Today is Monday, June 11. Paris Hilton is either in jail, or she’s not. I really can’t keep up anymore.
The battle over the Roan Plateau continues to heat up. As Nick Martin of The Denver Post reports:
Some of Colorado’s top elected officials are preparing to battle a federal agency over its plan to allow drilling on vast amounts of the Roan Plateau.
U.S. Reps. Mark Udall and John Salazar will try this week in Congress to put a one-year hold on the plan, their staff members said Sunday.
Meantime, Gov. Bill Ritter said he will back the congressmen’s efforts. He criticized the Bureau of Land Management, which announced Friday that it would lease 70 percent of the plateau for drilling without giving state officials time they sought to review the plan.
“No harm would have come from (the extra time),” Ritter said by phone Sunday from South Dakota, where he is attending the annual Western Governors’ Association meeting. He added, “We’re hoping that Reps. Salazar and Udall would be able to delay that funding.”
The delay would come from an amendment the congressmen will try to add to a bill giving the BLM more than $1 billion. The bill is expected to reach the House floor this week.
The political wrangling began last week, when the bureau told Ritter it would not give his administration an extra four months to review its plan, seven years in the making, that allows companies to lease land in the Roan wilderness area and drill for gas.
Some of Colorado’s officials felt the way the announcement came down was brash. “I thought it was pretty arrogant, frankly, to release the plan when they did,” said Alan Salazar, Udall’s chief of staff.
Is it just me, or does BLM sound like a sandwich?
Former Rocky Flats workers continue to get the big middle finger from the federal government. As Laura Frank and Ann Imse of the Rocky Mountain News report:
Barring any “shocking” revelations, there is “little chance” that a White House advisory board will vote Tuesday in favor of immediate compensation for most sick Rocky Flats workers, said the board member in charge of the Flats case.
Several board members, in interviews and public comments, said their hands are tied by the way federal health officials have interpreted the law passed in 2000 to help ill nuclear weapons workers across the nation.
The regulations say the board must ask whether the government has sufficient information to analyze how much radiation individual workers were exposed to, said board member Mark Griffon, who oversees the Flats case.
If the answer is yes, as many board members believe, the board must reject the petition for streamlined financial help to workers with one of 22 radiation-related cancers, Griffon and others say. Eligible workers receive $150,000 and reimbursement for medical expenses.
“People sincerely do feel their health has been affected by the plant,” said Genevieve Roessler, a board member. “But they don’t understand the rules.”
The law allows the government to grant special status to a group of workers if records are missing, faulty or incomplete. Nineteen nuclear weapons sites have received such status.
Flats workers don’t agree that the records are sufficient in their cases. And they point out that having records doesn’t mean the government has a scientifically valid way of using them to determine radiation doses for a particular worker.
The board has struggled during more than two years of deliberations to get scientists from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to show proof that their estimates are valid, not just that the data are available.
Is it proof that many workers from Rocky Flats have cancer, or just a really weird coincidence? I’m going to go out on a limb and say it isn’t a coincidence, but then, I don’t work for the federal government.
Dan Slater, the first vice chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, writes in his Dem Notes blog about the discussions being held to determine the site of the 2008 Colorado Democratic Party Convention:
…we went on site visits in Broomfield, while we spent the afternoon in Colorado Springs, the two cities that are vying to host the 2008 Colorado Democratic Convention and Assembly…
… In Broomfield, we first visited the Broomfield Events Center, a new, state-of-the-art facility that has all sorts of technological advances. Then, we visited the luxurious Omni Interlocken, which is proposed as the Host Hotel for the Convention. We finally visited the Broomfield Community Center, which was proposed for Friday evening meetings; however, Broomfield is still looking at some other options for Friday evening.
After a great morning with the Broomfield Democrats, we travelled south to Colorado Springs. There, we began our afternoon at the Doubletree Hotel, followed by the Sheraton. The Colorado Springs Host Committee is proposing a choice of either for the Host Hotel and Friday meetings (some of you may remember the Sheraton from our 2005 Democratic Summit). We completed the day with a full tour of the Colorado Springs World Arena, another nicely-furnished facility. There, we were joined by several local dignitaries, including 2006 Congressional candidate Jay Fawcett and El Paso County Chair John Morris.
Qwest CEO Richard Notebaert has announced plans to retire, which no doubt thrilled business writers around the globe who always had trouble spelling his name. As the Associated Press reports:
Notebaert, 59, said he would leave after the board had chosen a replacement. Qwest Communications International Inc. said no timetable had been set for that process.
“The time has come for me to spend more time with family and focus on other commitments,” Notebaert said in a written statement.
Denver-based Qwest is the primary telephone service provider in 14 Midwestern and Western states and operates a fiber-optic network for broadband services.
Notebaert joined Qwest as chairman and CEO in June 2002, replacing Joe Nacchio. Nacchio was convicted in April of 19 counts of insider-trading. He has said he will appeal.
Golden parachute, deploy!
He’s lost credibility on just about every other issue, so why shouldn’t he lose credibility on Democracy? As The Washington Post reports:
President Bush waxed eloquent about democracy in Prague’s majestic Czernin Palace last week, pledging to the assembled dissidents from 17 countries that the United States “will never excuse your oppressors” and, “We will always stand for your freedom.” It was the centerpiece speech of his European tour.
But the scorecard for the Bush administration, four years after it began promoting democracy as the key to the United States’ long-term security, shows it striking out, according to analysts and activists who originally endorsed the president’s efforts. Democracy regression is visible from Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, a country that was the first democracy in Latin America, to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, where the Soviet demise triggered political changes worldwide 15 years ago…
… “It was a very good speech, in fact, but Bush now lacks credibility,” said Amr Hamzawy of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Governments and opposition movements alike, no one is listening — governments because they were very quick to understand U.S. policy shifts devaluing democracy promotion, and opposition movements because the U.S. has done very little to act on its promises.”
Well, at least the speech was good.
But wait, there’s more bad news for Bush on the leadership front. Again, from The Washington Post:
President Bush awoke in Germany yesterday to find his immigration compromise on life support and facing fresh criticism that he failed to exert the leadership needed to save what is likely to be the last major domestic agenda item of his presidency.
Although congressional aides and GOP strategists said it was unfair to blame Bush alone, the collapse of the immigration bill late Thursday was a reflection of the weakened state of his presidency. Those aides said the bill’s troubles were exacerbated by Bush’s deteriorating relations with congressional Republicans and his inability to combat an unexpectedly fierce attack on the bill by grass-roots conservatives.
“This is sort of what his life is going to be like for the rest of his term,” veteran GOP strategist Ed Rollins said. “There are Republicans defecting from him now. He’s not going to have any great success on anything that’s controversial.”
Administration officials said it is premature to describe as dead legislation that has been one of Bush’s top priorities since the early days of his administration. They described the events that have imperiled the bill as being less about Bush’s leadership and more about internal Senate dynamics. They added that they expect the bill to come back to life in the next few weeks after passions cool and Republicans and Democrats alike recognize that it is in their interest to pass a bill.
It may be “premature” to describe the illegal immigration measure as “dead,” but I think we can safely say that Bush’s Presidency is pretty well deceased. He’s really just keeping the chair warm at this point.
Democratic Presidential contender Barack Obama made a stop in Colorado yesterday. As Nick Martin of The Denver Post reports:
Hundreds of people sported campaign T-shirts and shelled out big bucks Sunday to show their support for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., the third presidential hopeful to visit the area since Thursday.
Organizers estimated about 750 people were on hand for the private fundraiser at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, paying as much as $500 a head for the chance to see the senator and his wife, Michelle…
… Obama was the third candidate to make a stop in Colorado in the past several days. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, was here Thursday, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican, was here Saturday.
Another organizer of the Obama event, political consultant Steve Welchert, said he expects Colorado to see more campaign action because of its early caucuses Feb. 5.
Sunday’s event was Obama’s third stop in the state since October.
“He’s liking Colorado, for some reason,” Welchert said. “That’s good for us.”
Obama’s two-hour stop at the airport was off-limits to the media. Welchert refused to say how much the fundraiser was expected to bring in for the campaign.