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Thursday, August 26,2010

Letters | Danish's verbal spill

Danish’s verbal spill

(Re: “Biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history? Hogwash!” Danish Plan, Aug. 12.) I have neither the time nor sufficient word allowance to address all the shortcomings of Paul Danish’s article on the BP oil spill.

I do, however, feel obligated to highlight a few particularly irritating deficiencies that strongly indicate the author, not President Obama or the CNN reporter he belittles, is “full of biomass” up to the eyeballs. First we must get our definitions straight. Calling our interstate highways, metropolitan areas and agricultural system disasters is erroneous on several counts. Disasters occur suddenly. Not simply a negative thing, a disaster is a calamitous event that comes on unexpectedly, leaving nothing but devastation in its wake. Call highways and skyscrapers tragedies, call them misfortunes, but do not call them disasters. And while stepping down from your soapbox, Mr. Danish, consider the positive aspects of our highways and cities. Unlike the oil spill, their outcomes are not wholly detrimental to mankind.

Next I must defend my hometown, New York City, which Mr. Danish ruthlessly preys upon without a shred of scientific evidence to support his outlandish claims. City areas are easy targets; skyscrapers, traffic, and crowded residential areas do not align with our vision of sustainability. But large metropolises deserve a closer look. Consider the findings of a Brookings Institution-sponsored study that ranked metropolitan areas by their carbon footprints. According to the results (www.blueprintprosperity.org), the New York metropolitan area had the second lowest per capita carbon emissions in 2000 and the third lowest in 2005. Conjuring up images of Times Square certainly doesn’t bring to mind sustainability, but the city’s public transportation system, community parks, and pedestrianfriendly streets sure do.

Lastly, I would like to speak to Mr. Danish’s assertion that our highways, cities and farms are all “ongoing disasters.”

Clearly all three are (and will continue to be) in need of routine maintenance. Roads need to be repaved, cities need to grow. Thankfully we can simultaneously make improvements to these systems, precisely because they are not disasters, but rather prefabricated systems around which we build our existences. And so we see wildlife migration corridors being built across bridges over highways, green roofs and improved public transportation in cities, and the local foods movement that is burgeoning across the country. Mr. Danish, you criticize others for “casually” labeling the Macondo oil spill the worst environmental disaster in history. You would be wise to take a closer look at your own haphazard allegations.

Jennifer Perry/Boulder

Deporting illegals

(Re: “Hidden in plain sight,” News, Aug. 12.) Thanks for the somewhat balanced views presented in the special immigration series, although the comic piece “What part of illegal immigration don’t you understand?” seemed to infer that it should be easier to become a citizen.

I’ve always felt that this issue is purely one of practicality, i.e., how can any country withstand the economic and social pressures of such disproportionate immigration from any other country? As kooky as it sounds, I believe that deportation of illegal immigrants, especially from Mexico, does not have to be a negative thing. We have many dangerous drug towns along our border with Mexico. Why not flatten them and start over with commercial centers where they could live and work in their own country? If anyone is thinking, “Man, that is really kooky,” then think real hard about what is currently in place. The centerpiece of your articles though, comes in the last sentence of the Colorado lawmakers article, and for once, clearly addresses the root cause of the problem: “I blame Mexico for not dealing with their issues as they should.”

With all of the protests here in the U.S., I wonder why there are no protests in Mexico? A fair question with no answer.

Michael Ortiz/Lafayette

No more open space funds

(Re: “New open space tax on ballot,” News, Aug. 12.) Despite my fervent reliance on the editorial opinion of your newspaper, I, for one, shall be voting against the new open space ballot item. Don’t get me wrong, I love Boulder’s open space program; the vast expanses of unspoiled public land is one of the great draws about Boulder. And I have been a huge supporter of the economic philosophy of buying land the community wants to preserve, instead of effectively stealing it by simply re-zoning to prevent development. A community with common goals should not ask a few individuals to bear the whole burden.

Which is why I’m now opposing any more tax increases for open space: Under Commissioner Will Toor, the County of Boulder has apparently lost its belief in shared burdens and just compensations.

Mr. Toor is quoted in your article as saying, “The areas where there is open space, property values haven’t really taken a hit. It’s a huge economic incentive.” This is exactly why two years ago I purchased such a home. It’s an ugly, drafty little ’50s box, but it’s on a full acre of gorgeous property, adjacent to publicly owned land with a pond where migrating birds like to rest. While the house itself wasn’t a steal, it fit the classic “worst house in the best neighborhood” because practically next door is a massive development of mini-McMansions. So I took a risk and made a big financial commitment.

Literally just a few weeks after I bought the house, I learned that the Boulder County commissioners had invented a new rule that gutted the value of my property. This rule ostensibly preserves “neighborhood character,” but its definition of “neighborhood” is contrived to exclude anything that might weaken it. Such as all those McMansions in my backyard. The result is that I can’t build anything big enough to even break even financially.

So out of one side of his mouth Mr. Toor talks about the economic value of open space, but out the other he invents rules that destroy that value. It makes me so angry I could kick a prairie dog. My few neighbors in small houses, whose character is supposedly being protected, share this sentiment.

The truly disturbing aspect is how few people are even aware of the rule. In almost two years, the only people I have met who know about it are homeowners who discovered it, much to their unpleasant surprise, during site plan review.

In the last few years Boulder County has implemented rule after rule making it increasingly difficult or impossible to build. Difficult for wealthy developers who can convincingly threaten legal action, impossible for regular homeowners. (Boulder is afraid of having its rules overturned by a judge so they always cave to the developers rather than risk the courts.)

So now I’m saddled with a rotten house on a beautiful piece of land, worth less than I paid for it, because Mr. Toor thinks he can stop time. And now he wants to increase my taxes to buy more land for the county? Is he kidding?

I’m sure Mr. Toor is well-intentioned, and apparently he lives his own life nobly and with a low carbon footprint. But his attempts to impose personal values on others is destroying the savings of struggling homeowners.

Mr. Toor, if you’re so enamored of the character in my ugly little tract house, why don’t you buy it from me and preserve it yourself? For you, I give special price.

David Rea/Boulder, CO

Thanks for both sides

I want to thank the Weekly for running the interesting story last fall by Frida Ghitis on Palestinian life in the town of Ramallah (“The cold realities of a complicated conflict,” Perspectives, Oct. 15, 2009). It gave a peek into West Bank life for us Weekly readers and demonstrated an increasing understanding on the part of Boulder Weekly staff about the crisis in the Middle East.

Thank you also for the time-honored tradition of printing letters, even when they are controversial — like the recent letter about Israel from Mr. Roger Anghis (“Palestians are aggressors,” Letters, Aug. 19).

My experience of Palestine and Israel is much different from his. When Israel threw the Jordanians out of the West Bank in 1967, it assumed responsibility for the lives of 500,000 Palestinians living there. Israel could have begun the process of slowly building stability in the region, giving the inhabitants a real future, giving confidence they would have good neighbors and partners for peace and indeed a peaceful existence in the region. Instead, the master planners of Israel opted for the Israeli Zionist approach, which is unending war and constant pressure designed to throw the Palestinians out of their own country. Anghis claims the Palestinians are aggressors any time they try to defend their country or reclaim their lost land. To be fair, he needs to call the Israelis aggressors every time they do something to take more land and make life harder for Palestinians, which the Israeli government does every single day. I’m willing to say that those who write letters bashing Palestine have no real Palestinian friends and have spent no time with Palestinians in the West Bank (or the U.S., for that matter) to gain a truer understanding. By the way, there are pro-Palestinian Zionists in Israel and also non-Zionist Jewish Israelis! These make up the left in Israel — and the right wishes they would go away. Please continue printing your letters and stories about Palestine. I heard a great quote yesterday — “two sides to the story often leads to the truth.”

Steve Ruby/Boulder

Open space

In response to Mr. Rodriguez’s article on the 14th Amendment (Perspectives, Aug. 19), his reference to children born in the U.S. of immigrant parents is, in my opinion, a lame argument, in that he discounts the legitimacy of parents’ immigration status.

In his rhetorical diatribe, he, along with the current administration, fail to address the issue of broken borders. “Anchor babies” in no way, shape or form, have any historical connection with immigrants who previously rose through the ranks and achieved the “American Dream,” legally.

Gary Rhodes/Boulder

Broomfield council wrong

I live in Broomfield and am wondering why Broomfield’s K-9 test scores are not the best in the nation? It is certainly not the fault of the students — they are born winners, just ask any parent. And why are our roads so worn out, terribly rutted or uneven?

So, given this, what will our Broomfield City Council (BCC) do with an “extra” $120,000 (tax dollars)? Fill in our student’s time with two to three tutors to teach our children in afterschool programs? Or repair or fill in 10-20 miles of bad roads? Nope, these are not “worthy” projects, according to the BCC. Instead, they plan to buy up some land from the Rocky Mountain Wildlife refuge (formerly the nuclear weapons factory) to “give” to a yet unnamed (winkwink) private toll road developer to build a toll road from here to Golden. A toll road, yes, which we will have to pay to use. No, this is not a bad joke; this is, in fact, Broomfield. Long the “lapdogs” of the real estate industry, this is just another in a series of “giveaways” by the BCC to real estate. Chicago-style politics? Not quite, but there are four more months left in this year, give it time.

Yes, the BCC has plenty of money to spend on real estate giveaways, while our schools and our roads go to hell. Praise them for their steadfastness — the real estate industry could very well die out, if it were not for these subsidies.

Kindly let the BCC know your feelings about saving the real estate industry — they’ll be glad to hear from y’all.

Never mind the fact that the refuge site is heavily contaminated with radioactive materials. Building this road will churn hundreds of tons of potentially deadly dust into the air we breathe. Will this produce more human cancers? Time will tell. Truth is, we have no choice. When the BCC lets loose this dust, we will all be in the same “test tube” to find out what happens.

So this all seems to prove the observation by Indian Chief Seattle: “Only when all the oceans are empty, the forests all cut down, and all the wild things are dead, will the White man learn he can’t eat money.”

Tony Burg/Broomfield

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