Essay by Ed Quillen
Colorado Central – August 1994 – Colorado Central Magazine
Being a rather vain fellow, I must confess that I enjoyed the few minutes of national notoriety after I was quoted in the June 20 edition of the Wall Street Journal.
The story was not about me, this part of the state, or even this state at all. It was about Debbie Jaramillo, recently elected mayor of Santa Fé after a stint on the city council.
She doesn’t have anything against tourism — face it, we’re all tourists when we venture away from home, and life would sure be dull if we stayed home all the time — but she was upset about how industrial tourism had taken over her town, threatening to drive out everything else.
Santa Fé is losing the downtown shops where locals buy necessities, and acquiring upscale boutiques and galleries where visitors purchase luxuries.
Create a one-industry town, follow the logic of the market, and the process is much the same in Santa Fé or Cripple Creek, where they lose grocery and general stores because casinos are more profitable.
Jaramillo fought back with events like “take back the Plaza” rallies, the idea being that local institutions should serve the local residents who pay for them. To some folks, that notion is subversive; the American way is to tax people making $18,000 a year in order to provide a more attractive experience for the poor folks who make only $200,000.
“We don’t need a proliferation of second homes and three-day-a-week people from L.A. We have to maintain what’s left of our charm and uniqueness,” she said. After that came my brief moment of fame:
“Her sentiments are echoed throughout the Rocky Mountain West, where residents of many small towns and cities have had enough of wrenching economic development… Attracted by clean air, beautiful scenery and a lack of crime, the part-timers and newcomers arrive with big savings accounts, raising the cost of housing and turning many cities into homogeneous tourist meccas. ‘We’re becoming the most expensive gated suburb of Los Angeles,’ bemoans Ed Quillen, a newspaper publisher in tiny Salida in western Colorado.”
The identification is questionable. Colorado Central Is no newspaper. I’m not its publisher (Martha and I have joint custody of such titles), we strive to place Salida in Central Colorado rather than western Colorado, and “tiny” is a relative matter. Salida Is the largest city for 50 miles in any direction, a distinction that San Francisco and Washington cannot claim, and nobody calls them “tiny.”
However, my words were quoted accurately, even if I was somewhat hyperbolic about the situation hereabouts. The quote came about because Marj Charlier, the Journal’s Denver bureau chief. covered a gathering of rural troublemakers put together by the Center for the New West in Denver last May.
I attended that gathering, and I was shooting off my mouth. It’s a sentiment I’ve expressed often, and if you recall our first issue, we founded Colorado Central as a way to maintain and enhance what is distinctive about our part of the world lest it turn into “just another suburb of east L.A.”
So much for fleeting fame. The Journal might also have identified me as one the most inept political writers in the region, perhaps the nation. I interviewed state Sen. Linda Powers, who said she wasn’t about to run for Congress this year. Guess what she’s doing now. I interviewed Phil Klingsmith of Gunnison, who said he was in the gubernatorial race for the long haul. Guess who dropped out shortly thereafter.
When I meet candidates now, I warn them not to say anything to me, because whatever we print has a way of reversing almost immediately.
As for printing per se, we missed a communication with our printer last month and the edition ended up on newsprint (the paper that newspapers are printed on) instead of our regular stock, which is somewhat heavier and whiter.
We apologize to our readers and advertisers. But we’ll also warn you that it won’t be our last mistake. The only people who don’t make mistakes are people who don’t do anything, and we’re pretty busy.