John Colson: Hit and Run
Aspen Times Weekly
Aspen, CO Colorado
Well, it’s certainly been an interesting week.
A new study declared Colorado to be the skinniest state in the union, and Mississippi the fattest, in terms of obesity among the two states’ populations.
Makes you wonder why, doesn’t it?
Perhaps it’s the difference in topography. Colorado, at least the half of it that we live in here in the Roaring Fork Valley, is all ups and downs and rivers and woods, and we get a good bit of exercise just trying to breathe the thin air.
Now, I’ve never spent much time in Mississippi, in fact no time at all unless you count the time I and my spousal unit drove our ancient Ford F-100 pickup truck across the toe of the state on our way from Texas to the Florida panhandle.
But we did stop at a little cafe just off the Gulf Coast and, even though this was a good 20 years ago, my recollection is that things moved very slowly there, whether you’re talking about the people, the livestock or even the water in the creeks.
Maybe that’s the difference. People down there get used to moving slowly if they move at all, and the human body was engineered to be a little more active. Then there’s all the fried foods they eat down there, and the fast foods that contain little more than sugar, salt and fat. That could have something to do with it, too.
Anyway, to my way of thinking this new study, done by some think tank or another, gives Coloradans something to be proud of, and that’s always a good thing.
Also this week, Congress passed the $858 billion giveaway to the nation’s richest people, by extending the ill-conceived Bush era tax cuts as a way to get the Republicans to go along with an extension of unemployment benefits for the millions who remain out of work. Colorado’s representatives split on the measure, with four voting for it and three voting against it, meaning we may be skinny but that doesn’t mean we’re smart.
Personally, I view this as a bad deal all around.
First off, rich people don’t need the tax break. They already pay less in taxes that most of us in the middle class, which is a crime in itself. Plus, they don’t spend their money the way the middle class and those even worse off do. They hoard it, they put it in offshore accounts, or they use it to buy their fifth or sixth house.
But aside from the giveaway, this deal reduced the payroll taxes that fund Social Security, which was already in trouble.
So, thanks to Republican intransigence and the weak-kneed response of the Democrats, we have not only tossed billions down a golden toilet, we have worsened the plight of what might be the only decent thing the federal government does these days, which is live up to its promises to take care of the elderly when they can no longer work.
Locally, the trustees of the Town of Carbondale – where I live – decided to dump the best town manager they’ve had in recent memory, a smart and good guy named Tom Baker.
The reasons for this remain unclear, because the town did it behind closed doors, denying the citizens their rightful understanding of why the trustees might pull such a boneheaded stunt.
Naturally, the rumor mill was grinding madly away throughout the lead-up to this, pinning the blame on one trustee miffed at Baker because the town laid off his girlfriend from her job, or another trustee who allegedly felt Baker was too much of a slow-growther.
It must be admitted that Baker outlasted the average tenure of town managers. And, ever the gentleman (unlike some I could name), he has agreed to help with the “transition period” while the town looks for his replacement.
So now we can look forward to a couple of months of searching, spending money the town hasn’t got, to find someone who will have to come in and learn the ropes for another unknown period of time, leaving the town rudderless all the while.
Well, our trustees certainly had the town’s best interests in mind this time, I guess. Though, since the whole thing was cloaked in the “personnel issue” hidey hole, we’ll never know the true reasons for it.
Like I said, an interesting week.
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Pitkin County administrators are proposing a more than $142 million budget for 2020, which is about $6 million less than this year because of fewer construction projects and capital improvements.