Letters: 7/27/17

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Danish right on Russia

Mr. Danish’s analysis of the inner workings of the Russian plan [Re: “What the Russians were really up to,” Danish Plan, July 20, 2017] is the most cogent, calm, clear, complete and sensible look at what the Russians are really doing with their attack upon our country that I have read or heard so far in any news from anywhere. I’m going to go read it again, for the third time. Thank you, Mr. Danish.

William Spain/Boulder

Making future

Thank you for your article by Sarah Haas, “Yet to be decided” published on July 20. In that piece, several issues were raised about the cultural grants program administered by our office on behalf of the Boulder Arts Commission.

Readers of the article may be left with what we believe to be an inaccurate impression: that the City is not focused on financial support to smaller arts organizations. In 2017, Boulder increased the cultural grants budget by 50 percent, with a total of about $675,000 to be allocated to several categories of grants. The Boulder Arts Commission chose to fund a variety of organizations in this grant cycle, large and small. Far from “overlooking” smaller groups, the jury panel was able to fund 45 small organizations and individual artists — compared to 29 last year. The specific organization that was cited in the article, Boulder Creative Collective (BCC), was scored very highly by the community members who sat on the jury. 

Unfortunately, there was not enough funding in the budget to offer the BCC a grant this year. I am reaching out to organizational leaders to learn more about their perspective. Everyone’s experience of the process will be valuable in making future improvements. 

So, our thanks go out to your reporter, and all the people she interviewed, for helping our cultural leaders to advocate passionately for the arts and the role culture continues to play in our economy and society.

Matt Chasansky/Manager of the Office of Arts and Culture

Get your facts straight on prairie dogs

This is in response to Rochelle Rittmaster’s letter [Re: “An Open Letter to Fish & Wildlife Service, Rocky Flats Stewardship Council, JeffCo Commissioners,” Letters, July 20, 2017].

It is pretty clear that Ms. Rittmaster is not familiar with the specifics about the relocation plans for the Longmont prairie dogs onto the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge, or otherwise she would know that these animals will be relocated nearly a mile away from the Central Operable Unit (COU). She would also know that there are already prairie dogs living on this piece of land and, should any prairie dogs come within the boundaries of the COU, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services will remove and control these prairie dogs.

No agency (nor prairie dog advocates) is going to put the lives of prairie dogs above the wellbeing of people. And we do not fight so hard to find relocation sites to move prairie dogs only to jeopardize the health and lives of these animals.

To suggest otherwise is simply ludicrous.

Nicole Huntley/Prairie Protection Colorado, Broomfield chapter

An open letter to the Boulder County Commissioners

It has been nearly five years since the pressure of a deeply concerned and mobilized public forced the suspension of oil and gas drilling in Boulder County. From the last well pad drilled on Boulder County open space in August 2012 until the present, the people have battled in every available political venue to protect our families, our environment and our basic human and democratic rights. We have been unable to find a moral remedy to an industry that kills people. 

Those of us with a long history of defending Boulder County from this industry are not the same community activists we were when this issue created the first grassroots mobilizations across the Front Range. We have learned that the system is designed to protect the industry and its profits and that the dominant political parties and environmental organizations loyal to those parties serve as the system’s mouthpieces. We are not naïve, misled, or defeated.

For five years we have appealed to you for leadership and accountability. We have enacted local, protective laws to defend our families from an industry that is lethal, deceitful and without a single concern for our lives or wellbeing. We attended community meetings, appealed to our representatives, held peaceful demonstrations, and presented you with every manner of scientific evidence showing fracking’s harms to Boulder County. At the end of all of this, you have decided to cooperate with the courts, the state and the leaders of your political party rather than with the moral and just demands of the public, our environment and the global climate. This is not acceptable for anyone who places themselves in an office of public trust and responsibility.

Understanding that you have continued to promote fictitious statements about “responsible oil and gas development,” we are forced to issue the following, immediate demands.

1. Enact the Boulder County Climate Bill of Rights and Protections; utilize the pro bono legal defense offered to you by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.

2. End your misrepresentations that attempt to greenwash fracking and its lethal nature. All your regulations cannot make it safe.

3. Join with the public to launch a broad mobilization against all laws, politicians and political parties that disrespect our environment and our fundamental rights.

4. If you are unwilling for any reason to adopt the Climate Bill of Rights and to join with and defend the public, place the measure to a vote of the Boulder County public and consider resigning to make room for another who is ready to lead in these critical times.

We are the mothers, fathers, workers, grandparents and community members of Boulder County who see no moral reason to cooperate with the laws and industry that harm us and the rights of Boulder County. We demand a public statement from you immediately on these critical matters. We understand your current role as gravely irresponsible and urge you to join with us. Morality, the environment and future generations demand that you take a stand. In your absence, we, the people of Boulder County, will make that stand directly ourselves.

East Boulder County United Boulder County Protectors

Single-payer health care is a no-go

Last year the creation of a single-payer health care program was one of the promises made by Bernie Sanders during his presidential campaign. The question is, can the U.S. government be trusted to manage the roughly $3.4 trillion that Americans spend each year on health care? That question is easily answered by examining how efficiently the government runs existing programs related to health care. Let’s examine Medicare, Medicaid and VA health care services.     

Let’s start with Medicare and Medicaid. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that in 2014, $60 billion of American taxpayer money, or more than 10 percent of Medicare’s total budget, was lost to fraud, waste, abuse and improper payments. To make matters worse, the overly complicated processes that doctors and hospitals have to endure when working with Medicare is causing many of them to turn away from the program.

Let’s move on to the Veterans’ Health Administration. The VHA is America’s largest integrated health care system, serving 9 million enrolled veterans each year. Since it covers only 9 million people it should be simple compared to covering 320 million people, right?

According to a CNN story from July 2016, a commission tasked by Congress reported that billions of dollars pumped into the VA since a wait-list scandal erupted two years ago have failed to relieve many of the problems in delivering health care to veterans. In some cases, the report points out where so-called improvements to the VA system may have actually made things worse. It also highlights a variety of “deficiencies” that contribute to health care issues within the agency, including flawed governance, insufficient staffing, inadequate facilities, antiquated IT systems and inefficient use of employees.

Right here in Aurora, Colorado, a new VA hospital is currently under construction. This new facility once expected to cost $604 million is now estimated to cost nearly $1.7 billion.

Last year in our beautiful state of Colorado, Amendment 69 appeared our November ballot. The amendment would have created a $36 billion single-payer health care system funded by a 10 percent payroll tax. It was soundly defeated by 78.7 percent of voters.

Let’s round things up with a look at how responsible the federal government has been financially. The national debt is $19.9 trillion. The interest paid on the U.S. debt last year was $432,649,652,901 or $13,719 per second.

Now tell me again why it would be a good idea to give the government another $3.4 trillion in taxes and trust them to manage our health care spending.

Ray Lilienthal/Dacono