National PBS Broadcast Features Health Department Breakup

 Consolidated from PBS and the Durango Telegraph

The PBS News Hour featured a segment on the breakup of San Juan Basin Public Health as part of a story on health director turnover in Colorado. Fast forward to the 35-minute mark https://www.pbs.org/video/april-12-2023-pbs-newshour-full-episode-1681272001/.

As shown below, the story shows pictures of protesters outside the home of the SJBPH director, and intimidation tactics used during the COVID shutdown.

SJBPH Protesters

Protesters in Archuleta County were the first to propose breaking up SJBPH. After months of controversy, the SJBPH board and La Plata and Archuleta county Boards of County Commissioners (BoCCs) voted to disolve the district and to set up separate health departments.

"People in Archuleta County came to meetings with guns on their hips," SJBPH Vice President Shere Byrd explained to the News Hour. "It was just an untenable situation."

 CO Public Health

Health directors have been forced out across Colorado

Kayla Marler, Former Director, Fremont County, Colorado, Public Health and Environment, was fired after she proposed adding family planning to the public health department. "The people that are impacted are the residents," she adid. "There is no room for politics to be in public health."

That's not how proponents of the breakup see it.

“You have to understand, this is a Republican county, and many people did not like SJBPH coming over here trying to enforce Democratic views,” LaVonda Bass, a Pogosa Springs resident and member of a group advising the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners, told the Durango Telegraph in September. “That was a major issue.”

The SJBPH, Archuleta County Commission and La Plata County Commission voted in 2022 to disband the 70-year-old health district. The decision was reaffirmed this year by the three boards after unsuccessful pleas to keep SJBPH intact.

The Archuleta County BoCC has set aside $1 million to set up its own health department.

 

County Puts Off STR Action Until 2024

Vacation Rental Density Caps

By Candace Jones

The County’s Short-Term Rental Task Force is taking another year to ponder density caps.  The Commissioners should not wait. 

Everyone acknowledges Archuleta has dense clusters of STRs.  That’s not good for the local economy.

The Region 9 Economic Development District of SW Colorado recently reported its Economic Snapshot 2022.  Archuleta is one of five Region 9 counties.

The Snapshot identifies the region’s “base industries.”  Tourism is one base industry.  “Households” are a bigger base industry here.  The Snapshot describes the “households” industry as people “who spend money earned elsewhere (commuters), or at a different point in time (retirees).”   In Archuleta, households supported 40% of jobs in 2020 compared to 31% supported by tourism.

People who retire to Archuleta for quiet mountain-town life are a significant economic driver.  Ignoring quality of life in Archuleta’s residential areas undermines our local economy.  

The tourism and household industries can coexist.  To achieve balance between homes and STRs, county government should act on density caps.  Community is neighbor helping neighbor.  For that, we need neighborhoods where people can get to know each other for more than a week or two.  

Agree?  Email your Commissioners or attend their meetings.

Read the full letter published in The SUN April 13, 2023County Commission Delays STR Action

County Commission Delays STR Action

Vacation Rental Density Caps

By Candace Jones

Last month, the County published a report from its Short-Term Rental Task Force.  The STR Task Force set aside the question of neighborhood density caps and gave themselves another 12 months to craft a separate report.  On February 28, a citizen committee presented a density cap plan to the County Commissioners.

The Commissioners should not wait a year to address density caps.  They can act on the citizen proposal.

Everyone acknowledges there are dense clusters of vacation rentals in some neighborhoods.  Residents amongst the vacationers are sometimes bothered by noise, parking, and other nuisance conduct.  More significantly, clusters of vacation rentals erode neighborhoods by making them less neighborly. 

Some say the bothers of vacation rentals are a needed assist to Archuleta’s tourism industry.  No doubt, vacation rentals offer a lodging option that can bolster tourism.  That’s not, however, a reason to dismiss residents’ requests for limits on vacation rentals that would sustain neighborly neighborhoods.

In fact, keeping Archuleta a place where people want to settle for retirement and remote work should be a priority for anyone concerned about the local economy.  The Region 9 Economic Development District of SW Colorado recently reported its Economic Snapshot 2022.  Region 9 encompasses Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, and San Juan counties.

The Snapshot identifies the region’s “base industries.”  Tourism is a base industry, accounting in 2020 for 24% of jobs in the region.  “Households” are a bigger base industry for the region, supporting 35% of jobs.  The “households” industry captures economic activity by people “who spend money earned elsewhere (commuters), or at a different point in time (retirees),” according to the Region 9 Snapshot.   In Archuleta County, households supported 40% of jobs in 2020 compared to 31% by tourism.

People who retire to Archuleta for quiet mountain-town life are a significant economic driver for our community.  Quality of life in Archuleta’s residential areas is important for our local economy.  (See what others are doing around Colorado.)

The tourism and household industries can coexist.  Vacation rentals can blend in with homes when a reasonable balance is maintained.  To achieve balance, county government should give residents’ concerns at least as much weight as the views of vacation rental advocates. Community is neighbor helping neighbor.  For that, we need neighborhoods of people we can get to know for more than a week or two.  

The STR Task Force reported that only 10 of the 700 STRs registered in Archuleta as of December 2022 are owner-occupied.  No one should expect vacation rental advocates to speak for both sides of the resident/vacation rental fence.  Vacation rental advocates seem to have a louder voice in this debate.  Volume does not equate to better policy.

Putting off action on neighborhood density caps proposed by the citizens’ committee minimizes resident voices arguing for balance and quality of life.  The Commissioners should consider that festering discontent with vacation rentals could very well undermine the leading sector of our local economy, households.

If you agree, email your Commissioners or attend their meetings.

Commissioner, Dist 1 Warren Brown (R) (970) 264-8300 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Commissioner, Dist 2 Ronnie Maez (R) (970) 264-8300 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Commissioner, Dist 3 Veronica Medina (R) (970) 264-8305 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sign to speak using this form. Email it to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. prior to 1 pm on the meeting date or hand delivered to an Administrative staff member before the beginning of the meeting. 

 

ACDP Elects Officers for 2024

The Archuleta County Democratic Party is seeking volunteers to fill several vacant positions on our Central Committee. Filling these positions is important as we head into the 2024 presidential election. In addition to electing a president, Congressioal District 03 will be contested. Adam Frisch and Dr. Debbie Burnett have announced plans to run against U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Silt. Volunteer for one of our open positions here. Questions? Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Officers for the 2023-2024 election cycle:

  • Carl Young, Chair
  • John Porco, First Vice Chair
  • Dave Butcher, Treasurer
  • Chair Emeritus, Becky Herman
  • Sue Yalom, Vice Chair for Events
  • Lou Dickson, Vice Chair for VAN
  • Candace Jones, Vice-Chair for Candidates and Local Issues
  • Chris Morley, Vice Chair of Public Relations & Marketing
  • Shawna Seed, Vice Chair Volunteers & Community Outreach

Open positions:

  • Secretary
  • Vice Chair for Fundraising
  • Vice Chair for Social Media
  • Vice Chair Cultural & Demographic Outreach
  • Vice Chair for Fundraising
  • Vice Chair for Hispanic Initiative
  • Vice Chair for LGBTQ+ Outreach

Brief description of the open roles:

COUNTY SECRETARY – The Secretary (1) takes the minutes and timely prepares them for approval; (2) serves as the records-custodian for the party.

SOCIAL MEDIA - The Vice Chair of Social Media manages the county's Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts. The vice chair will accuratly reflect ACDP and CDP's views and abide by the CDP's code of conduct.

CULTURAL AND DEMOGRAPHIC OUTREACH - Cultural & Demographic Outreach is a position that focuses on communities tied together by shared experiences of race, religion, gender, orientation, military service, age or workforce, or issue priorities.

FUNDRAISING - The vice chair of fundraising will assist the central committee in raising money for county party operations, initiatives, and candidate support.

HISPANIC INITIATIVE - This position will

  • Provide training and information to increase Latino participation in the political process.Encourage and register Latinos to vote.
  • Identify and encourage Latinos to seek public office and/or to serve on boards and commissions.
  • Provide information specifically on issues that affect the Latino community.
  • Provide a forum to increase visibility of Latino candidates.

LGBTQ+ OUTREACH - This position is dedicated to advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Archuleta County residents and their families.

The Central Committee of the Archuleta County Democratic Party usually meets from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month. Check our calendar for the specific time and location of this month’s meeting. Everyone is welcome to join in these meetings.

  • If you wish to make a presentation to the Archuleta County Democratic Party, please send a request to be included on the agenda (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Archuleta County GOP Joins the Big Lie

I am deeply disappointed that the Archuleta County Republican Party (ACRP) appears to have embraced the folly of the “Big Lie,” the false allegation that the 2020 election was stolen, despite NO evidence that significant election fraud occurred at the Federal. State, or county level. I say this because on the homepage of the party’s website, the following appears:

DEMAND ELECTION INTEGRITY!
Require Photo ID
Get rid of any machines involved in the process, including tabulators!
End mass mail-in voting!
Voters must request a mail-in or an absentee ballot.

This demand is an insult to the thousands of election officials who toil faithfully to make our elections fair and honest, including here in Archuleta County. Many of these democracy heroes are Republicans, as the county party knows.

The ACRP wants everyone to vote on a paper ballot which would then be tabulated by humans This proposal is opposed by most County Clerks of both parties, as it would slow the process dramatically, cost much more, and make it less accurate. I saw an interview with the Republican Clerk in conservative El Paso County, Chuck Boerman, appearing in the Colorado Springs Independent. He cited a study conducted by two universities in 2012 that found that hand counting ballots resulted in a 2% error rate. He says that scanners are virtually error-free. His county’s scanners were tested against the national standard of one misread ballot in 500,000 scanned. There was actually not a single misread. That, plus the fact that scanners are carefully secured and the whole process of vote tabulation is overseen by election judges of both parties makes hand tabulation a charade.

How about mail voting, which includes dropping off ballots at a dropbox? Legislation establishing all mail voting passed in 2012 The legislation acknowledged that 70% of Coloradoans were already casting mail ballots. The law was developed with input from local election officials of both parties, so received widespread support. The key to security in the system is ballot signature matching software, the same software used by banks to process billions of checks. Signature matching is supervised by election judges who are free to challenge any ballot. Ballot dropoff boxes require 24-hour surveillance. And voters can still cast ballots in person at the county election office, although only a tiny percentage do.

Mail-in balloting has increased voter turnout from 51% in 2010 to 78% in 2020, which seems like what democracy is all about. Since 2012, both Democrats and Republicans have been elected, including Cory Gardner, who won a close upset race against incumbent Senator Mark Udall in 2014. Three other Republicans also won statewide races that year. At the same time, the cost of elections has plunged more than 50%. So, mail balloting appears like a win-win, unless your party feels that it can’t win elections if more voters turn out.

And where is the evidence of fraud? I ask all voters to look at the facts and reject solutions in search of a problem!

--John Porco, ACDP Vice Chair

See also the April 2022 visit of Secretary of State Jena Griswold.