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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Colorado - An Open Letter to the Greeley Tribune Editorial Board: Let the Voters Decide on the 51st State Initiative

An Open Letter to the Greeley Tribune Editorial Board: Let the Voters Decide on the 51st State Initiative
In your June 11th, 2013 editorial titled “Commissioners must ensure conversation occurs in wake of secession plan” you wrote that the political leadership at the state capitol “aren’t willing to listen and learn about this (the rural) part of the state.”  I would agree wholeheartedly with that statement. The arrogant and imperious attitude of the politically powerful in Denver is precisely the reason why ideas like the “51st State Initiative” are being discussed and debated at all.

I certainly don’t expect local newspaper editorial boards to embrace legal separation. What conservatives in Greeley do expect, however, is time to analyze the issue and decide whether to support or oppose it by themselves. So far, it seems to me your papers’ inclination is to minimize popular support for the effort. Headlines such as “Northeast Colorado counties favor more representation instead of secession” and “Rural-urban tensions true, say northeast Colorado residents, but few want to form 51st state” are recent examples that highlight this apparent bias. Of course rural Coloradans would rather have their elected representatives reflect the values of those of us living outside the metropolitan Denver area. That would obviously be the preference of every citizen. But is that likely to happen? I would argue it is highly unlikely based on recent history.

To my knowledge, no reputable polling firm has taken the time to conduct a scientific poll on the issue since the public discussion began several weeks ago. As the Greeley Tribune is well aware, on-line polls are decidedly non-scientific and are easily manipulated by activists, cynics, or those with an axe-to-grind.   What on-line polls can do is to frame the debate in a negative light for the supporters or opponents of any particular topic. I would argue that the provocative language of the Tribune’s recent on-line poll (Should the Weld County commissioners table the 51st state proposal?) did just that, and was strongly biased in favor of opponents of the 51st State Initiative.

The Tribune has written in the past that it was a good thing for Weld County Commissioners to, at a minimum, have a ‘conversation’ about the Initiative.  We assumed you meant unbiased and factual conversation.  To that end, might I suggest that at least for the time being, you be more careful about the language you use in your on-line polls, or even better, switch to a method that cannot be so easily manipulated. A minor disclaimer about the on-line poll being “unscientific” is kind of a cop-out if you are trying to push the debate in one direction or another.

The only poll on this topic that means anything will come on Election Day, when voters in Northern Colorado cast their ballots for or against the idea of creating their own state. How about your editorial staff just letting the voters decide for themselves, until that time comes, instead of trying to steer the debate in one direction or another.

Jeffrey T. Hare

The 51st State Initiative

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