Letters | Of foxes and hens


Clarification: A July 12 Eco-Brief stated that the EnergySmart program for commercial businesses is expected to end sooner than planned. While rebate funds are expected to be expended by early August, the program will continue providing energy advisors who help customers prioritize projects, identify qualified contractors and find and apply for available incentives, including other rebates.

Of foxes and hens

Thanks to Dodge and Dyer for their excellent story on the misconduct of certain individuals at the top of the city’s food chain. (“Foxes in the henhouse,” cover story, July 12.) This latest impropriety over employee evaluations is indicative of a systemic problem within Boulder City government.

I speak from experience, as I have been waging my own battle against the city robots for well over 18 months.

At the very least, City Council should begin to rethink the necessity of even retaining a city manager. Most cities the size of Boulder have never had a manager, or have discontinued this office altogether at a great savings to taxpayers. Shuttering the city manager’s office would force the city attorney’s hand to be more responsive to the very entity that hired him.

And how about this for a low-cost approach to employee evaluations: Citizen evaluations of every non-elected government official that is answer able to the public. For me, I would start with the office of the risk manager.

Robin Duxbury/Boulder

Danish’s latest frack job

In his article “Fracking out of the recession” (Danish Plan, July 12), Paul Danish attempts to debunk the legitimate concerns over hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for shale gas.

He terms the criticism of the process’s copious water use as “hogwash,” forgetting about the highly toxic chemicals injected into the 3 to 8 million gallons of water used per well each day in his gushing praise for what he considers a “stable cheap supply of gas.” Sure, there’s a load of money to be made in this latest bonanza of last-ditch resource extraction, but “stable”?! … or “cheap”?! Hardly. What writers like Mr. Danish seem to lack is a sense of the growing outrage over the impunity enjoyed by an unaccountable, obscenely subsidized industry that uses its astronomical profits to try to mislead the public as its lobbies corrupt our government so that the development of “unconventional” fuels like shale gas and tar sands are favored over the development of intelligent, long-term strategies to localize our economies, preserve the integrity of our ecosystems and develop renewable energy alternatives. … This is not, as he puts it, some “pathological vendetta against the oil and gas industry” being perpetrated by “greens” or “Democrats” or “progressives.” Sorry, Mr. Danish, we are just human beings trying to assure that our children’s children can escape the fate of living in a nightmarish desert or bog of toxic sludge.

It should be obvious, even to climate change deniers and gung-ho capitalists, that it is damaging to the environment, society and human health to continue with the “drill, baby, drill” agenda, with its ever-increasing need for heavy inputs of water and, ironically, fossil-fueled energy and infrastructure for increasingly diminished returns on investment.

“Fracking out of the recession” is all too in thrall to an economic model unable or unwilling to extrapolate and learn from the well-documented cases of serious contamination in Garfield County, Dimock, Pa., Pavillion, Wyo., and Parker City, Texas, and really get it, that there are limits … not just to the coveted gas or oil, but to the citizenry’s willing ness to put up with the profit addictions running roughshod over our communities, turning them into “sacrificial zones” to maintain a status quo that is itself quite “pathological.”

Lynn Farquhar/Denver

Excellent article by Paul Danish on fracking and energy.

Mike Baron/Fort Collins

Reactions to war realities

You did an all-important notification and reality check with your article about number of dead and those kept living (“A war of arms, legs and minds,” cover package, July 5).

Without that very heavy (45 lbs.) body armor, the number of dead would be two to five times as high. I hate to say this, but I only do because if I were injured the way some are (and I saw enough soldiers and Marines wounded) I would not have wanted to be revived. I am in my 60s, having gone into the Corps in ’68, and I know of guys who died/killed themselves within 10 years of devastating injuries — multiple missing limbs; destroyed genitalia, so their urine went into an intestinal bag that was on the belly; blindness; deafness; psychological hate; and constant irritability, with so many turning to licit and illicit drugs, and I don’t blame them.

In certain units most soldiers take turns in the evening getting stoned on hash — high up in mountains. You would think it would be opium, but it is hash. And there are those getting opium. Boredom is unbelievable in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are scenes that keep playing in my mind, and this old man was noncombatant in his late years — no way I could climb up and down with armor, packs, ammo, etc. That is a young man’s game.

I think of these guys every day. I also realize that I have only so many years left, but at least I had a life where I could get around on my own. But because of certain things, my mind was wrecked.

My anger knows no bounds for those who planned these wars in the late 1990s, and then 9/11 gave them the excuse they needed.

Everyone should see the badly wounded.

In 1970, I remember the screaming going on in what we Marines and soldiers called the “nut ward,” which was in a large Naval hospital.

Dennis Sullivan/via Internet

The stories on “the new realities of war” were a disappointment, particularly in contrast to the fine investigative journalism Boulder Weekly has recently produced regarding Valmont Butte, the city attorney, GMOs, etc. “The changing face of patriotism” section repeats the lie that anti-Vietnam protesters spit on soldiers when they returned from the conflict. This myth surfaced several years after the Vietnam War was over, and resurfaced when the Bush administration worked to discredit peace activism. The claims that antiwar protesters spat at Vietnam veterans have been thoroughly researched, and shown to be false: see The Spitting

Image — Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam by Jerry Lembcke, New York University Press, 1998. Lembcke, a Vietnam vet, points out that “In reality, antiwar activists approached Vietnam returnees, if at all, with informational leaflets offering services and inviting them to join the movement.”

The stories share a narrow mindset that the Iraq/Afghanistan wars are justified and glorious, and the soldiers fighting them “were righteously sent into Afghanistan,” that they are fighting and dying to protect freedom, that soldiers are by definition brave (Michael Callahan), that they are making sacrifices for our country (Don Tartaglione), that “we” have thrown them into war(s) and “we” are thus the cause of the suicide epidemic ( Joel Dyer). I’m sure the Pentagon and military-industrial death machine supports that view, but the fact is Americans have less freedom now, thanks to the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act.

The suicide epidemic is a tragic statement about the military and its inability and unwillingness to take care of soldiers. Perhaps it’s also a statement about unnecessary, unjustified, illegal and immoral wars and their effect on soldiers. I don’t question the courage of most soldiers and their willingness to make sacrifices, but I do question whether the sacrifices being made in these wars are helping Americans or indeed helping anybody. There are many brave patriots making sacrifices to try and stop the madness that is the reality of war.

Pete Gleichman/Ward