Bookmark and Share

Letters to Editor


Dear Editor:

The problem with writing an endorsement is that people automatically think you’re against the opposing candidate, but when I’m talking about county commissioner, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m supporting Bob Hart, but I do like Mr. Whiting, and if you wanted to enjoy a cup of coffee and visit, Michael Whiting’s your guy. But these are hard economic times that require more than a smiling, easy talking candidate who has basically been a salesman, or fund-raiser, for the last 12 years. Bob Hart, on the other hand, is an experienced businessman and has started several successful companies. In Pagosa he started Hart Construction in 1999 and has employed as many as 38 people during their busiest season. He’s dealt with budgets, permits, inspectors, taxes and knows what challenges our business owners face every day.

At the forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters, both candidates were asked, “What have you done for the people of Archuleta County that wasn’t just your job?” Mr. Whiting could think of only one thing, and it was so obscure I can’t remember it. However, Mr. Hart’s list included Habitat for Humanity, San Juan River Project, Reservoir Sledding Hill, Road and Bridge Taskforce — all where he donated time and equipment and/or labor. He’s also donated computers to our schools and teachers. He has consistently proven his commitment to this community, and this should count for a lot.

Some people say they aren’t going to vote for Bob because they are afraid of a conflict of interest, and yet when I talked with Commissioner John Ranson, he doesn’t think Bob has any more of a conflict than some past commissioners, and he doesn’t feel it’s a problem. What I find interesting, or perhaps unfair is a better word, is that when Hart Construction was the only bidder for snow removal at our airport, we counted ourselves lucky to have him. When heavy snowfall made us exceed the budget, Hart Construction did the last two clearings for free, and we again considered ourselves lucky. When Hart Construction bid on a county building project, he was not only the lowest bidder saving Archuleta County hundreds of thousands of dollars, but he kept the business in Pagosa since the next lowest bidder was from Denver, we considered ourselves lucky then, too. When he surveyed a county road and determined that it needed less gravel than planned — saving $465,000 — we were again lucky. We are fortunate to have Hart Construction in this community, but now we’re turning it around, saying that his business in this community makes him the wrong person for the job of commissioner. How unfair, how shortsighted.

I’m grateful to each candidate for taking the time and energy to run for office, but these are hard times, and we need an experienced business owner, a man who has proven time and again his commitment to this community. We need Bob Hart.

Kate Alfred


Dear Editor:

I have been following the critical comments made by politicians and their supporters and feel it is time to at least set the record straight on J Paul Brown. I have known J Paul for over 33 years and have found him to be extremely hard working and familiar with all phases of legislation. The letter written by Dave Masse (Pagosa SUN, Oct. 14) is riddled with error, false statements and distortions of fact. I know by the tender of Mr. Masse’s letter that he is parroting information that can not be supported by fact.

If you want a legislator that is hard working and a fighter for conservative government, vote for J Paul Brown.

Franklin W. Anderson



Dear Editor:

I’m not surprised that Michael Whiting failed to respond to my recent request to relate how his recent job experience qualifies him as county commissioner. He’s busy campaigning. The more I investigate his recent employment, the more I see another reason he is not responding. Judging from his recent past, accountability and transparency are not his strong points. The fact is that Michael did not recently resign from the Southwest Land Alliance (SLA) solely to run for county commissioner. There was no other option due to a lack of money to pay his salary. He was hired five years ago with the stipulation that at least a portion of his and another employee’s salary be raised from fund-raising. Ignoring the board’s recommendations to promote local “grass roots” fund-raising campaigns, he asked for donations from “deep pocket” contributors. I guess it was too much work for too little gain to get the community foundational support.

When big donations ran dry recently, he blamed the economy and “dead wood” on the board. Yet, board members and another employee who attended regional fund-raising workshops were chastised by Michael for wasting their time and being honest about SLA’s financial condition. Meanwhile, another SW Colorado land trust currently has enough foundational support to fund five staff and would like to hire more. It became evident that other regional and national level conservation groups with ties to additional funding have been alienated by Michael, in large part due to his arrogance.

Not owning up to the fact that his actions were causing the demise of SLA funding and potentially the entire organization, he continued to blame board members and the economy, eventually seeking out an anonymous donor. But he also made sure this donation came with stipulations — most notably that he and another board member be in charge, and two longtime local board members be forced to resign. As a result, two additional board members voluntarily resigned as well, resulting in nearly 60-percent turnover in one fell swoop and a new “bought” board of directors. Sound like anyone you would want to run your county government?

Tut the important point is that the Southwest Land Alliance is a well-intentioned organization that has had a positive image with the community since 1981, no politics, no hidden agendas, just a hard working group of volunteers trying to give farmers and ranchers a choice of keeping their land intact and not being forced to sell when finances are tight. It is sad this reputable organization’s image has been tarnished by a paid employee’s lack of accountability, transparency, and in some cases, professional ethics.

Michael Whiting has proven his lack of success in his recent job experience as related to public office and finances, and now wants to move to the next level, helping to manage our county government. The people of Archuleta County don’t need another “typical politician” like this, focused on the few with the deepest pockets, and bypassing the rest of us, in a pursuit of his own agenda.

John Barborinas

Out there?

Dear Editor:

Dear Mr. Huffman: I’m hoping that your feelings were more hurt as a conservative than a member of the Tea Party. As a Tea Party member you surely missed the blatant racist signs (statements and/or facial characteristics of monkeys) and not-so-mock racial doll/dummies used nationally by your fellow paraders. But what the heck, free speech and all in good fun. Guess that’s why your party’s HQ issued directives to regional offices to vet and remove any potentially racial signs in advance of parades.

Perhaps you’re also deeply offended by the Tea Party candidates — professed dalliance in witchcraft (O’Donnell), struggle to separate himself from being nothing but an anarchist (Paul) and prior dependency on government handouts (Miller). Or by our almost totally unsecured white northern border vs. the brown southern border (keep in mind Americans are buying the drugs and Canadians don’t pick crops). Or the practice of torture in defense of freedoms already legislatively and willingly foregone, never to return. As to mysterious billionaires funding Tea Party operations, Google it.

I understand and appreciate your pride in service life. The discombobulation is your claimed status of being a conservative individualist loving freedom. Fact: you spent your career as a completely controlled government functionary and the struggle to avoid related funding pitfalls with any group effort didn’t begin with our founding fathers, every “government” in the world has been, is and will remain a hybrid of socialism.

Granted we all enjoy and need a bit of make believe, but not this unmitigated group grope fantasy where the earth is only a few thousand years old, the Book of Genesis with talking snakes is gospel, zero taxes and less staff means more efficient motivated government service, small business with increased tax breaks means “increased” (Milton would puke) government revenue and all of this (total bullocks) will produce happy, industrious consumers of Chinese goods who through their buying power (righteous consumption) will overwhelm unprecedented hostile global governmentally supported competition.

Love that line from the Moody Blues: ”Is anybody out there.”

Dave Blake

Too modest

Dear Editor:

Michael Whiting is too modest. When you consider just the broad range of his leadership qualities demonstrated in the Geothermal Greenhouse Project alone, there is no doubt that he is superbly qualified to be our county commissioner.

The geothermal project began with the simple recognition that a valuable resource to the community which was virtually free was simply being allowed to drain down a ditch into the river. Pulling together his experience as a small businessman, designing and manufacturing sports equipment and arranging events for patients with spinal injuries, successful fund-raising for the Denver Symphony and then managing another non-profit, the Southwest Land Alliance, which works to preserve the rural and ranching appeal of this area, this outstanding environmental project is a win-win for Archuleta County.

The greenhouses will provide hands-on learning experience in growing, marketing and selling garden fresh vegetables, maintain a twelve month farmers’ market drawing customers into the downtown area as well as tourists to a new educational experience. All of this without a heating bill!

This is not only community commitment at its best, it is an example of vision and the kind of sound reasoning that looks beyond the usual and customary to find ways never considered before to profitably utilize unused resources at hand. Having a person on the BoCC with such an eye for sustainability could bring refreshing, even painless changes for the county to saving money or even expand recreation and job opportunities.

Corporations don’t put people for their boards to be just managers. They look for vision and foresight as well. Why shouldn’t Archuleta County do the same?

We have no doubt that in these tough times Michael Whiting would be a great asset to Archuleta County. Rather than a boom-to-bust place, it could be very exciting. And when you consider the price, there’s no doubt that Michael Whiting may be the best buy we’ll find for a long time.

Henry and Norma Buslepp


Dear Editor:

John Salazar has been a strong advocate for SW Colorado in Congress, consistently responding to the concerns and requests of his constituents. While I have not agreed with him on every issue or every vote, I have witnessed his commitment to ensuring robust public discourse and input before he makes decisions. Particularly with the 3rd Congressional District being as diverse as it is large, we need a Representative that listens to the communities they serve and takes action accordingly.

Take for instance Salazar’s involvement in the debate over the proposed “Village” at Wolf Creek. When several counties asked him to craft legislation to expedite a land exchange for the proposed development, Salazar took the time to hear from stakeholders of all sorts in an open public forum. Many representatives would not have invested the time and effort to even convene such a meeting, not to mention show up to facilitate it. After hearing unresolved concerns from a variety of constituents, Salazar made it clear that he would not support legislation before a full and fair NEPA process was completed. I deeply appreciate the Congressman’s decision and the fair and open process that led to it.

Salazar has also been a champion on other important issues to our community, such as fighting the Desert Rock power plant that would have polluted air quality and threatened the economic vitality of our communities by pushing the area into non-compliance with the Clean Air Act. He also worked to protect some of our most important wildlands here in the San Juan Mountains, including the Hermosa watershed. Through long hours of stakeholder discourse, Congressman Salazar helped forge a strategy that will protect the Hermosa watershed while preserving the area’s unparalleled mountain biking and motorized opportunities for the future.

The issues facing our communities are not simple or without controversy. While we can’t always agree, we can rely on open and transparent public process to work toward solutions and make informed decisions. That has been John Salazar’s approach while in Congress, and why he has my strong personal support for re-election this year.

Ryan Demmy Bidwell



Dear Editor:

Just a reminder that the next Planning Commission Regular Meeting will be held on Nov. 4 , 6 p.m., Commissioners’ Meeting Room. The agenda is not available at this time on the county website. We have been told at the last meeting that the issues “RV Use” (on your own property), and the “Accessory” structures (building a garage or barn before main residence is built) will be dealt with voted on that evening. Unknown. Whether there is a vote or not by planning, it will still need to be presented to the Board of County Commissioners for their final vote.

A representative of our group will be at this meeting, and we will also be at the BoCC meeting when voted upon. We will notify all “Concerned Citizens” when this vote could be made by the BoCC regarding land use regulations. Want to be on the e-mail list of Concerned Citizens Regarding Land Use in Archuleta County? E-mail us at and we will notify you of land use regulations changes or meetings in the future.

Debra Brown

Wake up

Dear Editor:

Mr. Porco may be the one to wake up. His statement “the vast majority (of PACs) are brazenly Republican, even though they may hypocritically proclaim that they are “non-partisan” is false. Here are the organizations he lists.

The American Future Fund was formed to provide Americans with a conservative and free market viewpoint. Conservative, not liberal.

American Crossroads promised to spend $ to help members of the Republican Party. Not Democrats.

Senate Alternatives Fund — no proof of existence.

Club for Growth Action touts itself as the inheritor of Ronald Reagan’s vision. So it is clearly Republican, not Democrat.

American Action Network promotes “center-right policies.” No hypocritical claim in that.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce, worlds largest not-for-profit lobbying group representing many businesses and associations. The mission statement is non-partisan.

So of this group, only the U.S. Chamber says it’s non-partisan.

And, of course, Mr. Porco simply omitted the pro-Democrat organizations, so here are a few:

Media Matters for America, a progressive research center dedicated to correcting conservative misinformation in the American Media. Anti-Republican. a progressive PAC for moderates and progressives. They push for Democratic candidates and are openly supported by billionaire George Soros.

One America in Washington state has hired illegal immigrants to canvas for votes. They knock on a door, say, “I’m an illegal immigrant, but will you vote for Patty Murray.” One America is funded by Democrats.

American Federation of State and Municipal Employees is the biggest of them all, and they want to keep the massive Federal government in business — mostly Democrats.

Hundreds of unions, the members of which are not consulted re donations.

We voters of Archuleta County should be able to see the strengths and weaknesses of our local candidates without a national PAC of either stripe.

Before you vote, I suggest you ask yourself this: Are me, my country and my state better off this year than two years ago, or not? Then vote accordingly.

Camille Cazedessus


Dear Editor:

I am writing in support of Fred Uehling for county assessor and I hope your readers are paying attention. In the recent past, nearly 25 percent of all homeowners in Archuleta County have protested their property taxes and accusations of the county assessor’s office singling out rural properties to revoke their agricultural status have cast a serious shadow over the county assessor’s office. Whether or not all the protests are legitimate or the accusations are accurate, I do not know, and that is my point — unless you are a student of property tax assessment, it’s unlikely you know either.

The vast amount of knowledge necessary to make accurate and fair assessments of property is complicated and technical, so much so that the average property owner is ill prepared to understand the intricacies of property tax assessment. Fred Uehling has already educated himself in property tax assessment. Never mind that Fred has been a CPA in Pagosa Springs for almost a decade or that he was an auditor for the federal government in charge of teams of as many as 30 auditing staff for 27 years. Forget that Fred is a veteran and community volunteer; he has already studied property tax assessment in order to be prepared for the job of county assessor for Archuleta County. Fred will hit the ground running the instant he is elected to office.

But, for many voters, election day is all about party affiliation. Those who worry about the differences between parties, consider this: the county assessor’s office is not a political office. In fact, many county assessors nationwide are appointed or hired, not elected. Many people believe that the county assessor position should transcend politics. Your county assessor should interpret and execute state law, and Fred Uehling, with his years of experience, knowledge and expertise, will do just that in a non-partisan, professional, discerning and sensitive manner. Believe me, that is exactly what you want in your county assessor — knowledge, experience, fairness, sensitivity and professionalism.

The county assessor is critical to protecting the county’s tax base, offering long-term peace of mind to its residents and ensuring a predictable and consistent operation. This will be Fred Uehling’s hallmark. I wholeheartedly endorse Fred Uehling as Archuleta County’s next assessor and ask you to vote for him.

John T. Egan

Red herring

Dear Editor:

Michael Whiting has been riding the conflict of interest horse as a means of winning a seat as a county commissioner. He attributes sole ownership of that horse to Bob Hart. If Mr. Whiting looked more closely at the Colorado Revised Statutes regarding conflicts of interest, he would find his brand on that horse as well. Either he or his minions have not read the laws or do not understand them. Mr. Whiting serves on the boards of directors of at least two entities. Even though he is not paid, the law says that a member of boards of directors has a fiduciary responsibility to the entity which he helps govern and therefore, a conflict of interest may be posed. The members of the current BoCC have had to recuse themselves from votes due to conflicts of interest. This is a small community and of course, there will be conflicts of interest. In short, the conflict of interest horse is nothing more than a red herring.

Mr. Whiting’s complaints about Conflict of Interest reminds me of the scene in the movie “Casablanca.” The captain of the gendarmes orders Rick’s Bar closed and says as a reason, “I’m shocked, shocked there is gambling going on here! He pauses and turns to the croupier and says, “Be sure you give me all my winnings.” At least Captain Renaut knew he had gambled, Mike doesn’t know he has conflicts of interest. It’s time Mr. Whiting who serves on at least two boards that I know of and his minions scratch the conflict of interest horse from the race and get on with running on his record.

Whiting has worked as a fund-raiser and for non-profit organizations for most of his career. Bob Hart has been a successful businessman. If you think a county that is having financial difficulties needs a businessman as a commissioner, then you’ll vote for Hart. If you think the county needs a fund-raiser and non-profit person like Whiting, then you should vote for him. It all depends on what skills you want from a County Commissioner. And their skills are very different.

Bob Hart has borrowed money for his campaign. Under the campaign laws, a person running for office can fund his campaign and list those contributions as borrowed money. Then if more contributions come in, he can repay himself with those new contributions. In short, Hart borrowed money from himself, a very common practice in campaigns. In a letter to the editor, unfortunately this borrowing was portrayed as a scandal.

This year, many of us have complained about the dirty campaigning on the national and state level. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised at that kind of campaigning locally.

Judith S. Esterly


Dear Editor:

County Ballot Question 1B, as described in the official ballot, appears to be just another tax burden (though I understand the burden would be in the neighborhood of only around $12 a year for the average family). However, 1B’s potential for benefiting Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County is immeasurable.

Both political parties recognize that many long-treasured American values are in a state of decline. These values include dedication to accomplishment, motivation to innovate, respect for hard work, and an educational system which provides the foundation for all three.

In addition to the necessary hoped-for 1B revenue, the Archuleta County Education Center has already acquired some initial grant money and donations for its expanded structure, wide range of programs, and flexible, individualized opportunities for non-traditional students. Its new affiliations, along with state-of-the-art video, Internet, and teleconferencing capabilities, can also lead to national, and even international cooperation opportunities.

This truly visionary program, with its elements of flexibility, affordability, and accessibility could make Pagosa Springs a leader in the movement to make a quality practical education available to all those who need to learn, want to learn, and will strive to learn. A Yes vote on Question 1B is a vote for the future of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County!

John Graves

Tree hugger

Dear Editor:

I guess I am a “tree hugger” — please don’t write me off! I care about the economy and health insurance, etc. But I think all issues are connected to the health of the environment — our environment.

With an average 300 days of sunshine here in the Southwest, we should be investing in affordable solar power; “green energy” would also create jobs and keep the skies we and our tourists love, clean and clear.

Please vote for the folks who support so-called “alternative” energy and the progressive creative thinking which benefits the environment and economy and our national security.

These people are Brian O’Donnell, Bruce Whitehead and Michael Whiting. Even if you don’t consider yourself a tree hugger, ya gotta appreciate those beautiful spruce and aspen and skies clear enough to see ‘em!

Thanks for reading and considering. Now get out and vote!

Addi Greer


Dear Editor:

Until this year, I have been a lifelong Republican (I am now Unaffiliated). I am also a fiscal conservative. I have crossed party lines to support Democrat Fred Uehling for Assessor because 1) he is by far the most qualified candidate and 2) the Assessor does not legislate and is therefore non-partisan. I have many years experience working as a state certified appraiser and systems analyst for the San Diego County Assessor. With all of my professional education and experience in these two positions, I still do not consider myself qualified for the position of assessor. Thus I find it curious that Natalie Woodruff, who has not nearly the experience I have, considers herself just as qualified for Assessor as her opponent, Fred Uehling. Working with legal descriptions of properties does not qualify a person to be assessor. Working as a clerk in the county recorder’s office does not qualify a person to be assessor. Working as a personal banker does not qualify a person to be assessor. Experience as an operations coordinator for a vehicle durability testing company does not qualify a person to be assessor. Natalie Woodruff’s other stated “qualifications,” which are actually pledges, are no different from and no better than Fred Uehling’s. Both candidates pledge that they will improve customer service to property owners, work with other county offices, and take a more hands-on approach in managing the assessor’s office. Natalie has emphasized that, if elected, she will rely heavily on the current assessor staff. Because she lacks the experience of her opponent, I believe she would rely on the assessor staff more and for a much longer period of time than Fred Uehling, once he is elected assessor.

The position of assessor is extremely technical and requires skills similar to those required of a Certified Public Accountant and an Auditor. Fred has a degree in business administration and accounting, and has held his CPA credential for 33 years. He has been an audit manager for the federal government, a training officer, and a policy writer for the Social Security Administration. He has his own CPA business. Fred has also taken the initiative to take classes and pass examinations in five assessing courses. I believe that Natalie, with none of the above education and experience, is ill-prepared for the job of assessor. I have gotten to know Fred Uehling over the last few months, and I find him to be a genuinely nice person. The extent of his volunteer work in our community speaks to his good character. Regardless of your party affiliation, I urge you to vote for the most qualified candidate, Fred Uehling, for Archuleta County Assessor.

Cynda Green


Dear Editor:

First let me declare that I am the campaign manager for the Committee to Elect Bob Hart.

More importantly, let me say that I would never try to stifle free speech. There is, however, a difference between free speech and negative mud slinging personal attacks in a campaign.

There was an item on the national news last week declaring Colorado as one of the top states with some of the most negative campaigning going on in the country. Unfortunately, this negative campaigning has worked its way into our vounty and this campaign. This type of negative campaigning is straight out of the Obama Handbook for Campaigning and we feel the citizens of Archuleta deserve better.

Early on, both candidates for commissioner pledged to run a positive campaign and keep to discussing the real issues facing our County.

In a few days the voters of Archuleta County will decide who is best qualified for the job based on facts like real business experience, dedication to our community and a long history of getting things done.

We are proud that we have kept our pledge and ran a clean campaign.

Marilyn Harris


Dear Editor:

I am writing this letter as a teacher in this community for eight years and a soon to be mother. I want to make sure I vote for someone who cares about the future of our children. Bob Hart is the one who is making a difference in our community before being a commissioner. For the past 10 years, he has donated thousands of dollars worth of work and equipment for projects like the river, computers to head start, the new reservoir sledding hill and many others. Instead of complaining about our community, as many people do, he gets out there and makes a difference. He has donated time and effort to several committees in our town, just to make a difference. As current chair of the Town Tourism committee he has been a leader for a wonderful group of people who have raised our tourism in Pagosa by a net increase of 19 percent over the past two years. Out of the kindness of his heart, he is running for commissioner to make a better community for our kids and for our people. Do you think he enjoys being bashed by people or his opponent? He has run a clean campaign from start to finish and that speaks highly of his classiness and mature attitude. Do you think he needs this job? No, he has successfully employed himself and several others for the past 38 years and is not in need of a job this year. He is merely running because he cares. I believe someone like this is the best candidate for our children and people! I am proud to have Bob Hart as my father-in-law and know our county will be proud, too. In this election, vote for someone who really cares.

Makaila Hart

Water expert

Dear Editor:

Why am I endorsing Bruce Whitehead to continue as the Senator from Senate District 6? When I left the state Senate last year the comment I heard most often from those that follow legislation in Denver was, “Who will take your place on water issues?” They knew, as did I, that there wasn’t anyone currently serving in the Senate that could. It was a great relief to me and others that follow water when Bruce was appointed. He didn’t have to work years to gain credibility, he brought it with him. His whole career has been in water, from the State of Colorado to local water districts. Bruce also owns an irrigated farm in the San Luis Valley and has water rights at his home near Breen.

Despite the many water issues that we dealt with over my eight sessions, many more remain unresolved and will need the knowledge of Bruce as well as his ability to bring opposing sides together to find compromise. The “right to float” issue that was brought forth last year has not been resolved and will be back. I compare it to the recreational-in-channel diversion issue that took a year of negotiating before we were able to find a compromise. The other elephant in the room is how much water is left to develop in the Colorado River Basin, and how and where will it be used.

In addition to legislation there is the funding issue. There will continue to be efforts to divert funding away from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which funds water projects, Water Roundtables, and many other annual funding requirements that help us manage and protect our water. There will probably be another effort to charge for administration of water rights. It doesn’t work and Bruce can tell them why.

In summary let me say that our water is not a partisan issue. Bruce has the respect from those on both sides of the aisle. If Bruce doesn’t return to the Senate, our water policy will be determined largely by lobbyists who really aren’t concerned about southwest Colorado.

Jim Isgar


Dear Editor:

As a former county commissioner, I watch with much interest the candidates for this office. Of the two candidates, I have concluded that Michael Whiting is the better qualified candidate to fill this position.

I believe Michael has proven his dedication to Archuleta County and truly has the best interest of its citizens in mind. He has a broad knowledge of Archuleta County through his experience with Southwest Land Alliance. He has economic development experience and truly wants to work to provide better jobs for our citizens. He has pledged (and I believe him) to listen to all of your concerns. Michael is a proven problem solver and has the skills to find common ground and work for the good of the whole county.

Michael has not now, nor has he ever in Archuleta County been involved in activities that would create a conflict of interest. He comes to us with a clean slate and I encourage you to vote for Michael, but also talk to your neighbors and get out the vote. Without a good voter turnout, we may not be assured that the best and most qualified candidate will be elected.

Mamie R. Lynch


Dear Editor:

I met Michael Whiting shortly after he moved to Archuleta County in April of 2005 when he began attending Town Council and Board of County Commissioner meetings. As a town councilor, I was immediately impressed with his grasp of issues and thoughtful input and criticism. His reputation for balanced, accurate, and useful assistance is widely acknowledged, even among those who might have occasionally disagreed with his positions. Michael can argue his point, while clearly respecting yours, and work for a win/win with tremendous velocity. That is why he consistently produces results.

Almost upon arrival here, he threw himself into serving the community, helping to draft and revise the town and county Land Use Codes. He went on to taking a lead role in the creation of the, Parks, Recreation, Openspace and Trails Master Plan Committee, through completion of an award-winning regional plan, and spearheaded the plan’s unanimous adoption by the Town and County. Michael was later elected Chair the Parks, Recreation, Openspace and Trails (PROST) Taskforce, and has been the chair for two years.

Michael co-founded the Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership that has become a focal point for a reinvention and rejuvenation of our relationship to our natural resources to further public and economic benefit. In recognition of his leadership, he was appointed the Secretary of the Interior to the National Forest Service Resource Advisory Committee for Archuleta County. He was recently appointed to the Board of the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado as the County’s representative. He is a founding trustee of the Live By Living Cancer Foundation.

Michael’s leadership of the Southwest Land Alliance has resulted in the protection over 12,000 acres of ranch land, and brought $1m per year into Archuleta County. The rest of Michael’s history shows the same level of passion and results.

Michael is one of our community’s brightest minds, and a person of impeccable integrity. When he says something is true, know it is. When he says it will get done, count on it. If you want to really see this place succeed, vote for him.

John Middendorf


Dear Editor:

To our friends, cyclists, supporters and fellow members of our Pagosa Springs community:

It is with great sadness I announce that Pagosa was not selected as a stage of the 2011 Quiznos Pro Challenge.

While certainly this is disappointing news, the discussion with Medalist Sports and Quiznos today was very positive about their desire to include Pagosa as a stage in coming years. We learned during the on-site visit from the organizers that our dream of a mountain-top finish at the Wolf Creek Ski area is a dream shared by the organizers. That said, the way for such an epic stage to have the most effective impact on the race would be to have our stage happen at the end of the race week. This is something that couldn’t happen in the inaugural year’s schedule.

Being forever an optimist and a realist, I take this to mean we will be included sometime in the next few years and we will be the most anticipated and most highly attended stage in that year’s tour! Add to this that the tour will be an established event at that time and ultimately this may work out for the better?

Quiznos and Medalist praised our organizing committee and our local governments and citizens for the incredible support we showed during this process and for the quality of the proposal we submitted.

Thank you very much to each of you for your support, your involvement and the work you did to submit such a comprehensive proposal.

Morgan Murri

I Believe

Dear Editor:

As you go to the polls next week, please ask yourself:

Do I believe that the meltdown of the financial system caused by reckless investments calls for reasonable financial regulations?

Do I believe in clean air and water for us, our children, and our grandchildren?

Do I believe that children shouldn’t be denied insurance due to preexisting conditions or that families should not be bankrupted by medical bills?

Do I believe that global warming is not a hoax?

Do I believe in a woman’s right to choose?

Do I believe in sensible immigration reform that respects people’s dignity?

Do I believe that it was not unreasonable to rescue America’s auto industry, saving a million jobs?

Do I believe that people’s sexual preferences should be a private matter between consenting adults?

Do I believe in green energy to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels?

Do I believe in effective regulations to promote safe food and medicine?

Do I believe that stem cell research may one day cure many of today’s most ravaging diseases?

Do I believe that those wealthiest Americans who have benefitted the most from living in our great nation should pay their fair share of taxes?

Do I believe that corporate interests should not be more influential than citizens’ interests?

Do I believe that elections should not be bought by anonymous contributions from the rich?

Do I believe that citizens should be allowed to worship the deity of their choice, or none at all?

Do I believe that if America is to be truly secure, we must have the respect of nations around the world?

Do I believe that, as the Constitution says, “all men are created equal,” including affluent and impoverished, young and old, people of color, and, perhaps most significantly, women?

If you believe in these things, you have but one choice, vote Democratic!

John W. Porco


Dear Editor:

I’ve served on the TTC with Bob Hart in the past, and the thing about Bob Hart that always impressed me is his willingness to volunteer. On many occasions, Bob would be the first one to donate his time, money, lodging, or even a backhoe, including man-hours to operate it. He’s been doing that long before he ever thought about running for county commissioner.

At many TTC subcommittee meetings that were rarely attended by the public, he was the first one to raise his hand to have his name added to the list of volunteers for whatever was needed.

The integrity that Bob Hart has is truly a rare in politics. We are blessed in Archuleta County to have him.

Dan Rosenblatt


Dear Editor:

Candidate Whiting is trying to convince the voters that he can best represent their needs. Attacking and attempting to denigrate a working man for the simple fact that he is a working man seems completely inappropriate. Does he even know where he is? Who does he think makes up this community?

Mr. Whiting appears to be caught up in the political tar-baby of smear-campaign tactics. It is very unflattering to him and suggests an underlying inability to stay focused on the very real and basic issues we are all facing. It would be a welcome relief and much more constructive if he were to pull himself up out of the bar-ditch and meet his political opponent on the street level, where the rest of us reside.

My message? The ends do not justify the means no matter what your stance is, Mr. Whiting.

Lauri C. Ross

Pro 1B

Dear Editor:

The Archuleta County BoCC is asking voters to approve a 1.5 mil increase in property taxes with the proceeds going to the Archuleta County Education Center. This tax initiative appears on the ballot as Measure 1B. Approval of this tax initiative will insure long term stability of core services at the Ed Center and it will facilitate a major expansion of services for the residents of Archuleta County. These services have been described in local media and on the Ed Center’s website (

Some in our community have questioned the line of accountability linking the Ed Center and the public. Some have suggested that accountability requires formation of a special tax district with a Board of Directors elected by the public. This approach was considered by the BoCC and the Ed Center Board several months ago. It was rejected because of the large cost required to establish a special district and the ongoing cost of elections.

Having rejected formation of a special tax district, the Ed Center elected to proceed with a County sponsored tax initiative. This decision has led to a legally binding agreement between the Ed Center and the BoCC. The agreement specifies what types of services can be funded with tax revenue. It prohibits certain uses of the funds. The Ed Center must provide the County with quarterly reports and an annual certified audit. The agreement provides for representation by the county, the town and the Pagosa Springs Community Development Center on the Ed Center Board of Directors. Because the tax revenue remains public funds, even after transfer to the Ed Center, the center is required to comply with all local, state and federal laws. For example, it must comply with Colorado Open Meetings Laws. This agreement provides accountability of the Ed Center to the public through the BoCC, which can withhold distribution of funds any time it believes the Ed Center is not in compliance with the agreement.

For over 22 years the Ed Center has been Archuleta County’s primary source of education outside that provided by public schools. Core programs, which include GED, ESL, After Class Tutoring, and adult education, serve approximately 1,000 Pagosans every year. Let us not risk losing this proven program and its expansion into video teleconferencing for improved distance education and global communications.

David Smith


Dear Editor:

One of the many political bogeyman issues that gets thrown around every election cycle is that of “conflict of interest.” In the politician’s bag of dirty tricks, this accusation raises the specter that one’s opponent may be ineligible for office just for having one. The claim has currency in the county commissioner race between Mr. Hart and Mr. Whiting with Mr. Whiting’s supporters, and he himself, bandying about this label of suspicion.

The truth of the matter is that the Colorado statutes are replete with references to conflicts of interest, ironically because the most qualified people for pubic trust will not coincidentally be those most likely to have succeeded in the private sector. Unless we wish to limit our office holders to people who have never had the burden of operating a business or meeting a payroll, or who have instead worked for the government or non-profits their entire careers, then we have to expect the potential for conflict to arise, as indeed the law does. Because office holders are bound to have them, the law makes it an offense only to fail to make them known. In any case, it is net savings to taxpayers combined with the economic multiplier from local pay checks that we should worry about, not some handy misleading slogan used for political gain.

Indeed, I would be more questioning of the credentials of the candidate whose experience raises no issue of potential conflict of interest than of the one whose experience and entrepreneurial success may necessitate an occasional disclosure. This is a case of unwarranted negative campaigning.

Roy D. Vega


Dear Editor:

Two weeks ago I submitted my analysis of the campaign finance reports through Sept. 4 for Bob Hart and Michael Whiting. (Thank you for adding the Editor’s Note, but my letter was only accounting for support letters through the reporting period of Sept. 4 as I indicated and the support letters your refer to were in The SUN after Sept. 4). Since I submitted that letter to The SUN, both candidates filed a new report covering the period Sept. 5 through Oct. 7.

Continuing my “Follow the Money” theme, I wanted to update my analysis with this latest month of campaign contributions. My intent is to see how well their acceptance of campaign money squares with their claim to believe in our “Local Values” as the campaign heats up. I also want to disclose that I have been a registered voter of Archuleta County for over a decade, and I have personally contributed less than one-hundred dollars to Hart’s Campaign to date.

How much money was contributed to each campaign this past month? Hart shows $4,674 and Whiting shows $4,270.

How much of the money came from outside Archuleta County? Hart received 16 percent from outside the county. Whiting received 37 percent from outside the county.

Of the outside money, how much came from outside Colorado? Hart received 14 percent from outside Colorado. Whiting received 30 percent from out-of-state.

Of the out-of-state money, how much came from Texas? Hart received 2 percent from Texas. Whiting received 23 percent from Texas contributors.

How much came from big contributors giving $500 or more? Hart received 21 percent from large contributors. Whiting received 59 percent from large contributors.

These latest reports show that Whiting continues to fund his campaign with Texas money and a few large contributors. While Hart runs a positive campaign, Whiting has wealthy Texas contributors submit attack letters to The SUN even though they are not registered voters of Archuleta County.

It’s disheartening to see Whiting continuing to rely on Texans to influence Archuleta County voters. I’ve never known Hart to stoop to such tactics, and clearly Hart is the candidate with “local values.”

Dick Warring

Editor’s note: In the interest of accuracy, it must be noted that the percentage of “Texas” contributions noted above include one large ($1,000) amount from an individual using a Texas mailing address. In reality, that contributor resides in Archuleta County most of the year and has resided here longer than many, if not most of the residents who will vote this election. Also, in the latest campaign contribution report filed with the Secretary of State’s office, neither candidate shows an out-of-state contribution.

Anti 1B

Dear Editor:

I hate to say it, but Proposition 1B is a bad deal.

We are being asked to impose a permanent 1.5 mil tax on everyone in the county, but what do we get?

“Education” sounds worthy, but what are the criteria and where are the controls? The money would go to a privately-run organization. The folks who are lobbying for these tax dollars have made a few “promises” (and no doubt have good intentions), but what happens a few years down the road, or when someone new takes control? How can we be sure that funds won’t be lavished on handsome salaries; on overpriced, impractical technology; on first-class flights to “education forums” in Hawaii; or on payrolls padded with relatives? How many “students” will be served by our half a million dollars a year? 50? 10? 5?

For those who believe that this cause is worthy of their support, please write an annual check to the Educational Center. Or better yet, use that money to support our financially-struggling public schools.

Proposition 1B would be a gold mine of tax dollars directed to an outside organization with only token accountability. It’s not a good deal.

Bruce Wilke