District 3 Resource Hub Holding D3 Summit in July

District 3 Resource Hub Holding D3 Summit in July

District 3 Resource Hub Holding D3 Summit in July

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE        

District 3 Indivisible Colorado, 2017 Summit - Ridgway, CO

As a resource hub and action platform for Colorado’s third congressional district, D3 Indivisible Colorado is thrilled to announce the first ever D3 Summit, taking place this summer in beautiful Ridgway, CO. The Summit will offer instructive workshops and guest speakers, and will host a special panel that includes at least three current and potential candidates for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District seat in the 2018 elections.

Leaders from Indivisible, progressive, environmental, social welfare, education, political and other diverse advocacy groups throughout the region are invited to attend this first-of-its-kind forum to engage in live dialog and to collaborate on causes relevant throughout District 3. 

The 2018 elections are right around the corner and D3 Indivisible Colorado is working hard to find and vet candidates for a seat in the US House of Representatives. A full panel of contenders for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District race will be in attendance on July 21st, including Ophir resident, Bob Baer, Chris Kennedy from Grand Junction and Diane Mitsch Bush out of Steamboat Springs.  

Bob Baer is an American author and former CIA case officer who was based primarily in the Middle East throughout his long career.  As well as being Time’s intelligence columnist, Mr. Baer is a frequent commentator and author on issues pertaining to international relations, U.S. foreign policy and espionage.  He has contributed to Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the History Channel and CNN.  Baer has also written several books including “See No Evil” and “Sleeping with the Devil,” which were the basis for the Academy Award-winning film, Syriana.

Candidate Chris Kennedy was elected to Grand Junction City Council in 2015. He owns Kennedy Telecommunications Services, LLC, and hopes to help the region become “technologically innovative, economically diverse and a must-see destination.”  Following a career in the military, Chris began his path in technology.  His priorities include infrastructure, fairness to all businesses, support for the arts and support for improving education, among others.  Mr. Kennedy is also an accomplished tenor sax player, graduating from Berklee College of music in Boston, MA.

Diane Mitsch Bush is currently a State Representative for Eagle and Routt Counties and has held this post since 2013.  She has focused on: the expansion of economic and educational opportunities for District 26, increasing funding for schools, helping small businesses grow and creating jobs, renewable energy and protecting the environment via air and water quality, wildlife habitat and public lands.  Additionally, she has worked to improve infrastructure by creating state tax incentives for affordable housing, increase funding for highways, and bring high speed broadband to rural areas.

The D3 Summit is slated to be the first public meeting to bring these potential candidates together. Congressman Scott Tipton, who currently holds the CD3 seat, has also been invited.  In addition to the panel, there will be at least one, and hopefully several, Colorado gubernatorial candidates in attendance, as well as current and former elected officials, Latino, environmental, and LGBT community organizers, journalists, and other guest speakers.

Summit participants will also have the opportunity to take part in a suite of trainings led by accomplished organizers on topics such as:  how to reach and engage voters; effective communication techniques for bridging the political divide; how to use available digital tools to maximize the efficacy of social media for your organization; how to engage Millennials; how to inspire and retain volunteers; keys to effective organizing and activism; and more.

The Summit begins at a “Meet + Greet” on Thursday night.  Immediately following, participants are encouraged to head to Hartwell Park for Ridgway’s free Concert Series featuring the musical talents of Eilen Jewell and Carrie Rodriguez, and presented by the Town of Ridgway and Pickin’ Productions.  On Saturday, local D3 members will take out-of-town guests hiking and biking, to share the treasures of the San Juans and to create further opportunity for discourse.

Advance registration for the D3 Summit is required. The last day to register is July 16, 2017. Lodging assistance will be provided on an as-needed basis.

D3 is committed to serving as an umbrella for regional entities to gather and disseminate factual information, raise public awareness, organize coordinated political actions that further responsible and intelligent public policy, and to function as a public, inclusive platform to unite our diverse communities.


District 3 Indivisible Colorado Summit 2017

Thursday, July 20 – Saturday, July 22, 2017
Ridgway, CO USA

Summit Registration $25, Friday Lunch $15

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SMPA Empowers Green Initiatives on Western Slope

SMPA Empowers Green Initiatives on Western Slope

SMPA Empowers Green Initiatives on Western Slope

By Ben Tisdel, Ouray County Commissioner

June 7, 2017

In the space of two weeks, many of us in the region have been on a roller coaster of news regarding climate change. 

First, Mountainfilm showed the full spectrum of issues through the theme of “The New Normal”. The devastating film “Chasing Coral” revealed the first time-lapse documentation of coral reef bleaching events related to ocean temperature warming. Paul Hawken’s book release of “Drawdown –  The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming” gave us some hope, while “An Inconvenient Sequel – Speaking Truth to Power” showed just how far the conversation on climate change has come over the ten years since Al Gore brought national and global attention to climate change with “In Inconvenient Truth”.   

With Trump’s devastating message about pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord last week, I think it is critical to consider now how we can act as a region to halt and even reverse climate change.     

Our own Rural Electrification Authority Cooperative, San Miguel Power Association, is having its annual meeting and election of two of its seven-member Board of Directors this week, on Thursday, June 8 in Ridgway.    

SMPA serves the San Juan, Ouray and San Miguel county region. For years, it has brought us electricity on an affordable and reliable basis in one of the most challenging geographic regions of the continent. Over the last 10 years, it has also been focusing on bringing in quite an amazing renewable energy portfolio to its sources of electrical generation. And over the last two years, the SMPA board and staff have been important partners in regional efforts to bring more broadband internet distribution to our region.     

As the annual SMPA meeting approaches, I have heard many area residents expressing their desire for more progressive actions by the SMPA Board.  Thus, I want to make sure you are aware of many opportunities SMPA already provides for our region, setting us apart from other electric cooperatives. These SMPA programs help you reduce your electricity use and carbon footprint, saving you money and helping the planet. 

Your participation makes a difference, so please engage and take action! 

EcoAction Partners’ Greenlights program gives residents and businesses throughout SMPA territory the opportunity to purchase LED light bulbs at an extremely discounted rate of up to 75% off.  This discount is possible through rebate funding from SMPA and regional governments.  LED lighting reduces energy use from standard incandescent or halogen bulbs by at least 60%, saving money on electric bills!

The SMPA IQ Weatherization & Solar Program assists low to mid-income residents in making home energy efficiency improvements and participating in renewable energy. 

Established in 2016, the SMPA IQ weatherization program provides a free Home Energy Assessment to qualified renters and homeowners.  The most cost effective energy efficiency measures are prioritized and then implemented at no cost to the homeowner.  Energy efficiency should always be the first step prior to renewable energy, so once the home is weatherized, the member is eligible for a complimentary solar panel(s) in the new SMPA solar array built on the site of a former landfill next to the Norwood waste transfer station. This landmark program is made possible through partnerships with the Colorado Energy Office, Energy Outreach Colorado, GRID Alternatives, EcoAction Partners, The Telluride Foundation, E3 Insight and SMPA. 

The SMPA Community Solar array, located near Paradox and constructed in December, 2012 offers access to 1.1 megawatts of clean, renewable power for members who own panels.  The array completely sold out in 2015, demonstrating the high level of support for solar power and leaving a demand for the development of an additional community solar farm in the future.  Thus, EcoAction Partners worked with SMPA and Mountainfilm’s New Normal Initiative to create the SMPA Solar Power Pledge.  Show your support for SMPA to develop a new community solar array in the region.  Go to SMPA’s website link to fill out your pledge to purchase solar panels. Power produced by solar panels offset a member’s utility bills and increase renewable energy in our region.

SMPA has been making renewable energy a major priority for well over a decade.  Using the Green Fund, the cooperative has been consistently adding power from local, renewable sources without impacting rates for electricity.  The Green Fund was established to fund local renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. You can contribute to the Green Fund through two programs:

Green Blocks: This program allows members to draw their energy from 100% renewable sources through the use of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). These credits are called Green Blocks and cost $1.00 per block, per month. One block represents 100 kilowatt hours of renewable energy. Members can purchase as many blocks as they wish with 100% of the sales going to the SMPA Green fund.

Green Cents: Small change can make a big difference.  Green Cents participants have their power bills rounded up to the nearest dollar.  SMPA collects the extra and puts it into the Green Fund to support local renewable projects. 

SMPA’s energy efficiency and renewable energy rebate programs have been in effect since before 2008 and include rebates for LED lighting, electric appliances, energy audits and weatherization improvements as well as solar, wind, and micro-hydro power generation. Many SMPA members have taken advantage of these rebates to-date, achieving accumulated energy use reduction of 11,520,000 kWh and installing over 1 megawatt of additional solar net meter capacity in SMPA’s service territory.

SMPA staff actively works with governments, schools, and businesses to implement projects that significantly reduce energy use & costs for the governments and improve efficiency.  SMPA is also very active with the communities, including participation on the EcoAction Partners Board of Directors, Sneffels Energy Board, sponsoring & presenting at regional Energy Events such as the San Juan Sustainable Living Forum, Ridgway Riverfest, Ridgway-Ouray Community Council and the annual San Miguel Energy Forum.

San Miguel Power Association is YOUR cooperative.  You as members have a say in the direction the cooperative takes, and the board has consistently listened and responded.  Please make your voice heard in the upcoming SMPA election and at the SMPA Annual meeting, and take action by participating in the above programs.  San Miguel Power Association is a progressive utility working toward what is important to its members. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Originally published in the San Juan Independent

The AHCA is a Redistribution of Wealth: From the Poorest to the Richest

The AHCA is a Redistribution of Wealth: From the Poorest to the Richest

The AHCA is a Redistribution of Wealth: From the Poorest to the Richest

By Jeremy Leone

May 25, 201

When Scott Tipton voted in favor of the AHCA, did he realize that it amounted to a dramatic transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich ? The AHCA’s revised CBO score isn’t any prettier than the original score- the revised score indicates 23 million less people will be insured 10 years from now than would be under the current system — this includes a staggering 14 million who been covered under Medicaid under the ACA.

When considering that 14 million less low-income individuals would be covered by Medicaid under the AHCA, it is particularly staggering to consider how many of these people could still be covered if the AHCA did not repeal both the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) & the .9% Additional Medicare Tax. It’s impossible to appreciate just how insane this bill is until you consider the effects of repealing these taxes.

The 3.8% NIIT is a tax on investment incomes that applies to single individuals making 200,000+ annually or to couples making 250,000+ annually. The CBO projected that repealing this tax would reduce tax revenue by ~170 Billion dollars over the next 10 years. The Tax Policy Center provided a breakdown of who benefits from the repeal of this tax and by how much, and it’s really quite incredible-

No individual making less than 200,000 / no household making less than 250,000 get any reduction in taxes from the repeal.

Amongst individuals/households making between ~200,000 & ~300,000, less than 9% of them would receive a tax cut, and the average tax cut in this group would be less than 400 dollars.

Amongst individuals/households in the top .1% — those making over 3.75 million dollars annually- ~99% of them would receive a tax cut, and the average tax cut for them would be over 165,000 dollars.

The .9% Additional Medicare Tax is a very similar story — it applies to wages / self-employment income for singles making 200,000+ annually or to couples making 250,000+ annually. The CBO projected that repealing this tax would reduce tax revenue by ~145 billion dollars over the next 10 years.

And the beneficiaries of this tax cut are also very similar –

No individual making less than 200,000 / no household making less than 250,000 gets any reduction in taxes from the repeal.

7% of individuals/households making between ~200,000 & ~300,000 would receive a tax cut, and the average tax cut for them would be ~200 dollars.

75% of the top .1% would receive a tax cut from it, and the average tax cut for them would be ~40,000 dollars.

It is impossible for me to comprehend passing a bill that would lead to such dramatic cuts in coverage while simultaneously providing 300 billion dollars worth of tax cuts to the wealthiest households.


Jeremy Leone lives in Grand Junction, Colorado. He hasn't been politically active for most of his life but has always been interested in politics, in particular in the shortcomings our current system has with regards to valuing human life in the humanistic tradition. 

Trump & Republicans Make War on Nation’s Environment 

Trump & Republicans Make War on Nation’s Environment 

Trump & Republicans Make War on Nation’s Environment 

D3 PRESS


District 3 Indivisible Colorado Leads the Resistance 

It seems not a day goes by without a headline hurling a new Republican outrage committed against our nation’s precious natural environment. Whether it’s dismantling our national monuments or slaughtering hibernating bears, our wild lands and their denizens are under attack by the Trump regime and its Republican enablers.

District 3 Indivisible Colorado organizer Erika Gordon says the Republican war on nature is deeply distressing. “There is a continual onslaught of attacks on the environment from Trump and the Republicans,” she says. “Clean air and water and preservation of public lands should not be a partisan issue.”

The attacks, through executive fiat and Republican-controlled legislation, have been frequent and brutal. This week the EPA settled a lawsuit reversing an Obama determination to protect Bristol Bay, the world’s largest salmon fishery, from surface mining by a Canadian gold mining company. This on the heels of reversal of a seismic blasting ban to map undersea oil deposits—long considered harmful to marine life. 

Colorado District 3 voters have a particular interest in the Trump/Republican proposal to weaken or do away with National Monument designations. America’s newest monument, the Bears Ears of southeast Utah, is a 1.3 million acre parcel that is a favorite destination of western slope residents for hiking, climbing and biking. But it’s facing the Republican guillotine. Trump and his Republican allies have set their sights on dismantling the new monument designated by past President Barack Obama.

U.S. Colorado District 3 Representative Scott Tipton has been at the forefront of Republican efforts to do away with Monument designations and weaken their enabling legislation—the Antiquities Act in 1906. 

In a 2016 letter Tipton argued, “The need for the Antiquities Act in its traditional form has passed.” 

In terms of wild land protections, National Monument designation is just below National Park designation, but Tipton has said such protections are too strict. ”Most modern-day Presidential designations under the Antiquities Act are far too prescriptive,” Tipton said.

District 3 voter Lynn Sikkink of Gunnison doesn’t agree. “It’s essential that we protect these irreplaceable national treasures,” she says. “It’s the Antiquities Act that makes this possible.”

Gordon agrees with Sikkink. She says that Tipton’s reliance on out-of-state campaign contributions from fossil fuel interests are clouding his judgment. “We must fight to protect our public lands,” she says. “On this issue, congressman Tipton isn’t even listening.”

Sustaining the Resistance

Gordon says that after the initial adrenaline surge that has fueled the Trump/Republican resistance has worn off, it’s essential for people take a moment to regroup. “We have to create a movement that’s sustainable,” she says. “For lack of a better word, we have to make it fun.”

That’s why Gordon and her cohorts organized an Earth Day Concert. The Colona Fairground event attracted some of the best local musical talent on the western slope including R2-D3, Devil and the Details, and Niceness. 

After listening to the soulful sound of the duo, R2-D3, and the song writing and guitar virtuosity of Devil and the Details, the audience was treated to the full-bodied sound and original music by Niceness, the western slope’s emerging reggae powerhouse.

Lead vocalist and songstress Koral Delatierra expressed her views on the importance of the event. “Unity, Justice, Equality and Action’, this is what Niceness stands for,” she says. “Through our music, we are doing our best to take action by bringing people together in celebration of life and serving as an inspiration to take personal responsibility and to rise to the occasion to be the change we wish to see in the world. It is up to all of us as individuals to do our part. D3 is an an awesome resource and action platform helping to spread awareness of what we can all do on a personal and regional level. If we as a band can draw more to people a D3 event and get them engaged, all the better.”

Caroline Richardson agrees. “This gathering is essential to remember who is beside us in our deep collective love for the planet and our own freedom. To look in the eyes, feel the hearts of those of all ages playing music, dancing relating to what's important despite the distractions and negativity in the world, is both grounding and empowering. It is where we have to imprint to act alone and together within our own circle and make a difference.”


Gardner Sold Out Colorado Childrens' Education

Gardner Sold Out Colorado Childrens' Education

Gardner Sold Out Colorado Childrens’ Education

By Evan Vann

 

Our new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ nomination met with extreme controversy, namely because of her intense advocacy of charter schools. Her status as a billionaire, along with her awful track-record of heinous attempts to privatize Michigan’s public school system, has prompted many to label her as an enemy of public schooling, a title that fits well. 

Her nomination was pushed through successfully by a tie-breaker vote from Vice President Mike Pence. Democrats held the nomination off as long as they could with the help of two courageous Republicans, who voted against their party in opposition to DeVos.

Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner was not one of these two, in spite of a comprehensive movement of Coloradoans (myself included) who called him in the lead-up to DeVos’ nomination, urging his no-vote. (Gardner even tweeted about the high volume of calls his office was receiving.) 

I thought, perhaps a little naively, Gardner would change his stance in light of the voices of the thousands of Colorado citizens who were contacting him about their concerns regarding aspects of public education like the arts, special needs, or just the entire system in general, that would be threatened under DeVos. Instead, he ignored us.

It didn’t take long to find out why. 

In politics, all you need to do is follow the money to find the truth. The correlation between Gardner and DeVos revealed itself when the good folks over at the Center for American Progress blew the lid off of the situation, releasing records showing that DeVos and her family contributed about $4 million to current US Senators that support her.

Among these senators is Cory Gardner, who is estimated to have received just under $50,000 from DeVos and her family members. 

As a high school student in Colorado with three younger sisters who will inevitably go through the Colorado public school system, Gardner’s capitulation to big money more than rubbed me the wrong way, especially in lieu of the public pressure he ignored.

In Ouray, the budget situation for the school is dire. The budget is shrinking, and something’s gotta give. Gardner might have a hard time picturing the hardworking people that live in this community, their kids who wake up nearly everyday to attend a struggling school, and the teachers that work for shrinking wages to make sure that those in this remote mountain community have access to quality education. Hardworking teachers who work strenuous hours for unsatisfactory pay are fighting for their jobs in an overbearing school system that exploits their dedication. These teachers are community members who are considering leaving town as school jobs fall through. Other community members, folks who have generations upon generations of family history in this town, are also facing the reality that their kids won’t have the same opportunities that others will if they stay. Students interested in arts, manual trades, or other educational paths outside of the traditional STEM route will most likely be left high and dry as a result of an already flailing school funding system

My little sisters, some of the most intelligent young minds I’ve seen, will be left to deal with whatever remnants of the public school system may remain as money is syphoned away from already struggling rural public schools such as ours to fund charter and private schools. With DeVos at the head, an already bleak situation risks becoming unrepairable.

Cory Gardner Gardner would like us to forget that he sold out our children’s education. We can’t forget. He has voted to strip Colorado citizens of their fundamental right to accessible, quality education. All for $50,000.

Politicians don’t work for the government, or big money interests, or for political cronies. They work for us. Unless they start acting like it, come November, we’ll remind them exactly who they work for. As Coloradans, we should never settle for any less than we deserve. If unemployment statistics include teachers, I want to see Gardner on that list too.


Evan Vann is a student at Ouray High School in Ouray, Colorado. He holds interest in government, current events, and activism, and aspires to study political science in higher education.

The Great Regression

The Great Regression

The Great Regression

By William Steding, PhD

 

The Trump presidency has cast a disorienting pall over America and the world. His daily dishing of stupefactions—each seemingly more stunning than the last—manage to exceed the most brazen expectations of presidential misbehavior while his Republican cohorts in Washington, who have yet to realize he is sinking their ship with the ham-fisted skills of the captain of the Titanic, stand grinning like toddlers who have just filled their diapers. Meanwhile, foreign leaders look on with growing dismay, as the world’s lone superpower appears hell-bent on self-destruction like a heroin-addict with a full spoon and a loaded .45.  As Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone political writer tasked with explaining this clown show to rocker Millennials and graying Boomers wrote:

“Welcome to the Trump era, the flushing-toilet-bowl stage of America’s history, where every move any of us makes is part of a great swirling synergy sucking us with ever-greater alacrity down the hole of failure and destruction.  Good news, bad news, it all heads in the same direction soon enough, after a spin or two around the bowl.”[1]

Taibbi’s fecal flushing metaphor aside, America is nowhere near the collapse so many citizens and allies fear, or that fertilizes the flowerbeds of President Putin’s fantasies.  Collapse is no more certain than Trump growing a conscience, or a pair of manly stones suddenly appearing nestled in the Worsted groins of Congressman Ryan and Senator McConnell.  

To be clear, there does exist an epic arm-wrestle over the future identity of America and, as president, Trump does occupy the best seat to affect the outcome, but with each forthcoming blunder—each boisterously larger than the last—Americans are awakening to the reality first suggested in 1811 by French philosopher, Joseph de Maistre, that we “get the government we deserve.”  Trump’s “America First” theme that aims to codify his “taking America back” to highly romanticized bygone days of greatness—when bobby-socks, Brylcreem, and Budweiser were markers of a much whiter and more Christian portrait of power—will (hopefully) be characterized by historians someday as the last gasp of a Waspy and clumsy America that fell victim to the intoxicating arrogance that plagues all aging empires.  This crisis, which follows in a timely eighty-year cadence after the first three crises: the American Revolution, Civil War & Reconstruction, Great Depression & World War II, will be labeled, in Trump’s (dis)honor: the Great Regression.

The accomplishments the Trump administration claims in its first one-hundred days will likely be re-classified  by historians under the more appropriate header of “damage report.”[2]   There is virtually no corner of American progress that Trump has left unscathed, to the glee of those who feel 1968 was a better year than 2018 could ever be. The cornerstones of his regressive movement attempt to kickstart dirty industries, dumb-down American education, embolden white-male supremacy, and hoodwink Americans into thinking the world is flat and profoundly dangerous, all while his family shoves millions of dollars in their pockets.  He will definitely leave his mark, which will either fix the beginning of the end of the American empire, or demarcate the call to action that propelled America forward to rid itself of Trump’s dystopic dimwittedness and re-claim its destiny as a steward of global progress.

This alternative American identity—the narrative of global stewardship—contemplates an America whose power is gained not coercively, but referentially byempowering people throughout both America and the world.  This is not a fearful America, nor is it bounded by bigger walls and bigger guns.  It is an America that believes in itself and its traditions of inclusion and  empathy, and of its passion for education, innovation, and leadership.  It views dynamism and creative destruction as prerequisites to continued greatness, rather than a “great” that can only be found in a Rockwellian past.  

Purging and healing this boil on the back of American history will not be easy, nor will it be painless.  Everyone who wants a better tomorrow for their children and grandchildren must join up, stand up, speak up, and act up. It means those who sit on the sidelines hoping that their fellow Americans will defeat Trump’s regressive fantasies—who don’t do their part—are contributing to the risk that Trump will succeed in relegating the United States of America to the ash heap of failed world powers.  As painfully amusing as Trump can be, he and his sycophant congressional n’er-do-wells must be thrown out before their damage report metastasizes from sea to shining sea.  The threat is clear.  Do not sit this one out; Trump and his cadre of truthbenders, slurping from their cups of magical thinking, will fight hard to prevail. The question is: is it their America, or ours?


[1] Matt Taibbi, “The War in the White House,” Rolling Stone, May 18, 2017, Issue #1287, p. 24.

[2] Credit for this characterization is due David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker.

Please visit Dr. Steding's Blog, Ameritecture for more articles about "Designing the Future of America - One Idea at a Time."

Healthcare + Politics: What If?

Healthcare + Politics: What If?

Healthcare + Politics: What If?

By Richard Gingery, M. D.

Imagine the following scenario should the Republican-controlled Congress finally be successful in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act with their current plan.  It is December, 2017, and the year's first heavy snow fall put you to work.  You shoveled snow until a nagging pain in your chest made you stop.  With a few minutes of rest, the pain went away.  At this point it does you no good to know that if you were Canadian or French or British or Dutch or Swedish or a citizen of any other developed country you could callfor help or go to the hospital to find out what was causing the pain without having to worry about a medical deduction or a co-pay you could not afford or a medical plan that did not cover your situation.  You would not have to worry about providers who were “not in your network.”  You would not have to deal with a multi-tiered system in which you could not be guaranteed that you could find a provider who accepted your Medicare or Medicaid.  You would not be treated with unaffordable prescriptions.  But the new “American Health Care Plan” has reintroduced high deductibles, high co-pays, insurance plans that no longer offer all the “ten essential benefits, and providers who are once more squeezed by Medicaid programs that no longer cover the providers' costs.  

In this situation your options are few and discouraging.  If you are rich, or if you are old enough to be on Medicare and have a good supplemental insurance, you can go to a medical provider or hospital knowing that when you walk out the door, you will have been treated appropriately and you finances have been left intact.  If you are poor enough that you are still covered by Medicaid (as the Republican plan would alter Medicaid by offering Medicaid “block grants” to the states, only those who qualified for Medicaid before the enactment of the Affordable Care Act may have some assurance of holding on to that coverage), you can only hope your provider takes Medicaid.  For the millions of Americans too “wealthy” for Medicaid but too young for Medicare, the American Health Care Plan would maintain many of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act—if you are healthy and with one additional caveat.  While the Republicans in Congress want to be seen as supporting your health care needs, they are writing into their health care law a proviso that allows individual states to back out of any part of the health care legislation the state doesn't like.  Those “essential benefits” insurance companies must provide now under the ACA are likely to remain in place in blue states, but the benefits may go away in a number of red states.  

Further, if you are sick or have a pre-existing condition, you may find yourself in a state “high risk” pool in which your premiums may increase many-fold so the healthy won't have to pay quite so much for their insurance.  In this new world there is no longer a mandate to buy insurance.  You can go without, but bear in mind that in every year one person in eleven hundred with no insurance will die from a treatable cause simply because he or she has no insurance according to a study done by the Harvard School of Public Health..  The other too real risk of dropping insurance is bankruptcy and financial ruin.  

To put this last point in a little different light, under the Republican health care plan 14 million Americans who are currently insured under the ACA wind up uninsured in the first year.  More than 12,000 of those uninsured individuals will die in that first year, and the death toll will only rise as the number of uninsured climbs toward 24 million a decade or so down the road as predicted by the Congressional Budget Office.  One wonders, given a death toll in the first year that is four times the death toll of 9/11, if the Republican Congress should not be required to register as a terrorist organization!

An Open Letter to US Legislators

An Open Letter to US Legislators

An Open Letter to US Legislators

Coordinated by the Wilderness Society in coordination with D3 Indivisible Colorado and many, many other organizations in promotion of clean air and clean water. 

Dear Senator Cory Gardner and US Members of Congress, 

On behalf of our tens of millions of members and supporters, the undersigned 82 groups write to urge you to oppose H.J. Res. 36 and S.J. Res. 11, the resolutions of disapproval that seek to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the Bureau of Land Management's Methane and Natural Gas Waste Rule. Using an extreme tool, like the Congressional Review Act, to overturn this rule would hurt the American people by allowing more American energy to be wasted. Wasting valuable resources not only hurts local and federal budgets, but it also results in more pollution. A vote for the Congressional Review Act resolution is a vote for the oil and gas lobby and against taxpayers and our public resources.
The BLM rule is a common-sense policy that requires the oil and gas industry to reduce venting, flaring, and leaks from industry infrastructure on public and tribal lands by deploying widely available methane mitigation technology. The rule was under consideration for more than three years, garnering public input at 8 public forums and receiving over 300,000 public comments, in addition to multi-agency reviews and many discussions with stakeholders. A rulemaking that was developed with significant public and industry involvement should not be overturned hastily using this blunt tool.

Currently, more than $330 million worth of natural gas is wasted on public and tribal lands each year, meaning that taxpayers could lose out on $800 million in royalties over the next decade due to venting and flaring of this gas. Repealing this rule would harm public health and reduce revenue to the federal government and Western states. The BLM estimates the rule's net benefits range from $46 to $204 million per year, and economic studies have found the technologies and practices included in this rule to be very cost effective. Leaked natural gas contains hazardous air pollutants and volatile organic compounds that are asthma irritants and contain known carcinogens, such as benzene.
The BLM rule is also extremely popular. More than 80 percent of Western voters, who live and work near public lands, support this rule, and over two-thirds of voters across the country want to keep the rule in place. By supporting attempts to overturn this policy, elected representatives would be explicitly going against the wishes of their constituents and the American people.
The Congressional Review Act (CRA) is a blunt instrument that seeks to undermine the federal rulemaking process. If the BLM Rule resolution passes and is signed by the President, the rule becomes void and the promulgating agency is prevented from issuing a rule that is "substantially the same" in the future without an act of Congress. By essentially voiding the rulemaking process and mandating that substantially similar rules not be pursued in the future, the resolution on the BLM's Methane Rule wastes taxpayer money and defies the public interest. Furthermore, it could hurt the Bureau of Land Management’s ability to manage our resources under the law. The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 is clear that the BLM must not allow the waste of public resources, and by prohibiting a “substantially the same” rule in the future – an untested limitation – Congress runs the risk of tying the hands of the agency to carry out its statutory mandate.
It is vital that you vote in opposition to this egregious attack on commonsense standards which protect the American taxpayer and limit wasted resources. Vote no on the BLM Methane CRA Resolution.

Sincerely,
350.org New Mexico
Alaska Wilderness League
Back Country Horsemen of New Mexico
Breathe Utah
Californians for Western Wilderness
Calm Air Visibility Unlimited
Center for Biological Diversity
Citizens for a Healthy Community
Citizens for Clean Air
Citizens United for Responsible Energy Development
Clean Air Task Force
Clean Energy Action
Clean Water Action
Climate Reality Project
Colorado Mountain Club
Colorado Nurses Association
Conservation Colorado
D3 Indivisible Colorado
Dakota Resource Council
Earthjustice
Earthworks
EcoFlight
Environmental Defense Fund Action
Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2)
Environmental Integrity Project
Environmental Law and Policy Center
Fort Berthold P.O.W.E.R.
Friends of the Earth
Grand Junction Broadband Chapter
Grand Valley Citizens Alliance
Great Old Broads for Wilderness
Green America
High Country Conservation Advocates
Hispanic Access Foundation
Idaho Organization of Resource Councils
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Interfaith Power and Light
League of Conservation Voters
League of Conservation Voters New Mexico
League of Oil & Gas Impacted Coloradans
League of Women Voters
Los Padres ForestWatch
Mom's Clean Air Force
Mothers Out Front
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Parks Conservation Association
Natural Resources Defense Council
Nature Abounds
New Mexico Climate Action
New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light
New Mexico Sportsmen
New Mexico Wildlife Federation
NextGen Climate
Northern Plains Resource Council
Ohio Environmental Council
Organizing for Action - Grand Junction
Oxfam America
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Powder River Basin Resource Council
Progressive Congress Action Fund
Protect Our Winters
Rocky Mountain Wild
San Juan Citizens Alliance
Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce
Sheep Mountain Alliance
Sierra Club
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
The Colorado Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
The Regeneration Project
The Wilderness Society
Union of Concerned Scientists
United Steelworkers (USW)
Voces Verde
Voices for Progress
Western Colorado Congress
Western Environmental Law Center
Western Organization of Resource Councils
Western Slope Conservation Center
Western Watersheds Project
WildEarth Guardians
Wilderness Workshop
Wyoming Outdoor Council

An Open Letter to My Congressman, Scott Tipton

An Open Letter to My Congressman, Scott Tipton

By Jeremy Leone

Dear Congressman Tipton, 

I write to you with grave concerns regarding the healthcare bill you recently voted in favor of, the American Health Care Act of 2017. I must admit, healthcare is not a topic that has always been on the forefront of my mind - I have been blessed enough to spend most of my 28 years on Earth in good health- the most major operation I’ve ever had was having tubes placed in my ears when I was 6 or 7. I’ve never missed extended time from school or work due to an illness or accident, and I have maintained consistent employer-based health coverage since I transitioned off my parents’ coverage years ago.

As a healthy, young individual with none of the many, many conditions that could be considered pre-existing conditions, my current understanding of the long-term effects of the AHCA lead me to believe that I would be one of those who could benefit most from it. As I understand it, in our current system older individuals can only be charged up to 3 times that of a younger individual — the AHCA would allow insurance companies to charge up to 5 times that of a younger individual- which would of course lead to lower premiums for young, healthy people such as myself, and greatly drive up rates for the oldest, most vulnerable people in the market. I would also stand to benefit from the MacArthur Amendment’s provision that states could choose to lower the essential health benefit requirements- As a young, healthy individual I am in the best position possible to opt for the most basic of health care plans, which would undoubtedly lead to expanded choices and lower premiums for people like me.

Unfortunately, I do not benefit from the repeal of the 3.8% tax applied to capital gains, dividends, and interest income for families with 250,000 or more in income, a repeal that was projected by the nonpartisan CBO to cost over 150 billion dollars in tax revenues over 10 years. According to the Tax Policy Center, repealing this tax would provide an average tax cut of 0 dollars for people with household incomes in the 90th percentile — those households making 208,500 or less in annual income. On the other hand, repealing this tax would provide households in the top 0.1 percent- those making more than 3.75 million dollars annually- an average tax cut of $165,090.

I found it very concerning that the press release on your website that explained the benefits of the AHCA failed to mention the repeal of this tax as one of the core tenants of the AHCA- once I found that you had neglected to mention it, I felt compelled to dig a little deeper, to try to get a better understanding of how the individual that represents me in Congress came to support a bill that I find myself fiercely opposing, despite there being a very real chance that I could benefit from it.

Was it the MacArthur Amendment that convinced you to vote yes on this bill? On Friday, March 24th — as the original incarnation of the AHCA failed to become popular enough to make it to a vote on the floor of the House– you told the Grand Junction Sentinel that you would have voted against the bill at that point. The bill was revived on April 24th, when the MacArthur amendment was added to the AHCA- as you know, this amendment allows states to apply for a waiver to opt-out of requirements that insurers charge the same rates to people regardless of age or health status, and separately allows them to apply for a waiver to remove the requirement that all health plans include coverage for “essential health benefits”.

As far as I can tell, you never publicly voiced any kind of concern with the MacArthur amendment, but perhaps I will give you the benefit of the doubt — was it the last minute amendment added by Fred Upton that sold you on this bill? Was it the additional 8 billion dollars provided to help support the “high-risk” pools that states would be required to setup if they chose to roll back the protections given to those with pre-existing conditions?

As it says in the press release on your website entitled “HOW THE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT PROTECTS PEOPLE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS”, you “have been adamant that the replacement plan needs to ensure people with pre-existing conditions have access to affordable health insurance.”. You seem to have been convinced that the funding for the “high-risk” pools provided in the AHCA would be enough to guarantee that those with pre-existing conditions would still have affordable health insurance, however, at the time that you voted for this bill, the CBO still had not had a chance to provide an analysis of the effects of the MacArthur amendment.

If you have developed you own independent analysis that leads you to believe that “high-risk” pools established as a result of the MacArthur amendment will still provide affordable coverage, and believe that this analysis is reliable enough that it allows you to vote responsibly on a bill without a CBO score, I’m sure some of your more skeptical constituents would love to read it.

Perhaps it wasn’t either of the amendments that convinced you to change your mind, perhaps there were other factors that caused you to vote for this bill? Was it instead the support you received from Donald Trump’s PAC, America First Policies, that convinced you to support a bill that was projected to cause as many as 24 million people to lose health insurance?

Congressman Tipton, I believe that it will be a daunting task for you to explain why supporting this bill supports the needs of your constituents. I admit, I’m far from an expert on healthcare policies, and I do understand that the Affordable Care Act has quite a few problems that need to be addressed. However, I find it hard to believe that a 150 billion dollar tax cut that will overwhelmingly benefit the top .1% of earners is a crucial element in providing affordable healthcare to Western Coloradans, and the fact that I cannot find one mention of you opposing this aspect of the AHCA leaves me no choice but to believe that you have no objections to providing a tax cut for millionaires that would directly help lead to over 20 million people losing health coverage.

Congressman Tipton, I welcome you to convince me that the AHCA was worth supporting, but despite the fact that it would likely lead to lower premiums for myself, I am currently convinced that were this bill to pass through the Senate unchanged, it would undoubtedly lead to higher premium costs for many older enrollees in our district, and this is an outcome that I find to be simply unacceptable.


Jeremy Leone lives in Grand Junction, Colorado. He hasn't been politically active for most of his life but has always been interested in politics, in particular in the shortcomings our current system has with regards to valuing human life in the humanistic tradition. 

Republican Senator a No-show at Ridgway Town Hall

D3 Press

Republican Senator a No-show at Ridgway Town Hall

Live Chicken - A Symbol of our Rural Western Heritage, Stands In Instead

If there were missing persons milk cartons for adults, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner might need a whole convenience store. The elusive Republican has assiduously avoided contact with most of his constituents ever since Donald Trump was elected President. But that didn’t stop D3 Indivisible Colorado from organizing a town hall event for the seldom seen Senator. 

Colorado was decidedly blue in the razor-thin red wave of 2016 and some Coloradans feel Gardner is overly beholden to large campaign contributors and special interests. Many voters don’t believe Republican’s servile devotion to well-heeled political funders has reflected Western Colorado values. And the folks from D3 Indivisible Colorado were determined let him know—whether he showed up or not.

“We have learned there is absolutely no substitute for coming together and having an in person dialogue which is why we were hoping for Senator Gardner was here tonight,” said organizer Erika Gordon.

To sweeten the invitation, a stunning trophy was created by local design studio, Kiittelä, to be awarded to Senator for courageously facing his constituents. No doubt these Western Slope voters were eager to ask the Republican why he voted multiple times against the Affordable Helathcare Act and why he’s repeatedly voted to protect polluters and gut the nation’s environmental protections. 

Taylor Chase, and educator by profession, and a member of the D3 Education Policy Tracker group, wished to voice her displeasure at the appointment of Betsy De Vos as Education Secretary—an appointment that the Republican Senator supported wholeheartedly. Chase said that De Vos is particularly unqualified for such a role and cited the Secretary’s push for private school vouchers as an example. 

“At the end of the day it takes away the equity in education,” Chase said. 

Chase noted that federal education dollars diverted to private schools would harm the Western Slope. “We don’t have private and charter schools here,” she said. “It would be detrimental to rural education and rural families.” 

Sadly however, and despite numerous invitations, Senator Gardner was not availed to accept the award. Instead the dozens of Western Slope voters who were hoping to make their voices heard were forced to give the trophy to a feathered beast, a feminine version of Foghorn Leghorn. But like Gardner, the chicken had little interest in constituent concerns and the coop was wheeled away with few ruffled feathers. 

For Chase, the Republican Senator’s no-show was a bitter reminder that political engagement is a necessity in the era of Trump and the Republican control of all branches of Federal government. Especially since Gardner accused his opposition of being “paid protesters.” 

“Not only did Senator Gardner ignore us, but he insulted us,” she said. 

Grassroots Groups Taking Action

THE WATCH NEWSPAPER

By JESSICA KUTZ, Staff Reporter

In the wake of the presidential election, grassroots organizations across the country have formed. They’ve been requesting meetings with U.S. senators and representatives, flooding phone lines and mailboxes and demanding that constituents be heard from across party lines.   

The Ridgway-based group D3 Indivisible arose from this flurry of activity as a way to coordinate the energy of citizens looking for change on federal, state and local levels. The group is affiliated with the national organization Indivisible Group, which touts close to 6,000 chapters, according to its website. 

D3 stands for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, which encompasses most of the Western Slope and the cities of Durango, Pueblo and Grand Junction.  

Erika Gordon, spokeswoman for the D3 Indivisible organization, said that because of

the diverse political makeup of

the region, the group aims to be inclusive and seeks to facilitate a conversation around certain issues including health care, immigration, education and the environment. 

“We want to be inclusive and we want people to have conversations about policy and about what affects us in this part of the state,” she said. “We believe there are a lot of places where we can have conversation around issues that are nonpartisan.”

With that being said, the group does take a progressive stance on many issues and has a team called the “policy-trackers” that follows changes in policy and legislation on topics pertaining to civil rights, education and science, among others.

From 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, April 20, the D3 group will be hosting what it advertises as a “Town Hall with Sen. Cory Gardner.” However, neither Gardner nor his staff has confirmed that he will attend.

Gordon said the group has been “flooding his office with phone calls” in an effort to confirm his appearance, but no response has been supplied. 

“We highly doubt he will attend,” Gordon said. “We’ve also done this with the knowledge that he said he would not do in person town halls.”

The event could be considered more of a symbolic meeting to mark Gardner’s absence. Gordon said the point is to highlight that he should be meeting with all of his constituents. 

On the off chance that he does show up, the group has created an award to thank him for his attendance. 

Either way, the group will be meeting and presenting findings from the various policy-tracker teams. The event will take place at the Ouray County 4-H Center in Ridgway. 

EARTH DAY

D3 Indivisible also will host an Earth Day Celebration on Saturday, April 22, from 4:30-9 p.m. at the Colona Stockyards south of Montrose.

Gordon said the event is not intended to be political, just a celebration of planet earth. 

“Bring the whole family and dance the afternoon and evening away in celebration of springtime, the planet and being together with good friends,” a news release states.  

Local bands Niceness, Devil and the Details, and R2-D3 will be playing. Eatery 66 will provide sustenance; local micro-brewed beer will be on tap. 

There is a suggested donation of $20 for adults and $10 for children under 18. 

In Telluride, another community organization, ACT Sustainability, will be organizing its own Earth Day celebrations. 

Madeline Gonzalez, one of the organizers, said the formation of the group has been an organic evolution. 

“It really has been emerging through many of us that we care about our planet, we care about our communities and we want to do something of value,” she said. 

On Thursday, the group will host an action day in collaboration with Lexi Tuddenham, the executive director of the Sheep Mountain Alliance — a local nonprofit environmental advocacy group. 

The action day will take place from noon to 6 p.m. at Wilkinson Public Library’s program room. People can drop in to sign petitions, send postcards and call their representatives about environment-related concerns.  

“We are coming up with a list of action items … and we are really trying to make those sessions at the library be very practical,” Gonzalez said. “If someone only has half an hour to do that kind of thing they can come in and take action.”

On Saturday, a Science, Climate and Earth Day March is scheduled from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The march starts in Elks Park.