Monday, January 23, 2006

January 23, 2006 Political Will

Consider This for January 23, 2006—Political Will

For the past couple of weeks some words have kept popping into my head during my too-seldom quiet times. “The worst thing you can do is nothing at all.”

I did not know the context or who had said them.

When I was in law enforcement I had a plaque on my office wall quoting a famous Englishman: “All that is necessary for the forces of evil in the world to win is for enough good men to do nothing.”

Very much the same thing but not quite.

I finally Googled it this week and found the results to be very interesting.

Teddy Roosevelt once said:
"In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."
That is about as close as I could get to what was rolling around in my brain.
I need to put the whole thought in the context of being an elected official. A public servant.
We are admonished to do things that promote the greatest public good. The problem is defining the greatest public good. Is it something that has a positive impact on the greatest number of people? Is it something that will help future generations at a cost to the current inhabitants of the planet?
Is it something that will only help five-year-old children as they enter kindergarten?
What a dilemma. I am not sure that there is a good answer.
As a progressive liberal I believe that we all need to be looking forward and considering the future. As a historian I look back at the past to learn the lessons about what has worked and what has not worked. But only as a reference and not as something that needs to be repeated.
Again, Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Does not work, folks. That is why the conservative model is the most comfortable but the most unworkable.
I think that public officials, whether elected or appointed, have a duty to look into the future. We are mandated to prepare a vision for the future because everything we do impacts what happens tomorrow and a hundred tomorrows past that.
The future can be scary. Change can be frightening.
There is not conflict without change, and there is no change without conflict.
I have had friends and relatives who have lived most of their lives indoors because they have a fear of going into the world. They have a fear of change. They live in their own self-constructed prisons because they do not know what would happen if they went outdoors. The diagnosis is agoraphobia: fear of the marketplace.
Imagine being like them. Imagine not having a life and suffering within one’s own mental prison.
I have always believed that you need to confront your fears. If you do something, it is better than not doing anything at all. Even if you fail, you have at least tried. I remember reading about Thomas Edison and all of the failures he had in life. Imagine what this world would be like if he had not decided to be progressive and move forward.
To be narrow-minded and inflexible causes the brain to atrophy. Hardening of the brain cells so that a new idea and a new thought can’t get in. Heaven forbid we would try something new that might help future generations.
When the words pop into my head: “The worst thing you can do is nothing at all,” the fear of the future disappears. Any paranoia or anxiety goes away. All I can see is a very bright light showing me the way to facilitate progress for the people I serve

Monday, January 16, 2006

January 16, 2006 Right to Choose

Consider This for January 16, 2006—Pro Choice

I am pro choice. I have always been pro choice. I am in favor of a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body. The same way I am in favor of a man’s right to choose what happens to his body.

Being pro choice does not mean pro abortion.

Pro choice means that you support having a woman make her own decisions about her own body including reproductive rights.

It took me a long time to finally figure out what all of this means.

I am a Christian. I became a Christian nearly fifty-four years ago. I realize that many of my Christian friends are pro life.

I respect the opinion of the people who are pro life. I know that they are advocates for children and for the sanctity of life.

Many pro life people are against the death penalty and so am I. A true pro life advocated is committed to the preservation of life under all circumstances.

I do have a problem with the hypocrisy of some pro life advocates who are in favor of the death penalty. Either you respect life or you don’t. You have to make up your mind.

Being pro life is one of the choices in being pro choice. The decision to not have an abortion and carry a fetus to full term is considered pro life. That is one of the choices in being pro choice.

I like to explain it this way. If a woman came to me to ask my advice about whether she should carry a fetus to full term and birth I would advise her to give birth and not to have an abortion. There are hundreds of women who would love to have a newborn child to cherish and nourish. I think that it is a tremendous gift to someone to carry and give birth to a child and then relinquish it to a woman who can’t have her own child.

I know a lot of women in Summit County who have traveled to the far places on this earth to get a child for their family. I think that is great. I think that it is a tremendous sacrifice but will result in the child having a better life here in the United States.

That too is a choice. A woman’s right to choose to travel to Russia, China, Viet Nam or Eastern Europe to get a child. What a wonderful choice for the mother and child.

I also know many women who have chosen to have an abortion. That is a woman’s right to choose. I am old enough to remember when abortions were performed by people in dark apartments in Denver under horrible conditions. Many times the woman would die because of these conditions.

Today women who exercise their right to choose can go to a medical facility and have the procedure under very sterile and clean conditions. Part of a woman’s right to choose.

The Alito hearings in Washington recently have brought a lot of this back to the forefront. We have pickets and demonstrations at the capitol about a woman’s right to choose.

I have spent a lot of time doing research and reading everything I can about Roe vs. Wade and the implications to our constitution. I personally do not feel that it is a legal issue and that it most certainly not a constitutional issue. The privacy issues and the states rights issues are not weighted heavily enough in my opinion to reach the level of the United States Supreme Court.

I think that the question should be answered in the hearts and minds of the women who are directly affected by the decision to have an abortion or to carry the fetus to full term. The Supreme Court of the individual and not the Supreme Court of the Nation should decide. It is a human rights issue and not a matter of public policy or law.

Monday, January 2, 2006

January 2, 2006 Hopes for the New Year

Consider This for January 2, 2006--Hopes for the New Year

How time flies when you are having fun. In July I will be starting my third year in the State Legislature. Seems like just yesterday I was still a Summit County Commissioner.

I am still telling people on a daily basis that I have not moved to Denver. I would have to resign if I lived in Denver. A state representative has to live in his or her district by law. Still everyone wants to know how I enjoy living in Denver. I have reached a point where I no longer explain the state law. I just smile and nod and tell everyone that living in Summit County is living in the very best place in the world. I hope to live here for a very long time.

It is 81 miles from Breckenridge to the State Capitol at 200 East Colfax Avenue. It might as well be 1,000 miles.

I lived and worked in New York City for much of the 1960s. When I walk the streets of Denver I can still smell the diesel fumes from the buses. I can still smell the urine along the gutters of the streets. I can still see the vacant eyes of the homeless as they beg for money along the 16th Street Mall.

Some things never change. The Bowery of Lower Manhattan of 1960 still exists along East Colfax in Denver. Nearly 46 years later everything looks and smells the same. I wonder if we are truly moving forward. I hope the homeless find a place to live and food to eat.

Even though I do not live in Denver I still get to experience the 162 miles round-trip several times a week. I have it nailed at this point.

In 1975 and 1976 my wife and I drove daily from Dillon to Lakewood. We lived at the Lodge at Lake Dillon and worked for Jefferson County Schools in Lakewood. We did that for many months and never got stopped by weather or traffic problems.

I can only wish it was the same today. The road is the same and follows the same route. In fact, the highway has been widened in some places, most notably from Silverthorne to the tunnel. In 1975 it was only four lanes. After the debacle of I-70 being closed 47 times in 1995, it was widened to six lanes westbound from the tunnel to Frisco and six lanes from Dillon-Silverthorne to the tunnel. I can’t imagine how bad it would be today if that project had not been completed. I hope that our roads improve.

I still study Spanish a couple of hours a day. I do four miles on the treadmill at the house and listen to Spanish instruction during that hour and then listen for the one hour and fifteen minutes it takes me to get to the Capitol.

It takes my mind off of the crazy drivers.

I have a habit of putting my car in cruise control whenever I can. I will set it at 65 when I get on at Frisco and then drop it to 60 in Dillon Valley to the tunnel. I go back to 65 from the tunnel to Idaho Springs and then back to 60 at Hidden Valley where it drops to 55 to the bottom of Floyd Hill. From there to Genesee it is 65 again and then back to 55 going down that long hill to Morrison.

By doing this I can get 35 miles per gallon with my gas six-cylinder engine. I have friends with hybrids who do not get that kind of mileage. It is all in the wrist. Using the wrist to set the cruise control. And keeping the foot off of the accelerator or the brake.

Just relax and let the world pass you by. Let the world pass you by at a high rate of speed. Everyone in a rush to get somewhere. Probably to the gas station because they have burned up all of their fuel by speeding. Cause and effect. I hope that we find a solution to our energy problems.

I have a lot of hope for this country, this state, and this district. I hope we all slow down and save some lives. I hope we all take some time to stop along the road and get back into the forest and enjoy this beautiful country. I hope we can bring all of our men and women home from Iraq safe and sound this year. I hope that every elected official learns that the world does not revolve around 200 East Colfax and that the true power remains with the people.

And I hope that each and every one of you has the very best year you have ever had and that each year will just get better.