A statement by Cliff Willmeng* and Colorado Community Rights Network
After launching nine ballot initiatives and hosting backroom negotiations with Anadarko Petroleum and Governor Hickenlooper, US Congressman Polis and the PR firm representing him settled on two proposed state amendments to advance onto the 2014 ballot. The Congressman — never having offered tangible support to the numerous communities operating with grassroots budgets and volunteers against the most powerful industry in the world — championed himself an agent of change and an advocate of common people in the face of corporate power. It made more than a few heads turn, but some of us didn’t buy into the shiny new object in Colorado’s efforts against oil and gas drilling.
Two months later people read that the initiatives were pulled along with the rug from under their feet. The initiatives, withdrawn without consultation or warning, created public celebration from the oil and gas industry; Anadarko and Noble stocks surged with the neutralizing of citizen involvement in government. Piling onto the shared moment was the judicial negation of Longmont’s democratically driven ban on hydraulic fracking and Fort Collin’s moratorium on the same. After two years of independent organizing and efforts, the true colors of Colorado’s corporate legal privileges and their loyal courts and politicians brought hundreds of thousands of family members and communities into subservience to the likes of Halliburton and Anadarko.
The only silver lining may be that we don’t have to believe the fabrications about our government any longer.
The Colorado Community Rights Network, authors of ballot initiative #75, will organize and continue to take the government and corporations to task. 2015 will be a year of preparation for a major campaign to reintroduce the Colorado Community Rights Amendment–the amendment that was most feared by the CEOs and corporate PR firms, the only one led by volunteer grassroots community members, and the only one that fundamentally tipped the balance of corporate power back toward people and communities.
Even in moments of deceit people will become stronger, and the experience Congressman Polis left Colorado with will create clarity. The people will have to lead the changes necessary to protect our health and safety and create the democracy corporate America has erased. The fight is not over, and the next round belongs to those with a much brighter understanding of where political power will truly come from.
* Cliff Willmeng is a father of two, a Registered Nurse, and an organizer for the Colorado Community Rights Network. He lives in Lafayette, which was home to the Lafayette Community Rights Amendment to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing that won the local vote by over 60% in November of 2013. Lafayette is one of several Colorado communities being sued by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA).