LETTERS | Week of Feb. 6

Congrats, Danish critiques and more


Keep it up

I was just reading the 20th anniversary edition [ Jan. 30] this morning — and it is very well done. Kudos to the Weekly for providing such a long-standing asset to the community. In this day and age, locally produced content and investigative journalism are two rapidly disappearing but incredibly important values to an informed and engaged citizenry.

So congrats on your 20-year milestone — and keep up the good work!

Boulder City Council member Suzanne Jones/Boulder

Treat the disease

Paul Danish [“America needs more secret meetings,” Danish Plan, Jan. 23] is correct: politicians are unlikely to compromise when negotiations are public. But his proposal treats a symptom, not the disease.

California, it pains me to admit, has a better solution. Just over three years ago, Proposition 14 established a consolidated primary from which the top two finishers went on to the general election. Already their legislature is showing increased cooperation.

Over 90 percent of the elected offices in the United States are effectively controlled by one party or the other. Proposition 14 made it harder for radical factions in locally dominant parties to control nominations; their candidates now face moderates from their own parties, rather than easily defeated extremists from the minority party. The moderates usually win.

Denver University professor Seth Masket, in his book No Middle Ground, documents how fear of re-nomination makes candidates beholden to extremist factions of their parties. Partisanship correlates highly to the presence of that fear.

But even Proposition 14 is just a bandage. To the extent it works, it is because a two-candidate general election cannot result in split votes, or have “spoilers” (e.g. [Ralph] Nader in the 2000 election.) Split votes are possible because we are only allowed to vote for a single candidate. Instead of restricting the ballot to two candidates, which virtually guarantees no third party will ever arise, the real cure is to abandon the artificial constraint of single choice voting. “Approval voting,” in which voters check off every candidate they like, has been mathematically demonstrated to be the fairest and least gameable system.

Getting back to Paul Danish, approval voting would shift electoral influence away from the extremist minorities that punish compromise, and to the currently disenfranchised moderate majority, who reward it. We wouldn’t need secret meetings, because “compromise” wouldn’t be a dirty word.

David Rea/Boulder

Thanks for honesty, balance

[“Some still don’t get that whole ‘open records’ thing,” Dodge’s Bullets, Jan. 16.] I was in for back surgery the day after Christmas, and so I’m a bit late in thanking you for your fair report on election integrity, or the lack thereof, in the challenge to the Broomfield election raised by Marilyn Marks on behalf of voters. Thank you for not just hoeing the populist row and taking the time to investigate the facts of the issue independent of the desired outcome.

I have always felt, and have made it known to Boulder County Republicans, that the Boulder Weekly gave the 2012 Canvass Board, regarding its position and treatment by the clerk, the most honest and balanced treatment of all the media within the sphere of influence of Boulder County voters.

It did not surprise me to see in reading the attached article, sent to me by my board colleague Mary Eberle, that you have once again set the outcome of a populist issue aside and did not let it interfere with your reporting on the attempted influence of the Broomfield County clerk on election transparency.

Thanks again as always for your honest journalism in support of activists for election integrity. Best regards and wishes for the new year.

Russ Boehm/Longmont

‘BW’ lands Tarbell award

I hereby nominate BW for the Ida M. Tarbell Memorial occasional citation, periodically given by me, in my sole discretion, to that representative of the independent press who best exemplifies the muckraking tradition personified by Ms. Tarbell.

Your reports are timely, substantive, balanced and informed, which is pretty hard to do on a shoestring. We in Boulder are lucky to have BW: You enhance our civic life. Keep up the good work!

George A. Johnson/Boulder

Xcel’s profits

[Re: “Controversial PUC appointee got money from Xcel,” News, Jan. 23.] Our heating bills keep rising. The airwaves are filled with ads defending the safety of fracking. Xcel can no longer afford to promote individual solar installations. Guess where the profits are.

Robert Porath/Boulder

Well done

[Re: “Secrets in the paint,” News, Jan. 16] What a delightfully written article.

Ms. Miller has given us a hell of a good piece of research, beautifully done.

Thanks. Bob Seiffert/Niwot

Vote yes on cop shop

April 1 may be April Fool’s Day, however, let us citizens of Erie not fool around. Get to the ballot box and vote yes on Issue 2A on your ballot.

Tina Harris, member of the Keep Erie Safe Committee, thinks the new 17,000-square-foot police station is not the Taj Mahal of police stations, but for the 22 Erie police officers and civilian employees it surely will seem like it. I have been in many homes in Erie where the walk-in closets are much bigger than the current evidence, records and interrogation rooms, let alone the accommodations and limited space for the officers to deal with police business. It’s sad.

A yes vote on April 1 will get our Erie police out of the cramped 2,400 square feet in the basement of Town Hall, which is a dungeon filled with a hodgepodge of dingy rooms, and move Erie’s police department into a new police and courts building.

You be the judge! David L. Johnson/Erie

Isakov love

[Re: “Gregory Alan Isakov: The horticultural hypnotist,” Aug. 1.] Thank you for the review.

I live in Louisville, and occasionally I listen online to WFUV, out of Fordham University in New York. They have been advertising his tour to play there in March, and playing the hell out of his music, and it is wonderful to hear! It could have something to do with the station’s love for Brandi Carlisle …

I was at the Waterloo in Louisville last Jan. 7, when Gregory Alan Isakov dropped in on Clay Rose of the Gasoline Lollipops, and sang an entire set, for free! What a tasty treat!

Karen Janson/via Internet

Make love, not war

I was listening to President Obama’s State of the Union address for one simple acknowledgement: that peace cannot come from our country’s strategy of always being on the brink of war.

Since 2001, presidents have been able to launch military action at any time, in any place — all because of one law that Congress passed in the wake of 9/11. The Authorization for the Use of Military Force has justified drone strikes, wiretapping without a warrant, and the U.S. war in Afghanistan. It’s time for a new approach to addressing the problems we face together as a nation and a world community. An important first step is repealing this law.

I hope my representative, Jared Polis, will support Rep. Adam Schiff ’s legislation to repeal this law this year.

Sara Avery/Lafayette

Meat-eating = smoking

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. surgeon general’s first report on health hazards of cigarette smoking, his office released a report linking smoking to several new chronic diseases.

In addition to the previously known lung and oral cancer, high blood pressure, and heart disease, the new diseases include diabetes, erectile dysfunction, cancer of the colon and liver, and stroke. The parallels between cigarette smoking and meat consumption are uncanny:

* The chronic diseases linked to both activities and the associated costs of medical care and lost productivity are comparable * The first government reports warning consumers about health hazards of cigarette smoking and meat consumption were issued in 1964 (by the surgeon general) and in 1977 (by Senate Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs), respectively * The first warning labels on cigarette and meat packaging were required in 1966 and 1994, respectively * Both activities are discouraged by health advocates, and both are declining But there is one important difference: The meat industry impacts more state economies with a stronger Congressional clout than the tobacco industry. Consequently, a surgeon general’s report on the hazards of meat consumption is most unlikely. Our health remains our personal responsibility.

Stanley Silver/Boulder

Animal abusers need help

PETA is urging Pueblo authorities to prosecute Robert Heckmann — the man who allegedly strangled a 12-week-old kitten named Loki — to the fullest extent of the law. And we hope that if convicted and in addition to incarceration, Heckmann will receive a psychological evaluation, particularly given that he reportedly described killing as “addictive” and that murdering Loki made him feel “euphoric” and “high.”

Medical experts and top law enforcement officials agree: Cruelty to animals is a big red flag.

Many serial rapists and murderers have a background of abusing animals. The link between cruelty to animals and interpersonal violence is undeniable.

In fact, the FBI uses reports of cruelty in gauging the threat potential of suspected and known criminals, and the American Psychiatric Association identifies such crimes as one of the diagnostic criteria for conduct disorders. It’s vital that animal abusers receive intervention to prevent their violence from escalating.

To learn more about the link between cruelty-to-animals and violence against humans, visit www.PETA.org.

Martin Mersereau, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals/Norfolk, Va.