Editorials

Vail Daily column: Everything that can happen

March 29, 2015 — 

I had stepped into a crosswalk a thousand times before. You’re always told to look both ways as a kid, and as far as I can remember, I did. The thing is, usually, when a car starts to approach a crosswalk with someone in it, it slows down. This car didn’t slow down.

The last thing I heard before the whole world went black was the bang of the car striking me in the shins. I came to in the middle of the street on my side and was fortunate the next car missed me.

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Vail Daily column: Roll up life's red carpet

March 28, 2015 — 

“Walking the red carpet” functions as the iconic metaphor for achieving success. When a nation’s leader receives dignitaries on official state visits, a red carpet is rolled out. Gleaming black limousines pull up to the carpet, and dignitaries exit. They “walk the red carpet” amid trumpets blaring and unfurled flags marking the way. Guests are escorted on the red carpet to an elegant state dinner where formal toasts are offered.

On the first Palm Sunday, wildly enthusiastic admirers laid a “red carpet” for Jesus, made of coats and palm branches. Many crowd-watchers “spread their garments on the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields” (Mark 11:8).

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Vail Daily column: Partnership connects families with nature

March 27, 2015 — 

Connecting children and families to nature and creating a unique summer experience bring Vail Resorts, the U.S. Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy together for an epic project. With passion for the outdoors and all the beauty and benefits it brings, we speak with one voice about the importance of creating meaningful experiences in our beautiful forests.

Many of us have enjoyed the grandeur of our mountains — skiing, hiking, biking and fishing — throughout the four seasons. However, for many people, playing in our national forests and other open spaces may be intimidating or out of reach. By not experiencing nature up close, it is hard to understand the importance it has to our everyday lives. This connection is critical as we work to preserve our iconic landscapes for future generations. If we want people to care, then we need to get them connected to the outdoors.

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Vail Daily column: The big red truck

March 27, 2015 — 

In the spring of 1950, I was surfing at San Onofre when a friend named Burrhead drove up in a shiny brand-new Chevrolet panel delivery truck. It was the perfect surfing wagon and he had already converted the inside into what I thought was the perfect apartment on wheels.

I had 37 rolls of exposed Kodachrome film that I was somehow going to convert into a feature-length ski film. Once I did that I knew I would be traveling a lot, and if I got a truck like this I could live in it while I was traveling and showing this brand-new ski film about Squaw Valley the first winter.

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The speed of life

March 27, 2015 — 

Old age creeps in, wrinkle by gray hair by colleagues the same age, then younger than your children.

You reminisce your own 20s by email with the diaspora from high school, college, jobs left long ago. These kids, younger than you were back when, memories like yesterday.

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Vail Daily column: Race talks still going nowhere

March 25, 2015 — 

I hate to say I told you so, but remember back in December when I suggested that an open and honest exchange of views about race in America was all but impossible?

Recently, Univision host Rodner Figueroa was fired after comparing first lady Michelle Obama to the cast of the “Planet of the Apes.” A few years ago, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez was fired after making comments suggesting Jews control the media. And thanks to his alcohol-fueled, anti-Semitic rants, former A-list actor Mel Gibson went from Hollywood royalty to Australian pariah. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences.

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Vail Daily Hits and Misses

March 25, 2015 — 

Got a quick Hit or Miss about issues, decisions or goings-on in the valley? Send yours to editor@vaildaily.com to be included.

HIT: To the state taking steps to better coordinate ski traffic in and out of the mountains, from snowplows to Auto Socks and other means of keeping passes from gumming up with accidents.

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Vail Daily column: Finding talented teachers

March 24, 2015 — 

Last week, I wrote about the importance of talent in building a great educator workforce and that perhaps the most important thing any organization can do to build up its human capital is to hire well.

The quality of the teacher matters a great deal. While we know that the greatest influencers of student success are their community, family and environmental factors, teachers are the most powerful in-school factor for improving outcomes.

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Vail Daily editorial: Waiting for trucks

March 24, 2015 — 

A member of this newspaper’s editorial board drove from the Vail Valley to the Greeley area recently and had something that doesn’t quite rise to the level of an epiphany, but it might rate as an insight.

As you may have heard, there’s something of a construction boom going on in the Denver area. Around Greeley, there’s still a good deal of oil field activity despite the recent slowdown in that industry.

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Vail Daily column: Another self-serving milestone

March 23, 2015 — 

Sitting in a lonely hotel room far from home, I found myself seriously contemplating just exactly what it is that has transpired over the last eight years.

“But I thought you two have been married almost 18 years?”

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March 23, 2015 — 

Got a quick Hit or Miss about issues, decisions or goings-on in the valley? Send yours to editor@vaildaily.com to be included.

MISS: From a reader sensitive about geographic nomenclature to Eagle Mayor Yuri Kostick. “Your town is in the Eagle Valley. Not the Vail Valley. Check a map if you don’t believe me.”

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Vail Daily column: Be wary of local control over U.S. History curriculum

March 23, 2015 — 

Tea party activists argue that local school boards possess expertise to shape a U.S. history curriculum that meets community expectations. Conservatives oppose the national Advanced Placement U.S. history curriculum. They caricature it as a federal take-over of education. Conservatives wrongly assert that the AP U.S. history curriculum imposes limits on the local control of schools. Repeat such a lie long enough and it gains credibility.

Local school boards that reject the national AP history curriculum propose an unsalvageable argument. Its fallacies sink it.

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Vail Daily column: Get stuff done

March 23, 2015 — 

I’m a fan of moments when the conversation is so good that you don’t care if you just threw something onto the floor. Dave Argo and I were standing only a foot or so away from each other at the Habitat for Humanity Carpenter’s Ball, the group’s annual fundraiser, just a few weekends ago. The event connects volunteers, staff and folks who love good food and drink. They talk about the impact that Habitat has on families in the community. A family speaks. You should consider attending next year.

It was during the event that Dave and I had the best conversation of the evening. The topic: getting stuff done. As we looked around the room, both of us commented on how much in talent, influence, resources and ability was present in the crowd. Between the two of us, we could name at least 100 people, describe their contributions and their priorities. Unfortunately, we could also likely identify obstacles.

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Vail Daily column: Definition of a condo-tel can vary

March 20, 2015 — 

When it comes to buying and owning a condo a big part of the equation is getting a mortgage. In any resort area there is a question that goes with about every condo from a lenders view and that is if the property is defined under Fannie and Freddie guidelines as a condominium hotel, or condo-tel for short.

The problem with financing condo-tels is back in the early 1960s when the concept of a condo in a resort area operating as a short term rental most properties were hotels that had been converted to condos. These properties were often haphazard makeovers, and over time they did not hold their value well at all. The lenders who loaned on them saw high default rates. That spooked the two major sources of funding for all mortgage loans , Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, from loaning in condo-tels.

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Vail Daily column: We open our doors for Passover festival

March 20, 2015 — 

The festival of Passover, which will be celebrated by Jews around the world from April 3 until April 11, is the outstanding home festival in Jewish life. It is the feast of freedom, commemorating ancient Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage.

The rituals of Passover (or Pesach as it is known in Hebrew) are largely home ceremonials. On the day before the holiday begins, the house is examined throughout for any sign of leavened bread or any food containing yeast, and all traces are removed. For one week, matzah (unleavened bread) and various other foods made of unleavened ingredients replace all bread products on the menu.

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Vail Daily column: I don't feel so good

March 20, 2015 — 

I was watching one of my favorite news shows the other day on the Fair and Unbalanced Network. Neil Cavuto looked at me and said, “Is ISIS already on American soil? Should we care? This topic after we pay some bills,” and he broke away for the commercials.

In the first ad there were these awful pictures of toe fungus and someone explaining how embarrassed he was to show his feet in public. This poor guy would be banished from any public pool and I certainly felt sympathetic for his condition. The answer for his problem was a prescription of Jublia. I looked at my toes and wondered.

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Vail Daily column: Skiing's soul

March 20, 2015 — 

Peter Kray, author of “The God of Skiing,” in an interview with Powder Magazine, raised an interesting question for those of us who enjoy skiing and the outdoor life. Why do we do it? What’s the big deal?

Kray accuses the media of portraying skiing as “cartoonish.” Movies rely on hard-partying stereotypes and nude women. With ski town male-to-female ratios approaching seven-to-one, the latter seems nothing more than the fantasy of a twit. Skier porn, while fun to watch, shows both skiing abilities and locations that are out of reach for most skiers, certainly to the newcomer. Kray says we have failed at articulating “how meaningful and rewarding” skiing can be.

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Vail Daily column: Another useless conflict

March 20, 2015 — 

I was arrested for “crowding, obstructing and incommoding” at the Foreign Relations Hearing on the Authorization for Military Force with Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Head of the Joint Chief of Staff Martin Dempsey. I stood and asked, “Why are we starting another endless war with no geographical boundaries, creating more terrorism and killing innocent people?”

CNN posted a story of the arrest: bit.ly/arnmenconi.

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Vail Daily column: Big-name instructors starred at early resorts

March 20, 2015 — 

As the ski resorts began to be developed across America, it was necessary to have a famous ski racer or instructor from Austria hired as the head of the ski school.

By 1950, there were still fewer than 15 chair lifts in America. I believe in 1950, Squaw Valley became No. 15 but only the third chair lift in California.

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Vail Daily column: Obstacles remain over Iran treaty

March 19, 2015 — 

The March 9 open letter by 47 U.S. senators to the Iranian government illustrates the challenges facing negotiators involved in the P5+1 talks (the U.S., United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany) surrounding Tehran’s nuclear program. The discussions are one of the international community’s most complicated issues. It is a convergence of the world’s principle strategic players, a vital Middle Eastern actor and a key under-reported issue, nuclear nonproliferation. The talks’ final outcome may enhance America’s relationship with Iran — or result, possibly, in an augmented conflict, affecting Europe and the U.S. homeland.

A final agreement’s obstacles include:

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Vail Daily column: Powder days for energy nerds

March 19, 2015 — 

A colleague from sales made the sympathetic sounds you save for unfortunates who had to attend a funeral.

You know, the “ah” and the “I’m so sorry” face. Behind that, a passing cloud of sheer wonderment at how anyone would choose to spend a weekend this way.

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Vail Daily column: Less certainty — but potential opportunities

March 19, 2015 — 

The world of today is vastly different from the one that existed in, say, 1974. Innovations such as the Internet, smartphones, tablets, Facebook, Twitter and so on have made our lives more enjoyable, efficient and productive in many ways, and have vastly improved our access to the world’s knowledge. Yet when it comes to one important area of our lives — investing for the future — many of us may actually face more challenges today than we might have in the past.

At least two main factors are responsible for this apparent regression. First, following a quarter century during which U.S. workers’ income rose fairly steadily, “real” wages — that is, wages after inflation is considered — have been flat or declining since about 1974, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Secondly, during this same time period, we’ve seen a large drop in the percentage of private-sector workers covered under a “defined benefit” plan — the traditional pension plan in which retired employees receive a specified monthly benefit with the amount determined by years of service, earnings history and age.

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Vail Daily column: Lessons and responses

March 18, 2015 — 

My children returned from playing outside and rushed into my office to proudly display their largesse — pockets brimming with rainbow-colored candy. When I asked where it had come from, they casually explained that a lady tossed it towards them as she drove past in her car and they picked it up off the ground.

At that moment, I wanted to fall to my knees and keen to the gods at where I had gone wrong as a parent. Instead I screeched at them, “You did what?!” Before they could answer, I bellowed, “Kid 101, do not take candy from a stranger and never eat anything that has been on the ground.” I displayed parental indignation, but what I really felt was fear. It was as if the forces of evil had sent a warning shot across the bow. The message seemed to be, the kids were safe, this time.

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Vail Daily column: We really are better together

March 17, 2015 — 

When I was campaigning for state Senate last fall, I chose “Better Together” as my campaign slogan. Now, I know it’s a little cheesy, but halfway through the legislative session, I’ve felt validated in my belief that Colorado works best when we all work together. Whether it’s been passing my bill with no opposition to make it easier for kids to get a jumpstart on college, to tackling how we can make renewable energies work for our schools and communities, these are ideas that have the support of Republicans and Democrats working together towards a common goal.

Unfortunately, I’ve also seen the real effects of partisanship in our state Capitol. I’ve seen good legislation get killed simply due to the party affiliation of the bill’s sponsor, and I’ve seen bad legislation pass due to — you guessed it — the party affiliation of the bill’s sponsor. For example, the Senate majority passed legislation on a party line vote that guts the Public Employees’ Retirement Association by reducing contributions into the fund, risking the sustainability of thousands of Coloradans retirements and 401(k)s.

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Vail Daily editorial: Echoes ring from '13

March 17, 2015 — 

The 2013 session of the Colorado Legislature in many ways was a great spasm of “We’ve got to do something!”

In the wake of the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, well-meaning but misguided Democrats in both houses decided to pass a brace of new “gun safety” bills. The bills were hustled through both houses, with legislators accepting a shockingly small amount of dissenting public comment, then signed by a governor unwilling to fulfill his role as a voice for views not represented by a majority of legislators.

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Vail Daily column: Different kind of Madness

March 17, 2015 — 

I bleed blue.

As a native of the Bluegrass State and a multiple degree alumnus of the University of Kentucky, I’m of course excited about the upcoming NCAA tournament and the possibility of an undefeated Wildcat team and Kentucky championship.

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Vail Daily column: Voice of a nation

March 16, 2015 — 

“It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” — Samuel Adams.

More than 200 years ago, men and women were trying to make a living much like they do today. A few took definite action to improve their lives and life in their community. These, at the time, seemed to be small contributions to the world.

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Vail Daily column: A mistake in progress

March 16, 2015 — 

In politics, there are two basic methods used to garner political favor: attack your opponent with sarcastic humor or challenge them intellectually with rational logic.

Of course there are other techniques or the two can be combined (such as when religion is the subject), but it’s usually one or the other.

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Vail Daily column: Spin the thread

March 15, 2015 — 

I’m not quite sure how he got into the house. The first time I spotted him (I’m not even sure if it’s a him), he was nestled into one of the upper corners of a window. He looked like a wolf spider to me ... not that I have any business trying to identify spiders. I work well with spreadsheets. I’m usually pressed for time, nearly all the time, and stopping my morning routine to chase a spider down that wasn’t hurting anybody was not on the docket.

Well, about a week later I walk into the bathroom and do one of those crazy dances that people do when they walk into a spider’s web. There’s a comedian out there that talks about seeing people walk into spider’s webs from a distance. I can only imagine how completely crazy I would have looked to a casual observer as I yelled and batted my hands across my own face.

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Vail Daily column: 1968: The year that rocked our nation

March 15, 2015 — 

In 1968, our nation dissolved into the divided states of America.

Two American groups faced-off: Guardians of traditional morality versus protesters whose new morality questioned the status quo. Pro-government citizens gave President Lyndon Baines Johnson the benefit of the doubt in supporting a military build-up in the Vietnam War. Critics believed sending U.S. troops into this civil war provided no benefits. The president and Yippies berated each other’s patriotism.

American culture shook at its core because collegians holding anti-Vietnam War placards took to the streets. Social mavericks demolished traditional norms for right and wrong. They spurned government loyalty. Their idealism clashed with militaristic Washington politicians who supported the Vietnam War. “If the U.S. doesn’t stop the Vietcong, patriots will be fighting Communist saboteurs on the West Coast!” was the Johnson Administration’s mantra.

Shorthand for 1968: “The Tet Offensive and Vietnam.” In early January, the Vietcong surprisingly and swiftly penetrated safe U.S. havens in South Vietnam. This massive attack was called Tet. The U.S. retaliated with a Tet Offensive, a massive counter-attack to roll-back the enemy. U.S. troop strength and carpet bombing drastically increased. War debt skyrocketed. The U.S. government lied, reporting we were winning the war. Officials inflated Vietcong casualty counts and decreased soaring U.S. fatalities.

War supporters argued: We had to destroy civilian villages where the Vietcong hid in order to save Vietnam. After the Tet Offensive, anti-war activists regarded the war as idiotic. They argued that the U.S. spreading Agent Orange from the air defoliated the countryside and destroyed the nation we sent our soldiers to save.

No longer could army censors shield the American public from damaging war news. Legendary TV anchor Walter Cronkite reported the war’s stalemate up-close and personal. During Tet, the Vietcong drove south into U.S.-held territory. Then, more calamities struck. In three short weeks, the formerly gorgeous city of Hue, the ancient capital of Vietnam’s intellectual/religious life, was reduced to rubble, with bodies of American and Vietnamese troops left to bloat under the boiling sun.

The New York Times graphically described what the U.S. government tried to hide. Hue had become a sinkhole of defeat. A “truckload of bandaged, weary and muddy marines rolled through cratered streets, past shattered houses. ... Vietnamese on the route stared sullenly. ... A marine wounded in the arm and grimacing every time the truck jolted said, ‘They all blame us.’”

After the U.S. Tet Counter-Offensive, anti-war protests mushroomed. Some anti-war parents protested with their collegians. Retaliating, government officials clamped down. They assailed the patriotism of those who dared question military strategy. Hard-liner Secretary of State Dean Rusk barked against protestors. He told Newsweek magazine editors that “pseudo-intellectual” anti-war lies hoodwinked our youth. He denounced anti-war protestors as “controlled by communists.”

Status-quo protectors loved Rusk. Anti-war protesters detested him. They reserved their hate, however, for Gen. William Hershey, director of the Selective Service, who headed the compulsory military draft. Selective service numbers of even wealthy students from Ivy League schools weren’t deferred. Acting on President Johnson’s directive, Hershey ordered local draft boards to punish deferred college students who protested campus recruitment for the Vietnam War. Their names were pushed to the top of the mandatory draft list.

Robert F. Kennedy’s protesting voice resonated with me in 1968. Turning on his nemesis President Johnson, he renounced our army’s Tet Offensive for not achieving its objective of halting communists infiltrating South Vietnam cities.

Speaking in Chicago on Feb. 8, 1968, Kennedy declared the Tet Offensive “finally shattered the mask of official illusions about the war,” demonstrating that no “part or person of South Vietnam was safe from attack. ... It is time for the truth. It is time to face the reality that a military victory is not in sight and probably never will come.” Finally, a sane, honest voice.

Visiting the “1968” exhibit at the Colorado History Museum in Denver, I witnessed a grandmother showing her grandson a display of the 1968 “Bobby” Kennedy presidential campaign. The schoolboy saw the iconic picture of Kennedy’s prostrate body after he was assassinated, lying in a kitchen corridor of the hotel where he had, minutes before, given a victory speech after winning the California Democratic primary.

“Why is he sleeping with his eyes open?” the boy asked. Grandmother replied that a bad man gunned down Kennedy. Her eyes blinked tearfully, showing he still lives in her memory.

Robert F. Kennedy traveled to South Africa in 1966 when the apartheid system ruled but was faltering because of protests. Speaking at the University of Cape Town, Kennedy’s credo convinced many to work for social righteousness.

“Each time a man (person) stands for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. And crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression.”

“Amen!” we vowed in 1968. “So be it” today in working for justice and standing our ground against government that unwisely goes to war.

The Rev. Dr. Jack R. Van Ens is a Presbyterian minister who heads the nonprofit, tax exempt Creative Growth Ministries (www.thelivinghistory.com), which enhances Christian worship through dynamic storytelling and dramatic presentations aimed to make God’s history come alive.

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