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Alamosa's picture
Location: Southern Colorado
Joined: 03/25/2005
Posts: 245
2003 - illegal alien dies in unsafe work conditions on John Salazar's ranch

The first news story details a tragic death on Salazar's ranch. This occurs prior to both Salazars' being elected to federal positions.
The fact that the departed is an illegal alien is never mentioned in the first news report.


Man dies in ranch accident
Posted: Tuesday, October 14, 2003 12:00 am
By Erin Smith, Pueblo Chieftain

MANASSA - Funeral services are scheduled at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Conejos for an Antonito farm worker killed Friday at El Rancho Salazar, which is owned by the family of state Attorney General Ken Salazar and his older brother, state Rep. John Salazar.

Conejos County Undersheriff Eric Mullens said Monday that Juan Ramon Hernandez, 35, was killed about 3:40 p.m. Friday when he apparently fell into a portable potato sorter while he was cleaning it with a power sprayer.
Other details of the accident were unavailable. Mullens said the officer responsible for the report had not filed it as of Monday.
The Salazar brothers were not at the ranch when the accident happened.


In this next news article candidate Walcher raises the issue but he doesn't ask the right questions of John Salazar.
The Pueblo Chieftain is the only major paper to report the incident but even they don't really connect the facts that the Salazar's are hiring illegals and having them work in unsafe conditions.
No one ever questions Ken Salazar about it.  He was Colorado Attorney General at the time and they were probably intimidated.
The Salazars get off with a $750 OSHA citation.


Feds confirm that farmworker's death an accident
Posted: Thursday, October 28, 2004 12:00 am
By Peter Roper, Pueblo Chieftain

Federal safety officials said this week that the death of a farmworker on Democratic state Rep. John Salazar's farm last year was an accident and that Salazar was fully cooperative in the investigation, which resulted in a $750 fine.
"This was an accident and a tragedy," said John Healy, head of the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration office's in Englewood. "Mr. Salazar cooperated fully with the investigation. There wasn't any question of negligence or any effort to withhold evidence on his part."

Juan Ramon Hernandez, 35, had worked on Salazar's farm for several years when he was cleaning a potato sorter on Oct. 10 last year. Hernandez was working alone and apparently fell into the machinery, according to OSHA. Salazar was not at the farm when the accident happened.

The OSHA investigation report says Salazar was cited for not having an automatic power shutoff on the sorter - although Healy noted that is not required on agricultural machinery - and for not providing more safety instruction. Healy said that OSHA could have fined Salazar $1,500 but reduced it to $750.

Republican Greg Walcher, Salazar's opponent in the 3rd Congressional District race, apparently thought that Hernandez's death could be made into a campaign issue because he questioned Salazar about it during their fifth and final debate at Adams State College in Alamosa last week. It was the first time Walcher had mentioned the incident and it clearly surprised Salazar, who replied that Hernandez's death was an accident. He defended his farm operation, however, saying the OSHA citation was not a serious one.

At the debate, Walcher backed away from making any allegations about the incident. He told the audience that OSHA officials had refused to release the final investigation report to his staff. So he challenged Salazar to do so.
Healy said investigation reports are public records and that no one had requested the Salazar report until a Denver newspaper did so this week.

"I'm in charge of releasing OSHA reports and I haven't refused to provide this report to anyone," Healy said Wednesday.
John Marshall, Walcher's spokesman, said that there may have been confusion on the part of Walcher's staff about public access to the report.

He insisted that Salazar should be held accountable for having described the accident as less than serious. "(Salazar) stood there in front of 400 people and said this wasn't a serious accident," Marshall said.
Asked if he thought Salazar was reacting in surprise to Walcher's questions about the accident, Marshall said that may have been the case. "But the OSHA citation says the accident was serious," he said.

The OSHA notice does refer to the accident as a serious incident, because it involved a death, but Healy noted that the fine was significantly reduced because of Salazar's cooperation and the lack of previous violations.

Salazar was in Pueblo campaigning Wednesday and said Walcher's questions about the farm accident were a signal the Republican is losing the race for Congress. Salazar said he'd known Hernandez for years and grieved over the accident.
"I haven't wanted to respond to this but it's the sign of a drowning man that (Walcher) would try and make an issue out of this man's death," Salazar said.

Salazar told reporters this week that he did not know that Hernandez was an illegal immigrant because the man had lived in Antonito for years and had worked for Salazar for three years.


To most readers this illegal worker part goes unnoticed because it doesn't appear until the very last line of the 2nd newspaper article.
Of course Salazar knew.  Everyone knows everyone else's business in these communities.
No one has ever called out the Salazar's publicly on the practice of hiring illegals.
It is troubling that Salazar calls the violation "less than serious" even though it results in death.

WesternHunter's picture
Joined: 05/05/2006
Posts: 2374
One major point

About the only single thing I take away from all of that is that the family was hiring illegal workers.  And that I cannot excuse or overlook from a politician who is supposed to have Americas interests as first priority.  Sad to hear of anyone being kiled while doing a job.  Accidents happen in all types of work environments.  I worked many trade jobs when I was younger and I can tell you that I can't really blame anyone for any of the blood I ever shed or the bones I broke while working.  Some jobs just are inherently more dangerous than others.  That should not always reflect poorly on the operators or owners of a place.  I once had a guy fall off of my roof and land in an evergreen bush resulting in several cuts and lacerations, some needing stitches, all this while installing gutters on my home, it was nothing I was responsible for.  If he had died and I was running for office I'm sure the media would run wild with it using it to make me look horrible.

Alamosa's picture
Location: Southern Colorado
Joined: 03/25/2005
Posts: 245
more Salazar shady deals

Thanks for the reply -

I think most of us feel we would be crucified in the media if someone was killed while working for us, but Salazar wasn't.

I was a big supporter of Salazar during his first 2 terms.  I felt he was a conservative democrat, but I feel he has really turned his back on our district.

Here is another shady deal involving Salazar.  It just seems like he feels he can do anything he wants now (like many others).  I feel politicos (no matter what side they are on) should be held accountable for this kind of stuff.

John Salazar Land Swap Controversy:  Proposed Land Deal Would Benefit Billionaire Donor, Critics Say

 KRISTEN WYATT | 08/17/10 08:10 AM | AP

DENVER — A proposed land swap in western Colorado that would benefit a Florida billionaire who is a political donor to U.S. Rep. John Salazar has drawn intense opposition from hunters and fishermen, who claim the plan smells of political favoritism.

The strip of land along Deep Creek in Gunnison County would be off-limits to outdoorsmen if Congress approves the land swap with William Koch, whose holdings include a coal mine about 10 miles from the ranch. Koch's Oxbow Corp. is the largest political contributor to Rep. John Salazar, who sponsored the proposed swap.

Salazar's spokesman says the congressman was simply trying to help constituents when he proposed a resolution this year swapping some 1,846 acres currently under federal management in exchange for nearly 1,000 acres owned by Koch.

But area outdoorsmen question the swap for a deep-pocketed Salazar donor who wants the land to connect two huge parcels he owns into a bigger, closed-to-the-public ranch.

"This is some of the best elk-hunting land in the state, and for them to want to close it off, it's a crime," said John Caven, a 63-year-old plumber from Crawford who put an ad in his local paper rallying residents to oppose the measure in Congress.

Koch would give the government 911 acres in the Curecanti National Recreation Area, plus about 80 acres of private land within Dinosaur National Monument in Uintah County, Utah. If Congress approves the swap, a final appraisal would be done to ensure the government is getting a fair deal.

Federal lands managers raised several questions in a memo leaked by a U.S. Bureau of Land Management employee. It questioned whether the trade would be fair because it didn't take into account the land's "extremely high" potential for natural gas and coal development. The memo also notes the swap makes no provision to preserve the federally protected greenback cutthroat trout in Deep Creek.

BLM's spokesman in Colorado, Steven Hall, confirmed the memo's authenticity but said it was only a guidance document for the Department of Interior.

The National Park Service, which would manage the land Koch offered to swap, has backed the proposal.

Koch, who lives in West Palm Beach, refused to be interviewed for this story. His spokesman, Brad Goldstein, insisted that Koch doesn't want to develop gas or coal and only wants to create a contiguous ranch for his Kobe beef cattle without worrying about trespassers or poaching.

"There is nothing sinister. This kind of thing happens all the time," Goldstein said.

Koch, 70, is listed at No. 316 on Forbes' list of richest people with an estimated net worth of $3 billion. He gives generously to political candidates. Koch and other Oxbow Corp. employees are Salazar's biggest contributors, giving him more than $30,000 since 2007, according to opensecrets.org.

Goldstein said Koch disputes the BLM's assertion that the land he wants has valuable mineral potential.

"There's been some concern this land would be developed. Nothing could be further from the truth," said Goldstein, adding Koch would be happy to see the resolution stipulate the land can't be mined or drilled.

The resolution introduced by Salazar is pending in both chambers of Congress and hasn't been scheduled for a hearing.

Salazar didn't respond to an interview request by The Associated Press. Wortman insisted the swap would benefit the public in part because the lands Koch would trade include habitat for vulnerable sage grouse,

Wortman pointed out the public could still use an access road to Gunnison National Forest. Gunnison County's commissioners have endorsed the swap.

"People in support of this far outweigh the opponents," Wortman said.

But some Delta County neighbors complain they've been left out of the conversation.

Ed Marston, president of the Paonia Chamber of Commerce and former publisher of High Country News, says the deal stinks.

"It takes away a huge stretch of access to Forest Service land, and gives us nothing over here in exchange," Marston said. "This man is one of the richest men in the country, and he's put together a beautiful ranch. I applaud him for it. But that's a different thing than asking for my land."




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