Scott Tipton Screws Roaring Fork Valley

Back in November, we noted a pending request from the Roaring Fork Transit Authority for $24 million in federal funding for bus system upgrades–left over from the plate of defeated Democratic Rep. John Salazar, one of of very first duties of Rep. Scott Tipton’s staff was to tell local officials “not to panic” about this request, but also maybe to not get real comfortable about it either. After Tipton’s election on a confused slate of fiscal promises up to and including “cutting the government in half,” you can understand why RFTA officials were kind of sweating.

Real Vail reported a couple of days ago, the need for these funds is getting urgent:

U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis – all Colorado Democrats – announced late last week that they have sent a letter to Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, urging his agency to release funding for the VelociRFTA project in the Roaring Fork Valley in time for the short construction season. [Pols emphasis]

The Federal Transit Administration has identified the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s Veloci-RFTA project, which would create the first-ever rural bus rapid transit line, as a priority to receive $24 million out of a pool of $1.6 billion in transit funds appropriated by Congress this year. But the funding has yet to be made available. The lawmakers believe the bus line is a critical investment in the Roaring Fork Valley’s economy because it will provide one of the most efficient ways to get workers and visitors from town to town.

Polis represents Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes Vail but not Aspen. Republican Scott Tipton represents the 3rd Congressional District, which includes Aspen…

As the Glenwood Springs paper reports today, Rep. Tipton refused to support this request, citing a desire to cut “at least $15,000” from the $24 million asked for. The $15,000 cited is for a WiFi system for commuters using the upgraded RFTA service, which RFTA says they are paying a significant portion of anyway. In addition, Tipton’s spokesman vaguely states the letter sent by Rep. Jared Polis and Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet is “too rigid” in terms of asking for the full appropriation (that is, not wanting the bottom line cut).

In this story, it’s very clear that local officials are incensed at Tipton’s dithering over a tiny line item in their request. But the vague expressed desire to “review” the request with Tipton’s staff, and the uncertainty that introduces to the RFTA’s “shovel-ready” project, is a much more ominous prospect to them, and with very good reason–lack of basic understanding, like why WiFi service might make transit more appealing to commuters, thereby increasing ridership and revenue, doesn’t exactly portend useful engagement. And while Tipton picks at insignificant line items, the time they have in the high country to build while the ground is not frozen ticks away…

If we were a stakeholder in the Roaring Fork Transit Authority’s success, which is in turn tied to the economic prosperity of all the communities it serves, we might really start to wonder if there’s somebody better out there we could be working with.

23 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Ellie says:

    1. Tipton has a death wish (politically speaking).

    2. Thinks he has enough money to win re-election.


    2. Doesn’t think he needs Pitkin/Garfield counties to get elected.  

    Then you add all the people on Medicare in CD 3…you return to the 1st option.

    • Craig says:

      I just think Tipton is doing what he promised to do when running for office.  I respect that, even though his position is ridiculous.  He wanted to do a “little” budget cutting so that he could can the whold project and save the $15M.  Too bad it will just end up in a bridge to nowhere rather than a needed transportation project.

      P.S. He doesn’t need Pitkin or Garfield Counties.  He got beat there last year.  That’s another reason he is punishing them.  And I do believe in the saying that “To the victor go the spoils.”  I just hope the third district likes what it elected.  If not, they have a chance to correct their mistake.

      • ClubTwitty says:

        They are downright pissed at Rep. Tipton.  

        That the GarCo (GOP) BOCC has given a big FU to its citizens’ health concerns might swing that county a bit in 2012…which I believe went for Tipton in 2010(?).

      • Ellie says:

        I wouldn’t want to be the one holding up a project in the Roaring Fork Valley – most of the labor force in Pitkin work in Garfield.  Like I say – Tipton is going to need that 8000 plus votes out of Garfield next year.

        • ClubTwitty says:

          From Aspen Daily News:

          Bill Fales and Marj Perry operate Cold Mountain Ranch near Carbondale, raising grass-fed cows a few miles west of the cluster of gas-leased parcels in Thompson Divide. The potential gas fields include the headwaters for their irrigation ditches, and the couple is concerned about the impact drilling could have on their cattle, hayfields and the ranch Perry’s family has operated there since 1924.

          “The leases are all over it,” Perry said at the ranch Friday. “We are scared about the water quality of Thompson Creek.”

          As I blogged earlier, these lands are some of the very ones that Mr. Tipton wants to gut protection for under the (it-should-be-named) Wilderness Elimination Act.  

          The support for protecting the Thompson Divide area is strong throughout this part of Mr. Tipton’s district, according to the Wilderness Workshop:

          At John Salazar’s request, TDC secured resolutions of support from nearly every elected body in the area, including the key counties of Garfield, Pitkin and Gunnison. In September, Rep. Salazar publicly pledged to introduce legislation in the next session of Congress to withdraw the TDC area from future leasing.

          Of course, that was contingent on Salazar’s being re-elected. Since his defeat, there’s been much speculation about what his successor, Congressman- elect Scott Tipton, will make of TDC.

          Garfield is a swing county, and it is quite possible it will be swinging back the other way (having supported Udall and Obama in 2008) for 2012.  

          While Pitkin is not a swing district, both the presidential race–and strong antipathy toward Rep. Tipton–will likely pull more voters to the polls than in 2010.  

  2. Car 31 says:

    Tipton ain’t all there, and

    VelociRFTA has to be the best name for a transportation project I’ve ever heard.

  3. MADCO says:

    at least it won’t look or feel like one when he screws them on roadless wilderness, fracing, and flood assistance.  Then those will be screws, this will be …trivial.

    Although I’m with C T – that is a great name.

    (I always like BART – east to say, ez to remember, ez to spell. Just…ez. Like the Mac OS of US transit)  

    • Helen says:

      It is not trivial for the people who cannot afford to drive anywhere. It is not trivial for the people who cannot drive. It is not trivial to the people who are tired of paying billions of dollars for unbalanced, inefficient transportation system.

      Tipton is preventing people from getting to work and school for a fraction of what a road project could cost.

      • ajb says:

        Wilderness? The closest most people get is a john Fielder coffee table book.

        Flood Assistance? It’ll flood for 2 weeks and then disappear. Could be important if we had elections in June, but Nov is low water.

        Frac’ing? More people, and it’ll resonate with many rural voters.

        Transportation? There’s a lot of voters in the RF valley that have to drive that stinkin’ road every day, all year long.

        • ClubTwitty says:

          I look at two designated Wilderness Areas out my window everyday.  Every fall, hunters arrive from all over the world to spend money in our towns, load up with provisions, and head into the backcountry.  

          For both Pitkin, Gunnison and Garfield counties wildernss is a main economic engine–Maroon Bells, Hunter Frying Pan, Raggeds just over the hill.

          Indeed, the landscape that draws people here–what they look at riding lifts, sipping a latte, or marveling at as they traverse Independence, McClure or Kebler Pass, is Wilderness.

          Furthermore, the TDC effort is not about Wilderness–although some overlaps with various proposals, also with wide support–its about protecting critical watersheds, ranching, recreational lands, and the overall place.  

          • ajb says:

            but I don’t think it drives many voters.

            As for hunters, well, I’m afraid I know a lot who are rock-ribbed Republicans – “it’s a gun thing” (actual quote from a co-worker). Never mind that they’re losing habitat right and left.  

            • ClubTwitty says:

              Specific to Gunnison and Pitkin and Garfield–the part of his district we are speaking of, positions on natural resource issues matter quite a bit to a number of swing voters, including independent-minded Republicans, which describes a lot of sportsmen.  Especially when it is framed more broadly than just wilderness–like protecting watersheds, recreational opportunities, ranching.  Note re: TDC, even the GarCo BOCC (granted, then only 2:1 GOP) supports it…

              Is it the main force that drives people to the polls.  No.  Is it more a factor in certain places–like the counties mentioned.  Absolutely.  

              I have been involved with numerous polls, and organizing, and other efforts for over a decade in the 3rd CD specifically around the nexus of public lands issues and swinging voters.  I have worked extensively with ranchers and sportsmen around these issues.  I know they matter to them.  

      • MADCO says:

        And it will seem small to many folks of CD3 when these other issues are tiptonized.

  4. Independent Voice says:

    Like my cocker spaniel maybe?

    Here’s what Scotty’s “thinking” – to the extent anyone can actually attribute that process to such a dullard:  Scotty is worried about the tea party people who elected him after he signed every single ‘PLEDGE’ they put in front of him, including the NO PORK PLEDGE.

    No more spending!  I promise!  Vote for me and you’ll be free!

    So now he’s being a tool about $15,000 in order to buy himself and his equally lame staff some time to figure out what to do next.  He is just a politician, wanting to ensure re-election which at this point, is pretty much O-V-E-R for Tipton and his Tiptonites.

  5. Independent Voice says:

    Like my cocker spaniel maybe?

    Here’s what Scotty’s “thinking” – to the extent anyone can actually attribute that process to such a dullard:  Scotty is worried about the tea party people who elected him after he signed every single ‘PLEDGE’ they put in front of him, including the NO PORK PLEDGE.

    No more spending!  I promise!  Vote for me and you’ll be free!

    So now he’s being a tool about $15,000 in order to buy himself and his equally lame staff some time to figure out what to do next.  He is just a politician, wanting to ensure re-election which at this point, is pretty much O-V-E-R for Tipton and his Tiptonites.

  6. Aaron says:

    can’t you see why I wanted Polis to represent Glenwood?

    Tipton’s a nightmare. If not through redistricting, then hopefully we can deal with it at the ballot box in 2012.

    • Ralphie says:

      Find someone competent to run against him.

      I don’t like Tipton.  But there are many complex issues affecting the Western Slope that require an understanding of what the Western Slope is all about.  Don’t gerrymander us and lump us in with Boulder just because you think the seat is more winnable.  It’s not a good fit.

      The Democrats say that they want competitive districts.  There is no district in Colorado that’s more competitive than CD3 as it is.  Just look at its history.

      Tipton can be beaten.  But you can’t replace somebody with nobody.

    • ClubTwitty says:

      And I agree that I would rather be represented by someone of Polis’ caliber than Tipton’s.  

      But I agree with Ralphie that the 3rd is already competitive.  We have to find the right candidate, but Tipton is imminently beatable with boundaries like, say, the Dems final compromise map that leaves the 3rd mostly as it is now.  

  7. DavidThi808 says:

    Is if Tipton had come out strongly in favor of this funding, then there would be an article pinging him for saying one thing when running and then doing the opposite. Either way he was going to get hammered.

    What I find ridiculous is he’s arguing over 15K out of 24M. He’s found the one response that will honk off everyone.  

  8. slumdog says:

    This is another example of ideology affecting the welfare of this state.  It may also speak to why Colorado puts more money into the federal government but gets less back…

    See this piece in the Washington Post citing a Tax Foundation report.

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