… Once a year, my state commissioner association pays for me to travel to Washington, D.C., for the National Association of Counties’ Legislative session. This year they paid for Commissioner Elaine Fischer to attend as well … As far as “junkets” go, this one was not very appealing. It was two weeks before the cherry blossoms in D.C., and just a week after the area was hit with 50 inches of snow. So, the trees were bare, hardly a flower visible, it was cold and most of my week in the capital was taken up with meetings … First, there were the NACo meetings themselves. As chair of NACo’s Gateway Communities Subcommittee, I had an hour meeting of commissioners from all over the country. I’d lined up Lyle Lafferty of the new National Association of Gateway Communities to speak about his group and their attempts to give rural communities adjacent federal lands a bigger voice in public land decision-making that affects small town America. As it turned out, I was able to attend a briefing that Lyle gave for House staffers my first day in town as well, and made some good contacts with several congressional aides (the people behind the elected face who really get things done). It’s certainly a rush to begin the day at Cloud Acre in Norwood and end it in a meeting room at one of the legislative buildings adjacent the capitol … Rep. Betsy Markey of Colorado has joined a Gateway Communities caucus on the Hill, and I’m working to get Rep. John Salazar to consider it as well … The second day of NACo’s Legi conference I attended the Public Lands Steering Committee, where I am one of 60 or so members. We debated resolutions and were privy to some interesting briefings. Since the group is largely conservative, progressives don’t win many votes, but it’s a far cry from 10 years ago when you could count progressives on one hand. These days there is a strong and lively debate and the votes are much closer (even if we still don’t win many). Again the purpose of the resolutions and the votes are to shape how NACo – one of several very strong national lobbying groups – helps promote or retard congressional legislation. For issues like payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILT), where the government pays counties (like ours) for the federal non-taxable land within its borders, we are all in agreement (and this program means up to half a million dollars a year in federal revenue for our county alone). Whereas, for issues like clean water and wilderness, things get much dicier. But our presence there is important to help shape the debate and help direct NACo’s phalanx of lobbyists … One briefing I had to walk out on, however. It was former Undersecretary of Ag over the Forest Service Mark Rey, shilling for Boeing, with a new B767 tanker for use in fighting forest fires. County governments don’t buy tankers and there was no good reason for Rey to be briefing the committee on the proposal, other than Rey’s long-standing contact with his conservative allies. I found it shamefully inappropriate … The rest of the week I managed to meet with a dozen or so folks – congressional staffers for Sen. Michael Bennet, Sen. Mark Udall and Rep. Salazar as well as folks I’d met at a Gateway Communities Forum last year. It’s always critical to have current contacts in congressional offices, and while our county is mostly in synch with Bennet, Udall and Salazar, I did raise the issue of nuclear power and explained that I would like to take the electeds and their staff on a tour of uranium mining sites in Western Colorado to show them 1) nuclear power is far from “clean” on the front end of the process and 2) before we start a second nuclear boom, we need to clean up the messes we made of the land from the last boom. Happily, all the aides were receptive to the idea … I made several others visits as well. Jim Dion works for the National Geographic Society, and he is a wonderful bundle of energy. He’s pioneering something he calls “geotourism” at NGS’s Center for Sustainable Destinations and is setting up websites and maps for local cultural and small business publicity that will be a huge boon for tourism. To learn more about his effort, visit nationalgeographic.com/guides/travel/sustainable/about_csd.html
. I talked him into coming to NACo’s annual meeting in Reno this coming summer to speak to the commissioners of my subcommittee. I’m also interested in seeing Telluride get in on this impressive effort, and have shared my info with Scott McQuade of Marketing Telluride, Inc … Scott Johnson works for the Department of Transportation in the Federal Lands Highway Program. A most genial fellow, his department has many implications for county government, so he will be coming to Reno to speak as well … Jim Deutsch works for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. He gave me a lovely tour of this up-to-date facility (they are responsible for all those wonderful Folkways albums) … But the biggest surprise for me was testifying in the House before Rep. Raúl Grijalva’s Subcommittee on Parks, Forests and Public Lands concerning Rep. Diana DeGette’s omnibus Colorado wilderness bill. It was a tricky assignment that came just a week before I headed to D.C. I was the only witness that Rep. Salazar called, and we needed to strike a tone that was respectful of his colleague but suggestive that her bill needed more work (so that John’s own San Juan Mountains Wilderness Bill wouldn’t get held up this session). The night before I got lobbied at the Democratic National Club (yes, they let this Green in) by DeGette, her staff and some allies to make some changes in my testimony, but John’s aides nixed the changes the next day, and so I went with the testimony I had prepared. I had to leave immediately after I spoke to catch a plane home, but from all accounts it went well. And the hope is that Salazar’s wilderness bill will be passed this session of Congress and we can all start working to help DeGette get her bill ready for passage in the near future.
OOPS AGAIN … I’d like to blame it on late night writing sessions, but I fear old age is making this once meticulous editor sloppy. The Ridgway songwriter/poet/painter I traveled to Mexico with was Joan Shapiro (not Jane Shapiro, as I managed to flub in a previous column) … Apologies all around.
THE TALKING GOURD
Todd Moore was a New Mexico poet friend. A one-time school teacher, he championed a counter-academic literary alternative called outlaw poetry and wrote about Dillinger, Capone other
“bad guys” with a terse, salty and unfettered style. We read together in Las Vegas for a John Macker mag benefit a couple of years ago. He passed away March 12. For more info, visit this website: outlawpoetry.com
murder i sd
a 38 slug
out of his
a few seconds
then sd ok