Soap Box

Singing a different song
11/07/2019

To the editor,

Jesse Anderson’s unique take on the bestest (Telegraph, Oct. 17, 2019) is a classic, laugh-out-loud journalists’ delight. I felt it was a creative blast of enjoyment and totally unique.

Maybe there is a coal mist from the purple mountain majesty in Colorado because the same day as reading Jesse’s hilarious article, I walked behind a lovely brave lady singing a love song. It was about freedom, and I suggest we all start singing sweet songs of gratitude as we walk along our streets and trails of America.

– Veryl Rosenbaum, Ignacio

Is 5G worth the risks?
11/07/2019

To the editor,

Would our community allow placement of a 5G small cell, without questioning the consequences to public health? 5G wireless technology is an infrastructure that requires placing cellular transmitters every few hundred feet (two -10 homes). Attached to utility poles, as little as 10 feet from homes and public areas, these transmitters will emit the earlier generations (2-4G) and a different frequency (millimeter waves) not tested for safety or environmental impacts. It’s unconscionable that communities are legally barred, according to Section 704 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, from refusing installations due to health concerns. Recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a 2B Carcinogen (wireless, DDT, lead paint), a neurotoxin and genotoxin, this new 5G was actually weaponized by our military for crowd-control purposes. Through the enforcement of the Telecom Act, the FCC is mandating our exposure to these toxins.

In 1994, two years before the Telecom Act was passed, the U.S. Air Force published a report titled, “Radiofrequency/Microwave Radiation Biological Effects and Safety Standards: A Review” at Griffiss Air Force Base in New York.

It was released to the public in 2014. Conclusion: “Experimental evidence has shown that exposure to low intensity radiation has profound effects on biological processes ... Nonthermal disruptions have been observed to occur at power densities that are lower than necessary to induce thermal effects.”

The Federal Communications Commission Board, those making decisions as to what is safe, is comprised of no scientists or medical experts. The FCC guidelines that warranted change following this report in the 1990s, that only protected us “thermally,” are still in effect today.

We are now more than 1 million times higher than exposure limits set out in the 2012 Bioinitiative Report.

Consequently, “People’s Initiative,” represented by a  law firm in New York and Erin Brockovich’s firm (California), are suing the FCC and the Telecom Act. These law firms do not handle cases they’ll lose. Could this put the City of Durango at financial risk, should these lawsuits prevail? Can Durango afford the risks of 5G?

To learn more, follow @DurangoForSafeTechnology on Facebook.

– Deborah Shisler, Durango

Taking money from parks, streets
10/31/2019

To the editor,

Although it would be wonderful if the City of Durango could open the library on Sundays, the proposed method of financing the extended hours should be concerning to citizens and city employees.

The three mayors preceding the current mayor described the alleged grim financial future of the city. We were told tax revenues were rapidly declining. What changed that allows the city to fund eight new employees and substantial raises next year?

The answer is that the former city manager and former finance director devised a scheme to use both the dedicated open space tax and dedicated streets tax to fund this multi-million-dollar enlargement to the budget. Voters were clear that these two taxes were to only be used for open space, parks and streets, yet city staff is snubbing their noses at us.

The most recent of these elections was in April. Those promoting the tax for streets did not disclose the scheme to move money from streets to pay for more staff in other departments and then to use the new tax money to supplant what was moved away from streets. The city hired a clever attorney to write the ballot language that allows the city to use the dedicated taxes to unsustainably expand other departments. For example, both assistant city managers could receive a salary of $192,549.

These two dedicated taxes will expire and the poor management of the taxes will make renewal of the taxes difficult. Once the taxes sunset, city employees will lose their jobs.

Help the councilors find a sustainable method to fund the library and salary increases. Compliment them for taking the time to find a solution, rather than vilify them for not rubber-stamping a plan developed by a troubled staff. The decision to open the library and give raises can be discussed in 2020 once a city manager and finance director are brought in from the outside.

– John Simpson, Durango

Trail cooperation & collaboration
10/31/2019

To the editor,

As the summer recreation season comes to an end, San Juan Trail Riders would like to extend a thank you to all user groups who enjoyed the Hermosa drainage this summer. Throughout the season, we enjoyed embracing the multi-user cooperation in the continuous collaboration to keep these trails clear. It is our hope that we can foster this relationship between user groups in the future and collectively enjoy this unique recreational opportunity.

– Heather Hormell, chairwoman, San Juan Trail Riders

'Others will save the Earth'
10/31/2019

To the editor,

Are you clear that climate change is the biggest threat humankind has ever faced? If not, please find out soon. If you are clear, commit now to be personally active in the climate movement.

Only our personal investment can protect the world we love.

Durango can and should be the leader in the Four Corners in embracing renewable energy, conservation and sustainable living. But during the last decade, our progress lagged far behind that of comparable Colorado cities and towns. For a variety of reasons (and despite commendable efforts by some), Durango has not nearly fulfilled the very basic goals of its own 2015 Sustainability Action Plan, nor of earlier similar documents. We need to face the fact that our city has fallen woefully short in addressing the existential threat we all face: climate change.

So whom shall we blame? Who will make climate progress happen here in Durango? There’s only one meaningful answer: I am responsible.

Consider the sign held by a local climate protestor saying “The greatest danger to our planet is the belief that others will save it.” We have been busy working hard and caring for our families, so it’s understandable that we rarely engage with our local government. We leave it to them to figure out priorities. We rarely contact Durango’s City Council, hardly ever show up at a council meeting – we already have plenty on our plate.

But to make progress on the existential threat that faces us, each of us must get personally involved. Are you ready?

We need to first thank our current City Council. On Aug. 20, it passed a climate resolution containing both renewable energy and carbon reduction goals community-wide. Our Council also called for “performance contracting” to upgrade many of our municipal buildings to cheaper, clean solar electricity at no cost to the city. This is the kind of forward progress we need throughout our city – a smart, solid start.

But the Council’s proposed 2020 city budget falls short on climate action, offering only a small, one-year “opportunity fund.” The Council needs input from each of us, for reasons listed below.

Spend one evening showing up for your climate. Join us at the City Council meeting Tues., Nov. 5 at 6:30 p.m. (949 E. 2nd Ave.) to show your support for these vital issues:

1) A new Durango City Manager whose resume reflects true commitment to aggressive progress on climate action. Our previous manager retired, leaving us the opportunity to hand-pick the individual central to our city’s functioning. We need a climate champion, well versed on energy and/or environmental matters, able to navigate and accelerate our future complex path to carbon reduction and renewable energy.

2) A climate advisory board with meaningful input into City sustainability plans and decisions. This group should be composed primarily of consultant stakeholders able to provide pertinent expertise, funded for compensation. Given Durango’s past culture of sustainability disregard (for which we cannot blame our current Council), concerned residents must now ensure a municipal process that creates results. We owe our children our serious, committed vigilance and involvement.

3) A dedicated funding stream for climate action. Solid annual funding can come from several sources, including (in rough numbers): the $1 million generated by the LPEA Franchise Agreement; $3 million from the General Fund usually committed to Parks and Rec (which also has a yearly $8.8 million dedicated funding stream); or new revenue. Currently only $50,000 appears to be committed to actual sustainability work in 2020, a very weak start toward our new 2030 climate goals.

4) A transparent, well-publicized process of climate action efforts by the city. Every resident should be able to quickly locate in one comprehensive data source the city’s: climate progress; accountability for how sustainability funds are spent by each department; and a detailed City goals timeline. Currently, such data is tucked away in multiple places in the maze-like city website, deterring resident involvement.

Please email citycouncil@durangogov.org with your comments.

Also, join us Sat., Nov. 9, 3-5 p.m. at the Durango Public Library for a great free presentation. Local experts will explore Durango’s paths to 100 percent renewable energy in the major energy sectors: electricity, transportation and buildings. For more information about either event, see  “Renewable Energy Durango” on Facebook.

Only our personal investment can protect the world we love. Thanks for caring; now let’s act.

– Kirby MacLaurin, Durango