Secession, the Sequel

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

I received my first email today asking to join the "Restoring Colorado" movement.  In a perfect world this would be a great idea.  Being the fifth-generation of my family to live in rural Colorado, that 'blood' runs deep.  I personally believe in the mostly-untapped potential of our region to produce energy, local food and environmental services.  Statewide, we are a $40 billion industry; we have nothing but opportunity. 

But a trip down memory lane reminds me of what we've morphed in to: Amendment 37, perhaps the best public policy (in modern times)?  We fought it.  Embracing environmental services?  No thanks.  Childhood poverty?  Off the chart while we simultaneously remain a recipient of federal transfers AND claim to be independent.  Marriage equality?  Not on our watch.  Guns?  Dudley Brown as the face of our citizens?

Sadly, I have not yet exhausted "the list".

If you listen to the YouTube below by Jeffrey Hare, you could come to the conclusion he's making the case for Initiative 75 (Local Control), yet every nearly every major farm organization opposes the proposed constitutional amendment.  So I'm pretty sure he's not supporting I-75.

This would be the equivalent of handing (in perpretuity)  the proverbial "keys" to COGA  and Tri-State Generation and Transmission  (who funded the dumbest-of-all wars: the War on Rural Colorado).  Tri-State also continues to support the construction of the mother-of-all disasters, the Holcomb Coal Plant, tying a multi-billion-dollar noose around Colorado rural ratepayers, and effectively ending their ability to develop our local, renewable resources.  If you want to understand what a modern-day coal plant disaster looks like, one only needs to drive to Lamar. 

This wasn't an easy post to write – it's the mental whiplash one experiences when you simultaneously ponder "what is" and "what could be".  Not too long in the past, when we were represented by literally titans like Bev Bledsoe from Hugo, Bud Moellenberg from Yuma County, Fred Anderson from Loveland – and Governor Romer from Holly – rural Colorado had earned their due respect.  Today, we've let that feeling go up in smoke.  Squandered, unnecessarily.

It would be difficult to call this as anything other than it is: "Secession Attempt, Part 2".  The irony? Restoring Colorado in a practical way will happen at the exact moment we in rural Colorado are willing to embrace the fact we are not independent, but interdependent within our state's diverse economy.  In the end, this idea will fall on the same sword that befelled last Fall's secession movement:  math.  Convincing Weld, Larimer, Boulder, Denver, Jefferson, Adams, Douglas, El Paso and Pueblo Counties to give up representation isn't what you'd call an easy sell; they are the very counties whose votes we need to pass such an initiative.  The anti-headlines are already writing themselves.

That doesn't mean conversations shouldn't happen on how we rebuild these bridges.  If it does nothing but bring Republicans and Democrats in to the same room to discuss our challenges and facilitate a grown-up conversation about the role of government in creating our opportunities, that would be a good start. If this idea ever does come to fruition, it will be because we've earned it; it will be because we've reestablished mutual trust and respect, and that we've demonstrated that we grasp the concept of our role in the large, diverse economy.  And perhaps in the middle of all of this we'll experience a dose of weiji: "in the midst of every crisis, opportunity".

35 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Michael, In case you missed my rant the other day – Initiative 75 is no longer the original measure. Instead, it's been replaced with Tea Party type language whose only protection is that it can't violate "the fundamental rights of individuals, communities, or nature as guaranteed" in the Colorado or Federal Constitutions, or in International law.

    It also claims to preempt International law, Federal law, and State law, and is not limited by the home rule clause of the State Constitution.

    It wouldn't surprise me if the secessionists supported I75 in its final form.

    • MichaelBowman says:

      I saw that, Phoenix, and didn't have a chance to get back to you.  Thanks for the update.  This will set up a very interesting political dynamic: It looks like COGA, CPA, CMA, Farm Bureau, Dairyman, Colorado Wheat and Colorado Home Builders are going to take a position to oppose I-75 yet, to your point, the very rural areas that want this 'restoration' would, for all practical purposes, achieve their intended goals by its passage.

      • Until a Federal court rules it Unconstitutional, I75 will be a nightmare for just about anyone who could be hurt by local regulation. Not only does that include the agencies you list above, but it could also be trouble for anyone who thinks some State regulation is good. Two examples:

        Gun control… I75 says safety and rights guaranteed of individuals can be controlled by local government; municipalities would by my reading have the ability to loosen gun regs outside of State authority.

        Safety regulations… as 'welfare' is something a local government should govern toward under I75, a local government could decide that other health and safety concerns are overblown by the state and deregulate.

  2. FrankUnderwood says:

    Not too long in the past, when we were represented by literally titans like Bev Bledsoe from Hugo, Bud Moellenberg from Yuma County, Fred Anderson from Loveland – and Governor Romer from Holly – rural Colorado had earned their due respect. 

    Remember, Yuma's own Corey Gardner has the ear of the former House Majority Leader.

    • MichaelBowman says:

      Ha!  And Wray's own Senator Brophy use to have the ear of Tanchez!

      Brophy’s leadership on the Eastern Plains prompted American Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo to suggest his name recently as his choice to head up the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

      Tancredo said Brophy would help bring technical expertise and experience to the cabinet position and would restore balance and common sense to resource management in the state.

      Brophy said he was honored by Tancredo’s decision to have him lead the department overseeing wildlife, energy, and water among other natural resources.

      If Tancredo wins election and Brophy officially becomes head of the department, he said his first task would be to “undo all the damage done by the Ritter administration” to the energy industry.

    • MichaelBowman says:

      PS: I'd be a lot more impressed if he could name five families in his district that rely on federal SNAP benefits and confirm that he's actually talked to them. (there's over 100,000 kids in his district that fall in to this category, so I've set the bar pretty low).

    • Ralphie says:

      And Mike Tyson had Evander Holyfield's ear.  Your point?

  3. FrankUnderwood says:

    I just read the text of the initiative.  There is no way that could stand up to a federal constitutional challenge.  

  4. MichaelBowman says:

    The link that was suppose to have been in the diary is here:

    • notaskinnycook says:

      He claims this isnt a "…Democrat v. Republican issue. I challenge any of these nutty anti-Federalist secessionists to find me a Democrat who agrees with them.

      • notaskinnycook says:

        Oops, close quote. My brain's going to sleep; wish the rest of me could.

      • MichaelBowman says:

        I've spent today at Galvanize in Denver and there may be no better poster child for the Blue City / Red State divide than this establishment.  Brimming with 20 and 30-somethings in a highly charged technical and collaborative workspace where these kids are developing apps, software, managing exciting urban projects and sharing their ideas.  Back home, our version of 'galvanizing' is the local coffee shop, increasingly devoid of any young people, filled with conversations about our dreaded POTUS and how they just need to be left alone by government. 

        What I wouldn't give to be able to bottle up a little of the enthusiasm in this place and drag it home. If you're looking for a place to be hopefully about our youth or our future – stop here. 

  5. Progressicat says:

    I'm a little confused by all this talk about Initiative 75 changing.  I looked at both the original and final text of the amendment.  It's the same less a couple words and some capitalization.

    Initiative 75 isn't one of the potential local control initiatives supported by Jared Polis and others looking to offer cities and counties greater ability to control oil and gas extraction.  Those (differnt versions, from which one will be chosen) are numbers 85-93.

    • mamajama55 says:

      Progressicat, what you're seeing as the original text is not the original local control text. That reads:

      Be it enacted by the People of the State of Colorado: SECTION 1. The constitution of the state of Colorado, article XVIII is amended by the addition of a new section, Section 17, as follows: Section 17: Local control of oil and gas development (1) Purpose and findings. (a) The people of the state of Colorado find and declare that the development of oil and gas, including the use of hydraulic fracturing, may impact local interests such as air quality, public health, safety, welfare, property values, and the character of our communities; that the public has historically relied upon local governments to regulate certain local land uses and to minimize potential conflicts between industrial development and the interests of the local community; that local governments are entitled to protect their people and their communities using the precautionary principle; that to protect these interests the people desire to expand the authority of local governments by vesting in them the right to impose local restrictions on oil and gas development without fear of state preemption. (b) The purpose of this amendment is to empower all of Colorado’s local governments to adopt rules, such as charter amendments, laws, ordinances, or regulations, to protect their public, their communities, and their air, water, and land through additional local restrictions on oil and gas development, including bans or moratoria on hydraulic fracturing.

      See the difference?  I don't really understand what happened, although I gather that there was interference from oil and gas lawyers while wording was developed. They may have intentionally chosen the over-broad language so that people would spend money and hours getting it on the ballot, only to have it fail a constitutional test.

      I 75 is all about how local governments govern, but doesn't mention oil, gas, or fracking, while the original language is specific to those things. I understand that the local control folks may get in back of a different initiative, perhaps 82. 

      And, there are lawsuits pending.

      And there is legislation in the works for the fall, although I think that the "compromise" legislation for the special session has now fallen flat.


      • Progressicat says:


        I can tell you is that the language of initiative 75 has not changed and never resembled the text you wrote once it was submitted (as shown by the original I linked to above).

        Please go to the initiative tracking site at and scroll down to the "Withdrawn" section.  There, you'll find initiative #82, which is the one you're looking for.

        Here is more information for you:


        Initiative #82, “Local Control of Oil and Gas Development,” is also a constitutional amendment introduced by a group called “Local Control Colorado,” headed by Laura Fronkiewicz of Broomfield. Initiative #82 has passed the title-setting hurdle and is on its way to having the petition format approved. It would let cities and towns regulate the time, place and methods used for drilling, and would also let jurisdictions ban or enact moratoriums on drilling.


        Fronkiewicz, who is easy to get a hold of on the phone, says the push to get Initiative #82 on the ballot is definitely a grassroots effort and is funded by a broad base of $5 and $10 donations. She says people in Boulder, Broomfield, Fort Collins and Loveland, who have been successful at getting anti-fracking measures passed at their local ballot boxes, are behind it.


        You'll note at

        • mamajama55 says:

          Pcat, Thanks for the links. Here's another updated list with links from Lynn Bartels of the Post. So if 82 is "withdrawn", what does that mean? It doesn't sound as though it's going forward.

          I agree that the wording on 82 is better. I won't waste my time advocating for 75. I was pissed about it, but am over it now.

          I seriously plan to get some petitions signed this summer, so I hope that the environmental community can come to some kind of consensus about the best horses to run.


          • Progressicat says:

            The only way I'm aware of for an initiative to be withdrawn is at the request of the folks who submitted it.  Ooh, I was about to speculate, but I found this article explaining the proponents' stated reasons for pulling it.

            The multitude of initiatives filed by the Polis folks is intentional.  They'll go through the process and pick the one they feel has the best chance.  Multiple submissions are quite common to ensure that the initiatives survive the review process and to leave options open based on what seems most likely to pass (Am. 66, for example, had multiple initiatives with different tax structures before the one on the ballot was chosen).

            • MichaelBowman says:

              Thanks for all of the links, PCat.  MamaJ, from the beginning my support was intended for what I'm now being told is Prop #82, (which is at the url that I have always used when referencing to it).  And even though it is in the 'Withdrawn' section of the SOS website, it is one of a handful in that section that does not state it is withdrawn (as noted in the right hand column). 

              This is starting to explain some of the very terse comments on my FB page I'm getting from people.  I'm under the impression they are talking about I-82, which I always beleived was fairly narrow in scope, and their Fruit of the Looms are pulled up in a tight bunch – as they are talking about I-75.   Mystery solved?  I owe a few people an apology regarding my rather direct comments to them on my FB page if so angry

              • Progressicat says:

                It's withdrawn.  They may not have done so formally with the SOS (only my guess as to why it's in the withdrawn section on the SOS site but doesn't have that status), but they so indicated with the state supreme court.

                The initiative & process were challenged in the petition here.  In conjunction with a motion to dismiss the petition that looks like it was filed by the initiative sponsors (I don't have access to all the filings), the court ordered the challenge dismissed, indicating that the respondents (the folks proposing the initiative) stated they would not gather signatures and that the initiative would be abandoned.

                • ct says:

                  It was withdrawn by the sponsors because opponents sucessfully challenged the language and the way it got reworded was very confusing.  << That's what I heard, from good sources.  

                  I think that some of the Polis ones, should they go forward, would be similar to the I-82.  (Local control, narrowly focused on oil and gas). Then there are a set of setbacks–ranging from 1500 ft to half mile (I think there are three distances being contemplated).


                • MichaelBowman says:

                  …and it was even further confusing to me when I read the headlines in the DP when the balllot challenge was denied:  "Oil and gas local control initiative 75 cleard to start Colorado petition drive"


                  • Progressicat says:

                    It's all a jumble.  All of the "local control" initiatives were challenged, I would guess by the same folks and probably working for an O&G group.  You can find the petitions and a lot of other filings for '13/'14 initiatives at

                    • mamajama55 says:

                      I know that oil and gas lawyers  are monkey-wrenching in challenging anguage on the initiatives.  So to recap:

                      • Initiative 75 is going forward, is probably unconstitutional, and shows meaningless support for a utopia where local rights, including nature's rights, trump state and federal laws.
                      • Initiative 82 is withdrawn.
                      • Initiatives 85-93, which are the ones Polis had supported, are being sorted out, and two or three of them may make the ballot.

                      Do I have this correct now?

                    • Progressicat says:

                      Oh my, I think we've reached Maximum Comment Depth, so I'll have to reply up a level.


                      On initiative 75: Yes, you are correct.  In fairness to the ordinance, it is supported by someone whose full name is Lotus 🙂

                      On initiative 82: Yes, you are correct.

                      On initiatives 85-93: Although more than one could make the ballot, I expect they were offered to give options on language and specific items like setback distance.  I believe only one of the entire set will be on the ballot.  More might be confusing to voters.  You'll notice that all but #89 propose to add the same article, 30, to the constitution– that's a pretty strong indicator that only one is expected to go to the ballot.

  6. FrankUnderwood says:

    Didn't Jeffrey Hare run one time against Musgrave in a primary?

  7. BlueCat says:

    Michael, I hope you are finding some like minded people who share your background to get some kind of networking going.  Rural district folks need to hear these things from people like themselves, not just from city slickers.

  8. MichaelBowman says:

    One of the best articles talking about this (nationally) growing divide is The Atlantic's "Blue City Red State"

    The gap is so stark that some of America's bluest cities are located in its reddest states. Every one of Texas' major cities — Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio — voted Democratic in 2012, the second consecutive presidential election in which they've done so. Other red-state cities that tipped blue include Atlanta, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Birmingham, Tucson, Little Rock, and Charleston, S.C. ironically, the site of the first battle of the Civil War. In states like Nevada, the only blue districts are often also the only cities, like Reno and Las Vegas.

  9. davebarnes says:

    Buffalo Commons. Learn to embrace it.

    • MichaelBowman says:

      Barnes, for a fellow, thoughtful Tanchez supporter I find you insufferable!   lol 

      25 years ago, Wray was one of ten "Search Communities" in the United States to participate in Pioneer Hi-Bred International's  "Search for Solutions" program.  That was about the time the Poppers and their Buffalo Commons proposal talked about everywhere.  There were a lot of laughs then – not so much now.  We've met the enemy.  It's us.

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