March 2012

Tossing a hat into the ring again

By Art Goodtimes

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 in San Miguel County … For two years, back in the mid-Eighties, I was the lone citizen representative on the Idarado Negotiating Committee that Gov. Roy Romer set up to head off a truck-removal solution to the tailings-pile eco-disaster east of Telluride that would have destroyed that resort economy. I remember how everyone else around that table of 20 or so of us was drawing a salary – from state and federal staffers to corporate lawyers to locally elected officials. It was hard having a “second job” that didn’t pay me or my family anything, but I felt that it was also critically important for some local enviro to be on board to ensure that the zinc standard didn’t get weakened and that there was a local oversight committee at the start of the cleanup’s implementation … Now I sit around similar tables — locally, regionally and on the state and national levels. Again I get to represent the human and more-than-human world in political deliberations. Only these days I’m getting paid by citizens to do it. I bring 30 years’ experience, living locally -- not as a trust-funder, but as a back-to-the-lander who grows 50+ varieties of heirloom potatoes on my little acre spud patch in Norwood — to whatever issue is at hand. In spite of my personal biases, my task is to treat everyone fairly – balancing the needs and majority opinions of the liberal, exurban East End of San Miguel County with the needs and minority opinions of the conservative, frontier West End … There are some bennies besides a paycheck — I get to work with a great staff throughout the organization and 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 our county’s balanced budget continues to shrink. Luckily, we’ve prepared well for a rainy day (bless our late Financial Director Gordon Glockson). We have a sizeable reserve we’re drawing 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 work for 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 for our children’s future … So, I’m going to campaign again in San Miguel County’s District 3. Whether I’m fit to serve again is up to my constituents.

THE TALKING GOURD

Voices

Outside,
Maverick Draw’s cumuli
lock horns over Lone Cone

The sky releases
little shouts of snow

Inside, first time ever
Cloud Acre’s amaryllis
blooms

two red strumpets
sassy as their golden tongues

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 59th State House seat currently held by J. Paul Brown, a La Plata County Republican … 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 1,000 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 <www. swongerforcolorado.org>

I AM … It’s curious. I go to a county commissioners’ meeting to talk about the latest techno-whiz-bang smart meter for a smart grid that we’re forcing on all homes in the region, and then I go home to watch Tom Shadyac’s docu-polemic quest explaining how our hearts create EMF fields of quantum entanglement with all living things … It’s as if I’m Rumi trying to whirl in a bed of concrete sheets. Burdened with layer upon layer of ill-gotten goods … I’m not only sleeping with the enemy. I am the enemy. The question. The answer … For Dolores LaChapelle it was an avalanche that took her over the edge and broke her world apart. Then she had to figure out how to put it all back together in “Sacred Land Sacred Sex Rapture of the Deep” … For Tom, it was up & over the Wilson Peak handlebars to bring his Hollywood dystopia crashing down to earth. … And so he brings us tagalong on a cinematic semi-comic tour-deforce with various visionaries and elders. Gifting us with their wisdom. Handing us the simple rapture of our being alive. Trying, in the face of our learned swerve, to steer us away from America’s endless appetites … Stop, he says. Breathe, not the plutonium of accumulation and greed, but the argon of interdependence and connection … Vibrate laughter. Free hugs. Be the field, not of force but of fusion.

NOT-SO-FREE PRESS … Once proud of its press freedoms, the U.S. has seen its worldwide ranking fall to 47th in the world in the wake of the national Occupy movement crackdowns, according to the latest report from Reporters Without Borders. America now lags behind Comoros and Taiwan and is on a par with Argentina and Romania.

TELLU-ENVY … Durango was proud to have landed a spot on National Geographic Adventure’s “Top Ten Great Races in Amazing Places” with its Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, according to the Durango Telegraph (Feb. 2 issue). But the Telegraph was disappointed that Durango didn’t make NGA’s “Best Adventure Towns,” which included Telluride, Silverton and Pagosa Springs … “Telluride, our glitzier neighbor to the north … was praised for options from ‘schussing around Mountain Village’ to its bevy of summer festivals … Curiously enough, the photo representing Telluride was shot on the Colorado Trail ‘in the San Juan Mountains near Telluride,’ a bit of a stretch, but then again so were the recommended $399/night accommodations.”

ISABEL ALLENDE … Having read Tom Shacochis’s excellent account of the 1994 invasion of Haiti by the U.S., “The Immaculate Deception,” it was telling listening to an audio-book reading of Allende’s “Island Beneath the Sea” about that half of the Antilles island the French called San Domingue. No better way to understand the legacy of slavery there than to read Allende’s dazzling novel … Highly recommended.

Art Goodtimes is a county commisioner in San Miguel County, Colo.