Letters: 12/14/17

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Track drone flights

I see from an article in the Daily Camera that the City of Boulder is pursuing the authorization of official drones for a variety of applications. In a city where a child is greatly restricted in where they can fly a model airplane, its leaders want to open the skies everywhere for their own purposes.

Many official uses of drones are valuable, as are many unofficial ones that the public might want to perform for their own reasons, so the scope of these applications feels hypocritical. The campaign to inform the public of their effort, if I can be generous in describing it thus, includes no information on the City website, one article in the local newspaper and a survey that looks to me to be a push-poll, enumerating all the wonderful things that can be done instead of a thoughtful query into the concerns of citizens.

If they really care to take a balanced and thorough approach to this politically charged issue, they are off to a bad start. I encourage citizens of Boulder to demand that all City drone flights be documented in a public record that includes the flight track (which should be easy to obtain from the GPS data of drones they will use). That should go without saying under the expectation of government transparency and open records.

Leonard Sitongia/Niwot

Sugary drink tax at work: Making fresh produce available for all

The Boulder County Farmer’s Market is in the business of making fresh food available to everyone in our community.

For the past 30 years, we’ve provided the opportunity for local farmers to sell their fresh produce and products directly to our community, and on average, our producers sell over 1 million pounds of fresh food every year.

Despite this ongoing success, we know that there is a growing segment of our community that doesn’t have access to this food, mainly due to cost and awareness. In fact, Boulder has the highest wealth equity gap in all of Colorado. That means that the gap between the “haves” and “have nots” is more pronounced than anywhere else in the state. And it’s increasing. It is estimated that one in eight people living in Boulder County need food assistance.

With the help of the City of Boulder’s tax on sugary drinks, we are slowly changing the narrative. The tax of two-cents per ounce on soda and other sugary drinks helps fund programs in our city that improve nutrition education and physical activity opportunities, and encourages our community to make healthier choices, especially among the low-income families and youth populations — a group that is disproportionately targeted in soda advertising and marketing.

As a direct result of the sugary drink tax, the Boulder County Public Health Healthy Eating Active Living program received a grant of $50,000. Part of this money allowed us to give gift certificates to 400 deserving mothers and children for use at the Farmer’s Market. They benefitted from free fruit and vegetables and cookbooks to demonstrate ways to use local produce to prepare healthy and affordable meals.

These mothers were identified through Boulder County’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, which promotes and maintains the health and well-being of qualified families. Of those, 99 families had never been to the Farmer’s Market before, and for most of them, it is now part of their shopping routine.

This new habit is not only welcome by these families but welcome by our farmers as well. With a passion for growing the best food possible for their community, many of our farmers have commented on their own excitement at serving a broader spectrum of customers. The program is a win for our low-income neighbors and a win for our community farmers.

Next year, we are hoping to expand the program to include twice as many families.

We are one of 14 programs in our community that received funds from the sugary drink tax. In addition to the Farmer’s Market WIC program, produce is being distributed through Community Food Share’s mobile pantry, which visits Boulder elementary schools at student pick-up and offers parents a chance to take a bag or two of fresh produce home for their families. And there’s Boulder County Food Rescue, which is using part of its grant to increase food donations to low-income housing communities and schools.

Other programs focus on physical fitness, education and health care. According to the criteria set out by the city, voters and the Health Equity Advisory Committee, which reviews the applications for grants, programs must already be established and make a real impact in our community, with particular focus on residents with lower incomes and those most affected by chronic diseases linked to sugary drink consumption.

With all of these programs working together to address food access and health equity, we are making a difference at the grassroots level by continuing to put these tax dollars to work as they were intended.

Brian Coppom/Boulder County Farmers Markets executive director

Liberals being hypocritical

Once again, the liberal Democrats in Congress have demonstrated their dishonesty and hypocrisy.

They have claimed that their concern for illegal aliens covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is motivated by the fact that many of these illegals were brought here as minors by their parents, and were not responsible for the crime of illegal entry.

Republicans in Congress responded by offering a deal based on that premise. Those covered by DACA would be allowed to stay, and Congress would empower Homeland Security to increase its efforts to find and deport those who deliberately broke the law.

Democrats have not only rejected this compromise, they have threatened to shut down the federal government unless DACA is written into law without any provisions for better law enforcement.

It is clear that these advocates of the DACA amnesty have no concern for enforcing the immigration laws. They hope that DACA will simply be the first step toward a general amnesty for millions of lawbreakers.

Republicans should call their bluff.  Let’s see how long Democrats are willing to keep the government shut down in the name of encouraging violations of federal law.

Peter J. Thomas/Chariman of The Conservative Caucus