PRESIDENT OBAMA … Goddess, I love repeating that honorific. I never thought it would happen in my lifetime. It goes on to prove to (radical) me the power of our political system, for all its flaws and genocidal historicity – we are an imperfect union, as Obama likes to say. But we can change. … As a politico myself (albeit a minor local official), I see things differently from folks on the right (and left) who have begun to berate Obama for any number of things. Expecting huge changes in the ship of state in just one year – after eight years of war and profligate spending, I think that's a mite unrealistic. Contrary to the talking heads, there have been real and substantive changes in our government – changes that don't make the headlines but which signal a significant redirection for executive agencies (particularly in areas I am personally familiar with: forest health, environmental protection, climate change, etc.) … As for the war(s) in Iraq and Afghanistan, I'm a dedicated peacenik. I have been part of a group of local community leaders that have marched the length of Telluride's main street (without a permit) every month since 9/11 – in memory of those killed in that attack, those of our military sent overseas on bad intel and those citizens of other countries fallen in our (misguided) pre-emptive first strikes in the Middle East. But to assume that merely pulling out of the geopolitical mess made by the previous administration is going to well serve American interests in the world is naïve. Having stepped into international doo-doo, we need to clean things up before walking off into the sunset ... Finally, I think the press didn't point up what a huge change in direction, attitude and tone Pres. Obama revealed in his speech to the Arab world in Cairo. That was a big deal, even if Americans haven't fully recognized its importance. That speech alone – not to mention our changed posture towards the U.N. and international conventions and treaties (from nuclear proliferation to climate change) – was worth the Nobel Peace Prize. If only for symbolizing the world's hope for a different America where the Statue of Liberty's flame once again burns bright and Wall Street no longer runs the White House … Pres. Obama has given me hope that things will change. And I'm giving him a full term’s support to see what changes he can accomplish before I start succumbing to disappointment or invective.
CCI … Colorado Counties, Inc., is the statewide county commissioner association that holds conferences, workshops, and trainings and lobbies in Denver to protect county interests (like limiting unfunded mandates from the state that require counties to act but without any state funding, and thus cost local taxpayers more money) … Commissioner Elaine Fischer, County Administrator Lynn Black, Social Service Director Alan Gerstle and I just returned from CCI’s winter conference in Colorado Springs where Gov. Bill Ritter was the keynote speaker. Ritter spoke well, as always, but there were a lot of unhappy commissioners on both sides of the aisles (including me), furious for Ritter’s ridiculous proposal to centralize all county social service operations at a time when the state budget crisis has forced his cutting nearly every program in sight (imagine having to travel to Montrose or Grand Junction to get food stamps?) … Some other highlights … Montrose County Engineer Bryan Wilson gave a fascinating workshop on an improved chip and seal process for paving roads… I got to meet Colorado State Patrol Chief Jim Wolfinbarger, who agreed to come to San Miguel County and chat with the board and the community sometime next year … It was amazing to hear how Archuleta County had pulled itself out of bankruptcy in just three years thanks to the emergency actions of Commissioner Bob Moormaw and administrator Greg Schulte, who won the annual administrator award for his efforts.
LEO LARGE … He was Old West and old school. We didn’t agree on much. He could be pretty tough on hippies like me. And his language was often “colorful,” as people like to say … But he had a good heart. He was truthful and direct. And he worked hard for people in his district as a county commissioner. I know that because I served with him on several boards and commissioners … And he finally drummed into my once-urban head the rural importance of protecting senior water rights holders in Colorado from junior rights that could limit future development possibilities … He passed away just before Thanksgiving. May he rest in peace.
THE TALKING GOURD
Whirling barefoot in the icy grass
with open palms reaching up through the dark
what’s a woman to say except
whole oceans are moved by the moon,
why should I be any different?
-Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
San Miguel County Poet Laureate