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I ended up installing usb_cam as suggested,(I'm going to use it eventually) but in the process discovered the solution from a problem someone else had with usb_cam:

https://answers.ros.org/question/219886/libuvc-launch-get-permission-denied-opening-usb-error/

The camera code needs to have un-restricted access to the /dev/video## ports.

by doing this:

 sudo chmod a+rwx /dev/video*

Prior to starting the ros stack, my ros code has access to the camera. I added this chmod to my start up script and I'm all set.