In light of Gov. John Hickenlooper's vow to sue any city or other local government that elects to ban the controversial practice of "fracking" within their boundaries, in the name of preserving fair and equal accessibility to subsurface mineral rights across the state, we turn to last week's threat by the very same Gov. Hickenlooper to veto Senate Bill 13-025–a bill that would create a level playing field statewide for firefighters to negotiate for better safety equipment and working conditions. As the Colorado Statesman reported last week:
In a letter to Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, Hickenlooper highlights concerns expressed over local control. [Pols emphasis] Senate Bill 25 would guarantee collective bargaining rights even in jurisdictions where local voters have opposed the idea. That part of the labor bill does not sit well with Republicans, and Hickenlooper — a moderate Democrat with a background in business — is also alarmed by the prospect.
“We do not believe it is a matter of state interest to require mandatory bargaining between a locality and its firefighters,” Hickenlooper writes…
The measure has been amended to include a clause that would prohibit firefighters from striking. It was also amended to clarify that the bill would not affect current collective bargaining agreements that exist in Denver, Boulder, Aurora and other municipalities or districts. Language has also been added to emphasize that firefighters should have a uniform method for bargaining over safety equipment and staffing levels.
There is a value judgment in both issues: whether we're talking about firefighters' right to negotiate for better equipment and staffing to protect the public, or local communities' right to protect themselves from the harmful consequences of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas. In these two cases, Gov. Hickenlooper has taken his position based on contradictory stated principles regarding the appropriateness of "local control."
But in each case, the choice was against protecting the public.