LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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A hidden agenda

My letter to the editor of Aug. 11 thanked a group of ex-councilmen and other concerned citizens for exposing the "fishhooks" imbedded in the proposed water merger between the city and Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District. The proposal amounts to an end-run on the residents of Old Town, who were woefully under-represented by our council negotiators (Connell and Romberg).

For example: Why is a majority of four of the proposed seven-member water authority to come from the Mount Werner District for the first term? Why not four appointees from the city? This would mean that Mount Werner will be in control by four-to-three from the very start and probably from then on. I strongly suspect that at least three of the four would come from the current Mount Werner Board membership of five (Valentine, McElhinney, Brennan, Borden and Fox).

I see a hidden agenda behind all this growth, with city services, beyond the current growth boundary. With control of the seven-member quasi-governmental water authority, and taking approval of sewer and water extensions away from the City Council, developers would remove a major obstacle.

Another problem: Why a dozen years until water rates are equalized between Mount Werner and Old Town? Shouldn't Mount Werner share in the cost of running the sewage treatment facility, which I understand it is hooked into and used free?

Almost all the people I talk to are in favor of a merger. Me, too it could be a good thing for efficiency and economy. The current proposal meets neither criteria, however. Why not just dissolve Mount Werner and let the city run the whole shebang? That has been the common practice for several other water and special districts that have outlived their original purposes throughout the past. I think the "agenda" described above answers this question.

I'm scared to death that people will not bother to investigate this merger proposal thoroughly, and just vote for it because it sounds like a good deal. I am also sure the growth-orientated council majority and Mount Werner Water and Sanitation Board hope this is what will happen. After all, who has the time to read 19 pages of legalese and analyze the fishhooks they contain?

Omar M. Campbell

Steamboat Springs

Be informed

As the election draws near, I would like to remind voters that there will be questions on the ballot regarding retention of judges.

In the 14th Judicial District, there are three judges who will stand for a vote on whether he or she should be retained. The state of Colorado recognizes that not everyone will take the time to look into the records of judges to help them determine whether each judge should be retained. Therefore, by state law, a Commission for Judicial Performance exists to make recommendations to the electors on these judges.

This year I chaired that commission, which was comprised of attorneys and non-attorneys, Democrats, Republicans and Independents. We looked at evaluations of each judge, which were done by those who used the court system and those who work within the court system. We took testimony by letter and from people in person from Routt, Moffat and Grand, the counties within the 14th Judicial District.

It is our recommendation that both Judge Jim Garrecht and Judge Mary Lynne James be retained. However, we recommend Judge Joel Thompson not be retained.

You can find the entirety of our findings in the blue book published by the state of Colorado. Please take time to read it so you are fully aware of the issues before you vote. It is so important that our judges have the moral integrity to make decisions that affect people's lives every day in their courtrooms.

This is your opportunity to voice your opinion on what you want in the character of those who we retain on the judicial bench. Be informed before you vote on the judges.

Olive Morton

Steamboat Springs

The right person?

The Oct. 2 Today commentary is very much to the point and well observed. A museum director worth her/his title would not "escape" under the pretext of saving a few measly dollars to give the museum a better chance at surviving.

A director with a real sense of responsibility and professional consciousness would on the contrary stay on, put together a solid and aggressive fund-raising campaign and spend all her/his time finding imaginative ways to bring the museum out of this difficult financial situation.

Saving a few dollars now and increasing again the city's support is at best a very weak and temporary solution. It is certain that with a month or two of intensive, well-organized fund-raising activities with local companies and custom-made programs one could raise many times the amount of money saved by having the museum director on a no-pay leave. One wonders if the museum board has the proper approach and if it has selected the right director for the job.

Henri Stetter

Routt County

'Where's the beef?'

How ironic that the City Council just recommended a $50,000 increase in chamber funding at a time of mandatory belt tightening for all other departments.

How ironic that we shamelessly market ourselves with a fast-fading Western image while our museum is in danger of closing its doors and its director is taking a three-month unpaid leave to help keep it afloat. When I travel, one of my greatest pleasures is visiting folk museums in every small town along the way.

How ironic that the council is cutting both early and late bus service while pretending to support a vibrant economy and enhance the quality of life in our community. Early morning bus service gets workers to their jobs on time, which benefits business owners and their customers. Late buses bring people home from bars and restaurants. This allows businesses to stay open longer and keeps people who shouldn't be driving off the road. Peak-hour buses reduce car dependence and ease our burgeoning traffic problem. Frequent and reliable service greatly enhances the quality of visitors' vacation experiences.

How ironic that the increase in chamber funding, with our tax money, corresponds to the increase in the sponsorship fee that the chamber will be paying Triple Crown Sports annually for the next five years under the terms of the new contract. Money being fungible, (yes, I'm using the "F" word again), this should make it relatively painless for the chamber to fulfill the terms of its obligation to Triple Crown Sports at our expense.

I suggest the council transfer some of the wealth to where it benefits the vast majority of us in the long term rather than following a scorched-earth policy for the temporary enhancement of a few.

Marketing professionals admonish us to "sell the sizzle, not the steak!" I don't know whose agenda the City Council is following, but it's leaving most residents and visitors asking, "Where's the beef?"

Stuart Orzach

Steamboat Springs

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