CCI Kisses Bipartisanship Goodbye
by Art Goodtimes
Feb 10, 2011 | 2701 views | 1 1 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CCI COUP … It may have been bipartisan in the Congress for the President’s recent State of the Union speech, but it sure wasn’t in Denver for last month Colorado Counties, Inc.’s steering committee meetings … These are a chance for county commissioners from every county in the state to come to learn about potential state legislation, and help shape CCI’s sizeable lobbying arm for or against new state legislation. Leadership of these committees shifts back and forth among representatives of the two main political parties, although in recent years it has mattered less what party you belonged to and more about how good a job you did … That changed last month. Stung by a couple of CCI election defeats the last couple of years, Repub commissioners – led by former DOLA director and Weld County Chair Barbara Kirkmeyer and La Plata County Commissioner Kellie Hotter – worked hard behind the scenes. They stacked the meetings in Denver with Repubs, and knocked almost all Dems (and yours truly) off steering committee leadership positions. Our own Commissioner Elaine Fischer was one of only two Dems who were retained in CCI leadership – her for the post of vice-chair of the Tourism Steering Committee … Nothing shady or underhanded about the coup. As Commissioner Wally White of La Plata County noted wryly, “We were out-maneuvered.” But it did nothing for strengthening the state organization or easing partisan tensions … In fact, it left a bad taste in Dem mouths, and you can be sure there will be more partisanship and jockeying for positions in CCI in the future … So much for bipartisanship in Colorado … And say, tell me, why do Dems always talk “bipartisan” and appoint Repubs to positions in Dem administrations when they are in power, but when the Repubs get in office they appoint strictly along partisan lines?

REPUBS … We are a liberal island of blue in a broad sea of red on the Western Slope. We all know that. And several Republican elected officials are voicing positions at odds with some of the things we hold dearest in our area … It was at a Colorado Counties meeting in Denver recently that Commissioner Ron Henderson announced in a Public Lands Committee meeting that the Forest Service had been doing a reprehensible job on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison Forests, and that he wanted to see the public lands in his jurisdiction given to Montrose County, whom he promised would do a better job managing public lands than the Fed. That’s not a new concept. Reagan’s Secretary of Interior James Watt rolled into office with that same rhetoric of devolving the federal government lands back into private hands … Curiously, as Colorado columnist Ed Quillen of Salida pointed out in a recent Writers on the Range op-ed piece, Reagan presided over the biggest shutdown of mining in the nation’s history. His high interest rates and high unemployment policies kicked the mining industry in the teeth, and pushed the West into the nation’s worst economic performances in the early 80s. Yet, in 1984 Westerners put him back into office by wide margins, in spite of the damage to their own economies … Hopefully, more moderate Republicans and Independents will not be strayed by such anti-federal rhetoric and try to dismantle our public land agencies and privatize the West (much as the East Coast is mostly private) … I actually get along with Ron. We disagree on many issues. His habit of taking cellphone calls during meetings is annoying. But he has a good sense of humor, and can be counted on to enliven a meeting he actually participates in … Still, turning all public lands in Montrose County over the private sector is a terrible idea. And it’s unsettling hearing it argued again.

MIKE FEDEL … That’s the name of the new Repub commissioner in Ouray County, who narrowly defeated Dem Keith Meinert in the last election. Enviros got a rude wake-up from Fedel recently when he voted against endorsing the San Juan Wilderness bill that Salazar ran but was unable to get through the Congressional quagmire last session …. Activists want to resurrect it. But last time it had unanimous support from commissioners in the affected counties. This time Fedel broke ranks with Lynn Padgett (Dem) and Heidi Albritton (Repub) and said no – it shouldn’t be wilderness because it may contain rare minerals that we’ll need to mine … He coupled his negative vote with rhetoric, similar to Henderson’s, citing the interference of the Feds in local economic development.

SCOTT TIPTON … Maybe most disturbing, particularly since enviros have been trying to court our new U.S. Rep for the Third District to take up Salazar’s mantle on the San Juan Wilderness Bill, since it had had unanimous support last time around, was a statement made in a public meeting recently that Tipton did not support the wilderness bill. “He’s against it,” a conservative individual declared (who will remain unnamed).… One would hope it’s not true. But given the Repub rhetoric of two county commissioners and the anti-government leanings of Tipton, there’s a good chance our backyard wilderness proposal may be dead in the water for the next two years. At least. And maybe for a lot longer than that.


Alternative Energy:

Tweedledum or Tweedledee

A friend sends me this headline "China Takes Lead in Race

for Clean Nuclear Energy" with a hotkey in blue that reads:

We invented this and have sat on our hands for 35 years

even as I sit on my butt trying to juggle boards &

commissions, issues & scheduling, strategies & poetry.

Aroused, I swing the cursor & pop a reply, "Fact is,

"we're still getting radioactive poisoning reports in Europe

from eating boars & mushrooms today

thousands of miles away from Chernobyl 25 years later.

"So what some might see as 'sitting on our hands'

others might sigh as ‘exercising the precautionary principle’

i.e., to do no harm in the face of uncertain but possible threats.

"And when you say ‘clean nuclear energy’, I guess

you mean the back end of the nuclear cycle is

relatively free of carbon emissions per kilowatt hour.

"And I'm sure you don't mean the front end of the industry,

unless you've never been to the many abandoned mine & mill

properties in the West Ends of Montose & San Miguel counties.

"And actually when the hotkey suggests 'we invented this'

that's not exactly right, since we chose to go the uranium route

to nuclear instead of developing our successful thorium reactor

"at Oak Ridge, because the byproduct of uranium reactors

is plutonium and we needed that most toxic of substances

for our atomic warheads post-World War II's Hiroshima."

But I could be wrong.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
March 15, 2011
Actually, it turns out that only one Dem was left standing in the CCI leadership coup -- our own Elaine Fischer, who handed off her Tourism Committee chair to the vice-chair in a show of bipartisanship (as I had done), and was elected as vice-chair. In all, 15 leadership positions at CCI went to Repubs out of 16 total.