Vail Daily column: Left vs. right, worldwide

May 6, 2016 — 

The distance between rich and poor, conservative and democrat, Tory and Labor, right and left, continues. Here in the US, both the Constitution and bi-partisan belief has been that the mandate of checks and balances exist, hopefully, to bring all players to the table to settle differences.

The gaps evident today and yesterday with respect to total detente are universal. Germany, France, Britain, Denmark and Sweden are today struggling with ideology as never before. The distance between right and left is greater now, given the consequences attached to unresolved conflict, evident in the refugee crisis.

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Vail Daily column: Making air travel more family friendly

May 5, 2016 — 

Between growing security lines, shrinking seat sizes and paying extra for everything from carry-ons to window seats, there’s plenty to grumble about in modern air travel. However, for many Colorado families flying with young children adds an additional level of complexity, making for an especially stressful and often expensive experience. That’s why last month, we sponsored an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization bill to make the friendly skies more amenable for traveling families. This bill reauthorizes the FAA through September 2017 and has passed the Senate.

The Lasting Improvement to Family Travel Act makes important changes that will make air travel a smoother experience for families by ensuring parents are allowed to sit next to their kids, preventing parents from being separated from their kids during security screenings and allowing pregnant women to pre-board their flights.

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Vail Daily column: Decision looms for UK

May 4, 2016 — 

The American media under-reported a story several months ago that might directly impact the United States via various means — A key summit between the United Kingdom and the European Union. British Prime Minister David Cameron met his Brussels’ counterparts with demands for the United Kingdom’s remaining in the European Union’s ranks. Both parties reached an agreement surrounding the issue. Cameron announced a national referendum for June 23 to determine whether the United Kingdom stays or departs the European Union a short time later. Several questions need asking: Why is the vote important? What are the disadvantages/advantages of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union? And how might the vote impact the United States’ strategic interests with the United Kingdom and Europe?

The June 23 referendum requires addressing several issues:

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Vail Daily column: Affordable healthcare in the High Country

May 4, 2016 — 

No matter your background or your ZIP code, every Coloradan deserves a fair shot at affording a quality health care plan. Unfortunately, those of us in the high country are all too aware of the ever-rising cost of health care. While it is true that our state’s total uninsured rate has dropped dramatically in recent years, the reality is that there are major regional disparities when it comes to how much Coloradans pay for individual health insurance plans.

That’s why I am proud to sponsor HB16-1336: Bipartisan legislation that will commission a study on what the cost drivers of individual health plans are so that I can get to work with my fellow lawmakers in finding common sense solutions to this problem. My co-sponsors Sen. Ellen Roberts, Rep. Millie Hamner and Rep. Bob Rankin and I carried the bill so that the state Legislature has the tools it needs create a plan for rural Colorado that makes the Affordable Care Act work better for our families than it currently is.

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Vail Daily editorial: Mark your calendars

May 3, 2016 — 

Hardly a day, week or month goes by when it isn’t “national (something) (day, week or month).” This week happens to be National Travel and Tourism Week.

According to the U.S. Travel Association’s website, this week was established in 1983 by a congressional resolution. The idea, apparently, is to recognize and promote the impact travel and tourism have on the nation’s economy.

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Vail Daily column: Rethink teaching model

May 3, 2016 — 

“The quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.” This was the bold proclamation issued by the internationally-renowned business consulting firm McKinsey and Co., in an influential 2007 report which looked at the world’s best education systems from an international benchmarking perspective.

As strong as this statement is, it is difficult to validate from a scientific perspective. However, we do know that the largest in-school factor affecting the quality of education systems is the classroom teacher (the largest overall factors are things such as family wealth and education).

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Vail Daily column: Smiling through clenched teeth

May 2, 2016 — 

Every single one of us, regardless of age, have been forced at one time or another to consume a sheep sandwich.

Some call them turd burgers or poop paninis, but by any definition the word “sheep” is a euphemism for having to feign acceptance of an extremely disagreeable situation.

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Vail Daily column: Is Cruz Reagan's reincarnation?

April 30, 2016 — 

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz identifies himself as “Ronald Reagan reborn.” His political record takes dark turns, however, compared to Reagan’s sunny presidential track record.

Cruz, who honed legal skills as Princeton University’s debate champion before attending Harvard Law School and clerking at the Supreme Court, takes pride in not wavering from prior legal decisions. Like barnacles on a boat’s hull, Cruz sticks to his biases. He’s opinionated rather than open to others’ opinions.

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Vail Daily column: God and politics

April 29, 2016 — 

Religion and politics are again at the forefront of this year’s presidential race. Yet, in this campaign, self-described evangelicals don’t seem as concerned as they once were about a candidate’s personal faith. Otherwise, more of them might support the openly Christian candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, rather than Donald Trump, whose familiarity with the Bible, not to mention the lifestyle it recommends, places him among biblical illiterates.

At the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I participated in a forum called “God and Politics,” along with SBTS president R. Albert Mohler Jr. The forum was packed. It was also civil, respectful and non-confrontational and many in attendance wished it could be the norm.

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Vail Daily column: Thanks for everything

April 28, 2016 — 

Let’s call this the gratitude column.

I know, I know. How many goodbye pieces is this fool going to write anyway? You’re not the only one to think this, believe me. During one of my last meetings, someone, actually my boss, got up and wrote on a white board: “Rogers, you can leave at any time.” He’s a Southern gentleman and perhaps too well-mannered to add what he really was thinking: “Please, for the love of God.” I might have been acting up; you know, saying what I think.

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Vail Daily column: Keep Avon moving forward

April 27, 2016 — 

Throughout the past year, the Town Council and I have worked hard to find the right solution for Avon’s main municipal building, which is in poor shape. When the voters did not support the price and financing for the Skier Building, we hired an independent consultant to study the current building and options. The consultant found that renovating Town Hall would be more expensive than buying the Skier Building at a reduced cost and moving the Police Department into a new joint public safety facility, which will include a new fire station, on Interstate 70. The council and I agreed this program was the best solution. Our first step was to negotiate a new purchase price for the Skier Building. We were successful in purchasing the building for cash and at a price $1.7 million less than original amount.

The next important step is the council’s asking Avon’s voters to approve the financing for the police station at the new joint public safety building. The consultant’s report shows that this is an excellent solution to meet our town’s needs. The joint public safety facility on I-70 is ideal and provides functionality, emergency response and cost savings, by working together with the fire district. It is the best location as Avon builds out, providing quick access to I-70, reduced traffic congestion and a high level of safety. This is an important vote for the future of Avon’s emergency services, and I hope you will join the council and me in voting “yes.”

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Vail Daily column: Charter school fixes

April 26, 2016 — 

The 2016 legislative session has been relatively quiet on the education policy front. Frankly, for most associated with our schools, this has been a welcome change.

Perhaps the biggest education legislation put forth this year comes with the introduction of Senate Bills 187 and 188, which collectively contain provisions to equalize funding for charter schools in the state with traditional district schools. The bills also propose a list of other wanted changes from the state’s charter school lobby.

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Vail Daily column: Round and round we go

April 25, 2016 — 

Who remembers the old four-way stop in Vail?

OK, probably quite a few of us, but who remembers the old four-way stop in Vail … fondly?

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Vail Daily column: Then and now

April 25, 2016 — 

Do you remember your first time? I sure remember mine. The year was 1955 when my Uncle Joe asked my parents if I could join him to visit my paternal grandparents in Pasadena, California.

For a 10-year-old fifth-grader the notion of boarding a commercial airliner for the first time was an adventure of epic proportions. If you’re among the 90 percent of folks in the valley who don’t remember the ’50s, then let me say that air travel back then was a bit different than it is today — it was actually a pleasurable experience.

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Vail Daily column: Nostalgia clouds our memories

April 23, 2016 — 

Ask Donald Trump’s supporters whether they live in the best of times. Peer into their eyes. Their pupils glaze over with nostalgia for a prior era. Social changes disturb Trump’s voters, so they retreat into an idealized past.

Repeatedly, Trump shoves into reverse supporters’ mental gears. He travels back in time, imagining a Golden Age. Then, workers earned living wages on assembly lines. Their conservative Christian values carried clout. The Protestant Empire ruled America. White citizens’ Christian values functioned as the moral force that made America great.

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Vail Daily column: The world is changing

April 22, 2016 — 

I have been traveling to Alaska since 1990. Originally to compete as a competitor in the World Extreme Skiing Championships and Alaskan Championships for 10 years, and then eventually to work as a guide. The evolution I have witnessed in this niche of our sport is one thing. The change I have observed of the environment is another. The relationship of the two has really kind of become mind-boggling.

As I have flown into Alaska during the past two years the change has been significant. It was one thing watching the glacier recede by miles over the years. But now the snow line has moved up to a point that is literally affecting our skiing terrain. It’s not that is a lack of moisture coming out of the sky. It is that it is coming out in a different form. Rain up to 5,000 feet on one occasion this season. Our base camp, which sits at 0 elevation, used to get snow. The tiny town ski area that houses the oldest chairlift in North America at an elevation of 400 feet has not been able to open in two years.

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Vail Daily column: Kasich not the sane choice

April 22, 2016 — 

If John Kasich seems like the sane Republican choice for president, then it is only because he looks moderate by comparison. With his folksy delivery he plays Mr. Rogers to his two competitors — Scary Spice and Angry Spice. Kasich must have received a visit from a personality stylist to craft this new persona. According to Politico.com a more apt description of Kasich is “ ... unapologetically brusque, insensitive and mean.” This is in sharp contrast to the carefully orchestrated nice-guy image he has displayed on the campaign trail. Which invites the question: Who is the real John Kasich?

Kasich is a career politician. He served in the Ohio state House before serving 18 years in the U. S. House of Representatives. Unlike Hillary Clinton, Kasich was not merely giving speeches to investment bankers, he was one. After leaving Congress in 2000, he worked briefly for Fox News before joining Lehman Brothers as a managing director until their bankruptcy in 2008. Kasich worked for one of the banks responsible for nearly going Thelma and Louise with the U.S. economy. Then he ran for governor of Ohio.

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Vail Daily column: Earth Day a reminder of value of wilderness

April 21, 2016 — 

Earth Day has a special meaning for both of us here in Colorado. As Colorado natives, we were brought up with a sense of wonder and appreciation for our state’s amazing natural resources. Through the decades, we have experienced increasing population and development pressure on Colorado’s natural wonders.

Hiking, skiing, mountain biking and fishing with your kids really makes you think about Earth Day, its origins and why we should observe this holiday with our children. Earth Day came about more than 40 years ago, in response to a growing need to safeguard our natural resources. Animals were going extinct at an alarming rate, pesticides were poisoning wildlife and humans, and rivers were on fire.

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Vail Daily column: 'What will you NOT miss?'

April 21, 2016 — 

Ask me what I’ll miss leaving the Vail Valley next week, and I’ll tell you “everything!”

What will I not miss? “Nothing. No one.”

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Vail Daily column: Sales tax a small price for Edwards' future

April 20, 2016 — 

Edwards, the unincorporated village where some 7,500 valley residents live, work and play, has been looking at a 25-year planning horizon for quality of life and infrastructure improvements from now up to the year 2040. As part of the planning process, Edwards leaders, specifically the Edwards Metropolitan District, Edwards Community Authority, various homeowners association groups and businesses have been working on traffic and transportation issues with Eagle County and the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The focus of late has been on the roads and bridges from Interstate 70 to, and inclusive of, U.S. Highway 6. The Edwards interchange roundabouts near I-70, completed a few years ago, were the first phase of a multiple phase project that will span the next 20 years.

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Vail Daily column: Help save our services

April 20, 2016 — 

Changes in health care have been fast and furious over the past three years. From the way health care providers are paid to the services that can be provided, and even medication availability, many things have changed and become harder to manage. The Affordable Care Act has forever changed many lives. It provides health insurance to many uninsured Americans while at the same time causing the rolls of Medicaid to swell. In 2010 we started the idea of merging Eagle County Health Service District and Western Eagle County Health Service District. Both entities had saved enough funds to weather the economic downturn from 2007-2012. As we were rising out of that slump this new reality hit our district.

Because of these changes the district has lost nearly $1.8 million annually due to shifts in the landscape of insurance coverage required by the act. As a result of the increased income thresholds and changes in eligibility, more and more of our patients are qualifying for Medicaid. The district is forced to accept the 7 cents on the dollar billed that Medicaid pays and there is no recourse to collect the balance. In order to continue to provide Eagle County with the standard of care you have come to expect from the district, we need to find a way to either reduce expenses by $1.8 million or recover this lost revenue from some other source.

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Vail Daily column: Modern-day exodus

April 20, 2016 — 

On Friday, on the first eve of Passover, Jewish families around the world will observe a 3,300-year-old tradition by gathering around the festive table to commemorate the exodus from Egypt and celebrate the Passover Seder.

According to the teachings of Jewish mysticism, the Seder is more than just a time to retell the story of the exodus; instead, the observances at the Seder table allow one to actually re-experience a modern-day exodus, facilitating one’s own spiritual rebirth and enabling man to forge a new path toward a life of meaning and spiritual fulfillment.

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Vail Daily editorial: Let's have a primary

April 19, 2016 — 

Donald Trump, the front-runner in the race to be the Republican nominee for president, has been doing a lot of barking lately over the purported unfairness surrounding the Colorado Republican Party’s method of selecting delegates to the party’s national convention this summer.

Trump’s growling is balderdash. The fact of the matter is that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz worked our state’s Byzantine party machinery better and reaped the benefit — to the tune of virtually all of the state’s Republican delegates to the party’s summer convention.

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Vail Daily column: Pot taxes far from a windfall

April 19, 2016 — 

Editor’s note: This column was written by Tammy H. Schiff, chief communications officer of Eagle County Schools.

On Monday, Colorado Public Radio had a story about school funding throughout the nation. It included a very sophisticated, interactive map created by NPR and Education Week to make it easy for anyone to look up national school funding statistics.

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Vail Daily column: A little mental spring cleaning

April 18, 2016 — 

The mountain’s closed, the snow is melting, mud is forming and rental rates are falling, so there’s no better time than the present for opening the cranial windows to air out the synapse.

Doing so releases a full winter’s pressure, allowing room for the new birth of thoughts and ideas to spring forward.

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Vail Daily column: Make Vail Trail environmentally sustainable

April 18, 2016 — 

I would like to address some of the concerns that have been raised regarding improving the Vail Trail. The Vail Trail truly is a jewel that successfully can be made environmentally sustainable and shared in harmony by all trail users. We live here because it provides us the opportunity to responsibly experience the outdoors. We are proving multi-use trails work right here in our valley with the well accepted Boneyard, Haymaker and Eagle Ranch trails in Eagle, West Avon Preserve trails, Eagle-Vail trail and the North Trail. These trails routinely accommodate walkers, runners, bikers, individuals and families with no problems. Hiking specific trails do have their place and I enjoy hiking on the miles of hiking exclusive trails in our valley including Grouse Mountain and the extensive east Vail area.

Many other towns are embracing soft surface trail construction. Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs and Park City are just a few that are actively improving and setting aside funds for their soft surface trail systems. The Vail Trail is an integral component of Vail’s master plan for soft surface trails. This master plan is an excellent start and is important for future planning.

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Vail Daily column: Know thy enemy

April 17, 2016 — 

To many Americans, the Islamic State group is little more than a rag-tag group of illiterate goat herders living in mud huts in the desert. But this notion couldn’t be more wrong. The fact is Islamic State group is a highly sophisticated organization with an operational culture one would expect to find in any sovereign society.

Originally known as the Soldiers of the Levant, these terrorists were once affiliated with al-Qaida and were crushed by U.S. forces during the Iraq War. But in 2011 when President Obama failed to sign a Status of Forces Agreement and pulled our troops out of Iraq, the terror organization reconstituted.

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Vail Daily column: Put down put-downs

April 16, 2016 — 

Why does Donald Trump use bullying put-downs in his run for the presidency?

He slams challengers. Trump humiliated former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina for her looks. He ordered Jeb Bush to amp up when debating because “he’s got low energy.” Trump believes Mexican immigrants are “rapists.” And Syrians who flee their homeland are subversives aiming to destroy America. During his petty feud with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, Trump continues his insulting tirades.

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Vail Daily column: Clintons not to blame

April 15, 2016 — 

Bill Clinton did not cause mass incarceration in America and Bernie Sanders cannot end it. Blaming America’s enormous prison population on the former president and the first lady, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, displays ignorance of the historical facts. Furthermore, federal prisons house about 10 percent of the U.S. prison population; the remaining 90 percent are in state facilities over which the president has no control. Sorry, Bernie.

To understand how we became the world’s leading jailer we need to take a trip down memory lane. In the ’80s, the Russians were in Afghanistan, Bill Cosby was America’s dad, and nuclear winter hung over our collective heads. The ’80s were also a time of the crack cocaine scourge and historically high rates of crime. Everyone wanted to get tough on crime, especially drug-related crime. Democrats, still smarting from the “Willie Horton” political ads that helped sink Michael Dukakis’ presidential ambitions, were working to dispel the notion they were soft on crime.

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Vail Daily column: Short time to check out

April 14, 2016 — 

“Listen,” I said during our managers meeting, “Starting this week, I’ll stop doing the coverage chart, markups, Hits & Misses,” ticking items off on my fingers. “I’m flying out west to visit The Union on Friday. Hah, by our next meeting I’ll be checked out completely and all Grass Valley all the time.”

We laughed, though it’s pretty much the truth.

“You’re an idiot,” the ad director said. Again.

“Watch, Ben will apply,” another manager joked. More laughs. My son, who until now had been blocked by nepotism policy.

“I think he’s a little busy right now with the lake,” I said. “Besides, his mother would kill him.” He’s the co-GM of the Sierra Sun in Truckee and Incline Village’s Bonanza.

Of course the kid will leap someday for an opportunity here, where he grew up and his wife was born. His mother will be furious even though she understands. I’ll secretly be happy to have a place to stay and extra reason to visit.

But this is a few years away. Meantime, there’s a grandbaby to be born, a new staff, paper and community to learn. A new life to step into.

And some finishing up with the old one, too. Friends to see, reports to finish, tasks to divvy up in the meantime before a new publisher takes over the Vail Daily.

The Daily has great oversight to go with strong managers. The general manager of our mountain papers, Jim Morgan, lives in Eagle. Company President Bob Brown, the Vail Daily publisher who hired me as editor back in 1999, lives in Singletree.

And me. Sure, I’ll claim to have checked out. But we all know Vail never leaves you. I’ll always be happy to help if asked and only if asked. I also know the last thing anyone needs is a departed boss still sticking his nose into things. Don’t look in the rearview mirror; you’re not going that way. Lot of truth in that slogan.

For some time now, I haven’t needed to have a second thought about leaving town with full confidence in our department managers holding down the fort. I followed the dictum to hire and promote smarter, better, more clever people than yourself — and then free them as much as possible to do their smarter, better, more clever thing. If anything, this will just be more good experience for them.

Now my mission is to build trust and understanding with a new group as well as I can and learn quickly and well enough to contribute to their success. Simple! Not the same as easy, of course.

I start in Grass Valley on Monday, May 2. So a short period of schizophrenia with my mind in two places at once, not fully in either.

My wife and daughter will stay here at first, getting the house ready to sell. It will be fun to see the valley as a visitor, and maybe dangerous too.

I might start pining to return. Yikes. They better fill that spot quick.

Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@vaildaily.com and 970-748-2920.

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