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Letters to Editor

Horse slaughter

Dear Editor:

I am the former mayor of Kaufman, Texas, where one of the nation’s last horse slaughter plants was finally closed in 2007. I just learned that J. Paul Brown is running to represent your district in the Colorado Legislature. I think it is important for people to know that J. Paul Brown brought horses to Texas and sold them to the slaughter plant during 2004 and 2005 (years I have documents for). I wonder if people in District 59 can support the values and judgment of someone who took Colorado horses, where horse slaughter is not practiced, and brought them to Texas (where horse slaughter has since been declared illegal).

Let me explain, as a mayor whose city served as nothing more than a doormat for this shoddy and cruel industry, why I believe voters might want to consider candidate J. Paul Brown carefully.

Horse slaughter is a foreign-driven operation that supplies horse meat for human consumption overseas, with an appalling record and a wholly negative economic impact in its host communities. The horse slaughter plant in my community violated environmental regulations continually, thwarted economic development, created significant financial burdens directly and indirectly and, once our “dirty little secret” was learned, established a broadly negative reputation for my community. It is not good at all to be the place that slaughters people’s pets and companions for consumption overseas.

Some would say that horse slaughter is a “necessary evil,” or a service. That is simply not true. The USDA reports that over 92 percent of horses sent to slaughter are in good to excellent condition, less than 10 years old, and without behavioral problems. And the conditions and treatment of these horses prior to slaughter are horrific. In a document covering the plant’s operation for just 11 months, the USDA released 900 pages, made up almost entirely of photographs documenting terrible injuries.

I still get calls. Not long ago a couple contacted me about horses they had taken to auction. They realized too late that their mares were bought by a self-described “killer buyer” who takes horses to slaughter. Other times I get calls from people whose horses have been stolen. The motto of the horse slaughter plant that Brown took horses to was, “From the stable to the table in four days.”

Given the facts behind this cruel practice, it makes me wonder why J. Paul Brown would willingly engage in it. Veterinarians for Equine Welfare unambiguously assert that horse slaughter is in no way euthanasia, but a predatory, cruel business for horses and for people. Mr. Brown apparently was willing to travel to Texas to seek out the horse slaughter plant, something Colorado has wisely avoided hosting.

Powerful proponents of horse slaughter have been pushing some state legislatures to pass laws promoting taxpayer-subsidized horse slaughter. Will J. Paul Brown carry the water for the special interests of the foreign horse slaughter market to try and promote this exploitative practice in Colorado?

If Mr. Brown supports the slaughter of American horses to gratify the appetites of French consumers, I wonder, are you comfortable with his decision making and his representation of you?

Sincerely,

Paula Bacon

Wrong

Dear Editor:

Sixty-two thousand, five hundred dollars is the amount Archuleta County will give to Parelli to create jobs. Long-term county employees have not had a raise in five years. These are the same employees who watched as their coworkers were laid off and worried that they would be next. They have stayed with the county through all the budget cuts and layoffs. Now, a new Parelli employee can make more than they do, thanks to the generosity of the BoCC. Something’s wrong with this picture.

P.S. Parelli also gets $62,500 from the Town of Pagosa Springs. That’s only $125,000. Not enough for any raises?

Nathan Best

Red alert

Dear Editor,

What a sham of a meeting! The wheels have fallen once again off the wagon of planning. They just can’t help themselves to keep from governing our lives or not mention wasting our time! This planning commission should take up a course on honoring others’ civil rights to land use and let people make their own decisions, not the government! After one year of faithfully attending the Road Shows and recent workshop meetings myself and only six people representing the Concerned Citizens Group were at the 9/23 regular planning commission meeting where the rewrite and passing of the regulation was very different than the 9/9 meeting. I am embarrassed that I fell for the promise by the chairman Kirk England to trust him. I did not call out for our group to appear in numbers at this meeting to attend because at the 9/9 meeting where over 60 people attended I believe the public left (trusting) with the impression that most all was good with the current presentation of the camping issue redraft. The only issue to deal with from 9/9 meeting was: When will the county allow people to come up and use their property (camping) to vacation here, remember we are mandated by state law that only a 120 day window of use is allowed according to Colorado State Health Laws. That night what was present was changed and added. The planning commission member that proposed the motion with everything changed had not been in attendance to the last 9/9 meeting and had missed the public’s input and wishes. I believe it was the responsibility of the chairman Kirk England to correct and remind his fellow commissioners of what had happened at the last meeting when they were not in attendance.

The final blow to our group that evening was when Kirk said at 9:45 p.m., oh by the way, the accessory structures regulations that were passed 9/9 are coming back; they are wrong. The others and I protested loudly but not heard on both issues to any avail. It seems someone on staff or the commission has a secret agenda that they are not sharing with the rest of us that have attended these meetings for over a year. I personally am exhausted. I have worked on these issues for over a year, same old tricks they try to wear you down. They almost got me, but I promised I would see this through and keep them accountable, so when we call for support to the next meeting to attend, please show your support.

We are formally asking the BoCC to take this out of the hands of the planning commission and staff and take this issue to their vote (we were so close and finally in agreement). Anyone needing details and further information on this issue, please contact us at concernedcitizensarco@gmail.com.

Sincerely

Debra Brown

Thanks

Dear Editor:

First I want to mention that I think the new signage around town is quite attractive. It has been a long time coming.

We have had the most gorgeous weather at the right times this summer: 1) The Four Corners Folk Festival; 2) the ColorFest celebration with the balloons; and 3) the Chile Cha Cha. And other events!

The Chile Cha Cha is always fun for the families and there were lots of kids having a good time and there was a plethora of dogs, all sizes and shapes. And we all enjoyed ourselves.

I wonder how much, economically, has been gained by our little town from the people brought in and money spent during the FCFF and the June extravaganza! Why haven’t we publicly thanked Dan and Christa, the staff and volunteers?

Yeah, Dan and Christa, thanks.

Cindy Gustafson

More polite

Dear Editor:

This letter is in response to two of our county commissioners’ recent comments. First, Clifford Lucero’s letter entitled “Better” and how he thanked the Arboles residents for attending and bringing needed pothole patching on County Road 982. Question: Did he forget to mention or did he not know that it was the Public Works director and Road and Bridge director that went down to fill those holes?

That seems like some mighty expensive pothole patchers. I would bet that those guys between the two of them make at least $60 an hour. Would it not be better and more cost efficient to reduce the abundant amount of supervision and hire two or three employees to do asphalt patching, sign maintenance and other aspects of road maintenance through the county on a regular basis? You will still have four remaining supervisors. Should be enough, shouldn’t it?

Does this fall under your statement, “We have a responsibility to look out for our taxpayers?” Clifford, is this your definition of better? I recommend you look at Webster’s definition of “better.”

John, in your next report, please tell us taxpayers how much money you saved us in 2010 by not buying asphalt to fill the potholes on asphalt roads that are riddled with potholes, and how much fuel we saved by not running the maintenance equipment, I do believe we have the worst county road system in the state.

To the both of you: Why is our maintenance equipment up in Hinsdale County doing work and not in Archuleta County? Why is Forest Service Road 631 in a lot better shape than most of the other roads in Archuleta County? Is there someone in particular that this road benefits on a daily basis? Must be. This board is no better than its predecessors, just more polite.

Thanks,

Richard Hammond

Help wanted

Dear Editor:

Help wanted: county commissioner.

If you advertised a job opening for a critical, full-time position, and the applicant told you that he wanted the job, but could only work part time, would still require full pay and benefits, but was planning to keep his other job, and that his other job would sometimes conflict with your business, and very likely cost you extra time and money, what would you say? Next, please.

Terese T. Hershey

Common sense

Dear Editor,

Southwest Colorado has an opportunity to help strike a balance in the Colorado General Assembly. Six of my eight years in the House, one party controlled everything. The past four years, the Democrats have enjoyed controlling both chambers. What has become obvious is that unless compromise is required to pass legislation, partisan bickering prevails. Like it or not, fringe, one-sided, dictatorial, agenda-driven legislation is divisive and disregards the notion that we are a diverse and intelligent electorate. One party controlling everything simply does not work.

This election, I believe the Colorado Senate has no realistic chance of changing the majority party. Democrats have a substantial number of returning senators and many of the districts in play have an overwhelming registration disparity.

It makes sense then to send a common sense Republican to the senate who has a proven history of working well with all factions in seeking effective and fair compromise. Ellen Roberts is that person. In a race where both candidates appear similar, voters should consider the person that has made tough, non party-line votes. Unfortunately, Sen. Whitehead, while competent, has not developed the political insight, skills and abilities that Ellen clearly exudes.

In the House District 59 race, J. Paul Brown should be the choice of voters. Electing J. Paul is critical to assuring that the General Assembly has dual party control. J. Paul warrants your support for other reasons as well. The House needs business owners. While Mr. O’Donnell is a great candidate, his non-profit background is very different than that of J. Paul and the “root, hog or die” environment small business owners face in this state. While I may not always agree with J. Paul on social issues, there will be very few “social” votes cast in the House. J. Paul’s conservative, small business savvy, his county commissioner and school board experience, his eco-realism (“man is a species too”) beliefs, and his significant political experience are very much needed over the next years in the House.

I urge that you vote for J. Paul and Ellen.

Mark Larson

Denver

Hands on

Dear Editor:

Oh, hooray! It’s the midterm elections and politicians are spewing their most preposterous rhetoric. “Obama Care” is under attack, as usual. Of course, we only have 50 million Americans without health insurance, 66,000 right here in Colorado. So, we must repeal and do everything we can to prevent the poor poverty-ridden health insurance companies from being mandated to spend $.80 out of every $1 on our care.

And, then, there is the most egregious attack of all — on our education system. As a second-generation immigrant and the first in my family to attend college, I truly wonder where America is going when we have people running for elected office suggesting that we defund our state Department of Education.

Oh, great, now we can enter an age where we are sick and stupid.

I was completely dumbstruck to hear the Republican candidate running for state representative in our district, Jay Paul Brown, criticize the amount of education funding coming to southwest Colorado as excessive. And, to top it off, he advocates for corporal punishment in our schools. So, if we are unable to teach our children because of lack of funding and they are responding to inadequate teaching, let’s just spank them. That’s right, if you elect Jay Paul Brown as your next state representative, we will defund our schools and just beat the little buggers because they are unable to learn anything in our defunded schools. Perhaps hit them with nonexistent books.

That’s why I am a strong supporter and will vote for Brian O’Donnell. He’s young, innovative, creative and a 100-percent supporter of our schools. As a young father, he has a vested interest in moving our country forward.

So, Ken Buck and Jay Paul Brown can hammer all they want on repealing healthcare and defunding education. I’m an almost-70-year-old taxpayer and can only say, “Not during the rest of my lifetime!”

My mantra for this election season is — government, please keep your hands on my medicine, social security and education.

Go to the polls and vote for Brian O’Donnell. He’s on our side.

Carol Martin

Conflict

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to the “conflict” letters written in the “Letters to the Editor” section. The last “conflict” letter was written by William Jordan. If I am not mistaken, Mr. Jordan lives in Fort Worth, Texas. He can’t even vote in Archuleta County.

The idea that Bob Hart has a major conflict of interest is nonsense. Many past commissioners and town council members have had businesses in the county, and when necessary, they recuse themselves from a vote that may involve their business. In a small town, if you are involved in your community, then there will be issues of conflict. The question only arises if a person decides not to reveal the conflict and recuse themselves.

Michael Whiting himself faces potential conflict with his past service as executive director of Southwest Land Alliance. He has participated in and received money for land conservation easements throughout the county. He also negotiated land conservation easements in an attempt to secure land for the Dry Gulch Reservoir project in 2010 to the benefit of the PAWSD board.

Hart Construction has only contracted for 5 jobs with the county in the last ten years. On that average, Bob Hart would have only had to recuse himself twice in a four year term. Every past candidate or county commissioner has had a financial stake in this community, even if it was only their home they pay property taxes on. Does that create a conflict situation? I think this conflict issue is nothing but nonsense and a way for the opposition to change focus away from the real issues facing Archuleta County.

As a previous member of the Town Tourism Committee (TTC), I worked with Bob and can assure you that his integrity, devotion and caring for the community is unsurpassed. He guided the 11 member volunteer committee to increased levels of tourism that surpassed all other towns in the state of Colorado in 2009. Bob Hart has also proven his devotion to the community by his numerous volunteer contributions to the town, county, organizations and individuals. There is a reason that he was a recipient of the 2008 Citizen of the Year Award.

Look at Bob’s record and see what he has accomplished for our community. He is a leader that gets involved, rolls up his sleeves and works together with others to achieve the goal. He will empower county employees to enhance county services and listen to their ideas. He knows how to bring out the best in people.

His business experience is exactly what our county needs to get us back in the business of economic recovery through creation of private sector jobs and smarter use of the taxpayer’s dollars.

Let’s focus on the real issues and elect Bob Hart, a proven leader.

Marcy Mitchell

Sterling

Dear Editor:

Are you one of the 23 percent of the property taxpayers who appealed their property valuation in 2009? If so, I urge you to pay attention to the county assessor race on the ballot this November. In the Republican primary, voters have already voted out the incumbent. In November, the voters will have a choice between two candidates with very different qualifications, but neither of whom have direct experience as an assessor or appraiser. I would like to urge the voters to look carefully at the qualifications of the two candidates and to make an informed choice. I believe that they will find Fred Uehling to be the most qualified candidate.

Assessor is not normally one of the high profile elected positions that draws a lot of voter attention and it should not be a partisan position. Party labels should not play a role in your vote. This is not a policy position. It does not set tax rates. It is not charged with maximizing tax revenues. In fact, it is a highly technical position requiring an understanding of a complex legal framework, appropriate practices for data validation and management, and application of mathematical models used to determine property valuations meeting strict professional and legal standards. Just as important to the voters, the job of assessor requires clear, courteous and consistent communication with property owners. This means a well trained staff operating in a consistent manner with strong leadership. Getting correct answers to taxpayer questions should not depend on which staff member you talk to.

Fred Uehling is an eight-year resident of Archuleta County. A CPA who operates his own accounting and tax preparation business. In addition to an accounting degree from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh and over 30 years of continuing professional education required of CPAs, Fred has completed a number of courses from the International Association of Assessing Officers. Fred is an active contributor to the community serving on the boards of Seeds of Learning, the Methodist Church, and the PLPOA. He volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and the American Legion.

Like his opponent, Fred will need to do a lot of learning on the job, but Fred has been preparing for this job. Talk to him and you will see that he has gained insight into the issues and controversies surrounding this office. Even though he can’t promise that everyone will be “happy” with their assessment, he is committed to improving voter satisfaction with the assessment process. Fred Uehling has sterling qualifications to assume the duties of the assessor. He should earn your vote.

Johnny Pickett

Misplaced anger

Dear Editor:

I understand the anger of the American people about the sad state of the economy. What I don’t understand is that this anger is translating into a groundswell of support for Republicans, the party that is largely responsible for this mess. President Obama has had only 19 months to address the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, a crisis that was a decade in the making. Of course, in our hyperactive Internet and 24/7 news driven world, 19 months seem like a lifetime. If FDR had to deal with today’s “instant gratification” electorate, he would have been a one term president! So, let’s look back at recent history. I know that the Republicans love to say we should look forward, not back. How convenient for them, since they can’t really defend their past. Also, they say we shouldn’t point fingers of blame. Of course, they don’t hesitate to blame President Obama for all of the ills of the nation and even for events that actually started under George Bush.

The year before Bush became president in 2001, the nation enjoyed a budget surplus of $236 billion. The dreaded National Debt actually fell 2 percent in 2000. Then came the trillion dollar Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. Although all tax rates were reduced, the largest benefit came at the top of the salary scale, a reduction from 39.6 to 35 percent (just as a matter of interest, the top tax rate during the Presidency of Dwight Eisenhower, that great Socialist, was 92 percent!). We were told that the rich really needed that break because they would invest and benefits would trickle down to the masses, keeping the economy healthy. We can see how well that worked! Then came two wars, costing the nation trillions. Yet, unlike past wars, Americans were not even asked to sacrifice financially through tax increases to fund these wars. Up goes the National Debt. In 2006, the deeply flawed Medicare Part D benefit was implemented. I say flawed because of the “doughnut hole” and because the government was prevented from negotiating the cost of drugs, a great reward to Big Pharma’s support for the Republican Party. Part D will cost the Nation $727 billion over the next decade, according to the Medicare Board of Trustees. Then, finally, in 2008, we had TARP or the hated “Bank Bailout” or Wall Street Bailout” or whatever (sorry Tea Partiers, TARP was the brainchild of Bush and his Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson). The bailout of the auto industry followed shortly thereafter, still under the leadership of George Bush. So, through all of this, the budget surplus evaporated into a $400+ billion deficit and the National Debt rose 16 percent in 2008.

President Obama is now being condemned for the “failed” stimulus, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), because unemployment still remains above 9 percent. The Stimulus can only be called a “failure” if unemployment would not have been much higher without it. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that ARRA added up to 3 million full time equivalent jobs in the last quarter of 2009, while GDP rose as much as 3.5 percent more than without ARRA. In a July report, two respected economists, Alan Blinder of Princeton and Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics, estimate that the ARRA and other actions taken by the government, including TARP and actions by the Federal Reserve, may have prevented a second Great Depression. Oh, and the stock market has rebounded strongly from its low in 2008, saving many Americans’ 401k plans. Doesn’t sound like a failure to me, particularly if you are one of the 3 million who would otherwise be unemployed or saw their 401k evaporate. Of course, you won’t know this if you only read right wing blogs and Internet sites.

There is an old saying, “those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it.” Sounds like we are really on a path to make that happen with a return to the policies of the Republicans! By the way, here is another interesting factoid — the National Debt rose between 10 and 18 percent every year of the Reagan Administration. So much for the fiscal responsibility of the Republicans.

John W. Porco

Investment

Dear Editor:

I have served as a board member of the Archuleta County Education Center for almost 10 years and have had the opportunity to work with three executive directors, Tom Steen, Livia Lynch and now Don Goodwin. The ACEC has responded to the needs of the community by developing programs such as the Alternative High School, After School Enrichment programs, After School Tutoring, and Adult Education classes, just to mention a few that have served more than 1,000 people in our community each year. Now we are expanding our services to provide telecommunication technology with webcam interaction in order to have class room educational opportunities for students of all ages. As most non-profit 501(c)3 organizations such as ours, we have experienced a drop in income from grant requests as well as other sources. Our budgets have dropped significantly and consequently some of our services have been threatened by lack of funding.

The ACEC is asking for support for its 1.5 mill levy tax initiative to give us sustainable income to continue to support the needs of the community. This amounts to $2.88 per month for the average property owner. With this additional money we hope to continue to enhance the public school system and provide training that will develop a reliable and educated work force for existing as well as new companies. Our telecommunication abilities will provide a classroom environment for graduates as well as post graduate students. For those workers who need continuing education credits for their work, they will be able to accomplish that here in Pagosa.

I’m not in favor of more taxes any more than the rest of you, especially if those taxes take money away from our community. However, I do see this tax as an important tool that we can use to enhance our economy, and I am in favor of this tax. I look at this as an investment in our community and for the people in our community. I urge you to read the articles in this paper by David Smith about the ACEC and read the ads paid for by the “Friends of the ACEC” so that you can make an informed decision when you vote. I hope that you will support the ACEC and vote yes on ballot issue 1B this November.

Malcolm Rodger

Bankrupt

Dear Editor:

I don’t recall who the cartoonist was, but recently there was a cartoon in a newspaper where President Obama was depicted meeting with his advisors and saying, “Okay, I need to hear this one more time. After we bankrupt the country, people are still gonna blame Bush, right?” This has become the theme of the Obama and liberal Democrat presidency: To lay the blame on either George W. Bush or the previous Republican administration for all their failures, despite the fact they have been in office almost two years (and have been in control of both houses of Congress since 2006). It doesn’t matter that:

• They have spent billions of dollars on the so-called “stimulus,” which hasn’t worked.

• They have spent billions of dollars in TARP bailing out businesses, many of which should have been left to fail.

• They have been unable to create a meaningful number of jobs, despite assuring the public that unemployment would never rise above 8 percent.

They have run up the U.S. debt to over 13 trillion dollars. Under this administration, that number is projected to double in five years and triple in 10 years. (Who has to repay that debt? The American public; you and me.)

They forced upon the American public a health care bill that 60 percent of the people don’t want. (But that really doesn’t matter to them, does it?)

And, despite all these failures over this passage of time, on their watch, Obama and his administration insist none of this is their fault. Why is it they cannot accept responsibility for anything? When they were growing up, were they ever told that if they made a mistake or did something wrong, it was best to take responsibility for their actions and not always try to place blame on someone else? Apparently not. These guys, people who are supposedly the leaders of our nation, obviously don’t understand what it is to assume responsibility for their actions. They are a bunch of unprincipled, crybaby wimps! Obama is even worse; he is the most unprincipled and incompetent president in the history of the U.S. He is even a worse president, many have begun to say, than that Democrat icon, Jimmy Carter. Now that’s really, really bad … I hope the people who voted him into office recognize they supported a charismatic, empty suit with no experience and few principles. A man who is eager to be an apologist for everything he doesn’t agree with in our nation, and who, either out of stupidity or design, is determined to bankrupt, if not destroy, the United States of America.

Gary Stansbury

Gifted

Dear Editor:

For much too long, our professional teachers have been bludgeoned with lack of understanding, with even being considered merely as “adult children.” Finally, we have a national emphasis on personal experience as to why we have and continue to lose gifted teachers.

When my younger daughter entered college, she thought she wanted to go into medicine. She took all the science courses required for “pre-med” studies. However, by her senior year, she was attracted to teaching. Her first job was in a small rural, agricultural town in south Texas. She loved it! Most of the kids in that high school were from very poor families, most had never been outside of their town. She taught three science courses — biology, chemistry and physics — seven students took her physics class. She never had a discipline problem, as those poor teenagers were hungry to learn, especially science. The principal was focused on education rather than sports. She had some secretarial help and he told her if she needed anything for her lab to just say so and she would have it. She felt respected and honored.

Following two years there, her husband entered law school in Houston, which required her to move. She got a job in a high-income high school teaching only chemistry. My, what a difference. The attitude of the students was depressing, to say the least. Emphasis was more on sports and activities than on learning. She had to deal with class interruptions with about one-half of the students leaving school early on Fridays for sports and band activities. She had no help at all — had to type up her exams, take them down to the office and run them off on the “ditto” machine (remember those?), then spend hours grading them at home. At the end of the day, she would remain an extra hour or so preparing her lab for the next day, as she looked out her window to see the typing teacher leaving with the students — he had no lab to set up, no papers to grade, etc., but he made the same salary has her — probably much more, as he was the football coach. The straw that broke the camel’s back, so to say, was when she received a memo from the principal’s office stating that teachers were expected to walk around their room before they leave and pick up any paper found on the floor and put it in the wastebasket. That did it. Now, in addition to everything else, now she was also the janitor.

After two years at that school, in 1983, she returned to her desire for medicine, entered medical school and became a family practice physician, which she continues to be to this day. I have no doubt that she would have continued to teach had the system and the public respected her as a professional.

I am sure that the situation here in our little town is not as bad as that, but am sure public perception of our teachers could be much higher.

Patty Tillerson