Soap Box

New rule is affront to democracy
06/07/2018

To the editor,

At the May 1, 2018, City Council meeting, Mayor Marbury announced with “a new mayor in town, there are new procedures we’re implementing tonight.” These procedures significantly impact a citizen’s right to address issues with officials we elected to hear our concerns. Citizens cannot request a consent agenda item be reviewed; only a council member can do so. Citizen comments are limited to three minutes during public participation and hearings. Neither a formal vote nor an explanation preceded these changes. In a less autocratic way, the council could have shared the new rules, provided sound reasoning, taken public input and voted.

In city budget documents, the organizational chart shows the council reporting and accountable to
citizens. Reducing citizen input time by 40 percent and not providing a rationale sends a clear message regarding the council’s relationship to citizens. We did not elect councilors to take away our voice, rather councilors, once elected, have a moral duty to listen to and use citizen input to craft decisions. On some contentious issues, meetings will be long because many citizens need time to share views. Democracy is not just about efficiency; it’s about maximizing citizen participation. Perhaps some councilors should become more efficient in their remarks (three minutes) if long meeting times are so difficult for them.

Maximizing citizen voice is important when critical issues arise. The council, in the past, frequently ignored or minimized citizen input to its detriment: successful citizen referendum to rescind the plastic bag ordinance, rescinding their original decision regarding vacation rentals and marijuana in mixed use neighborhoods, and the failed airport improvement initiative. Garnering public support requires listening and utilization of citizen
input. Listening promotes public trust and cooperation.

As the Washington Post’s masthead reads, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” In Durango, we have gone from daylight to darkness when the City Council limits public input.

– Mike Todt, Durango

Hanlon vs. Tipton: a clear-cut choice
06/07/2018

To the editor,

Are you as concerned as I am about how dry it is? Field grasses crunch, even at 8000 feet. Evergreens look sickly. Beetles are attacking and killing more trees. It’s now drier than it was in 2002, and we know how that turned out. Our communities and economy are in danger.

Rep. Scott Tipton has been promising for years to help with wildfire mitigation, but the latest proposal he’s backing, the “Resilient Forests Act,” would not thin near towns and homes but rather off in untouched forests. It increases the size of clear cuts in virgin forest up to 50 square miles.

If money were entrusted to local Forest Service offices and local wildfire mitigation nonprofits and crews instead, I’d feel a lot better. We’d get more mitigation done with each dollar. As it is, I wonder who Tipton is trying to help?

It’s time for a change in Congress and a more responsive representative for the Western Slope. We need someone who understands the critical needs of our communities, such as funds for on-going wildfire mitigation.

Please vote in the June primary for Karl Hanlon who better understands and represents our needs. He will work hard to bring resources to protect our people, our property and our valuable natural resources that drive our economy.

– Paulette Church, Durango

The poison merry-go-round
06/07/2018

To the editor,

I am a resident of Three Springs. On its website, Three Springs states that it is “designed to create a healthy, livable and sustainable community with enhanced quality of life for present and future generations.” Well, those present and future generations will be exposed to a known carcinogen and neurotoxin in the form of the pesticide Aqua Perm 30-30. Furthermore, many community members will be exposed without their knowledge or consent, which is why I am turning to a public forum.

Mosquito spraying will take place weekly from June to September in Three Springs. Property owners were notified via email on May 4 and simply told the product, Aqua Perm 30-30, “is EPA approved.” Using the language 

“EPA approved” gives residents a false sense of safety regarding this product, when in fact, simply reading this product’s Material Safety Data Sheet reveals that it is both a carcinogen and a neurotoxin. In addition to the health risks to humans, the MSDS states that the product is extremely toxic to fish, aquatic invertebrates and bees. This is not my opinion; these are facts.

Three Springs supposedly prides itself on traditional neighborhood development and community connections, but when it comes to taking responsibility for acting as a collective, that sense of community evaporates. When I approached the community manager with my concerns, I was told to go to the City. When I went to the City, they said go to the Florida Mosquito Control District. When I went to the FMCD, I was told to go to the homeowners’ association. When I went to the Board of the homeowners association I was told this is not a Board issue because it is “politically divisive” (Really? This is a health issue NOT a political issue).

So I went back to the Community Manager and FMCD. Then I was told try the Southern Ute Growth Fund, who develops the land. And, oh by the way, Mercy approved the spraying, so go to them too. When I tried Mercy they said go to the Southern Ute Growth Fund. And when I tried the Southern Ute Growth Fund, I was told they hold no authority with the FMCD. Does this seem like a commitment to “community” to you? Do these actions seem like those of the ecological, sustainable, environmentally conscious community Three Springs claims to be on its website? It feels more like a pass-the-buck merry-go-round, and the claims appear to be nothing more than meaningless platitudes tantamount to a green-washed sales pitch.

Currently, over 50 neighbors share these concerns about the health and environmental threats posed by this product. And I believe that if more stakeholders actually knew about the spraying and chose to read the Safety Data Sheet, that number would only increase. But apparently this supposed emphasis on the importance of community does not include any mechanism to notify all members of the community, which, in addition to property owners, should include renters, employees and those visiting for both business purposes, i.e. the Farmers Market, and recreational purposes.

I am not denying the reality of vector-borne illness or suggesting no type of mitigation is warranted. But this spraying is IN ADDITION to all of the standing water in Three Springs already having been treated with larvicide, which lasts for 180 days. The CDC states that spraying pesticides intended to kill adult mosquitoes is the least efficient mosquito control technique.

If you are a stakeholder, if you rent, work, vend or recreate in Three Springs, I encourage you to read the Safety Data Sheet for Aqua Perm 30-30. I encourage you to think for yourself: consider all of the factors mentioned above, as well as the fact that the CDC website shows the risk of mosquito-borne illness in the state of Colorado is less than one in 100,000, while cancer rates are one in three. Then decide if it is worth the risk to expose ourselves, our children, our pets and our environment to this poison. And if you decide it is not worth the risk, please add your name to the 50+ stakeholders by signing the online petition at https://bit.ly/2HVNXmd

– Laurie Gambacorta, Durango

Sign on dotted line with silver tool
06/07/2018

To the editor,

Scott Pruitt ,the EPA chief, just raped the American public and the citizens of Colorado for 10 ink pens at a cost of $1,560. That’s right folks, the GOP voted for Donald Trump, who appointed this idiot to run the EPA.

Yeah, he also spent $130 of your GOP taxpayers’ money on each of these ink pens ... and the Donald thinks it’s OK. If you think this is OK, call Scott Tipton, your GOP rep, at 259-1490 and go look at the big, great, super, superior and great silver pens he bought with your money. And then call Cory Gardner at 259-1231 and have a look.

This is so bad it’s bad ... your tax money at work.

To the kids in Durango, look what a silver $130 pen can do for you. Anyone on the Dem or GOP who agrees with this is, I would say, dilly dilly dumb. So call today and go see the pen that will be given to the lobbyist who rents a $50/a day townhouse in D.C. for Scott (the spender) in chief of your tax moneys.

Please call, you may get a $130 pen from Pruitt, Tipton or Gardner. Heck, you might even get a free note pad.

– Bob Battani, Durango

SW Colorado needs climate action
06/07/2018

To the editor.

It is unthinkable to me that we still have leaders in office who actively deny climate change. Beyond the politics, the real-world impacts are horrifying. Here in Southwest Colorado, seven counties have been labeled Primary Natural Disaster Areas by the USDA and another 10 have been deemed eligible for disaster relief. That includes La Plata County. In Southwest Colorado, snow-pack is at just 3 percent of historical averages. The economic impacts are far-reaching – crippling the agriculture economy, the outdoor recreation economy and everything in-between.

We need to elect leaders who are willing to tackle climate change before it’s too late. Here in the Third Congressional District that choice is obvious – Democrat Karl Hanlon. Our current representative, Scott Tipton, refuses to take any action on climate change and supports the Trump administration’s misguided EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, who is intent on rolling back the hard-fought victories achieved by the Obama Administration.

Karl Hanlon surpasses his opponents in the Democratic primary because he is the only candidate in the race with a detailed plan to combat the issue. I urge you to review this for yourself at www.karlhanlon.com/climate.

If you care about our environment, I hope you’ll join me in supporting Hanlon in the Democratic Primary on June 26. We need someone in Congress with a real plan.

– Jer Agnew, Durango