Editorials

Vail Daily column: Lessons learned from Hoot

May 26, 2016 — 

When we adopted our dog, he was skinny and riddled with heart worms. In fact he was so emaciated that the veterinarian told us we could not administer the “heart worm” medicine until he gained 10 to 15 pounds.

This poor creature had been abandoned in one of American’s great cities, had run wild for probably eight months, eating whatever trash he could find, sleeping on the streets, and wandering through the industrial traffic of an American city. When the dog pound brought him in, they called the local rescue group to come pick him up for adoption. The rescue group said they would send someone over soon, but their volunteers were too busy and forgot. Ten days later, the pound called again and said “pick him up” or they would otherwise have to euthanize this little creature. He was finally picked up within a day of being euthanized. What are the chances in life?

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Clinton's carefully premeditated lies

May 26, 2016 — 

The State Department’s inspector general released a report this week concluding that Hillary Clinton is a breathtakingly brazen and consistent liar.

No, that’s not a direct quote. Bureaucrats don’t talk that way under the best of circumstances — and this IG, Steve Linick, is an Obama appointee whose report is about the apparent Democratic nominee for president.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Older Americans in the Vail Valley?

May 25, 2016 — 

Along with others who work with seniors, I am always stuck with trying to come up with another, more suitable word to describe those of us who are no longer young. President Barack Obama’s recently proclaimed May 2016 as Older Americans Month. But, can’t we do better than “older American?”

Somehow I don’t see a big, older Americans celebration happening around here. No one in this country likes to think about getting old. Who likes getting that first AARP card? But there aren’t too many other places, in my opinion, that rival the valley in terms of age denial. For example, when I mention I work with seniors, invariably someone tells me about someone they know in their 80s who skis every day. They aren’t old, are they?

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Join us Thursday to discuss KAABOO-Vail

May 25, 2016 — 

As part of our mission to elevate the arts, athletics, and education in the Vail Valley, the Vail Valley Foundation is proposing a new concept for a music, art, culinary and cultural event called KAABOO-Vail Aug. 18-20 2017.

As we move further into the public comment period for this event, we want to ensure that everyone understands its true nature, its size, and the type of audience it attracts.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: An ending and a new beginning

May 24, 2016 — 

This past weekend, members of the Eagle County Schools Board of Education and I shook 413 graduates’ hands — plus one virtual graduate while she stood on the podium at the state track meet— as students of the Class of 2016 completed their secondary education and turned their sights toward college, career or technical training, the workforce or just some time to plan their next moves.

Graduations are a joyful time for families and mark an important transition point in a young person’s ascent to adulthood. While our graduates will soon scatter in all directions (both near and far) in search of their dreams, we know they will always be a part of this community, which gave them wings and prepared them for their futures.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Festival shows promise, but...

May 24, 2016 — 

The town of Vail has a great opportunity with the proposed KAABOO music and arts festival. But, like most opportunities, there’s also some risk.

The founders of KAABOO, which got its start in 2015 in Del Mar, California, have joined with the Vail Valley Foundation to propose a three-day music, art, comedy and food event to take over much of Ford Park in August of 2017, the weekend after most Front Range schools have started. The idea is for a ticketed event that will draw people with a median age of 37 or so. This is an affluent group that, on the younger side of the age curve, is exactly the audience Vail wants for the future.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: It was 20 years ago today

May 23, 2016 — 

Actually, it was 20 years ago this Sunday, and it wasn’t Sgt. Pepper, but the proverbial son of Vail, Buddy Lazier, who “taught the band to play” and won the Indianapolis 500.

Many of you are already aware of this particular bit of local trivia, but for the uninitiated or forgetful, understand that Buddy’s 1996 victory raised the bar for gutsy grit and sheer willpower throughout the entire sporting world.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Add third lane for I-70

May 23, 2016 — 

The “First season shows express lane benefits” headline, in the Monday Vail Daily issue, was a story quoting our Democratic state senator positively responding to supposed toll lane benefits. The story, sadly missing a balance of reality, was all roses.

As a candidate for House District 26 in Colorado, I conducted a survey of some 33 people in Eagle and Routt counties, who use Interstate 70 to get to Denver. Thirty-two people had negative opinions of the new 13-mile toll lane, in what I call “the parking lot known as Interstate 70.” Comments included, “It’s a joke,” to, “I drove it twice last week and it just keeps getting worse and worse.”

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: 'More doctors smoke Camels'

May 22, 2016 — 

On a recent trip, my wife and I happened upon a kiddie playground replete with swings, horizontal monkey bars, slides of various sizes, a whirl, etc.

The playground was vacant but as we walked we spied a series of warning signs alerting people to the dangers that lurked within the playground’s confines. There were 19 separate warnings telling children “not to run or use the equipment improperly,” “not to climb or stand too close to a moving swing” and “not to jump off a moving whirl.” Other signs cautioned to use only proper footwear, only the correct grip on the equipment and only to slide with their feet up.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Be leery of loaded language

May 22, 2016 — 

“Great!”

Does this word grate on your nerves when presidential campaigners use it? Or, does “great” invigorate your spirit, building pride in the U.S.?

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Concerns about festival

May 20, 2016 — 

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association Newsletter. 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.

In behind-the-scenes maneuvering, plans have been quietly underway since the fall of 2015 to bring a supersized three-day music and entertainment event to Vail in August of next year. Even though it’s more than 15 months away, the promoters are demanding town approval by June 10, a date before most second-home residents return to Vail. There is little time for even local residents to learn about the plans.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Facts don't support fears

May 18, 2016 — 

Once you become a parent, your child’s safety becomes a top priority, even if ensuring it comes at the expense of civility towards others. So when parents voice concerns about sexual predators exploiting laws meant to protect the rights of transgender individuals, as a parent, I appreciate where their fear comes from. They are prioritizing their child’s wellbeing ahead of someone else’s feelings.

However, I happen to think those fears are unfounded and stoked by bigots with an intolerant agenda. The facts simply do not support the contention that laws meant to protect the rights of the transgender community by allowing them to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity rather than their birth certificate will be used by sexual predators to enter women’s bathrooms and prey on young girls.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Proposed labor rule will hurt economy

May 18, 2016 — 

It may be news to many in Colorado that the Department of Labor proposed a new rule last year to increase the salary threshold for exempt employees. Overall, this is positive news, but the dramatic changes will have far-reaching implications, especially in rural Colorado.

As the Fair Labor Standards Act is written, employees must qualify under three criteria to be exempt from overtime pay. These criteria are simple: Have a salary, make more than $23,660 per year and conduct specific job duties (professional, administrative and similar). This rule is generally revised every five or so years, and it makes sense the Department of Labor is updating it now. So what’s the big deal?

Learn more »

Vail Daily editorial: Leave 'em alone

May 17, 2016 — 

David Letterman’s late-night TV show years ago introduced a segment called “Stupid Pet Tricks.” That spawned another long-running bit, “Stupid Human Tricks.” You may have read about a recent really stupid human trick in Yellowstone National Park.

That story involved tourists putting a bison calf into the back of their rented SUV because “it looked cold,” then driving the critter to park headquarters.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Legislative successes

May 17, 2016 — 

On May 11, the second session of the 70th Colorado General Assembly adjourned sine die. Due to the split chamber and budgetary problems, we faced challenges, but when we worked together, putting aside petty partisan politics, we passed legislation to enhance economic and educational opportunities for all, strengthen our communities and safeguard our environment.

The Joint Budget Committee worked for months to present the General Assembly with our constitutionally required balanced budget. With very little breathing room, the committee passed a budget that managed to:

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Finding the best teachers

May 17, 2016 — 

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a piece for this publication detailing the importance of building a competent and professional educator workforce. Noting contrasts between the conventional American approach to this important effort and those of global high performing systems, I’d like to touch on the efforts we have underway locally to build a teacher workforce of great talent and capacity — as well as some of the constant barriers we have in that work.

Raising educator quality at a system level (as opposed to a lucky hire here or there) begins with recruiting well. Arguably, this is the most important step in building the quality of any workforce.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Yet another fictitious far-right fear

May 16, 2016 — 

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, along with a handful of other state’s elected officials and legislators, are once again displaying their evangelical ignorance by opening a Pandora’s box of anti-LGBT laws.

History shows us that using their deity as an excuse did not stop slavery from being overturned.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Why evangelicals support Trump

May 16, 2016 — 

Donald Trump is the candidate of choice for about one-third of evangelicals, the same margin of voters who supported John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 in primary elections. These Christians say they support presidential candidates who show robust character, possess Christian consciences and reflect Christ’s humility as humankind’s suffering servant.

Except, evangelicals abandon these qualifications by endorsing Donald Trump for president. Why?

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Millennials embrace socialism, but do they know what it is?

May 13, 2016 — 

Socialism is having a moment.

I’m not just referring to Bernie Sanders’ surprisingly strong showing in the Democratic primaries. Various polls show that millennials have a more favorable view of socialism than of capitalism. And millennials generally are the only age group that views socialism more favorably than unfavorably.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Avoiding germs on the road

May 13, 2016 — 

Many years ago, actually make that many, many years ago, while serving in Vietnam I had an experience that left an indelible impression on me. No, it’s not what you might imagine.

Of course I had a few colorful experiences, but being a helicopter pilot was still far preferable to being in the infantry where privations were commonplace. In fact, compared to the grunts traveling around the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam, we lived like kings.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: School board, Capitol work is complementary

May 11, 2016 — 

As a member of the State Board of Education representing all of western Colorado and Pueblo and Huerfano counties, I’m traveling extensively and learning about the uniqueness of each school district and their communities. In addition, my position as a legislative aide, allows me to keep an eye on education related bills and stay current with what legislators are thinking about education. My work in both areas is complementary.

The state budget (HB16-1405) was signed into law by the governor last Tuesday. K-12 schools will receive inflation and enrollment adjustments for the next fiscal year, July 1 through June 30, 2017. This will be an increase in per pupil spending over last year’s budget. In most states, the executive branch initiates the budget, however in Colorado the Joint Budget Committee is responsible for writing the annual appropriations bill known as The Long Bill. This year, the six member committee worked hard to come to a consensus, allocate more money to education and present a balanced budget.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Why all the phone calls?

May 11, 2016 — 

During the next few weeks, about 500 of you will receive polling calls from Eagle County. We are looking for community input on several topics, so our apologies if we’ve interrupted dinner — or your first quiet moment since the kids went to bed.

Some of you may have already received calls from the school district or the Edwards Metro District. These calls are a useful method of gathering input. Polls help to identify which issues are important and how much support there is for particular policy changes. At this time of year, they are usually connected to possible election questions and your responses can help shape the November ballot.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Help us shape proposal

May 11, 2016 — 

I became superintendent of Eagle County Schools in the summer of 2013. Now, approaching three full years in this role, I’m very proud of the progress we’ve been able to make.

We established a forward-looking vision for our schools based on feedback from our community and research the district has done to evaluate the best performing education systems.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: All right, we'll call it a draw, for now

May 11, 2016 — 

The legendary scene in Monty Python’s classic “Search for the Holy Grail” was more prophetic than anyone could have possibly imagined.

In this version we see the presumptive leader of the new and improved GOP, searching for the ever-elusive American Crown of Control, as he comes upon Sir Old Guard along his yellow brick path to the White House (it’s my version so I can mix whatever metaphors I choose).

Learn more »

Vail Daily editorial: A loss for Vail

May 10, 2016 — 

It was disheartening to hear recently that the annual Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival is moving to Breckenridge next year.

The festival was well established in its home at the Vail Cascade, using the large space usually occupied by tennis courts, and was a popular event for local and visiting beer lovers.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: The law of drones

May 10, 2016 — 

I just completed a course on the law of drones. A couple of years ago, whod’ve thunk? Now, all of a sudden, drones are everywhere. And the law is scrambling to catch up.

The course included a review of applicable federal regulations, Federal Aviation Administration enforcement actions, state laws and regulations, UAS applications and operations, UAS and Fourth Amendment considerations, privacy issues, property rights (who owns the airspace?), and advising clients about UASs.

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: Preordained?

May 8, 2016 — 

I am not a conspiracy theorist; but I don’t believe in political coincidences either.

Short memories

Learn more »

Vail Daily column: The gap between governing and campaigning

May 8, 2016 — 

Presidential campaigners promise voters “the moon made of green cheese.” Once elected, officials have to deliver on their promises by getting legislation passed. Making campaign promises is easy; governing hard.

“The moon made of green cheese” is a folk-saying used centuries ago. A rustic simpleton spied the moon’s reflection on a pond. Its saffron glow convinced him a chunk of cheese floated on the yellowy water.

Learn more »

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 U.S., both the Constitution and bi-partisan belief has been that the mandate of checks and balances exists, 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.

Learn more »

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.

There is currently no guarantee that you will actually be able to sit next to your child on the plane even if you book your ticket far in advance. One family told us that they were almost forced to sit apart from their 6 and 9-year-old children for a 17-hour flight. Parents may have the option of paying up to $25 or more to select each seat — not only unfair, it can be an insurmountable sum for some families. Parents shouldn’t have to pay extra to sit with their kids on a flight. Separating them is not safe, disrupts the boarding process and often leaves parents at the mercy of other passengers. Passengers who must then decide whether to trade seats despite the fact that they may have already paid additional fees for seats themselves. The LIFT Act ensures that airlines have policies that allow young children to select seats next to their parents on a flight without paying an extra seat fee or waiting until they get on board.

Our bill also clarifies that TSA cannot separate a child from their parent or guardian during the security screening process. Parents have repeatedly told us they have been separated from their children during screening causing unnecessary anxiety. Separating young kids from their parents during the screening process can be traumatic, and it doesn’t need to happen.

Finally, the LIFT Act reduces unnecessary stress placed on pregnant women by ensuring airlines enact policies to allow pregnant women to pre-board their flights and give them enough time to be seated.

In light of the recent attacks in Europe, we also included a measure in the FAA reauthorization to enhance U.S. airport security, particularly in non-secure soft target areas at airports like check-in and baggage claim areas. Denver International Airport is working on plans to revamp and improve the airport’s security operations, and this measure would allow the airport to use existing federal grants for these projects. The amendment also updates federal security programs to provide active shooter training for law enforcement and increase the presence of federal agents with bomb-sniffing dogs in non-secure areas in airports.

More Americans are flying every year, and passenger plane travel is expected to double by 2035. In 2015 alone, more than 54 million passengers traveled through Denver International Airport. As more and more Colorado families continue to take off into the blue, it’s important that we enact commonsense measures that make traveling easier and safer for everyone. We hope that these proposals will help enhance security, reduce unnecessary stress and expense and provide parents with a little more peace of mind.

Michael Bennet is the senior senator from Colorado.

View 20 More Stories in Editorials »
Back to Top