Letters for January 10, 2013

Reefer gladness

Re “Decriminalization” (News, Jan. 3):

Go back, go back! I implore Nevadans to forego any thoughts of decriminalizing the “Devil Weed.” Perhaps my experience on New Year’s Eve will be instructive: I “found” a single joint of marijuana lying on the sidewalk here in Paonia. (I have no proof, of course, but I strongly suspect it was planted there by the Mexican drug cartels.) Realizing that it was now “legal” here in Colorado, I lit it up and took a tentative puff. What ensued can only be described as a nightmare. The first thing I did was search (fruitlessly) in the immediate area for a stash of Heroin or perhaps a few pills of Oxycontin. Then I searched my now fogged brain for the location of an open gun show so I might purchase a Bushmaster assault rifle or some other means of committing mass murder or at least an armed robbery. (None were open at that midnight hour.) Having no other lawless options available, I hopped in my car with the intention of running down pedestrians or smashing into other vehicles. By the merest circumstance I was only a half block from home. My aging Ford Taurus was unable to attain the 100 mph speed I so fervently sought. (I was able to exceed the posted speed limit by 5 mph, and when I got home I thoughtlessly parked with my wheels a good 15 inches from the curb, fully three inches outside what’s permitted by local ordinance!) I stumbled into the house barely able to constrain my urge to kick the dog or beat my spouse. Thence to sleep. (A coma?) Now, as that poisonous THC slowly relinquishes its grip on my body and mind, I am returning to normal. The Iraq war was legitimate. The rich are deserving of tax relief. Personal freedom is mostly too dangerous to contemplate. A few more hours of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and sanity will return. Be careful out there. Though the details of that experience are a little fuzzy, I’m pretty sure it happened much as I have described it.

Larry L. Wissbeck
Paonia, Colo.

Rich man, poor man

A lot of the current political debates centers around the difference between “middle class” and “rich.” I’ve made about $40,000 a year for the last several years, and it’s been difficult to maintain a house for a family of four, and impossible to pay for college for two children. If I had made $250,000 for these years, it would have been easy to do both. I say that $250,000 a year is rich.

Richard Sasaki

Road net

Re “Road conditions” (Green, Dec. 27):

For a guy who wants to follow bicycle policy and projects, he seems pretty unfamiliar with the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), its bicycle facilities chapter, as well as how the projects come about. Bike lanes are added to a road when it is reconditioned, if it is in the RTP, and where there is enough room. The RTC and its Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee reviews every slurry seal and maintenance/reconditioning project to see if bike lanes can be added. The natural result of waiting for a section of road to be repaved is that the network is being completed in a piecemeal, apparently haphazard, way. Many miles of bicycle lanes and paths are being added every year, and it eventually will all be connected in a network.

Terry McAfee
Nevada Bicycle Coalition


Money talks

Re “In the dark” (News, Dec. 20):

Your story about mining in the U.S. in general, and Nevada in particular, says a lot of important true things. But it leaves out a lot of equally important true things.

For example, the Mining Law of 1872: It may be true that the law itself stands as written in 1872. But there are numerous acts that modify the acquisition of mining rights on public land. A Wikipedia article gives a pretty decent overview of these (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Mining_Act_of_1872).

And that’s not the full story regarding laws that exploration and mining operate under today. Many laws and regulations have been added. Among other things, these added laws and regulations affect appropriate environmental management of land, including bonding to make sure there’s money for reclamation if the operator goes bankrupt or tries to walk away, and appropriate health and safety protections for workers.

For another example, the quote from Dale Bumpers is out-of-date. The article quotes Bumpers as saying “Anyone, and I mean anyone” may stake a claim. In fact a claim holder must be a U.S. citizen or a person who has declared his intention to become a citizen of the U.S. Bumpers goes on to write, “The claim will remain in effect as long as the owner pays $100 a year per claim.” The annual maintenance fee payable to the federal government has gone up to $140 per year per claim, and in Nevada additional claim maintenance fees support the county and the state. By the way, $2 per claim per year is earmarked for the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering at University of Nevada, Reno.

That $140 per year is not a cheap as it sounds: A single claim is not large enough to hold a commercially viable ore deposit these days. Typical exploration projects and mines in Nevada sit on blocks of hundreds of claims, generating tens of thousands of dollars a year per block in claim maintenance fees. Remember that holding mining claims does not give you permission to mine. For that matter, it doesn’t even mean there is anything worth mining on the claims. A claim holder has to do years of exploration work, during which time he’s paying rent to the federal and local governments but not generating any income. If it turns out the hoped-for El Dorado isn’t on that ground after all, the claim holder may drop the claims, paying for exploration work and for reclamation but never earning any money from it. Far from “stealing” value from the people of the U.S., these projects are pouring money in.

Elizabeth Zbinden

Or take the guns away

If a person is walking around with a bone sticking out of their body, everyone notices. Nobody notices a broken soul. The only people who know are those closest to the sick person. There are many reasons these people take no action. Shame, guilt and denial are very strong obstacles, and the overwhelming cost of mental health treatment ends the idea of help for many. People who are already hesitant to seek help certainly won’t pay $2,000 per day for in-patient treatment. With a government that can’t agree how to wipe their collective asses, it’s highly doubtful that any legislation will pass any time soon that will have any impact on an issue that needs immediate attention. Perhaps the millions being spent lobbying for, and against, gun control could be put to better use for mental health evaluation and education throughout our schools. Guns aren’t going away so we need to treat the sick and educate the rest so we can feel at ease sending our kids to school every morning.

Danny Pettipas