Editorials

Vail Daily column: That distant roar

January 28, 2015 — 

The stadium will be completely full. Thousands upon thousands watching one of the biggest events in sports — at least here in the United States. Millions more will be joining in bars, restaurants and in their own homes. Last year, the Super Bowl had more than 100 million viewers. This year, the viewership will be as big if not bigger.

We eat wings and open up a few cold beers. We put on a jersey with someone else’s name on the back.

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Vail Daily Hits and Misses

January 28, 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 the “Lack of lights and pothole repair at the I-70 east entrance from Minturn to Vail, just west of the Forest Service station. For over a year now, the pothole and lights have not been repaired here. It’s a dangerous situation with the exit from I-70 side by side with the entrance to I-70. It is just a matter of time that an auto gets on I-70 going in the wrong direction as it’s very dark here. And the pothole is likely to cause an accident when the entrance is snowy or iced over.”

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Vail Daily column: A path forward for tests

January 27, 2015 — 

Last week, I wrote about some of the significant changes in the education policy landscape at the state and federal level which may result in some reduction in the number of mandated and standardized accountability tests that Colorado students are required to take.

In this column, I’ll discuss the theoretical framework (or big ideas) that led us into the testing system we currently have and I will suggest a path forward for policy makers in Colorado to consider.

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Vail Daily editorial: We’re ready

January 27, 2015 — 

It’s just about party time. The world is coming for a visit — the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships — and folks in the valley have spent years cleaning, primping and generally putting our best face forward for thousands of visitors.

Vail, which will host many, if not most of the Championships’ non-racing events, has done its usual spectacular job of making its entrances warm and welcoming this season in all-American red, white and blue.

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Vail Daily column: Does curiosity shape your life’s story?

January 24, 2015 — 

World War II code-breaker Alan Turing’s curiosity made his tomorrows more vital than his yesterdays. This mathematical genius’ story unfolds in the movie “The Imitation Game.”

In it, Turing runs laps around his laboratory peer group. His intellect proves threatening to some British military superiors. The film depicts Turing taking breaks from his top-secret think-tank. He loves to run all-out. As he sprints, Turing invents mind games about how to break the German’s secret code. Its puzzle aroused his curiosity to solve it.

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Vail Daily column: The Slush Cup

January 23, 2015 — 

After personally narrating my fourth annual feature-length ski film in Seattle in October 1953, my sponsor, Scott Osborne, suggested that I come up and film the Slush Cup on Mount Baker during the Fourth of July weekend the following summer. I was still very upset from having just lost my young wife to cancer of the spine. I told Scott I would be there if I could find a sitter for my son for the few days of the trip.

I certainly was not prepared for what the Northwest had to offer in photo opportunities with the first-of-its-kind in the world, Slush Cup. This was no build-a-pond with a bulldozer and a sheet of plastic and then fill it with water, but rather a genuine glacial pond full of 34-degree melted snow and floating icebergs that by the end of the day would also see many barely floating but really freezing skiers full of anti-freeze.

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Vail Daily column: Did Avon hear the voters?

January 22, 2015 — 

Avon’s voters just said no. Decisively. Unequivocally.

They didn’t say “no” to an arcane question of financing that might have made the Skier Building cheaper to buy.

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Vail Daily column: This might be your moment

January 22, 2015 — 

The year was 334 B.C., and 120 ships carrying around 75,000 men sped across the Hellespont (now known as the Dardanelles) into Persia. At the head of the army was a 22-year-old king who would forever change the cultural landscape of the Middle East, the Mediterranean and western Asia.

As the ships drifted into the sands of Persia, and the army readied itself on land, Alexander made a legendary strategic decision that has been mimicked and debated by millennia of warriors, leaders and modern executives.

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Vail Daily column: The road ahead for Vail

January 21, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: The following is excerpted 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.

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Vail Daily Hits and Misses

January 21, 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: To Lindsey Vonn breaking the career mark for most World Cup wins last weekend. All she does is build on the legacy from here.

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Vail Daily column: Major shifts in testing

January 20, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: This article is the first part of a two-part piece on student testing.

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Vail Daily editorial: Let voters decide

January 20, 2015 — 

We expected more partisan discord in the Colorado Legislature this session, and it was quick to appear.

The Colorado House of Representatives is still controlled by Democrats, while the 2014 general election gave Republicans a bare majority in the Colorado Senate. The first issue to come up was, predictably, spending, specifically, the prospect of refunding money to state taxpayers for the 2015 tax year.

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Vail Daily column: Je suis befuddled

January 16, 2015 — 

I’ve thought about writing on this topic for some time now, but I was reticent to do so until a very dear friend sent me a copy of a letter he had written to the editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Tom and I frequently discuss politics and world events, and when he visits the valley, he’s even been known to voice his opinions right here on the pages of the Daily.

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Vail Daily column: Martin Luther King’s unpopular anti-war protest

January 16, 2015 — 

On April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King broke ranks with his closest civil rights advisors and the American public. Speaking in Manhattan from the Riverside Church’s pulpit on the explosive theme, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” King protested the war.

Many Americans were up-in-arms over King’s protest. They branded him a communist sympathizer whose message of peace was impractical and unpatriotic. King didn’t apologize for his unpopular anti-war stance. “I anticipated some of this (reaction against his anti-war protest),” King unflappably replied, “and it doesn’t bother me at all.”

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Vail Daily column: Will Avon politicians listen to the voters?

January 16, 2015 — 

With Tuesday’s vote looming, the “facts” in the Skier Building drama are now changing faster than we can keep up with them. Residents of Avon have been hearing about this issue since November, and no one seems to be any more enlightened than they were two months ago — myself included.

After reading two excellent pieces in Thursday’s paper (by Laurie Adler and Jack Hunn), I remembered a conversation I had with a council member just after the new year and felt compelled to share my own greatest concern: Does our vote even matter to begin with?

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Vail Daily column: I can see clearly now

January 16, 2015 — 

As you know from my previous column, I urge residents of Avon to vote “no” on the Skier Building referendum. My hope, and those of other concerned citizens, is that a “no” vote will lead the Town Council to abandon its plan to acquire the Skier Building. My previous column focused on the value of the Skier Building. It seems appropriate to now review a renovation of the existing Town Hall, drawing upon information contained in the executive session report to the Town Council from September, which is available online:

• Renovation of existing Town Hall: Quoting directly from the executive session report: “Cost estimates range from $2 million to $2.25 million for a complete renovation of the three floors (of the existing Town Hall) ... including a new HVAC system. ... The cost to renovate Town Hall versus finishing the Skier Building are comparable on a square foot basis.”

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Vail Daily column: Know the facts about the Skier Building

January 15, 2015 — 

Should Avon taxpayers approve the use of certificates of participation (Ordinance 14-17) to purchase the Skier Building?

Facts:

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Vail Daily column: Lots of concerns about Skier Building

January 15, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: This is the second of two parts.

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Vail Daily column: Why Avon should just say no

January 15, 2015 — 

Some of Avon’s leaders plainly are in a stampede to buy the Skier Building.

In their fever, they have:

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Vail Daily column: Why waste taxpayer money on purchase?

January 14, 2015 — 

It doesn’t matter how the Skier Building is financed — it is not a smart investment for Avon taxpayers. The town of Avon is using taxpayer money — without citizens’ approval — to buy a new costly Town Hall that is unnecessary and a waste of our money. There are too many unanswered questions and not enough transparent answers to justify this.

• Why did the town sign a purchase agreement for the Skier Building for $3.2 million with no parking when the town’s own appraiser valued it at $2 million with no parking?

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Vail Daily column: Vote ‘no’ on Skier Building

January 14, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: This is the first of two parts.

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Our View: Town hall hardly a field of dreams

January 13, 2015 — 

Avon officials and others express enthrallment with the notion that town halls bring life to downtowns. After all, residents do come to Town Hall on occasion. Some do business they still don’t feel comfortable completing online or prefer human contact with municipal officials. Sometimes more than a handful will attend council and planning commission meetings.

Not like a grocery store, coffee shop, restaurant, movie theater or rec center, of course. Or a popular retail store, like, say, Sports Authority. Or even a library.

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Vail Daily column: Partners in kids’ education

January 13, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: This column was co-authored by John McMurty, director of development at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute.

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Vail Daily column: No more time for tolerance

January 13, 2015 — 

“We have avenged the prophet!” shouted the delusional mass murderers in Paris last week.

Yeah, well, now reality has avenged the rest of us from your cold corpses.

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Vail Daily column: Sound wall would benefit residents

January 11, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: The following is Part 2 of a two-part 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.

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Vail Daily column: Bounce back when on the ropes

January 11, 2015 — 

Former heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali became a dangerous fighter when his plight in the ring turned dire. He feigned losing the bout by backpedaling from his onrushing opponent and leaning on the ropes. Ali’s forearms covered his midsection. Gloves pushed together protected his face.

Then his opponent unleashed a flurry of punches. Few connected to Ali’s gut or head, where they could register serious damage. Ali countered with an occasional jab, conserving his strength. He called his defense “peek-a-boo,” because he eyed the opponent between gloves bunched around his face.

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Vail Daily column: Clock is ticking on underpass project

January 9, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: The following is Part 1 of a two-part report from the Vail Homeowners Association. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. Visit www.vailhomeowners.com for he electronic version with links to supporting documents.

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Vail Daily column: A life reclaimed

January 9, 2015 — 

In the mid-1950s, there was a Sun Valley ski patrolman featured in my annual ski film. I had movies of him rocketing straight down the Christmas Bowl Ridge towing a toboggan. After the audience got used to his high speed, I casually mentioned that he only had one leg.

I was very surprised the next morning when the telephone rang in my Utah hotel room and it was a man named Ed Siegel who wanted to take me to lunch. I have a reputation for never passing up a free meal and at lunch at explained two things: One, he had lost his leg just below the knee when had broken his leg skiing and, two, as a chronic alcoholic, it led to him not taking care of his broken leg and as a result it had to be amputated below the knee.

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Vail Daily column: Avon’s ‘facts’ keep shifting

January 8, 2015 — 

The town of Avon’s “Fact Sheet” about the Skier Building referendum this month has changed. Facts asserted before were not in fact, facts.

You have to wonder. If town leaders have this much trouble with a “fact sheet,” how thorough have they been with, in lawyer’s parlance, the true facts of their bid to buy the Skier Building?

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Vail Daily column: Values matter in Avon

January 7, 2015 — 

When I was growing up, my parents always taught me that values matter. Two of those values were telling the whole truth and being honest with one’s self and others. I believe that these values are lacking in the town of Avon’s potential acquisition of The Skier Building. My points are as follows:

• The Skier Building does not have adequate parking to meet current zoning requirements. The town’s appraisal stated that the value of The Skier Building without the requisite parking was $2 million. Eric Heil, the town’s attorney, wrote in a Sept. 18 memo to the town that “it should be noted that the town is the only potential buyer of The Skier Building, which can meet parking requirements off site, at this time.” This statement acknowledges that the building lacks value without parking; that is, no third-party investor would be able to purchase the building for commercial use if he or she did not also purchase parking rights from the seller’s associated project. Yet the town wants to pay $3.2 million, which its own appraiser stated was the value of the building with parking. Might voters and attendees of the town meetings on The Skier Building have had a different view if they were privy to the town lawyer’s memos on the parking issue? Is it correct that an arm’s length, third-party investor should have to live with a parking requirement, but the town can simply waive this requirement for itself?

• KPMG was commissioned to conduct a replacement cost analysis of The Skier Building for the seller. In its appraisal, KPMG included soft costs of $262,554 (these are overhead, fees, etc.), a developer’s profit of $577,619 and the skier statue at $75,000 as part of this $4 million valuation. The total of these three items is $915,073. Do you think the town should include $915,073 in these irrelevant costs in its review of a seller’s appraisal? When you as individuals seek to acquire real estate on your own behalf, do you put faith in a valuation set forth by a seller? Do you want to recognize developer’s profit on a never-completed building as relevant to an acquisition analysis? Why does the town keep referencing an inflated replacement cost analysis by a seller to justify its price? (“We met in the middle so that must be good.”) So when the town tells us that we should put credence in an appraisal that includes $1 million in specious inclusion, are they telling the whole truth and being honest with themselves?

• Under the current restrictions in place, The Skier Building’s ground floor can only be used for retail purposes. With no demand for retail in this area, it is no wonder the seller neither finished the building nor has been able to sell it to date. However, the town plans on lifting this restriction once it owns the property. Isn’t that convenient? The town would not let others waive the retail requirement, but it will do so (like the parking) for itself. This retail restriction significantly impacts the property’s value to a third-party purchaser. Again, if the town had disclosed this issue previously, voters might have had a different opinion on the value of this property.

• The town’s justification for purchasing The Skier Building is that it fits with a 2007 Town Center District Investment Plan, which also states that the existing Town Hall is too small for the town’s current needs. As we all know, 2007 was the height of a real-estate market that came crashing down. Most of us have had to adjust to a different reality since then, but somehow that reality hasn’t filtered down to the town. In reading town information available online, the town states that it currently needs only 11,000 square feet of space, which is more than available at the existing Town Hall. So the 2007 town report is outdated both in terms of where the real estate markets have transitioned, as well as because of its current space needs. As the town digitizes its files, one would expect that its space needs would fall even further. And the existing Town Hall can most likely be repaired and upgraded for a cost closer to $2.5 million, or almost $3.5 million less than it wants to spend on The Skier Building. Once the Police Department is relocated, the town would have more than adequate space in its existing facility.

• Buz Reynolds, one of Avon’s Town Council members, states that he will personally be involved in overseeing the completion of The Skier Building. With respect, where was Buzz when the town’s pavilion budget almost doubled? And why did Buz either not know or not inform the Town Council that it can renovate its existing building without having to trigger an upgrade to new building construction code? In terms of valuation, Buz seems comfortable with a seller’s appraisal that includes $915,073 in costs that should be irrelevant to a savvy purchaser’s analysis. So why does he take comfort in providing a hefty “developer’s profit” to the seller? Does he know that the seller most likely is carrying The Skier Building on its books at less than $3.2 million, so that it will recognize a large gain on the sale of an asset where “the town is the only potential buyer of The Skier Building, which can meet parking requirements off site, at this time?” Buz also states that the COP vote is not one that will determine whether the town purchases The Skier Building but rather only how the town finances it. If you as the voter decide to vote “no” on the COP financing, why wouldn’t Buz take this as a signal that the voters of Avon do not want the town to purchase The Skier Building?

• Finally, let’s put this replacement cost analysis to bed. One can argue all he or she wants about what something would cost to construct. But what something costs is not relevant to a real estate investment decision. If what you constructed is unsalable because your parking doesn’t meet code and your ground floor can only be leased for retail purposes and there’s no demand for retail, how is replacement cost relevant? How many ill-conceived real estate projects were foreclosed upon and even torn down in the past 20 years because they were constructed in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong amenities (or lack of amenities)? By waiving its own retail and parking restrictions, the town has magically created a huge windfall for the seller that it could never achieve on its own. It has literally created value (and therefore profit) for a developer by paying for something that no one else can create or value (parking and transforming retail space into municipal space). Rest assured, this project is being carried on the seller’s books at far less than what is being paid. So the seller benefits immensely here. Finally, if we adopt the town’s view that replacement cost is relevant, does that mean that if a destination resort hotel is built at the Eagle airport, its value must be what was invested in constructing it? This is like the Field of Dreams — if we build it, value will come ...

Values matter — they matter in terms of honesty and transparency. They matter as to the true value of The Skier Building. As residents, voters and taxpayers of and in Avon, we deserve to know the facts that are all available online in the town’s Sept. 23 meeting notes. We shouldn’t have to hunt for them. We should be told all of the background on this controversial building, and we should be better represented in how our tax dollars are spent. Simply stating, as Mayor Fancher did, that this acquisition will not raise taxes, is not a high enough standard. If it were, then perhaps the mayor should hand out $100 bills in the Town Center next to that gorgeous wood structure and statue of heaven knows what, because handing out that money won’t raise taxes.

Vote “no” on the referendum, which our Town Council will hopefully recognize means, “Don’t acquire The Skier Building.” Because if they do acquire it, then like that $75,000 skier statue that comes with the building, it will all be downhill from there.

Mark Kogan, a retired Goldman Sachs partner who has handled tens of billions of dollars in commercial real estate investments in his career with the firm and for his multi-generational family real estate business, is a full-time Avon resident.

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