Craig Does Moffat County or the Western Slope have a voice with Gov. Bill Ritter?
This is the question the editorial board wrestled with this week, and the answer is seemingly no.
And this is a disappointment.
For all of the governor's lip service about reaching across the party line of Republicans and Democrats, we're not seeing it.
For all of the governor's talk about how he has to take into account the entire state of Colorado, we can't help but notice when he says "state," he seems to mean the Front Range. Or more appropriately, where he's going to get the majority of votes.
However, we do see Ritter reaching across the state line to take our resources for the "greater" state good, meaning getting more resources to the Front Range.
Should it come as a surprise that a Democratic governor would not have an agenda different than a decisively Republican county or that the Western Slope is poorly represented on his cabinet? No.
But what is shocking is the governor's apparent lack of even trying to talk to local elected officials to determine what is best for our area. It's been said before, and we're going to say it again, it was wrong for Ritter to come to the Vermillion Basin without contacting local officials and it is disrespectful for him not to take into account the hard work of the Northwest Colorado Stewardship, a group of people with wide-ranging interests who made many compromises in discussing the future of Resource Management Plan and land owned by the Bureau of Land Management.
This group worked together for years to come up with alternatives, and it should have been the model of how diverse opinions can come together and find a solution. Instead, it runs the risk of becoming a footnote.
This has nothing to do with whether oil and gas should be developed in Vermillion Basin or anywhere else, for that matter. It has everything to do with Ritter showing he respects his people in Northwest Colorado.
His recent response in a letter to the Moffat County Commissioners that Harris Sherman, Department of Natural Resources director, has been to our area many times to discuss Vermillion Basin is laughable. Is the governor too good to deal with our representatives face to face and make hard decisions? Or should we expect his lackeys to be his presence in the area from now on?
The end result of this has been keyboards being pounded out of shape due to the frenzy of letter writing filled with accusations and differing facts, because apparently it's too hard to meet face to face with anyone anymore.
So, Gov. Ritter, the editorial board asks you to show us that, yes, the Western Slope still has a voice.
Show us you're as good as your word about reaching across party lines.
Come to Moffat County, sit down with the county commissioners and figure this issue out.
Even if both sides still disagree, you will have shown us one thing.
That you have respect for Northwest Colorado.