Opinion

My first job, the first time I dropped out of college, was with a popular Midwestern governor.   Years later, someone wrote that being a governor was like driving one of those fire department ladder trucks as fast as it can go down city streets with the sirens and horns blaring.

And that’s the way I remember it.

The governor I worked for got his political feet wet as the leader of the minority in the state senate.  Yet after three terms as governor, his interest in moving on to  U.S. Senate was exactly zero.   

That’s why I understand where Maryland Gov.  Larry Hogan is coming from.   The Maryland Republican is one of the nation’s most popular governors and he has zero interest in the U.S. Senate. 

Sounding much like Gen. Sherman, Hogan last week said: “I will not be a candidate for the U.S. Senate. I don’t aspire to be a United States Senator and that fact has not changed.”

Governors do become U.S. Senators of course. Colorado’s previous governor took that route, out of boredom I suppose  He’s not been heard of again in any meaningful way since.

Our current governor,  Colorado’s Jared Polis, however, is never dull.  

He was on some television talk show this weekend for being about the first “Blue State” governor to declare an end to the pandemic over as a medical emergency. That was in early December.  He never showed any signs of enjoying the “mandate era.”  I liked that.

Food Safety News began paying attention to Polis during his 5-terms  in Congress.   He was a proud member of the bipartisan “Food Freedom” caucus.   Polis would bring his Republican “Food Freedom” caucus fellows through Denver for fine dining topped off with raw milk.

It was harmless enough,   I cannot think of any federal Food Freedom agenda items that even got through the House Ag. Committee,   

As Governor, Polis last April 29  signed HB 21-079, providing for the sale of animals for human consumption to informed end consumers “in a  manner that exempts the sale from certain laws.”

Allowing ranchers to sell beef directly to consumers is very much a “Food Freedom” idea   The bill passed the Colorado Legislature with the support of the ranching community.   Polis could have gotten more mileage than he did out of it and future sales to individuals are opportunities.

But Polis seems to have a knack for putting himself at odds with the farmers and ranchers of the state.  Among these flare-ups are these:

  • Polis recently recruited and named, Dr. Rebecca (Becky) Niemiec to the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Protection(GAP).

She was an assistant professor in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department at Colorado State University and the director of the Conservation Action Lab.  Niemiec led a study that advocated for the introduction of wolves to Colorado and was running a half-million-dollar National Science Foundation grant in partnership with the City of Boulder and Mercy for Animals focused on promoting plant-based food choices. 

  • The appointment of the wolf advocate follows the January dust-up that was needed with the resignation of animal artist Ellen Kessler from the Colorado Board of Veterinary Medicine.   Kessler, best known for being removed from the entrance of a Costco store, was changing insulting comments about Colorado ranchers and farmers on Facebook.

Those comments reportedly were exchanged with Marion Reis of Boulder who is the spouse of Gov. Polis, is openly gay.   Kessler and Reis are friends who share being animal activists.

Kessler responded to ReisFacebook’s posts  on Jan. 19 by calling farmers and ranchers “lazy and nasty.”   Her comments led to her resignation from the Board of Veterinary Medicine. Her resignation becomes effective Feb. 11.

Perhaps among her most offensive comments for the state’s farmers and ranchers was to accuse them of using cows to “bait” wolves to receive compensation for the loss of their animals.

  • Finally, Polis’ third offense came almost a year ago when the Governor signed a “MeatOut” Day proclamation for the Farm Animal Rights Coalition.

Thousands objected on social media and the Colorado Meat Producers Appreciation Day was organized as a counter-protest at numerous locations around the state. Polis tried to calm the waters by sharing his family recipe for a beef treatment.

One thing you learn working for a Governor is never let your governor sign a proclamation written by an advocacy group, re-write it to protect your Governor.

There is not an ending yet to this story.  Still, there seems to be a pattern here.     Polis seems to be more recently in his career, advancing the animal rights agenda to the detriment of Colorado farmers and ranchers.   

For example,  the Bureau of Animal Protection director is ordinarily selected from a list of three candidates submitted by the Agriculture Commissioner.    Polis stepped in with his own list and apparently made it clear he wanted the wolf advocate.

That’s a lot of stirring the pot for a secondary post.

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