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Letters to Editor

Conversation

Dear Editor:

Kudos to The SUN for implementing the new comments section underneath several stories in this week’s online version. Readers can log on with a Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo or OpenId profile.

I encourage writers to use their real names and contribute to informative, respectful conversations about important Pagosa issues.

D. West Davies

Tenuous

Dear Editor:

I’d like to address two Feb. 17 front page articles: “BoCC considers transparency, misinformation” by Randi Pierce, and “CDC website: principals respond to rumors and controversy” by Jim McQuiggin.

Ms. Pierce’s article addresses a BoCC work session about the failed Pavilion lease. The following quotes and phrases have been extracted from her article: “… misinformation also contributed to the problem with the public.” “Other discussion in the work session indicated that the county needed … a larger role in correcting false information released to the community.” “… and one lesson learned was that the county ‘did not respond in a timely manner…to misinformation.,’” “Schulte agreed that the county did not respond to misinformation in a timely manner … especially in a timely manner when the misinformation was printed daily (the county referred to information printed on area resident Bill Hudson’s website as being inaccurate).”

Ms. Pierce apparently took these accusations of misinformation at face value, because she never inquired (or at least reported) as to what exactly was the misinformation. Those conducting the meeting never identified the misinformation — only the perceived source — Bill Hudson’s website.

Thus Ms. Pierce reported on a meeting not based on substance, but entirely on innuendo. But she reported the innuendo as though it were fact, thereby propagating the BoCC-contrived misinformation rumor.

If only Bill Hudson’s website would go away, all would be right in BoCC land, and Moomaw land.

Mr. McQuiggin, in his article, addresses a letter read by BoCC and CDC board member John Ranson at the last BoCC public meeting. The letter states that Bill Hudson made allegations in The Pagosa Daily Post (which The SUN always refers to as “Bill Hudson’s website”), and then makes three statements that “set the record straight regarding the allegations.”

Nowhere in Mr. Hudson’s article did he dispute the three statements declared in Mr. Ranson’s letter. What Mr. McQuiggin and Mr. Ranson failed to address is the appearance of impropriety between the Vassellos and Bone Marketing. They seem to excuse it as no big deal. The appearance of impropriety is not alleged — it exists, and this was the topic of Mr. Hudson’s article.

To quote Mr. McQuiggin’s article, “Rosie Vassallo said that she has yet to do any work for Bone Marketing. ‘I haven’t done anything yet,’ she said. ‘Working on the Great Golden Retriever Roundup is taking all my time.’”

Meanwhile, a Jan. 13 posting by Bone Marketing on Facebook states: “The Great Golden Retriever Roundup is coming! This is an annual event we are working on with the Pagosa Springs Comm Dev Corp.”

The evidence mounts against the Vassellos to suggest that their economic development focus is down south, not here in Pagosa. Even their cell phone area codes are 601, which is central Mississippi. And that is a fact.

What is a mystery is why so many politicians are tying their political destinies to this tenuous situation instead of dealing with it.

Cynda Green

Robbery

Dear Editor:

Are you among the low-income people who are being robbed without knowing it?

Many low-income people have pay-as-you-go cell phones. They may have chosen one of these plans because of the low cost. This is good thinking.

However, many people on these plans are actually being robbed and don’t even know it.

There are third party businesses in the cyber world that may be robbing you regularly. They provide services such as texting games, quizzes, IQ tests and trivia Q&A. But you may be paying for these services without your knowledge or consent. Here’s how it works.

Company X sends you a text message. The last line of the message may read something like, “If you do not wish to continue this services, text stop to this number. If you wish to continue this service, do not reply and you will be billed $9.99 per month directly from your phone service.”

What they fail to tell the world is that they do all this by computer and it doesn’t matter whether you can send or receive text messages.

In the last two months, this has happened to me at least four times. There is no texting service on my phone; therefore, it is impossible for me to get the message in the first place and impossible for me to text stop to any number. The result is that my airtime suddenly disappeared, which is bad because I am only able to buy $10 worth at a time.

I called my carrier only to have them tell me that they could not block these third party businesses. Some carriers can and do! I was able to get the customer service number of the third party company and called them to demand a refund of my air time. They claimed that I was not in their data base. I am changing carriers to one that can block these crooks.

This article is aimed at all people who have pay-as-you-go cell phone plans, because they are the targets of these unscrupulous businesses.

Before you dismiss this as garbage, do a little checking on the cell phones in your family. Even if you are not low income, do you perhaps have one or more children with pay-as-you-go plans? Are the texting services they have deducted from their phone air time legitimate? Are they having their air time reduced with or without their consent or yours?

I personally know several people who have suffered the same type of robbery. I wonder how many others are out there.

If this happens to you or yours, don’t just be satisfied with getting your money back. Notify your elected officials, the State Attorney General’s office, the NCPEA (National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse), your area Agency on Aging and your Elder Justice Community Collaboration.

Respectfully submitted,

Bryan James

Conference

Dear Editor:

The Chamber of Commerce board and staff commend and thank Jennie Green and the Town Tourism Committee for their exciting and informative event, the Tourism Conference and Expo, held Tuesday, Feb. 22, at the community center.

Congratulations on attracting keynote speaker Sen. Al White, director of the Colorado Tourism Office. You brought us access to the many representatives and resources of the Colorado Tourism office. The state’s marketing firm, MMG Worldwide, provided impressively deep information on social and emerging media opportunities. The occasion to hear local and regional business leaders discuss their experiences of operating in a tourist community, and the nuts and bolts of creating an event was instructive to all. Trip Advisor taught us how to take full advantage of the visibility of our businesses on their website, as well as how to work together as a community to maximize Pagosa’s exposure as a tourist destination.

Thank you so much for your efforts to assist the business community in your area of expertise. We look forward to next year’s conference.

Kathy Keyes

Change

Dear Editor:

Tanning bed tax — new.

Cigarette tax — increased.

Dollar value — down.

Inflation is back, check your food prices.

Obama’s 2012 budget proposals: Estate tax — up. Capital gains tax — up. Beverage tax — add. Cap on mortgage interest deduction — add. 15 cents per gallon gas tax — add.

How do you like the “change” so far?

John Meyer

Position

Dear Editor:

Reference Pagosa SUN article, Feb. 10, Village at Wolf Creek: a question of when.

I ask who is Steve Vassallo to have such a strong voice on this proposed village? I know his title; is he on a salary from the town? How long has he been here, how long has he been aware of the proposed village? You, our county commissioners, need to take a position on the village. This article states there is no position from all of you. You all know the local community has opposed this issue, to save our town.

Don’t do as Salazar did and avoid taking a position.

You, the county commissioners, are supposed to be there for the people; listen, ready, what we do not want — the Village at Wolf Creek.

Pagosa Springs needs a position, to save our town.

Thank you,

Pam Morrow

Issue

Dear Editor:

I have to take issue with reporter Jim McQuiggin’s assessments last week that, after laying out a few of the facts which have become known regarding Steve Vassallo’s letting of the CDC website contract to Louisiana-based Bone Marketing and his wife’s being employed by the same company, conclude that none of the aforementioned relationships actually “suggest” that either our local website designers were intentionally ignored by the CDC or that there might be anything improper about those relationships.

Had Mr. McQuiggin concluded, based only on the facts he listed, that perhaps they don’t (yet) prove improprieties, then I might have had to agree at some point in the past. But to use the word “suggest,” as though none of these relationships even bear further investigating, really does a disservice to the community in its attempt to find out how CDC taxpayer funds are being spent. I do hope that in the future Mr. McQuiggin won’t be quite so easily mollified as he seemed to be in writing last week’s article.

And, in response to Randi Pierce’s article on the BoCC’s work session to try to figure out “what went wrong” in the Pavilion lease debacle, perhaps at this point I shouldn’t even have been surprised to read that self-proclaimed fiscal and financial conservative Commissioner Ranson’s idea to solve the poor communications problems of the board is to create a new county public relations staff job! And, of course, to ”task” that person with doing what the commissioners have thus far failed to do themselves. I wonder if there’s a son out there who needs a job these days.

I couldn’t even make this stuff up.

Nan Rowe

Anthem

Dear Editor:

For once, I completely agree with Jim Sawicki. Singers (if one could call them that) would stop shouting, yelling and putting words into the anthem that are not there, maybe we could enjoy it better.

Maybe, just maybe, if they would learn what a melody is, they could sing this anthem with dignity.

H.J. Theisen

Unfair

Dear Editor:

Over the past few weeks, the Moomaw family has taken some unfair criticisms to which would like to respond.

Janis and Bob have given so much to our community over an extended period of time as this relates to their time; financial support; and passion for wanting to make Pagosa Springs an extraordinary place. In my short time in Archuleta County, I have observed their commitment and unselfish participation in so many different areas. People such as Janis and Bob are refreshing!

They would never take the time to respond to some of these assaults, and rightfully so. It is easy to understand, however, why the Chamber selected Janis as Volunteer of the Year. My life has already been enriched by getting to know them both. But more importantly, the Town of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County are much better off because of their involvement.

Steve Vassallo

Open

Dear Editor:

Some of the controversy over the Pavilion lease could have been avoided if our elected officials more carefully observed the Open Meetings law, which is Section 24-6-402 of the Colorado statutes.

To summarize:

The BoCC must post public notice at least 24 hours in advance of any meeting of 2 or more commissioners at which public business is discussed. This does not apply to mundane daily oversight activities nor to a chance meeting or social gathering, but if they happen to see each other at the golf course or in someone’s office — and then start talking public business — the line has probably been crossed.

Executive sessions are not open to the public, but can be held only at an open meeting for which public notice was previously given. During that meeting, the board may vote to go into executive session. The chair must state on the record the topic of the executive session and which article of state law authorizes it.

Executive sessions are very limited in purpose, which include (a) the purchase, lease, or sale of property — “except that no executive session shall be held for the purpose of concealing the fact that a member of the local public body has a personal interest”; (b) for determining positions in negotiations; (c) for conferences with their attorney for the purpose of receiving specific legal advice; and (d) for reasons such as security; issues required to be kept confidential by law; personnel matters, etc.

The law adds that “no adoption of any proposed policy, position, resolution, regulation, or formal action … shall occur at any executive session.” The same applies to any unposted meeting.

“Minutes” of public meetings are to be taken and promptly recorded, and such records are open to public inspection. Discussions during executive sessions are required to be electronically recorded except for the portions which constitute attorney-client privilege, at which point the recording can be turned off. Broad discussion of a proposed deal would typically not fit attorney-client privilege except for specific legal questions or advice from the attorney, so it should be recorded. The recording of an executive session should cite the provision of law that authorizes the session. Recordings of properly conducted executive sessions are not open to public review.

If elected officials use telephone or electronic mail to discuss public business among themselves, this is subject to the requirements, as well.

Compare the Open Meetings law to the casual manner in which things have actually been done. Careful observance of the law is one element of reducing future problems. And in my opinion, it is the responsibility of a public body’s attorney to take a proactive role in clearly guiding elected and appointed officials on Colorado law.

Bruce Wilke

Event center

Dear Editor:

I wrote a long-winded letter about this subject, but then decided on being terse. From long experience, I believe that the best place for a permanent “event center” located in Archuleta County would be adjacent to the current county fairgrounds. This location provides a central location and plenty of parking. At the same time, it provides a bit of isolation for local residents desirous of their right to quiet use of their property.

In any event, I believe that an event center drawing from outside the county should not be located adjacent or even close to current or future high density residential areas. Let the sound of music waif up and down the San Juan Valley, but not too close to anyone’s bedroom window!

Bob Winners

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