Soap Box

Embrace change – vote Mannix

To the editor,

A little over a century ago an orphan from Bologna, Italy, came to America to mine coal in western Pennsylvania. Mining coal was an opportunity for a better life for him and his family but it was also his death sentence. That man, Emilio Crini, was my grandfather. He worked

40 years in the mines before dying of congestive heart failure resulting from “black lung” disease. He had no formal education, and I never heard him speak a word in English but his guidance to his children was simply “el mundo cambio” – the world changes. And change it has. Coal, which powered the industrial revolution of the last century, has been surpassed by gas as the fossil fuel of choice for energy production.

Once again, we are witnessing change. The generation of electricity is moving beyond fossil fuels despite the subsidies that the industry enjoys. Wholesale costs of renewable electricity are now below that of electricity generated from fossil fuels. Renewables will be even cheaper in the future. The electric generation industry is in transition. Unfortunately, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association is not a part of that because it relies on its coal-fired power plants for generation of electricity.

Regrettably, in July 2007, the LPEA Board entered into a long-term contract (expiring Dec. 31, 2050) that makes all of us underwriters of Tri-State’s unwise business decisions. That contract forces LPEA to purchase 95 percent of our power from Tri-State regardless of its means of electric generation or the price per kilowatt hour we are required to pay. There is nothing in that contract requiring Tri-State to benchmark its energy price to market rates or to prevent Tri-State from raising the prices it charges LPEA members.

If Tri-State is not going to change with the rest of the industry, it’s time for LPEA to find a way to lower its members’ electricity costs. The election of a LPEA Board of Directors with this vision is the key to such change. Ballots for the Board of Directors elections were sent to members and must be returned by May 1.

Jeff Mannix is running for the LPEA Board in District 2. Jeff is a cattleman with a unique vision for LPEA’s future that will benefit both ranchers and the rest of LPEA’s members. He would like to see more energy generation here on underused ranchlands. Doing so will provide a variety of opportunities for the local economic by way of jobs, income and lower electricity costs.

Mannix knows that the world changes and that energy generation is rapidly changing. Jeff knows that LPEA needs to take a long view of the situation we find ourselves in and to move toward a future that can ensure lower costs for its members. If we do not make the most of this opportunity, we will be held captive by Tri-State for 311⁄2 more years. Please take a couple of minutes to vote Mannix onto the LPEA Board for District 2.

– Eugene Creany, Durango

Time for climate-change action

To the editor,

How will you remember the student climate strikes last month? What will you hold in your memory? You have a choice!

I hold the inspiration and hope of thousands of young citizens worldwide expressing themselves by walking out of school and demanding a future livable planet. They remind humanity of the responsibility to take care of our only home planet for their future, and the future of all living beings threatened by a climate crisis and the sixth extinction.

These young citizens know their elders aren’t acting responsibly and don’t have as much at stake in the future as they do. Today youth are concerned about a planetary, climatic holocaust. I hope students walking out of school expressing concern for their future and the planet’s will have impact on elders not paying attention. They follow in the footsteps of 12-year-old Severn Cullis-Suzuki, who spoke to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, saying, “if you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it.” When will we listen?

I am moved and inspired by the youth climate actions “Fridays for Future” ( and “Our Children’s Trust” ( I invite concerned people to learn about Citizens’ Climate Lobby ( ) to take positive, respectful action to provide a livable planet for the future of our descendants. Find your local chapter under the “Take Action” tab. As 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg said, “The one thing we need more than hope is action.”

– Andrew Zeiler, Durango

Vote Turner and Mannix for LPEA

To the editor,

Here in La Plata County, we buy almost all of our power from Tri-State, a generation and transmission company based on the Front Range.

Tri-State relies heavily on fossil fuels, and they are the single-worst emitter of carbon dioxide in the entire country per unit of energy produced. Maybe that made sense years before, when coal was the cheapest energy source, but it doesn’t anymore.

The cost of renewable energy has plummeted, and the price of coal is high and rising. Coal has never made sense environmentally. Now, it doesn’t even make sense economically.

The advantages of renewables are clear. Lower prices and cleaner energy benefit us all.

Jeff Mannix (D2) and Jack Turner (D4) are the best choice for people who want LPEA directors that will advocate for clean energy and low rates. They both have strong backgrounds in community advocacy and will push the board to examine all of LPEA’s options, instead of just blindly tethering themselves to dirty, expensive energy.

Ballots were mailed April 2. Please vote for Turner and Mannix.

– Brett Oliver, Durango

Caught Red-handed stealing land

To the editor,

Here’s the latest twist in the never-ending sage of Red McCombs Village at Wolf Creek pipe-dream. Seems that Friends of Wolf Creek got tired of waiting for their legitimate FOIA request to be honored. Nothing had been handed over, although the deadline had passed well over 200 days earlier.

Now a U.S. Magistrate has stepped in to order the Forest Service to start releasing those papers. This has the usual suspects all up in arms about how poor old McCombs’ is being abused by out of control environmentalists.

“There is a law that says the USFS has to grant access to inholdings,” ... McCombs has a sacred property-owners’ right to develop that land if he wants, curses to those damned environmentalists for playing legal hardball.

There is another side to this story. As it happens We the People firmly believe this is a property rights dispute. Our property was stolen from us, and we have an ethical duty to fight tooth and nail with every legal tool at our disposal until that property gets back to its rightful owner, the American people via the Rio Grande National Forest.

After all, Red’s claim is totally based on manipulating a law that was intended for completely different circumstances. You see, among many other things, in 1980 ANILCA was created for property owners who suddenly found themselves in a landlocked “inholding” because of a newly created national park or other federally designated area.

In the 1980s, McCombs (with pals LMJV) purchased three middle-of-nowhere San Luis Valley foothill parcels that the Forest Service had been eyeing in order to pretty up map boundaries (seriously). McCombs then engaged in those go-go ‘80s national forest real estate poker games hoping to parlay those low-value parcels for a bonanza at the heart of the Wolf Creek drainage basin, near Wolf Creek Ski Area.

It didn’t matter to him that Alberta Park was an integral part of the Wolf Creek watershed and protected for the general good of the American people since 1908.

All McCombs could see was profits, totally oblivious to what an amazing biological keystone this piece of unadulterated wetlands and ancient fens wilderness was for the greater Wolf Creek watershed and the Rio Grande River for that matter. Ecological balance, environmental concerns, nurturing our wildlands – all those considerations Red’s developers and boosters laugh off as hippy devil talk.

Back to Red’s real estate poker game: he lost in Colorado. State and regional Forest Service officials concluded his was a bad bet for the health of the Rio Grande National Forest and river and they roundly rejected LMJV’s land swap offer.

But, Red held a trump card, billionaires own politicians, so back in the “real world” of Washington D.C., deep in the bowels of the USDA, papers were fixed, and presto, Red got his land swap.

Now his enablers are again pulling out their standard GOP victim card, crying foul because the poor guy is having to put up with yet more of these never-ending legal hurdles. Cry me a river. Red’s a billionaire and We are the People. Deal with it.

McCombs has been dishonest from the get go, such as telling everyone he wanted a few luxury cabins. After the deal was in, his plans blossomed to 10,000 people worth of luxury homes. Well, Red got caught and he got stopped. Here’s one for the American way.

Just because others got away with it, is no reason for us to let Red get away with his atrocious dream of destroying Alberta Park’s ancient watershed and fens, which building hundreds of homes and businesses on top of certainly will do, no matter how many berms you bulldoze into place for show.

We warned McCombs decades ago, his intentions were ill considered, destructive, unethical and bound to arouse deep moral indignation, antipathy and opposition among Colorado citizens and taxpayers. But will they ever learn?

Unfortunately, it seems to have evolved from a desired speculative business deal to an angry, old, richer-than-god guy, who’d rather get even than learn some lessons and admit maybe he was wrong and enough is enough.

Leave Alberta Park and Wolf Creek alone!

– Peter Miesler, friend of Alberta Park, No-village

Keep dark money out of politics

To the editor,

Three in four Americans perceived corruption as widespread in our government, found a Gallup poll. Abuse of power and corrupt behavior is an issue both political parties find intolerable. Special-interest campaign finance, gerrymandering, unethical Washington lobbyists and voter suppression were all targeted for reform in the recently passed anti-corruption House Bill HR 1 – For the People Act 2019.

Keeping dark money spending out of politics is a priority to me. This bill makes it harder for wealthy interests to anonymously dump large sums of money behind politicians to influence their vote. It levels the playing field of democratic values. I was disappointed to find that Rep. Scott Tipton voted no on the bill, as the bill’s aims are broadly popular with the American people.

I question who Tipton is representing.

– Catherine Neill, Durango