Horse Gulch Blog

Watchdogging for the greater Durango area

19 Nov 2020

Transparency and sense of community lost in response to virus

Posted by Adam Howell


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As a resident of Durango, I implore you to help end the economic and societal shutdown of Durango immediately.
We don’t even have ten deaths in the county that can be said were a direct result of illness that was caused by COVID-19.
I am far more concerned with the societal detriment that will be caused by shutting everyone’s work lives and sports activities down that I am with the harm that the virus will cause itself.
It is a shame that so many athletic activities in our community have been cancelled because of positive COVID-19 test results.



Community lost with cancellation of athletic and school events

Recently, an employee at Fort Lewis College brought it to my attention that out of all the positive COVID test results among players of the football team, not one of those players had actually gotten sick from the virus.
It’s an overreach for Fort Lewis College, and even the City of Durango to cancel all athletic team events when so few people are dying from this virus.
For example, the City of Durango is limiting the amount of players that can be on the ice for ice hockey at Chapman Hill Ice Rink to 10 players starting on Friday.
This is unnecessary, and detrimental to those that need exercise with group interactions.
In addition, it is saddening and angering to have so many of my friends that are being laid off from their jobs. These people have bills to pay, and families to feed.
Violent crime will most certainly increase as a result of the shutdown.
Meanwhile, there is no welfare or reimbursement that’s being given to these people who are being laid off for no fault of their own. When is the city or state government going to pay these people’s bills or help keep them from starving?
Additionally, it is also apparent that transparency and civil rights are under attack under the veil of a never-ending emergency management response.
For instance, attending a public meeting is now impossible for those without a computer and an internet connection. Since the library is closed, the lower economic classes now have minimal opportunities for attending a “public” Zoom meeting.
This movement of all public meetings to virtual Zoom meetings has badly wounded the concept of transparency for city officials and government accountability.



Transparency lacking from records request system

Also of concern is how the City of Durango’s Municipal Court is now handling records requests.
I was recently denied a physical records request form (11/18/2020) in person at the Durango Municipal Court. Debbie Sykes, the Lead Court Clerk refused to give me a record request form when I asked for one at the court clerk window. She told me that I would have to do the request online.
While it is helpful to have the option to fill out a records request online, it should not be the only way to request a city record.
Requiring records requests to occur online is problematic in times when the Durango Public Library is closed because it creates a road block for people who are missing a computer.
Some people simply cannot afford a computer with an internet connection. They should not be denied public records because of the fact that they cannot go online during a pandemic.
How is it lawful to deny people a hard copy of a record request form when the library is closed due to a pandemic?
Please, do not make the response to the virus worse than the effects of the virus itself.
Thank you for your time.
Adam Howell
Durango, Colorado

Adam Howell is an unaffiliated voter and writer who believes in the constitution and accountability for all. He can be reached with feedback or death threats by clicking on this link to the contact page.


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