Editorials

Vail Daily column: Obama’s immigration goal: Enrage Republicans

November 27, 2014 — 

Maybe President Obama is just trolling?

For those who don’t know, in Internet parlance, trolling is an effort to elicit outrage from a specific group or the public generally. As the always useful — but not always G-rated, or spell-checked — Urban Dictionary explains, “Trolling requires deceiving (sic); any trolling that doesn’t involve deceiving (sic) someone isn’t trolling at all; it’s just stupid.” (Pro tip: When spelling “deceiving,” remember it’s “i before e except after c.”) The definition continues: “As such, your victim must not know that you are trolling; if he does, you are an unsuccessful (sic) troll.”

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Vail Daily column: Benghazi debunked as baloney

November 27, 2014 — 

Oh, that Benghazi thing?

Never mind.

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Vail Daily Hits and Misses

November 27, 2014 — 

Got a quick Hit or Miss about issues, decisions or goings-on in the valley? Send yours to editor@vaildaily.com to be included.

HIT: To “snow equity” working out for us at the moment with a fabulous start to ski season, following last season’s powdery ending flourish.

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Vail Daily column: Give thanks every day

November 27, 2014 — 

There’s a lot of us now. It used to be in the 6 billion range — in fact, I know that when I was born, there were fewer than 5 billion of us on this planet. Now there are 7.3 billion, with an estimated 3 billion more coming in the next 40 years.

Now, hold on a second before you stop reading. This isn’t one of those columns in which I start harping on over-population. I’m not going to start flailing away at the effect we might have on the climate as we grow. I can’t bother myself with wondering about wars, famines, pestilences, caused by, you guessed it, humanity. You can read about all those subjects elsewhere.

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Vail Daily editorial: Be thankful, be careful

November 25, 2014 — 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a celebration that predates our nation’s independence. In addition to giving thanks for the blessings (or good fortune, if you prefer) of the previous season, Thanksgiving in the modern era also embodies the American desire to travel.

Let’s start with thanks. Our economy, particularly in the resorts, is showing the kind of strength not seen since the pre-bust days of 2007-08. DestiMetrics, a Denver-area-based consulting and research firm, projects that the coming season’s sales and lodging tax collections across the Rockies will surpass the previous peak of 2007-08. That’s going to help us all, since the valley’s non-resort areas will benefit.

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Vail Daily column: Do you know what you’re not thankful for?

November 25, 2014 — 

If you’re lucky or worked hard enough to have that Porsche or Mercedes in the garage, I’m pretty sure you don’t hold hands around the table and thank your Lord for it. On the other hand, maybe you do thank someone when your 2001 van starts after sitting out in 2 degrees all night (no garage).

“Thank you Jesus for letting me go to work today. Now I can pay for the food, rent and insurance if I just do this 364 more days in a row.”

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Vail Daily column: We are indeed blessed

November 25, 2014 — 

As some people in our community know, this is actually the second time I’ve had the chance to work for Eagle County Schools. My first round was from 2007 to 2010, where I worked in two roles — director of research and assessment and director of human resources.

Opportunity knocked in 2010, and my wife, Sarah, and I moved away — stopping first in Ohio (where I worked for a nonprofit in Columbus) and then Iowa (where I was the state education chief).

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Vail Daily column: A different kind of thanks

November 24, 2014 — 

Given the season and all, I, Richard Carnes, am thankful:

• The elections are over.

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Vail Daily column: Gruber flap reopens not-so-old wounds

November 23, 2014 — 

I understand we’ve turned the page to the next controversy — Obama’s unconstitutional immigration pander — but I’d like to dwell a little longer on the previous travesty.

Obama administration health-care consultant Jonathan Gruber was discovered to have boasted that Obamacare was designed to exploit the “stupidity” of American voters and elude honest accounting by hiding both its cost and the taxes necessary to pay for it.

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Vail Daily column: How does God intersect our lives?

November 22, 2014 — 

Controversy flares up over how God works in our lives. Three opposing convictions are: God works “hands-on;” God works “hands-off;” and, God is “hands-in” when he intersects life.

Divergent reasons for why rain falls illustrate the three views about how God operates in our lives. Some people are grateful their creator turns on a celestial faucet and “sends rain on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). They believe God directly intersects our lives in a “hands-on” way.

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Vail Daily column: I ‘like’ my Facebook team

November 21, 2014 — 

The advent of Facebook meant that despite siblings scattered across six states and one in another country, my family could vicariously experience a nephew’s fifth-grade graduation, a niece’s soccer championship and a sister’s 41st wedding anniversary. We became a virtually close family.

Unfortunately, Facebook did not confine itself to wholesome exchanges of positive familial information. No, we cannot have nice things because someone, somewhere, is thinking of how to make a buck off of them, or a billion bucks. What was once a vehicle for sharing important events and special moments has now morphed into an advertising fast lane, a corner preacher, a Zen master and a yard sale. Just as direct mail marketing corrupted snail mail and spam and phishing wormed their way into email, now the Facebook feed has promotional posts and ads based on creepy metadata algorithms. Visit homedepot.com and the next thing you know ads for commodes will compete on your Facebook wall with videos of dogs swimming with dolphins and kittens, well, just being kittens. Do not mention Marfa, Texas, to anyone, anywhere or tripadvisor.com will begin peppering you with destination updates.

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Vail Daily column: The whole story

November 21, 2014 — 

In today’s highly charged political environment how often do we really hear the whole story about anything?

We certainly didn’t hear it about Benghazi until well after the event; and even today, we still don’t know who ordered the stand-down that kept our Navy Seals and Marines from attempting a rescue. And as a result, four Americans including our ambassador are dead.

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Vail Daily column: A longing for the ride

November 20, 2014 — 

We sat on our boards off Pleasure Point during a lull. Suddenly the horizon humped up huge, dark, mountainous. We paddled for our lives. To meet the mountain, and whatever grew behind it.

As I swept up in the wave’s tow, a green curtain formed out of the black —translucent in the late afternoon sun — and began to curl over. I popped through and kept paddling when I landed on the backside to make sure I wouldn’t wind up dragged over the falls behind me.

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Vail Daily column: Teaching hate

November 19, 2014 — 

“You’ve got to be taught to hate ...” (Oscar Hammerstein, “South Pacific”).

The murder on Tuesday of five people and the serious wounding of several others while they were praying at a synagogue in Jerusalem is only the latest in a continuing pattern of violence and hatred directed against Israel and the Jewish people. It also replays a familiar scenario: A terrorist act is followed by condemnation (though not as strong as when Israel is perceived to be responsible for Palestinian deaths), followed by threats of retaliation.

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Vail Daily column: The last of ’em

November 19, 2014 — 

I was 9 or 10 years old, letting my arms dangle over the top of the metal gate to the corral, standing on the second or third green steel bar so I could see over the cattle already penned. It was spring in Montana, and the cold of the winter hadn’t quite worn off yet in the mornings. The low fog, typical during this time of year, was gently backlit by the rising sun and slowly fleeing the countryside. It was hard to hear over the din of the cows already inside the pens, but as another part of the herd started to rise from behind the hills, my stepfather’s cattle only got louder.

The silhouettes of the cows came first, their breath casting a dissipating cloud as they bellowed, seemingly complaining about having to get up and walk at such an early hour. They lumbered toward the corral, most of them already knowing the end goal. Occasionally one or two of the head would stop to look back, only to be lured to return in step with the rest of the herd by the never-ending mass of swishing tails and belabored hooves.

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Vail Daily column: Do we test what matters?

November 18, 2014 — 

Last week, thousands of Colorado seniors (mostly in the Denver and Boulder metro area) refused to participate in newly required state tests for science and social studies. These refusals represented an unprecedented level of resistance to the growing battery of state tests. Notably, this resistance came from an unexpected source — the students themselves.

This past Monday, I had the chance to visit and listen with a group of high school seniors at our own Eagle Valley High School on this issue (and others). While we had no such testing revolt here in Eagle County, these students were far from complimentary of these newly added assessments.

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Vail Daily editorial: A welcome slowdown

November 18, 2014 — 

Here’s some good news:

Avon residents this week learned that enough petition signatures have been certified to force a special election about the Town Council’s decision earlier this fall to purchase The Skier Building near the town’s library and recreation center. Town officials want to spend a total of $5.7 million to buy the building and finish the interior of what’s now an empty shell.

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Vail Daily column: What’s all this beautiful white stuff?

November 17, 2014 — 

There are a few facts I know about the recent change in our collective environment.

It was sudden, for some reason completely unexpected, and is somehow directly connected to one’s ability to drive a vehicle.

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Vail Daily column: Two-term presidents’ popularity plummets

November 15, 2014 — 

When their candidate is elected president, voters act like giddy children in a toy store on Christmas Eve. A president’s support usually dwindles, however, at mid-term after re-election. On the campaign trail, he promises the moon. Once in office, some promises can’t be delivered. Voters react negatively, feeling as if they’re clutching worthless moon dust.

Historian Lynn Olson describes mid-term voting patterns after a president’s re-election. The nation’s chief executive entered office with huge support of hope and change because he pulled the nation through dire economic crisis. “They still liked him as a person, the voters made clear” writes Olson, “but they were increasingly wary of his programs, his advisers and, above all, his manner of governing. There was a particular concern about what was seen as his attempts to gain too much power, with half of those questioned in the [Gallop] poll saying they thought he should have less authority.”

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Vail Daily column: The low cost of a chairlift ticket

November 14, 2014 — 

Anyone who has ever spent more than $2.50 to buy a rope tow ticket should be very delighted at the weather report on the news Friday morning. It was 9 degrees in Billings, Montana, and expected to drop to zero today and 2 feet of snow is expected in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. That means that all of the chairlifts on Boyne Mountain in Michigan should be operating this coming weekend. At least I hope so for all those hardy skiers who are willing to take their rock skis out at the beginning of the season.

I write a lot about the price of chairlift tickets, I know. Taken alone, they seem high, but when one realizes that the chairlift ticket is the magic carpet to an amazing world of freedom, they are quite reasonable.

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Vail Daily column: Combining two little words

November 13, 2014 — 

It matters not that your particular interests gravitate you toward science, art, poetry, architecture, sports, or even chaos theory; each discipline is fundamentally subordinate to politics. In his best selling book “Things That Matter,” Charles Krauthammer opines that politics dominates everything and that everything lives and dies by politics.

Even the most advanced cultures remain hostage to this dictum — get your politics wrong and everything else can be swept away. The classic example is Germany circa 1933 when Nazi ideology exercised the finality of politics and half the world’s Jewish population was systematically brutalized while its 3,000-year old culture and language were nearly rendered extinct.

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Vail Daily column: Where did the time go?

November 13, 2014 — 

You’ll have to indulge me even more than usual today. I have an anniversary to celebrate: My 15th November at the Daily.

Plenty has changed in our world since landing here the day before Election Day 1999. I had brown hair, for one.

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Vail Daily Hits and Misses

November 12, 2014 — 

Got a quick Hit or Miss about issues, decisions or goings-on in the valley? Send yours to editor@vaildaily.com to be included.

HIT: To the military people who have put it all on the line through our history to protect our nation, which is to say … us. Question why war exists, quibble with policies, sort out the good wars from the bad all you like. We’re talking here about the souls who answer this call.

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Vail Daily column: Feel the small act

November 12, 2014 — 

These little towns have a tendency to bring out the best emotions in me. I would like to think that it does the same thing for most of us, but maybe that’s not as common as I once thought. It’s in moments when I look up at the falling snow in the aspens that I begin to have those familiar nostalgic emotions that fuel so much of what I do.

My father only really gave me one direct piece of advice. Sure, he was always supportive ... likely more so than the average dad. He came to all the events, was around when I did something right, etc. As far as life advice goes though, there is only one thing that has ever stuck with me.

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After Election Day

November 11, 2014 — 

Last week, the Grand Old Party had much to celebrate.

Across the country, Republican candidates picked up seats in Congress, even taking control of the U.S. Senate. Here in Colorado, Republicans took over the state Senate and narrowed the Democratic majority in the House. Republican candidate Bob Beauprez came very close to taking the governor’s office, with John Hickenlooper holding him off by a slim margin as counting continued into the early morning following Election Day.

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Vail Daily column: Here we go again...

November 11, 2014 — 

Monday’s first real slam-bang snowstorm of the season brought with it everything we’ve come to expect — accidents, highway closures and stopped or creeping traffic.

In mid-afternoon, when the snow had finally started to stick over a lovely sheen of ice, Vail Daily boss Don Rogers reported that it took a half-hour to make the drive from Vail to our Eagle-Vail office. As is often the case during big storms, it took hours to untangle Interstate 70, our valley’s main street.

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Vail Daily column: These things happen, I know, but…

November 10, 2014 — 

Her name was Betty.

Betty Sue to those that knew her long ago, as her and identical twin sister, Nancy Lou, were gender products of their generation, born in the ’30s and raised during the ’40s in what was then the suburbs of North Dallas.

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Vail Daily column: Nukes are so ’80s

November 9, 2014 — 

Remember the good old days, when all we had to worry about was nuclear Armageddon from the Russians? Now for Act 2 in world destruction, enter Ebola. Visions of human extinction abound, worthy of an epic Hollywood drama. Yet, is there merit in those fears?

In truth, the fear of Ebola is not specifically about Ebola but rather a fear of that which is uncontrollable, resulting in a potential rapid death sentence, with little ability to preemptively detect the threat or, once encountered, limited resources to combat it.

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Vail Daily column: Protesting ‘cowboys’ are patriots, too

November 8, 2014 — 

The Jefferson County school board’s GOP majority skewers U.S. history. These well-off Denver suburbanites interpret the national experience as a record of mostly white guys blessed with entrepreneurial skills. Wall Street investors mixed pluck with calculated risk for rewards.

In contrast, cowboys out West, whose misfortunes mirror those of immigrants, women, laborers and African-Americans, don’t warrant equal print. Using civil disobedience to gain higher status, cowboys protested against white guys who controlled Washington and Wall Street.

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Vail Daily column: It’s been a heckuva great ride

November 7, 2014 — 

It’s been a heckuva of a great ride, really, but it is time for me to go. And, as I have learned in life, you have to make course adjustments if you are to remain true to your leadership journey.

Well, the time has come to do just that — make a course adjustment. I’m leaving the position of fire chief for Vail Fire and Emergency Services on Friday to take the fire chief position with Loveland Fire and Rescue Authority.

A primary motive for my decision to move is the woman I love (who also happens to be my wife). We have lived apart long enough, and we are both looking forward to being under one roof. Rumor has it, that’s what married couples are supposed to do. It’s time for us to shack up. Secondary to my desire to be with my wife, is the truly rare opportunity to go back and lead a fire department where I spent most of my career. I’m leaving an incredible organization and going to another incredible organization. How cool is that? This is unique, surreal actually. I feel like I have discovered fire, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be so blessed. I certainly don’t deserve it.

I love this place, as I have said about a million times since I have arrived in 2008. Heck, I’m even getting pretty good (nearing NASCAR semi-pro status) at navigating the ever treacherous Interstate 70 commute. I have finally come to the conclusion that the reason folks drive so fast is that they are trying to get to the jobs they love so much, and just want to be the first one in the door. I can relate. That’s certainly my reason for risking my life every day.

As with many times in our journey, changing directions can be filled with a certain melancholy and sense of loss, and this is certainly the case for me. I have worked here for nearly seven years, and by most standards around here, I’m still considered a newcomer. But for me it has been a time of enjoyment beyond my expectations. It has gone by so quickly, and true to the old adage that “the days are long, but the years are short.” I will miss working in this place ... beyond measure.

Yes, it has been one heck of a good ride. Truly, I have it enjoyed it immensely. Thank you to my incredible staff/firefighters — you are all simply the best, and I will miss you sorely. Thank you to current and past Vail council members for believing in our mission and investing in your fire department. Thanks to your support, we have two new/newly renovated fire stations, a fleet of excellent fire apparatus and a professional, top shelf organization that any town would be proud to employ. In the last seven years, we have become stronger, smarter and faster. Stronger, due to our resolve, fitness and infrastructure. Stronger also in our position within the town of Vail organization and throughout Colorado. Smarter due to our emotional intelligence, academics, command and control operations and intentional leadership. Faster due to our overall response times, state of the art equipment, technical rescue capabilities and decision-making skills. Vail is a safer community due to the sum of all of the above. You can be proud — we certainly are.

I would like to acknowledge my boss, the town manager, for putting up with my persistent and perhaps even annoying requests for more staff, equipment and funds in my desire to take us from an average fire department to an excellent, enduring, ethical organization. Thanks, Boss. We are well on the way. Thank you to all my peers and every single town of Vail employee. You are rock stars, and I have been so blessed to work with and learn from you all.

My wife and I plan to join the ranks of second-home owners in the valley and will keep our home in Edwards. I will probably ski more now that I will be living on the Front Range than I did while living right here — funny how life works that way.

I have been telling my staff that the next fire chief of this organization will probably be smarter, more competent, taller, faster, younger and maybe even better looking (although I know many will find that hard to believe). I have been successful because I have surrounded myself with people smarter than me. I highly recommend it — they make you look good.

With that said, I’m outta here, but will see you on the slopes, or in the backcountry or at one of about 100 of our favorite restaurants. We plan to retire here, so save me a parking space. Love you all. Elvis has left the building.

Thank you for the honor of being Vail’s fire chief.

Happy trails.

Mark Miller was Vail’s fire chief and is the new chief of the Loveland Fire and Rescue Authority.

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