Udall praises parks’ energy insights

Locals cheer his
win on televising
Bronco games here

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., was going to use the influence of his New Mexico cousin, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, to make sure Denver Broncos games were not bumped off TV in Southwest Colorado in favor of the Dallas Cowboys, which has been a crushing disappointment for fans of the Orange Crush.

Colorado’s senior senator said he negotiated a deal with Albuquerque Fox affiliate KASA that will allow football fans in La Plata and Montezuma counties to watch Broncos games on TV this season.

In explaining his negotiating tactics, Udall said,“If we didn’t get the job done I was going to Albuquerque, and I would use whatever means necessary, including imposing on and encouraging my cousin, the senator from New Mexico, to help me get the job done.”

Udall, who toured the Visitor and Research Center at Mesa Verde National Park on Sunday, acknowledged that some people might think professional football is a trivial matter for a U.S. senator.

“I know people smile, but this is important,” he said. “This what Colorado prides itself on, our athletic teams. This corner of the state is as Colorado as any other corner of the state. People down here deserve to see those football games.

“I’m pleased we were able to lift the uncertainty and assure people that the best football team in the country will be seen by anybody in Colorado who wants to see the Broncos.”

In making his tour of the new visitor center, Udall, the chairman of the U.S. Senate’s National Parks Subcommittee, marveled at the building’s energy efficiency and use of renewable power through solar panels and micro hydroelectric power.

“This is the future right here today at Mesa Verde National Park,” he said.

In response to a question from The Durango Herald, Udall expressed reservations about other forms of cutting-edge technology, the surveillance programs of the National Security Agency.

He called for an end to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which has been interpreted to allow the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records. He described it as a “meta data” because it targets “who you called and when” but not the content of the phone conversations.

“The NSA makes the case by taking all that meta data, we can examine it and get a sense of patterns. Well, they’re right. They can. Some people think that’s not a violation of your privacy; I think it is,” Udall said.

“If they need those records, go get a warrant,” he said. “There’s ways to get warrants quickly. We can give the president emergency powers. If there’s a plot we discover looking to blow up New York City, the president would have those powers.”

Udall said there should be “a big, national discussion to the size of the intelligence complex. We have 400,000 contractors. Think of an Eric Snowden figure who wanted to use this data for malevolent purposes. We can debate whether he’s a hero or a traitor or a leaker or a whistle blower. He ought to come back and stand trial, in my opinion.”

“My point, though, is that the American public did not know about this (program). Whatever we decide to do ought to be on the basis of the public being informed, not on the basis of blind trust, which is how I think the previous administration and this administration has been acting,” Udall said.

Udall does not think the program has been effective in stopping terrorism, either. He said defenders of the program have confused it with another program which targets foreigners’ phone data.

“People are lumping these two (surveillance) programs together,” Udall said. “It’s a bit disingenuous what’s going on right now.”

One surveillance program, however, got Udall’s wholehearted endorsement on Sunday.

Mesa Verde officials told the senator of plans to allow the public to look through a window into an archive room to see artifacts getting unpacked and prepared for exhibit.

The senator said such a demonstration would be better than watching a chef at “any sushi bar” or “anything on the Food Network.”

jhaug@durangoherald.com