section and your opportunity to weigh in and be heard. Send
us your thoughts and profundities. You can contact us here.
A-LP Spending: Sky's the Limit
The stunning revelation last week that the Animas La Plata
project will cost at least $162 million more than originally
estimated startled both supporters and opponents alike. Everyone
expected some cost overrun, but the sheer size of the discrepancy,
and the fact that it comes after only a few months of construction,
was shocking. For project opponents, it was a bittersweet announcement.
On the one hand, we can now say “We told you so.”
On the other, we realize our lobbying efforts to defeat A-LP
might have been successful had Congress known the true cost
when it made its fateful decision.
The Bureau of Reclamation attributes the nearly 50 percent
overrun to three sources: errors and omissions in original cost
estimates; new security measures required post Sept. 11; and
the lack of competitive contracts. A-LP project manager Pat
Schumacher, who oversaw the environmental impact statement in
which the original cost estimates were published, remarked that
he and his staff “Didn’t give (cost estimates) as
thorough review as we should have.”
That’s unfortunate, because Congress looked carefully
at those cost estimates in making its decision. Previously,
the original, larger A-LP project lost Congressional support
mainly because of its monstrous cost, which was projected to
approach a billion dollars. In part, the smaller version was
approved because Congress could swallow its price tag, albeit
not without a bit of indigestion.
Some strong antacid is now in order. It appears that the Bureau,
knowing that A-LP’s high price tag was a major obstacle
to winning Congressional approval, lowballed the figure by at
least 50 percent. Given the Bureau’s track record, it’s
hard to believe that the latest guess is accurate either. The
total may hit a billion yet.
In the halls of Congress, A-LP opponents argued that the cost
estimates in the EIS were simply fiction, contrived by the Bureau
to be low enough to justify the project to Congress and the
Clinton Administration. The EIS included virtually no supporting
data for the estimates, and the Bureau must have known its projections
were baseless. Apparently it chose to mislead Congress, knowing
that it would be easier to ask for forgiveness after the fact
than risk losing the fight for A-LP.
Now that construction has started, contracts have been let
and many tens of millions of dollars have been spent, Congress
is unlikely to pull the plug. Schumacher calmly asserts that
he’ll simply have to slow down the construction schedule
by a couple years.
John Keys, Bureau Commissioner, says he’ll investigate.
We hope he will, but it seems unlikely, as scrutiny is not going
to be popular with Colorado’s senior senator, Ben Nighthorse
Campbell. Upon hearing news of the burgeoning costs, Campbell,
in his typical swaggering fashion, proclaimed: “I’ll
get the additional money if I have to strangle somebody.”
Campbell’s attitude has changed little since he sponsored
the original A-LP. He’ll do whatever it takes to get his
way. Apparently the Bureau of Reclamation also embraces this
Recent corporate accountability scandals have demonstrated
the need for transparency and honesty in matters of the public
trust. It’s unfortunate to see a similar disregard for
fiscal responsibility from our own federal government. If the
Bureau did not know that its cost estimates were ridiculously
low, it should have. In the same way corporate executives have
been held accountable for their failures, the Bureau should
hold its officials accountable for their errors. Congress and
Mr. Keyes should demand it, despite the sentiments of Sen. Campbell.
– Dylan Norton, Durango
Feelingplucky: Ben Thompson, of Durango,
relaxes on a Main Avenue
bench while practicing his guitar Tuesday morning./Photo
by Todd Newcomer.
The return of "Nice Jugs"
(Editors’ note: The following letter is a belated
response to a tempest that blew up in late January. The original
letter cited a sticker portraying a naked woman riding a beer
tap and reading “Nice Jugs...Show us your taps.”)
I’m a graphic designer in Portland, Ore. Back in ’97,
while living in Farmington, I had the good fortune to meet John
Silva and Bob Beckley, owners of Three Rivers Brewery. I was
fresh out of design school, working for the Daily Times and
taking my lunch breaks at the brewery. They offered me a job,
and I accepted. I cooked, tended bar and designed a large portion
of their advertising. After a move to Portland, I retained Three
Rivers as a design client. Among the many jobs I did for them,
was the “Nice Jugs” sticker that Beth Christie,
of Durango, devoted so much energy to.
While I don’t share the sentiments of some of those who
responded, I would like to say that my inspiration for the artwork
was the circa 1930s advertising design that adorns the walls
of Three Rivers. Anyone who has been to the Brewery knows what
a magnificent collection of period art and advertising design
they have. The Brewery was a pharmacy for many years, and the
owners have done a great job of restoring and preserving these
treasures for all to enjoy. The sticker was simply that, a throwback
to a time that, while lacking equality of the sexes, was an
amazing time in the history of advertising. This does not excuse
the sticker’s juvenile tag line, “Nice Jugs, Show
Us Your Taps,” but so what! If this sticker is a viable
target of criticism, then so is every piece of artwork on the
brewery walls that inspired it.
As I surmised from a search of the Telegraph’s archives,
this issue has died down, but I hope to recast it in a new vein.
I’ve recently been commissioned by Three Rivers to bring
the “Nice Jugs” concept back to life. I can’t
say in what form, or when, but I can say that I’m taking
great joy in infusing the design with a little of the recent
controversy. Ms. “Jugs” might remain topless, or
maybe she’ll be in a state of near toplessness as she
burns her bra. I can assure the Four Corners one thing, though.
The simple fact that the art, whether it be to sell beer or
simply art for art’s sake, will be popular long after
Beth Christie’s sensibilities and opinions are considered
– Kyle Cole, via e-mail
G.W. brings it on himself
Who were the people that cast their vote for George W. Bush?
I’m guessing it was a group of well-organized folks who
thought it would be cool to be smarter than the leader of the
free world. Because, really, this guy makes Ross Perot look
like Pierce Brosnan. For example, take his recent response to
a reporter who asked what he had to say to Iraqi guerilla fighters
attacking U.S. troops. He told the reporter, and consequently
the world, to “Bring ’em on!” Yes, that’s
what he said. He told a group of people that get angry and blow
themselves up to “bring it on.” Now, from Mr. Bush’s
comment, I can extract his intended compliment to U.S. forces:
“It doesn’t (don’t) matter who’s going
to (gonna) mess with us, because (’cuz) we’ll take
them (’em.)” That’s nice. But do we really
need Macho Man Randy Savage teasing deadly anti-American foes.
Do our troops need any more difficulty in bringing peace to
Iraq? I can just see an American soldier having to hear that.
In the hotbed of hatred for his country, with sand in his teeth,
dealing with a war-wedgie that won’t quit, and his leader,
from the comforts of his executive lifestyle, tells the Iraqi
killers to “bring it on.” He should just throw a
camel joke in there while he’s at it.
However, if there is one consolation, it is that many foreign
newspapers have had a hard time translating some of Dubya’s
dialogue. But with coalition deaths mounting in “post-war”
Iraq, it appears his message came through loud and clear.