Before I left Colorado this weekend, I talked with a nonprofit
leader who recounted to me the various charitable enterprises that were
hurting in the valley — in part because of lost state funds and because
donors had been made more cautious by the state of the economy.
Examples ranged from closure of a unit that cared for severely disabled adults to arts, conservation and other groups that support various aspects of quality of life. We talked about how churches might support a program to feed hungry families, except they, too, are straining to pay for buildings and pastors' salaries.
And we talked about her daughter's school, where two classrooms of kids taking an advanced placement course had the same teacher but different textbooks, because the school could only afford new books for half the students.
Mesa County is a conservative place that in recent elections has defeated a school bonding proposal, funding for a new public safety building and a new county library. It's in places like this — not in more liberal Minnesota — where the doctrine of low taxes and leave us alone to take care of ourselves will first be tested.
Will new or renewed voluntary organizations step up where government is stepping back?
So far, it's not looking good.
Stricter oil and gas rules approved by outgoing Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter were supposed to wreck western Colorado's booming economy as companies pulled out for blacker pastures. Ritter's likely opponent and energy development lobbyist Scott McGinnis had been hammering the theme all year.
Well, now McGinnis will face a charismatic and effective Denver mayor, John Hickenlooper, and his bogus claim about the impact of environmental and health protections has been shown up by the facts.
Colorado was the top issuer of drilling permits and wells drilled, compared to its neighbors, including Wyoming, the Heidi Fleiss of energy states.
And McGinnis is the one feeling screwed.
Over a year ago, I wrote about a Ferrari-driving local fellow who shot up the front door of his golf club. At the time, I suggested there was more to the story than a rich drunk having a temper tantrum.
A story about his plea this week fills out some important details about his depression and chemical dependency.
"When you're out of your mind, the worst thing is you don't know you're out of your mind."
In the weeks before the shooting, Rice said, friends tried to get him into a hospital for help but were unsuccessful. "It's almost like you have to do something bad, but then it's too late," he said of his friends' efforts to get him treatment.
Rice said he will send the club an apology through [his attorney]. "The way to say you're sorry is to live a better life," he said.