Letters: July 2, 2020

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Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Thin blue line flag divides us

The time has arrived to call out display of the thin blue line flag. I see one every day. It flies in our neighborhood with support of the HOA Board. Silence is tacit approval.

This flag is meant to be a tribute to the brotherhood of police officers — nice idea, but it has a dark side. There is a strong overtone of racism. In the 1950s, William H. Parker, an unabashed racist — and chief of the Los Angeles Police Department for 16 years, constantly used the phrase “thin blue line” in speeches. He said many hateful things about black Americans, especially during the Watt’s Rebellion of 1965; they are too odious to repeat. Parker would delight in seeing it flown by white supremacists, appearing next to Confederate flags at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

It divides us by fostering an us-versus-them mentality. Symbolically, the blue line represents a powerful physical force that separates chaos from order. The reality is that on one side stands a rank-and-file culture of control, authority and obedience; the rest of us — those served — are excluded. This is a terrible time in our country with street violence not seen for decades and piling on more division is not helping.

Now, police departments across the country are banning this logo. It is insensitive and inappropriate to display this thing. Best that it be relegated to the trash bin of history.

Robert Carrier/Erie

Muni: A fountain of opportunity

As the City of Boulder enters negotiations with Xcel, City leaders should look south to see what is happening in Fountain, Colorado. They have a municipal electric utility, the fifth largest in Colorado. They have been purchasing power from Xcel, but now Xcel has been outbid by Guzman Energy, a wholesale power provider. But what is stunning is that Guzman will not only provide electric power to Fountain at a lower cost than Xcel, they will be paying Fountain $12 million beginning this summer for the right to do so beginning in 2027. Paying!

There is much to be learned from this event. First, this deal is only available to Fountain because they have a muni; Boulder could not get this deal because it is prevented by the Xcel monopoly. Second, in a competitive bidding environment, Xcel loses. Third, the difference in cost between Xcel and Guzman is so large, that Guzman can afford to pay Fountain cash in advance to get the contract. And, fourth, because Fountain has a muni, in 2033, it can go back to the marketplace and seek bids for renewable electric power from other sources.

Fountain will get lower-cost electricity than it currently gets from Xcel while maintaining its flexibility to go to the marketplace in the future to get even better deals. Why would we want to continue to be restricted by the Xcel monopoly when we can form our own municipal electric utility and get deals like Fountain?

Steve Whitaker/Boulder