June 2014

Going green in Cortez

By Art Goodtimes

SOUTHWEST COLO. GREENS … I love the Cortez chapter of the Colorado State Green Party. They continue to put on events, meet monthly, and carry the green torch in a county where even Democrats appear to be an endangered species … Anyhoo, I got invited last month to emcee a lovely sunny spring afternoon of music and politics (more of the former but punctuated by the latter). I couldn’t help speaking on San Miguel County’s recent Ute Apology resolution, Tomoe solicited signatures for an initiative petition to require labeling of GMOs in foods in Colorado, and Lyn Patrick spoke about the dangers of fracking … I really enjoyed the three local bands that played.

PORCHLIGHTS … Wild Billy Kneebone and Deb Hilton traded guitar licks and vocals with original songs like Big Sweet Tooth and Yo Yo Land … Deb hails from Flagstaff, and Billy’s signature guitar stylings have been a 20-year feature of the Four Corners music scene. They have two CDs out right now, “Porchlights Live at the Spirit Room” and an “Album Preview.” I bought both.

THE TALKING GOURD

Spring

My computer locked up like bindweed
My scarecrow ISP folded. I had to rake

Google names to change my addy
My auto played wheelbarrel & died in

a ditch. The dome blew off Mary’s yurt
at Cloud Acre in a windstorm, along with

a clear glass chandelier that shattered
And I’ve had two fruit tree readings

a poetry festival & one board-to-death
come-to-spuds meeting just this week

LITTLE BROTHER … That’s the name that Kevin Fraser and Isaac Kimbrough use when they play duo, although when they team up with a third member, they call that band, Wake Up Laughing … Whatever you call them, Isaac (a graduate of the Southwest Open School) played a mean drum kit and Kevin wailed on guitar and vocals. Guest musician Mary Hess played bass for their Cortez gig. Their rock ’n’ roll got us bopping in our seats.

BIG MONEY & THE CORPORATE CITIZENS … Their drummer, Peter O, is an attorney for the Ute Mountain Tribe, their lead singer Bob Dunn connects the political dots, their bass guitarist Rich Talbot is a really cool-looking dude, and lead guitar Mat Robinson is a complete mad man, dancing all over the place, laying down some mean riffs. Flautist Linda Baker didn’t make it to Cortez, but she appears on their CD, “We the People” … If you want a dose of left-leaning lyrics soaring through the amps that make you get up and dance, this is the band for you.

OSCAR ROMERO … Archbishop Romero was assassinated while saying mass at his Salvador City cathedral on March 24, 1980. He was a holy man who worked for the poor and spoke out against the murder of peasants by the Salvadorean military … That he has not been canonized, and the scandal-tainted Pope John Paul II has, is yet another sign that the Roman Catholic church stands less for the teachings of Christ, and more about preserving ecclesiastic power and privilege … Meanwhile, Romero is commemorated as a martyr in the Church of England’s liturgical calendar on 24 March each year. His image was among 10 statues of martyrs of the 20th century placed over the Great West Doors of Westminster Abbey in 1998. CORAM … The Durango Herald editorialized, as Colorado’s legislative session ended last month, criticizing the 58th District Colorado Representative Don Coram (RMontrose) for acting more as the lobbyist for the uranium industry than legislator for his district. You don’t have to be a mining opponent to ensure that new and old industrial-mining practices don’t inflict another S u m m i t v i l l e Mine Disaster on the taxpayers of this state …. I have to say I’m disappointed. I supported Don in the last election (given the choices), but leading the fight to prevent regulatory safeguards is myopic and self-defeating. Some of his constituents support the uranium industry, some don’t. But as a state legislator, he should be helping craft a regulatory framework that protects the health of the land and its citizens, but that doesn’t kneecap the industry in the event another uranium boom happens.

URANIUM … The bill that Rep. Coram fought, but which eventually succeeded, was Senate Bill 193. As Grand Junction’s Daily Sentinel explained, Rep. Jared Wright (R-Fruita) was one of the co-sponsors of the bill and he was dismayed that the final bill was watered down (thanks to Rep. Coram’s “lobbying”). Wright had amended the bill to require that all uranium and thorium mines not using conventional open or underground techniques obtain a radioactive-materials license. But the final bill merely requires mines to restore any contamination of groundwater to its premining baseline quality. That was the compromise that won the day. But I think it’s worth hearing what Rep. Wright, a Republican, had to say on the House floor last week, as quoted in the Sentinel … “Every time a new technology has been developed in the history of uranium extraction, such as in-situ leach, we in government were told that it was safe and new and improved, and would result in little or no contamination, and yet, guess what? It resulted in devastating contamination depending on its use. Don’t believe me? Just ask the people with contaminated groundwater wells who came to testify in front of our committee.”

Art Goodtimes is a five-term county commissioner in San Miguel County, Colo.