medical Research Committee where he handed out 45 million dollars in research grants. He admitted in an interview, “They didn’t want us to look at the health effect of cigarette smoking.” The tobacco companies bought Seitz and a few other scientists to lie about the effects of cigarette smoking. In 1984, energy companies bought Seitz and his buddies to do for global warming what they did for tobacco smoking. In 1989, Seitz denied the health effects of second-hand smoke even though the effects, especially on kids, were well documented. Seitz, el al, are just the tip of the spear, a spear funded by organizations willing to spend billions on propaganda. The result of these massive propaganda campaigns has been to discredit mainstream science, our universities and even our public secondary schools. America’s goose that laid the golden egg has been its excellence in science and engineering. America is now in the process of killing the goose that laid the golden eggs.

Bob Dungan


Up to us

Dear Editor:

I have written before about making our elected representatives more responsive to the constituents in their districts by cutting the outside purse strings with real campaign finance reform. Unfortunately, it is totally unrealistic to expect our representatives at either the state or the national level to cut their own outside sources of money — you could just as well expect a horse to voluntarily back away from an open sack of grain.

I would like to see a system where only people living in the district of a candidate could contribute to that candidate’s campaign (that means no unions, corporations, PACs, 527s, social organizations, or any person living outside the district can contribute anything), but that is not going to happen. The only thing we can do is to self-implement this kind of policy. It is up to us, as citizens, to check out the candidates and see where their funding is coming from. Then we can decide if we want to vote for someone who is funded primarily by donations from the local district (state House, state Senate, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, etc.) or someone who is funded by out of district or out of state special interests.

I want to elect someone who is going to be representing me, not someone who is going to be representing the Sierra Club or people who live in California, Arizona, or some other state. To check out the candidates for office in Colorado, you can go to, click on “Candidate Search” and type in the name of the candidate you want to check on (usually the last name is enough to get you to the candidate’s page — try looking for Brian O’Donnell). This will take you to the Colorado candidate’s page where you can select the different contribution reports and see who has been making the contributions to this candidate. To check on candidates for federal office, you can go to ‘’ and try to do the same thing. They have not made it easy. To check out John Salazar, you end up having to go to http// Check it out — you owe it to yourself to see who is paying for the campaigns of the people who are supposed to be representing you. After you look at the information, ask yourself, how can Salazar and O’Donnell say they want to represent you when so many people and organizations from outside this district and state have contributed so much money to get them elected? Salazar has received a total of $1,224,547 in contributions as of the 21st of July — do you think it all came from the 3rd Congressional District? Then ask yourself why so many people and organizations in Florida, Virginia, California, Wyoming, New Mexico, etc., want these candidates elected — they are supposed to be representing the southwest corner of Colorado.

Jim Huffman


Dear Editor:

I read with interest Mary Sealy’s letter of last week concerning Bob Hart’s conflicts of interest and I believe that she is, indeed, correct. She indicated that Bob could not transfer ownership of his company to his son, so at best he would have to recuse and disqualify himself from a significant volume of the commission’s business in order to minimize the conflicts (legal and ethical).

From the onset, Mr. Hart’s campaign has been troubled by the undeniable, direct conflict between being an effective commissioner and that of owner/manager in his construction company, which does county business. He “solved” this conflict when indicating publicly that he would give up his interest in his company by transferring the business to his son. However, just last week he again changed positions, saying that he would now just turn over the “day to day management” of the company, but that he would be required to maintain ownership (my assumption).

Mr. Hart has also said he will recuse himself from BoCC decisions that directly involve his construction company. However, he knows (or should know) that that will not be enough. The standard, of course, in avoiding conflicts of interest, would require Mr. Hart or anyone else in his situation, to step away from decisions, discussions, or hearings that might positively impact his own or family’s company or negatively impact his competitors. He would also need to step away from decisions, discussions or hearings on major portions of Road and Bridge, Planning, Code Enforcement, Land Use Code and budgeting for all of the above for the same reasons.

Conservatively, this likely would require him to effectively be absent at least 30 percent of his time as BoCC commissioner.

Archuleta County really does not have any cushion of time or resources to support a commissioner that cannot be fully engaged. This issue with Mr. Hart is messy and is simply too much of a compromise — it’s not about party lines any more. Neither my opinion nor this election is not about Bob Hart — it is about the future of Archuleta County.

I am a longtime family man, businessman and taxpayer. I have sided with Republican views more often than not. Today, I clearly see support for Michael Whiting (Independent) as the real, solid and honest choice. He is absolutely committed, experienced, has no conflict, and we can do it without the drag and dysfunction that often comes from political party lines.

There is no option but to get it right in November.

William Jordan

Both sides

Dear Editor:

I find it interesting how the Obama administration policy plays both side of the facts. The health care bill is being challenged as a violation of the commerce clause of the Constitution as it forces people to buy insurance. The counter Obama argument is that the Constitution requires government provide for the welfare of the citizens.

Too bad the same argument doesn’t hold for the Mexican border, instead of taking Arizona to court for trying to promote its citizens welfare.

Such are the two faces of our president and his administration


Ed Mergens


Dear Editor:

Voters face three draconian fiscal initiatives this November. Amendments 60 and 61, and Proposition 101 have received considerable negative reviews because of the repercussions these measures will have on public facilities, infrastructure and services. The Archuleta County Democratic Party joins in unqualified opposition to Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101. Our complete analysis is available at

We oppose Amendment 60 because it deprives local communities of needed revenue they voted for and imposed on themselves. The Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute has preliminarily estimated the fiscal impact of re-imposing the original TABOR limits at $549 million. Amendment 60 is totally irresponsible, and we urge your vote in defeating this initiative.

We oppose Amendment 61 because it deprives local communities of needed useful longstanding revenue sources. According to the Bell Policy Center, this initiative would ban the use of any kind of debt by the State of Colorado, and prohibit the use of general obligation bonds, certificates of participation, revenue bonds, tax anticipation notes or borrowing by “any other name.” The Center found no other state subject to such over-reaching debt restrictions.

In the case of Archuleta County current bonding authority is $12,775,734 (based on 3 percent of an approximate actual (market) property valuation of $425,857,814). Under Amendment 61 this authority would be reduced to $1,703,431.20 (10 percent of assessed property values, which would be 40 percent of the actual (market) property values).

We oppose Proposition 101 because it eliminates necessary funding sources for schools, roads, bridges and other critical public infrastructure statewide. This measure targets major cuts to State income tax rates — dropping from 4.6 to 3.5 percent over ten (10) years. Additionally, the measure cuts vehicle registration fees to 1919 levels and the vehicle ownership tax could be reduced by 98 percent; and telecommunication fees will be cut significantly. The Bell Policy Center’s county-by-county analysis of this measure’s fiscal impacts ( shows that for Archuleta County a 98 percent drop in vehicle registration funding for schools, Archuleta County, fire, health, library and water could equal $1.4 million.

In conclusion, we want to reiterate our opposition to Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101. Passage of any one of these initiatives will have dire consequences for not just state and local governments, but for special districts, school districts, hospital districts, and special service districts. Please vote against Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 for the greater good.

Terry Pickett


Dear Editor:

Recently I have begun to think about Ellen Roberts from the perspective of those who know and work with her at the Capitol. They know her as a knowledgeable legislator, someone who gets things done, and who has the necessary contacts to be effective. I see much evidence of the strong support she engenders. Trimmed down to a couple of words, she is highly respected.

Our southwest Colorado perspective is that we know Ellen Roberts as a dedicated public servant. She sticks by us, not changing into an unreachable politician. She fulfills the statement she made at Club 20 in Grand Junction: “I know the responsibilities of a Western Slope legislator, to be twice as effective as those on the Front Range.”

The two perspectives point to the same conclusion — vote to return Ellen Roberts to Denver as our Senator from District 6.

Anne Putnam



Dear Editor:

Time to shed some light and provide a few truthful corrections to Ms. Linda Lawrie’s letter to The SUN of 16 Sept.

Come on Ms. Lawrie, Robbie Schwartz never held the “Shelter Manager” position. But she did think that she was the shelter manager, which was a very big problem. Actually, the shelter employees just ignored her, right along with many other folks in the community who eventually terminated their previous loyal support of the Humane Society.

And I seriously doubt that you will convince anyone knowledgeable that Ms. Schwartz organized a “successful capital campaign.” Had this occurred, the set of shelter plans, that cost the Humane Society over $60,000 and were completed years ago, would have been utilized had she done her job and organized the construction of that building. Taking Humane Society funded trips to animal seminars in California produced nothing in regards to formulating a capital campaign.

However, my personal kudos to those on the board of directors who may have pressured for her resignation. Maybe now the board will find a CEO who will listen to the shelter employees when they provide valid ideas that will help them take care of the community’s animals.

Ms. Lawrie, please do the shelter employees a big favor and keep Ms. Schwartz away from the shelter, for morale reasons. This would definitely retain many stellar employees at the shelter and stop the continual turnover, which has been highly evident during Ms. Schwartz’s tenure as the organization’s CEO.

Jim Sawicki


Dear Editor:

Your paper makes no pretense of journalistic objectivity. Reporters also get to write editorials trashing the three tax relief ballot measures — 60, 61 and 101. They get to vent by calling them “radical” and quoting (three times) the opposition opprobrium, “The Evil 3.”

Nothing in the issues “restricts municipalities from offering voters the option to raise taxes.” They can ask to raise taxes any November. That you printed that slur shows you have not read the tax issues found

That website also relates where the state replacement of local property tax relief comes from, refuting your false claim the source was not stated. The yearly amount needed is 0.6 percent of state spending— which is $19.6 billion this year, up 476 percent since 1984 — starting in 2012. See “Fibs by Foes,” rebutting one opposition fib you just recycled.

It’s ridiculous to warn that businesses will leave Colorado because taxes are “too low.” Tax relief creates jobs from rising after-tax profits. Consumers will have more money to spend. You say proponents “make no claims regarding job losses.” That’s because there won’t be losses, but job gains.

State funding for schools was guaranteed under Amendment 23 to increase by inflation plus 0.1 percent for 10 years, and by inflation from now on. Offsetting recent increases that were greater than required is not an overall cut since 2000.

You conveniently omitted that all taxation of government-owned businesses would reduce property tax rates for everyone. There is no windfall to government coffers, just a broader tax base for lower rates. That’s called tax reform. Ending these tax subsidies and curbing the unfair competition with private firms is more fair.

Despite your downplaying the benefits, tax savings are equal to government revenue “losses” (of our money). The money has nowhere else to go! You compare the first-year tax savings of $374 with the 20th-year cost to government of this phased-in tax relief. According to the state voter guide, the final yearly savings per household is $1,800.

Local bonds are still allowed. All past projects would be allowed, but with savings of tens of millions in interest, which would allow for even more building projects. Buying for cash or with 10-year debt is never more “expensive.”

You mix up ownership taxes, lowered over four years, with registration fees (reduced to $10 per year per car). You neglect that phase in, just as you forgot to tell readers the income tax relief will take 15-20 years according to the state voter guide. The income tax rate dips 0.1 percent only in boom years when revenue grows over 6 percent. By the completed phase in, income tax revenue will be close to triple what it is now. A slower rate of growth is not a “cut.”

The reduction over four years in ownership taxes will save car owners an average of $100 per year per car, starting in 2014. State aid for schools fully replaces that tax savings as well, by existing laws. Vote yes on 60, 61 and 101.

Debbie Schum