Soap Box

The fox is guarding the ballot box
03/05/2020
To the editor,
Our so-called president wasted no time ramping up his autocratic behavior after Senate minions told him with their impeachment acquittal that he can do anything he wants and there will be no consequences.
Trump went back to purging government agencies of anyone whose first loyalty isn’t to him personally, and adding to his cabal of officials, like Attorney General William Barr, who give all fealty to Trump instead of their country and the Constitution. 
Add to that his recent naming of his latest acting Director of National Security, whose only qualification for the job is his loyalty to Trump. Remember that Trump has been trying to undermine our intelligence and national security agencies, as well as the FBI, since his 2016 election because of their conclusions that the Russians meddled in that election in Trump’s favor, and they’re doing it again. 
Trump’s purges started two days after the acquittal, people who testified last fall in the House impeachment inquiries. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, was fired and escorted out of the White House. Trump said it was for “insubordination,” meaning failure of absolute loyalty to Trump personally. Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, was purged for the same reason. For good measure, Vindman’s twin brother, also a lieutenant colonel, was kicked out of the White House as well.  
A year ago Trump purged Marie Yovanovich, our ambassador to Ukraine, and Kurt Volker, a special envoy to Ukraine, for “disloyalty” (same meaning as above).
Now Trump’s new national security director will help him purge career intelligence and national security people as well. Vladimir Putin must be celebrating.
AG Barr has supported the idea of imperial presidency. The day after the acquittal, he announced that any federal agency investigation into domestic or foreign election machinations will require his advance approval. So we know there will be no investigations into any efforts to help Trump have another four years to subvert our Constitution and solidify his autocracy.
Do we see a common thread here? It’s obvious that Congressional Republicans also support this.
Impeachment is now in voters’ hands. If they reject Trump in November, will he accept that election result? In fall 2016, he asserted that if he lost, it was because the election was rigged, and he wouldn’t accept the results. And that was before he had the power of the presidency. Could he declare a national emergency (election defeat) and declare the election was rigged and thus invalid? Why not? He now has unlimited power.
- Carole McWilliams, Bayfield
Another windbag New York billionaire
03/05/2020
To the editor,
The Durango Herald Editorial Board’s endorsement of Michael Bloomberg is just plain wrong on so many levels. First of all, no real reasons for the endorsement are provided other than that he’s a rich, self-funding businessman. He’s so rich he can even buy the presidency! From the lack of cogent facts behind the endorsement, perhaps he bought the Durango Herald too.
 Think that Bloomberg is somehow a better person than our current New York billionaire president? Wrong! This is the man who told a female employee who had just announced her pregnancy to “kill it;” who boasted about having a “girlfriend in every city;” and of the computer terminal that made him a billionaire, “It will do everything, including give you (oral sex). I guess that puts a lot of you girls out of business.” Bloomberg LP has fielded nearly 40 sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits in the past few decades, many naming Bloomberg himself.
 As mayor of New York, Bloomberg oversaw and expanded the unconstitutional and racist “stop and frisk” program. As the main financial backer behind Everytown for Gun Safety, Bloomberg has continued his assault on the constitutional right to bear arms. Speaking in 2018 to his Washington cronies, he remarked that raising taxes on the poor was a “good thing” and that taking money from the rich was a bigger problem than income inequality.
 Thankfully, Wall Street values are not Colorado values, and I think that the vast majority of my fellow Coloradans are intelligent enough to see that Bloomberg is not the president we need. I am sorry the Herald Editorial Board are not among them.
– Lukas Lerner, Durango
32nd St. bridge useless, expensive
02/27/2020

To the editor,

During a Park & Rec meeting 2 weeks ago, it became very apparent that the large majority of Durango residents disapprove of the proposed 32nd Street bridge. Yet, the City, ignoring the cry of its citizens, is moving forward getting bids for the bridge, which is estimated to cost several millions of dollars. For what? Just to avoid crossing 32nd Street?

Here are major arguments against the bridge:

• For bicycles and pedestrians, crossing 32nd Street is now very safe (with a blinking light activated by cyclists/pedestrians) and the bridge has a wide sidewalk that is protected (from traffic) by a concrete parapet. Moreover, it is a 2-lane traffic with cars going only 25 mph, and there is easy/unobliterated view of the oncoming traffic on each side to cross safely.

• The bridge is going to be 22- to 30-feet tall. Very few people will want to hike up this tall bridge to descend on the other side and I bet most people (especially kids, older folks, injured and disabled people, and lazy people like me) will prefer staying at grade.

• The bridge will present a new hazard with some people trying to jump from it into the river or throw things on cars.

• The bridge is expected to have a glass cover where it goes over the train tracks to protect people against the train’s smoke and embers. This glass cover as well as the bridge itself are going to become covered in soot in no time, making the bridge look like a disgusting coal tunnel, obliterating the view, and requiring regular, specialized cleaning.  

• The bridge is outrageously expensive (cost estimated at ~$3.4 million) and these funds could be more wisely used for other projects improving the river trail itself that better serve the public’s needs. These projects could include:

• Building an underpass at Camino del Rio to connect the River Trail to downtown (which will be used by many more people than an overpass bridge at 32nd);

• Connecting the River Trail to Three Springs (thousands of people live in Three Springs and hundreds commute from town to the hospital and medical offices and it is very unsafe to ride the mile or so of highway to the river trail); 

• Connecting the River Trail to Twin Buttes (same comment; people who live in town would greatly appreciate safely riding their bikes to Twin Buttes to ride the trails there, instead of taking their cars);

• Fixing sections of the trail that have been damaged over time and are very unpleasant to ride (near the Power House);

• Toilets on the River Trail! Yes, toilets. For about six months out of the year, there are no functioning toilets on the entire trail because the flushing toilets that exist are closed from November - May due to potential freezing of the pipes. With sunny days and dirt trails being very muddy, the River Trail sees a lot of traffic every day of the winter, with hundreds of people using the trail and adjacent parks daily. Where do these people go to the bathroom? In the bushes (I have had to do it too) and in nearby businesses, when there are any. For instance, Santa Rita Park has dozens of parents and kids every day playing there – there are no toilets nearby. Is it what we teach our kids to do: urinate in public? Where do homeless people go? This is a menace to public health safety, a disgrace to the city and, frankly, plainly disgusting. I am ashamed of the situation when I have to explain to out-of-town people that there are no bathrooms.

Meanwhile, we are about to spend millions on a useless bridge … there is something wrong with this picture. These funds should be dedicated to building pit toilets (not flush toilets) along the trail. These toilets are cheap compared to flush toilets: $30,000 each compared to $600,000 for a flushing toilet (yes, that’s not a joke – but the poor management of spending city funds is a topic for another rant). The City could easily build 10 pit toilets along the trail and still have a lot of money left to do any of the proposed improvements above.

My fellow citizens, it is time we fight to spend our tax dollars wisely. Please email (even if it is brief) your disapproval to: CityCouncil@durangogov.org (and CC the Director of Parks and Rec:  cathy.metz@durangogov.org).

– Florence Paillard, Durango

Rate change a forced 'choice'
02/27/2020

To the editor,

I just finished reading the write up in Country Living magazine about the LPEA rate changes for peak hours coming in April.

While I understand the need for the coop to increase rates, I don’t appreciate them spinning the facts and lying about the policy to pretty it up. The write up states this change gives us members more “choice” and “flexibility.” How so? 

With the rate change, I now have the “choice” to go stand outside for five hours after work to save money? 

I have the “choice” to cook more slow cooker meals, that I normally wouldn’t do, to save money?

The only “choice” this policy gives us is to either spend more money or turn the lights out in the hours when we mostly use them. Doesn’t sound like a good “choice” to me.

I found the write up to be egregiously disingenuous  and a half-witted attempt to sell a policy they know is going to be unpopular. 

Further, the amount of the rate change, to $1.50/kw, seems extremely high, and I am going to be shocked if their estimate that rates will only go up $5 a month actually comes to fruition.

– Tom Mudrak, Durango

Keeping holy the Black Sabbath
02/27/2020

To the editor,

KDUR Radio at Fort Lewis College would like to extend a huge thank you to all the people and businesses that helped with the last Cover Night fundraiser. Black Sabbath hasn’t sounded so good since the last Black Sabbath tour, and that’s because of the local musicians who donate their talent and time to such a great cause. To the community of musicians, staff of Music Masters and Animas City Theatre, Scott Smith and Jim Gillespie, and the music-loving audience that packed into the Animas City Theatre to enjoy the music of Black Sabbath, I say thanks.

– Bryant Liggett, KDUR Station Manager