Editorials

Our View: Mitsch Bush for state representative

October 21, 2014 — 

This is a “yes, but” endorsement.

As in 2012, voters in Eagle and Routt counties are asked to choose either Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush or Republican Chuck McConnell, both of Steamboat Springs, to represent the area in the Colorado House of Representatives.

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Vail Daily column: The heart of a teacher

October 21, 2014 — 

Much attention is given to the subject of “motivating” teachers. Politically popular approaches include treating teachers like proverbial donkeys — using “carrots” and “sticks” to motivate them. Carrots include merit-pay approaches, which seek to offer a few hundred (or even a few thousand) dollars to “incent” teachers into somehow unleashing the great instruction they’ve been supposedly holding back from students. Sticks include evaluation procedures that seek to rank teachers into categories and use the threat of termination or employee discipline to get teachers to perform at higher levels.

Despite a lack of empirical evidence to support the effectiveness either of these schemes for actually improving performance, we see them repeatedly brought forward as major drivers for raising the quality of education in our state and nation.

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Vail Daily column: I shutter the thought

October 20, 2014 — 

Here’s something I bet you didn’t know.

If you combine the words ISIS and Ebola and rearrange the letters, it spells “bile oasis.”

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Vail Daily column: Why deny human-caused climate change?

October 18, 2014 — 

Expect starkly different reactions when you ask Americans for their opinions on human-caused climate change. Respondents react to this query like voyagers on a rocking ship. Some seafarers soak up sunshine on deck. Others cry for barf bags as they hang their heads over rails. Similarly, causes of destructive climate changes are either accepted or scorned.

Since the 1970s, Republicans have denied that global warming is largely caused by increased human-produced carbon emissions which heat up the atmosphere. They don’t agree with reasons for global warming in a draft report from a United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This report concludes that increased amounts of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere cause “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts,” such as rising sea levels, forest fires, floods and searing heat waves.

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Vail Daily column: Why I’ll stick with Hick

October 16, 2014 — 

Our own Scott Miller set the rule that we wouldn’t endorse a candidate we hadn’t met with in person.

Mainly, I think this was a clever way to keep the old guy from endorsing Obama and infuriating that half of the newsroom with more conservative views as he had when he endorsed Bush and infuriated the other half.

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Our View: Donovan for Senate

October 16, 2014 — 

If this seems like a hometown endorsement, then it is, but only to a degree. After a long talk recently, we’re wholeheartedly endorsing Vail’s Kerry Donovan for a position in the Colorado Senate.

We were initially a bit ambivalent about this endorsement, for reasons beyond our usually parochial interests. Republican Don Suppes, currently the mayor of Orchard City in Delta County, is qualified for the job. Beyond that, a change in party of one seat could mean a switch in partisan control of the Senate from Democrat to Republican.

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Vail Daily column: Taking the really long view

October 15, 2014 — 

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week,” —George S. Patton.

My favorite duty on the ranch was to burn the trash. It doesn’t sound like a fun job to some of you, I know, but for me and my 12-year-old brain, it was just about the coolest thing you could get to do. First of all, it wasn’t that labor intensive. For a 12-year-old with severe hay fever, the ranch work was downright miserable. In fact, I don’t remember the majority of my summers between age 9-15, primarily because I was in a Benadryl-induced fog for the majority of the time.

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Our View: Chandler-Henry, Mayne for commissioner

October 15, 2014 — 

Voters this year will elect two people to the three-member Eagle County Board of Commissioners. Our thinking has evolved during the past several weeks, but we believe there are a couple of clear choices.

In District 2, which roughly covers the middle of the valley, we’re endorsing Kathy Chandler-Henry, a Democrat, over Republican challenger Courtney Holm.

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Our View: Bettis for coroner

October 14, 2014 — 

In Colorado at least, Election Day doesn’t mean what it once did. Ballots this week were mailed to every voter in the state, making Nov. 4 more a day for counting and waiting than standing in line to participate in our representative republic.

Since the process starts so early this year, the Vail Daily is going to start early with endorsements for state and local positions. As we’ve mentioned before, we offer these endorsements mostly as more information than as what we think voters should do.

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Vail Daily letter: Updating our vision for future

October 14, 2014 — 

Tucked inside today’s Vail Daily, you will find an insert titled Altitude in Action.”This document is provided to update you, as a member of our community, on the strategic plan and direction of Eagle County Schools.

As you may recall, last October we released a report for our community titled Unparalleled Altitude: A Globally Inspired Vision for Eagle County Schools. Since then, we’ve worked with the community and the Board of Education to refine and crystallize that vision into a strategic plan, which takes the big ideas and transforms them into clear and actionable steps.

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Vail Daily column: 21 days and counting

October 13, 2014 — 

All those who are sick and tired of repetitive political ads on TV, please raise your hands.

Let me see … keep ’em up … OK, there’s one … 20 … 300 … 4,000 … 50,000!

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Vail Daily column: Let’s ban book banning

October 11, 2014 — 

Thought police ban books as “objectionable” if such volumes don’t rubberstamp their convictions. Is this happening in Jefferson County outside Denver? Jeffco school board’s GOP conservative majority wants to ban a nationally approved Advance Placement U.S. history curriculum.

The board’s majority aims to introduce more patriotism into college-credit U.S. history courses. After appointing a curriculum review committee, they intend to take directions from the tea party platform, which mandates local control of school curricula. The review committee would select literature that promotes patriotism, advances free-market economics and mutes protests in our nation’s past.

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Vail Daily column: Age is just a number

October 10, 2014 — 

Apparently on Oct. 15 I am expected to celebrate yet another birthday, my 90th, but let it be known, I am planning to celebrate at least another 10 or 15 birthdays. At least, with my health still good, I’m letting myself think that way. If I listed the body parts that have already worn out, then there would be no room in this story for anything else, but the important things still work well ... like my heart and my brain. (Some might say the latter is questionable!)

As I’ve led a very wandering and wondering life with my camera as a passport to the world, I can’t recall ever having a bad day with a camera in my hand or a rucksack on my back. I’m so glad I have these autumn years of my life to recall and reflect on all those adventures.

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Vail Daily column: Does it take a war to earn a Nobel Peace Prize?

October 9, 2014 — 

In 2009, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to President Barack Obama for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Considering that the newly elected president had had little opportunity to live up to that claim, particularly in comparison to others in consideration, some might say that it was the Nobel Committee’s attempt at influencing U.S. foreign policy by putting the new president in charge of world “peace.” It would certainly run counter to an existing war in the Middle East. If this was the strategy, it has certainly run into some complications.

Foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, is no place for the inexperienced; the challenge and complexity requires a high level of expertise which must extend beyond the theoretical. Just as someone can become an expert on swimming by reading every book written, they are not an actual swimmer until they hit the water. President Obama had not even had a chance to suit up. Yet, the pressure to make peace around the world was immense and his ego was prime as he engaged on his “apology” tour of the Middle East, vowing to withdraw troops and close Guantanamo. Then came the time to suit up, and the suit just didn’t fit. The rhetoric promoted during the campaign did not fit the scenario of world events. While his intentions were honorable, they were a bit naive. Theory does not always match reality in the field. We assume that we can communicate in the language of peace, but not all are receptive. For some, understanding only comes when their selected language of violence is thrust back at them; when the stakes become too high to continue engagement.

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Vail Daily column: The ‘Christmas list’ to clean up Washington

October 9, 2014 — 

Eric Holder, arguably the most corrupt attorney generals our country has ever had, has finally resigned. Judicial Watch believes they were the ones who guided the timing of the resignation, based upon the results favoring Judicial Watch’s Fast and Furious lawsuit, which came down just days before. There may be a more logical explanation. The move may be a purely political house-cleaning to placate Obama’s base in preparation for a potential Republican landslide in the Senate. Holder may feel that he would be one of the first to go anyway, and it would be better for him to go on his own terms.

Evidence of Holder’s racism began when he refused to prosecute the members of the New Black Panther Party’s attempt to disrupt a national election in Philadelphia, in 2008, against the advice of attorneys in his own agency.

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Vail Daily column: Our trip into the muck

October 9, 2014 — 

A strange and silly kerfuffle over a video recording of a quite ordinary candidate forum was even stranger and sillier than I imagined last week.

In the midst of perhaps the most ridiculous campaign advertising yet on the airwaves came a breathless bush league ad in the paper last week suggesting that local Republicans had something to hide by “demanding” the county not air the debate between state Senate candidates Kerry Donovan and Don Suppes.

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Vail Daily column: Inside and outside the box

October 8, 2014 — 

There wasn’t a single, solitary thing about Lonnie that was traditional. He had an engaging personality that seemed to attract people to him without any effort at all. He was jolly and giving ... Santa Claus in disguise. In seemingly sharp contrast, however, he was also capable of giving orders and organizing the chaos of hundreds of moving parts into a strange sort of business dance. His first conversations with me were focused and direct, and I could not help but hope that I would someday find myself in the position to ask exactly how he had arrived where I found him.

You see, he was a nuclear science real estate gemology gold-refining commercial-investing residential-flipping genius. The first time I walked into his office, I remember sitting across from him in an old chair while he sat behind his desk. On his desk were piles upon piles of scrap jewelry, from which he was diligently prying the “stones” with toenail clippers. His gold business was what he did for fun. He said he liked sparkly things. Occasionally, he would tell me, the diamonds would get away from him. I looked down at the carpet in his office to realize that it was full of sapphires, moissanite and diamonds. I couldn’t help but start reaching down and piling up a small pinch of diamonds onto his desk. “Don’t bother,” he said, “that’s what a vacuum is for.” I made sure to clarify that he had a specified vacuum from which he later filtered the stones.

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Vail Daily Hits and Misses

October 8, 2014 — 

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 pine beetle infestation and devastation now past its peak, terrible as that has been.

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Power and physics in politics

October 7, 2014 — 

I’d planned on writing this week about the Eagle County Schools strategic plan and updating our community on the exciting and positive direction in which our schools are headed.

However, at every event and function I’ve attended during the past couple of weeks, the subject of what’s happening in our state’s second largest school district invariably comes up — and I’m always asked for my professional opinion.

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Vail Daily column: Time for more tin foil hats

October 6, 2014 — 

“OMG! We’re all gonna die! Mabel, grab the Hazmat suits and my shotgun and lock the front door; Ebola’s a’comin’!”

Fortunately, there is a very big difference between inciting panic in a populace and having a healthy level of concerned fear over a particular issue.

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October 6, 2014 — 

Cover all candidates

Don Rogers’ comments Friday were interesting regarding the debate advertisement. It seems terribly unfair that all candidates should not have been invited to participate in the debates (all debates) and, if not, then a government entity that is largely controlled by Republicans and Democrats should not be acting in such a partisan manner to promote the continued succession of control by the same parties on a publicly funded website.

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Vail Daily column: Pursuit for Alzheimer’s cure continues

October 6, 2014 — 

There have been a number of new studies on Alzheimer’s disease that are providing greater hope for early detection.

A few months ago, I watched a CBS news report about two new studies. One study indicates that there may be a relation between Alzheimer’s and the inability to identify odors. A second study reported that there may be beta-amyloid proteins in the eye that indicate early signs of Alzheimer’s. Such research and early detection could benefit many people as they may be able to start treatments and mitigate the onset.

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Vail Daily column: Be aware for signs of rutting season

October 4, 2014 — 

As the air becomes cool and crisp and the mountains transition from shades of green to a collage of fall colors, keep your eyes open for the unique silhouette of the Shiras moose as they finish up the rutting (mating) season. While these handsome creatures are seldom spotted in the Eagle Valley, the moose population has increased in the last 30 years. Until the late 1970s, the only moose in Colorado were the few transient wanderers, heading south from Wyoming to find new habitats. If given enough time, then these moose may have established their own populations here in Colorado, but between 1978 and 1987, wildlife biologists decided to speed up the process by arranging several small-scale moose transplants from populations in Utah and Wyoming. The early moose in Colorado prospered and, soon after introduction to Colorado, the population was expanding to new areas of the state. Since then, our moose population has grown exponentially, reaching close to 1,000 individuals today — an overwhelming success for the moose! Although there is no guarantee you will see a moose as you walk around the valley, now is the time to start looking, as the normally solitary moose enter the annual rut and become very social creatures.

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Vail Daily column: Don’t sanitize U.S. history

October 4, 2014 — 

Jefferson County school board’s GOP majority in Denver suburbs faces a stern critic. It’s the county’s namesake—Thomas Jefferson. His protest is the Declaration of Independence.

The JeffCo school board’s conservatives support a proposal to appoint a curriculum-review committee. This group would monitor whether students in Advanced Placement of United States history are reading literature that promotes patriotism, besides respecting authority and free enterprise. These watchdogs would guard students from educational materials that “encourage or condone civil disorder.”

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Vail Daily column: About as dumb as it can get

October 2, 2014 — 

We slipped and let one of those utterly BS election ads into the paper the other day.

Doh! I’m kicking myself. Fortunately, it was too stupid to be taken seriously while reminding us that partisans cannot ever be trusted with precious things like the truth.

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Vail Daily column: Great organizations must continually improve

October 2, 2014 — 

Recently, I received a mailer from the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder outlining how they remain committed to excellence and thought leadership and how their various efforts lead to student success.

Reading the information, it became apparent that we are similar here at Vail Valley Partnership. Paraphrasing the Leeds School mailer, they believe that great organizations — like Vail Valley Partnership — must continue to prove themselves to our members and to the community. Previous success in today’s marketplace isn’t necessarily a clear indicator of future success. While the Leeds School is focused on student success, we’re focused on business success. While their programs are centered on academic programs, we’re focused on providing resources and tools to support our business community.

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Vail Daily editorial: Why we’re lucky in local elections

October 1, 2014 — 

Does an endorsement in the Vail Daily for a candidate make a difference in how people vote?

We doubt it very much. And it’s not the point.

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September 30, 2014 — 

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 to Jason Glass, superintendent of Eagle County Schools. “Silly you, Dr. Glass. Charter schools are public schools. It is my understanding that the Eagle County Charter Academy was built with $13 million. Perhaps it is your support of the union that costs taxpayers $40 million?”

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Vail Daily column: A special goodbye

September 30, 2014 — 

Her name was Amber. She was in her 30s, engaging and pretty, with a beautiful smile. She called the fire station a couple of months ago with an unusual, but compelling request. You see, Amber’s husband was a firefighter, and he died in the line of duty in Shawnee, Kansas.

It was a tragic event, and one that we, as firefighters, accept as part of the job. Her husband, John, was savvy, energetic, creative and only 33. He and his crew were called to a house fire that day. They arrived on scene to find a “working fire” in the home, and the neighbors reported that they thought the occupants were still inside. John and his crew entered and soon found the family dog, rescued it, brought it outside and then returned to look for occupants, going off the neighbor’s word the family may still be inside. Turns out, they were not.

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Vail Daily column: Improved website debuts

September 30, 2014 — 

The next couple of articles (including this one) will focus on two exciting changes coming for Eagle County Schools. First, an entirely redesigned website, designed to both engage and make life easier for our parents, students and staff. Second, our new strategic plan — just approved by our Board of Education — which lays out our multi-year approach to turn Eagle County Schools into an education powerhouse of globally competitive status.

In this article, I’ll provide some context and background for our website redesign and our larger communications strategy. Next week, we’ll go deep into the strategic plan.

The current Eagle County Schools website has been in use since 2008. It replaced a very basic site with a colorful and exciting template that was much better at conveying the richness and beauty of Eagle County and its people. The current website was built by an outside website design firm at the cost of several thousand dollars.

That initial investment has seemed to pay off — in this day and age, a website that lasts six years is unusual. The current website also received critical acclaim, earning an award from the Colorado School Public Relations Association.

So why change it? Well, there is a lot different between now and 2008 — when Facebook had but a tiny fraction of the accounts it does now and Twitter barely even existed. When the current website was designed, the kind of instantaneous information sharing via social media and blogs was just gaining steam. Pinterest and Google Plus didn’t even exist. The current website wasn’t designed to handle the kind of hyper-networking we see today.

The new website is actually built on blogging backbone, specifically made for interactivity, sharing and instantaneous publication. Our community no longer expects static and stale content — they expect (and deserve) responsive, personal and timely communications from their public schools.

Toward that end, the new website is designed with our end users in mind. Things for our parents, information on school safety, pages for individual schools and things our staff need handy access to are prominently featured in the new design.

We’ve also studied click patterns and most visited pages on the existing website. Using that analytic data, we built the new site to make the most sought after information also the easiest to find. We’re eliminating the need to click through multiple pages in order to get to the things our parents, students, staff and community want.

Finally, we’ve moved key financial and accountability information right up front and featured it prominently in the new design. As a public institution, we have a fiscal and moral responsibility to show our community what we are doing with taxpayer dollars and how our schools and students are performing on state accountability tests.

While tales of dollars and test scores certainly don’t tell the complete tale of the magical work that happens in our neighborhood schools, we understand these are key performance metrics that our community is interested in. One final point on the matter of financial stewardship — the previous website cost thousands to design and was built by an outside contractor. Now, we’ve developed the internal capacity to build and maintain the new site on our own — at a fraction of the costs of the previous site.

We’re excited about this new website because communicating with clarity and in a timely way is a core part of our commitment to the Eagle County community — which we deeply love and are honored to serve.

So, take a moment and visit us at www.eagleschools.net — we’d love your feedback and thinking on how we can make this new communications tool even better!

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

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