Thursday, September 17, 2020

So much to write about

The problem isn’t that there’s nothing to write about. The problem is there is too much and it’s busy.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis on Tuesday declared that all alcohol sales in the state will end at 10 o’clock every night for the next month or so. That’s not normally a big impact on me but the late shift at the Talk will sure get lonely. In one of the favorite observations of the week, Polis basically said that young people between 21 and 29 years old getting drunk in a public place late in the evening is “inconsistent with social distancing.” Really? But first you have to get lucky which might just mean starting earlier and drinking faster!

One of Colorado’s U.S. senators was in the valley last Friday. He zipped to Western Colorado University, Lake Irwin and Oh Be Joyful campground. He didn’t really let any elected officials know he was coming so it sure felt the whole purpose of the trip was for photo opportunities. And there were photos of him at OBJ and Western in a recent press release.

The part of the visit that tweaked me was that I went out the Slate to see our senator at the campground and there were a dozen local citizens there at the entrance waiting for him as well. He must have been in the back seat of one of the many vehicles that went through the entrance because it appeared he did a no-show. But he showed for the photo without stopping to chat with constituents. Granted, it was obvious those constituents were ready to pepper him with some tough questions about his stance on fracking in the North Fork and they made it clear with protest signs, but it’s just sort of a cheese ball move to basically sneak by without taking the time or having the fortitude to chat with those you represent but who disagree with you.

The senator didn’t have a problem hanging out at the Mt. Crested Butte house owned by new GV2H PAC founder Jim Moran. A gathering of folks met Friday at his place to listen to Gardner and the two people running for county commissioner, Dave Taylor and Trudy Vader, who hope to knock off the Democratic incumbents. I have no issue with Gardner hanging out in his comfort zone and Moran said Gardner didn’t do any fundraising but rather gave a quick speech, didn’t field any questions and spent about 90 minutes meeting and greeting.

Gardner has every right to hang out with people of like mind. It’s likely his opponent, John Hickenlooper, has been in a big house in Boulder where he has mingled with those leaning left. The issue is that Gardner never apparently wanted to gather information about public lands, one of his stated reasons for the trip, from elected officials who are on the ground 24/7 dealing with public land issues. County commissioner Jonathan Houck basically crashed the Irwin party to share a few words with his elected colleague. And while taking heat from constituents is probably one of the least fun parts of the senator’s job, it is also a serious part of the position and Gardner shirked that responsibility. Once elected, an official represents everyone and not just those who agree with one’s politics. Taking the time and effort to hear opposing viewpoints is a political plus, not a pain in the ass.

When asked why he didn’t stop to chat with constituents in that campground setting, Gardner’s political communications director said that they “encourage anyone who would like to speak with Senator Gardner or our office about an issue reach out and request a meeting.”

Or maybe just stop when the opportunity presents itself. Friday’s action just seems so stereotypical politician where a senator chooses to hang out with money instead of regular people with a grievance. Gardner’s avoidance in the face of opportunity is disappointing and something to remember this fall when you cast a vote.

Numbers can paint a picture and the picture being painted of Crested Butte’s immediate future is of a more crowded and wealthy population. Given world events, people of means are looking for places to flee where it’s beautiful, it’s safe and their kids can get a good education. Crested Butte fills the bill and literally millions of dollars are being spent on homes in the upper valley this summer. Those houses now take millions to purchase, so they aren’t selling to your future lift op or dish washer. The buyers are already looking at enrolling their kids in the Crested Butte Community School, as the administration has fielded more than 60 recent inquiries about getting new kids signed up for August. The numbers paint a picture of quick and significant change. That money thing is once again playing a role in a changing valley. BTW, I know of a house worth six figures that I might sell for seven…

The scariest issue I see outside the bubble right now is Donald’s moves to try to creep toward martial law. Sending federal troops to oversee American citizens on the pretense of protecting government property when the best his secret police can say is that their building shouldn’t have been sprayed with graffiti is a charade that will impact all of us if it is allowed to continue. Protestors, whether on the right or the left, who destroy property or incite violence should be arrested. Protecting federal property is one thing. Doing it in jack-booted anonymity is another.

Storm troopers trained not to police but to militarize situations were asked to leave by state and local officials in Portland because they were escalating the waning protest situation. They haven’t. A Navy veteran who went to ask his uniformed compatriots about their oath to the Constitution was beaten by the anonymous federal agents. Moms linking arms were pepper sprayed. A man walking home was snatched from the street without explanation. Now Donald says he’ll send similar brown shirts in camo to Chicago. If this isn’t where conservative Republicans raise their voice in dissent, where and when will it be? Will it come too late as they watch their friends “disappeared” from the street for daring to ask a pointed question of Donald? A two-bit dictator wannabe who relishes lawlessness and disorder while deceitfully claiming he is all about law and order can be extremely dangerous when he is given a little rope at a time.

Then there’s the anger. Seemingly everywhere. Some second homeowners are pissed they aren’t properly “appreciated” in the valley and promulgate the fear that every local is intent on “keying” their SUV and yelling at them whenever they can. So some organize with a plan to get the valley they want instead of the one they moved to. I wonder if that will increase tensions. Some locals are screaming that the damn second homeowners (who probably provide a lot of their salary that allows them to live here year-round) are responsible for their dry cough and the local school’s possibly not opening this fall on top of the apparent Texan habit of pooping in streams before throwing their trash out the window.

Pretty much everyone is on edge right now. The foul and mean moods result in private frustration morphing into public meanness. Making ignorant sweeping remarks about groups of people they don’t really know is simply not cool of anyone. 

Oh, and did I mention Gunnison County is seeing more positive coronavirus test results? Luckily, the hospital and local health care system are currently in good shape so don’t expect to turn Yellow tomorrow. But be aware and take social distancing precautions. Oh, and did I mention someone is deliberately cutting the masks off the dragon and knight at the entrance to town? Is it political statement or teenage prank? It is irritating and juvenile. Oh, and did I mention the sheriff is investigating one of his deputies for what some consider to be dangerous Facebook posts? Weird whichever way that turns out. Oh, and did I mention like half the planets in our solar system are in retrograde and that is screwing with people’s psyches and normal order in our world? Oh, and did I point out the backcountry is packed, trash is overflowing, it’s hot, and there’s an election coming up that seems to have one major contentious issue: A postcard from April?

Yeah, the problem isn’t that there’s nothing to write about…. Wait… I almost forgot that someone called the cops on me for a facemask violation (that wasn’t). Geez. I better grab a drink before it’s put away at 10 o’clock…

—Mark Reaman

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