Working to Keep Bad Laws From Being Enacted and Pushing for Good Ones
by Art Goodtimes
Jan 30, 2009 | 1042 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DENVER … Last week I made my second trip to Denver this month. In the winter that’s always risky, but this time I was in luck. It was clear (if icy) on Monarch Pass, on the way there. And snowy and blowing (but passable) on Vail Pass coming home … Still, regardless of the inconveniences, what happens at the Capitol has huge impacts on our local community – remember when state legislators passed a bill to stop Telluride from annexing the Valley Floor? Luckily, a judge tossed it out and the State Supremes upheld that ruling. But with better contacts and lobbying under the Dome, we might have been able to stop that law from ever passing … And there are literally hundreds of bills wending their way through the legislature’s sausage grinder every year. Keeping up on them takes more than one person, so with all three commissioners deeply involved in our state association, Colorado Counties aka CCI (the first time that’s been the case for a long time), we have a good handle on the various issues facing the state, and by implication all the 64 counties in Colorado. I’m on CCI’s Public Lands and Ag committees, Joan May is on Land Use & Natural Resources committee, and Elaine Fischer serves on Tourism and the overarching Legislative committees. What that means is that these committees made up of commissioners from all over the state review potential bills and decide on whether CCI’s team of lobbyists will support, oppose or monitor – and then they give the committee monthly reports … Wildfire is a huge topic this year, after the Boulder conflagration earlier this month that threatened huge sections of this Front Range community. And because there’s no money to spend on anything … The economic news in the state is terrible, and legislators are facing less revenues than last year, with the attendant program cuts and rollbacks that implies. In fact, trying to save good programs from the chopping block will be a feature of this year’s budget battles. Already the senior tax discount for those folks who’ve lived in the state for ten years is being looked at for axing. But raising state income taxes on the elderly is hardly a good way to balance the budget … So, back to wildfire. While San Miguel County is finishing up its Community Wildfire Protection Plan (thanks to Jennifer Dinsmore), we’re among only a handful of counties that have completed this important planning document. So, what does the state propose? Rather than offer counties help in getting the plans done, the state wants to make those plans mandatory – another unfunded mandate imposed by the state on local taxpayers. That’s right, when the state tells the county it HAS to do something and allocates no money for it, guess who foots the bill – local taxpayers. Senate Bill 1 this year proposes the mandatory fire planning, and it’s already passed the Senate by a large margin. As a fiscally healthy county, it won’t hurt us. But it will surely hurt our smaller neighbors (Dolores, Ouray and San Juan counties). And that’s wrong … CCI and the Public Lands committee are keeping a close eye on other legislation that’s needed, or like SB09-01, just plain dumb. 

PUBLIC LANDS … In another coup of sorts for our county, I won the chairmanship of CCI’s Public Lands committee for the next two years at last week’s meeting. A coveted state leadership position, it puts me in line to helping direct CCI’s lobbying efforts even more directly – and gives our county a bigger say in how public lands are treated in Colorado … The vote was close, but it was another indication of the blue-green shift in state politics that we see happening. I narrowly beat out the presumed next-in-line for the seat after the former chair’s retirement this year. Commissioner John Martin of Garfield County, a Republican, had been serving as vice-chair, and expected to step into the seat vacated by retiring Commissioner Jake Klein of Otero County. Instead, I pulled a bit of an upset, and won the chair. Martin will continue to serve as vice-chair … Public Lands is particularly important as eight of its members, including the chair and vice-chair, are paid to attend National Association of County meetings three times a year – giving San Miguel County a larger say on the national stage vis-à-vis public lands, as well as the state scene. 

WEEKLY QUOTA … "Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility, a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task." – Barack Hussein Obama, 44th President of the United States 

DENNIS DAIGLE … Dennis was a good Green friend. When we started a local Green Party chapter in Telluride, he was one of the first to sign on. I didn’t know him that well then, but I came to deeply appreciate his activism on behalf of a more ecologically sound community … We traveled to a state Green meeting one year, and I remember spending more time sharing stories with Dennis than listening to the Green candidates (all of whom lost) talking about their platforms and strategies. An intriguing man, he will be missed here. 

ARNE NAESS … A Norwegian philosopher who took his values and principles beyond the classroom, he won fame as part of a protest against the flooding of Mardalsfossen waterfall in the Seventies where protesters chained themselves to the dam site … He is considered the founder and coiner of the term, Deep Ecology, and he was good friends with my teacher, the late Dolores LaChapelle of Silverton … Norwegian Sjur Paulson’s movie, Loop, which featured Naess in its final scenes, played at the 2007 Mountainfilm festival here in Telluride … Naess died earlier this month at 96, although he was playing his piano up until last year.

THE TALKING GOURD

 

Smoke 
 
 

death’s incense’s

lush & baroque 

while life blazes

spare & elliptical
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