Editorials

Vail Daily column: A model for higher education

March 1, 2015 — 

Recently, a national conversation has intensified about how an educated workforce is perhaps the most critical component of the post-Great Recession economy. This attention and refocusing among policymakers and business leaders is driven by an alarming fact: By 2020, nearly 75 percent of all jobs in Colorado will require formal education beyond high school. Colorado is a very well educated state (many move here with their degrees), but we are nowhere near those numbers.

To get more students into and through college — prepared for the jobs of the future — the president recently proposed a plan to lower their costs to attend community college: to zero. In Tennessee, lottery proceeds support a similar initiative. In other states and cities, private funders underwrite the costs. Here in Colorado, our governor has introduced the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative. These are noteworthy efforts, but colleges themselves must also be accountable to create the conditions that result in affordable, accessible, high-quality education.

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Vail Daily column: Anti-vaccination’s big lie dupes converts

February 28, 2015 — 

Some lies sound truthful because they camouflage deceit. Cloaked in pseudo-scientific jargon, repeated misconceptions win converts. Lies thrive when repeated boldly and loudly.

Parents who don’t get their children vaccinated against measles are hoodwinked. They believe a big lie about immunization’s alleged dangers. These parents link vaccination to autism. A 101 logic course teaches that coincidence isn’t the same as causality. Yes, autism often reveals itself in kids the same ages as those vaccinated. It’s a logical fallacy, however, to conclude vaccines cause this disorder.

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Vail Daily column: Is more really better?

February 27, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: The following is a report from the Vail Homeowners Association. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at www.vailhomeowners.com

For several years there has been growing concern about community congestion, both in the town and on the mountain. Many believe that overcrowding in Vail has been caused by the need to increase sales tax revenues and the resulting commercialization of the Vail experience. At the same time, there is increasing concern that the commercialization of Vail has caused a shift of town priorities from quality of life to the business of doing business. Considerations of increased sales tax revenues and more jobs seem to be driving many decisions. This is an issue that has been building for many years and underlies much of what is happening in critical decisions facing the community.

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Vail Daily column: A letter of gratitude

February 27, 2015 — 

Dear John:

Oh. Just looked at the salutation. No, this isn’t that kind of letter. Hah, hah, hah!

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Vail Daily column: Pressure, support and advocacy

February 25, 2015 — 

Being a school superintendent often means hearing directly from those who are critical of our schools. Sometimes it’s a singular issue — a parent having trouble with a school, a teacher who is upset about part of their job, or a frustrated community member.

While there is the occasional individual who needs to vent — for the most part, my interactions with parents, teachers and the community are respectful and positive. Most people just want to be heard and have some progress made on their issue.

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Vail Daily Hits and Misses

February 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.

MISS: From a reader to no big live widescreen television coverage of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Lionshead. “You did a fabulous job, but we just don’t understand why we don’t get treated the same as everybody else.”

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Vail Daily column: Leading by example

February 25, 2015 — 

If you are like me, you really enjoy it when you can see a leader leading by example. There are some who lead their families, others lead companies or teams, and still others lead communities, organizations and associations. And yet the ones we seem to respect the most are not the ones who lead from afar, or give direction from the ivory tower, the ones we seem to gravitate toward are the leaders who lead from the front.

In my line of work, I have been truly blessed to have worked for leaders, coaches and trainers who have led by example. Men and women of character and integrity who wouldn’t ask others to do anything that they weren’t prepared to do themselves. I honestly believe that I would not have achieved success in both my personal life or my professional life had it not been for the leaders in the companies I worked for, the leaders who worked with me when I was the CEO or president, the leaders in my church and the leaders in my community. And I say thank you to each one of them.

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Vail Daily column: Start by washing your hands

February 24, 2015 — 

Measles, virtually eradicated more than a decade ago, is back in the news. Along with mumps, whooping cough/pertussis, polio and smallpox, it used to be one of the scourges of childhood. By the end of the 20th century vaccines rendered these diseases rare in the United States. However, they still wreak havoc in less developed countries. According to the World Health Organization, “Approximately 145,700 people died from measles in 2013 — mostly children under the age of 5.” It could have been worse. WHO reports “measles vaccination resulted in a 75 percent drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2013 worldwide.”

The overall vaccination rate in America exceeds 90 percent. However, there are clusters of low vaccination rate communities in surprisingly affluent, educated neighborhoods.

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Vail Daily column: Pacing the cage

February 24, 2015 — 

None of us were born with fear. We learned it. We learned how to see risk. We were taught, for better or worse, what to fear. We get so good at learning fear, we learn to fear things that aren’t real. We imagine all the terrible things that could happen, rather than, perhaps, all the wonderful things. We allow fear to shape us.

I remember seeing my first tiger as a child. All my impressions of tigers had come from cartoons and children’s books. There was no fear in me for a tiger then. I could only marvel at him. I had my hands on the glass while the adults stood a few steps back. He walked majestically, only a few inches on the other side. The tiger seemed extraordinarily large for such a small room. He didn’t fit there. The room he stood in, full of painted fake concrete rocks and simulated plastic grass, was only just deep enough for him to turn his body at the wall. He was on display. He paced back and forth, ignoring me, but staring out into the distance, seeing things I could not see. He paced endlessly, flaring his whiskers and holding his mouth just wide enough to see the teeth that were meant to take down the prey he would’ve hunted in the wild.

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Vail Daily editorial: Making it look easy

February 24, 2015 — 

Just as the valley is catching its breath from the two-week whirlwind of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, it’s time for another go-round of attention-grabbing athletics.

The Burton U.S. Open Snowboard Championships are in Vail March 2-7. Like the World Championships, the best people in the sport will come to town, along with an entourage of team members, sponsors and others.

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Vail Daily column: What the Constitution says

February 24, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: This is the ninth part of a series.

If we were talking about America’s Pastime, coming to the plate would be strength of the batting order. The lead-off batter — the First Amendment — has swung for the fences and the 2 hole has been filled with what remains the controversial Second Amendment. Dropping the doughnut-style bat sleeve and advancing from the batter’s box and swinging heavy lumber, are now the third through fifth amendments.

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Vail Daily Hits and Misses

February 24, 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: From a reader to “Mark Kogan for his response to Rev. Dr. Jack Van Ens’ columns. Kogan’s points are refreshing, honest and real world.”

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Vail Daily column: Words mean everything, or nothing

February 23, 2015 — 

I am fascinated by how some of you interpret these words that were said on TV:

“I want to speak tonight directly to Muslims around the world. We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teaching are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying in effect to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends, it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them.”

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Vail Daily column: Dangers of a religious-based charter school curriculum

February 21, 2015 — 

Half-truths are slippery because they dupe listeners into believing they’re hearing the whole truth. Half-truths partially divulge what’s reliable, not all of it.

Here’s a popular half-truth that Tea Party activists and evangelical Christians assume is OK. They claim charter schools that teach a classical core curriculum from a Judeo-Christian perspective may be funded by our tax dollars. This is a half-truth.

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Vail Daily column: Flawed soundwall process?

February 20, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: The following is a report from the Vail Homeowners Association. The electronic version is available at www.vailhomeowners.com.

In an essentially predetermined survey, sound walls for the Simba Run Underpass project have been rejected in what many see as a flawed process. And, because of the unique nature of the way the voting occurred, it was a decision that was largely made by the five members of the Town Council. Those voting against the sound wall proposal were Jenn Bruno, Ludwig Kurz, Andy Daly, Margaret Rogers and Dave Chapin with Greg Moffet and Dale Bugby in favor. However, it may not be the end of consideration of sound walls to remedy the noise pollution for Interstate 70. Indeed, many observers see the vote as strong support for action by the town.

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Vail Daily column: When the Muse won’t let go

February 19, 2015 — 

Out of nowhere, a novel began to burn in me. Don’t ask me where it came from. I have no idea.

I wrote a couple of chapters while the fever ran its course, then quit as more urgent matters took over. A free-fall downturn in the economy. And oh boy, a new role — the editor becomes the publisher just when things really turn to …

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Vail Daily column: Who’s your truth teller?

February 19, 2015 — 

Thank you, Brian Williams, for raising the central issue of our age, indeed, of every age. Though I’m sure Brian’s motives were not so noble. Still, he’s done us a great boon.

It turns out Brian wasn’t telling the truth about his reporting experience in Iraq. His helicopter was not hit by an RPG or ground fire as he claimed multiple times for the last 12 years. It turns out everyone is philosophically acting as if they inherently know the definition of truth — that which corresponds to reality. And it turns out he’s been lying about other events as well, such as his experiences in New Orleans during Katrina.

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Vail Daily column: The game of love

February 18, 2015 — 

I will guiltily admit that I’m in a perpetual state of surprise when it comes to my romantic relationships. Perhaps it’s my disciplined and conscious faith in the goodness of people that has rendered me this way, but I prefer heartfelt surprise over the “I told you so” embittered reassurance of cynicism.

I want to clarify. I realize that my above comment makes it sound like I just went through a breakup. That’s not the case. The truth is, nothing definitively negative has happened to me in regard to my love relationships during my adult life. Some of you who know me well will chuckle at that previous statement, but I mean it sincerely. I think I’ve probably had experiences that would be considered par for the course. I won’t bore you with details, but I’ve loved and lost as you likely have as well. I guess what surprises me most is that the relationships I have had ended with so little fanfare, like a candle that just burns itself out. I always supposed that the end of a love relationship would render me incapacitated or tear through my spirit like a forest fire. Perhaps the lack of these emotions reveals more about me and my past relationships than I’m comfortable to address in public. Tell you what, let’s table that for a private conversation sometime.

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Vail Daily column: Dude, where’s my room?

February 18, 2015 — 

For those of you who think I get paid the big bucks to spit these columns out, I need to clarify. I am a worker in the resort industry like most of the workers in Happy Valley, and I don’t get paid the big bucks to do that, either.

Because of my glamorous position in the “Can I help you?” industry, I’m qualified to say, “Just when you think you’ve seen it all ... ”

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Vail Daily column: Smart teacher learning

February 17, 2015 — 

“If I die, I hope it happens during a staff development meeting ... because the transition will be so subtle,” — Dal Lawrence, the colorful former president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers.

Ask almost any teacher about the most dysfunctional and painful parts of their job, and some form of mandated “professional development” will rank high on the list.

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Vail Daily editorial: The land of the free

February 17, 2015 — 

People around the world are still catching their breath from the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Audiences were thrilled by the racing, and two weeks’ worth of concerts and celebrations in Vail and Avon provided big fun off the slopes.

But let’s look for a moment at the crowds at both the off-slope events and the racing. TV audiences — most of whom were prime-time viewers in Europe — saw thousands of people stomping and hooting in Redtail Stadium in Beaver Creek. A lot of the credit goes to the weather. With a combination of mild to warm temperatures and picture-perfect Colorado blue sky, it was easy to spend part of the day at the races. There were days when little more than a sweater was required.

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Vail Daily column: Final World Champs grade: A-minus

February 16, 2015 — 

Well, it’s over, and there are a lot fewer buses running around Happy Valley this week.

Finally.

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Vail Daily column: And the skiing is great, too

February 15, 2015 — 

Yes, I must confess only a casual interest in the Championships.

I’ve sampled parts of it for posterity, like looking into the sky at 2 a.m. on the right starry night for Halley’s Comet. Opportunities like this don’t come around often.

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Vail Daily column: Winning and wiping out on life’s slopes

February 14, 2015 — 

Is it a stretch to compare Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent for Christians, with alpine ski racers in the Vail Valley? What do ashen signs of the cross on Christians’ foreheads have to do with skiers hurdling down slopes at blinding speeds?

Like snow in humidity-light Colorado, ashes daubed on foreheads at Ash Wednesday services are wispy and airy. A brisk wind blows away ashes and snowflakes because they’re light.

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Vail Daily column: Skiing in his blood

February 13, 2015 — 

As my eyes got used to the dimly lit hospital room, I could hear Jon Reveal breathing lightly.

Charlie Callander, Laurie’s son Colin and I had traveled 150 miles from Big Sky to Billings, Montana, to see Jon after his double bypass heart surgery. He had two 100 percent blocked arteries.

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Vail Daily column: Tell the true story

February 11, 2015 — 

It was perhaps the most frustrating and terrifying two years. I had been dropped into a suburb of Toronto to help Spanish-speaking residents and refugees. I spoke English. I was 19, naive and quiet could’ve been the first three bullet points on my resume. I really didn’t have any relevant experience for what I was attempting to do. The mandate was simple: Learn Spanish and help people in life-changing ways.

My day would begin by desperately studying a Spanish grammar text for an hour, followed by an hour of reading, followed by an hour of attempting to speak. No matter how many hours I spent learning, no preparation was psychologically sufficient.

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Vail Daily column: Learning without hunger

February 11, 2015 — 

I like to eat. A lot. I am especially hungry first thing in the morning. This used to be a problem when I was a kid, not because my family was too poor to afford food, but because my parents were too busy, or distracted, or neglectful or whatever it was they had going on that prevented them from fixing breakfast for me before I went to school. Frequently, I went to school hungry. Lunch was a problem, too.

According to the Children’s Defense Fund, America has one the highest rates of childhood poverty among the industrialized nations. One in five children, 14.7 million, lived in poverty in America as of 2012. Children from poor homes are more likely to go hungry, forego medical care and start school behind their more financially secure peers and less likely to graduate high school. Fortunately programs such as The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program lifted millions of children out of poverty. SNAP (aka food stamps) benefits 46 million Americans, about half of whom are children.

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Vail Daily Hits and Misses

February 11, 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 to “not running a bus to Minturn for the World Championships! Huge miss!”

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Vail Daily column: Local vs. state control

February 10, 2015 — 

The education system in every state works to strike the right balance between state and local decision-making.

On one side, advocates of stronger “state control” argue that systemic (whole-system) change can only come about through state level directives and initiatives. In their viewpoint, local boards of education (and their administrations) can’t be trusted to make good decisions.

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Vail Daily editorial: So far, so great

February 10, 2015 — 

We’re now in the final days of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, and things seem to be going swimmingly, for the most part.

You have to love how the events have gone so far in this two-week celebration of skiing. That success is the result of great planning, countless hours of hard work — much of it from a passionate, and large, group of volunteers — and, frankly, good fortune.

Yes, the powder-seeking faithful would like to see more snow than the few inches at a time we’ve received during the past few weeks — reports are that the snow’s fine, but not, ahem, epic. Still, powder dumps are kryptonite to ski racers, so here-and-there snowfall is a good thing.

Warm days can slow down the Birds of Prey and Raptor racecourses, too, but the weather the past couple of weeks has to have thrilled spectators. How many people have arrived in the valley, basked on a deck in the afternoon sun and thought, “Man, I never want to leave this place”?

Best of all, the security plans in place for the World Championships have yet to be tested by anything beyond random knuckle-headedness. In 1989, the fact that cops and emergency crews from around the region have mostly been watchful, but idle, would have been greeted with a collective reply of “What did you expect?” These days, though, an unused emergency response plan will earn a big, collective sigh of relief when the closing ceremonies are over.

Depending on location, business seems to be brisk, too. Beaver Creek Village has bustled, of course, as has the area around the Championships Plaza at Solaris. The grandstands at Redtail Stadium on the racecourse have ranged from “vibrant” to “crazed,” and there have been some long waits for buses at the quickly-filled parking lots.

In other locations, though, some have wondered where the crowds are (“somewhere else” is the simple answer). There have been reports of wide-open slopes at Vail, and even some of the non-racing parts of Beaver Creek.

All of this has been about what we’ve expected. But expecting and getting are often two very different things, so it’s nice to see planning and work rewarded.

While this is the biggest event the Vail Valley has ever hosted, we certainly aren’t done with big-time activities. The Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships brings its five-day festival to Vail beginning March 2. Some have said that the Burton party might actually be a bigger deal in some ways.

We’ll believe that when we see it, and hope the valley has caught its collective breath by then.

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