I hadn't posted on this story, largely because so many other Arizona blogs have done a very good job of coverage, but now that it's gone national, I'd mention that in Keith Olbermann's countdown on July 8 he names our own state Senator from here in Navajo County, Sen. Sylvia Allen (R-ignoramus) as the 'worst person in the world.'
watch Olbermann naming Allen.
The original remark by Allen is here:
The whole issue started when Senator Allen was speaking on the senate floor in favor of uranium mining. She was against environmental restrictions and she said that because the earth has been here 6,000 years, long before environmental laws but we haven't damaged it yet by mining uranium there was no need to be concerned about environmental restrictions. After she made the 6,000 year comment someone (apparently someone who realized what she'd just said) tried to cut her off. Instead they only interrupted her train of thought so she started again with repeating the six thousand year thing.
What is most amazing is the way she said it. When for example a Mike Huckabee or a Sarah Palin say something like that they emphasize it, which to me makes it clear that they know that what they are saying isn't true and they are only chucking that in there to appeal to the fundamentalist crowd. But the way senator Allen says it makes it pretty plain that she believes that as a matter of course it simply is; sort of like if you or I began a sentence with, "The sun rises..."
Even leaving the 6,000 years aside, the fact that she also believes that there was no environmental damage before there were environmental laws and that uranium mining doesn't hurt the environment is also breathtaking in the level of ignorance that it displays. There is a good reason why they want to mine uranium now in the area around the Vermillion cliffs and the Grand Canyon. It's because in the place where they used to mine it, on the Navajo reservation, Navajo Nation president Joe Shirley has banned any more uranium mining. Maybe she should visit the reservation or have lunch with president Shirley (who four years ago passed up a lot of government and private money when he refused to allow uranium mining to begin again on the reservation.) There are still dangerously radioactive (as well as chemically hazardous) tailings piles on the reservation from the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's and 1980's when uranium was mined there. That's besides the thousands of Navajos who worked in the mines or lived near them who have become sick and died over the decades from diseases, especially cancers very probably caused by exposure to uranium dust. Joe Shirley is a Leader (yes, that's with a capital 'L') who puts the welfare of his people first, something that is unfortunately a rare commodity in our state.
Our district, legislative district 5, abuts but does not extend onto the reservation. In fact, Senator Allen voted for the June 4 budget (the package which was transmitted to the Governor just in time for her veto on June 30, which is why we now have the special session.) The budget cut a great deal from rural hospitals and other institutions, so much so that our Republican state representative, Bill Konopnicki crossed party lines to vote against it. I pointed this out in a letter to the Holbrook Tribune. Senator Allen (who I had emailed several times before to express my opinion on issues) emailed me back saying she was annoyed at the letter. She disputed portions of it, but I know very well what was in that budget and the truth is she voted to gut healthcare and schools in her own district, and apparently doesn't know that she did vote for that.
Senator Allen was not originally elected to the position, but rather she was appointed by our county commission following the death of the incumbent (thanks, guys.) I will give my own commissioner, J.R. DeSpain, credit for opposing her, but he lost a 4-1 vote. It is true that state law required that they appoint a Republican to the position (since Jake Flake, the guy who died was a Republican) but you would think they would at least look for a Republican who knows the earth was here already before civilization began. There are some, you know. Heck Konopnicki was known to be interested in the position and as the state representative and a member of the same party he would have been the logical choice to run.
Maybe it is clear that senator Allen went to schools here in Arizona. After decades of Republican control of the legislature (even in the rare terms when there is a Democratic Governor) and starving the schools, it seems that the scariest part of having our kids taught in an underfunded educational system is that one day they grow up and take what they've learned in school to the legislature.