A satisfied voter
Although most of the letters you will see in the paper in the next couple weeks will be politically polarizing one way or the other, I want to tell a quick story about the customer service and quality of our local government to facilitate the voting process.
I had incorrectly entered my driver's license number on a registration form at an event on the Front Range.
Without me knowing of this error, I might have never received my ballot correctly. Within five days of filling out the form, I received a very polite phone call from our Eagle County clerk and recorder, Teak Simonton, asking if I had filled this out incorrectly and verifying the correct information in her records.
As a local taxpayer, I was thoroughly satisfied with my voting experience, all the way from my phone call with Teak to the multiple and convenient early voting drop-off locations.
I lived in Florida for four years and have seen local governments struggle with voting systems. I am happy to live in a community that does it well.
I am supporting Jeff Layman on Nov. 6 for Eagle County commissioner in District 1. I have known Jeff for over 30 years, and while we have not always agreed on every issue, Jeff is passionate about Eagle County and brings a rational, wide-ranging perspective and real-world experience to his decision making.
He believes that Eagle County should focus on its strengths of tourism, world-class medicine and development. Starting from yes, we can provide the opportunity to put many of our underemployed contractors, subcontractors and real estate-related citizens back to work.
Jeff has demonstrated time and again the ability to do more with less by focusing on performance and the necessary services that make an organization both efficient and effective.
He has shown the vision of great ideas, the passion to instill those ideas in others and the integrity, cooperation and collaboration needed to accomplish those ideas. Please join me in voting for Jeff Layman on Nov. 6.
Quick response matters
The town of Red Cliff would like to express its sincere gratitude to the Eagle River Fire Protection District, Greater Eagle Fire Protection District and the U.S. Forest Service for their prompt and effective response last Monday to a potentially devastating wildfire within reach of our town border. The fire was caused by two improperly extinguished campfires.
Our appreciation also includes two climbers, Brandy Persson, of Vail Resorts security, and Aaron, a climbing partner from Leadville, who discovered and promptly reported the fire. While one ran for help, the other stayed behind to stamp out smoldering pine boughs. Your heroism is commendable.
From discovery to the first fireman on scene was about 30 minutes, which is amazing, given the remote location of the fire. Teams had the fire roughly under control in a matter of hours and fully contained the next day. Thank you, all!
We would also like to take this opportunity to support Referendum 5A, which will help ensure that the Eagle River Fire Protection District can continue to maintain their excellent service to our communities. They serve a huge area that includes most of the eastern half of Eagle County.
Their revenue stream is tied directly to property taxes, which have diminished greatly with the recent assessments and are projected to go down again in 2014. This may be beneficial to the property owner's wallet but financially devastating to an agency that relies on those taxes to provide that property owner with necessary services, such as preventing their house from burning down or rescuing them when their car is upside down in a snowy ditch this winter.
And do not confuse Eagle River Fire Protection District with the separate Vail Fire Department that benefits from the town of Vail's tax revenues. While Vail builds new stations, Eagle River Fire Protection District is struggling to keep theirs open.
We strongly urge you to vote for Referendum 5A in November to help keep our half of the county safe.
Town of Red Cliff Board of Trustees
Can't trust Romney
I am beyond sick and tired of misogynist Republican men who think their private religious views should be foisted on all womanhood.
First, we have Mitt Romney, who would be pleased if Roe v. Wade were repealed, who would defund Planned Parenthood and who is probably antichoice when it comes to abortion. But since he's been all over the map on this and other issues, who can know for sure what he thinks? How can any woman trust him?
Then along comes Paul Ryan, who during his time in the House cast 60 votes on abortion and other reproductive-rights issues. All of these votes were antichoice. He co-sponsored "personhood" legislation that is so extreme that if passed, it would ban abortion care in almost all cases, including rape or incest, since "the method of conception doesn't matter." He co-sponsored a measure that would force a woman to undergo an ultrasound before she can receive abortion care, even if her doctor doesn't recommend it and even if it is not in the woman's best interests. He has repeatedly voted to deny funding to Planned Parenthood.
Then we have Todd Aiken, ironically a member of the House Science Committee, who made the ridiculous pseudoscientific remark about a woman's body preventing pregnancy from "legitimate rape." Please tell me how he figured that out and what constitutes illegitimate rape.
And now we have Richard Mourdock, who believes pregnancy from rape is God's gift.
I'm fairly sure that not all Republican men are Neanderthals, but these four are. I urge every woman and the men who love them to reject these extreme candidates on Election Day.
Give Turner a turn
I rarely get involved in politics, and when I do, it is even rarer for me to voice a public opinion on a local election issue.
This year's election of a district attorney is different. My homeowners association had the misfortune of discovering that a former property manager appeared to have taken tens of thousands of dollars from our association account and used them for personal purposes (such as a trip to Hawaii, merchandise at a local ski shop, etc.). The Avon Police Department investigated and turned the case over to the District Attorney's Office.
We had the good fortune of finding the District Attorney's Office responsive, responsible and fair in its handling of this case.
The ultimate outcome was a plea bargain that included full restitution to our association of the amount we believe was taken by the manager in exchange for a deferred sentence. Since this man does not manage other associations, there seemed to be little risk to the public that he would repeat this offense.
Based on the experience of working with the District Attorney's Office on this matter, I am making an exception and taking a public stance by writing this letter to encourage voters to give Scott Turner a turn as our district attorney. I believe we will have a stronger, more judicious district as a result of his leadership, integrity, victim advocacy and knowledge.
Turner for DA
Five years ago, my wife and I retired to the beautiful Vail Valley and are proud to call Colorado our new home. This was a welcome retirement after 35 years practicing law in Kansas City, Mo.
Next to the presidential selection on Nov. 6, the most important decision facing local Colorado residents in the 5th Judicial District - including the four counties of Eagle, Summit, Clear Creek and Lake - is the selection of district attorney.
There are a number of reasons to support this conclusion, the most important being the immense power that every district attorney or prosecutor receives under his oath of office. The opportunity or temptation for abuse of that power can be intoxicating to any individual who lacks integrity, conscience and a true moral compass.
There is an oath of office that comes with becoming a district attorney. Though it no doubt varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, it requires the district attorney to faithfully execute his or her duties and to uphold the constitutions of the state and of the United States of America.
Furthermore, the oath incurs the obligation to do and seek justice. With that oath, the district attorney incurs the duty to represent the interest of all of the people, which includes victims, society and those accused of crimes.
Truly, this job is different than any other legal position. A district attorney's job is to do justice, as opposed to being focused on zealously advocating for a particular client.
I have never felt compelled to write a letter to the editor to any newspaper. However, given the above thoughts, I felt it was important to share certain insight that I have on one of the candidates running for this important office. That individual is Scott Turner.
I have known Mr. Turner, both professionally and personally, for over 20 years. Initially, in Kansas City, where our respective law firms worked together and opposite each other on a number of cases, some complex, some simple. More recently, in the past five years, I have watched Scott here in Colorado grow into perhaps the most capable assistant district attorney in all of Colorado.
In every instance, I could always expect three things from Scott: 1) Complete honesty; his "word" really is his bond. 2) Competence; his attention to detail defines his success in the courtroom. 3) Humility, an almost total absence of ego; with Scott, it is never about him.
In my nearly four decades of practicing law, I have worked with well over 100 district attorneys. Most of them have been wonderful public servants, often working for salaries well under the private sector. The great ones fly under the radar screen quietly and professionally, doing their job one case at a time.
Great caution is necessary in making a selection for our next district attorney. This is not a position for people seeking political gain or to wield political power. Remember, the person we select next week will hold this position for four years.
Collectively, as residents of the 5th Judicial District, we are indeed fortunate that a man of Mr. Turner's experience and character has chosen to forego personal gain and offer himself to serve as our next district attorney.
I can assure each of you that in the unfortunate event that any resident of this district learns that one of their loved ones has become a victim or accused of a crime, they will be treated with the utmost respect, honesty and professionalism with Scott Turner as our district attorney. You see, it's in his DNA!
I urge you to cast your vote on Nov. 6 for Scott Turner as district attorney for the 5th Judicial District of Colorado.
Where are the lights?
Has anyone noticed the darkness on I-70 from Gypsum to Parachute along the on- and off-ramps? Seems the Colorado Department of Transportation hasn't been replacing the lights at these on- and off-ramps.
More of the lights are out instead of working. Where is our tax money going?
You see CDOT vehicles driving up and down I-70 but none of them replacing burned-out lights or bad photovoltaic sensors. Is our tax money going to Department of Transportation to just drive up and down the interstate and turn potholes into bumps because of terrible patchwork? Will the department address this problem of the lights or just turn a blind eye to the problem?
Eagle County commissioner: Who should I vote for? I think this is a very simple choice this time around. How can anyone vote for a candidate with an integrity issue? How can anyone vote for a candidate that has no respect for the individual's personal rights?
In America, you are innocent until proven guilty! Jeff Layman knew I was innocent and he still helped the prosecutors in a case against me that ultimately was dismissed. How can anyone vote for him? He should have removed himself!
Please think about your future; think about Eagle County's future.
Please vote for Jill Ryan.
Jonathan L. Levine
We keep hearing about Romney's business experience and how he plans to save our troubled economy. Much of this experience Romney touts is with the venture capital firm Bain.
Make no mistake, venture capital firms are primarily interested in profits for their investors. They are in the business of slicing and dicing companies that either make a big profit for them or disappear. If they rig their buying and selling right, they can even make a profit on the firms they liquidate.
It's a cold-blooded efficiency process where big profits for Bain take precedence over all other values - ethics, integrity and reliable long-term employment for their work force. Venture capitalists move manufacturing to the cheapest labor source, which is often overseas.
If you want an America where a ruthless government squeezes out money that is supposed to reduce the debt but in fact goes to benefit the very wealthy, then put Romney in the White House.
Romney has been all over the place from being conservative to moderate as each week has passed. He is a shape shifter, saying whatever is necessary to get votes.
He plucks Obama's positions like ripe apples on a tree with little concern for what used to be his conservative Republican position just a few months back. How can you trust him?
The Republican Party faithful back Romney not because they trust him but because they want to get Obama out of office. This is what they have done in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. It's never been about solving the nation's problems. It's been about unseating Obama and stopping every effort he makes to help our country.
If you honestly look at what is happening in Europe, it's not hard to see that Romney is making promises about employment he will not be able to keep.
It's the old expression, "All boats rise and fall with the tides." America's fortunes rise and fall with the rest of the industrial world.
Obama has established good relations almost everywhere. Romney wants to push other nations like China around. Think about where that will get us.
Obama is a diplomatic world leader, not a bully. We don't need a bully right now, not on the home front and not around the world. Obama deserves your vote.
For fire tax
I don't know about you, but I'm pretty excited to see the snow fly after last season's bummer of a ski season. The snow and everything that comes with it, however, can catch people off guard.
My drive from Minturn to Avon on a recent evening around 6 p.m. took about 12 minutes. I traveled slowly because conditions weren't great. In the time it took me to get from A to B, here's what I saw:
An Eagle River Fire Protection District engine merge onto I-70 heading eastbound from Highway 6 at Minturn. About five minutes later, an ambulance headed the same way. Five minutes after that, a State Patrol car taking the same route as the fire engine and ambulance.
Meanwhile, my phone was buzzing with emails and text messages informing me of multiple accidents on Vail Pass (which is outside Eagle River Fire Protection District's service area, but as the Vail Fire resources were maxed out, Eagle River Fire provides backup through a mutual aid agreement).
By the time I got to Avon, there were accidents in Dowd Junction and at the Minturn exit that required the Eagle River Fire Protection District to respond. These calls were in the district's service area.
In a perfect world, the Eagle River Fire Protection District has staff at five stations and five engines can respond to incidents and/or provide backup to those that are dispatched on calls.
As it happened, the Edwards station was closed this day. With the Minturn and Avon engines already dispatched to calls, all I could do as a resident within the district's boundaries was hope that no other emergencies like a fire or cardiac arrest occurred while all the other nearby engines were already occupied.
This was the first winter storm. Nearly every Eagle River Fire Protection District firefighter on duty that night was responding to a call at the same time. What if your house had started on fire right then? Would your emergency have been more important to you than someone else who had been in a car accident? Would you have paid any price to ensure you received help when you needed it? How much is your safety worth? A couple of loafs of bread? A bottle of wine? An appetizer at your favorite restaurant?
If your home is worth $250,000, it would cost you $6.25 per month to make sure that your emergency receives the speedy response that Eagle River Fire Protection District is capable of providing. Is that sort of peace of mind really not worth soup and a sandwich at the local coffee shop? A couple of lattes?
The thing about emergencies is you don't know when, where or how they're going to happen. You buy car insurance for that reason. You buy home insurance for that reason. Why not buy into some fire protection for that reason? If not, Eagle River Fire can't be there when you need them. Two fire stations will close, and in your time of need, there's a great possibility that no one will show up.
What's it worth to you? Yes on 5A.