Those opponents to the VIR revisions who signed the letter to the editor published last week bemoaned “the openly dishonest and deceptive” statements made at the BOCC hearings this month. Those of us in support feel the same way. We heard many comments that sounded dishonest, misinformed, manipulative, and deliberately divisive – though, of course, we heard them from the opposition.
Obviously we need for those in support and those in opposition to sit down and discuss these issues with open minds instead of simply hurling insults at each other. Andy Mueller and I found ourselves in opposing camps over this issue and have promised to have such a discussion. I hope others will as well.
I wish specifically to address the issue of the survey I quoted in Transition OurWay’s presentation. The authors of last week’s letter acted astounded that I would cite a survey that represented a bit over 1 percent of the county’s population. As I understand the figures for such a survey (surveymonkey.com/mp/sample-size/), that size response in comparison to our county’s population could have a margin of error of 15-20 percent in either direction. Assuming an extreme scenario – a 20 percent error all favoring those opposed – those respondents supporting the VIR revisions would still be 69 percent, a strong vote in favor of the revisions.
The issue the authors might have more profitably addressed is the representativeness of the sample. Since they don’t mention this issue, I assume they found no reason to question it. I understand that the survey was set out on a table at a BOCC hearing on the VIRs in 2010, a meeting at which interested parties from all sectors of the county were present. The survey continued to be available on the County website with notices in the paper for some time after that.
If the survey was representative and the margin of error calculated correctly, then one must still conclude that the overwhelming majority of people in this county support these revisions.
To derogate an organization (Transition OurWay) that works diligently to promote local businesses, local food and local energy – all with volunteer time – simply because one doesn’t like the results of the survey quoted suggests that the authors are clutching at straws.
Indeed, to personally denigrate those in support at all is puzzling. I know of no one urging these revisions who has any personal gain to anticipate by their adoption. We are volunteers, giving our time and expertise to this cause simply in an effort to promote the good of the county. If one disagrees with our conclusions – fair enough. Let’s talk. But to suggest that we are deliberately misleading is absurd. We have nothing to gain by deception. Most of us learned from these hearings that the revisions need adjustments, as we heard legitimate objections that we’d like to see addressed. We have open minds, as we have no reason to cling to irrational positions. Unlike those in opposition, we have not hired expensive attorneys to protect our monetary interests. We have none involved here.
Gate-closers? Hardly. A great many of those in support of these revisions have dedicated our retirement years to improving the quality of life in Ouray County, not just for those already here but to attract visitors and new residents as well. We donate huge amounts of time to Second Chance, Mt. Sneffels Education Fund, Main Street, Streetscape, the Creative District, Top of the Pines, the local schools, crossing guards, and many other local organizations that work to improve the economy and the richness of life here.
And that brings us back to the need for honest one-on-one discussions to better understand each other’s point of view. I would be pleased to talk to any of the authors of this letter – or others – who is open to such a conversation. It’s past time for it.
– Paula James