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May 21, 2008 06:02 AM UTC

My lunch with Joe (Whitcomb)

  • 1 Comments
  • by: DavidThi808

I had lunch today with Joe Whitcomb who is running for SD-23. He got lost finding the restaurant (his iPhone was showing the wrong location of the restaurant). However, he broke the second law of guy-ness (according to Dave Barry) and called me and asked for directions.

Joe is a trade-offs nerd. We talked about a number of items but no matter what it was, everything from prisons to education to campaigning – it was the same look at it. With one exception – about his lunch he just said it was good.

So what is a focus on the trade-offs. It is actually a very interesting view he brings to issues. It’s not lets go through all the details and get lost in that. It’s seeing the significant trade-offs inherent in different solutions to an issue. I’ve never heard this before but it strikes me as a superb approach in a legislator.

Take prisons, which was the first subject he dived into at length. He saw the stupidity of throwing beginner criminals into a prison where they could graduate to professional crook. He talked about how private prisons perversely have an incentive to not reform prisoners as they then get reduced business.

He then discussed how offering the private firms less up front but a bonus for prisoners who were not arrested again. A very imaginative way of changing the trade-offs in the system.

He also spent a lot of time discussing education, and a bit less on health-care. His discussion on education was almost entirely on the declining physical plant in the schools. With Joe in the legislature we will get better school buildings (which we do need) but I don’t think we will see as much of his efforts in how we teach in those buildings.

But what was incredible in all of this discussion was a look at what made the most sense long-term. We have had 10 – 20 years of the Republicans looking no further than next week and essentially spending the principal that this state has invested in it’s people and infrastructure. We’re all happy to have Democrats who merely talk about stopping the downward spiral.

But Joe is looking at 5, 10, 20 years into the future. In this look at everything in terms of trade-offs, and with taking this long view, he sees how improved medical care for a child today means fewer state paid medical bills in 40 years. Joe will make the investments today that he will personally never get the benefit of. But boy do we need them.

He also has a good feel for where the free enterprise system works well, and where it does not. And more to the point, how the combination is needed. Both that there are places where private enterprise is not the answer (insuring full health-care coverage, etc) and places where government oversight is needed (Enron, etc).

Throughout his conversation was discussion of the need for transparency and oversight. He is driven on this subject. And he makes a very passionate argument for this. In fact, if anything he over-makes it, to the detriment of other issues.

So this is what you get with Joe – I don’t think it’s any one or two issues that drive Joe. Instead it is a desire to craft the best solutions understanding all the trade-offs and focusing on the best long-term benefit. This will make him an incredibly valuable addition to the legislature.

I also see him incredibly driven when it comes to determining what went wrong and why. Put him in charge of an investigation and we are going to know exactly what went down and why. And how to avoid it the next time.

He is applying that same drive to this election. I think he will be a better legislator than he is a candidate. But I think he is a good strong candidate (not awesome) and he has immense drive. And that is worth a lot.

He also respects Shawn Mitchell, both as a person and for his political consistency. That’s to his detriment as a candidate, but speaks well of him as a person. He’s a bit of a rough diamond that after 4 years in the Senate could be one of our upcoming stars.

First posted at Liberal and Loving It

My vote in SD-23 is

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One thought on “My lunch with Joe (Whitcomb)

  1. Is something that Mitchell studiously avoids.  Try sending him a Colorado Open Records Request — what you get back is….Nothing.

    He doesn’t even refuse, he just ignores.  Perhaps Whitcomb might try a CORA, just for fun.

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