Monday, November 12, 2018
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Shocked at the obvious?

It appears people are a bit flabbergasted by things that seemed obvious but are now a bit clearer. There are examples on the local, state and national levels.

Where to start? Let’s go local first.

Some Friends of Brush Creek, citizens in the north valley and members of the CB Town Council are a tad shocked that some members of the county Planning Commission, county staff and Board of County Commissioners are vocally applauding and embracing the Corner at Brush Creek affordable housing proposal. It might be more shocking if they weren’t, given the origin of the plan (a political subcommittee) and the shiny allure of a big project that accomplishes a housing goal without a ton of upfront public money.

Given the wide focus on the big picture sketch plan, the commissioners haven’t been shy about their support for a rent-a-geddon project on that piece of property. It would take a big showstopper for them to back off at this point in the sketch plan. They have always indicated they were likely willing to sacrifice immediate neighborhood compatibility and density issues for the brass ring of more affordable housing. I had hoped they would see the value of not discarding such neighborhood compatibility concerns and instead push for a more comprehensive plan that included things like a potential school facility or athletic fields with a less dense project—and they might still, but I wouldn’t bet my house on it. The planners generally follow the lead of the commissioners. I understand why the decision makers are intent to see a project out there. That’s fine. There should be an affordable housing project on that property.

If approved at this scale with little thought to other big picture planning measures that come with such quick population growth, there are some, what might be considered questionable justifications, that will probably impact long-term precedent. Those justifications might bite the county in the butt down the road when future developers want similar concessions and density comparisons to projects miles and miles from their site. Changing the character of the upper valley from small-scale rural setting to a suburban-style Lakewood apartment complex as you enter the “Last Great Colorado Ski Town” could change how Crested Butte is perceived by visitors.

Taxpayers will likely pick up a bunch of the consequential costs of the development—whether it is funding a major increase in public bus transportation to make the project work, a quick expansion to the school to house more students who move there or improvements to roadways to make the intersection safe. Perhaps a future detail such as true water availability or even true cost of construction could derail or scale back the project, but no one should be shocked that the current planners and commissioners are speaking in favor of a proposal they see as the easiest way to get affordable housing in the ground. The development team made some recent adjustments to the plan and, while going in the right direction, the numbers are still just too high.

Who knows what the ultimate vote will be but it seems 240 units and approximately 550 to 600 people are at the end of that sketch plan road. I’m not shocked but continue to be perplexed that those at the county persistently question the questions coming from the north valley and appear to value an end over a means through a “what is detrimental to some up there will benefit the greater good of the county as a whole” attitude. A long-term concern is that those on these boards have not been able to effectively bring along the upper valley community on what could be, and should be, a good project if given proper scale. That should be a red flag for them but apparently isn’t. While not shocking, their support for a big fix has always been obvious. The lack of consensus building from smart people is, however, still baffling.

By the way, those making the ultimate decision on this proposal live primarily in the south end of the valley. Does it matter? Not in a deliberately biased way but I think so. There are four open seats on the county planning commission and applications are due this Monday, January 15. Obviously having more representation from this end of the valley can’t hurt, so someone going to these meetings anyway might consider applying.

At the state level, Colorado’s U.S. senator Corey Gardner was shocked that Donald Trump’s attorney general Jeff Sessions reneged on a promise to leave the state’s marijuana industry alone. Really?

The issue started with the so-called Cole Memorandum, issued in 2013 by deputy attorney general James Cole that directed U.S. attorneys not to make marijuana prosecutions a priority in states where voters have approved its legalization.

Gardner told Colorado Public Radio that in a conversation before his confirmation hearing, Sessions said he had no plans to withdraw the Cole Memo, that such a move was not part of President Trump’s agenda. “I was under the impression that he would keep his word,” Gardner said. “I was not told the truth.”

Gardner is shocked he wasn’t told the truth? What’s Corey been doing, smoking too much weed? Trump and his people lie regularly. It’s become an unfortunate normal. Little things from the size of his crowd at the inauguration to big things like accusing Obama of wiretapping his campaign and that massive voter fraud skewed the popular vote. Trump is like a stable genius who picked an attorney general who equates weed with heroin.

Opioid use in this country is a real problem. Weed, while not problem-free, isn’t a major concern on the same level. But Sessions is a whacko about weed who prefers 1950s attitude versus 2018 facts. Corey shouldn’t be shocked; he should wake up.

Which brings us to the Fire and Fury book by Michael Wolff. He essentially chronicles members of the Trump administration who have apparently learned the best way to treat the president is like the petulant, attention-starved eight-year-old “genius” he appears to be. It is not like anyone paying the slightest amount of attention to Donald’s actions, tweets, bombast and general manner had no clue he wasn’t such a screwball sliding into what might be dementia. Wolff’s book simply reiterates what people already knew. Why is this shocking?

Oh, and then there’s the ongoing debate over national perspective between the leaders of the local political parties. Local Republican Party chair Jane Chaney obviously took umbrage at local Democratic Party chair Jeremy Rubingh’s letter in the December 29 issue of the paper that celebrated the wave of resistance to Trump World by a variety of increasingly engaged citizens. Rubingh took umbrage at what he asserted were untrue points in Chaney’s January 5 letter celebrating the virtues of the recently passed Republican tax cut bill. “To argue the merits of cutting taxes for the rich is one thing,” he said. “But non-partisan economists have discredited pretty much every single thing she listed. Republicans have stated they are already looking forward to using the skyrocketing deficits the Trump tax creates as an excuse to slash funding for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, and other critical programs that Americans rely on.”

If you read what national Republicans say, it is obvious Rubingh is on to something obvious. House Speaker Paul Ryan has indeed stated that reining in entitlement spending is the next road to travel to cut the federal deficit – a deficit he and his pals just increased by a trillion or so dollars that benefits the really rich over the middle class in the long run. It is obvious which Americans Ryan and Trump want to help and it’s not the people who will end up living in a rental at the Corner of Brush Creek. Shocking!

The bottom line is that sometimes the hard work of life comes in seeing and acknowledging what is obvious — and not being shocked when the obvious is obvious.

—Mark Reaman

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