Letters: Transportation, school funding and the tobacco tax
October 31, 2016
Please research this, as we were all led to believe that by legalizing pot our schools would hugely benefit so we voted to legalize pot. Now there is practically a pot store on every street corner, yet we are being asked to pay more property taxes (again) to fund the schools. Just heard on the news that pot sales have generated $121 million in taxes. Have never before voted against higher taxes to fund our schools but hearing about these millions forces us to consider doing so for the first time as we seniors are on a limited (stagnant) income and won't be receiving any raises in 2017, or probably ever, and in fact may be forced to move from this county due to its ever-increasing (at every turn) costs of living.
Big Tobacco blowing smoke
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Big Tobacco knows that if people smoke one less cigarette a day they will lose billions of dollars. So it is no surprise that out-of-state tobacco companies are spending more than $17 million here (more than the casinos spent keeping racetrack betting in Colorado) to try to defeat Amendment 72 through a barrage of negative and misleading ads.
Ten years ago, Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that 10 tobacco industry defendants had violated civil racketeering laws due to decades-long, industry-wide conspiracy to deceive the American public about the harmful effects of tobacco use and their knowledge of those dangers. Has the industry changed?
Big Tobacco has a history of fighting any legislation that will affect their profits. They have poured millions into opposing local and statewide restrictions on smoking in public places and workplaces, and laws restricting sales of cigarettes to youth. They have opposed every attempt to raise the cigarette tax in Colorado since 1990.
Big Tobacco calls Amendment 72 a "blank check" — an attack that fact-checkers have exposed as misleading and false. As 9News and Fox 31 have noted, the measure spells out exactly where the revenue will go, including tobacco prevention and cessation programs, medical research, veterans' services, and child and adolescent mental health. Amendment 72 requires the state to account for every dime — and to post that account on the Legislature's website each year.
Do you think Big Tobacco cares about targeting low-income populations? According to their internal documents an executive with RJ Reynolds said, "We don't smoke that s***. We just sell it. We reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and stupid."
Big Tobacco spends $134 million in Colorado each year to market a product that when used as intended causes disease and death. Amendment 72 will help counter Big Tobacco's efforts and will more than double the amount of funding for Colorado's tobacco-prevention and cessation program, which are the levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
I urge you to vote YES on 72 and help us beat Big Tobacco. Visit HealthyCO2016.com to get the facts you will not hear from Big Tobacco.
President, Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution (GASP of Colorado)
Reflecting on a Summit Daily article, transportation standards
Adequate transportation within Summit County is crucial to both locals and visitors — there can be little debate about that fact, and Kailyn's article summarizes it well. However, the underlying reasons for the problem seem completely lost on county transportation management, and perhaps specifically, Geoff Guthrie.
The article reports an "on-the-clock" training program, which Guthrie confirms, stating "none of us require prior experience, it's nice, but none of us require it." Obviously, this calls into question the priority that the county places on riders, visitors and pedestrians on routes served. Are they satisfied to train drivers on often crowded areas in large, and unfamiliar, vehicles? It's true that this sort of training is not uncommon, but I'm taking a "not on my sidewalk" stance here.
Guthrie also places blame for lack of job offer acceptance on housing issues. In the article he states, "roughly, close to half of them have turned down the job offer I have extended to them because they cannot find housing." Additionally, the article reports that Guthrie asserted that most of his employees are from surrounding areas — makes sense. However, another perspective that was not reported, was that of the job candidate. I'll make an "editorial letter" assumption that they'd describe the scenario differently, and state, "The job offer didn't pay enough to support me, and my family… so despite being unqualified (and with an opportunity to become qualified), I had no choice but to decline the offer."
My point here is not to beat up Kailyn, or even Geoff (although he does speak with reverence about "ridership," but also labeled them "worker bees," which rubs me the wrong way), but instead that if the county feels it important that both locals and visitors be safe, and transit employees fairly compensated for the same, than they should make the requisite budget appropriations — the bus driver wage, should also be a livable one if the county expects to keep their social contract with its residents.
As a newbie, I walk around here (in Breckenridge) and see lots of gleaming new public buildings, well-kept spaces, a healthy safety patrol… and also no reason why, as a community, we should tolerate anything less than excellence from our transportation authority.
Celebrate our community
Halloween and harvest festivities are happening everywhere in our Summit community, as well as the greater Denver area. The fall celebrations provide a welcome atmosphere for families to enjoy one another, the indoor and outdoor events that say so much about who we are and what we love to do. The fall activities are just what we need to replace all the hair-raising, shouting, demeaning, insulting political attacks we have had to suffer for almost an entire year. Don't football, baseball, hikes, cycling, yard work, shopping, concerts, healthy food and hanging out on the front porch sound more appealing than having to listen to an onslaught of personal attacks on one's character, religious beliefs, background and work history? The pursuit of happiness is alive and well in our Colorado communities. So let's put aside our differences and just say thanks.
To each and every one of us no matter what stage of life we are living: We are thinkers, creators, teachers, communicators, caretakers, talkers, defenders and protectors; doers, builders, workers, servers, bartenders, medical teams, rescue operations; we are healers, ministers of faith; we are food banks and givers; we are musicians, artists, writers, businesses, volunteers, tourists — we are the community that celebrates our contributions for the good of others.
Mehrnia brings professionalism, passion as candidate for DA
Having spent over 12 years as a law enforcement officer in Summit County, I have worked in multiple capacities, which included the last six years in investigations. I have worked closely with the district attorney and deputy district attorneys on multiple cases. I have also worked closely with multiple defense attorneys in a law enforcement capacity.
I met Sanam Mehrnia when she first came to Summit County as a defense attorney and from the moment I met her she was extremely professional. She always had the right interests in mind and that is justice, whether that meant that her client was accountable for what they had done or that she was dedicated to proving that her client was not responsible for what they were being investigated for. I, as a law enforcement officer, always believed that a defense attorney was only in it for the money and tended to be dishonest. However, Sanam was always honest, compassionate and exceeded my expectations.
I have also had the misfortune of experiencing the other side of the criminal justice system. However, I was fortunate to have Sanam dedicated to the best interests of justice. The criminal justice system is a slow process that tends to put people's lives on hold for extended periods of time. Poor investigating can lead to quite the interruption of someone's life. You can go from a productive member of society to someone who struggles to just get by. This is due to poor initial investigations, poor charging and sometimes poor legislation.
What I will tell you is Sanam is passionate about her job; she truly believes in justice. She would expect a lot more from everyone around her and would never pursue anything for publicity. Sanam is a very empathetic person and I was very lucky to have her in my corner. It would be a loss to everyone to not have someone with her dedication to justice as the Fifth Judicial District Attorney.
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