Doing the ol’ Aztec two-step in DC
by Art Goodtimes
Mar 13, 2011 | 1008 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
NACO … Golly, I’ve been coming to DC once a year for over a decade. First as a lowly newbie member of Colorado’s public lands delegation to the National Association of Counties (NACo – one of the more powerful lobbying groups at the Capitol). These days as the third-year chair of NACo’s Gateway Communities Subcommittee (the only one of the Colorado delegation in leadership) … It was fun the first few times. But lately it’s become quite the chore. Flew a red-eye to Reagan International on Thursday last, with stops in Denver and Charlotte (North Carolina) … Friday I got to meet with top level Forest Service officials on a Natural Resource Academy concept that I’ve been working on with former Interior Department assistant secretary Lyle Laverty (one of those odd partnerships between a Paloehippie Green and a Repub Bush appointee). The “All Lands All Hands” academy is one of the ideas that came out of the Telluride brainstorming meeting with Forest Service honchos back in December, which I helped put together… Saturday I put on my Laotian-made snow-white dress suit with an emerald Green tie and chaired my subcommittee meeting (the third of three meetings that morning) – hosting Laverty and associate deputy chief Joe Meade and Larry Hayden, team leader for the new Forest Service planning rule. Got to have dinner with Harris Sherman – an old friend from the Tri-State Powerline battle and currently USDA Undersecretary in charge of the Forest Service … Sunday was the meeting of NACo’s Public Lands Steering Committee – a group of 50 or so county commissioners from all over the country (although primarily the West) who got to hear various speakers on public lands issues (Payment in Lieu of Taxes, a BLM call for public-private partnerships to deal with the wild horse issue, a report on Oregon’s Middle Applegate Pilot Forest Restoration, and a great quote from the National Landscape Conservation Service Summit in Las Vegas (made by a participant): “Recreation is a gateway drug to conservation” … Then we got to fight over resolutions, particularly a NACo call for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to rescind Order 3310 regarding “wild lands” in the BLM system. Conservatives hate the new rule, which they feel is an administrative designation of new wilderness, while those of us progressives argue it’s simply a way to structure the system for assessing and managing public lands with existing wilderness characteristics. I’ve been going to NACo for 12 years, standing up for environmental issues in the face of an overwhelming majority of conservative colleagues from around the West. This time though progressives came one vote short of being able to file a minority report, losing 32-10 – which in NACospeak was pretty good ... I did craft a private letter and got a number of commissioners around the country to sign on to it, supporting Salazar’s action on behalf of wild lands … But it was a lot of work with no victory and not much else to show for all the time and energy except a bigger minority of the opposed. In politics, sometimes, that’s about the best you can do … More meetings are planned this week with congressional aides, a dinner with new Third Congressional District U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), and a national forum on the Forest Service new planning rule that will guide forest plan revisions for the next 20 years or so … It’s raining tonight in DC. My hotel room is a chaos of papers and business cards and taxi stubs. And I’m wishing I was back home at Cloud Acre.

MEXICO … Such a reversal to hear Ingles in a matrix of Spanish down there, as our Hispanic Honored Guests listen to Español in an umwelt of English up here. It tweaks the mind a bit. But, for me, a Leo in Authority (always dangerous), it was also a welcome respite from the burden of decision-making. I got to act dumb. Go with the flow. Interrupting only as a naïf, trying to understand what was (or wasn’t) happening … I had a great time, but some puzzles never got solved, like the Spanish comedy I saw twice on my luxury bus rides from Mexico City to Querétaro and back – Señor Perez II, featuring animated clay rats. It was kid-cute, the music was great but I never quite got the plot… … Some may think “honored guests” is too welcome a word, given our “imperfect union’s” dirty little slave-caste secret. That our society tolerates (and persecutes) the illegals who do lots of our dirty work, but to whom we deny all rights. Truth be told, immigrants from Mexico have a deeper legal claim to this land than Anglos do. Colonial land grants preceded the establishment of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado The American West only came under the Stars & Stripes after the Norteamericanos directed an expansionist attack on a Mexico newly independent from Spain, the subsequent surrender and the disastrous (for Mexico) Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo … Ah, history. Visiting the cradle of Mexican independence last month, near where Padre Miguel Hildalgo y Costilla raised the first Grito de Dolores, all these historical reveries brought me up to the sobering present – where Mexicans without papers are treated as second-class citizens in a land that was once theirs … And now, to add to it, the Republican-controlled Colorado House is trying to make it every law enforcement officers’ job, by statute, to report on suspected “aliens” … It’s just not right!

MARCH 18… That’s hangover day (from St. Paddy’s Night) for most folks, but a few of us starfolk will be waiting excitedly as the Messenger spacecraft settles into orbit about Mercury and starts transmitting data directly from there.

THE RADICAL MIDDLE … Thom Carnevale did a great job of gendering in his Feb. 25 column – pointing out the dangerous juncture at which we as a nation sit, an interim two-week budget running out, the Republicans wanting to pull the rug out from the (Phantom) Recovery and the Dems wanting to throw money at it … We do indeed need a via media that redirects the current 50 percent of our federal deficit budget spent funding 700-plus military bases around the world – without compromising our national safety – back into “creating a viable, economic system for the future” built on alternative energy, technologic breakthroughs, organic farming and ecological restoration and cleanup … Maybe instead of trying to make change with a political party in this unfairly weighted, winner-take-all system, we need a Middle Way movement. Independents, Dems and Greens banding together to find a way to meet the needs of the working and middle classes, while allowing reasonable entrepreneurial profit for the elites.


The Path


time to swerve

lots to observe

outside & in

open wide

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