Dear Action Line: Is it true you took a job with city and are giving up the column? – Dazed and Confused
Dear Dazed: It is true. This is my final column. I have taken a job with the city of Durango as its communication manager/public information officer/spokesperson.
It’s been a fun six months. Maybe I’ll come back after another 16-year hiatus.
Until then, I will be helping the city address homelessness, budget reconciliation, land-use issues, COVID-19, affordable housing and other internal and external “opportunities.”
That’s what you say as a PIO: “opportunities.” Not (take a deep breath) “incredibly complicated problems, the solution to which will never please everyone, but you do your best anyway since public institutions need all the help they can get these days, and it sounds like a fun challenge.”
And what better place to work than at an institution where I have been publicly pestering its employees for months, and then putting their responses in the local newspaper? They will be so happy to see me. Probably have a surprise party on my first day. Maybe some German chocolate cake. Yum.
Taking up the mantle will be, drum roll, please, John Peel! (Insert stadium cheers.)
John’s been around forever, and for many years wrote a Page 1A human interest column for The Durango Herald about Durangotangs.
Let’s get started.
Dear John: Now that you are the new Action Line, will you make fun of people from New Mexico? – Tom
Dear Tom: I wouldn’t want to alienate a group of people like that, so the answer is, “No more than anyone else.” I’ll only make fun of people who don’t see things like I do. Yep, that’s everybody.
Dear John: Will you publish at least one question a week regarding some bodily fluid? – Tom
Dear Tom: Hadn’t given much thought to that. That does bring up a question, though. As far as photos, I can throw good taste out the window, right? (Note from Tom: Absolutely. Decorum and good taste are mutually exclusive to this column.)
Dear John: Now that I’m working for the city, can I expect preferential treatment since the city is obviously so awesome? – Tom
Dear Tom: I look forward to contacting you with city questions. Like, why is Three Springs constantly ignored by the city? Do you even realize we’re part of Durango? Let’s put it this way: You probably can’t even locate Three Springs on a map, can you? (Note from Tom: No comment on made-up place. Sounds like an opportunity.)
Dear John: Since most of your former co-workers are now flacks, is it just a matter of time for you, too? – Tom
Dear Tom: Fair question that I’ve often asked myself, but wouldn’t I have turned into one by now?
(Boom. Action Line hears a mic drop. Nice job, John.)
With all that in mind, it’s time for some house cleaning and answering the final questions under my tenure.
Dear Action Line: What is going on with the property at 415 E. Eighth Street? It has been under construction for a couple of years now. Sometimes there is a flurry of trucks and activity and otherwise it seems to be languishing. It has been transformed from one of the loveliest houses in the neighborhood to a permanent construction site, complete with a bunker or something being built in the backyard and an addition around the corner. – Construction Junction, What’s Your Function?
Dear Function: “This property has gone through multiple planning processes over the last eight-plus years,” said Nicol Killian, the city’s assistant director of the Community Development Department.
“These requests from the property owner include such things as fence permits, to a demolition permit of the adjacent home, to construction of a pool (the presumed bunker) and a new garage,” she said.
Killian said for more specific information, you can file an open-records request with the clerk’s office and city staff members will get you any and all permits or approvals you want to check out. Wow, look at that helpful response from the city. Such great people.
Dear Action Line: Is there any way to get people to stop dropping their marijuana along the trails in Durango? My dog ate some recently and was sickened. – Doggie Downer
Dear Downer: When Durangotangs are dropping their weed willy nilly along the trails, it’s a pretty good indication the city has reached its saturation point for marijuana.
To be fair, the marijuana eaten by your dog may have simply been a case of oversight by the weed-droppers, because, you know, weed. Whoops, where did it go? Dude. Dropped it somewhere. Bummer.
It’s also possible the carriers of the weed may just have been lost and were leaving little marijuana crumbs to find their way back home. Thanks to your dog, the stoners never made it and are now getting fattened by the witch in the gingerbread house, to be made into a unique version of edibles.
Or, and I’ll try to be gentle about this, you may have a stoner dog. Does your dog get the munchies? Does it look at you all glassy-eyed and giggle? If this is a recurring behavior, you may consider an intervention.
The good news is dogs rarely die from eating marijuana, according to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Still, when high-concentration marijuana products are ingested, your canine can definitely get pretty sick, according to the SPCA.
Sarah Guinther, manager of Pet Haus in Durango, said THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, is toxic to pets. Pet Haus sells marijuana-based products for pets to consume, but only the safe ones that do not contain THC, she said.
“We have every batch of CBD third party-tested by a local lab to make sure it is safe, solvent- and THC-free,” she said.
Action Line asked Bob Brammer, Durango’s chief of police, how to stop people from losing their weed on local trails, and if he had ever encountered a dog that had overdosed on marijuana.
“I don’t think there would be anything we could do about people losing their property of any sort,” said the chief. “I have never heard of an overdose human or otherwise from marijuana, but people can get very high.”
Dear Action Line: Where’s the most dangerous intersection in the city? – Thrill Seeker
Dear Seeker: That would be the intersection of Main Avenue and Ninth Street, where a homeless dude jumped out from a darkened doorway a few years back at Baby Action Line and myself, wanting to fight.
“C’mon!” he yelled. “Wanna go? Buncha (meany-head words).”
Homeless Dude left after the police were called. “Don’t worry,” I told a wide-eyed Baby Action Line, who was about 15 years old at the time and almost 6 feet tall. “We totally could have taken him.”
A few weeks later, I saw Homeless Dude standing in the middle of the road, screaming at one of Durango’s finest.
“C’mon!” said the homeless guy. “Wanna go?”
Haven’t seen him since.
Dear Action Line: I like public art! How can we get some more? – Art S. Porter
Dear S. Porter: Your original question was completely reworded because it was impossible to get a response for a question that takes rhetorical pot shots at cowboys, Native Americans, veganism, horses, Christopher Columbus, Spaniards, colonialism and trout.
Fortunately, Nicol Killian, Durango’s assistant director of the planning department, bravely chimed in on the happier, more reader-friendly version.
“Public art adds to the cultural framework of the city,” said Killian, who is also the liaison to the city commission that promotes public art. “It’s just a piece of our cultural identity.”
Action Line asked his buddy Clint, who is an artist, what’s up with public art and why everyone gets so wound up about it.
Clint said he appreciates living in a town that makes an effort, however faltering, to value artistic expression.
“I lived in a small town in Utah for many years where the closest thing to ‘public art’ was an Apache attack helicopter left over from the first Gulf War, placed high on a pedestal with a dummy at the stick, right in front of the town library,” he said.
That. Sounds. Awesome. Durango once had a large piece of public art at the highway intersection near the DoubleTree hotel. The “Arc of History” was made of stone slabs and lasted about a year before someone smashed it apart in 2015.
An attack helicopter like the one in Utah might be the perfect replacement. Plop it down screamin’ eagle style and hook it to a motion detector. Every time a car passes, the chopper could spin, shoot flares and flash a “Welcome to Durango!” sign. The dummy onboard could sing “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi. Over. And over. And over. And over.
Locals and visitors alike would stop and say, “Wow. This is a classy town.”
Dear Action Line: When heading south on U.S. Highway 160/550 across from the Durango Mall there is a “No turn on red” sign where you turn right on Sawyer Driver. I stop, but people behind me get impatient and pass me to the right, on the shoulder. I don’t want to break the law, but I feel bad making the other drivers angry. Why is that sign there? – Holding Up Traffic
Dear Traffic: The sign is there because of safety, said Julie Constan, Traffic and Safety Program Engineer for the Colorado Department of Transportation.
“There’s a lot going on at this intersection, and if a vehicle is turning right and needs to merge onto Sawyer, or onto the frontage road southbound, there is not a dedicated lane to do so,” she said. “It’s safer for drivers like your law-abiding reader to wait and not to make the right turn. This gives other vehicles the right of way.”
Passing on the shoulder is breaking the law, and dangerous, she said.
“Any driver that passes on the shoulder at this intersection would need to jump the curb and sidewalk where a pedestrian may be attempting to access the crosswalk,” she said. “That maneuver is not safe and could put someone’s life in danger.”
Action Line suggests that a series of billboards leading up to the intersection replace the “No turn on red” sign; maybe an updated, more verbose, version of what Burma Shave used to place along roadsides in the 1930s.
Something subtle like: “Hey Jerks! Settle down! Don’t hassle the driver waiting in pole position at the light for not breaking the law by turning on a red. This intersection is all jacked up, and if you don’t believe us, just sit on that hillside over there and watch the crashes. The ‘No Turn on Red’ sign makes sure no one gets hurt, including you. Thank you very much. The Colorado Department of Transportation. Who installed this sign, for your benefit. Have a nice day.”
Probably need a lot of signs to get all that in.
Email questions and suggestions to [email protected] or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. Action Line will return in 2036. Long live Action Line.
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