Wes McKinley rejects Rocky Flats wildlife refuge plan, favors grilling burgers on the Capitol lawn

Wes McKinley has always done his civic duty -- even if those in power might quibble with how he defines it. Twenty years ago, the rancher/teacher from Walsh was the foreman of the federal grand jury that wanted to indict eight individuals for environmental crimes at Rocky Flats -- but instead, the Department of Justice sent the grand jurors home and cut a deal with Rockwell International.

The result? The company was fined $18.5 million -- less than the bonuses it had been given for operating the plant.

That just chapped McKinley's hide.

And last night, he joined Jon Lipsky, the FBI agent who led the raid on Rocky Flats back in 1989 -- the raid that netted all the evidence sent to that grand jury -- to talk about what really happened at the plant, and why it should never be reopened as a wildlife refuge (the current plan). Like the plutonium processed at Rocky Flats, this story goes on forever -- and will soon be captured in the Rocky Flats Cold War Museum, which has just secured a space in Arvada.

Today, McKinley, who's now a state representative, will be on the east lawn of the State Capitol, hosting the Southeast Colorado Picnic -- complete with burgers, Koshare Indians, a "local lady" singing the National Anthem, and McKinley himself playing the guitar and offering some cowboy poetry.

And country wisdom, like this: "The only difference between a Wes McKinley picnic on the Capitol lawn in Denver, Colorado, and a Willie Nelson picnic in Luckenbach, Texas, is that there may be less marijuana and Jack Daniels on the Capitol lawn," he says. "That's not shall, but there may be less -- we're not guaranteeing anything now, especially with the marijuana situation."

Since McKinley's involved, though, we can guarantee there will be plenty of straight shooting, too. This is a man who knows how to grill burgers -- and government officials.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Bill Vidal makes good on his promise to clean up the Denver Police Department."

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