January 2017

Only in America . . .

By Art Goodtimes

DUMP TRUMP? … Even without the Russian hacking, it seems so undemocratic, almost un-American, that a candidate can win the popular vote by millions, and still lose the election. If it’s supposed to be a government “for the people, of the people and by the people,” how come we let a select slice of the political class decide the election – the very players we try to term-limit out of office? It doesn’t make sense … A conservative friend sent me an anonymous letter via email the other day making the specious argument (with admittedly incorrect facts) that Trump won the popular vote, if you just don’t count California … And the rationale for not including the voters of the union’s most populous state? It’s too big? Too liberal? Too West Coast? … The truth is, mediating the vote of the people with an elite body whose only role is to temper the will of the majority is just flat wrong. When it comes to the “Electoral College,” American exceptionalism turns ugly. Instead of a democracy, we come closer to oligarchy than we’d like to admit … The Republicans did this once before, when Bush the Lesser won the election, but lost the popular vote. Having it happen a second time in 20 years speaks to a deep-rooted flaw in the American electoral system … Given a Republican sweep of Congress and a divided Supreme Court, it’s unlikely that we’ll escape the vulgarities of a fouryear Trump Presidential Reality Show. But we ought to get serious about abolishing the Electoral College We should let the people decide who their president will be – not political-party insiders.

THE TALKING GOURD

(Un)happy Holidays

No one’s ready, no one’s eager,
In fact, we’re all a little afraid.
It’s happened before, that’s the problem,
A would-be strongman, & crazy promises,

& crowds of believers, blind believers.
Christmas cards at the post office,
Every day, same as always—
But it isn’t the same, is it?

Merry Christmas? Maybe, why not?
But we can’t say: Happy New Year,
With a straight face. We shake our heads

In disbelief, knowing it’s true.
It isn’t Kristalnacht either, not yet,
But it isn’t over. It’s up to us . .

--Lito Tejada-Flores
Crestone

PARK SERVICE … Even if many of us are suspicious of the federal government, we still revere the U.S. Park Service. They are America’s “best idea,” to quote famous Western writer Wallace Stegner. Or are they? … A recent exposé in the Dec. 12, 2016, issue of High Country News casts serious doubt on that wholesome image … Turns out investigative reporter Lyndsey Gilpin found lots not to like about working for this iconic federal agency — if you’re a woman. Interviews of over 50 people – “park rangers and scientists, to superintendents and a former Park Services director” – revealed “an agency that has failed to protect its workers from sexual misconduct” … And it turns out it’s been a festering issue just below the public radar for many years. A 2000 employee survey found that “over half of female rangers and three-quarters of female park police had experienced sexual harassment on the job” … Nor is it just the sexual harassment that many Park Service employees are exposed to. Of the 61 former or current employees who talked to Gilpin, 21 “said they were retaliated against for reporting misconduct” … It was pretty telling that the U.S. Park Service refused to respond to queries from HCN about Gilpin’s story. While U.S. parks may be a great idea, how they’re managed and what you can expect if you’re a woman ranger appears in a less-than-positive light. And it’s hard to see such issues getting fixed under the incoming administration.

LEAVING ON A HIGH NOTE After years of posters and political campaign sloganeering, “More Goodtimes,” the new San Miguel County call is “Enough Goodtimes,” and I’m more than fine with that. You have to respect the majority in a democracy. Or at least we do on the local level … Unless, perhaps, the political class tries to impose its elite super-delegate filtering system on local elections – maybe by creating County Electoral Colleges? … Okay, I’m joshing. But as a great believer in majority rule, as opposed to minority rule, I like it when a body makes decisions with most people in favor … At the local level, in Colorado and most other states, we balance our budgets and have truly democratic representation: you win the majority of the electorate, you win the job. The Feds could learn a lot from how local government works … Anyway, it’s been super rewarding getting accolades from peers and colleagues as I drop out of elected office … The heavily Republican state organization of counties, CCI (Colorado Counties Inc.) — a collection of county commissioners from all 64 counties in the state -- gave me its annual Distinguished Service Award for 2016 … The USFS’s GMUG National Forest Supervisor Scott Armentrout and his great staffers Corey Wong and Matt Zumstein presented me with a Certificate of Appreciation … Even Sheriff Bill Masters got in on the act and presented me with a special plaque at his annual holiday party in his Illium Road offices … As I’ve repeated several times in several venues, it’s been a huge honor to come to San Miguel County as a hippie woodsie rainbow poet and retire after 20 years as a respected Green Party community leader. I thank county citizens for that opportunity and that privilege … Now I get to write. A lot.

TWILIGHT WALK … Finally they’re gone. The honkers took off for the tropics after pecking around till mid- December. Left just ahead of Colorado’s second fall storm before full-on winter … Solstice just past on the western slope of the Southern Rockies. Wrights Mesa studded with ponds & irrigated wetlands. Trickling Lone Cone’s flow down to the San Miguel very deliberately. Doing what the beaver used to do. Slowing things down. Putting everything on the line and holding water precious. Just like Americans did up at Standing Rock … “I’n’ it?” McRedeye sez. “We shape the land & the land shapes us.”

ED MORLAND … It was with sadness I learned that former Region 9 Economic Development District Director Ed Morland had passed away at the end of last year after complications from eye surgery. He was a dedicated community member always looking for ways to help folks and systems in the far southwester n tier of counties.

W I L D WEST END Did you hear about the gunfight at the Cashin Copper Mine on La Sal Creek last month? Montrose Sheriff Deputy Bruce Schmalz suffered hand wounds after killing bad guy Willy Ray Score of Loveland in a shoot-out … That’s the most action out at the remote Montrose County mine since the the notorious Bedrock Gang decapitated Cashin watchman Slim Hecox in 1921. The mineowner, a woman who lived in Chicago, was so incensed she hired the Pinkertons to track down the killers. They did, and Slim’s head was reinterred with his graveyard body.

BLOOPER … “Arlen Bock offered his monthly motion to adjourn forthwith. There was only dissenting vote.”

— Dove Creek Press (Nov. 24, 2016)

Art Goodtimes writes from San Miguel County, Colo.