Letters to the Editor

McInnis misled voters on Piñon Canyon

Dear Editor,

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis was putting out misleading information about Piñon Canyon all along the way in his campaign tour last week.

He said, “The Army is no longer threatening eminent domain in the Piñon Canyon expansion.”

He’s apparently applying a rather nuanced meaning to the word “threatening,” because the truth is that the Army has certainly not taken eminent domain off the table.

On July 30, at an Armed Services Committee hearing, Sen. Mark Udall put the question to incoming Secretary of the Army John McHugh in a very direct way, asking him if he “would only proceed on the basis of willing sellers or leasing arrangements and would not use eminent domain.”

McHugh was unwilling to respond affirmatively, explaining that he was withholding such a commitment, “under the rubric of not wanting to make a promise I cannot keep.”

McInnis may have heard Army officials make statements to the effect that they want to work only with willing sellers. I’ve heard such statements myself. I heard them back in the early ’80s and I’m hearing them again in 2009. But, having witnessed such promises being made and broken, I am not as naive as McInnis appears to be about their trustworthiness.

McInnis was also misleading with his audiences when he said that the State of Colorado’s action against expansion is “encroaching on private property owners’ rights to sell their land.” The bill that he objects to does nothing to limit private property owners. The legislation, passed on a bipartisan basis by both houses of the Colorado Legislature, simply
prohibits state school lands that have been set aside for the benefit of education from being sold the federal government.

And he was misleading on a third point, as well. He made the point that the State of Texas is willing to train troops if Piñon Canyon is not expanded for that purpose. What he failed to mention is that the Texas alternative would be on training ranges already owned by the Army and would not require the seizure of private property, only the efficient use of land that is already available to the Army.

McInnis acknowledges that his desire to help the Army federalize Colorado lands in order to turn them into a huge live-fire range is not a matter of patriotism or military necessity, but a sacrifice that he would be willing to make at the altar of the military-industrial complex.

Okay. That’s where he stands. But he should not try to sell the concept on the basis of misinformation.


Doug Holdread