Soap Box

Healing through haikus

To the editor,

What the hell, we’re going to be stuck with this Corona/Covid 19 mess for awhile, why not have some fun with it? I propose the Telegraph has a weekly section of reader-contributed haikus about the virus, what people are doing to cope in the meantime, what we are observing in our community and generally sticking a thumb in the eye of this sickness – could be fun!

I have a first contribution to this temporary (not temporary enough!) section of the paper. Here goes.

Restaurants sickly empty

Take-outs through back doors. B

ut soon we will hear laughter.

OK, maybe it’s not great, but it’s a start. I’m sure your staff could add a couple, too.

– John Egan, Durango

(Editor’s note: John, thanks for the idea. The skeleton Telegraph crew is in crisis mode right now, but we’ll see if some of our clever and loquacious readers step up. Have a corona haiku? Send it to

Vote for a brighter LPEA future
To the editor,
It never ceases to amaze me how much change has occurred at La Plata Electric Association in the almost three years since I was elected to the Board of Directors. During my first year on the Board, the president of the Board refused to even let us talk about climate change. But with the election of a strong majority of forward-looking directors in the last two years, we are definitely moving toward a new future.
From the beginning, I have shared three primary goals for LPEA. The first goal is cleaner energy. That means much less energy from coal. Coal is inherently dirty as everyone knows. It’s dirty to mine, it’s dirty to transport, and it’s dirty to burn. In addition, burning coal emits twice as much carbon dioxide into the air as burning natural gas. And, of course, it emits a great deal more CO2 than clean sources like solar and wind.
The second goal is cheaper energy. Until about 2007, our power supplier, Tri-State, was very competitive on price. But with the steep drop in the cost of natural gas, Tri-State’s coal-generated energy became uncompetitive. Since we are locked into a contract with Tri-State through the year 2050, we are forced to pay Tri-State’s uncompetitive rates, costing our members tens of millions of dollars each year.
The third goal is more local energy. The money we currently pay to Tri-State goes out of our area and has very little positive local economic impact. If we were able to produce more energy locally, we could keep much of that money in our community and create more good-paying jobs.
The LPEA Board has hired consultants in the last two years and conducted internal studies to see what can be done to achieve these goals. This resulted in asking Tri-State to give LPEA a “buyout number,” which is the amount we would have to pay to terminate the contract with Tri-State. Tri-State responded by saying that they would not provide a number at this time. This caused the LPEA Board to vote to file a complaint with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission asking them to come up with a fair and reasonable buyout number. The process of working through the complaint is happening right now, and I am optimistic there will be a good outcome for your co-op.
The LPEA Board also hired a new CEO for the co-op, Jessica Matlock. Jessica is bringing an entirely new management methodology to LPEA by stressing teamwork and cooperation throughout the company. The employees appear to be very enthusiastic about this new approach. Jessica is also studying what LPEA needs to do differently in order to make sure we are ready to be the utility of the future.
In the elections that are coming up this spring, Bob Lynch, Rachel Landis and I will be running for re-election. We share very similar views on how we need to move LPEA forward. Bob has been the president of the Board for the last two years, and Rachel has done a lot of great work around communication and cooperation within the Board. I hope you will agree that LPEA is moving in the right direction, and I hope you will vote to re-elect these forward-looking directors.
– Guinn Unger, La Plata Electric Association Board of Directors
The coronavirus solution
To the editor,
As a self-appointed representative and spokesman for planet Earth, I’m writing today to speak out against the abuse, exploitation and threat that’s been levied against our only planet. I think I see a fairly simple and easy way to save this planet.
First of all, we need to establish what (or who) is the main threat to the health and well being of our planet and its innocent inhabitants.  
And it’s not aliens. I believe they’ve tried to warn us, and we’ve ignored them. But seriously, the answer is4
obvious, we are the threat.
The humans of this world are knowingly destroying it. Let’s face it. Our species sucks. We’re greedy, selfish, divisive and irresponsible.  
Not all of us, of course, but without a doubt most of us have these character traits in one degree or another. I would estimate as high as 30 percent of human beings are actually decent, ethical and have some integrity. I think I’m being generous here. And I don’t necessarily include myself in that group.
Consider this. We’re the only species that murders other species just for the “sport” of it. I’m not talking about culling the elk herd here. Why is having the head of a dead lion on your wall some sort of badge of honor? Unless you killed it with your bare hands defending your family, that’s sick and you’re a coward. The cruelty of the meat industry could not be understated either. But it doesn’t end there.  
What’s going on with the Amazon rain forest, referred to as “the lungs of the planet” by science folk is asinine. To support the cattle industry, farmers are burning the rain forest to make grazing land for more cattle to be slaughtered so we can fatten up on a Big Mac or a bloody rib eye. The burning adds more carbon to the atmosphere, and the trees that “recycle” the carbon dioxide and then spit out oxygen (for us to breathe) are wiped out. How stupid is that? I wish I was making this shit up!
I could list a hundred similar crimes against the planet, but unfortunately, to many of us, it would seem like spam and not make a bit of difference. We’re aware of what we’re doing and the long-term harm it will cause, and yet we continue to eff up our environment.  
Mainly because of greed and selfishness. Screw the next generations!  
Making sacrifices is difficult and inconvenient. So we don’t.
Obviously, we need to go. The coronavirus pandemic could be the solution. Much more effective and less devastating than, say, a nuclear war, which would leave fallout. Here’s how you can help! Stop washing your hands. Touch your face often and others too, when you can. Shake hands, hug. If you cough or sneeze, let those droplets fly! Go to work and attend large-scale events, even if sick. As soon as the humans are gone, the Earth can begin the slow road to recovery. But it must be 100 percent.  
The character flaws are not just the individuals but go deeper, down to our DNA. We dominated the planet because of these traits and as a result, are destroying it.
– Bill Vana, Durango
A butt-ugly sidewalk situation
To the editor,
Walk on Main ... pass El Rancho, Mo’s ... and turn west past Joel’s and The Garage. Outside of each business on the city sidewalks − and just off the curbs in the streets − see scores of cigarette butts. Lots and lots of butts, tossed and left − where eventually they’ll go down the drains. Into the Animas River.
I’m asking these local businesses to please take better care and to help their tobacco-addicted customers dispose of their cigarette butts more responsibly. Surely it’s obvious, if you pause to think, that these nearly indestructible butt ends go into our river. If you operate a bar business, you know that many of your customers smoke, you know they step just outside your doors to do it. If you don’t provide your customers with a receptacle, you also know what they do with those cigarette butts.
C’mon, make it so: butts out, in an appropriate receptacle − not into the sidewalk or street − thanks.
− Susan Ulery, Durango
Put down the steak knife and do better

To the editor,
I want to thank Dante Gomez for his insightful commentary to the Soapbox on Jan. 23. Cruelty is cruelty and suffering is suffering, no matter the species.
  Most of us humans have a choice, we do not have to consume animals and animal products to survive – or even have a high quality of life. We also do not have to slaughter each other during economic hard times, as with the holocaust or genocide.
  We can put down our forks, use our heads and do better. We can also make ourselves healthier in the process. 
 Thank you, Dante, for your wisdom.
– Marianne Spencer Pearlman, Durango