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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Up Bear Creek / 16feb25012

San Miguel Greens hold local meets

COUNTY ASSEMBLIES … The two major parties have for years had a very effective and democratic system for involving local party members in their pre-primary nominating deliberations – caucuses and assemblies … Minor parties in Colorado haven’t used those techniques to gather input from rank and file members registered with them. But this year the San Miguel Greens want to change that … We’re planning to hold two assemblies in San Miguel County in order to give registered Greens a time to gather and endorse candidates; select delegates to the state Green Party Convention in Carbondale, March 31, as well as the year-round State On-line Council; elect facilitators; and discuss the future of the Green Party in local, state and national politics … In Norwood, the first Green Assembly in the county will be held tonight, Thurs., Feb. 16, at 6 p.m. in the Two Candles Restaurant & Lounge … In Telluride, the second Green Assembly will be held next week, Thurs. Feb. 23, at 6 p.m. at the County Meeting Room in the Miramonte Building … All registered Greens from San Miguel, Dolores, Ouray and West Montrose counties are invited to attend (or those interested in registering Green).
Greens have adopted a Sunflower as their "mascot," with a peace sign thrown in for those of us Peaceniks.

COUNTY COMMISSIONER … I suppose after four terms and 16 years as a local elected official, some would say that it’s time for me to step down. But I must confess – I like working for the people 

Explaining to the Grand Junction Sentinel why I was walking out on Club 20

For two years, back in the mid-Eighties, I was the lone citizen representative on the Idarado Negotiating Committee that Democrat Gov. Roy Romer set up (after Linda Miller gave him a good talking-to in the Opera House) to head off a truck removal tailings solution to the Newmont subsidiary Idarado Mining Company's Superfund eco-disaster east of Telluride. What the Federal Court ordered would have destroyed our resort economy, if the Governor hadn't intervened. I remember looking around that Idarado table and realizing everyone else there was drawing a salary – state and federal regulators, staffers, state and corporate lawyers, locally elected officials ... Most of us who stumbled into Telluride understand “third jobs" ... But usually you try and do them to get paid. As a journalist I'd done a 13-part series on the complex state Superfund case against Idarado in the weekly San Miguel Journal -- a competitor start-up to the weekly Telluride Times. So, back then, I was honored to be named as Romer's citizen representative. And I felt I was instrumental in ensuring strong water quality standards and the funding of a local oversight committee at the start of the cleanup’s implementation -- to be sure things got done right (which they did, mostly thanks to the state's health and environment overseer -- the amazing Camille Price, who stayed on with us and married mi hermano Lucas of La Cocina de Luz)

Tentacles of Red in a Blue Sea

Now I sit around similar tables (yes, basketweaving when I have to listen for a long time) locally, regionally and on the state and national levels. I get to represent the human and more-than-human world in political deliberations. Only these days I’m getting paid by citizens of this county to do it. I get to bring 30 years experience, living locally, to whatever issue is at hand  -- not as a trust-funder, but as a Rainbow back-to-the-lander who grows 50+ varieties of heirloom potatoes on my little acre spud patch in Norwood. 

Son Gorio helping his Dad in Cloud Acre's Spud Patch
In spite of my personal biases, my task is to treat everyone fairly – balancing the needs and majority opinions of the liberal, exurban tourism-based East End of San Miguel County with the needs and minority opinions of the conservative, frontier ag-based West End. That meant bringing Rep. John Salazar's San Juan Wilderness proposal to Norwood for a hearing on a move to include Naturita Canyon even before it became a bill, where Randall Thompson and a number of others effectively scotched the wilderness idea (which would have been a boon to some Norwood businesses as word about this new "wilderness" made it into the guidebooks). But, listening to what was heard at the hearing I held in Norwood with the Sheep Mountain Alliance, Salazar took it out of the proposal that became his bill.

Lone Cone Moon reflected in the Headwaters of Naturita Canyon
It also means not supporting the county taking a public stand against the West End Montrose uranium plant, although we've repeatedly expressed our concerns for the cumulative dust deposition impact from a uranium mining boom in this country -- that public stance is in spite of my own position as a Green and long-time anti-nuclear activist. I personally do not support nuclear. But my fight is with the Democrats, not with my West End neighbors. The Obama administration, like all those before it since World War II, supports nuclear, gives it subsidies, wants it mined within our borders. So, what right do we have as a Blue/Green county in telling a Red county not to follow the Blue President's policies in this Purple state we're in?

Having a job does help me support Mary and Sara Friedberg and our son Gorio. Plus, there are some important bennies besides a paycheck -- I get to work with a great staff throughout our county offices and shops in Telluride, Illium, Deep Creek, Wright's Mesa, Norwood, Dry Creek and Egnar, as well as complementing two of the best colleagues a county commissioner could wish for, Elaine Fischer and Joan May … In these hard times, the county is having to make difficult decisions about the size and scope of future services, as we watch our county’s balanced budget continue to shrink. Luckily, we’ve prepared well for a rainy day (bless you, Gordon Glockson). We have the cushion of a sizeable reserve, built up over the last 20 years, which we’ve begun to draw down to ease our local economy’s transition from the bull market boom of the Reagan-Clinton-Bush years to the reality of the current bear market bust … Really, I’m proud to serve in local government. On the local level I think government works. It’s government that you can talk to in the market or at the post office. A government that will return your phone calls … One of those who ran against me last time around suggested that county commissioner was meant to be a job, not a career. I respect that opinion. But I also feel that working for the people is more than just a job. It’s a way to give back to the community, to safeguard a shared vision of what society could be in this very special region, and to provide a resilient future for our children … So, I’m going to campaign again in San Miguel County’s District 3 for a fifth term. But it’s report card time in the ballot box. And it's going to be up to you, my fellow constituents, to decide whether I’m fit to serve again.

PAT SWONGER … Can’t keep a good man down. It’s great to see that Pat didn’t let those behind-the-scenes Dem kingpins cut him out of the election process this year, on a technicality. He’s bounced back with a plan to forgo the party assembly process and petition directly onto the Dem primary ballot for a shot at the State House seat currently held by J. Paul Brown, a La Plata County Republican (the 59th, the district the Colorado Supreme Court pulled the Telluride Region out of) … Definitely a man of the people, I’ve worked with Pat on several key issues and have seen him do a fine job in Silverton on the town board there. He’s the kind of savvy rural politico we need in Denver -- representing all the citizens on the Western Slope, not just the ranchers and big money interests (like Brown does) … Right now he needs volunteers – particularly in Ridgway and Ouray -- to help him gather the 1000 petitions he needs to get on the Dem ballot. And consider sending a donation to Patrick Swonger for House District 59, POB 241, Silverton, CO 81433.


(photo by Bob Grossman)

Maverick Draw’s cumuli
lock horns over Lone Cone

The sky releases
little shouts of snow

Inside, first time ever
Cloud Acre's amaryllis

Photo by Gorio Osha'

two red strumpets
sassy as their golden tongues

1 comment:

  1. I would certainly continue to support any man who grows his own heirloom potatoes, and with his arms wide and holding so many family and friends, if I was a neck of those woods resident. Art has been a loyal and supportive friend for almost more years than I can remember. I can hear his voice from here. Feel his inexhaustable energy. Keep on electing him, folks! I cannot imagine you can go wrong.