Supports TMJ Editorial Regarding The Need to Reopen Teller County

Dear Editor:

I concur with the Opinion piece in the May 19th Mountain Jackpot issue (“County Variance Request Could Serve as a State Model”).

I read the entire 80-page variance report and it is at once exhaustive, persuasive, and evidence-based.  As such it’s likely to be approved by state officials, which will herald the long-awaited opening of our county.

But I would also like to comment on the tendency to rely exclusively on data from public health and academic experts.  President John F. Kennedy supported the notion that we must rely on experts, because “the fact of the matter is that most of the problems, or at least many of them that we now face, are technical problems, are administrative problems…they deal with questions which are beyond the comprehension of most men.”

We clearly need experts’ input, but in our republican form of self-government, it’s elected officials who must harmonize information from multiple sources and render their best judgment.

That dovetails well with a piece by Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal which described a growing divide around this virus:  “We see the professionals on one side—those James Burnham called the managerial elite, and Michael Lind, in “The New Class War,” calls “the overclass”—and regular people on the other. The overclass are highly educated and exert outsize influence as managers and leaders of important institutions—hospitals, companies, statehouses. The normal people aren’t connected through professional or social lines to power structures, and they have regular jobs— service worker, small-business owner.”

We segue to your article that described the economic destruction that has been wrought (“Teller County Leaders Signal Red Alert Over ‘Economic Destruction’ from State Shutdown”).  One of my key concerns during this shutdown has been those with “regular jobs,” who struggle to make ends meet.  They are the silent masses who lack political power but who are neighbors and friends in our midst, and they too deserve recognition and support.

Indeed, they are the least visible casualty of the calamitous nationwide shutdown of our economy, the one-size-fits-all approach that needlessly punished workers in counties such as ours that had few COVID cases and deaths.

Let’s collect and review the lessons we’ve learned during this challenging time, and without assigning blame, candidly and constructively pledge to do better next time.

In the meantime, we must open our county and get struggling people back to work, which will begin to restore their pride and dignity.


Phil Mella

Woodland Park