Dear Friends


Now playing at the Cheyenne Opera

HCN poetry editor Chip Rawlins recently traveled from his home in the small town of Boulder, Wyo., to the Wyoming Capitol to take a peek at his tax dollars at work. To his amazement, Chip found himself watching an opera he thinks was called The Merchants of Menace. He didn't catch it all, but took notes on one act involving a group called the Tax Break Committee. His excerpt follows:

I weep and I shudder, I tremble and quake:
I can't flush my toilet, for fear of the state.
It just may be true that small businesses fear us.
That saddens me deeply (the big ones revere us).
To support this bill, you've compelled me to whine,
but I can't find a record of a Small Business fine.
Off with his head? (I can't say that? Oh ba-a-a-a!)
How can we rescue Small Business, tra-la?
Wonderful! Truly! Let's push it and speed it.
Can we vote for it now? Or must we all read it?
Relax, Mr. Chairman, we considered all things,
When we wrote bill 96 for Colzi to sing.
We thank thee, Amok, for help and good service.
For ink is so costly and the voters might swerve us
from our heartfelt commitment and true loyalty,
to Big Mining, Big Oil and Big Money, all three.
If we all love Small Business, then why not just limit
the law to Small Business, and the good people in it?
O Horror!...

Although he was born in Wyoming, Chip tells us he'd never seen legislators perform an opera before, "but I think we elected some real stars - except for some Democrats who wouldn't sing along. But we don't need them since the Republicans all know their lines and never miss a cue."

Corrections and emendations

In Florence Williams' Dec. 26, 1994, story about citizen action to disembowel planning efforts in Montana's Flathead County, Jess Quinn was identified incorrectly. He says he is not a member or organizer of a citizens' militia, although he does support any citizen's effort to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. He also says he did not speak against planning but against the newly created county building department.

Reader Roland James of Phoenix, Ariz., wrote to tell us that in the same issue writer Bruce Selcraig erred in his comparisons of water consumption. James says Phoenix residents consume at least as much water as Albuquerque, N.M., residents - around 250 gallons per day.

The vagaries of electronic mail put a different byline on a story about the return of wolves to Yellowstone. Former HCN intern Dan Egan, who now reports for the Idaho Falls Post Register, deserves the credit for writing about the media's fascination with the story. For the above and all other errors we haven't yet been told about, we apologize.

Is winter over?

Unseasonably warm weather has local fruit-growers nervous, but it made it easier to visit this mountain town until big snowstorms hit last week. Richard Sims, director of the Museum of Western Colorado, based in Grand Junction, stopped in after talking to some 50 Friends of the Paonia Library about historic and contemporary Ute Indians. Staff also visited with Sandra Tassel, who works for the Trust for Public Land in Santa Fe, N.M.

We didn't see former intern and staffer Steve Ryder, but a letter from him has been circulating. He's been teaching a class in natural resources politics while working on a doctorate at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, which he calls one of the state's "growth machines." Steve writes, "I'm consulting my California phrase book quite often in my attempts to understand the new arrivals."

* Betsy Marston for the staff

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