Soap Box

Marsha for county commissioner

To the editor,
My friend and colleague Marsha Porter-Norton is running for La Plata County commissioner, and the election is this November 2020. I am writing this letter to let you know more about her and to offer my strong support. I met Marsha in 2000 when she was the executive director for a nonprofit called Operation Healthy Communities and she was the project manager for two La Plata County summits, bringing together all segments of La Plata County to set strategic plans, goals and priorities for a healthier community. From the time that I first met Marsha, I recognized her as a born leader, community advocate and extraordinary volunteer. In the years to follow, we served together with many other community groups to benefit the health and well-being of the entire community including seniors, children, homeless, business, students and often vulnerable residents who needed her to be a voice on their behalf. Over the years, she has worked with nearly 100 organizations in SW Colorado, which has greatly contributed to her breadth of experience.

Marsha has been a strong advocate for primary care, affordable housing, transportation, and mental health and wellness. She is an extraordinary mediator and facilitator and her ability to actively listen and identify the issues for any group she is working with is her top priority. Marsha has a unique ability to take a leadership role and bring everyone together to create a synergy and positive outcome which includes individual perspectives, strengths and concerns in order to get the job done. La Plata County needs this set of skills now more than ever.

Marsha has a deep, genuine caring for our community and a depth of experience no one else will bring to the job of commissioner. Marsha is a proven leader and her roots are deep, as she is a fourth-generation Southwest Coloradoan. She grew up on a ranch and lives in Durango so understands both our urban and rural residents’ needs, concerns and ideas. Marsha is a true Coloradoan.

I also know Marsha as being one of the most humble, accomplished and authentic people I know. Her tireless energy and genuine concern for our community is nothing short of outstanding. I will work hard to help her get elected as our next La Plata County commissioner. Find out more at her website:

– Sheila Casey, Durango

The end of animal oppression

To the editor,

On Jan. 27, the world will observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The date marks 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Hitler’s largest death camp.

A key question facing historians is how could an enlightened society that produced our civilization’s greatest philosophers, poets and composers also produce its most notorious mass murderers? How could it get millions of ordinary citizens to go along? Was the Holocaust a peculiarly German phenomenon, or are other enlightened societies capable? Why are we Americans willing to subsidize unspeakable atrocities in our own factory farms and slaughterhouses?

Jewish Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer concluded that: “To the animals, all people are Nazis.” His message was that we are all capable of oppressing the more vulnerable sentient beings in our midst, frequently without giving it a second thought.

Indeed, our own enlightened society has translated the arbitrary Nazi dictum “the Christian lives, the Jew dies” into an equally arbitrary “the dog lives, the pig dies.” Only the victims’ names have been changed. The blissful ignorance of death camps and slaughterhouses in our midst remains.

On the long road to end all oppression our very first step must be to drop animals from our menus.

– Dante Gomez, Durango

Time for Trump to hit the road

To the editor,

No American is above the law, including the President of the United States. Donald Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election demonstrate that he is a danger to our democracy. Thanks to public testimony during the impeachment hearing, we have irrefutable proof that Trump abused his power – threatening to withhold $400 million in security aid unless Ukraine complied with his request.

If any other American or public servant committed these crimes, they would be behind bars. Now that the House of Representatives has voted to impeach Trump, it’s up to the Senate to hold Trump accountable. Lawmakers are bound by oath to defend the Constitution, and Trump’s behavior, as outlined in the House’s articles of impeachment, make it clear that he’s unfit to remain in office.

Poll after poll demonstrates that the American people are sick and tired of Trump’s assault on the rule of law. The way forward is clear: removal.

With the integrity of our elections and the health of our democracy at stake, it’s the right decision to make.

– Jan Clark, Durango

Look for property tax notices soon

To the editor,

You should receive your property tax notice by the end of January. These notices are mailed to the address on file with the county assessor. Even if you do not receive your notice, you are still responsible for the tax payment. You may obtain a duplicate notice on the La Plata County website or by calling the Treasurer’s Office. This notice is for your records.

Many homeowners have a mortgage and an escrow account with their bank. If you do, check with your bank as to when they will be paying your taxes. You are paying your taxes through your mortgage payments. If you both pay the property taxes, we will refund the money to the person or entity that paid second. Why? Because....

We pass on all property taxes collected to the local taxing authorities, such as the school districts, library districts, fire districts, etc. the month following our collection of taxes from you. School teachers and firefighters depend on you!

You may pay taxes in two half payments (March 2 and June 15) or in one full payment (April 30). Partial payments will be returned. Interest accrues after the payment deadlines, per the schedule on your tax notice.

Also, on the back of your tax notice is information on the senior and veteran exemptions. For an application, contact the Assessor’s Office. Applications are due by July 15.

Please contact either the County Treasurer Office (970-382-6352) or Assessor Office (970-382-6228) for more information or clarification.

– Allison Aichele, La Plata County treasurer and public trustee

Health care facts versus fiction

To the editor,

Many politicians and pundits oppose Medicare for All (M4A) because they say Americans are “happy” with their employer-provided private insurance. Recent surveys have shown that a large portion of those workers (40 percent of Americans) have huge gaps in their coverage, causing them to skip or delay treatment because of cost. It’s hard to find a single example of a worker or union-negotiated health plan that can match the great benefits and a nationwide network of doctors and hospitals that are currently in both M4A bills.

Private health insurance adds no value to worker’s health care. Private insurance drowns us in confusing complexity, causing excessive and costly paperwork. Plus, many small businesses are being crushed by insurance costs themselves.

M4A would relieve employers who currently spend huge amounts on health care, to instead offer much needed wage increases to their employees. It would provide a pathway to recover sunken wages from earlier negotiations.

What workers loathe worse than their insurance company is the fear of going without insurance. Opponents of M4A capitalize on this misleading fear and have turned it into a mythical love affair with private insurance. Both M4A bills have either a two- or four- year transition period, where certain people would be immediately covered, but no one would lose their insurance. Before you vote, remember that M4A means never losing your comprehensive health care EVER. The sooner we can work on it, the faster we can prevent the suffering, unnecessary deaths and financial ruin imposed by the current system.

– Jan Phillips, Durango