Wednesday letters: Natural gas development, Glenwood’s red scar, American Birthright, holding city council accountable

More oil now, less later

I am an old style “conservationist” in the mold of Theodore Roosevelt, committed to the prudent, restrained development of limited natural resources. As such, I offer this view on the issue of the increased transport of oil from Utah by rail along the Colorado River, including through and upstream of Glenwood Canyon.

I have long recognized that we Americans have developed an addiction to fossil fuels that is excessive and unnecessary regarding the multiple goals of long-term economic prosperity, national defense, and environmental protection. We in the mountains of western Colorado live in an area that is sharply divided between single-issue environmental ideologues and single-issue ideologues of “energy independence.” But one thing that all have in common is that almost all are still dependent primarily on fossil fuels for heating our homes, powering our transportation and generating our electricity (including for most electric vehicles).

Utah is a relatively modest producer of oil, with about 1% of total U.S. production. The push to expand production there is an example of the drive to develop oil production in locations that are ever more costly and environmentally risky. This trend will continue to the point that oil becomes prohibitively expensive for mass uses such as powering cars and trucks. The prudent thing to do then, with concern for future prosperity, is to gradually wean ourselves off of oil — and particularly to forego projects such as this rail extension that have exceptional environmental risks.

The bad news is that deliberate conservation will accelerate the inevitable rise in the cost of oil and thus gasoline. The not-so-bad news is that if the price rises gradually, rational people will be able to compensate for it by buying vehicles that are more fuel-efficient — particularly by being smaller. And the good news is that whatever oil is not pumped now will remain in the ground for future generations, if it turns out that the people who dismiss global heating from carbon emissions as a hoax turn out to be right.

Carl Ted Stude, Carbondale

The red scar

Who is responsible for the massive red scar at the base of Red Mountain in Glenwood Springs? You could fill that spot with three super Walmarts! Well, it is City Council. Why did another 300-unit development get approved on an alluvial fan like everything else at the Meadows — Target, Lowe’s, etc.? Apparently, City Council has never heard of the engineering survey that was done in the 1990s, before the Meadows was ever developed. Engineers concluded at that time, all that land was too unstable for even a golf course.

I worked for the city of Glenwood from 1992 to 2014. All the departments, electric, streets, parks and mechanics moved into the new building, MOC (municipal operations center), above RAFTA, in 2001. After eight years, cracks in the walls and ceilings developed. The city spent $2.4 million to try to save the massive buildings and sheds but to no avail. By 2018, the buildings were condemned and all departments had to move somewhere else in town. My guesstimation is $150 million-$200 million to lose the MOC, and to relocate all those departments around town. And yes, we are still building 300 units at a time, until we fill all of the Meadows.

Michael Hoban, Glenwood Springs

The student mind is at stake 

Christian nationalists in this country have noticed church membership has dipped below 50% for the first time in the nation’s history, 30% of people under 30 are reporting they’re attending church less frequently and thousands of churches are closing. They’ve decided the reason is children aren’t getting the proper religious indoctrination at school.

So, the religious right is focusing on school board elections to pack those ruling bodies with like-minded members. Thus, the rhubarb over the reactionary American Birthright social studies curriculum being considered in the Garfield Re-2 School District.

This program was dismissed by the Colorado State Board of Education because it identifies diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice as subjects students shouldn’t learn about. Why didn’t they list compassion, honesty, humility and creativity?

At a meeting on this matter in Silt on Aug. 30, a parent said current social studies teaching goes “against the Judeo-Christian foundation.” So what? You’re considering a public school. If you want your children to have religious training, send them to a private, parochial school. There’s plenty of them.

Objections to the present curriculum were also to the inclusion of Latino, Black, Native American, Asian, and LGBTQ communities. Are the more than 50% of the students and parents in Re-2 that’re Latino to be excluded?

The parent continued to expose the quality of his education by stating the word slave comes from when the Moors conquered and enslaved the Slavic people of eastern Europe. That is the origin of the term, but the Moors had nothing to do with it. The Ottomans overran the Slavs. They’re Muslims, like the Moors, but the Moors never ventured beyond the Iberian Peninsula.

Another parent complained that a 12-year-old knew who Martin Luther King was, but not George Washington. The child should know both of them, but their parents probably have memories of MLK. Not even President Joe Biden ever heard the Father of Our Country speak.

School board elections generally have very low turnouts. As it is with all elections, the minority, the Christian nationalists in this case, can take advantage of that. Don’t let them do it. Show up and vote in members with no political or religious agenda. Your children’s minds are at stake.

Fred Malo Jr., Carbondale

Your right to know

Every citizen in Colorado has a right under Colorado’s Open Records Act (CORA) to request information from their government(s). Our State’s definition of “public records” pursuant to CORA is expansive and applies to virtually all levels and types of governments in Colorado.

Recently I made several requests to the city of Glenwood Springs under CORA about the sudden departure of the city manager. Some of these requests were productive as we learned our government spent $170,000 recruiting, paying and then settling with that employee after only five months. Unfortunately, many of my CORA requests were met with resistance, like one for the meeting where her contract was terminated, and once with hostility.

Specifically, Councilman Jonathan Godes upon learning that I was exercising my right to ensure that public business was not conducted by his council in private in violation of Colorado State Law wrote a nasty email responding to a CORA request about the manager. He wrote from his government council email:

“Of course he did. He is a sad and lonely man who only feels valued when he is getting attention.”

Mr. Godes then went on to criticize my four years of service on Council. That criticism was reasonable. Attacking me and other citizens personally is not appropriate. I am not an elected official. I don’t have the power and platform Godes does to attack people on social media and via email.

I do understand his frustration, however. Mr. Godes has served almost seven years on a Council that often tries to conduct business in secret. Citizens and this newspaper struggle to keep them transparent and CORA is a statutory device that ensures they are responsive and conduct their business in public not private. If they fired the city manager secretly and violated Colorado law in not disclosing how they did it then the people have a right to know. Mr. Godes, who works for two government bodies, should know that the public’s business he conducts is or may be subject to CORA. If he does not like that perhaps he should resign from both jobs.

Tony Hershey, Glenwood Springs

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