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Letters to Editor

Whose expense?

Dear Editor:

The national debt. Fourteen trillion dollars is an obscene figure. That is about 93 percent of our GDP. We have good reason to worry about our country’s future. Let’s take a look at the history of that debt.

During the Reagan/Bush I years that percentage went from 33.4 to 64.1 percent; Clinton brought it back down to 57 percent and Bush II took it back up to 69 percent. That does not make the 93 percent less serious, but it does tell us that Republican administrations, despite claims for fiscal responsibility, know how to double the debt.

The cause of debt increase during these administrations? A common theme of Republican administrations has been tax cuts, estate tax cuts and capital gain tax cuts. Claims during the Reagan/Bush I/Bush II administrations that trickle down and supply side economics would produce economic growth have never been substantiated. However, that these economic policies have created a super rich class has been substantiated by many, including the Congressional Budget Office. From 1979-2007: the lowest fifth of the population experienced a 16-percent increase; second lowest 23 percent; middle 25 percent; fourth lowest 35 percent; top 95 percent and the top 1 percent — 281 percent. The 281 percent, another obscene figure, was reached in 2007, the last year of Bush II’s term. And as the rich got richer, our government went further into debt.

The current administration? First thing … the national economy crashes because an unregulated Wall Street enabled a housing bubble and then built a financial bubble on top of the housing bubble. What happens in a recession? Tax revenues go down, the national debt goes up. However, Wall Street is OK — $20 billion in bonuses and $27 billion in profits! As a consequence of the crash, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, $350 billion. For what? Rapid transit, geothermal projects, wastewater infrastructure, solar manufacturing, highway and road construction, rural hospital technology, broadband adoption, and the list goes on. The debate also goes on: did ARRA create jobs, did it soften the blow? We need more history to determine that answer, but the difference between Democratic and Republican administrations is clear. It’s the general welfare vs. corporate welfare

Let’s look at what Republican legislators (both state and federal) are up to. Champions of debt elimination, they are advocating a number of creative ways to achieve zero debt now: eliminate funding for a new consumer product safety database, slash the budget for Wall Street reform, eliminate presidential public financing, eviscerate the EPA, repeal health care reform, etc. The coup d’etat, of course is social security, that much maligned fund which is solvent until 2037 despite borrowing to the tune of $2.5 trillion to finance the deficit. In Wisconsin collective bargaining is on the chopping block along with the law requiring municipalities to disinfect drinking water (FYI: Milwaukee — 1993 104 people died and 400,000 fell sick from dirty water).

At whose expense these savings? Is it not clear that the middle class, and therefore democracy, is struggling for survival? How does it feel to know that America, Land of the Free, is rapidly evolving into a corporate plutocracy and that we have ignored the warning of Thomas Jefferson in 1816, “I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

Pauline Benetti


Dear Editor:

I would like to throw my two cents in on the whole CDC and Steve Vassallo thing. I think Steve Vassallo should resign right now. With all the hoopla and controversy surrounding him, I think he has no choice and it would be the right thing to do.

John Ransom should resign immediately. John Ransom is on the board of directors for the CDC and then he is a commissioner for the county, which has given money and support to the CDC. John Ransom is leasing office space to the CDC and I would bet for a huge premium. This is a huge conflict of interest and it is wrong. Maybe since the CDC is supported by the county and the town, the financials should be open for public review. I would like to know what kind of rent is being paid for that office space.

John Ransom and Clifford Lucero both should resign because of the “sweetheart lease deal” they tried to give the Moomaws and the Pavilion group. Those people knew that they were cooking up a “good ole boy deal” and they were hoping we the people would not catch it. Ransom and Moomaw are smart grown men. They knew what they were doing. And the county manager and the county attorney should be fired also, as I am sure they were well aware of the deal and how wrong it was. We need to hold these people accountable and we need to take back control of our county. Who knows what other deals they have done in the past or might do in the future?

Jack Bundy

Editor’s note: It is John Ranson, not Ransom. For more details, please refer to Mr. Ranson’s letter, below.


Dear Editor:

We at the Healing Waters Resort and Spa, formerly The Spa at Pagosa Springs, understand the geothermal experts to be saying, “Archuleta County is sitting on acres of diamonds. And potentially many more acres than expected.” It seems that our situation is very similar to the old story about a farmer selling his land so he could go off in search of diamonds.

The story goes that he was so anxious to get rich, as others were doing, that he sold his farm to a peasant for a very low price. He then quickly gathered his belongings and traveled to various parts of the country where many others had been so successful.

Meanwhile, back on his old farm, the peasant farmer, still so excited about his good fortune, was happily working his fields. He soon began to notice strange rocks being turned up as he plowed. But he didn’t make the same mistake of the previous owner, he asked an expert to classify these rocks. His farm became one of the richest diamond mines in the world.

Now we’re not talking about diamonds or getting rich quick. But we have been told by experts over the past few months that we could have a valuable resource, right under our feet, in our geothermal water lens. They also outlined many ways by which use of these geothermal waters could result in our successful economic development — development that could extend out for many generations. So why are we ignoring this opportunity? Because the professionals also made it quite clear that a more in-depth study (no pun intended) is required before we increase our usage or drill more wells. Conducting this study will clarify many questions for well owners and users alike.

The Giordano family has owned and operated the Healing Waters Resort and Spa since 1950 and is actively pursuing expansion of the business. Like most other small businesses, it would be difficult for us to meet the full cost of this scientific study ($36,000). But more importantly, the family has long believed that the geothermal waters belong to no one person or business. Instead, it belongs to everyone who uses them for their healing properties. Since these geothermal waters belong to everyone, and since two heads (or more) are better than one, we propose a Geothermal Stakeholders Association be formed to understand the study and have it done quickly for everyone’s benefit.

The advantages to this approach are many, but most importantly: the cost could be reduced to a manageable amount especially considering “The Governor’s Energy Office is willing to consider co-funding …” such a work plan; and, the study will provide “bankable” reports by which the city, county, individuals and businesses alike can begin their economic development projects.

We plan to present this idea to all stakeholders before the end of March. A public notice will be in the paper soon with all the detail. You can confirm you attendance by a note in the Subject line to us at

James E. Denney


Dear Editor:

My spouse and I follow rancorous events in Pagosa Springs with the cautious interest that comes from prospective residents. I resided in Durango/La Plata County during the 1970s and recollect descriptions about a multi decade conflict raging over yonder in Pagosa Springs/Archuleta County.

From our current day reading of The SUN, the Herald and our tea leaves, not much has changed in Pagosa Springs for the past many decades, between the Visionaries and the Obstructionists. Personally and except for how Durango’s future is molded and their West is being won, I could never see much difference in healthy potential between the two city/county pairs.

Just possibly, the 21st century “healing” definition for the word Pagosa never really changed from the original “boiling” waters.

We just hope that something in the water changes in Pagosa — before we grow old and change our minds about living in the “Friendliest Town in Colorado.” Capitulation is a nasty word. Obstruction is a nasty word. Compromise is golden in united communities, where calm heads and great leaders make multi-lateral progress.

Jerry S. Jordan

Round Rock, Texas


Dear Editor:

The truth usually lies between a rock and a hard place. The rock is a cold hard fact and the hard place is an individual’s perception. Sharing of perceptions, be it writers in the press or people conversing, often results in weeds growing around the rock. The recent negatives surrounding the CDC and its director, Steve Vassallo, I believe, has resulted in an overgrowth of weeds. I’ve worked with him and I’m in favor of the events and programs his office has begun. Let’s let them flower.

Madeline Lyon


Dear Editor:

The past several weeks have been difficult at best. Sources in our market have distorted facts, made innuendos and flat out lied. Many people have called with support and I want to thank them for that.

We live in a great community and a few people would rather produce sensationalism and negative news than be part of the solution. Here is a question to ponder: Would you want to move here or move your business here based on what you read on the Internet?

Here is some factual information to defuse the blogs and e-mail circles.

CDC — We have had meetings to continue progress being made. Our director and his spouse have come under attack. Thanks to Steve Vassallo and Morgan Murri, we met with a potential new business coming to town. We had to spend much of the time explaining the negative Internet information. Fortunately, when you have the opportunity to go face to face, the truth will set you free!

Conflict of interest — The CDC offices are in the Technology Suites, in which I have a 25-percent interest. The AEDA resided in our suites due to the technology available and the professional appearance when potential business comes to town. AEDA was in our office prior to my making a decision to run for county commissioner. I have paid for the office occupied by my daughter, who was hired to work part-time for the CDC, at a personal cost of $390 per month. Our partners also agreed to provide office space for a grant writer, free of charge. The CDC board looked at other options and decided to remain in the building. I recused myself from that vote. Personally paying for Alysha’s office, giving another office away for free ... if I am lining my pockets, I must not be very good at math!

My daughter — I am proud of my daughter and of how she has withstood these attacks. When our director was hired, he asked me if Alysha could help him out as he got started. At that time, Alysha worked for me full-time and picked up the slack of our partnership’s business due to my lack of time available due to commissioner duties. She has done an outstanding job for me and was named the rookie Realtor of the Year in her first year. Imagine going through what she has had to endure, let alone her husband and family.

When Alysha provided administrative assistance to Steve in the early stages, at no cost to the CDC (I was paying her full time), Steve asked if I could give up half of her time. Although reluctant, we agreed. The CDC board did the right thing and advertised the position; 26 applications came in and the board selected Alysha. I recused myself from that vote. Despite some other nasty lies, Alysha has had two part-time jobs and therefore no benefits including health insurance. She has resigned, and I am thrilled to have her back full-time, as are my partners.

Commissioner Lucero has also come under attack. I could not ask to work with a better person and am proud to sit next to Clifford — our chairman. We have accomplished much in two years, including rebuilding reserves, increasing investment in our road system, stopping compensated absences, moving the county out of self-insurance and over-budgeted costs, and have been transparent. Thank you, Clifford. Hang in there!

I would like to thank all of you for your support. This is a truly great community!


John Ranson


Dear Editor:

When Judge Roger Vinson’s ruling (U.S. District Court) came out, the rhetorical reaction at the White House was limited. The decision was dismissed as an “outlier,” a case of “judicial overreach,” and “well out of the mainstream of judicial opinion.” Some of Obummer’s Czars huffed that “it won’t stand.” Other libtards dismissed Vinson as a partisan, “Reagan-appointed” judge (the best kind).

But, overall, the Regime didn’t argue. They didn’t even engage. There was none of the war-room fighting-on-all-fronts that would have occurred in the Clinton years, with Carville and Begala spinning the airwaves. If this were 1995, Judge Vinson would be Democrat Target No. 1.

But they pretty much left him alone. And it soon was clear why: the Obama team’s plan for Vinson’s Order was to completely ignore it.

The day of the ruling, “Senior Administration officials vowed … to continue with the full implementation of Obummer’s healthcare reform law despite a federal judge’s decision declaring the law unconstitutional and void in its entirety.”

Looking at a rundown of the most disturbing aspect of the maws of Obamacare: a “new IRS army” of 1,054 auditors and staffers — “just to watch over the initial implementation of Obama’s healthcare reforms.” Don’t ya jist love the term, “watch over?” Sounds so loving. In that army: 81 “workers assigned to make sure tanning salons pay a new 10 percent excuse tax.” What does that have to do with “health care?” Not a damn thing. None of it does. It’s all about control. Make no mistake, America … our Republic is at stake, and the waterfall’s edge is near.

I just love how kind these guys are to themselves. Focused examinations! Encourage compliance! It sounds just like the kind of language that was standard in the Gulag. What’s next, dissenters getting “psychiatric evaluations?”

So, obviously, while they are doing everything they can to start implementing this monstrosity, we have to do everything we can to pull it out by the roots. It is a fight to the finish. We cannot rest. The process of defunding it has to take place from every direction. They continue to implement the damn thing, fine, we continue to try to defund. And we all can shout from the rooftops, “Hey, Obama, it’s unconstitutional!” — while he’s flipping us the bird.

Rep. John Conyers (D, MI) has claimed that Obamacare’s individual insurance mandate has “nothing to do with individual liberty.” This is the guy who wouldn’t know individual liberty if it walked up to him carrying a Tea Party sign, wanting to petition the government for redress of grievances. This is the guy whose party, and ideology, wouldn’t value the astounding brilliance of the constitutional protections if they could read them on parchment displayed somewhere like the National Archives.

Folks, these are the best and the brightest that the left has to offer. These are the people we have to defeat. And in every battle of wits, the libtards always come unarmed.

Jim Sawicki


Dear Editor:

If bringing in events and visitors to Pagosa Springs is not the role of the CDC, then what is? Our main industry at this point in time is tourism. Bringing in potentially hundreds of people to Pagosa who might otherwise never entertain the thought is precisely the role the CDC should play. Yes, the TTC and Chamber of Commerce do events. But no one organization can do it all. The more people we bring to town the better for all of us.

I’m baffled by those who have written negatively about the efforts of the CDC’s executive director Steve Vassallo regarding the Golden Retriever Round-Up. As part of the group that is organizing this event, I don’t see the logic behind the dissension. What is wrong with filling our hotels with guests, having wait lines to get into our restaurants, filling our stores with people, and providing activities and vendors to expose tourists to our local talent? The potential benefit of this event to our community is huge. So, if this is not the role of the CDC, what is? I haven’t heard from the opposition what the CDC’s activities should be if not filling our town with people, who once they are here, might relocate to Pagosa, buy a second home, or come back over and over again. The range of people who have already registered to participate in the Golden event is broad and far reaching. Because of their love of dogs, they are driving out here from all parts of the United States to see and experience Pagosa.

How many of us came to Pagosa just once and now live here? It happened to me. I was just driving through on my way to Chicago when the Pagosa bug bit me. How many people might be similarly bitten once they come to Pagosa and see what an active, vibrant, talented community we have? The more opportunities we have to offer to bring people here, the better for all of us.

We don’t need to agree with everything that someone does or says, but we can treat each other with respect and dignity. We can state our opinions — a freedom given to us during a process of heated debate and discussion — but we can leave the door open for the development of a synergistic relationship wherein ideas and solutions flow from the debates. Life isn’t all or nothing. We can disagree with one another but still support efforts that will bring people to Pagosa. The Golden Retriever Round-Up is one such effort.

If someone wants to know the intent and work behind the Golden event or to offer their opinions to improve the event, they are more than welcome to join the committee meetings. They can also see for themselves the passion and commitment of all the members of the committee in making this a spectacular event that will be profitable to the town in so many ways and profitable for several local nonprofit organizations. If this isn’t the role of the CDC, then what is? We’d all love to hear and benefit from your ideas and your efforts to bring commerce to Pagosa.

Carol Schneider


Dear Editor:

In Response to letters written 3/3 (The Sun), I was struck by a few comments made, PSCD related:

1) “… we are a tourist, real estate, construction and government based [local] economy.” This is admitting we have not learned from our past and clearly it’s why we are now where we are; dependent on industries that have taken measurable cuts and are predicted never to “fully recover.” We ride the roller coaster of outside influences and economic hiccups.

The Chamber, TTC and longstanding local special events are well adept at promoting our tourism flow. The CDC’s primary focus should be broaching unrelated small business entities. We need that stability! Board members should not reside on multiple (primary) boards and clearly the executive directors’ professional loyalties, barring salary reduction, should remain solely local.

2) “Best ideas in 20 years ...” If we like our heads in the sand, maybe. Many see these ideas as “same stuff, different channel” — new gimmicks to bring in more folks. What about the many local businesses that are not tourist dependent?

More visitors flowing through PS perpetuates the revolving door; folks forever coming and going. This isn’t just about getting people here; it’s also about keeping them, that challenge is continually overlooked. This community at the moment needs to build from the inside, out! We have yet to create a solid foundation. Only brief mention in the 2/28 meeting of two new small business prospects, no specifics offered. Those ideas deserve more public discussion.

3) “United we stand ...” With due respect, that must also flow from the top, down. Open honest discussion encourages unity. That’s been missing.

All want this community to prosper, we simply have different views on manifesting that. However, we did collectively decide that we did not want Village at Wolf Creek here; Big Box still bares heated discussion. Most of us stand firm and care deeply; that should not be interpreted as divided. We are frustrated though, and increasingly vocal. After years of arduous collective efforts we believed certain ideas had been tabled only to discover that once again, they were ever so quietly being endorsed, behind our backs. Had our community not discovered these facts, various unexplained actions would have likely continued. I’m not convinced that individuals on various boards and committees honestly realize that this lack of transparency is fundamentally wrong. Perhaps it’s just a matter of individual perception: our right to know versus our privilege to know.

4) The South — The West: Very different areas culturally! After growing up in the south, I moved west, for specific reasons. “South West” is just a geographical term; the lifestyles do not generally parallel. Treasures of the Rockies are quite different then Treasures of Mississippi. We should establish our own identity, not piggyback others’ successes. We need direction that fully recognizes our distinctiveness, one that gives primary consideration to local environment and respects, not squanders our local amenities. There is plenty of untapped potential here, no doubt ... and no longer much margin for error.

Veronica Taylor


Dear Editor:

I have recently attended several local symposiums, conferences and workshops and was encouraged with all of the positive comments and exciting plans for Pagosa’s future. It is awesome indeed to see such a positive forward momentum here in Pagosa. The Town Tourism Committee’s Conference and Business Expo was enlightening. It’s a scary time when you see so many local businesses closing and yet we were still able to hear accomplished locals and outside experts sharing ideas that have worked along with encouraging new ideas for future successes. The new merchants group is in full swing and I’m feeling very positive about that as well. We must continue to develop economically in order to survive. Growing and developing our economic base is critical to the future of Archuleta County and all who live here. I am excited about many of the new summer activities that are just around the corner.

I especially am looking forward to the Golden Retriever Event the last weekend of June and the thrill of those beautiful animals parading down our downtown streets. The very same weekend there will be Western Heritage Days, a three-day weekend affair on the Fred Harman Museum grounds. The long weekend will have something for the entire family with music, crafts, food and fun. So, thank you to all of the groups out there working so hard to keep Pagosa developing economically and, with a lot of hard work and with all of us working together, we can continue to put ourselves on the map and host many new organizations, visitors and friends to our lovely mountain town.

Tari Woods

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