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A couple of pretty bad ideas

The exercise of brainstorming ideas is one way humans move forward. A thought is bounced around and people build on it. Ideally, all ideas in a brainstorming session are accepted and then evaluated. After the evaluation, some ideas can be considered good and worth building on. They can blossom in some form or another and push us forward. Others are just bad ideas that can be thrown away.

Example: Being a world-class quarterback having sideline hacks deflate footballs to give the smallest of edges to him and his receivers is, in hindsight, probably a really bad idea. Go ask Tom Brady what he thinks.

Now, despite the over-coverage of that football story, there are ideas that are a lot worse floating around. Whoever on the local annexation team thought it was a good idea to submit the negotiating point of getting major town credits for cleaning up the old dump beneath the Slate River Addition annexation property came up with a bad idea—the team had already said they would do that cleanup on their dime since it was the right thing to do. It’s usually a bad idea to backtrack right off the bat on something you said you would handle. That trust thing comes into play during negotiations.

On the national level, President Obama’s keeping of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) details secret is a really bad idea. Senator Elizabeth Warren is giving voice to major problems with the whole idea. She is right on. Obama’s spokesman says she can go over and review the proposal being written and negotiated by corporations and lobbyists—in a secure room, without notes, without the ability to tell us about it—and that is just a bad idea. It’s another trust issue, and Warren is right and Obama is wrong. Let’s see where our Colorado senators fall on the issue.

Speaking of Colorado senators, perhaps the worst idea out there right now might be one from Senate Republicans that could have a big impact on us locally high in the Colorado Rockies. Senate Amendment 838 is a budgetary amendment that backs support for and funding of state efforts to take over federal land. It was part of the 2016 fiscal year federal budget discussion.

Alaskan senator Lisa Murkowski introduced the measure and justified it by saying, “When we have an opportunity to consider this amendment, a vote for it is really a vote in support of—as a priority of this Congress—comprehensive approaches to land policies to facilitate economic development, empower states and improve our conservation systems.”

Murkowski chairs the powerful Senate Committee on Energy and Resources and she is full of crap. If her amendment were to pass into a law, it could ultimately give control of federal public lands to the states and focus those lands on extractive industries to make a few people rich at the expense of the majority.

The senate’s budgetary amendment to support this privatization is not a law—but it does put a spotlight on the disturbing idea for the privatization of public land such as wilderness and national forests. As has been made clear the last few weeks, this is about privatization and resource exploitation. It is about taking the public’s land and focusing on logging, mining, drilling and extracting resources.

The communications director for Murkowski’s energy committee says the amendment is a “signal” that considering such bills is a priority of the Congress.

All the Democrats in the Senate voted against the proposal. Only three Republicans took a stance against it. Luckily for us, one of those was Colorado Republican Cory Gardner.

As reported by several organizations, there is reason to worry about throwing public land control away from the feds and to the states.

“If you let a bad idea fester long enough, it sounds less and less like a bad idea,” said Steve Kline of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. The concern is that this action in the Senate could encourage future moves to pass similar measures as actual law. Once your national forests, wildlife refuges and wildernesses are gone, understand: They are gone for good.

This amendment sets a high bar that paves the way for a “compromise” that may see the transfer of some public lands to states that want to auction them off on the open market to the highest bidder. I doubt that camping or hiking groups will be the highest bidder.

The good news out of this bad idea is that this action has united environmentalists, hunters, sportsmen and all outdoor enthusiasts. Let your representatives know how bad it is and if you are a Democrat, it might be worth sending a note or email to Gardner thanking him for breaking from the party and standing up for the best interests of all Coloradans. It’s not expected you will have that opportunity too often.

Letting Gardner and the others in Washington know you are watching what they do and appreciate good decisions over bad ideas is actually a good idea. People elected to the Senate listen to those who contribute to their campaigns and to those who actually show up at the polls to vote. So acknowledging a good decision to someone on the other side of the political spectrum might be one way to make sure the worst of ideas don’t blossom and pull us backward.

—Mark Reaman

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