Mike Lawrence: Bill, Bob and the beetles | SteamboatToday.com

Mike Lawrence: Bill, Bob and the beetles

Ritter plans $750,000 party; Beauprez e-mails

Mike Lawrence

— In light of Steamboat’s recent cold snap and the rapidly splitting paths of Colorado’s two recent candidates for governor, allow me to start this notes column with a little Robert Frost.

“I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

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So wrote Frost in his infamous and oft-quoted 1920 work, “The Road Not Taken.” Although the poem is usually taken as a celebration of lesser-traveled paths, it’s a safe bet that Democratic Governor-elect Bill Ritter will enjoy the highly traveled roads he’ll take around Colorado next month. And the defeated governor candidate, Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, is likely finding that the road less traveled is not so sweet.

To the notes:

– On Tuesday, Ritter announced plans for his multi-week inaugural festivities, which kick off with the Jan. 9 swearing-in at the Capitol in Denver and include a “whistle-stop” train tour on the Front Range, a statewide plane tour – no word yet if its coming to Routt – a swanky reception, dinner and concert Jan. 12 at the Colorado Convention Center and a not-so-swanky spaghetti dinner at a Pueblo train depot. The events will cost an estimated $750,000. Read all about it online, or buy a $300 ticket for the train ride, at http://www.coloradopromise.org.

– On Monday, Beauprez sent a mass e-mail thanking his supporters and announcing his plans to begin a Web newsletter in January, after winding up his term in Congress. “With Democrat majorities in the House and Senate, it will bear watching their legislative attempts relative to health care, education, taxation and economic policy, as well as the big issues of illegal immigration and homeland security. Similar issues will be addressed in our own state Legislature, and their action will bear observation as well,” Beauprez wrote.

– Ritter’s pricey parties likely will not violate the newly passed Amendment 41, which voters approved Nov. 7 and which prohibits elected officials, government employees and their families from receiving gifts of more than $50. Ritter’s staff has formed a nonprofit to handle money from donors and corporate sponsors, a circuitous route around an amendment that is already raising confused eyebrows across Colorado.

– Routt County commissioners and county staff blasted Amendment 41 this week. “It’s highly vague,” Commissioner Doug Monger said of 41. “The wrongs are going to continue to happen, they’ll just happen under the table as they have in the past.” Monger, the new president of Colorado Counties Inc., or CCI, said “a big discussion” about 41 occurred at last week’s CCI convention in Colorado Springs, where county officials statewide debated what the amendment will mean locally. “We’re going to have to figure out what this means to us,” Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan said Monday. “There are a lot of unknowns.” As an example, Sullivan questioned if the child of a county employee receiving a local scholarship would violate the amendment.

– Monger isn’t buying a recent report by researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado State University and the University of Idaho. The report suggests that the bark beetle epidemic ravaging much of Western Colorado may not be creating the massive wildfire risk that foresters have long feared, because the beetles are actually thinning forests and reducing fuel for potential wildfires. “Everybody’s an expert,” Monger joked about the report. “I still think we’re sitting on the Katrina of the West.”