Soap Box

Thanks for bridging the gap

To the editor,

Thank you Mayor Youssef, Councilors Brookie and Bettin, Parks & Recreation and Multimodal Advisory Board members and all the Durango citizens who stood up and spoke up for the northern extent of the Animas River Trail by connecting the eastern and western sides of the trail via completion of the long-planned 32nd Street pedestrian bridges project.

It is, indeed, an important project for the entire city, as Mayor Youssef indicated at the budget hearing. The social, environmental, economic and public health benefits are numerous and an important investment in our city. By providing an additional option for all residents to safely cross 32nd Street, by separating motorized and pedestrian traffic, the completed trail and bridges will:

• Increase access and improve connectivity and mobility throughout the city and ensure the safety of all users, especially children;

• Encourage alternatives to driving;

• Support increased use with a new trail section available to residents and visitors;

• Draw people to North Durango and increase commerce on N. Main

• Improve public health; and

• Create a new amenity in North Durango.

Public infrastructure projects like this are exactly the dedicated sales tax’s intended purpose – to make improvements to our community we cannot do without it or as individuals. The proposed 32nd Street safety study and design will further enhance the above benefits. Thank you to everyone who supported these improvements in the north end of town.

– Ellen Stein, Durango

Root for the climate insurgency

To the editor,

There have now been four Democratic candidates vying for the 2020 nomination to unseat Republican incumbent Scott Tipton, who denies climate change is human caused, ignoring our “climate emergency.” Three Democratic candidates, judging from published announcements and websites, have no strategic focus on climate. I am leading on climate.

If money is the final arbiter in Colorado’s Third Congressional District Democratic primary, data shows funding heavily skewed toward one establishment candidate, while my grassroots climate efforts are just getting going. The link to a campaign finances breakdown is on my website, Total receipts and cash-on-hand for each campaign at the end of 2019- Q3, are:

• “Establishment Rerun Campaign” of Diane Mitsch Bush: $294,942 (in 2018 she brought in $1.9 million, and lost to Tipton by a wide margin); cash on hand, $184,059

• “Traditional Cowboy Campaign” of Donald Valdez: $24,945; cash on hand, $10,456 (Valdez dropped out Nov. 1).

• “Climate Insurgency Campaign” of Root Routledge: $2,001 ($1,516 as credit-card loans from candidate); cash on hand, $653. “Grass roots” by definition. I ran a brief two-month trial campaign at the end of the 2018 election cycle, bringing in receipts of $3,238 ($2,024 as candidate loans and contributions). With minimal visibility, I still earned 2 percent of the 29-county District 3 Assembly votes.

• “Corporate CEO Campaign” of James Iacino: No data; entered race after third quarter 2019 with ability to self-fund.

Although climate holds primal significance, my campaign’s strategic focus covers four policy areas regarding a viable future for America and our planet. My congressional focus is clear, because multiple 2019 House bills have already been written that address some of these priorities (see my website for details) which include:

1. Healthy democracy: HR1 – For the People Act. Address free, fair and secure elections, campaign finance reform, dark money in politics, gerrymandering, restoration of the Voting Rights Act, and more.

2. Healthy Population: HR1384 – Medicare for All Act. Improved coverage; single-payer financing; provider choice. Health care is a moral human right, not a commodity that returns huge profits extracted from peoples’ suffering. “Medicare for All” works for everyone. Most ordinary people will not only get an increase in take-home pay but unencumbered access to better health care. Premiums, co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses are eliminated and replaced with a modest increase in Medicare withholding. Yet everyone is protected from financial ruin due to catastrophic illness, accident and outrageous drug prices.

3. Healthy Economy: Democrats need to take back political control of our country. We need an economy that works for everyone, not just the richest 1 percent. That includes investments in education and infrastructure, a living wage and strong local economies.

4. Healthy Environment: HR763 – Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act; and HRes109 – Green New Deal.

HR763, supported by Citizens Climate Lobby, puts an increasing fee-price on carbon as it enters the economy from the well, mine or import (with border adjustments). Fees get deposited in a “Carbon Dividend Trust Fund” from which the fees are equitably returned monthly to legal residents of the country. It’s an effective revenue-neutral policy that is conservative and helps people with increasing costs. Most people will come out ahead.

The HRes109 Green New Deal calls for a systemwide perspective and response, at the urgency and scale of our climate emergency, with a just transition to 100 percent renewable energy, zero carbon emissions and climate justice for affected communities and families. Having a systems problem-solving background, my goal is to help produce legislation in support of the GND vision and goals, including huge investments in climate mitigation research.

I will fight to protect the Colorado we love, including our environment, public lands, water, rural needs, local economies and forests.

To go to Washington and fight this battle for our future and lead on climate, I need two things: donations now; and delegates voting for me at the District Assembly on April 17, 2020. The delegate process starts with engaging democracy at your Precinct Caucuses on March 7, 2020 and getting elected as a County Delegate and then as a District 3 Delegate for Root.

As your Representative, I promise you honesty, integrity, openness and the technical and political ability to fight for our future. I will help local communities be successful with their climate plans and actions. In particular, I will engage town hall meetings throughout Colorado’s Third District, listen and get to know you and your concerns.

– Root Routledge, Durango

Tipton blinded to CORE values

To the Editor:

I am a newer resident to Colorado, attracted by the natural beauty and wildlife of the area. I also am a firm believer in holding our legislators accountable for their voting record.

On Oct. 31, Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., voted NO to the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Economy Act (CORE), a bill that aims to protect some 400,000 acres of public land from resource exploration. A bill that would protect our ability to hunt, hike, camp and ski.

I understand Rep. Tipton has deep Tea Party roots and heavily favors government DEregulation. I also understand a “deregulation” political ideology favors the extraction industries, giving them more free rein to profit from gas and oil leases on public land. I also understand that Tipton receives financial support for re-election from that industry. (ex: SG Interests, a Texas-based energy company and its lobbying firm). Tipton’s focus on deregulation has blinded him to his responsibility of public protection.

The CORE Act represented a decade-long effort from ranchers, environmentalists and sportsmen to stop new energy development in prime wildlife habitat and headwaters for many river systems. Tipton does not represent my values of clean air, water and land.

– Suzanne Motsinger, Dolores

Sick over the cost of a flu shot

To the editor,

Take advantage of City Market’s offer to get your free flu shot – it’s good for you, and good for our community. Do not, on the other hand, be duped into paying for a flu shot from your local physician. I made this mistake. I very clearly do not have an ACA plan, and yet I was offered (and not advised of the cost for) a flu shot which turned out to cost $120. Health providers should be watching out for their patients, not just ripping them off. I am appalled, and hope you’ll be more careful than I was.

– Anne Markward, Durango

Shop local heroes this Saturday

To the editor,

Small Business Saturday, which takes place the day after Black Friday (Nov. 30 this year), has slowly become an American tradition following the Thanksgiving holiday. Brick-and-mortar businesses across the country promote their best deals of the year in hopes of luring shoppers from online purchases. It was not so long ago that Americans would visit locally owned small retailers in a downtown area to purchase all of their gifts. Business owners would decorate their shops with lights and ornaments, or create elaborate window displays, to grab the imagination of a passerby to lure them inside. The holiday shopping season was a magical time of year, and many of us still hold on to those memories today.

Given the dramatic shifts in the retail environment over the last 20 years, those holiday scenes and traditions are in danger of passing into the realm of nostalgic folklore. Recent surveys show that over 80 percent of Americans make regular online purchases throughout the year. Many locally owned businesses struggle to find new ways to compete with mega online shopping sites. In order to better compete, small business owners have become very innovative in the way they sell and promote their products and services. Some are bringing back the retail traditions of the past by providing personalized one-on-one assistance to customers and the selling of niche items found nowhere else in town.

Although online merchants have driven many retailers into closing their doors, small business remains the one stable job creator in most communities across Colorado. Here at home, Colorado’s 631,000 small businesses continue to generate two of every three net new jobs and deliver essential goods and services in both rural and urban communities. They employ more than 1.1 million Coloradans, and make this state a better place to live in. As the voice of America’s entrepreneurs, the U.S. Small Business Administration celebrates the nation’s 30 million small businesses that still ignite our local economies and enrich our communities throughout the year.

In 2018, Small Business Saturday provided a huge boost to the overall U.S. economy when 104 million consumers shopped or dined small and generated nearly $18 billion in reported spending. With increased consumer confidence in the economy, this year’s Small Business Saturday looks to be even brighter.

American workers continued to see higher wages and paychecks over the last several quarters. In October, an incredible 128,000 jobs were created nationwide, blowing past all expectations. The unemployment rate remains historically low at 3.6 percent – its lowest point in nearly 50 years. This translates into great news for small retailers and restaurants across the country because consumer spending during the holidays is expected to remain strong at 2.9 percent as a result of our growing economy. These positive numbers have helped small businesses, the backbone of Colorado’s economy, to thrive and grow.

Economic prosperity is good news not only for America’s small businesses but for society as a whole. In so many ways, small businesses act as the glue that holds our communities together. They fund the local tax base, finance local nonprofits and charitable organizations, and create good jobs that boost the overall marketplace. By backing our locally owned small businesses, you support thousands of jobs and the families they sustain. Small businesses are the backbone of our democracy, and the future solution to our most pressing economic problems.

On Nov. 30, Small Business Saturday, please join us in making at least one purchase from a locally owned small business in your city or town. These business owners are the true heroes of our community, and they deserve our appreciation.

– Dan Nordberg, administrator, Small Business Association Region VIII and Frances Padilla, district director, SBA Colorado District