Soap Box

An unsustainable health-care fiasco

To the editor,

Our current health care system is out of control. In La Plata County, many farmers, small businesses and individuals spend $25,000 to $45,000 per year in health insurance premiums and deductibles. And, it just keeps getting more expensive every year.

Our legislators seem to be uninformed and unwilling to help us in our struggle with the enormously expensive, inadequate coverage and narrow network of providers in our current profit-driven system. Nothing is moving forward at the federal or the state levels to address the problem. The one action our legislators accomplished ensures that we will have even higher costs next year by removing the individual mandate.

Many feel that they don’t want more government involvement in health care, and that less regulation will lead to more private competition and lower premium costs. That won’t happen as long as private insurance is profit driven.

We need to advocate for ourselves by electing legislators who truly care about creating a workable health care solution that doesn’t cause medically induced bankruptcies. We need to work together and be a force that decides who we elect this November. And we need to keep working until we have people in Denver and D.C. who will help us out of our current unsustainable healthcare fiasco.

There are options that are already being successfully used in the U.S. (Medicare) and many other countries around the world. To learn the facts about how we pay for healthcare in the U.S. and what are workable options visit:

– Jan Philips, Durango

The facts about Jameson Drive

To the editor,

In the Telegraph’s May 10 edition, Luke Angel accused the Durango City Planning Commission of not listening to the concerns of residents of Jameson Drive.

Mr. Angel conveniently offers no facts to back his accusations.

The Planning Commission did listen to the residents; and to explain how, here are the facts.

The proposed development for the former Puckett Electric property came before the Planning Commission three times. The first time the developer asked that the property be annexed into the city. After listening to extensive testimony by Jameson’s residents, and after listening to an inadequate proposal by the applicant, the Planning Commission voted against the annexation.

The applicant then took the proposal to City Council. After negotiations, the council approved the annexation.

When the developer appeared before the Planning Commission the second time with a development proposal, the commission again took testimony from the residents. Again, the commission rejected the proposal.

On his third try, the developer presented a plan that adequately addressed project density and parking issues. The commission approved that plan.

This is an infill project; and all of these types of projects are controversial with some residents in the affected neighborhoods. The job of the Planning Commission is to balance the concerns of neighborhood residents with the needs and goals of the city. To do that, the members of the planning commission listen.

– Joe Lewandowski, vice-chair, Durango City Planning Commission

Be involved, stop school shootings

To the editor,

A former FBI agent on TV said a young student responsible for the 10 shot dead last week at Santa Fe High School in Texas also had easy access on the Internet to learn how to build bombs, similar to the 2013 Boston Marathon explosives. I would say that bomb-making knowledge is much like “screaming fire in a theater” and these how-to-create-instant-death-sites should be taken down immediately.

Red flag legislation should have passed, and if there can’t be common sense to ban bomb-making sites, something is truly wrong in our world. Does a high level political figure need to be taken out by a pressure cooker explosion before real legislation is passed? Last year, Congressional Republicans were close to being wiped out by a lone gunman on a baseball field. Had there not been a body guard present to keep that disaster from happening, there would have been a massacre.
I am proud to be a part of organizations, Moms Demand Action and Be Smart. There is a rally for gun violence awareness and survivor awareness at Buckley Park on June 3 from 2-3 p.m. Remember our neighbor, the Aztec High School shooting less than a year ago and the most recent tragedies.
Be involved to keep these horrible incidents from happening.

– Sally Florence, Durango

Schools to hemp, a fruitful session

To the editor,

The 71st Session of the General Assembly came to a resounding close last Wednesday night after 120 days of crafting, discussing, arguing, reconciling, meeting and contemplating.

Fourteen of my bills, all with bipartisan support, will be signed into law, including:

• A suicide-prevention bill offering grants for schools to access research-based training programs for all school employees to understand symptoms in students who might want to hurt themselves or others.

• Help for student teachers by having every school district require the same background check. Unbeknownst to me, every district had a different rule, making student-teacher certification harder and more expensive than necessary.

• Industrial hemp seeds are now considered an agricultural product, helping the industry in Colorado continue to grow.

• An Agricultural Workforce Development internship program was developed, paying farmers and ranchers half the cost of hiring a young and beginning farmer to work the land and learn the craft.

• Two broadband bills passed. One gives a company with the right of first refusal the opportunity to implement broadband, as long as it offers the cost and speed a local broadband provider offers. The other allows Colorado to apply for federal broadband funds once they become available.

• Another bill will provide a financial incentive for teachers in rural districts to complete coursework that will help them finish a second certification or earn an alternative license. They will need to work in that district for three years.

• Lower-income homeowners buying a manufactured home will not have to pay sales tax, though they will still pay the property tax. This should save them about $1,000 each.

• An aquifer water storage study will determine how to best use aquifers in Colorado to store our water.

• Off-highway vehicle riders will have new safety standards to follow, making this popular recreational activity safer.

• CDOT will change its bidding process slightly to help award smaller construction companies more jobs on highway projects.

• The Fort Lewis College Hesperus Campus income will go directly into the college’s account instead of to the General Assembly.

• The Southwest Water Conservation District will get to choose its own meeting dates; having them set ahead of time made it difficult for members to travel regularly.

• A Food Systems bill, which supports the continued communication between food producers and consumers, will not sunset or be killed.

• Colorado Highway 84 between Pagosa Springs and the state line will be named the Nolan Olson Memorial Highway in honor of Olson, a longtime CDOT employee who was killed on the job.

I sponsored a resolution for the Outdoor Retailer Show, which celebrates public lands and has brought its conventions to Colorado.

And I sponsored another resolution celebrating Colorado’s educators.

I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together next year.

– Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango

Report crimes for a safer Durango

To the editor,

At a recent meeting of the Boulevard Neighborhood Association with City Councilor Melissa Youssef, a variety of city issues were discussed. Among the observations made were the increasing numbers of homeless on Durango’s streets. Residents also shared concern about recent crime on the Boulevard and in other Durango neighborhoods. We stressed how our association encourages residents on East 3rd Avenue to report any and all criminal activity to the police. While many residents are reluctant to report crime for a variety of reasons, contacting the police is critical to ensure community safety. Our association applauds our police chief, Kamran Afzal, for his foresight in filling a police crime analyst position (Durango Herald, March 16) and his desire to be more transparent by making crime statistics available to the community.

Unless all crime is reported, any data base will lack validity and fail to provide the community and police department with an important tool to ensure our community safety. We are looking forward to the report being made public in the near future.

– Boulevard Neighborhood Association Board of Directors: Brieanne Stahnke, Karen Anesi, Tony Rocha, Kathy Gervais and Mike Todt