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Letters to Editor


Dear Editor:

“Corporations are people, my friends.” That’s what he said in August during a stump speech and it reveals so much about where the head and heart of Mit Romney really is. He is so far removed from ordinary folk that he fails to understand that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision which corroborates his belief has made it very difficult for the rest of us to be heard above the sound of millions being spent by corporations to sway elections.

Regardless of political affiliation, We the People understand that corporations are not people and money is not speech. Across all parties, a full 62 percent specifically oppose Citizens United. A whopping 85 percent of voters say that corporations have too much influence over the political system, and 93 percent say that average citizens have too little. This is power and it will reverse the Roberts Court decision.

A little history tells us that the the American people have been forced several times to amend the Constitution to reverse the damage caused by the Supreme Court when it makes decisions that act against the democratic process.

In 1857, in the Dred Scott decision, the Supreme Court ruled that white supremacy was built into the Constitution. After the Civil War, that infamous decision was reversed through the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.

In 1875, in Minor v. Hapersett, the Court ruled that the Equal Protection Clause did not protect the right of women to vote. In response, the suffragists committed civil disobedience and accomplished passage in 1920 of the 19th Amendment.

In 1937, in Breedlove v. Suttles, the Court rejected an Equal Protection attack on the imposition of poll taxes as a condition for voting, but the Civil Rights Movement finally won passage of the 24th Amendment in 1964 banning poll taxes in federal elections.

So what we are doing now is not new. Today the state legislatures of six states have already passed amendments calling for the reversal of the Citizens United decision (Hawaii, New Mexico, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maryland and California). In another 20 states such amendments are awaiting action in one or both houses of the legislature. The number of local resolutions passed by city councils, county boards of commissioners (including our own), political parties (including both of ours) and other organizations has entered three digits.

It is time now for Colorado voters to stand up and join this populist movement. By passing Amendment 65, We the People of Colorado will have said that our legislature must propose and support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that allows Congress and the states to limit campaign contributions and spending. There is a proud tradition of activism to be upheld. Let’s get Money out of Politics! November 6 is the time to do it.

Pauline Benetti

Money and power

Dear Editor:

There’s a popular adage about how providing food to a hungry man only leads to his dependence, that by teaching him to fish he will be able to feed himself; in other words, become independent. The one thing lacking in this scenario is that the man must have access to the water.

The question of whether or not the State Assembly should support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution regarding campaign finance will be on the Nov. 6 ballot. The issue is whether or not money, according to the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, is a form of speech and, if so, whether “it” is entitled to First Amendment privileges in the political process. This has become an emotional issue for many people in that it raises questions concerning human dignity, individual rights and exactly what is equality as well as who or what are “persons.”

Money and power have intermarried for centuries both biologically and politically, spawning in both cases weakness and corruption instead of strength and honest leadership, pressing for status quo rather than progress. Close to home, Latin America is a perfect example where a few “established” families have controlled the wealth and the means to wealth for generations with the others left to fend on scraps from their tables and an occasional little treat. This so-called philanthropy, Reinhold Niebuhr wrote in 1932, “combines pity with the display of power and that latter element explains why the powerful are more inclined to be generous than to grant social justice.”

For me, this is what Citizens United is all about: Should the money of the powerful rich be allowed to squelch the voices and override the needs of people of lesser means, in effect to ultimately deny them free access to the water.

Henry Buslepp

Vote smart

Dear Editor:

I applaud your 9-27-2012 editorial suggesting that Pagosans, particularly young residents, register to vote. I also concur, that the campaign contribution amounts are almost as staggering as our debt (see; Obama has raised $690,100,000 and Romney has raised $633,000,000. Many Americans are trying to get money out of politics, but my suggestion to “leveling the playing field” is to outlaw all contributions and issue each party $500 million annually to spend on the presidential elections.

However, I thought the editor’s reference to “W” showed an MSNBC education; I would have rephrased his “W (George W. Bush) among other things, took a budget surplus and turned it into a hugely bloated deficit, amassing debt that would stun the most avid socialist, while continuing with the nation-building in foreign lands he promised to end.” This way: “With our young people’s PC literacy and internet proficiency, one needs not read or listen to half-truths and hate from blindly biased party supporters. Facts are easily “searched” out on sites like (“.gov” sites are government books) for the Constitution and its amendments, for our past daily “Debt to the Penny” archive, and to see which party was leading the Senate and the House each year. In the Constitution, you will find that Congress (not the president) has primary responsibility and authority to spend, tax, and borrow; and you’ll find that the Congressional anniversary of responsibility is Jan. 2, but the president’s anniversary of responsibility is Jan. 20. Matching the dates of the responsible parties in Congress and in the presidency to the debt on each day will give you the following: Clinton and Bush had annual deficits (spent more than they took in) on each of their anniversaries (’93-’08). On the Congressional anniversaries Clinton’s Republican-controlled congress had a surplus of over $100 billion in their last year, and that the bi-partisan Congress of Bush’s first year spent the surplus before Bush was inaugurated.

Further, one can notice that Clinton had a two-year Democratic Congress averaging an annual deficit (borrowing) of $315 billion and a 6-year Republican Congress averaging $155 billion; Bush’s annual deficit was 1.7 times as much with a Democratically led Congress as it was with a Republican led Congress, and that Obama’s Democratic-controlled Congress averaged $1,685 billion deficits his first two years.”

The chairman of our Joint Chiefs of Staff once told Obama that the greatest threat to our national security was our national debt ( Young voters in particular should be aware of our $16,000,000,000,000-plus (that’s over $16 million x one million) debt and who must repay it. It ain’t the people in Pine Ridge Nursing Home. No party (including the Tea Party) has plans to reduce it. Why? When you hear a politician say they’re going to reduce the deficit, they’re saying that they will borrow less this year and put the remaining borrowing on your credit card. Help yourself, search for facts, vote smart. Prosperity is yours, but it is not an entitlement.

Harris Bynum


Dear Editor:

Many thanks to David Schanzenbaker for doing the job for which he was elected. In spite of harassment from “the old guard,” David continues to be the questioning voice of reason and intelligence on the Town Council. I am certainly not the only town/county resident who appreciates David.

Phyl Daleske

Another term

Dear Editor:

Despite constant criticism from a handful of frequent letter-writers, President Obama more than deserves re-election. I’m enthusiastically voting Obama for these reasons:

1. When he took office, the economy was on the brink of total collapse. Through the president’s economic rescue and stimulus packages , the American economy was saved from a second Great Depression.

2. President Obama saved the U.S. auto industry and many thousands of American jobs through his rescues of GM and Chrysler, while his opponent wanted to let them go bankrupt. Today, the U.S. auto industry is enjoying record sales and profits, and American manufacturing is back.

3. President Obama has created more private-sector jobs in one term than were created under either of Bush’s terms. Yes, we still need to do better, and public sector jobs are lagging — but largely because House Republicans blocked Obama ’s proposals that would have put hundreds of thousands of cops, firefighters, teachers, clerical workers and construction workers back to work.

4. When President Obama took office, we were bogged down in an ill-advised war in Iraq that cost America 4,000 lives and one trillion dollars. As promised, President Obama ended that war and brought our brave men and women home.

5. When President Obama took office, 45,000 Americans were dying every year for lack of health insurance. He secured legislation that will end that disgrace, end the practice of denying insurance or charging more for it due to pre-existing conditions, and has already increased the number of insured Americans by allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance policies. Additionally, seniors have already saved $4.5 billion on prescription drugs because of the Affordable Care Act — more than $600 per senior so far this year.

6. Because of orders given by President Obama as Commander-in-Chief, Osama bin Laden and Muammar Ghaddafi are dead. Al Quaeda is decimated and has been largely driven from Afghanistan.

7. President Obama ended the shameful practice of discrimination based on sexual orientation in the U.S. armed services. Today, qualified men and women are no longer kept out of our armed services because of discrimination, and research has shown that the change has had no harmful effects on military preparedness, unit cohesion, recruitment or retention.

This is reason enough to vote to re-elect President Obama, but there is also his opponent. Governor Romney has proven himself to be utterly lacking in principle, changing his position repeatedly on health care, abortion, Social Security and many other issues. About all he hasn’t changed his position on are keeping his tax returns secret and giving additional tax breaks to his fellow multimillionaires. Add to that advertising with complete lies about President Obama, such as Romney’s ad about welfare reform, which has been thoroughly debunked by every fact-checking organization.

President Obama deserves another term; Romney does not deserve any position of public trust. I’m voting to re-elect President Obama, and for Sal Pace for Congress to give him the support he needs in Congress to keep America moving forward.

John Farley


Dear Editor:

I appreciate our library and the helpful staff working there. It’s obvious to me that others feel the same way because all parking spots were taken. Inside, the building was crowded and loud. I couldn’t find a silent corner to read. I forgave all the inconvenience and took some material home to do homework. After all , the library is not always that busy.

I’m wondering, however, why can’t City Market donate that ugly, abandoned building across the street to the town so that we can open a new, expanded Ruby Sisson Library? What a gracious gesture that would be from the Kroger Corp. for partial payback to the town for the nasty eyesore they have created in town and the inconvenience they have created by making downtown folk go uptown for service.

As I have said, I love our library, however, I imagine more room would be appreciated. Just think, with an expanded library, there might be room for a lecture hall with fixed seats and a sound system for the many programs and speakers the library organizes; perhaps one or two more classrooms could be added for the little kids and the computer classes now offered; how about a silent reading room and an art gallery? The extended parking lot would be appreciated too. A small coffee shop might be coaxed open somewhere in the abandoned City Market Mall with parallel hours so library patrons could cross over for fuel. I’m just thinking. I don’t even know if the librarians would want to be part of this move. Maybe this letter can provoke some community comments.

Joe Granias


Dear Editor:

My name is Becky Guilliams. I am a teacher at Pagosa Springs High School. As I read the article from Betty Slade, in her column “Artist’s Lane,” I was taken back to a memory of a wet, rainy night this summer. Several things made this a memorable night. I remember working a very long, hard day building a new fence on our private property. As we departed from our property, we saw headlights a long way off the main road where a vehicle shouldn’t be. The main road was slick from the rain, so we hoped we could get ahead of the vehicle to see their license plate in order to turn that information over to the proper authorities for destruction of public property. As we turned a corner, there was a small white pickup over 100 yards off the main road. We caught up to the vehicle. I told my husband, “I know that pickup. We have worked on it in the shop several times.” We stopped the vehicle. I shouted out to the student because I was angry about the ruts he was making and the grass he was tearing up with his pickup. The “F” word is not allowed in my shop. (I asked my husband if I used the “F” word because I did not remember. He said “No.”) After the confrontation, the students in the pickup sped off in the opposite direction, toward our property. Each time the white pickup caught up with us, it took off rapidly on another private property access road. As we approached the house of the caretaker for the Hershey Ranch, we once again blocked their escape. The occupants of the white truck were approached by the caretaker and my husband to point out the legality of the choices they had made that day concerning the destruction of both personal and public lands. We were contacted by the U.S. Forest Service for a location of the property destruction. We met with and provided statements to the destruction for the US Forest Service about the property destruction.

Many of the female teachers at Pagosa Springs High School felt libeled by this article. I want to accept responsibility and Paul Harvey would say something about that being “the rest of the story.” I contacted the editor. He felt that there was nothing wrong with the article Betty Slade wrote. He told me to put something in the letters to the editor. So here is the letter to the editor. Breaking the law is wrong and should be dealt with that way. I do not think what was done by my family and the caretaker of the Hershey Ranch was wrong. I also do not think that my colleagues should be plagued by negative journalism over something that was done in an effort to protect national forest and private property.

Becky Guilliams


Dear Editor:

I would like to suggest to open-minded Pagosans that they give some consideration to an issue which has received very little attention in the national discourse during this campaign — the environment. We are surrounded by public lands and there are many powerful interests hunkering to get unfettered access to those resources. Presidential candidate Romney said he isn’t sure why we need so much public land and has expressed support of a Utah measure, passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, that demands that the federal government turn over 30 million acres of public land to the state. This is, no doubt, so that the oil companies and the likes of the Koch brothers can extract as much as they want without regard for the environment or the enjoyment of future generations.

We need to send someone to Congress from Colorado’s Third Congressional District who will forcefully represent our ethic of preserving public lands for public enjoyment and for the benefit of our children. Sal Pace is the candidate who will do this. Sal Pace’s has been endorsed by the Sierra Club. He believes that Coloradans want a responsible balance between exploiting our natural resources and preserving the natural beauty and recreational opportunities that attract the hunters, fishermen, rafters and hikers who visit and live here. Hopefully, Mr. Pace’s opponent shares some of these concerns, but he has not taken a strong position on this issue and his party is moving in the other direction. That is why Sal Pace is the better choice to represent us in Congress.

Johnny Pickett


Dear Editor:

If you have heard any radio ads for J. Paul Brown, you know that he accuses his opponent, Mike McLachlan, of distorting his record in the House. He asks that you look at his record and decide for yourself. Fair enough. Let’s look at some of the bills that J. Paul voted against.

He voted against a bill to extend the repeal date for the Teen Pregnancy and Dropout Prevention Program in the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. Apparently, he doesn’t feel that teen pregnancy and school dropouts are worth preventing.

He voted against a bill that requires all health plans to cover evaluation of children suspected of having Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). FASD constitute a variety of permanent birth defects resulting from a pregnant mother consuming alcohol. Perhaps, Mr. Brown feels that since this was the mother’s fault, her ailing baby shouldn’t have the benefit of treatment — too expensive for the insurance companies.

He voted against a bill to require all insurance carriers selling individual health insurance policies to provide child-only health insurance plans up to age 19 without regard to preexisting conditions. Again, we need to protect the multi-billion dollar profits of the insurance industry and to heck with the kids.

He voted against a bill to require all child care workers to have a fingerprint-based criminal history background check through the FBI and Colorado Bureau of Investigation. I guess he doesn’t want to protect our children from predators.

He voted against a bill to reduce youth homelessness, bringing Colorado statutes into compliance with Federal law. Wow. Against protecting homeless youth?

He voted against a bill to allow a new income tax checkoff to collect donations for the Public Education Fund, which was created by the legislation. Seems to be a pattern of anti-youth votes here.

In all of these votes, Mr. Brown joined a small minority of House members opposed to the legislation. On two of the bills, youth homelessness and background checks for child care workers, Mr. Brown was the only no vote. Apparently, he saw something sinister in these bills that even his most conservative Republican colleagues overlooked. Mr. Brown says that his voting record represents the values of the 59th District. I think his record represents an extreme right wing partisan philosophy that does not represent the vision of his constituents. I urge you to vote for Mike McLachlan.

I want to close by shifting gears a bit. Romney calls his dad, George Romney, his inspiration. George Romney was a moderate Republican governor and presidential candidate. In today’s Tea Party driven Republican Party he would have no chance of being nominated for anything. I would suggest that the same goes for Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and probably even George W. Bush. They were all too willing to compromise to assist the American people. Reason, not ideology.

John Porco


Dear Editor:

Clint Eastwood, American icon, added to his stellar achievements by takin’ it to Barrack Obama . In a highly original bit of stagecraft at the Republican convention, the cinema tough guy defined obummer forever as an empty chair. And said: “We own this country. Politicians are employees of ours … It’s important that you realize that you’re the best in the world … and when somebody does not do the job, we got to let them go.”

Eastwood rightly called 23 million unemployed Americans “a national disgrace,” worthy of tears, and charged that Obama was barely interested. Moments later, Sen. Marco Rubio declared, “Our problem with President Obama isn’t that he’s a bad person … our problem is he’s a bad president.” Sorry, but he is both. As good as America and her people are (“the best in the world,” per Eastwood), we are being led by an unworthy.

This president has wasted our treasure and the treasure of generations to come on follies and corruption, has spat on our traditions, our institutions and our liberties, has shredded our Constitution — all to “fundamentally transform America” into a weaker, ungloried thing. His mission is to humble and even shame the greatest nation history has seen.

And so, at Obama’s direction, American power wanes. The world reels. Obama’s “empty chair” foreign policy is a purposeful relinquishing of projected U.S. strength abroad. The gathering storm of great global hatreds and evils, held in check for generations by spilled American blood, threatens us and those who have trusted us.

Obama has, unbeknownst to most of his people, at the same time manipulated and supported dozens of regime changes world wide, installing unimaginably brutal and diabolical men. For the first time in their lives and ours, the power shifts: American weakness invites the unleashed ugliness of tyranny, and a new Dark Ages. You can see its beginnings in violent protests worldwide. It’s not too late to reverse course. But we’ve got to let Obama go.

You re-elect this guy, and mark my words, we’ll pass the tipping point: a majority of Americans will no longer believe in America as “the land of opportunity,” where greatness is possible. And they may well be right. Instead, many lives will be defined by lost opportunity. What’s at stake in November is the survival of America’s work ethic, optimism, and most of all — the American dream.

Obama is targeting the youth because they don’t remember America. They haven’t been taught America. To them, Obama and the Democrats are America. This grim place where there are no jobs and no prospects and boarded-up businesses, is the only America they know. And that’s why we have to save this nation for them. They don’t know!

It’s also why the regime is happy to write off the elderly (hello, death panels). Because the elderly are the ones who do remember what America was. And they still know how ta love her.

It’s time for the voters to restore this great and good land of our founders. Let’s not make the same mistake again. Vote for the American.

Jim Sawicki

Credit card

Dear Editor:

Do you believe in socialism for this country? Socialism works on the principle that everything is shared equally between all members of a society. Our founding fathers did not believe in socialism, but they did believe in principles of liberty, including the idea that men are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.

So what are we letting our country turn into? Our country cannot continue to live on a credit card.

President Obama has already reallocated 716 billion dollars from Medicare to fund his new healthcare ideology, what we now call Obama care. Being in the medical field, I can tell you that if Obama care is implemented, many physicians will retire early, others will just quit practicing, and many of the rest will not accept Obama care patients. Medicare needs to be overhauled into a viable program. It needs to pay the physician’s a decent wage so that they do not lose money when caring for Medicare patients. Overhead costs in medical practices are huge, with taxes and costly equipment expenses, and this makes caring for Medicare patients almost impossible. Paul Ryan is not going to push grandma off a cliff, and women will still be able to have reproductive choices, but why should the government pay for the consequences of irresponsible behavior? I guess in a socialistic state that would be the norm.

Ok, so Obama supporters do not like the rich, advantaged 1 percent of this country’s wealthiest people. Even if he was able to increase taxes on the rich, it would not be a drop in the bucket to reduce our current rate of spending, and lower our national debt. Besides, most of the wealthiest in this country do support the working poor and disadvantaged. You may not believe this, but these Americans are a very philanthropic group. These same Americans start foundations and charities with wonderful programs to help those who are in need. Americans are the best in the world when it comes to giving, and right now we are giving away our country. If Obama succeeds with his plans to take more from the rich, to “reallocate funds,” this wonderful funding source could dwindle. These organizations help the poor in numerous ways that the government does not. The rich care a lot about this country and give to the most unfortunate in this country. Go online and search for Foundations and Charities, you will find thousands!

The government should not care for all of our needs. Let the wealth stimulate the economy so we all can have jobs, instead of making this country a socialistic welfare state. We must vote Obama out, as Clint would say, “If someone doesn’t do their job, they need to be let go.” Obama makes excuses for all of his failures and has delivered very little on his promises. He has a hidden agenda, trust me he does, and if he is re-elected you will see this country destroyed. Vote the Romney/Ryan ticket. You will be glad you did.

Sue Seeman


Dear Editor:

My goodness why can’t we get a CBA?

Whether you’re in favor of Wal-Mart or against, it’s very important to get a CBA (Community Benefits Agreement) that legally requires Wal-Mart to commit to our town. We have committed county and city money to a road, water fire suppression, and who knows what else to support them. Plus we’re putting a lot on the line in terms of small business competition. Why can’t we as a community ask for things in return? Basic responsible things that Wal-Mart should commit to as a sincere community partner like: dark sky compliance; enhancing neighborhoods around them to completely minimize their impact with bike trails, large tree and shrub landscaping, traffic mitigation; an empty building guarantee; and a committed percentage of building construction going to our local trades. Even though much of the process on the part of our local government entities has been a “roll over” attitude, we as community citizens still have the ability to use our political will and let our representatives know that certain conditions should be required of Wal-Mart. Over the next week, I respectfully ask that everyone write or email members of the Town Council and Archuleta County commissioners asking for a CBA. I understand that we have very limited leverage right because much has been acquiesced, but public impressions should be important to both government officials and Wal-Mart. Surely these are some things we can agree on as a community. That’s the very least we owe each other.

Lynne Vickerstaff


Dear Editor:

When you are getting a good return, keep investing.

The county invested $35,000 in the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation in 2012, resulting in (conservatively) 50 new jobs, mostly from the growth of existing small businesses. Precisely what it was supposed to do. From a strict “Return on Investment” (ROI) standpoint, the CDC was a good investment.

In essence, and grossly over-simplified, the county paid $700 per job for 50 jobs in the private sector of Archuleta County. That is a great investment. Those 50 jobs will inject hundreds of thousands of dollars into our economy every year for at least several years. The well-established “multiplier effect” will triple those impacts and generate other jobs.

Fact is that nearly all successful communities have (and partially fund) something like our PSCDC. Without a PSCDC, we would have to rely almost entirely on the town manager for economic development and business retention. Not a good idea or investment, as we have seen. Four years, zero jobs, Reservoir Hill fiasco, divided citizenry, etc.

From the beginning, I have been one of the harshest critics of the PSCDC and, ironically, at the same time one of its most ardent supporters, keeping “feet in the fire” on accountability for our investment of”tax dollars, while helping and encouraging momentum, when asked.

Some of us have stuck with the PSCDC because we recognize that it is necessary and critical to our future vitality and viability as a business community. In spite of its inept beginnings and early toxic political and personal entanglements, the new board and staff have found their footing and are delivering on the PSCDC’s promise. Jobs.

By the publication date of this edition of The SUN, and likely in it, more tangible evidence of the tremendous progress and potential of the PSCDC will be news across the county. We must keep investing in small businesses and new businesses through the PSCDC. It is working. Now we just need to show maturity in our leadership, thinking and actions about economic development.

Michael Whiting

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