Going Away to Keep Up on What’s Happening (or Will Be) Here
by Art Goodtimes
Aug 18, 2008 | 1161 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
UP BEAR CREEK

OUT OF COUNTY … Colorado Counties, Inc (CCI) held its Western District meeting in Montrose last week. Even though I was only a couple days home from California, I felt it critical to attend. My colleague, Commissioner Elaine Fischer, serves as president of that regional table where 16 Western Slope counties sit together and make CCI lobbying recommendations on statewide issues.

CCI HISTORY … San Miguel County has had a checkered history with CCI. A few years ago we pulled out, because the statewide county association had supported a bill to take powerline routing decisions out of individual county’s local land use purview and make them matters of statewide concern. That happened in the middle of a contentious utility siting process between Tri-State Generation & Transmission and San Miguel County. And in turn led to the PUC-driven Nucla Upgrade decision and lawsuit that has had a stranglehold on our resort’s secure energy future … But Elaine and I crafted a compromise with CCI that created a new Tourism, Resorts and Economic Development Committee among the steering groups that helped formulate lobbying policy in Denver – helping to get progressive resort county issues into what had traditionally been a rurally dominated, rancher conservative, mostly business-driven organization … And even my other colleague, Commissioner Joan May, participates in CCI gatherings, as often as she can. That’s because there’s lots to learn of statewide info at these gatherings.

CCI’S WESTERN DISTRICT … CCI divides the state into five districts – Western, Mountain, Southern, Front Range, and Eastern. CCI’s Director, veteran Colorado political pro Larry Kallenberger attended the four-hour Western District meeting in Montrose with a slew of ace legislative aides. Chip, Andy, Pat and others did a thorough review of the last legislative session in this state – how the new crop of bills signed into law by Gov. Ritter this year will affect counties. And then a second lengthy session brainstorming the proposed legislation that CCI’s member counties (all 64) might consider as possible bills for CCI to actively lobby for, oppose, or simply monitor … Just so local citizens can understand what goes into just one of the dozens of meetings a month that are held in and out of the county, I’m going to spend a few weeks sharing just a fraction of the relevant info that came out of that Montrose meeting last week. Watch for New Bills next week … The actual agenda had several parts, including a presentation by CDOT’s Herman Stockinger on our state transportation funding dilemma, where I got to share with him and our regional counties my big transpo beef -- the fiasco of putting millions of dollars into a Keystone passing lane instead of using that same money for dozens of low-cost turnouts that could have significantly eased the flow of traffic on our increasingly impacted Hwy 145 corridor Naturita to Telluride. I witnessed just such an effective use of turnouts on Nevada State 341, the Comstock Highway to Virginia City, on my way home from California this year. Stockinger listened receptively. Maybe there’s a chance we can upgrade that corridor yet … San Miguel County’s own Social Services Director Allan Gerstle presented an update on Medicaid centralization and its possible implications for providing services locally (as always involving new and creative ways for the state to impose unfunded mandates on county taxpayers) … La Plata County Commissioner Wally White, one of what Gov. Ritter calls the “Ponytail Caucus” (along with Commissioner Pete McKay of San Juan and myself), related a horror story about the inability to learn of proprietary phosphate esters in frac’ing compounds that resulted in severe toxic reactions in an gas field worker and a nurse in Durango < http://www.hcn.org/wotr/gas-industry-secrets-and-a-nurses-story>. As a result, La Plata is drafting new regulations to address the issue, something San Miguel County ought to seriously consider adopting as well … White also told of multiple lawsuits resulting from BLM approval for the seriously flawed Desert Rock Power Plant proposal in northern New Mexico, which could have very serious health affects on air quality in Telluride. And Montrose County Commissioner Bill Patterson explained the insurance lawsuit problem in his county that could have serious affects on San Miguel County’s liability for its elected officials.

QUASQUICENTENNIALS … CCI noted that San Miguel County, along with Montrose, Delta, Mesa, Garfield and Eagle counties are celebrating their 125th anniversary as political entities this year. That’s the good news … The bad news is that San Miguel’s anniversary was Feb. 27th and we missed celebrating it completely (we split off from Ouray County in 1883) … So much for a nationally registered historic district.

CHOCOLATE … I’ve become a bit of a connoisseur of cacao since visiting California. It started with a random web search, prompted by the variety of the Golden State’s chocolate choices, that found me a book by occasional Tellurider Mort Rosenblum, Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light (2004). That led to Maricel Presilla’s A New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes (2001). I found that the Bay Area had two artisan chocolate companies, Burlingame’s E. Guittard and Berkeley’s Scharffen Berger … But even better, we have our own artisan gourmet product available locally, Silverton Chocolate. Check out world-class cocoa flavors created right here in Colorado from the best of the world’s cacao beans … Tonight I’m munching SC’s 80 percent Chocolate Noir with Organic Madagascar Nibs – strong tea-like bitter notes, the slight creaminess of roasted almond, and a fruity aroma of tropical mango.

© 2008 Art Goodtimes

THE TALKING GOURD

Back to the San Juans

The 96 Civic’s unpacked

though traveling bins

still unrouted

line the woodshed

at Cloud Acre’s warren

of buildings & outbuildings.

Skanking with Otra Vista

at Two Candles. Gladly

buried back home.

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