The silliness that would have about 10 Colorado counties secede from the state continues to sputter along, although it doesn’t seem to be getting much bigger.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past several months, I’ll update you: Weld County “rural folk” have had a bellyful of being governed and want nothing more to do with the Colorado General Assembly or Governor. It all stems from some stupidity on the part of the Legislature over gun control, and the radicals up in the Greeley area want to go all Concord-and-Lexington over it. Rather than abandon their lucrative oil and gas royalties and move to Montana, where they might actually find some sympathy, they want to carve the northeastern corner of the state out and make a new state.
I’ve suggested we just join Nebraska -- after all, there are more Husker t-shirts in northeastern Colorado than in the Nebraska panhandle -- but Lincoln called me the other day and said, “No, thanks! We already have plenty of dull-witted rednecks incapable of critical thought.” Oh, sure, now they get picky!
So on a slow news day about fifty people got together in Firestone to talk up the idea of secession, and the Longmont Times-Call sent a reporter named Scott Rochat out to report on it, no doubt as punishment for some recent journalistic sin. Seriously, that's how newspapers work -- fuck up the police beat, and you get banished to the Weld County circuit. I know, I used to work for the T-C back in the day. I became the newspaper’s “Firestone Correspondent” for a time in the early 1980s, but then my spelling improved and I was moved to the Lyons desk.
According to Scott’s report, the twoscore-and-ten people who showed up spent the time voicing “loud approval” of the idea. Well, of course they did -- that's why they were there in the first place. They have to be loud because there are so few of them. The population of Firestone, CO, was 10,385 in 2011. Fifty is zero-point-four-eight percent of that. Interestingly, the Denver Post’s Adrian Garcia put the number at closer to 70, which increases the percentage of Firestone's population to a whopping zero-point-six-seven percent.
I'd like to know two things: First, who did Adrian piss off to draw that assignment and, second, with a crowd that small, why can't a couple of disgraced scribblers working for the same media giant at least agree on a nose count? Was it less than one-half of one percent, or a little more than one-half of one percent? Let's get this accuracy thing nailed down, shall we?
Regardless of the exact puniness of the crowd, the meeting convened and absurdity ensued. How absurd? Well, the Times-Call got a photo of a guy named Lenny Zimmerman holding up his hand for some reason. Lenny, the cutline informed us, is from Boulder County. And he’s obviously casting his lot with a crowd that hates Boulder County. (Hey, Lenny, move to Weld County, bud! You’ll fit right in and you can drill for gas in your back yard. It’ll be fun!)
And, of course, at least one good ol’ boy, in recognition of the idea’s obvious lack of a snowball’s chance in Hell of succeeding, had to say, “At least we’ll send a message.” Yes, and that message is, “We are intolerant hillbillies.” Message received.
Meanwhile the rest of this corner of the state wants zip to do with secession, but the fantasy has inspired at least one damn good idea. Phillips County Administrator Randy Schafer would assign each county either one Representative or one Senator – just like Congress. The senate, being the “upper chamber,” makes the most sense to me. So, instead of six senators from Denver County, there would be one. And instead of one senator for 11 counties in northeastern Colorado, there would be 11 rural senators.
Schafer's idea is the perfect compromise, and why Colorado didn’t do that back in the 1870s I will never know. I don’t doubt it had to do with lining someone’s pockets – these things always did – but it’s not too late to use common sense to give the state’s less-populated counties the representation they need. So let the theatre of the absurd play out over in Weld County.
The idea of apportionment by county is a good one and needs to be pursued. It’s a helluvalot more viable than the fantasy of revolt that has seized our western neighbors.