Absence speaks louder than words

John Colson and Dennis Webb did a better job describing the forum than I did.

Linman, Briedis talk issues at Silt meeting
Martin, Samson skip forum at Silt Community Center

Incumbents missing from oil, gas forum

By Dennis Webb
Grand Junction Sentinel
Thursday, September 20, 2012

SILT — A discussion between Garfield County residents and county commissioner candidates on impacts of oil and gas in development Tuesday night was marked by the absence of the two incumbents.

Without Republicans John Martin and Mike Samson there to offer their perspectives, participants were left to talk about the county’s record of responsiveness to citizen concerns under their leadership, and many found it lacking.

Compared to some other counties, “this county has never taken a proactive approach” to regulating land-use issues related to oil and gas development, said Tresi Houpt, a Democrat who served as a Garfield commissioner before losing to Republican Tom Jankovsky two years ago.

Houpt, who also served as a member of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said minimizing oil and gas impacts requires everyone to sit down together to discuss things such as the least disruptive places to locate operations.

“I think that that’s going to have to come from finding a way to pull the industry in so they don’t feel as if they’re being compromised,” she said before turning to look around the Silt Community Center Tuesday.

“Why aren’t the commissioners in this room? Why isn’t the industry in this room?” she asked.

(You need a subscription to the Sentinel to read the rest of the article, one day/$2. I asked for permission to reprint the full article but Webb’s editor said I could only post a few “grafs” and a link.)

Noticeably absent from the Citizen – Candidate Forum (9/18) were County Commissioners John Martin, Mike Samson (both up for re-election), and Tom Jankovsky.

Email invitations were sent to all three commissioners during the last week of August. Jankovsky replied that he would not attend. He regarded the forum “as a one-sided attack by those who want oil and gas out of the county.”

As Tod said at the beginning of the meeting: “This isn’t an anti-oil-and-gas event. It’s not a political-party-sponsored event. We all no matter what our political affiliation breathe the same air and drink the same water.”

Many – if not most – of the participants at the forum have been living with oil and gas development for a decade or more. Learning how to live with the impacts is an evolving process. Sharing our experiences and frustrations is one way to cope as well as find solutions. Amazing things happen when people communicate.

Martin said he didn’t know anything about the event.

“I would have been there if I had been invited or even known it was going to take place,” he said.

Peggy Tibbetts said invitations were e-mailed to Martin and Samson, but Martin said he’s “swamped” by e-mails and that’s not the best way to reach him.

That’s odd. It doesn’t say that on his county web page. It says: “Contact John by email.”

And Colson said this in his article: “messages could not be left either on Martin’s office phone or his cell phone.”

Okay, so that leaves engraved invitation – or carrier pigeon.

Then there’s Tom (Jankovsky). He’s been doing such a bang-up job being the spokesperson for the BOCC these days. Funny he didn’t mention the forum to John. Evidently they don’t talk much between BOCC and Vernal, Utah meetings.

It’s hard to know what to say about Mike Samson. He didn’t talk to Colson or Webb. Probably thinks this will all blow over.

The commissioners’ absence was not a point of discussion at the forum. We were too busy talking about the issues. But they were missed. They would have heard from residents who simply want to live and work in a healthy environment and enjoy the lifestyle that was once uniquely western Colorado.

Their absence sends a message that reverberates beyond the forum. I think people can make up their own minds what that message is. To me it says the commissioners don’t care what the public thinks or how they feel about the impacts of oil and gas development in Garfield County.

Or maybe they didn’t want to come to Silt and breathe our toxic air pollution. BYOGM!

Citizen – Candidate Forum photo gallery

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