First 100 days? Ken Salazar gives himself an A

Probably no other member of the Obama Cabinet has racked up as many frequent-flier miles over the past three months than former Colorado Senator Ken Salazar. As the new sheriff in town at the Department of the Interior, he's been taking his agenda on the road -- presiding over offshore lease sales in New Orleans, visiting Indian schools in the Dakotas, studying global warming in Alaska and drought in California, denouncing ethical lapses under the former regime in Lakewood. It's been a dizzying display of bold initiatives and whizbang theater -- and a bit of a tightrope walk between environmental and development interests, as detailed in my March feature, "The Zen of Ken."

Just in the past few days, Salazar moved to withdraw a last-minute, Bush-era rule allowing mountaintop miners to dump waste in streambeds; announced the formation of a new Office of Youth (not to be confused with the Bureau of Indian Affair's Office of Utes, headed by Fred Gwynne); rolled back another Bush regulation designed to "streamline" (or cripple) the Endangered Species Act; and found time to unveil this progress report on his first 100 days. Not surprisingly, the report is rather, well, complimentary.

Some of the biggest challenges on Salazar's long list -- like actually building the infrastructure for the alternative-energy "moonshot" he keeps talking about -- still lie ahead. But the Secretary has certainly hit the ground running. Maybe it's time to take a breather and hit that family-operated Dairy Queen on the north side of town. We'd hate to see the hardest-working member of the Cabinet sidelined by sheer exhaustion.

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast

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