Hickenlooper, Eckert could console each other for disappointing week

John Hickenlooper … meet Lisa Eckert.  Perhaps you can help one another recover from a week of shooting yourselves in both feet.

Let me set the stage. I’m a Hick guy … have been since he first toyed with the idea of running for governor the year Bill Ritter got the Dems’ nomination.  Even got a phone call from him the morning he announced he wouldn’t run back then, telling me he couldn’t follow through on my urgings.

In more than a half-century of casting ballots, I’ve yet to vote for anyone with whom I agreed completely.  Few of my choices have left me scratching my head more than Hickenlooper.

First, there’s his apparent befuddlement over not being able to forge a deal to avert the multiple ballot issues which would establish varying degrees of local control over oil and gas drilling.  What a surprise, given that most of us would have trouble seeing someone who weighed in early and often on one side as being an honest broker.

Then I took a look at the video of his “stream of consciousness” mea culpa to Colorado sheriffs regarding gun laws he signed. He’s been hit hard, justifiably, in the last week for that 12-minute tap dance, replete with assigning blame to staff, selective memories and outright misrepresentation.

I’ll be voting for Hickenlooper, again, as he’s the obvious choice against whichever opponent … the opportunistic racist or the overachieving political hack, that both ways-both times guy or the back-of-the-pack top line designee … emerges from today’s GOP primary.

I’ll do it with the hope he might emerge as a proactive leader like other governors I’ve known and worked with … Bill Ritter on energy issues, Bill Owens on tax matters, Roy Romer and Dick Lamm and John Vanderhoof on water, growth, education and a variety of other concerns.

We’ve seen enough of the reactive kind, those whose tool kit consists of a wet finger to gauge which way the wind’s blowing, sturdy shoes for straddling the middle of the road and a saddle for riding the fence.

After serving as mayor of our capital city and nearly a full term as our governor, Hickenlooper should realize it’s no longer amateur hour.  Following more than a decade of experience as a public official, his once-appealing “gee whiz” approach sometimes looks more like “good grief.”

Grow up, John. Own it. Take us somewhere.

***

Pretty clearly, the National Parks Service must not be interested in seeing the Colorado National Monument become a national park.

How else to explain Superintendent Lisa Eckert’s pronouncement that deliveries of propane and other “hazardous materials” to Glade Park via the legally adjudicated public right of way that is the east entrance road will be banned. 

While not a deal-killer and certain to be reversed, either administratively or via legal action, this is gas on the fire for opponents of the name change. It’s also a debilitating kick to the nether regions for folks like Warren Gore and Ken Henry, who’ve worked long and hard to forge the same kind of compromise national park proposal as the one which established the nearby McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.

Ostensibly made as a result of public comment meetings at which no one remembers any worries being voiced, the decision is just the latest in a long series of tone deaf, neighbors-be-damned, ready-fire-aim pronouncements by a long string of monument superintendents. They include shutting down the historic cattle trail through the monument, fuzzy logic regarding again hosting bike races (though the spandex set isn’t exactly blameless in that successful effort to build a mountain out of a mole hill) and now this ill-conceived bit of curiously timed authoritarianism.

It brings to mind something I heard a while back, source unremembered, about there being a reason we’re called “visitors” by the NPS but “users” by other agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service, administering “our” public lands.

Does anyone teaching “Ranger 101” for the NPS ever consider that good community relations might actually build support for more funding and other help for our national parks and monuments beleaguered by budget cuts and work backlogs?

Apparently not.

Jim Spehar’s obviously refreshed and raring to go after 10 days off the clock in Crested Butte.  Your comments are welcome at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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