Whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting

When will Republicans learn? In Colorado, nothing’s more important than water. Nothing. Which is why Club 20 just pulled a major about-face on their support of Rep. Josh Penry’s Amendment 52, a plan to take money from severance taxes on oil and gas drilling and use it for I-70. After a spirited debate at their fall meeting, Club 20’s board of directors made the highly unusual move, thanks to arguments from former Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Jim Lochhead, who pointed out that money for the highway would come at the expense of water projects.

Welcome to Colorado, where Samuel Clemens (maybe) once said, “Whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting over.” As if the political carcasses from Referendum A didn’t already prove that. So why the heck did Penry (R-Grand Junction), by all accounts a savvy politician and intelligent guy, not only support but create a plan to cut money for water projects in this state?

Even more puzzling, back in July the guy actually said, “The choice for voters is: Is the Department of Natural Resources’ budget more important than addressing congestion on Interstate 70?”


I think voters in Colorado have made it pretty clear that yes, Josh, they do care more about water than I-70 — or anything else, for that matter. But thanks for making sure Democrats have plenty of ammo for when you inevitably run for higher office.

As a side note, Penry didn’t defend Amendment 52 during the debate at Club 20 and his name hasn’t appeared in a press release for the group since mid-August. Maybe he’s figured out that serving as the front-man for a plan to cut money from water projects might not be the best long-term political strategy?

Note to the Obama campaign: John McCain handed you political gold when he said we should renegotiate the Colorado River Compact. Failing to use that in a Grand Junction TV spot, or at the very least on radio, would constitute political malpractice of the highest order. This could swing the Western Slope enough to win state-wide.

But what do I know, I don’t live in D.C. or make millions on TV buys. I just live here.

Colorado Independent’s blogumnist (blogger-columnist) Jeff Bridges has worked in Democratic politics for the last 10 years, serving as communications director for two congressional races in Colorado and two governor’s races in the Deep South. Bridges also worked as a legislative assistant in Washington, D.C., with a focus on military and small business issues.

Read Jeff’s latest commentaries.

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