Editorials

Vail Daily column: Possibility thinking's pitfalls

April 18, 2015 — 

Televangelist Robert Schuller, who died at 88 years on April 2, offered what many Americans want from Christianity. From the Crystal Cathedral near Disneyland, Schuller hosted on Sunday mornings the most-watched religious program in the 1980s. Viewers tuned in to hear this preacher compliment their potential strengths, not scold them for failures.

Schuller kindly spoke to his audience like a grandfather consoles a remorseful child. He promised viewers suspicious of the sin-and-salvation churches that God turns their “scars into stars.” Schuller spun stories about people who transformed obstacles into opportunities. Jesus served as his prime example for changing problems into possibilities.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Testing madness hits the golden dome

April 18, 2015 — 

There are a number of testing bills being considered by the Colorado Legislature this year. Some of these take significant steps to roll back the testing system in the state while others exist merely to create the appearance of doing so.

At the same time, another bill (SB 223) clarifies that parents have the right to refuse to have their students take the test, commonly referred to as “opting out.”

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Sounds of the night

April 17, 2015 — 

We had dinner last night in a new restaurant owned by a good friend of mine. It was so loud that I had to get up and sit on the other side of the table next to my wife so we could hear each other talk. Later, the owner explained that restaurants today are designed with acoustics that will always be very loud.

On the way home we talked about how night sounds have changed with each passing year. As we drove through the harvest-moon night, it brought back memories of some of the unique night sounds that I remembered for the rest of my life.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Gobbling on fossil fuels

April 16, 2015 — 

My theory about the future goes like this: We don’t know what we don’t know. So we go by what we do know.

That means we look in a rearview mirror and draw these trend lines. Up, up, or down, down.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Fire district looks to future with Avon plan

April 16, 2015 — 

We would like to take this opportunity to respond and to clarify several points that were made in the March 10 Vail Daily editorial. We are retired firefighters with 55-plus combined years of experience and are either serving or have served on the board of directors of the Eagle River Fire Protection District. The former board member was involved throughout the land acquisition process.

In 2008, Eagle River Fire Protection District began to examine the service levels it was providing to the citizens it protects. Almont & Associates was hired to evaluate the eight stations currently in the district, including the Beaver Creek station, which is staffed by a contract with Vail Resorts. The study included response times from each station to all the areas within the district. It included the possibility of relocating some of the current stations in order to optimize emergency response times. The study analyzed many of the vacant lots in different areas within the district. These included one lot in Traer Creek that was set aside by the developer, the area behind City Market, available lots at the bottom of Beaver Creek by U.S. Highway 6, the corner of Avon and Swift Gulch roads, and even the Skier Building. The study indicated the optimal location should be in close proximity to the Avon exit of Interstate 70.

Learn more »

Vail Daily Hits and Misses

April 15, 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 reader Brett Johnson “to reader Reid Griebling, who claims that gaper day was a MISS. Sir if what you say is true, should we then also cater to every wealthy guest … like we are their butler away from home?”

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Steps to repair mistrust

April 15, 2015 — 

“Don’t want to get shot by the police, don’t commit a crime” appeared on my Facebook wall recently. Tell that to Michael Bell’s family. He did not commit a crime. He was unarmed. That did not keep him safe. On Nov. 9, 2004, police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot and killed Michael Bell, age 19. The police department conducted an investigation and after two days concluded the shooting was justified and the officer acted properly. His parents were not convinced and eyewitnesses did not corroborate the police department’s version of events. The Bell family eventually won a judgment against the city of Kenosha but did not stop there. Michael Bell’s father used the settlement money he received to fight to change the system. According to Bell’s father, “We researched the state of Wisconsin and we could not find an ‘unjustified’ ruling of a police-involved shooting in 129 years since the police and fire departments were first formed in 1885, and we knew that was an impossible record of perfection. Either the police officers were perfect, or there was something wrong with the system.”

Although Colorado does not share Wisconsin’s century of unlikely perfection, its streak is not without suspicion. In Colorado, an officer has not stood trial for an on-duty shooting in more than two decades. That streak ends this summer. In July, James Ashby, former Rocky Ford police officer, goes on trial for the shooting death of Jack Jacquez Jr. Ashby claims that Jacquez was armed with a bat and about to swing at him. However, the coroner found the entry wound on Jacquez’ back, indicating he was shot from behind. Because the Rocky Ford police department is small and lacks an internal affairs unit, it called in the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to examine the facts and evidence in the shooting.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Testimony for taxpayers

April 14, 2015 — 

It’s April 15. Do you know what your tax money is doing? Public expenditures are a big chunk of people’s lives. Government spent $47,568 per family last year, according to numbers buried in the bowels of the bureaucracy.

Contrast that with the typical income for a family of four — roughly $75,000. Taxes are extracted in ways in which people are not even conscious.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Purging a few random thoughts

April 13, 2015 — 

For the last 16 years I have kept a file, a log of sorts, containing words, phrases, sentences and such that either caught my eye somewhere or simply popped into my little head and I did not wish to forget.

On a regular basis I skim over the almost 300 pages (categorized by generalized subject titles, of course) and use a bit here and a bit there for a column, but every once in a while I purge a few of the bits into a column of their own.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Who's on first?

April 12, 2015 — 

“Who’s on First?” is a comedy routine made famous by former vaudeville comedians Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. The premise of the sketch finds Abbott identifying the players on a fictitious baseball team for his partner Lou Costello.

The basis of the skit lies in the fact that the names and nicknames of the players can be interpreted as either non-responsive answers to Costello’s questions or as acknowledgments to Abbott’s statements.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Jitters creates conspiracy theories

April 11, 2015 — 

We fret not knowing. Our minds don’t like being suspended between what’s mysterious and inexplicable. Dumbfounded, we get anxious. Some people concoct conspiracy theories to tie-up loose ends.

Forty years ago, during the Watergate scandal, a cynical tidal wave inundated the U.S. Mad magazine’s popularity rode this undertow of disgust. Subscriptions soared to 2.4 million per month as the magazine mocked, satirized and humiliated Watergate criminals.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Dinosaurs in puddles of water

April 10, 2015 — 

Bill Jensen, former CEO of Intrawest, said in January that 31 percent of ski resorts are dying. There are 470 ski resorts and nearly 13 million skiers and snowboarders in the U.S. He said a few years back at the National Ski Areas Association conference I attended, before Intrawest went public, “that by 2025 the ski industry would lose nearly 3 million skiers and snowboarders.”

This is due mainly from the aging baby boomers and the changing demographics of those under 18. Now, 50 percent of those under 18 are minority in the U.S. and the rich sport of skiing and snowboarding are not at all reflected of youth in the U.S.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: The evolution of Vail

April 10, 2015 — 

In 1960, two years before Vail opened with one gondola, two chairlifts and a Poma lift, I rode to where Chair 4 ends with Pete Seibert in some sort of an Army surplus, over-the-snow vehicle.

He was able to drive to a vantage point where I got my first view of the now famous Back Bowls. There were no ski lifts, no ski tracks, just an awesome potential for my movie camera.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Forget it and drive on

April 9, 2015 — 

When my Dad’s car was rear-ended just about every member of my family wondered the same thing, “Did Dad provoke the accident?”

Dad was an angry guy, especially behind the wheel. He applied the football maxim “the best defense is a good offense” to his driving. Long before the term “road rage” entered the American lexicon my father was gesticulating and spewing inventive epithets at his fellow drivers as we kids sat silently in the back seat of our Dodge station wagon.

Learn more »

Vail Daily editorial: Pass the tire tread bill

April 8, 2015 — 

Our form of government has a lot to recommend it — particularly compared to every other kind of government — but legislative chambers can sometimes be the places good ideas go to die.

With the calendar winding down on the 2015 session of the Colorado General Assembly, people are worried about the fate of a very sensible bill that could help ease bad-weather travel on Interstate 70 through the mountains. That bill started life as House Bill 1773, co-sponsored in that chamber by Eagle County’s representative, Diane Mitsch Bush, a Steamboat Springs Democrat, and Bob Rankin, a Republican from Carbondale.

Learn more »

Vail Daily Hits and Misses

April 8, 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 reader Reid Griebling to the Vail Daily “for the April 1 ‘Gaper Day’ front page photo and the resulting #vaillive with all of the gaping going on. Gaper is a poor way for residents to describe our guests. Here’s a hint: Unless you grew up in a ski town with a mountain view from your second-grade desk, you’re a gaper. This means 95 percent of you who reside in this county are gapers. Think about that next time you use said name for our guests. Poor form Vail Daily, poor form.”

Learn more »

Plans worth pursuing

April 7, 2015 — 

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail has some exciting plans brewing, and we hope they come to fruition soon.

In 2014, the club — Vail’s oldest nonprofit group — earned town approval for a plan to replace the current clubhouse at the base of Golden Peak. The first floor of that structure dates to the 1970s, and a second-floor addition was completed roughly a decade later. In that time, club membership has grown from about 100 athletes to more than 600, along with more than 100 coaches.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Budget season is upon us

April 7, 2015 — 

April is a busy and contentious time of year for public schools across Colorado. Closing in on the finish of one school year and busily planning for the next, our school district, like others across the state, is working to determine the budget for the 2015-16 school year, which will take effect July 1.

When I talk about Eagle County Schools, people are often surprised by the complexity of our district. With 20 school campuses and other buildings that amount to 1.2 million square feet of building space and over 1,000 employees — our annual district budget (inclusive of bond repayments for facilities) is pushing nearly $100 million annually.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: No shirt, no shoes, no service

April 6, 2015 — 

The headline was a standard sign across the nation for decades, only now it reads “No whatever-I-happen-to-disagree-with, no service.”

The problem of course is that if your business is for the general public, then you sell to all of the general public. Otherwise the “we don’t serve your kind here” is plain and simple discrimination, and American courtrooms have consistently found that providing equal access to accommodate the general public is of great interest to a democratically-elected government and its citizens.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Women played leading roles in resurrection drama

April 6, 2015 — 

Mark, Matthew and Luke record women appearing ahead of anyone else at Jesus’ empty tomb. The Gospel of John adds an independent account of who stood first in line. “Mary Magdalen came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb” (John 20:1).

Why did this appearance of a woman as first responder puzzle Jesus’ contemporaries?

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: That which ye sow

April 6, 2015 — 

Strange weather we’ve been having around here. As I’m writing this, the lack of snow on my yard is allowing the grass to grow. I don’t know whether it’s a false spring or not, but I wouldn’t mind at least one more day of great skiing before the season is over. Consider this column a rain dance — but for snow, of course.

The result of the unseasonably warm weather is an early opportunity to plant — although we can’t really plant the one crop with which I have any personal experience ... not in my backyard anyway. Depending on what part of the country you are in, wheat crops are planted at all different times of year. Where I spent most of my growing up years, some wheat crops are planted, non-coincidentally, in the spring. Hundreds of thousands of kernels are pushed into the ground by incredibly advanced machinery. Kind of makes you grateful that we aren’t still planting by hand.

Learn more »

April 3, 2015 — 

More regulation needed

I was saddened when I read about the death of Luke Goodman, the 22-year-old who took his own life after eating marijuana candies while visiting Keystone. This tragedy, and similar situations previous, illustrate to me that there needs to be more regulation within the recreational marijuana industry. I am a recreational marijuana user and supporter of legalization, but the brashness of dispensaries and lack of oversight within the industry is leading to death and misuse of the drug. I support legalization mainly because of tax revenue and the decrease in black market drug crime. That being said, I believe changes need to occur within the industry before more bad things happen. Here is what I assess to be a few of the major threats to public safety and health within the marijuana industry.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Job creation

April 3, 2015 — 

About 50 miles south of the Bozeman, Montana, airport, a gondola will take you to the top of Big Sky, and it opens up over 5,000 vertical feet of uninterrupted skiing.

In the early 1950s this was part of the Huntley Ranch. Chet traded the then-potential ski resort for Chrysler Motor Co. stock. They in turn immediately installed a few chairlifts that only went up to where the mountain got steep, built a bunch of condominiums and named it Big Sky. It would be many years before the gondola to the summit was installed and the entire mountain could be enjoyed.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Taking a hard look at water

April 3, 2015 — 

Gov. Hickenlooper recently received the initial draft of the Colorado Water Plan. This plan has been in the making since the drought year of 2002, and it’s not over yet. Work on the plan, including public input, will continue through the coming year, with the final version due to the governor in December.

The Colorado Water Plan in many ways is indeed historic. Water planning and development has traditionally been based upon the needs of individual water rights and utilities. The Water Court and state engineer act as judge and referee, but the process has always been on more of a piecemeal basis, rather than following a guiding principle. This is the first time that Colorado has attempted a cohesive and comprehensive approach to planning for future water needs on a statewide basis, taking into account the array of conflicting priorities encompassed under a single strategy.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Tough summer jobs teach good lessons

April 2, 2015 — 

Boy, did I feel lucky when I scored my first summer job. I was 15. Once I reported to work the feeling of good fortune rapidly dissipated. My manager at Poncho’s Mexican Buffet was named Minnie. A rather ironic name considering she was as close as a human could come to resembling a ball; and she was a mean sphere. Minnie could have assigned me any position along the cafeteria line — tacos, enchiladas or chile rellenos — but she always made me work the tamale station. Steam. Texas. Summer. I looked perpetually wilted. Worse, whenever anything ran low on the cafeteria line I was sent to the kitchen for refills, where I had to elude a gauntlet of groping guys.

My second job was at a bakery run by a guy named Thor. He was from Iceland. Working for Thor dispelled my preconceived notion that people who baked cookies and cakes for a living were innately nice. It was a segregated work environment where the girls worked the counter and the boys worked in the kitchen. The boys were paid more than the girls. According to them, their job was harder.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: The real value of art

April 2, 2015 — 

On deadline no less, I’m thinking about acts of creation. Art, in short.

I work in an art-like occupation. Journalists at their best scratch at this highest of the arts, the holiest of callings, at once the simplest and the hardest of ’em all.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: There's no place left to park

April 1, 2015 — 

Parking in this town has gotten to a point where it needs to be addressed. A little bit of world peace is at risk.

The construction guys park where the skiers can for free, which leaves nowhere for the skiers to park. Those guys have an advantage because they need to be here at 8 for work. The skiers don’t have to be here until the snow softens up and there are no spots left at 11.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Making progress in Denver

April 1, 2015 — 

April greetings to everyone in House District 26 — all of Eagle County and all of Routt County!

Happy spring! The 2015 session of the Colorado General Assembly is more than halfway through our 120-day session. I am excited to continue to work across the aisle with my Republican colleagues and with my Democratic colleagues on practical, evidence-based solutions to make life better for all Coloradans. In the Colorado House, we continue to work on strengthening the middle class by expanding economic and educational opportunities for all, supporting small businesses and agriculture, helping rebuild and enhance transportation infrastructure, reducing unnecessary red tape and protecting Colorado’s water, air quality and wildlife habitat for future generations.

Learn more »

An end and beginning

March 31, 2015 — 

The next step in the development of the Brush Creek Valley south of Eagle officially starts now.

As you may have read — in either this newspaper or our sister paper, the Free Enterprise — developer Fred Kummer recently sold his company’s Brush Creek holdings to Brue Capital, a Denver-based company. Those holdings include the Adam’s Rib Country Club, several homes, many more home sites and a 1,500-acre working ranch. Those holdings also include approvals for roughly 200 homes on the property’s 2,650 acres.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Policies prone to misfire

March 31, 2015 — 

Educators across the United States (and especially here in Colorado) are awash in a sea of statutes, regulations and directives that have accumulated as a result of the past 15 years of education reform efforts.

While advocates of these reform policies latch on to isolated success stories in an effort to show they are working, the large-scale results are undeniable: Improvement in American education outcomes has actually slowed since the inception of No Child Left Behind, over-the-top accountability, market-based reforms and privatization schemes.

News of freshly passed education legislation lands with a hollow thud in classrooms and staff rooms. The latest new requirements and mandates elicit a range of responses — few of them good. From tired groans to outright exasperation, the response from those actually doing the work of educating students is clear: The education policies that have emerged from Washington and state houses aren’t helping.

But how can this be? Lawmakers are generally well-intentioned and their goal is straightforward and noble: a better education for the students in their state. How is it, then, that these policies miss the mark in terms of having a systemic and positive effect on educational outcomes for students?

I see two major reasons as to why these policies are prone to misfire.

First, top-down legislative policies almost always fail to take into account that the magic of teaching and learning happens at a very micro and individual level between teacher and student.

Consider an early elementary student still learning to read. The skill and patience of the classroom teacher is a critical element to student success. The classroom teacher uses strategies to help the student sound out words, put word-sounds together, develop appropriate pacing and expression and then help the student understand the meaning and importance of what they’ve just read.

Contrast this intimate, micro-level work with some of the laws the Colorado Legislature has passed in recent years. These include things like adding more end-of-year standardized tests and then using those results to rate teachers and rank schools, or having the state education bureaucracy create a fancy website to track school spending (while pre-existing financial transparency requirements seem to work just fine).

This isn’t to say there isn’t a need for things like accountability testing and financial transparency. It is to say that legislative bodies tend to hyper-focus on these types of policies while appearing blind to supports and policies that would actually have a direct impact on the teaching and learning relationship between the educator and the student.

The second way legislators miss the mark is that they habitually pass top-down policies that nearly always fail to address the root cause. We have research going back to the 1960s which tells us that things like living in poverty, individual family dynamics (like having an educated mother) and the environment a student grows up in tend to account for the vast majority of the variance in student outcomes.

To demonstrate this point, let’s consider student test scores. About 70 percent of what determines the result on a standardized test can be attributed to out-of-school factors while only 30 percent can be attributed to in-school factors.

Rather than dealing with the root-cause (in this case poverty and family environment), legislatures instead revert to the “test-rank-punish” model. That is, whatever the problem, you create a test for it, publish the result and then heap some negative consequence on the school (or district) for the outcome. Alternatively, legislatures could be seeking problem solving solutions for the 70 percent of factors that negatively impact student achievement, instead of imposing 100 percent of the accountability on the community school and the people working in it.

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” President Ronald Reagan quipped this now famous phrase in 1986, speaking in the context of what ultimately became a successful effort to simplify federal tax code.

Educators aren’t known to often invoke the spirit of our 40th president, but when it comes to the latest and greatest education law, the message to lawmakers should be clear: Unless you are willing to deeply understand the art and science of teaching and learning and do something to support it, and/or you are willing to address the root cause of differences in student learning ... stop helping!

Jason E. Glass is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools. He can be reached at jason.glass@eagleschools.net.

View 20 More Stories in Editorials »
Back to Top