Soap Box

The conservation scorecards are in

To the editor,

The League of Conservation Voters tracks the votes of our legislators and publishes a scorecard each year. It’s a way to advocate for sound environmental laws and hold elected officials accountable for their votes and actions. Zero is the lowest score possible, 100 the highest in standing up for a clean, healthy environment.

Sen. Cory Gardner’s scorecard in 2018: 7 percent of the time he was an environmental champion. (So far in 2019 his score is 0 percent.) Rep. Scott Tipton: 9 percent. Sen. Michael Bennet: 100 percent. Sen. Gardner and Rep. Tipton are both up for re-election next year.

– Jo Ann Kopke, Bayfield

Defending single-payer health care

To the editor,

The corporations fighting against Medicare for All are powerful and well-funded. Drugmakers, insurance companies and private hospitals have banded together, calling themselves the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future. Spending a combined $143 million last year lobbying lawmakers to oppose Medicare for All, this rich and mighty club includes the American Medical Association, Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, the Federation of American Hospitals and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

On the flip side, more doctors now support Medicare for All, even if it means slightly lower salaries. A registered Republican, working at a gene sequencing firm, says that despite growing up a conservative, he never imagined supporting potential “government largesse” like Medicare for All. But now he’s convinced that a single public payer is needed.

“Medicare is, without question, the most reliable, most predictable payer that we deal with,” he said. “And for somebody like me it would be a dream to only have to deal with them. I guess you could count me as pro-Medicare for All, a sentence I never thought I’d write 15 years ago.”

Private payers make life virtually impossible for smaller providers because they’re in the for-profit game, he said, putting up “an endless set of traps against reimbursement, contracting and other parts of the revenue life cycle that add substantial cost to services and thus increase cost to the consumer.”

Medicare for All would bring reliability and consistency to the current health care mess. Lower prices for our health care will follow.

– Dr. Lauri Costello, Durango

Turning democracy into autocracy

To the editor,

1. Use voter suppression, invite the help of a ruthless foreign power, and have a little luck to ensure that an aspiring despot gifted in the art of demagoguery becomes the chief executive.

2. Contrive to elect a majority of members of the upper legislative body who are willing to confirm the aspiring despot’s nominations of politically compliant judges and cabinet members, including, most importantly, the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.

3. Lie so often that the public gets used to it and treats it as normal.

4. Flout the law in every instance in which it’s useful to do so.

5. Create false domestic and foreign emergencies to divert public attention from your efforts to convert your country’s democracy into an autocracy.

– Edward Packard, Durango

No wilderness ifs, &s or chainsaws

To the editor,

I want to express my extreme dismay at the recent Forest Service decision to allow the use of chainsaws in the Weminuche and South San Juan wildernesses – a decision that was made without any public input or comment time. This decision is entirely at odds with the wilderness designation: section 4(c) allows no motorized equipment within the wilderness boundaries, except in the case of an emergency. This is not an emergency!

The Wilderness Act was put into place to protect the rugged and quiet character of these iconic places. Making the use of chainsaws available would not only create an unhealthy precedent, it would degrade the Wilderness character.

There have been dead spruce in these forests before, and this situation with the beetle-kill, where the trees need to be cut down and removed to provide trail access, will probably last eight to 10 years. The whole process would be better served if the Forest Service were to hire trail maintenance crews and open wilderness ranger positions and teach them to use cross-cut saws to deal with the dead trees. Particularly where the terrain is very rugged, a chainsaw is a liability.

The Weminuche and the South San Juan wildernesses deserve the protection afforded them by the Wilderness Act. I urge the Forest Service to do what is right. Do not make any exception to the provisions of that Act. Do not allow chainsaws within the wilderness.

– Adele Riffe, Hesperus

Tipton's voting record lacks values

To the editor,

What values does Rep. Scott Tipton base his congressional voting?

Since the beginning of the 2019 U.S. Congress he has voted:

1. Against enhanced background checks for gun purchases. Does he not value protecting human life?

2. Against election reforms that allow early voting in all states and the elimination of political gerrymandering. Does he not value equal voting rights for every citizen?

3. Against humane treatment for immigrants and 

against an increase of the Homeland Security Agency’s ability to control the borders. Does he not value treating all people with respect, dignity and keeping families together?

4. Against allowing transgender military members to continue to serve our country. Does he not value the service our military personnel give to our nation no matter their gender?

5. Against the Violence Against Women Act. Does he not value the lives of victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault?

Rep. Tipton’s votes do not seem to be based on the common values of most Americans who value a strong democracy, a diverse military and a society free from violence of all types. We call on Rep. Tipton to publicly explain his votes on these issues.

– Richard & Rollie Butler, Jane Dunn, Lynne Sholler, Kathie Adkins, Indivisible Durango Civil Rights Committee