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Letters to the Editor

Surprises

Dear Editor:

2011 … quite a year of surprises. Today people are completely confused about what to do or think about who’s really who and what to do about the future.

Let’s list just some of the big (or maybe not) surprises: Republican presidential candidates are attacking Romney “the Moderate” for his Darwinian cannibalistic capitalism. It gets weirder for the right; Ken Rogoff (a very conservative economist) reluctantly agreed with Paul Krugman that additional stimulus may be needed, but more important are new ideas; the U.S. has slipped significantly from the “the land of the free” (but not our corporations, thanks to the Supreme Court, they’re now super people); jobs are now “tradeable” (other countries do it cheaper) vs. non-tradeable (Republicans want to cut a larger segment of the latter, i.e. government jobs); we “discovered” 1 percent of the people globally control most of the wealth; the other competing major oil supplying nations now need to maintain the price of crude oil between $88 and $110 per barrel due to their internal costs to dissuade dissidence (dictatorship ain’t cheap), thus Iran may also be hyping war talk to stay economically afloat; supply and demand is no longer the primary driver for the price of gas, it’s the risk factor of a changing world; along that line, the Tea Party and Christian fundamentalists have proved to be mirror images of their Islamic counterparts; our coming presidential choice is likely to be between two identical candidates economically, with a willingness to flip-flop on issues and in their MBA style decision making process; if the Eurozone continues to implode into a recession then the U.S. “double dip” can’t be far behind and only China (Europe’s largest trading ptnr.) can/should bail out Europe — speaking of which, China has exceeded the U.S. as the most successful capitalist nation. Well, there’s more but, enough fun.

Surely we’ll return to our old comfortable stereotypes where right wingers have names and putdowns for everyone else. But, maybe not — could we take Rogoff’s advice and seek new ideas? It’s 2012 … anybody else betting the Mayan’s just ran out of stone?

Dave Blake

Amend

Dear Editor:

Saturday, Jan 21, is the second anniversary of the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision, and over 50 national, state and local organizations are mobilizing their members to work for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United to reduce the influence of big money over our elected officials, and take back our democracy.

If you are interested in protecting the value of your vote, please attend a short organizational meeting on Saturday, Jan. 21, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. You will meet others with a similar concern, receive current information and express what you would like to see happen locally.

If you are concerned, please send an e-mail to MoveToAmend.Pagosa@yahoo.com and you will be contacted with details and directions. Please include your name and phone number so that you may be contacted by phone. If you cannot attend the meeting, we will put you on our e-mail list.

Our democracy does not have to be just another commodity owned and controlled by multi-national corporations through their unlimited and undisclosed spending to influence our nation’s elections and our elected officials. We can rescue our democracy so that ordinary citizens have control over the value of their vote and their future. Join us on the 21st.

Ron Chacey

Incentives

Dear Editor:

It was thought in early economic development efforts, that offering incentives for new businesses like Wal-Mart to relocate to an area — particularly to an economically depressed area — was the best method. However, over time, economic development thought has evolved, based on learnings from practice.

What has been learned?

Economic incentives are certainly good for the big firms. They can play one community against another looking for the best deal.

But economic incentives may not be good for the community.

Actual hires tend to be less than announced and job multipliers for large firm relocations are much less than one — that is for every hundred jobs created, many are lost—so the net impact on jobs overall is reduced to a minimal increase at best.

Profits, rather than being kept in the community and recirculated or invested, are exported to headquarters or elsewhere.

What’s more, by causing some local businesses to close, the community becomes more dependent on the large firm to stay, but a firm that relocates to a town because of incentives is not invested in the community. The firm may just as easily relocate to a lower cost area that offers better incentives at some point, so the community may have to continue to provide incentives to keep the large firm here.

According to the research of Kelly D. Edmiston, senior economist, Community Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, the number of communities nationwide which do not use incentives is up from 12 percent in 1994 to 45 percent in 2004. Clearly the practice of economic development has evolved to embrace a better method: “growing your own.”

This approach has two complementary features: 1) developing and supporting local entrepreneurs and small businesses and 2) expanding and improving infrastructure and developing a highly trained workforce.

According to Edmiston, for every job created by a local business, the total impact to the community averages two jobs — one in the company itself and the equivalent of another in local service and other indirect jobs from recirculation of income within the community. Also, because local business owners live and work here, they are invested in the community.

Luring big firms with incentives — smokestack chasing — is a “zero sum game’’ where when one town wins another loses. With various communities trying to outbid one another to attract businesses, it quickly becomes a “race to the bottom” in which no community really wins. With Wal-Mart, if we were to divide the cost of the incentives (initial and continuing) by the number of jobs, is the return on investment worthwhile?

I believe there is a better way. There is a bigger bang for the buck — spending money and effort investing in our own community. The business community will become more robust and diverse and all of us who live and love it here will be enriched.

Muriel Eason

Lost

Dear Editor:

As a La Plata County resident, I believe that Joe Theine and his advisory team (at San Juan Basin Health Department) have done the same thing at the Durango office. The clients were forced to find private medical practices and agencies to provide their care in La Plata County also putting a great amount of stress and anxiety on an already vulnerable population.

The employees spent months in turmoil waiting for decisions to be made regarding their employment. Although most of the Personal Care Providers and their clients were able to be placed by other agencies, some very knowledgeable, longterm employees were let go, or made to feel they had find other work before the axe hit the chopping block. This affected other departments and clients in the Health Department, not just the Pre-Natal and Personal Care Agency.

I understand budget cuts, belt tightening and the need to conserve, but I do not understand the method by which everything was done in either county. FTE calculations do not seem to be the way to determine what services to provide citizens of Archuleta and La Plata County.

By the way, one look at the SJBHD website (sjbhd.org), under the “About Us” tab, there is a link on that page to the Pagosa Employees. Take a minute to click on it to view the programs that the three woman who were terminated on Jan. 3, 2012, were involved in. Then think about all of that experience, knowledge and potential programs that have been lost. Too bad “the powers that be” didn’t look on this page before taking their action.

Sheila Fitzhugh

Durango

Health fair

Dear Editor:

Many thanks to Caroline Brown, who has stepped up to be the 2012 Site Coordinator for our annual 9Health Fair!

We were reaching the point of cancelling our local fair since we had no one to act as our contact person with 9Health Fair staff in Denver, and to coordinate the efforts of our core team and their two hundred volunteers.

Now it is “game on!” and we hope you will put “9Health Fair, Saturday, April 7th, from 7 a.m. to noon, at the Pagosa Springs High School,” on your calendar of “Do Not Miss” events.

This is a great event, which has benefitted many members of our community for over 30 years, and we are grateful to all who donate both time and money to make this a successful event.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Sharee Grazda

Truth

Dear Editor:

As the terminated employees of SJBHD, we want to say goodby to our clients and friends. It was a pleasure being part of your lives and serving you.

Those let go represent over 75 years of combined experience at SJBHD and we feel the need to clarify Joe Theine’s statements in last week’s SUN article. He stated, “that the cuts are related to the cuts of the prenatal and personal care provider program.”

Susie Kleckner, Lisa Montoya, Peggy Bergon and Mike Hackworth did not work in either of those programs. Kim Reedy spent less than 5 percent of her time in the prenatal clinic.

As for Mr. Theine’s closing statement, “SJBHD is alive and well in Pagosa Springs,” we disagree. Several Archuleta County programs have indeed been suspended. If you need to apply for insurance for your child, you’ll need to go to Durango. If you are an uninsured woman over 40, who finds a breast lump, you’ll be referred to Planned Parenthood in Durango. Need immunizations? Call elsewhere. If you have a special needs child, all HCP services are now in Durango. If your neighbor’s septic system is failing, call Durango.

Keeping the experienced, well-trained and knowledgeable employees working for our community should have been a priority. We were never asked to take a cut in pay or benefits, we were never asked to be part of the budget solutions. Having four employees driving over from Durango weekly is not cost saving or serving the unique needs of our community. We deserve transparency and truth as well as quality health care. Alive and well?

Susie Kleckner, Lisa Montoya, Kim Reedy, Peggy Bergon, Theresa Lucero, Mike Hackworth

Wronged

Dear Editor:

Wal-Mart in Pagosa Springs, how awful!

My husband and I moved from Pagosa in November 2010. I can honestly say that was the saddest and most difficult decision we had to make, but it was necessary because of the recession. I now believe with all my heart that the Lord was looking out for me, because my home was across Alpha Drive from the tract of land where Wal-Mart is planning to build. I cannot imagine anything more awful than looking out my window and seeing that store each and every day. As a former resident of Pagosa and one who dearly loves Pagosa, I feel that the mayor and town council have terribly wronged the people of that beautiful town.

I’m sure the reason for the secrecy and not allowing any feedback at the council meeting is that the mayor and towncouncil knew how negatively the general population would accept their decision. The old premise of “don’t ask permission first, do it then deal with it” certainly applies here.

The Wal-Mart folks say they are going to provide jobs, but at what cost to Pagosa? Just how many businesses and their employees will suffer the consequences of this decision?

Pagosa has suffered badly from the recession, a number of businesses have already closed and people moved away and it doesn’t look like the suffering has ended. In my opinion, Wal-Mart is going to have an even more negative effect on Pagosa.

Charlene Short

Haughton, La.

Ineptocracy

Dear Editor:

Anyone who has a computer cannot fail to recognize how the Web is changing so many things in our lives, including our language. Many of the new words that have been born of the Web are technical in nature, difficult to comprehend and not found in Webster’s dictionary. One of the new words that recently came to my attention is “ineptocracy.” I couldn’t find it in the dictionary, but, nevertheless, I have no difficulty in understanding it and, like the person who sent it to me, I love it, I really love it. The reason I’m so enamored with it is its meaning: Ineptocracy is a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealthy of admonishing number of producers. In a nutshell, therefore, it stands for the Obama government.

Is there a better way to describe the welfare state that Obama is attempting to create? Is this not what all the “Occupiers” are trying to achieve in our major cities? The answer is obvious: This is exactly what they want, and if Obama is not voted out of office, this is what you and I are going to get, whether we want it or not. It will be jammed down our throats just like Obamacare.

It’s time to wake up, people! Let’s put an end to ineptocracy in November before it’s too late.

Gary Stansbury

Natural

Dear Editor:

I have been informed recently that many people think I am for the more extravagant plans recently forwarded by the Town Tourism Committee’s Reservoir Hill Task Force. I am not. I am for a “happy medium.”

I helped begin the Reservoir Hill Project when asked to come up with ideas for greater utilization of the hill property for locals and tourists. I tried my best to think of improvements respecting the ambiance and natural environment on the hill while still providing better access and tourist attractions.

Following additional direction from the town board and administration, the task force added several more features that I do not believe should be installed on the hill. There is nothing wrong with theme park-type facilities, but not in Town Park and not on Reservoir Hill. It is obvious that some people have a longer term and stronger bond and respect for the hill than others.

A first step is a better road to Folk Festival Meadow. This work has already begun. A related idea is a small parking area in the first corner of Folk Festival Meadow. I see this as looking similar to the Treasure Falls rest stop with a few lanes of parking and a restroom. The road beyond this area would be used for walking and for service vehicles during events.

I see reworking the meadow’s surface for drainage, installing paved walkways around the meadow and picnic tables.

A proper stage, combined with a secure service building should be erected on the meadow’s north side. For fire safety reasons and the forest’s health, the trees need thinning. I suggest construction be done with logs from the thinning and stone, very rustic and fitting on the hill. This facility would vastly improve the ability to have large and small events, weddings, family reunions, school gatherings, etc. The building/stage might also have additional restrooms and a kitchen. Such a municipal facility is common and well used in many towns. The town can charge use fees.

I see an enlarged hiking, mountain biking and Nordic skiing system on currently unused acres and improving the sledding and snowboarding hills.

From the time people first came to the hot springs, they likely hiked to the high point on the northeast corner of the hill for the stunning Continental Divide view. I see erecting a two- or three-floor log and stone lookout tower there, with scenic, historic and geologic exhibits related to the view and to Pagosa Springs. Research discovered a tower near a like-sized town drawing 60,000 visitors a year.

On any given day, people will still hike, bike and ski the trails in quiet bliss and the hill will retain its charm. Yes, more people will be there to enjoy that charm, but this isn’t an amusement park or carnival atmosphere except during big events. Reservoir Hill is a significant natural resource that should remain natural. It merits our attention for the benefit of all.

Norm Vance

CDC

Dear Editor:

While I don’t know the internal politics of the CDC, I do want to take issue with the implied ineffectiveness of the board, most pointedly its executive director, Rich Lindblad, in last week’s article “Pot Stirred at CDC meeting.” To read that “nothing has been accomplished over the past two years” is very untrue from my personal perspective. Building one small business at a time should be the core of the CDC. This is my story.

I started my business here just under two years ago. Starting a business like mine in rural Colorado would have been extremely difficult, not to mention discouraging. Luckily, I found classes offered here in town through the SBDC and Region 9 and took them. One of my teachers was Rich Lindblad. I want to say a big “thank you” to him and others here that have helped me figure out next steps. I have consulted with Rich on numerous occasions as director of the CDC and have found his insight, resources and encouragement to be invaluable. My business would not be a business without that support. I have been fortunate to find many people in this town with a similar dedication to the success of small startup businesses. Specifically, I want to express how important it is to have a resource like the CDC, staffed with dedicated people to help make a business vision a reality. I hope to create jobs here in Pagosa over the next few months, just a few now, but then more as my business expands.

I found out last Friday that I am receiving the second place award for the best business plan in the State of Colorado. While I worked hard to accomplish this achievement, much of my success can be directly connected to Rich and his support. I’m one example, I’m sure there are many other local businesses or startups that rely on the services of organizations like the CDC.

Lynne Vickerstaff

Sustainable

Dear Editor:

Regarding Wal-Mart: My wife and I bought a house in downtown Pagosa 3 1/2 years ago. Prior to locating here, I worked for over thirty years as a specialist in predicting social and economic impacts to communities, typically from large energy projects which bring in basic jobs to the community. My work experience includes the University of Wyoming, Argonne National Laboratory and Duke University’s Environmental Leadership Program.

My work with communities over the last 30-plus years has identified consistent findings which may be of interest to residents and local political leaders.

1. The people who benefit from large projects are seldom the same people who pay the cost associated with the project. The owners of every small shop in town will lose, along with their employees. Tourists and residents who appreciate the western small town experience and aesthetic will lose (especially as shops are shuttered).

2. Projected economic benefits of large projects are overly positive, while the negative effects are less clearly defined. Overly optimistic assumptions (amount of economic leakage Wal-Mart might capture) skew the results. It is harder to anticipate lost business, forgone opportunities and effects on the bottom line of small businesses.

3. Locus of control shifts from the local area to multinational corporations. Local business owners live in the community, know their employees and their customers and care about the community’s future. Multinational corporations answer to their Boards of Directors and ultimately their stockholders.

4. Induced development along highways increases strip mall development and contributes to the loss of a coherently functioning downtown. Big box development encourages people to drive instead of walk, breaks down the social density of downtown and makes downtown less viable for businesses.

5. Economic incentives are often extracted by multinational corporations as a condition of locating in a given community. If the town succumbs to such tactics, this loss of revenue for the town comes at the costs of improvements needed to enhance the community infrastructure for existing businesses and residents. Waived impact fees will cost the community $250,000 and is the subject of the Town Council Meeting on Feb. 19. Many communities have successfully invested in their downtowns through installation of historic street lights, traffic calming and the creation of historic districts with character.

6. Counties and towns devise ways to work together when addressing large projects affecting both. In the future, the interests of the wider Pagosa population need to be included in deciding the future of their community.

In other communities where I have worked, unpopular decisions by elected officials have led to increased conflict, emergence of organized opposition, legal action, political change and reconsideration by proponents of unpopular projects. The longterm consequences of the Wal-Mart decision will spur the emergence of an energized group of business people and residents to challenge the existing political mindset that looks to Wal-Mart for community development instead of having a vision for a sustainable future for Pagosa Springs.

Gary Williams

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