Monday letters: climate change; insurance denied for unvaccinated is next; yes on 5B; Carbondale Comp Plan; COGCC; 480 Donegan
Don’t let fox guard the hen house
In response to a letter to the editor Oct. 4, “Invest or not Divest for Climate Solutions.” As merely one example, the major oil and gas producers could start to promote “green technologies.” By permitting advances in common carburetor designs to be used rather than buying up the patents and thus prohibiting their use. Cars have been shown to achieve far more MPG than we have become accustomed to using carbon technology that has so effectively been kept in the closet, primarily for their own financial gain.
This should be regarded as a crime of utmost consequence, regardless of its legality, to say the least.
Why let the fox guard the hen house? Our tax dollars should be invested with entities that have interest in sync with ours.
Why align with those who have such a wretched M.O.; wars, economic and ecological devastation, etc.; e.g. rainforest damage in Ecuador, flammable tap water in the Divide Creek area, among myriad other examples.
Let the majors wallow in their own filth and give someone else a chance.
To me, it is simply a matter of common sense as well as a practical and financial decision, to say nothing of the possible ecological benefits that will result.
Here it comes
It is well known if you have an auto accident and are not wearing a seatbelt, an insurance company may reduce the amount of compensation you receive for injuries.
How long before insurance companies start denying COVID-19 medical claims if you are unvaccinated?
Teacher wage math favors 5B
There are harsh financial and emotional realities that motivate my perspective on 5B and the arguments that seek to undermine the passage of this mill levy override.
While concerns articulated in this space about the language of the mill levy are accurate — there is no sunset clause, and the mill is indexed to inflation — the subtext of such arguments, from the perspective of a teacher, is clear. The subtext is that teachers should have to continually beg taxpayers for a living wage. The subtext is that educators cannot be trusted to invest taxpayer resources to improve student outcomes. The subtext is that teacher wages should not increase with inflation. How are the contributions teachers and educators make for their students and communities not devalued in the context of such arguments?
Moreover, these issues with the language of the mill levy override are decontextualized. There is already a publicly elected board that oversees teacher contracts and yearly district budget allocations to ensure taxpayer money is well spent. There are many districts in our state with mill levy measures on the books that include no sunset language and are indexed to inflation.
It is, in part, because there are many districts with larger mill levies than those in the Roaring Fork School District that teacher wages are comparatively anemic in our valley. My brother works for a school district on the Front Range (Adams 12), and for the remainder of his career and retirement, he is slated to make more than $645,000 in wages than I will make here at Glenwood Springs High School. The math becomes much worse if he changes employers to the Cherry Creek School District or Boulder Valley School District, where the difference in lifetime earnings rise to between $860,000-$1,200,000 versus teachers in our district. These figures are easy enough to find and verify with published pay scales across districts in our state.
Any prospective and current teacher can find these numbers and come to the same basic conclusion — it does not pay to work for the RFSD. If 5B fails, I am left to wonder who will.
teacher, Glenwood Springs High School
Ignorance is bliss
Here we are in a little slice of “paradise,” tucked snugly into a little mountain valley. Like the mythical utopia called Shangri-la in the novel “Lost Horizons.” Or like Garrison Keillor: “Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”
In about 1747, English poet Thomas Gray wrote of Paradise (in the first known use of “ignorance is bliss”):
“To each his Suff’rings: all are Men,
Condemn’d alike to groan,
The Tender for another’s Pain;
Th’ Unfeeling for his own.
Yet ah! Why should they know their Fate?
Since Sorrow never comes too late,
And Happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their Paradise.
No more; where Ignorance is Bliss,
’Tis Folly to be wise.”
As climate change rapidly gains strength, far too little is done to counter this disaster. Instead, the oft-touted goal of local community leaders is “vibrancy.” As in: “pulsating with life, vigor or activity.” What vibrancy really translates into is “growth.” The common credos of the promoters are “growth is inevitable,” or “if you aren’t growing, you’re dying!”
But let’s be honest, it’s about the money. There is a lot of money in growth. But what does it cost? A lot! Call it “growing pains.” Traffic is out of hand. Would-be employees are leaving in droves. Taxes are increasing to cover shortfalls in infrastructure. The stress of living in “vibrancy” creates myriad human problems from shortage of food to substance abuse to mental health issues. My Carbondale native neighbor feels the difference; she said one of the things she misses most is “serenity.”
Carbondale is now defining a new Comprehensive Plan. Such plans are done to guide development. One thing is certain: More buildings and more people will not help us make desperately needed preparations for climate change. Nor do they improve the quality of life — even in Paradise.
A positive start turns sour
It was heady days for the Colorado climate movement in 2019. Jared Polis, with a history of climate action, replaced John Hickenlooper, known as Gov. Frackenlooper, after eight years of loyalty to the oil and gas industry as governor.
The new chairman of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was Jeff Robbins, taking over from Matt Lepore, who’s shown his stripes since moving to the private sector by working for Insight Energy Law, a firm fighting oil and gas regulations.
Early in 2019, Senate Bill 19-181 changed the role of the COGCC from an organization that primarily promoted the oil and gas industry to one that protected public health, safety, welfare and environment through regulations. The bill did that by setting guidelines, like the 2,000-foot setback from all dwellings for oil and gas operations.
I’m sorry to report these early days of sunshine have turned cloudy. What SB 19-181 lacked was enforceability. It established some outstanding goals for the industry to meet but no consequences for noncompliance. Should we expect the oil and gas industry to meet these sometimes-expensive requirements out of a sense of public responsibility? We need a mandate.
So SB 21-200 was introduced this year, which would’ve put some teeth into rules set forth in SB 19-181. But Polis called it government overreach and threatened to veto it. The Democratic caucus dropped SB 21-200.
Incredibly, it’s been almost three years since SB 19-181 was passed, and the COGCC still hasn’t established the new rules. They’re working on it, but they continue to issue permits under the old rules. And the COGCC has still never denied a drilling request. During the rulemaking process, the COGCC seems to be listening only to the industry and ignoring the climate and environmental groups.
One action we constituents can take is to let our elected officials know their climate-related efforts are insufficient. Contact Gov. Polis at Governorpolis@state.co.us and COGCC Chairman Robbins at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remind them the COGCC’s stated mission is “to protect public health, safety, welfare and the environment.”
Fred Malo Jr.
Sad day in Glenwood
Today (Oct. 21) is one of the saddest days in the 40 years I have lived here. I don’t know about you, but I have this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach over the decision that City Council made to approve that monstrous housing development in West Glenwood. It’s the feeling you get when something happens that you thought could never happen. When the vast majority of the citizens of Glenwood say this project is not right for us, and the city’s own Planning and Zoning Commission vote it down, how can it be that our City Council passes it?
What this says to me is City Council does not care what we think. They heard in meeting after meeting how overwhelmingly nearly all constituents were against this project. Yet they ignored the will of the people and voted against us. These are our friends and neighbors that we voted into office to represent “us,” and they blatantly did just the opposite. These days we kind of expect this kind of behavior from the federal government but not locally.
This is as wrong as it gets when it comes to government overreaching. The four councilors that voted this in should be ashamed: Your job is to represent your constituents, not just your own personal feelings. We can not let our city government continue like it has, and the way to put an end to it is to never vote for these people again.
No, I won’t name names, just look at the Oct. 22 Post Independent, where they tell you how all councilors voted. Make note of the councilors that voted against us, so when they come up for reelection, you do not vote for them.
I would like to thank councilors Stepp, Wussow and Hershey for listening to the people and voting to deny.
Ambushed by council
Ambushed! That’s what our mayor, Jonathan Godes, and Steve Davis did after the vote was taken to accept the annexation of 480 Donegan at the City Council meeting Oct. 21. The developers, R2 Partners, had seemed to listen to us and the city council to reduce the density (if nothing else) from 332 units to 287 units. The original four councilors still voted against the move to approve, minus Charlie Willman, who was somehow persuaded that the changes were good enough. But he asked for more public open space.
That’s when Godes and Davis pounced: Godes lightheartedly said, “Let’s say, oh, we just level off the number of units to say, 300? Make it even?” What? What City Council does that? Then Davis read what seemed to be a premeditated plan that would ask for 2 acres of public open space (R2 originally planned on one acre). That’s still a very small parcel of parkland. But when Godes moved to vote yes on their ambush plan, I saw Willman hesitate and look down before voting yes. Seems he had a noose around his neck. How is this is in any way respectful of the people you represent, Mayor Godes? Two of your councilmembers, Ingrid Wussow and Paula Stepp, were stunned, as were the rest of us in the chambers. Wussow was kind when she said she was “disappointed” with Godes and Davis. She correctly said Godes and Davis don’t live in the western part of Glenwood Springs, so they won’t have to deal with all the traffic that 480 Donegan will bring. Kaup later wrote one of us a letter explaining her approval of the development, calling us citizens, not residents. Many of us are county residents and have no recourse. But many of us do live in the city of Glenwood Springs. And you cut us off at the knees, Mr. Godes and Mr. Davis. Shame on you. The fight for smart development — and a responsible, ethical and transparent city council — is not over.
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