May 2008

Western Slope's 'voice of oil & gas'

By Art Goodtimes

CLUB 19 … For ten years I’ve attended “Club 20” meetings, gone to committees, served on task forces, helped amend bylaws, won a bridge-building award, worked collaboratively with industry folks to achieve brokered compromise positions that represented a middle place among the extractive industry boosterism of Grand Junction, the environmental protectionism of Telluride and the small-town Colorado rural priorities of Norwood – family, minimum of government regulation, quality of life … Last year I was elected as secretary of the Executive Committee – a poster child on their promotional material for their diversity and the only member of what some of us have loosely called a “progressive caucus” ... Well, kiss it goodbye. At the meeting in Grand Junction last month I was sacked – after being passed over as “Chair-elect” (a two-year position anointing one as future chair-to-be) – and Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis (an oil & gas industry employee) elected as Club secretary in my stead … That surprise action, carefully orchestrated (some of us progressives saw it as an ambush) came on the heels of a resolution, ramrodded through the committee process by Colorado Oil & Gas Association Western Slope rep and “Club 20” outgoing chair Kathy Hall, basically censuring the governor, Harris Sherman and David Neslin for attempting to impose minimum standards on the oil & gas industry as directed by the legislature, particularly in the arenas of health, safety, environment and wildlife … Former Grand Junction Mayor Jim Spehar wrote a column in the Grand Junction Free Press citing the oil & gas industry’s undue influence on “Club 20” policy – which bills itself as the “Voice of the Western Slope.” Well, maybe at one time. But no longer. It’s the Voice of Oil & Gas at its worst, of late … “Club 20” Director Reeves Brown managed to pour salt on progressive wounds by making fun of Spehar and his public accusations at the meeting, as though oil & gas hadn’t overtaken “Club 20’s” priorities, to the detriment of all the other industries in the region -- agriculture, tourism, hunting and fishing, recreation … And so, after ten years of trying to represent my county residents in Club 20’s wider regional conversations, trying to bring a progressive perspective from a ski resort county to flatlander boosterism, I’m throwing in the towel. I admit defeat … From now on, “Club 20” is Club 19, as far as I’m concerned. And I imagine several other members may join me in disengaging. And I strongly urge all progressive members to drop their memberships … Kathy Hall and Craig Meis have taken a useful, long-standing table of discussion for 22 counties and one Indian tribe and turned the group into the promotional arm of the oil & gas industry, dashing any semblance of respect for minority opinions. It’s a sad day for collaboration on the Western Slope … But like every setback in one arena, maybe something better will emerge from the fiasco of Club 19. Maybe we can figure out a venue that truly will represent the citizen voice of the Western Slope. It just may not be centered in Grand Junction … Oh, yes, and although I didn’t attend the banquet of self-congratulations and awards Friday evening (sponsored by the oil & gas industry, naturally), I heard from one of my friends that before the meal a prayer was said, and the assembled Club 19ers were admonished by the person invoking God to “give thanks for Chevron.” When a group uses the cover of religion to promote multinational corporations, one has to wonder where the priorities of such a group have gone. For Club 19, maybe that says it all.

KING COAL … Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed a coal-power bill passed by the Kansas legislature. Polls showed 64 percent of the voters supported her veto … Despite that, pro-coal legislators have reintroduced a nearly identical bill in the state legislature.

THE TALKING GOURD

Club 19 Prayer

Let us give thanks
to Chevron
& all boom/bust corporations
that take profit
from polluting our skies
fouling our waters
trashing our economic future.

And on the Western Slope
we raise our voices to the Lord
that oil & gas may be valued
above all else.
Amen.

LARGE HADRON COLLIDER … If it isn’t a black hole we’re risking, like the virus in I Am Legend, than let’s at least hope we can find a cure for our American war-i-ness as a society … Enough arms dealer, let’s be peacekeepers for a democratic League of Nations. Yes, we can.

WEEKLY QUOTA … “Colorado conservatives are reeling after Republicans lost both the Legislature and governor’s mansion for the first time in more than four decades. The local Republican party is so unhinged that it hired a buffoon named Dick Wadhams to save it – the same Dick Wadhams who most recently made headlines running Sen. George ‘Macaca’ Allen’s 2006 re-election campaign into the ground, effectively ending the Virginia lawmaker’s political career.” – David Sirota, syndicated columnist, in the San Francisco Chronicle, March 14, 2008.

TIBET ALERT … Cyberace Lee Taylor of Telluride warns that Chinese cyberhacks are attacking Tibet support groups and individuals with e-mails that may appear to come from a trusted person or organization. As Thomas Clayburn reported in Information Week, “A shadow war against organizations supporting Tibetan protesters has erupted in cyberspace, mirroring efforts by Chinese authorities to quell unrest in the Tibet.” … Added Mikko Hypponnen, chief research officer at FSecure, “Somebody is trying to use pro- Tibet themed e-mails to infect computers of the members of pro-Tibet groups to spy on their actions. And this is not an isolated incident. Far from it.” … To enhance the cyberattack legitimacy, the messages contain information related to recent events in Tibet and may appear to come from a trusted person or group. But the content is bait, a social engineering con, to get recipients to open the documents and trigger an exploit. "The exploit silently drops and runs a file called C:\Program Files\Update\winkey.exe," explains Hypponen. "This is a keylogger that collects and sends everything typed on the affected machine to a server running at xsz.8800.org. And 8800.org is a Chinese DNS-bouncer system that, while not rogue by itself, has been used over and over again in various targeted attacks."

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.