Our View: Commission criticism unsettling

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Our view

Moffat County Commission should cut state legislator some slack.

Craig Editorial Board, April 2009 to July 2009

  • Bryce Jacobson, newspaper representative
  • Joshua Roberts, newspaper representative
  • Amy Fontenot, newspaper representative
  • Bernie Rose, community representative
  • Bill Lawrence, community representative
  • Brenda Lyons, community representative

It's highly doubtful that this year's legislative session was the easiest that state Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, has ever gone through.

White, a member of the Joint Budget Committee, was tasked with cutting $300 million from a state budget facing a woeful revenue short fall.

Given this daunting task, the veteran lawmaker and other JBC members faced difficult financial decisions, decisions that were going to affect lives, and some of which were bound to be unpopular.

Some JBC proposals to balance the budget, such as cutting the state's higher education funding and tapping into money from Pinnacol Assurance, a semi-private company, drew criticism from the public.

Two of the senator's public detractors were aboard the Moffat County Commission.

Earlier this month, commissioners Tom Gray and Tom Mathers publicly criticized some of White's positions. Mathers went so far as to say that it seemed White may be "flipping" from the Republican Party's philosophies.

He also said state Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, seemed to be "keeping with our philosophies."

Although openly criticizing elected leaders and their decisions is a fundamental and important tenet of democracy, the Editorial Board finds the commissioner's comments on White unsettling.

The Editorial Board would like to point out to Mathers and Gray that White has a proven track record of being an advocate for the Western Slope, while Baumgardner's first session was filled with high hopes and little in the way of results.

White's role on the JBC is bound to be, as the senator has said before, more beneficial to the Western Slope than not, something Mathers and Gray should keep in mind before speaking out of school.

And, the two commissioners should note, that particular committee assignment was, given the state's financial instability, akin to a kamikaze mission this year. The financial troubles and the cuts that had to be made to rectify them meant that it wasn't a question of whether the JBC's decisions would cause harm, but rather how much.

In that respect, the Editorial Board is pleased the Western Slope has someone with its best interests at heart, someone like Al White working to ensure the damage was limited, even if two of our commissioners may not be.

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