A sampling of recent editorials from Colorado newspapers:
The Denver Post, Sept. 27, on Sen. Kent Lambert's remarks on civil unions:
We learned earlier this week that homosexuality causes heavy rains — so says Colorado pastor and radio host Kevin Swanson — but did you also know the gay agenda now includes mind control?
Appearing on a show called "Pray in Jesus' Name," state Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, explained the pernicious scheme to pass same-sex civil unions in Colorado this year.
"It's a mind-control experiment by the majority party — the Democrats, here in Colorado — to force everybody, including children in schools, everything else, under penalty of law, to believe in homosexual marriage," he said.
"Privacy will no longer be in effect in the United States if this agenda continues in the direction that it is right now," the senator argued. "This is certainly 'Brave New World,' the Aldous Huxley novel that Big Brother is here, he's alive and well and we're going to force you into the kind of agendas that some of the greatest dictators in world history have tried to press in the past."
Wait. Isn't Big Brother from George Orwell's "1984"? Or has someone just made us think that?
Whoa. We wonder, frankly, how Lambert has resisted the mind control. The tinfoil hat?
The Denver Post, Sept. 30, on Colorado's emergency communications system:
The calamitous wildfires in recent years have laid bare a weak link in the state's emergency preparedness — a patchwork emergency radio communications system that sometimes makes it difficult for responders to talk to one another.
It's a situation that must be examined by state lawmakers and the Hickenlooper administration with an eye toward improvement.
The experience of Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey offers a compelling example.
Harvey recently spoke to a legislative committee about his efforts to deal with a raging wildfire that ultimately went on destroy 486 homes near Colorado Springs.
He was one of the first on the scene. Armed with two different radios, he was handed third in an effort to talk to a military helicopter, but the batteries were too weak. And he used a cellphone to do some work.
"This is as close as you come to combat without being shot at," Harvey said. "We've got to have communication."
Colorado has been moving to an 800 megahertz radio system, but not every agency has had the funds to fully make the switch. Some still use VHF radios for cost or transmission reasons. And the military uses a different system. That's why Harvey had to juggle so many radios.
Furthermore, Colorado's mountainous terrain can pose transmitting difficulties for the 800 megahertz system.
As reported by The Denver Post two years ago, a statewide radio system has been the No. 1 priority of homeland security spending in the decade following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The state's highways are 95 percent covered by the Colorado Statewide Digital Trunked Radio System (DTRS), said Norman Weeks, state director of network operations and information security. But there is no estimate on how much of the rest of the state is without coverage.
We find this hard to fathom. The state should at least know how much of Colorado remains unserved by the digital radio system.
Part of the difficulty in attaining full coverage — and the state's tech specialists contend no system will offer 100 percent coverage — is that maintenance and the installation of additional towers are costly endeavors.
Yet, in an email response to us, Tauna Lockhart of the Governor's Office of Information Technology said: "We have extensive DTRS coverage in rural areas that meets the needs of all first responders across the state."
Notwithstanding that assertion, state Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, said radio coverage has been a problem for a decade, particularly in the rugged areas of her district.
"It's is very disturbing to me that we're still talking about a system that is not working well statewide," she said. "We should address it."
Roberts, a former park ranger, is acutely aware how a radio is a crucial lifeline for first responders.
It may be that not every problem can be resolved. But as lawmakers contemplate how to prepare for the next wildfire season, they should examine this vital communication system and determine what upgrades are in the pipeline and how the system can be improved.
The Aurora Sentinel, Sept. 25, on mass shootings and mental health:
Just days after yet another mass shooting, this time in a Washington D.C. naval facility, gun-rights activists are reaching their shrill threats toward anyone pushing for limiting guns and ammo.
It's the same calls each time. Someone who has no business being around firearms gets incredibly lethal ones and kills a bunch of people. It turns out, again, the shooter had mental problems. Gun rights activists then demand that politicians find ways to handle the country's mentally ill people and keep far away from Second Amendment issues.
Of course naval yard shooter Aaron Alexis was mentally ill. Just like all the other mass shooters in recent days, including Aurora massacre shooter James Holmes, they're mentally ill.
National Rifle Association mouthpiece Wayne LaPierre, whose calls have become more shrill than any other, demands that the U.S. government do something to keep crazy people from getting guns and killing people.
The nation's mental health system is "in complete breakdown," resulting in not enough of the mentally ill being committed to psychiatric hospitals, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told NBC's "Meet the Press" this week.
"If we leave these homicidal maniacs on the street . they're going to kill," he said. "They need to be committed is what they need to be. If they are committed, they're not at the Naval Yard."
So which of the 58 million Americans with psychiatric symptoms very much like Alexis' do we lock up? And where?
Mental health experts are clear in their message that a wide range of psychiatric problems are pretty common in this country. About 1 in 4 Americans have issues that come and go. What's very rare is when these issues result in massacres.
So when it comes to trying to find a pattern among recent gun massacre types, they are often men who have issues managing their anger, are paranoid, often about the government, and they tend to be antisocial. If that sounds to you a lot like millions and millions of Americans, many demanding gun rights or taking up seats in Congress, it does to us, too.
Unlike many gun-rights activists that say effective gun legislation is just too hard, so none is best, we agree that finding a way to manage mental illness issues for 1 in 4 Americans is complicated and difficult. But it's not impossible. The most difficult part will be when it comes to first identifying which kinds of mental illness warrant new scrutiny, which Americans to label as mentally ill, and then how to restrict their Second Amendment rights.
If it seems to you that it would be simpler to restrict easy access to military grade weapons capable of exterminating large numbers of people in a fashion that seems to appeal to some mentally ill Americans, than it would be to start locking up or denying rights to a quarter of the population, it does to us, too.
By all means, pursue ways to improve the mental health of all Americans and ensure those who are dangerous to themselves or others get the help they need. But if we're waiting on effective ways to get future mass shooters off the streets before they strike, American can't wait that long.
The Greeley Tribune, Sept. 25, on the government shutdown and flood recovery:
Road crews have already begun to reshape the landscape along U.S. 34 as they build a temporary road to fill in the gap where floodwaters destroyed a bridge between Greeley and Kersey.
It's great to see that the wheels of recovery already are turning less than two weeks after the raging South Platte and Poudre rivers did epic damage to homes and infrastructure throughout Weld County.
Of course, the road to recovery will be a long and hard one, here and around the state. A lot of help has been promised since historic floods devastated Weld County and other parts of Colorado. We're going to need it.
We're glad to hear elected officials such as U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall have promised to make sure federal money is made available to help us rebuild. Local officials, too, have worked hard to ensure money is available.
Colorado could get as much as $500 million in federal disaster relief funds to rebuild roads. To get that much money, however, will require an act of Congress because the disaster relief fund is capped at $100 million.
Anyone familiar with the magnitude of these storms knows $100 million won't meet the state's needs. In fact, the Colorado Department of Transportation, among others, has emphasized that recovery efforts will require significantly more from the federal government.
"What I want to emphasize is for the continued need for bipartisan support across the board for removing the $100 million cap on the available funding," said Amy Ford, director of communications for CDOT. "From our perspective, it is critically important that this happens. We know our damages will exceed $100 million, and we very much are looking for the $500 million that the communities in Hurricane Sandy received. We're extremely grateful for our congressional support on this, and encourage them to keep putting this forward.
Gardner said he has already secured promises of support from key colleagues, such as Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky.
"Obviously, I'm going to do everything I can to work hard for the needs of Weld County as they are identified," Gardner said last week. "I secured on the floor of the House of Representatives a commitment to lift the cap on disaster relief for Colorado."
We're glad to hear Gardner say that, and we'd like to thank all the elected officials — at all levels of government — who have worked hard since the flood to ensure Weld gets what it needs to recover.
However, we know that discussions about providing flood relief funding will come as Washington is mired in the latest round of political brinkmanship that could result in a government shutdown, and will result in increased partisan tensions. Unfortunately, too, spending on relief funding has recently become a political issue for some lawmakers. In fact, the House struggled to pass relief funding in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy after the storm hit the East Coast last year.
We must ensure that Colorado's recovery funds do not fall victim to Washington's overwrought political environment.
Nothing is more critical.