Crested Butte News: “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”
Unemployment insurance payments for 227,000 Coloradans begin to expire today, but instead of working to deliver relief for struggling families and ensuring our hospitals are prepared to handle a rise in coronavirus cases, Senator Cory Gardner is spending the day campaigning with Ivanka Trump.
Gardner has stood by Donald Trump “100 percent” throughout the pandemic, refusing to criticize the president as he ignored scientists, threatened to withhold funding for schools, and even called to “slow the testing down.”
Over the Senate’s two-week vacation, Gardner attempted to tout public lands but refused to meet with Coloradans asking him to support a bill to protect Colorado wilderness and to oppose Trump’s anti-public lands nominee to head the Bureau of Land Management.
In case you missed it:
- 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.
- …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.
- Nine months after a public lands bill impacting Gunnison County passed the U.S. House of Representatives, the legislation passed the House once again — this time as an amendment to a national defense budget bill.
- The CORE Act on its own passed the House last fall and still sits in a Senate committee for review.
- This week during a visit to Gunnison County, Sen. Cory Gardner said he will not stop the CORE Act, but still believes more work must be done on it before it passes.
- Gardner visited last Friday to tour the Paul M. Rady Computer Science and Engineering building being constructed on the campus of Western Colorado University, and then met with a handful of students. He also traveled to Lake Irwin and then on to Oh Be Joyful campground north of Crested Butte — although his stop was brief and he did not engage with protestors or media at the site.
- The CORE Act, on the other hand, would preserve approximately 400,000 acres of public land across Colorado, including more than 100,000 acres along the Continental Divide and 61,000 acres in the San Juan Mountains.
- “I’m certainly not stopping it,” Gardner said. “They could pass it and I’m not objecting to it.”
- Yet, local conservationists used Gardner’s visit to challenge him on his position regarding the CORE Act.
- “Senator Gardner has been completely absent from any and all discussions around conservation and the environment in Gunnison County during his term,” said Brett Henderson, executive director of High Country Conservation Advocates in a press release. “Proposals such as the CORE Act have broad community support across the Western Slope of Colorado and should be a no brainer for anyone who cares about public lands and the essential recreation economy that Colorado thrives on.”
- The group is also critical of Gardner for not revealing his position on the President’s intended nomination of William Perry Pendley to lead the Bureau of Land Management. Pendley, who has been leading the agency for the last year, is alleged to have said he supports selling federal public lands.
- Yet, Gardner said Pendley will have to face tough questions in an upcoming confirmation hearing which has yet to be scheduled. He said he would make his decision on the BLM lead following the hearing.
- “Does he really support selling off public lands? That’s a non starter,” Gardner said. “I certainly oppose that.”
P.S. – Someone needs to tell Gardner that Pendley, in fact, has a long record of pushing to sell off public lands.