Back to Pendleton & NACo’s Annual Western Interstate Region meeting
by Art Goodtimes
Jun 25, 2009 | 1187 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
UP BEAR CREEK POWER GAME … Strange. The more experienced one gets at something, the easier it is to be dismissive of those not in synch. The more intolerant of newbies and the “uninformed.” And yet Gregory Bateson always insisted that knowledge came in seeing the patterns that connect. Those not-yet-formed often can make creative leaps of pattern recognition better than those of us habitualized to the daily grind … That’s the irony of power – one has to be humble to wield it efficiently. Whether it’s poetry or political stories of need and complaint, I try never to be dismissive of the uninformed (although with poetry it’s maybe a little easier, since I understand a lot of that game and politics is something you never fully understand). My job as a locally elected official is to help constituents get informed.

WIR REDUX … Some of my reflections in attending the National Association of Counties Western Interstate Region board meeting in Oregon last month get pre-empted by my brother’s memorial. But I wanted to share those thoughts here. Because I was elected chair of the state association’s Public Lands Steering Committee last year, I was automatically appointed to the WIR board. Looking back to what I first wrote about my first WIR board meeting with some of the most conservative rural commissioners in the country, I (a Green) skirted around one of those hard truths you don’t always like to face up to … [As an aside, you don’t always like to face up to – now there’s a curiously “ungrammatical” English phrase that works quite well colloquially. Which makes it an Americanism, right? And as such quite “proper” in this country,

one would think] … But to get back to politicking with the hardcore conservatives. The one time I interrupted the group (some 20 or 30 WIR board members and ex-officios) during my three days in Pendleton was to challenge the blaming of enviros for all the ills of forest disturbance in Western rural areas … [County government, remember, mostly represents rural America] … I had to point out that local enviros and community enviro groups often side with industry and county governments in supporting local forest health projects, but that often national enviro groups pursuing national agendas slapped lawsuits and threw down roadblocks on compromise-driven collaborative local projects, sometimes holding them up in court for years. Case in point, the Quincy Working Group of which Supervisor Brian Dahle of Lassen County (California) was a member and now serves as WIR’s immediate past president … As a Green politico, I had to draw a line to emphasize the sometimes conflicting strategies of national enviro groups (Sierra Club, National Resource Defense Council, Wilderness Society, et al) and local enviro groups (Sheep Mountain Alliance, High Country Citizens Alliance, San Juan Citizens Alliance, et al). And that made me first-time allies of almost everyone in the room. Not that we won’t disagree on national policies for public lands in the future – that’s a given. But starting out with a small twist of language to give a different flavor to the whole, while still making friends of enemies, that for me is the art of politics … Compromise, by the way, is a very interesting word. It derives from the Latin> com = “with” + pro = “to” or “towards” + mittere = “to send” or “to let go”. Thus, compromise means “moving [something] forward with [the help of others]”. Which, interestingly, is a quite reasonable definition of the democratic process – something we practice as our civic duty in a constitutional republic … I think it interesting that as a locally-rooted, rural community member I find myself diametrically opposed to the tactics of national groups I whole-heartedly support. One of the many paradoxes of politics.

SPEAKING OF POWER PLAYS … Have you heard about Energy Fuels’ bait & switch tactic before Montrose committees in trying to get their Paradox Basin uranium processing mill licensed? It appears they aren’t going to only be processing local ores, but are trying to get a permit to bring in other wastes for reprocessing from all over the country … Call Sheep Mountain and get involved.

THE FINE ART OF INSULT … Perhaps the classic example in the British history of wit is the famous exchange between two eighteenth-century political rivals, John Montague, also know as the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, and the reformist politician John Wilkes. During a heated argument, Montague scowled at Wilkes and said derisively, "Upon my soul, Wilkes, I don't know whether you'll die upon the gallows, or of syphilis"...Unfazed, Wilkes came back with what many people regard as one of the greatest retorts of all time: "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles, or your mistress" … (thanks to Bill Hickey of New Mexico)

MAMA CAMPAIGN … Midwives & Mothers in Action (MAMA) is a congressional campaign by six national midwivery and consumer advocate groups to get federal certification, and thus, recognition, for professional midwives … Sign up in support at – I have, having worked with several midwives (including the legendary Bill Dwelley) and been incredibly impressed. The one water birth I experienced near Montrose was one of the most moving moments of my life … Thanks to Janneli Miller of Dolores for this alert.

Night Thieves
Darkness and the living water
are lovers. Let them stay up together.
When merchants eat their big meals
and sleep their dead sleep,
we night-thieves go to work.
Love is the way messengers
from the mystery tell us things.



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