Turn off the heat? Was Bill Ritter drunk?

When reports surfaced that Governor Bill Ritter was considering diverting $1.3 million earmarked for extra drunk-driving patrols to help close the budget gap, I started a mental stopwatch to time how long it would be before he'd have to eat shit regarding this misbegotten plan. And lo and behold, after mere hours of heat over the possible extinguishing of the "Heat Is On" program during the last few months of the year, Ritter did a wholly predictable about-face. But a question remains -- pretty much the same one Jay Leno famously asked Hugh Grant: What the hell was he thinking? Obviously, given the current revenue shortfall, painful choices must be made. But by axing these funds, he'd be inviting political opponents to charge him with complicity the next time anyone in the state died as a result of a lush behind the wheel, instantly turning the lawbreaker into a Willie Horton with a bottle of Jack. Even fellow Democrats have been wondering about Ritter's political acumen since at least June, when his seesawing labor stands succeeded in turning friends into enemies -- and this latest incident won't squelch the grumbling.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts