Summit Daily letters: Dan Gibbs makes case for the ‘Raise the Bar’ amendment
October 25, 2016
Vote to 'Raise the Bar'
Every election year, Colorado voters face tough ballot questions reflecting the latest ideas and policy proposals. Because Colorado has the easiest constitution to amend in the country, in-state and out-of-state interests alike look to test their ideas on our ballot.
Most of us have had enough and are ready to raise the bar on amending our state's constitution. That's why we have both endorsed Amendment 71 that seeks to make it harder to amend our constitution.
The vast majority of states that provide for citizen-initiated ballot measures already have a higher bar in place to amend their state's constitution. Colorado's same process for amending the constitution and state law have driven proponents to change the constitution three out of every four initiatives, which has created an unwieldy mass of permanent policies and unforeseen consequences. The result has given us the third largest state constitution in the country.
Amendment 71 is a balanced approach that preserves the same number of signatures but requires more geographic representation to engage voters throughout the state for constitutional proposals. Requiring approximately 2,000 signatures in each of Colorado's 35 senate districts will get petitioners out of Denver to meet with Coloradans along the west slope and eastern plains communities.
While the Summit Daily editorial board sees this as an overreach, other states use a geographic requirement as well. The fact is the path of least resistance for Denver interest groups is to only collect signatures in the metro area. We along the I-70 West corridor deserve a say in what qualifies for the ballot. Of course we get a say after ballot questions qualify for the ballot, but why should Denver get to design the ballot and we're left to vote on the issues it decides? We should all have a say in issues affecting our state's constitution.
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From tourism, to water, to agriculture, to industry, Colorado's communities are as diverse as its landscape. Most of these communities have endorsed Amendment 71 that has amassed the largest coalition ever to support a ballot measure because they recognize the importance of preserving those rights enshrined in our foundational document.
Join us in supporting Amendment 71 and give a greater voice to our west slope communities.
Government not equipped to solve housing issue
I wish to preface this article with the opinion that we are indeed in need of affordable and/or entry-level housing for our workforce here in Summit County — especially since our summer time needs have for the past two years surpassed those for our winters.
Ballot question 5A would authorize an extension of existing workforce and affordable housing in Summit County. It would increase taxes by as much as $7.8 million annually for a 10-year period from a 0.6 percent sales tax in Summit County. This mean it intends to raise as much as $78 million in tax revenues over that same 10-year period. That is a huge dollar figure to place in the hands of three county commissioners who have no idea or plan for how they intend to spend it.
Our county commissioners recently used $1.75 million to purchase the 40-acre Lake Hill land from the Forest Service. They say it is a 10-year project to ultimately provide more than 400 workforce housing units, but it has no access to water or sewer and will be a traffic nightmare.
My problem with this is that none of our county commissioners can or will give us an estimate of the infrastructure costs associated with a project like this. I am a business man. I can assure you that if I were to spend $1.75 million on property I intended to develop, I would have known my infrastructure costs before making the purchase.
Government (federal, local and/or state level) does not belong in the development of housing. Their task is to secure land at favorable pricing, help install the needed infrastructure and then get the heck out of the way.
Cabrini Green was a government financed and managed housing project on the near west side of Chicago. From day one, it was a fiasco because government does a terrible job of building and managing housing.
If 5A passes, we better have three new and business-smart people replace the three current county commissioners.
Killing bears and lions not the answer
The short-sightedness of the wildlife commissioners of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Dept. regarding euthanizing mountain lions and bears as predator control for the mule deer population is appalling. This knee jerk reaction to the dwindling deer population without definitive research on the cause will only create future issues for our native wildlife. Considering the law of physics that "every action has an opposite and equal reaction" by eliminating/decreasing part of the link in the balance of our ecosystem between specific predators and prey, issues of over-population of mule deer would affect their food source, which would then affect other animals relying upon that source — decreasing that population upon which those predators be affected, etc. Humans have already disrupted this delicate balance in many ways that have typically required a reaction or mediation to correct the situation. For example, the reintroduction of moose to our area. Aside from cars, their only population control are mountain lions (and maybe a strong bear). Are they also considering how coyotes prey upon deer? How can this "proposal" (which they plan to implement Dec. 15) be effective? As quoted in Bruce Finley's article in the Denver Post and Summit Daily newspapers, Brian Kurzel, the NWF regional director says, "The decline of mule deer is a complex issue with many potential causes, which may include predation." Maybe they need to do a little more research?! I'd like to encourage those of you who agree with this concern to speak out against this "deadly" proposal. We live mostly in harmony with all of these creatures and I personally would hate to see them callously "disposed of."
Support FitzSimons for Summit sheriff
I believe we live in a community that is strongest when we, as community members, work together to identify problems and create solutions. That concept is critical to ensuring the efficacy of our local governments and law enforcement agencies. Our sheriff often works in collaboration with our local police agencies in Frisco, Silverthorne, Dillon and Breckenridge, as well as the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and other state and federal agencies to investigate crimes and address other matters of public safety. In a world of vitriolic and divisive national politics, we have the opportunity to elect local leaders who understand the importance of establishing strong relationships with their counterparts built on a foundation of mutual respect, even if they don't always agree. Jaime FitzSimons is that type of leader.
Years ago, when I was a young deputy DA in the Breckenridge office, I would walk through the halls of the Justice Center, and then-Commander FitzSimons would routinely reach out to check in with me and see how things were going. He would ask if there was anything the Sheriff's Office could do to make sure we at the DA's office are getting solid cases, seeking feedback, positive and constructive, regarding the performance of sheriff's deputies, and ensuring an open line of communication between our two agencies. He was interested in identifying strengths within our local justice system, as well as finding areas for improvement. As a fresh-out-of-law-school attorney, it served FitzSimons no political advantage to build a relationship with me, rather this was an example of a public servant understanding the value of connecting with the people his agency relies upon to serve the community.
Sheriff FitzSimons' strong, diverse experience and thoughtful, engaging style of leadership will allow him and our community leaders to keep Summit County safe while addressing the serious challenges we currently face, such as mental health issues, substance abuse and population growth. I believe Jaime FitzSimons is the right person for the job and I will vote to elect him sheriff on Nov. 8.
Vote FitzSimons for sheriff
I am a registered independent voter and for seven amazing years I lived and worked in Summit County where I had the privilege be a patrol deputy at the sheriff's office and the honor to work alongside Jaime FitzSimons.
I worked with both men running for sheriff; I have watched first hand how they perform their jobs, what they do to move the sheriff's office forward and their dedication to their community. Knowing both candidates, I can say without hesitation, Jaime FitzSimons is the best choice for Summit County sheriff.
I have witnessed Jaime's progressive thinking in action as he fought against the status quo to drive constant improvement within the Sheriff's Office. I watched him hold himself and those who work for him accountable at every turn and uphold the highest standards of professionalism in service to the community.
I watched Jaime work to successfully reinstate the School Resource Officer (SRO) Program and step up to command the SWAT team. I worked alongside him as he drove improvements to several core agency programs, including recruitment, hiring, training and evidence handling. All of which aimed at improving the quality of service the sheriff's office provides to the community.
Jaime's vision and strong leadership is evident in the people he surrounds himself with. I have worked with the men and women he appointed to leadership roles after taking over as sheriff earlier this year and you will not find a more capable or professional group of people to serve your community, and no one better equipped to lead them than Jaime.
The safety of my family and I is as important to me as a visitor as it was as a citizen and there is no one else I would trust more to lead the sheriff's office than Jaime FitzSimons.
The holocaust of the unborn
As Election Day approaches, maybe you are as frustrated by and aversive to both of the major candidates as I am, and/or are in a dilemma about whether or not to vote at all. However, after much prayer, reading and reflection, I've concluded that one defining aspect of one party has become the most critical consideration for me. Please consider this.
Just over 150 years ago, our nation fought a tragic civil war over a singular issue: slavery. The Abolitionist movement which precipitated it sprang up to expose slavery as "morally wrong", particularly in a nation that believed that "all men are created equal" and "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."
Today, it would be nearly impossible to find anyone who would argue that slavery is not morally wrong. That horrible era so altered our country that we are still experiencing the fallout in regions of persistent inequality, discrimination and the recent surge in racial tension. Yet we're currently in the midst of a scourge far more serious than slavery. It's the elephant in our collective living room.
In the 250 years before the civil war, our economy largely prospered due to the enslavement of other human beings. The term "African Holocaust" describes the loss of over 10 million lives to murder or death during the US slave trade. Add to that the lives of over 600,000 others in the Civil War, exceeding any other war in our history.
Yet in the 40 years since the Supreme Court passed Roe vs. Wade, nearly 60 million lives have been taken through legalized abortion: 60 million future American boys and girls — who would have grown up to become leaders, laborers, healthcare workers, musicians, artists or even great statesmen/women who might have run for president in this election. The holocaust of unborn children persists at a rate of over 125,000 babies per day, far exceeding the "African Holocaust." Even though it's indisputable among scientists that human life begins at conception, we continue to justify the steady slaughter of our unborn children, with formed brains, hands, feet and faces as a "health choice" and "reproductive right" of women.
A recent survey (Marist Poll, National Review, July 2016) reported that 61 percent of women, and 60 percent of all Americans think abortion is "morally wrong." Fifty-six percent of American women agreed that "abortion does a woman more harm than good." These numbers suggest why this topic is often avoided and uncomfortable for candidates and voters alike and relegated to "relativistic" terms: "I personally am against abortion but who am I to judge another's decision to take the life of their baby."
During the 250 years before our nation concluded that slavery was morally wrong, our ancestors may have said: "I personally am against slavery and I don't 'own' slaves, but I don't judge my neighbors about their 'right' to 'buy and own' slaves."
The Republican party and its presidential nominee, Donald Trump, flawed as he is, hold firm to the opposition of abortion. The steady-handed vice-presidential nominee, Mike Pence, has strongly voiced his belief in the sanctity of all human life. The candidates we elect will impact lifetimes of American values and policy as the Republican Supreme Court judge choices contrast sharply with those slated by Hilary Clinton. The gravity of this issue far outweighs that of immigration, climate change, the economy or corruption or potential embarrassment around any of our leaders
The consequences of abortion have perpetuated a culture of death in our county with repercussions which will persist for decades, just as the after-effects of slavery have. One example is Proposition 106 on the Colorado ballot. This is literally a deadly measure which would legalize suicide. It swathes the enabling of self-murder or another's death with words like "compassion" and "choice."
Many who strongly endorse abortion do so to exonerate themselves from behavior or negative feelings surrounding a past abortion experience. Denying a moral wrong does not ease their silent pain. There is unfathomable love, mercy and forgiveness from the same God, upon whose trust our nation was founded, for anyone whose life has been altered from an abortion or other life-death decision or situation.
The future of our nation depends upon your vote for life.
Mary Beth Gilligan
Schutt for House District 61
There are many very good reasons to support Bob Schutt for Colorado House District 61. In addition to being a physician who had oversight of a level 1 trauma center, Bob was a tenured medical professor giving him experience with administration, budgets, teaching and, retention and recruitment of faculty. Those organizational and management skills will serve us well in Denver!
He's a US Air Force Academy graduate who would bring integrity, character and leadership to the State House and he's also a decorated Viet Nam combat fighter pilot who went on to serve as a combat surgeon in Desert Storm. As an Orthopaedic surgeon trained at the University of Colorado Medical Center, he will be the only physician in the House of Representatives. He is the perfect person to guide Colorado health care policy during this difficult time and also be there to speak on behalf of our veterans. These are two of his major focus areas.
And, because he is an avid hiker, mountain and road biker and, cross country and alpine skier, he will represent our precious environment and work to protect our land, air and water.
Bob and his wife of 45 years have stepped up to this very important task of running for House District 61 and are committed to the difficult work that lies ahead. Bob's desire is to continue to serve the people of Colorado and we would be foolish not to support him so he can head to Denver to make a difference in our government. One last attribute to mention is his clarity about our state budget. He only wants to spend the money we have and believes it is very possible to make it work for us without raising taxes or taking it from education and transportation in order to balance the budget!
Please join me in voting Bob Schutt for House District 61 and sending him to Denver to work on our behalf!
I had the privilege and honor of representing Northwest Colorado in the Colorado House of Representatives for eight years and also served as your State Senator for the following eight years. I was very disappointed to read recently that Al and Jean White have endorsed Senator Randy Baumgardner's opponent for Colorado Senate District 8. I write to tell you that I strongly support Senator Randy Baumgardner to remain as our State Senator.
Randy served as our State Representative for four years and has been our State Senator for four years. Because of his experience and longevity as our State Senator, he serves on many coveted committees. He is Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and is Chairman of the Transportation Legislative Review Committee (TLRC). He is a member of the important Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, & Energy Committee. And, is Chairman of the critical Capital Development Committee. He also serves on the Water Resources Review Committee.
A new comer to the Senate District 8 seat would have to serve for several years to reach the level of committee assignments and responsibilities that Senator Baumgardner now holds.
Also, Senator Baumgardner is a rancher and he understands very well the issues we face here in rural Colorado—-including water. To vote for Randy's opponent does not make sense to me. His seniority on these committees should not be lost. Randy is passionate about supporting jobs here in Northwest Colorado.
Randy and I have been friends for over ten years and I know first-hand he has been a strong voice for and is deeply committed to this district in Northwest Colorado. I'm voting for Senator Randy Baumgardner and hope you will join me and vote for him, also. Thank you!
Jack Taylor (Retired)
Colorado State Senator
Trump critic's hypocrisy is showing
In response to the letter "What do Federal income taxes pay for?" I just had to respond to Ms. Moskal's criticism of Donald Trump.
It is incredulous that she makes the statement that she "find(s) for a person, supposedly worth billions, to pay no income taxes…" This statement smacks of hypocrisy and defective analysis. In doing so, she perfectly demonstrates a lack of logic that will have to return to the "public square" if this country is ever to have a meaningful discussion about the merits of political issues and policy.
I couldn't help but note that Ms. Moskal lists her address as being in Denver and Breckenridge. As such, I think it fair to assume that she has homes in both these locations, that these dwellings likely have significant worth (most people who live in Breckenridge would probably not have low-income housing in Denver), and likely one or both of her homes has a mortgage. If that is the case, then she likely takes a deduction of her home mortgage interest on her primary residence, and also takes an interest deduction on her "second home." If that is the case, why is she criticizing Trump for taking advantage of the tax code for deductions and carryovers on his investment losses while she fails to exercise similar criticism on her own like-kind behavior. Maybe she should consider that she, too, lives the "high life" compared to the average citizen and if she is to criticize someone for what she deems "outrageous behavior," she should first consider her own behavior in that regard.
Lastly, if one is unhappy with the tax code, then elect representatives to change it. It is not the taxpayer's fault when he/she avails themselves of its benefits, being it Trump, Ms. Moskal, you or me.
Support Trump for President
Colorado has always been a state with common sense and basic real American values. Recently, though, things have changed. I don't know if that is caused by the migration of California residents to this state or other issues. But, it is disappointing to see this happen. We are facing an election that is probably the most important one of our lives. We are to choose between two candidates who are very different. Trump wants to protect the Constitution and appoint Supreme Court judges who will do that. He wants to reduce our taxes. (Reagan did the same thing and the economy improved greatly.) He wants to control this country's borders. He has experience in job creation. He wants to help the military and the veterans. Hillary, on the other hand, wants to increase taxes. She wants open borders to let anyone in. She wants a liberal Supreme Court to override or reinterpret the Constitution. She wants a bigger Federal government to control more of what we do. She makes poor or no decisions, as shown with Benghazi, where four Americans were killed. Then she lied about the attack to family members of those killed. She wants open borders to make sure that the Democrats have a lower class of immigrants that are dependent on the Governments and provide the votes that she wants. It has been recently shown that she and her supporters conducted the riots at Trump campaigns and set up voter fraud plans. Add that to the e-mail issues and you get some pretty bad stuff. So why are some people indicating that they are going to vote for her? Who knows? But one thing is for sure. A vote for her is not going to help this country. Some say that they do not like Trump. That is understandable, but that is not a reason to vote the country down the drain. European countries seem to be the model that Hillary wants. Look at them. Greece has gone bankrupt, as has Brazil. Islamic attacks have been common, and the European Union is not doing well. Those of you who want Hillary, ask your self why you feel that way. My guess is that you do not watch the news or if you do , you watch CNN. Get off the phone and really see what is going on. In closing I am going to leave you with a quote from Abraham Lincoln. "We the people are the rightful masters of both congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution."
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