Editorials

Vail Daily column: How to spend that refund?

April 15, 2014 — 

During the course of the next month, many Americans may suddenly find themselves feeling wealthier than perhaps they should. We all worked hard for our money, and the average tax return will be around $3,000. Refunds vary in size, of course. Perhaps we should celebrate by getting a big screen TV or by going on a really nice vacation. Then again, although these uses could certainly provide “utility,” maybe there are better ways to use a refund. Let’s try thinking differently about a refund.

Someone once suggested to me that I think about my money earned like a general thinks about the soldiers he deploys. How can I best deploy my soldiers to fight on my behalf? Maybe “killing” $7.50 on these amazing buffalo bourbon wings every Wednesday isn’t the best deployment of my troops (don’t worry, Bob — I’m not cutting out the wings).

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Vail Daily column: ‘Student Union’ not just a building

April 14, 2014 — 

Did you hear the one about college football players forming a union?

Yeah, unfortunately I did, too, and it makes about as much sense as the town of Vail moving their administrative offices to Broomfield.

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Vail Daily column: Tax Day: to laugh or cry?

April 14, 2014 — 

Happy Tax Day! If you have a big refund coming, celebrate. Relish it. Enjoy the pot-free high.

Sorry for the buzz-kill but: Do you know how much you paid in taxes last year?

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Vail Daily column: Rallying to help our neighbors in need

April 13, 2014 — 

As we kick off our grant season, its good time to reflect on our United Way and its role in our community. Your United Way of Eagle River Valley is a critical community convener that mobilizes local businesses, county-based charities, community residents, leaders and public officials to create new and expanded opportunities to help our neighbors in need. We work to empower members of our community to achieve their human potential by:

• Improving education and reducing the number of school drop-outs. Currently, 23 percent of our students do not graduate from high school. This is one reason why we support The Literacy Project — Raising A Reader, as it creates a home-school connection that engages parents as full partners in their child’s development.

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Vail Daily column: Why Colorado needs a felony DUI statute

April 13, 2014 — 

Seventeen-year-old Juan Carlos Dominguez-Palomino was driving home from a friend’s house on the night of March 24 when his car was hit by a speeding drunk driver who blew a red light. While Juan Carlos was killed immediately, the driver of the other vehicle sustained only minor injuries. That driver, Ever Olivos-Gutierrez, is now being charged with alcohol related vehicular homicide. It wasn’t the first time Olivos-Gutierrez had driven drunk. It wasn’t even the first time he had been caught, as the deadly crash may result in his fourth DUI conviction.

In Colorado every year, too many families suffer the loss of loved ones to accidents caused by drunk drivers. A 2009 Denver Post study reported nearly four in 10 drivers arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence had prior DUI convictions. Nationally, Colorado is in the minority of five states exposing persistent drunk drivers to only minimal, misdemeanor penalties, no matter how many times they’ve been caught and convicted.

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Vail Daily column: Seeking vs. stagnant varieties of spirituality

April 12, 2014 — 

Jesus entered Jerusalem a hero on what Christians call Palm Sunday. The adoring crowd quickly turned on him because their spiritual styles collided.

Today, some put a spin on “spiritual” that’s different from Jesus’ take on it. In our vernacular, “spiritual” connotes something abnormal and eerie. It’s dismissed as impractical and surreal.

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Vail Daily column: Events a viable strategy?

April 11, 2014 — 

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report. We publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at www.vailhomeowners.com.

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Vail Daily column: Love of the high country

April 11, 2014 — 

Lou Whittaker is a giant among men at 6-foot-5 except when he is around his equally tall twin brother, Jim, when it is almost impossible to tell them apart. Laurie and I had the privilege of having them as our guests at our Montana home recently. We wisely spaced them a couple of weeks apart to avoid mixing them up!

Lou started the mountain guiding service on Mount Rainier and has led over 250 successful ascents of the over 14,000 summits. Another 200 ascents had to be aborted to perform a mountain rescue or because of fatigue among some of the members of the group he was guiding. Along with his son Peter, he has also developed guide services for McKinley, Everest, Aconcagua and K2 as well as several more of the highest peaks and most difficult mountains in the world to climb.

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Vail Daily column: Nominations enter home stretch

April 10, 2014 — 

Now we’re on the home stretch of the political nominating process in this non-presidential year.

To review how we got here, we started with the Eagle County Caucus on March 4 at Battle Mountain High School where 24 precincts met along with two precincts that gathered in Burns and four in the Roaring Fork Valley. They grouped by precinct to elect their representatives to the Central Committee as well as delegates and alternates to the County Assembly.

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Vail Daily column: Fun and folly at Park City

April 10, 2014 — 

Ah, so this is why the resort is called Canyons. Duh.

I’d taken the gondola out of the generic base village to mid-mountain and begun working the lifts running up ridgelines on the north side of the resort last Friday afternoon.

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Vail Daily column: Working toward an ideal community

April 9, 2014 — 

Nearly 15 years ago, my wife, Pam, and I made a decision to purchase a house in Cordillera and make the Vail Valley our home after retirement. We had been through an extensive process to determine where we would like to live after retirement. We went through the “beach vs. the mountains” thing and so many of the other things that many couples approaching retirement assess. Perhaps ours was a bit more extensive than others because at the time we were living in Hong Kong and had spent much of the previous two decades living outside the United States and had no “home base” in the U.S.

Our process included such things as finding a place with access to the many sports and outdoor activities that are such an important part of our lives, cultural opportunities, proximity to a metro area that offers arts, theater, music, professional sports, a major university and a major university medical center. We also wanted a local, medical community that can provide state-of-the-art primary care, high-quality dental and optical care, a community with an academic demographic and one that is politically and socially active. We both grew up in close families and in tight communities, so this was also part of our criteria and we found this in Cordillera and the surrounding valley communities.

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Vail Daily column: Living up to our ideals

April 9, 2014 — 

Monday evening marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover, an eight-day holiday commemorating the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. After many decades of slavery to the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs, during which time the Israelites were subjected to backbreaking labor and unbearable horrors, God saw the people’s distress and sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message to let his people go.

But despite numerous warnings, Pharaoh refused to heed God’s command. God then sent upon Egypt 10 plagues, afflicting them and destroying everything from their livestock to their crops.

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Vail Daily column: Crisis in education

April 9, 2014 — 

A major news magazine proclaimed it clearly with a splashy, bold-faced and front cover statement: “Crisis in education.” Inside, stories went on to highlight the lack of competitiveness of American schools compared to other countries around the world. The articles told the story that because of poor academic performance and a lack of focus in the areas of math and science, doom was all but certain for the American economy, our military security and our very way of life.

The year was 1958. The periodical was Life magazine.

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Vail Daily column: Cyberbullying: A whole new world

April 8, 2014 — 

When I was in grade school, there was a kid in my class who was at times my best friend and at other times my worst enemy. Our spats usually started out as joking with each other until one of us said something that hit a nerve. If I made a comment that he found offensive he would not let it go. He would let it fester and grow until he couldn’t take it any longer. He would start to push my buttons in an attempt to encourage a fight. If he made the offensive comment and I did not respond immediately he viewed it as weakness on my part, which prompted him to fire at me again. Our fights were usually short and simple, involving rolling around on the ground, trying to get each other in a headlock and then it was over.

Oh, how things have changed. These days, there is more lasting damage done to individuals and friendships via the Internet than ever before. Kids are more comfortable expressing their feelings online. In many cases, they do not see the sometimes devastating effect their words can have on their intended target. Comments can range from criticism to sarcasm to downright anger and character assassination. It’s a no-holds-barred world of nameless, faceless, anonymous individuals who use the Internet to their advantage with no apparent consequences. Some can simply shrug off these attacks. However, children, preteens and especially teens can be extremely vulnerable.

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Vail Daily column: Faith, hope and the path

April 8, 2014 — 

My first encounters with God were in a hospital in Welland, Ontario, just south of Niagara Falls. I was performing bedside rites and visiting the sick for a variety of faiths as a young Mormon missionary. I was 20 and naive, but I knew enough about people to know that you don’t preach doctrine next to a hospital bed.

Most people I talked to just wanted to feel loved. They wanted to have their own beliefs reinforced and validated. The occasional individual would insist on confessing something to clear their conscience, and as an inexperienced young man, I would quietly listen. I would catch myself praying for inspiration for what to say or do, realizing that I didn’t possess the necessary words or actions on my own. There were times when I felt inspired, and for years, I would call that inspiration God.

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Vail Daily column: Money speaks freely, too

April 7, 2014 — 

It’s weird to write about the U.S. Supreme Court two weeks in a row concerning two completely separate issues.

Weird, but strangely valid.

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Vail Daily column: Repair damage of cuts

April 6, 2014 — 

It’s spring, and for Colorado’s students that means state testing. This year, the same is true at the state Capitol where legislators, too, are facing a particularly high-stakes test.

The key question for them: When is the right time to start repairing the damage caused by the five years of state cuts? Three answers to that question are circulating in the Capitol:

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Vail Daily column: Still blue skies ahead?

April 4, 2014 — 

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report. We publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at www.vailhomeowners.com.

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Vail Daily column: Does literary Lysol drench Noah?

April 4, 2014 — 

God is popularly depicted as strong but pleasant, in a grandfatherly way. Shunned is a deity pictured as impatient, letting temper erupt. Who wants to worship a nasty, cruel god?

In Sunday school, children learn about Noah, who is cast as a virtuous superhero. His ark saved family and animals. God appears kind, tipping off Noah to the impending deluge. This pop version drowns Noah’s drama in literary Lysol, scrubbing out ugly features.

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Vail Daily column: A simple, telling question

April 3, 2014 — 

Here’s a quick test for whether you lean more Republican or Democrat: Should the minimum wage be raised?

Answer carefully. The question is a tap root into political belief as it relates to your heart, your mind and, of course, the role of government.

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Vail Daily column: Entrepreneurial minds

April 2, 2014 — 

I’d like to start a conversation about business growth, specifically about the Boulder Thesis of startup communities. A couple weeks ago, I was invited as a volunteer with the Vail Leadership Institute to the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments Economic Development District bi-monthly meeting. I focused my time with them discussing some of the Boulder Thesis of entrepreneurial communities.

The thesis starts by looking at why Boulder has, in the last 15 years, gone from a third tier to a world-renowned startup community. One of the main reasons forms a fundamental principle of the thesis: People should meet often and collaborate freely. It may seem overly simplistic, but in this age of electronic communication, telecommuting and home offices, entrepreneurs have to constantly be aware of creeping isolation. Meeting people and getting to know each other’s lives, hopes, desires, strengths and weaknesses, fosters innovation. More innovation leads to more execution, which leads to community growth.

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Vail Daily column: Truth and integrity in parking

April 2, 2014 — 

Until last weekend, I believed that every human on earth needed to have one of four experiences in order to be a contributing adult: a foreign mission, military service, ranch work, or time as a restaurant server. While volunteering at the American Ski Classic, I learned that we could likely add one more item to my ever-growing list of necessary experiences — being a parking lot attendant.

Parking lot attendants, I’ve decided, are subject to some of the highest highs and lowest lows of human nature. Granted, I have a glaring fault for finding philosophy and truth in the most barren of places, but I hope to demonstrate with an anecdote how the lives of our parking lot attendants in this community are rife with application to every human experience.

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Vail Daily column: Finding our focus

April 1, 2014 — 

A common question in education is: Which students should schools focus on?

Some argue schools should focus attention on students who are most at-risk. This approach holds that because resources (time, energy, staffing) are limited, the most good can be done if efforts are targeted toward students who are living in poverty, who have a disability or who are learning English. This approach emphasizes equity through taking into account that these students require a much more intensive and focused effort than the typical student.

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Vail Daily column: Hobby lobby’s folly

March 31, 2014 — 

“Corporations are people too, my friend!”

Who could forget the happy-go-lucky phrase shouted by Mitt just a few months before he became a footnote in American politics?

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Vail Daily column: Time to restore ‘negative factor’

March 31, 2014 — 

In February, the Eagle County Board of Education passed a resolution in support of restoring education to constitutionally directed levels and encouraging our state legislators to live up to the promise our state has made to adequately invest in the education of our children. Since 2000, the state of Colorado has used a funding formula that guaranteed (through Amendment 23) the adequate funding of education in good times and in bad. Amendment 23 requires that the state fund education at a level that keeps pace with inflation.

When we entered the Great Recession, our legislators found a way around Amendment 23 and reduced funding to schools using a legislative parlor trick called the “negative factor” in the school funding formula. It is estimated that through this “negative factor” the state has reduced funding to schools by over $2.2 billion. Eagle County School District’s funding has been reduced by around $30 million dollars since 2010, resulting in cuts being felt by our teachers and our students every day.

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Vail Daily column: A lesson learned from a little hero

March 30, 2014 — 

He was only 8 years old. His name was Tyler. He was from a small town in New York, and he is a hero by anyone’s standards. Fearless. I can’t get him out of my mind — I see his picture in the news clipping on my desk. I have a grandson his age, and I’m unable to dismiss his tragic story. You may have read about him a few weeks ago, although he did not get the press attention that Justin Bieber recently got — too bad, this young guy deserved national attention and a medal of honor.

He begged his mom to let him spend the night at his best friend’s house, who, by the way, just happened to be his grandpa. Their home caught fire, and he died, along with his best friend grandpa and his uncle. But there is more to this story. It’s one of those stories you read, and then you are so numbed by it, you have to re-read it only to confirm it’s real, albeit sobering, humbling and tear jerking. He saved six people, who authorities say all would have died had it not been for Tyler.

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Vail Daily column: Underpass project shows collaboration

March 30, 2014 — 

The planning process for the Interstate 70 Vail Underpass project is off to a productive start, thanks in part to the commitment made by those involved to work together to understand the complexity of the project and to fully explore its impacts and solutions. The stakes are high in that millions of dollars have been committed to address a growing traffic congestion problem in Vail with a solution intended to provide relief for the next 20 or more years.

While the list of stakeholders is vast, including multiple federal, state and local agencies, we couldn’t be more impressed with the involvement that has taken place by representatives from the impacted neighborhoods. From the beginning, property owners from the Simba Run and Savoy Villas condominiums, in particular, have participated in planning workshops and have met with engineers on site to learn more about the project and to offer constructive suggestions. The leadership efforts of Charlie Calcaterra, from Simba Run, and Bob Llewellyn, from Savoy Villas, are to be commended for their solution-minded approach. Participation is also taking place from property owners on the project’s south side. Together, their actions represent community involvement at its best. The dialogue has been constructive, thoughtful and above all, respectful.

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Vail Daily column: Russia’s Crimea annexation not surprising

March 30, 2014 — 

The current Ukrainian-Russian crisis is an event many analysts anticipated years ago. I participated in a simulation evolving both countries while pursuing post-undergraduate work at Washington State University. The current crisis is compelling me to reflect on the simulation. What’s interesting is neither the present situation or the exercise have many commonalities.

The current crisis mandates asking several questions: Why is the Ukraine vital in Russia’s psyche? What are Moscow’s strategic interests in Kiev? What potential directions might Russia take in the upcoming days and weeks towards Ukraine? And is Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, willing to risk long-term repercussions in exchange for a direct or covert domination of Ukrainian politics?

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Vail Daily column: Parking struggles continue

March 28, 2014 — 

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report. We publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at www.vailhomeowners.com.

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Vail Daily column: Comfort zone

March 28, 2014 — 

Everyone has a comfort zone of some size and in some places. Wherever yours is, it gets more comfortable with each visit. My first comfort zone on skis was established on the Big Hill at Badger Pass in Yosemite after I had made turns on it the 207th time I skied down it. The Big Hill is in reality not very big but in name only.

I was very uncomfortable eight years later when I made my first run down from the summit of the Parsennbahn cable railroad in Davos, Switzerland, because I was blindly following the crowd of skiers to somewhere that I had not even seen before.

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