- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Denver Post, May 1, on the arrest of Arturo Hernandez:

Last week’s arrest of Arturo Hernandez Garcia in Denver sent an awful and chilling message across the land, even after his temporary reprieve this week. We hope members of Congress are listening.

Hernandez is well-known in Colorado as the first person in the country illegally to seek sanctuary in a church. After an immigration judge ordered his deportation, he lived from October 2014 through July 2015 at the First Unitarian Society of Denver. Though the business owner and family man had gotten into an altercation at a job site in 2010, charges against him were dropped.

When he exited the sanctuary, he did so with a letter from federal officials saying he was not an immigration enforcement priority. Since overstaying his visa years ago, he has applied many times for some kind of legal status or discretion in his immigration case. As it does for so many here illegally during years of lax enforcement, deporting Hernandez now means breaking up a family that includes an American-born child and one with deferred action status.

When Immigration and Customs Enforcement picked up Hernandez last week, the official explanation was that he was seized because of his immigration violations and the 2014 order for his deportation already mentioned.

For enforcement hardliners, ICE’s explanation made perfect sense: Hernandez “has overstayed his original, six-month visa by nearly 14 years,” ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said at the time.

Fair enough, but also in play last week were President Donald Trump’s race to put points on the 100-day scorecard, and the celebration by immigrant advocates over Time magazine’s listing another Denver sanctuary seeker, Jeanette Vizguerra, as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Hernandez was granted a 30-day deportation delay and released Tuesday after Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet intervened on his behalf.

Still, the timing, even if coincidental, of the arrest of a well-known figure who also sought sanctuary and whose only crime is being in the country without permission, sends a convenient message of indifferent intolerance to everyone here without proper documentation. The arrest, given its impact on the lives of millions of families here, represents a kind of gratuitous and hateful overreach that defies understanding.

Already law enforcement in places like Colorado is struggling to assure otherwise law-abiding immigrants that they need not hide in fear and keep crimes against them secret. We don’t envy officials trying to make that argument now.

Trump can easily say he lived up to his promises on immigration out of the gate. He’s taken bids for a border wall, expanded enforcement hiring and threatened budget cuts for cities his administration considers light on enforcement. Immigration arrests have risen nearly 33 percent. The stepped-up enforcement includes a doubling of arrests for those who have no criminal records.

We would hope that this administration takes stock, now that this self-imposed deadline is behind the president, and refocuses attention on the truly dangerous criminals who exist within the larger immigrant community.

Either way, we hope Congress starts treating immigration reform seriously. We’ve long decried the status quo, which allows for exploitation of workers and creates broad civic unrest.

The problem in our country isn’t hard-working men and women like Hernandez and Vizguerra, it’s the broken system that has for too long looked the other way.

Editorial: https://dpo.st/2pEP5y5


The Durango Herald, May 1, on preserving national monuments:

President Donald Trump has asked Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review national monuments created using the Antiquities Act by presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama since Jan. 1, 1996. The review, the first in the act’s 111-year history, includes those that encompass more than 100,000 acres and leaves room for review of monuments of all sizes considered to have been expanded or designated without adequate public outreach, with an eye to shrinking them or even possibly reversing designations.

As he performs his review, Zinke should listen to voices in favor of the monuments as much as those in Trump’s base who oppose them, because supporters, too, are constituents. Most importantly, the administration must consider resource protection. Trump is systematically dismantling clean air and clean water regulations, and now he is moving toward opening public lands to greater development. It is not hard to see who will benefit from Trump’s changes.

Zinke must carefully weigh the loss of tourism and the short- and long-term costs of energy and mineral development to the environment and nearby communities alongside the benefits of those industries. The greatest beneficiaries of reduced protections, including for national monuments, are not likely to be breathing local air and drinking local water. Societal costs associated with compromised public health must be considered as well.

The executive order currently affects over 50 monuments nationwide. In Colorado, it will affect the 176,000-acre Canyons of the Ancients National Monument west of Cortez, and potentially Browns Canyon near Buena Vista, and Chimney Rock, between Bayfield and Pagosa Springs.

Bears Ears National Monument, in southeastern Utah, probably was the final straw for Republicans, who generally oppose federal land ownership. It is 1,351,849 acres, or 2,112 square miles, and newly designated by President Obama on Dec. 28, 2016. Utah’s congressional delegation and many state leaders opposed it. However, it received strong support from a coalition of five tribal nations, three of which hold tribal lands in Utah. Bears Ears has strong support from outdoor retailers, who are moving their industry’s largest trade show from Salt Lake City in response to state leaders’ attempts to undo the Bears Ears designation.

The president’s characterization of the monuments as “a massive federal land grab” is wrong on two counts. First, monuments have been established only on federally owned or controlled land. The Antiquities Act cannot be used to seize private and state lands. Second, national monuments are less restrictive than, for example, national parks. Grazing and resource extraction are conducted on many of them, including in the Canyons of the Ancients, which hosts significant energy activity.

We hope Zinke, formerly a congressional representative from Montana, has a more nuanced view of public lands than President Trump. National monuments have their critics, but they also have substantial support and provide concrete benefits. It is a pipe dream to believe that the states can afford to manage these lands or that industry will protect them. Monument designations provide an appropriate vehicle for preserving our country’s unique historic, cultural and natural heritage.

The House Federal Lands Subcommittee, on which Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) serves, is holding an oversight hearing on the Antiquities Act on Tuesday. We hope he will stand up for our national monuments, as he did with the designation of Chimney Rock, that for more than 100 years have enjoyed broad public support.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2pEVDga


The Coloradoan, April 27, on Colorado’s roads:

An open letter to our Colorado senators and representatives:

An increasingly unsustainable situation on Colorado’s roads is hindering the lives of Coloradans. It’s keeping commuters away from their families. It’s limiting job opportunities. It’s contributing to fatalities. And generations will be impacted by the effects of inaction on transportation.

In Northern Colorado, Interstate 25 congestion is noticeably worse than ever. A regional effort to provide about $300 million for additional lanes between north Fort Collins and south Loveland falls far short of the $1.7 billion needed to keep up with growth.

And efforts to solve the issue statewide via House Bill 1242, which died in a Senate committee Tuesday, was doomed from the start.

Meanwhile, the traffic death rate in Colorado is outpacing population growth. Six hundred lives were lost last year, 51 more than the year prior. In Larimer County, the traffic death rate increased 40 percent.

The gas tax hasn’t increased in more than 25 years. As Colorado’s population increases, per capita funding for transportation decreases. And driving on north I-25, south I-25 and Interstate 70 gets more and more miserable with each passing year.

You, our elected representatives, know this, because you travel these congested roadways to get to the Capitol.

It’s perplexing how HB 1242, which never had a chance at winning true support, could have been introduced in the first place. The bill, touted as bipartisan at the start of the 2017 legislative session, sought to ask voters for a state sales tax increase to fund transportation projects through bonds. It proposed raising taxes 0.62 percent, bonding $375 million per year and giving 70 percent of the remaining money to local governments, with 30 percent going to multimodal transportation.

Republicans, though, favored using existing resources and didn’t want all the funding to come from a tax increase. Democrats didn’t want to take money away from other funding needs, like education. Both ideals came from a good place.

But looking in from the outside, it appears that a legislator’s willingness to compromise, ironically, dooms legislative support for a bill rather than increases it. In order to get a bill to pass out of a committee, it must play to the ideology of whichever party holds the power. Any attempt to bring balance to the bill then becomes an excuse for the majority in power to squash the effort entirely.

True bipartisanship, compromise and balance is what is needed. Republicans can compromise on a tax increase. Democrats should find money from the general fund. And for every other complaint about the bill, there’s a middle ground if our elected representatives will look for it.

Taxpayers, who are fed up with the transportation situation and might be likely to support some type of compromise tax increase, are on the losing end. Living under the restraints of TABOR, Colorado residents’ hands are tied. We ask our representatives to show leadership and compromise to give voters a vetted, realistic and reasonable ballot proposal.

Editorial: https://noconow.co/2pEESSA


The Reporter-Herald, April 27, on helping bees:

Upon hearing the news that a number of Front Range beekeepers lost most or all of their colonies over the winter, it might be easy to jump to the conclusion that the sky is falling, and that dead bees are falling to the ground with it.

Certainly, the loss of bee colonies is troubling, considering that the nation is still on the rebound from the effects of colony collapse, which was identified in 2006. That year, the number of colonies hit a low of 2.4 million. But since then, colonies across the country have rebounded, hitting 2.82 million by January of 2016, the USDA says.

According to a number of reports, America’s honeybees are not doomed. The Washington Post reported last July that 2014 numbers showed that managed colonies - commercial colonies managed by beekeepers - reached their highest level in 20 years.

One fact to remember is that colony losses aren’t uncommon. They happen over winters. And beekeepers can replace lost colonies. Bees, like other insects, can recover their numbers quite rapidly. A queen bee, which can reach sexual maturity at 7 days old, can lay more than 1,000 eggs per day (2,000 by some estimates) - millions during her lifetime - and worker bees can mature in about three weeks.

So this anecdotal evidence of declining bee numbers does not portend the end of the world, as a quote attributed to Albert Einstein (true or not) suggests.

But that doesn’t mean that humans should ignore the plight of these precious pollinators. They do face challenges - a “constellation” of factors that can lead to the loss of colonies, as one area beekeeper said.

Some ideas are speculation: Mild winter days might have tricked the bees into coming out of the clusters where they keep warm, then not being able to come back together before the next cold snap. Other ideas have research behind them: Neonicotinoids, a common pesticide, impair bees’ ability to fly, according to a recently released study.

That study by the University of California San Diego, supporting previous research, revealed that even if the pesticide doesn’t kill an individual bee, it can keep that bee from carrying out its role in the colony - that is, flying a distance to a foraging site and successfully returning to the hive. Bees that can’t make their way back to the hive ultimately mean a dead colony.

For that reason, and the fact that U.S. bee colony numbers are far below what they were before pesticide use became common in the mid-20th century (5 million managed colonies in the 1940s), it’s important to understand and combat those things that harm bees.

The USDA reports ongoing efforts, such as plans by the Agricultural Research Service for a national bee gene bank in Fort Collins. The goal is to “help preserve the genetic diversity of honey bees, especially for traits such as resistance to pests or diseases and pollination efficiency.”

Front Range residents can do their part by including flowers in their landscaping; following the lead of local governments by not using neonicotinoids on weeds; and by being willing to buy “imperfect” produce, which has been tainted by pests.

Bees have been friends to humankind for millennia. It doesn’t take an Einstein to know that people should be friends to bees.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2pEUMMz

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