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Letters to Editor

Who wins?

Dear Editor:

Let’s have some fun, but first, we have to accept we’re all tribal for purposes of affiliation, power, turf or just to irritate our enemies.

Modern groups are direct representatives of the roaming bands of pre-humans. Our drive to join is ingrained from evolutionary survival mechanisms.

While society can be influenced by an exceptional individual, it dominates most individuals. Thus, humans evolved to be a mix of group selection (altruistic action) and individual selection (selfish action).

If we go back all the way in time to when a bunch of monkeys ran out of food in their tree, you probably had one or two “individuals” (let’s call them “liberals”) willing to climb down and run for the next tree. Can’t you hear the catcalls from the traditionalists (let’s call them “conservatives,” surely God will provide) unwilling to do anything new.

What a dilemma, stay and starve, or do something dangerous and new. Well now, you can see why the monetarists in Chicago finally integrated aspects of Keynesian economics into their theory … no fun starving as a purist.

So, back to the group selection process. Insects are more altruistic than humans. So, to progress, mankind had to find a way (millenniums) to calibrate altruism, cooperation, competition, domination, reciprocity, deflection and deceit. Let’s call the end product “democratic capitalism.” Hold on, humans are great at being mimics, so let’s call current China, “social capitalism.” Democratic capitalism is busy making catcalls, claiming purism and pointing fingers, while social capitalists are granting (not loans) billions to block any growth industries (solar) in competing countries. China now sees the U.S. in a zero-sum approach ... the game has changed.

So, who wins, the traditionalist cat-calling tribe or the social capitalists?

Dave Blake


Dear Editor:

Last week’s elections changed the makeup of our town council significantly. Three new faces will be bringing a new variety of politics to Pagosa: a change for the good.

One person who still has his job in Pagosa, however, needs to be replaced and in the fastest method possible: Town Manager David Mitchem. He is a very important and influential political figure. Except our town manager is more focused on his political future in other cities than on his job here.

The most disappointing thing about David Mitchem is that he still has his job in Pagosa. Over the last month, he has very actively been exploring employment options in other cities. He has been using his position in Pagosa as a launching pad for his political aspirations elsewhere. That in itself is not entirely wrong, but Mitchem obviously does not have the future of our town as his priority any more. That alone is reason for him to go. Worse than that though, he represented himself to those prospective employers in a fabulously untruthful manner.

His resume and cover letter to those other towns were chock full of lies. Some of which are listed here.

• He claims he brought 150 new jobs to town with the new Wal-Mart. What Wal-Mart?

• He claims the success of having transformed Reservoir Hill into an amusement park. What changes to Rez is he talking about?

• And, the chairlift to nowhere as an alternate and green way to commute. What chairlift?

David Mitchem is not interested in the future of Pagosa. David Mitchem is about his own political future and not about Pagosa.

David Mitchem needs to resign or be fired.

Jennifer Burck

Poor site

Dear Editor:

Question for county commissioners.

I read with interest what is being planned for the county’s parcel of land, which lays between fairgrounds and county road and ridge yard.

My concern and yours should be how will you develop the land?

First, the parcel collects, I believe, 90 percent of rain and snow runoff. Portions are wetlands.

Second, where will you get topsoil to make land usable for proposed use? Land is almost entirely shale. Simply not an ideal parcel for your plans.

Third, surely you can find better use of funds. Our area is blessed with beautiful national forest that is used year round for hiking fishing, skiing, hunting, cross country. We have Reservoir Hill, great Riverwalk, if it’s ever completed, downtown hot springs complexes attract more people than a new park out of town.

Fourth, to spend over three-quarters of a million dollars on the parcel for recreation is very poor thinking.

Fifth, the most desirable ground in the area lays right at your doorstep. The old San Juan lumber site, perfect location.

I ask you commissioners, go for a walk so you can see what kind of ground you want to develop. Very poor site I must say.

Chris Chavez


Dear Editor:

Love vs. Dominance.

As a practicing, committed and flawed Christian, I’m suspicious when someone promotes the idea of integrating religion into our laws and governmental agencies.

Eugene Witkowski seemed to opine such a promotion in last week’s letters (“Principles”). I thought it was well thought out, and thus caused me considerable consternation and fear. Personally, I do not wish to live under someone’s definition of Christian principles any more than I wish to live under Sharia law.

Eugene noted that all 50 state preambles to their constitutions contain references to God. Neither the ACLU nor I have any objection to references to God in our governmental documents. We have “In God We Trust” on our coinage and “Under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance. These references to God have stood the test of Constitutional challenge because they do not serve to promote a specific religion.

If we adopt Christian emblems, phrases and theology in our laws, courts and schools, then which brand of Christianity do we adopt? Christian beliefs vary across a great number of denominations, some of which hold themselves as the only true way to heaven. Is my future behavior to be judged by laws promulgated by a particular Christian denomination or select group of elders? I hope not.

Want to have a civil society that lives by Christian principles? Then live a life that reflects the teachings of Jesus Christ, and practice the commandment to love others as you love yourself (Matthew 22:34-40).

Living a life of love will go much further than domination toward inspiring our population to embrace Christian principles. Show me your principles in your daily life, and there will be no need for you to force your theological point of view onto me or my family.

Jay Davison


Dear Editor:

I’ve been reading “Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe,” by George Dyson. Allen Turing is considered the father of the digital computer and is justly famous for his contributions to breaking the German Enigma code during WW II. During WW II, German U Boats were sinking about every allied ship afloat. By breaking the German code, some of the ships got through. Allen Turing was gay, was chemically castrated by the British Government and committed suicide at age 41. In 2009, the British government issued a formal apology.

The book is largely about the development of the digital computer at the Princeton Institute of Advanced Study. The primary motivation for the development of the digital computer was the calculations necessary for the development of the hydrogen bomb, and Los Alamos money and personnel were heavily involved.

It turns out that meteorological calculations are fundamentally the same as the calculations involved in building a hydrogen bomb. A group of meteorologists were at Princeton to serve as cover for the highly classified work on the “super.” The calculations for both the weather and the hydrogen bomb involve solving a set of differential equations that are based on physical principles ordained by God. The equations are broken down into small steps of space and time and then solved repeatedly. The fact that the bombs go boom lends a degree of credence to climate computer codes. In the early days of primitive computers, the calculation went on for weeks. Now computers can do in seconds what used to take weeks.

However, even the super computers of today have limitations. For example, modern codes are based on factorizing huge numbers. Recently, it took hundreds of classical computers working over a year to factor a 200 digit number. With a quantum computer, using Spor’s algorithm, it is estimated the task could be done in a few minutes.

It is not yet clear if God wants humans to have quantum computers, but if it is OK, the folks with the quantum computer win. (The Adiabatic Quantum computer team at Sandia ran its first quantum computation and determined that 1 is greater than 0 with a high degree of probability. A fifty qubit computer could outperform all the worlds’ super computers for some problems as stated in the press release.) Today, quantum cryptography is used for the transmission of highly classified information as it is impossible for a third party to eavesdrop without detection.

Sadly, the modern day political landscape is divided between those who talk about cubits and Noah’s Ark and those who talk about qubits and quantum entanglement. The story of qubits and quantum entanglement is even wilder than the story of Noah’s ark. It is disconcerting to hear that America no longer needs to train geeks and snobs. I suppose if we need a few, we can always import them from Taiwan.

Bob Dungan

Same old

Dear Editor:

Wal-Mart is now fighting not only to keep disability benefits from employees, but from non-employees too!

To make matters worse, the company chose to start its anti-disability campaign with an injured police officer in 2008.

Former Pine Bluff, Ark., Police Officer Jimmy Singleton was patting down a suspect in 2003 when he was shot in the ankle and knocked unconscious from a blow to the head. He suffered neurological damage, and today is overly sensitive to light and suffers frequent migraines. The bullet remains lodged in his ankle, making it difficult to walk or stand up for long periods of time. Officer Singleton is now retired, but had spent the past 4 years between 2004 and 2008 waging a nasty court battle to receive disability benefits.

Singleton didn’t work for Wal-Mart and his injury in the line of duty didn’t happen on Wal-Mart property.

So where does Wal-Mart come in?

A lawyer representing both Wal-Mart and Tyson, Arkansas’ two largest private employers, tendered “friend-of-the-court briefs” with the state Supreme Court arguing his claim should be denied.

Singleton’s lawyer, Kenneth Harper, said that “the ‘big boys’ are interested in the case because they feared the Court of Appeals’ rulings will set a precedent that will allow more people to collect on disability claims.”

Singleton said he was stunned that Wal-Mart and others would get involved and fight to deny his benefits.

In addition to the completely shameless treatment of an officer wounded in the public service, this was another horrible business decision for a company already struggling with its public image.

Not long after, in 2008, a Harris Interactive poll was released measuring the corporate image of 60 American companies and Wal-Mart’s brand suffered the third biggest drop on the list over that past year and Wal-Mart Watch released a poll that showed 28 percent of all consumers (and 23 percent of regular Wal-Mart shoppers) report developing a more negative opinion of the company over that year.

It’s not as if Wal-Mart isn’t concerned with its image, but no corporate marketing campaign can hide cases like Jimmy Singleton’s —which show us where Wal-Mart’s real interests lie.

Cue the smiley face. Sounds like the same old Wal-Mart.

Muriel Eason

Alive and well

Dear Editor:

There are many attractive features about living in Pagosa Springs, but one that is easily overlooked and for me personally a huge surprise was the Entrepreneur Conference last October and the entrepreneurs’ NxLevel course, which was just finishing, run by the SBDC. Lots of people do care about the type of businesses that prosper within this community. This doesn’t mean propping up a failing business with pointless custom, but if that business is willing to learn a different approach, do the research then new opportunities can come about, and people will buy into them.

Coming from London, UK, I’m willing to admit I originally was quite patronizing about this small town holding an Entrepreneur Conference. But this image was blown away when I realized the extent of experienced people that choose to live here, and how passionate they are about Pagosa Springs. This means a huge resource of knowledge here to tap into. Knowledge is far better resource than oil.

The SBDC Entrepreneurship Course has underlined this, and not enough people are taking advantage of the fact that people are willing to help if you’re willing to do the hard work. This starts by thinking differently and planning the direction for your business. This is not easy when the pile of bills is higher than your ability to peer over them, but a different outlook is key.

The course directors, Rich Lindblad and Lois Higgins, are a blessing to businesses around here and if they can’t help, then they know someone that can through the Chamber of Commerce or the community at large.

There is a way to beat Wal-Mart and the knowledge to do that is sitting on your doorstep. This small town has got a powerful punch that makes a massive different to other places I’ve lived in.

The American way is alive and well in Pagosa Springs and I find that exciting to be part of in years to come.

Gary Hedgecock


Dear Editor:

What’s the value of loyalty? David Mitchem should resign from the town manager position or Town Council should require him to do so. Community members have challenged Mr. Mitchem’s position and input on key town/community issues. The consistent concern is Mr. Mitchem’s lack of research, data and facts on which to base his actions or recommendations.

In his short tenure in town, Mitchem has championed: Repeal of the Big Box Task Force ordinance; chairlift to “nowhere” on Reservoir Hill; the over development of Reservoir Hill; clandestine recruitment of Wal-Mart; and now the $7 million bridge to “nowhere.”

All these issues demonstrate actions without proper understanding and sound factual support of their positive impact on our town. Mr. Mitchem doesn’t really care about our town. He is not invested in our town! He has never purchased a home in our town. While he should be focused on our long-term health and stability, he has been focused on a new job, with applications filed in at least three different towns in the last six months.

We now also know that in addition to “checking out” of Pagosa Springs, Mr. Mitchem has strongly padded his resume with radical distortions of the truth, saying, for example, that he brought 150 new jobs to Pagosa Springs. If he will lie to get out of Pagosa Springs, will he lie to further his position with the town? Do we deserve this man as our manager? Should we believe anything he is saying? The answer is simple. One way or another, David has to go! He no longer has the interests of the town as foremost in this mind and heart. Why are we paying him to be our town manager?

Susan Junta

Common sense

Dear Editor:

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments for or against Obama’s healthcare law. It could be declared unconstitutional. This law is evidence of more government intrusion into our lives and should be declared unconstitutional. We are already forced to buy seat belts and air bags on our cars and it has been proposed that all cars now have backup cameras. I would probably buy them anyway as an option, but I don’t have that choice. Pagosa Brewing is being forced to pave their parking lot. It would probably help their business, but government should not be telling them they have to.

If given the option, most people will make the right choices. When the elitist bureaucrats tell us how to run our lives, then that shows a lack of confidence in the American people. Give us a little credit for having some common sense! The Wal-Mart controversy is pure nonsense.

John Meyer


Dear Editor:

Three young men from downtown Pagosa Springs started the recall of Ross Aragon, mayor of Pagosa Springs for the past 33 years.

The 2012 recall will set in motion a new election with potentially a younger and more vibrant candidate for our growing community. That election will happen by law within 90 days of April 16, 2012, which is the deadline for the petition turned in to city hall.

Ninety-six (96) signatures are needed, of which 41 have been attained. Grounds on which recall is sought:

• Ross Aragon has not been entirely transparent and inclusive with the people he has been elected to represent. It is imperative that the citizens of Pagosa Springs are included in the decision-making process in order for us to live with the direction our leadership takes.

• Pagosa Springs is not the same place it was 34 years ago. We need leadership that will embrace our changing landscape. Ross Aragon has given the people of our municipality over three decades (33 years) of dedicated service. His legacy will reflect that. However, it is time for creative new ideas that will help define a refreshingly authentic vision for the Town of Pagosa Springs.

Only registered voters can sign the petition and they must reside physically in Pagosa Springs.

Paul Nobles

Tag, you’re it

Dear Editor:

A hornet’s nest has been stirred and the people of Pagosa Springs are attending meetings, asking questions and airing their viewpoints on many issues concerning the future of our community. Please, don’t believe that Wal-Mart is a “done deal.” Many hurdles have yet to be crossed and hundreds of questions remain unanswered. People would love to see a grocery store back in the downtown area, but if Wal-Mart is installed in the uptown zone, the likelihood of a grocery store ever returning to the downtown area is nil. We appear to be in the eye of the storm at the moment; some town meetings (CDC monthly meeting, for example) are being cancelled or postponed, presumably to allow the storm time to blow itself out.

Many reasonable questions were posed to Josh Pair (Wal-Mart representative) at the community open house. Regarding wages and job security, he was asked about actual hourly wages in Durango and Alamosa; no answer. Part-time workers versus full-time workers; no answer. What community benefits package would Wal-Mart be willing to sign with the town; for this, he had an answer: “No, we would not be willing to sign any kind of community benefits package.” What position does Wal-Mart have on GMO? Josh Phair’s answer to this: “I don’t even know what that is.” Questions have been posed via Josh Phair’s e-mail as well, to no avail. Light pollution, impact on the surrounding residential neighborhood, the death of the small business community and the desire for downtown Pagosa to have a thriving business environment including a grocery store are just some of the problems, challenges and questions which remain unexamined. Concerned citizens have turned out in large numbers to voice their opinions on the proposed “amusement park” project on Reservoir Hill. It appears that this project and the “ski lift to nowhere” don’t have enthusiastic support from the community as a whole. A few town officials are promoting and championing these projects, which now seem to be lacking community support. Continue to let your voice be heard! Attend meetings and speak with your elected town and county officials. With three new town council members having been sworn in last Thursday, it does seem that the townspeople have spoken. It is time for change. Keep attending meetings and speaking up for what you believe; this is democracy at work. Tag, you’re it!

Juanalee Park

Into the light

Dear Editor: brings corporate contributions “Into the Light.” This second report looks at House Minority Leader Sal Pace’s campaign contributions. Highlights will focus on general data and not-so-easily found sources of contributions. Full details at

1. Total contributions received for the 2012 election cycle: $475,317 (as of 12/31/2011): 26 percent from non-party organizations (e.g., PACs) and 74 percent from individuals.

2. Corporate contributors include: Aerus, Henry Crown and Company.

3. Union contributors include: IBEW, United Steel Workers, Teamsters, Carpenters and Joiners, International Association of Firefighters, Plumbers and Pipefitters, Service Employee International, Machinists, United Food and Commercial Workers.

4.PAC contributors: AmericPac-The Fund for a Greater America — receiving funding from Credit Suisse Group headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland; AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, BAE Systems, and HBSC headquartered in London, England; BASF headquartered in Ludwigshafen, Germany; along with many domestic corporations and associations.

Next week, Rep. J. Paul Brown.

MOP (Money Out of Politics) is a group of citizens in Pagosa Springs committed to creating awareness on all political levels of the perverse influence of big money in electoral campaigns. We meet every third Saturday from 4:30-6 p.m. All meetings are open to the public and all are welcome:. Next meeting is April 21. Visit us on the Web (, Facebook (MoneyOutofPolitics), or e-mail us at

Terry Pickett


Dear Editor:

I would like to share and celebrate with our great community the achievements of the third- and fourth-grade students who participated in Jump Rope for Heart. The elementary school has hosted this fund-raiser for many years; however, this year 60 amazing kids raised over $8,000, a new record for our district!

Jump Rope for Heart is a fund-raiser for the American Heart Association. All third- and fourth-grade students are invited to participate by collecting pledges throughout the community. The hard work of physical education teachers Lindsey Kurt-Mason and Allen Thompson make this program possible.

Our students were honored for their achievements with a swim graciously donated by The Springs Resort. As a member of the Jump Rope for Heart team, I would especially like to thank Principal Kate Lister for allowing these students to take academic time to swim as a reward for their dedication to such a worthy cause. It really takes me up a notch or two to see how dedicated our school district is to our students. Thanks to the students and the community for making this record-breaking year possible.

Debbie Ray

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