Editorials

September 30, 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.

MISS: From a reader to Jason Glass, superintendent of Eagle County Schools. “Silly you, Dr. Glass. Charter schools are public schools. It is my understanding that the Eagle County Charter Academy was built with $13 million. Perhaps it is your support of the union that costs taxpayers $40 million?”

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Vail Daily column: A special goodbye

September 30, 2014 — 

Her name was Amber. She was in her 30s, engaging and pretty, with a beautiful smile. She called the fire station a couple of months ago with an unusual, but compelling request. You see, Amber’s husband was a firefighter, and he died in the line of duty in Shawnee, Kansas.

It was a tragic event, and one that we, as firefighters, accept as part of the job. Her husband, John, was savvy, energetic, creative and only 33. He and his crew were called to a house fire that day. They arrived on scene to find a “working fire” in the home, and the neighbors reported that they thought the occupants were still inside. John and his crew entered and soon found the family dog, rescued it, brought it outside and then returned to look for occupants, going off the neighbor’s word the family may still be inside. Turns out, they were not.

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Vail Daily column: Improved website debuts

September 30, 2014 — 

The next couple of articles (including this one) will focus on two exciting changes coming for Eagle County Schools. First, an entirely redesigned website, designed to both engage and make life easier for our parents, students and staff. Second, our new strategic plan — just approved by our Board of Education — which lays out our multi-year approach to turn Eagle County Schools into an education powerhouse of globally competitive status.

In this article, I’ll provide some context and background for our website redesign and our larger communications strategy. Next week, we’ll go deep into the strategic plan.

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Vail Daily column: Idiocy is as idiocy does

September 29, 2014 — 

I, ladies and gentlemen, am an idiot.

Now wait, I know what you’re thinking, “Hey Richard, we’ve known that for years now. Why act like it’s such a brilliant revelation.”

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Vail Daily column: Celebrating Eagle’s future

September 28, 2014 — 

Greetings to the residents of Eagle and the surrounding Eagle community. On behalf of the Town Board, we invite you all to the Eagle Town Hall for three exciting upcoming events. The first event is a Community Visioning Workshop for the Eagle River Corridor Subarea Plan. This meeting will be held at Eagle Town Hall from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday.

We have heard for years that many citizens of Eagle desired to improve the river corridor and build a whitewater park in our town. Earlier this summer, the Town Council held a two-day board retreat and prioritized the study of the Eagle River as one of the top 10 items on the town’s to-do list. In addition, we traveled to Salida and Buena Vista to meet with their town leaders to understand how those communities have developed river amenities and what these improvements have meant to their towns.

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Vail Daily column: Fight for a fair deal

September 27, 2014 — 

President Barack Obama’s primary aim is make the U.S. a fairer nation. His policies decrease income disparity and help the disadvantaged. He believes a more socially just country produces a stronger nation, even if the wealthiest 1 percent pays higher taxes.

“Fighting for a fair deal for every American,” reports historian Walter Isaacson,“goes to the core of what he (President Obama) believes, rounds out the narrative of his presidency, secures his historical legacy and leads naturally into what is likely the be the mission of his post presidency” (Time magazine, “Don’t run out the clock,” Aug. 25).

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Vail Daily column: Colorado Mountain College is reaching new heights

September 26, 2014 — 

During my first nine months with Colorado Mountain College, I have traveled and spent considerable time at all 11 of our campuses and learning locations spread across 12,000 square miles of our picturesque state. I have spent countless hours with CMC students and employees, elected and government officials, business and community leaders, educators, thoughtful citizens and taxpayers. All of these groups exemplify the very best of Colorado’s past and future, from the bold determination and imagination of the college’s early pioneers to the generosity of our philanthropic donors, local businesses, property owners and public sector partners. Without exception, I am convinced of their deep commitment to our state’s Western Slope and to the education of its people.

For nearly 50 years, the mission of Colorado Mountain College has been clear — to provide access to an affordable and high-quality college education, right here in the beautiful central Rockies, to anyone who enters our doors. CMC has fulfilled this mission with distinction for generations, and will continue to do so, though the ways it will be accomplished will evolve to meet the changing needs of our communities.

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Vail Daily Hits and Misses

September 24, 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.

MISS: From a reader to “the town of Minturn’s mayor several weeks ago proclaimed in an Vail Daily article that the town would save a $100,000 a year with the new law enforcement contract with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. Great! However, it is very apparent that this agreement did not include speed limit enforcement — the “Leadville 500” continues to thrive. Where is Chief Martinez when he is needed?”

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Vail Daily column: A guide to election issues

September 24, 2014 — 

Two education-related measures will appear on the ballot this November (or October for those mailing their ballots). The first is Amendment 68, which would change the state constitution to allow gambling at a select number of horse-racing tracks in Colorado. The second, known as Proposition 104, would amend state law to require school employee bargaining be open to the public.

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Vail Daily column: There’s little reason to fear Vail Resorts

September 24, 2014 — 

We’ve been reading a bit of the (Park City) Park Record’s coverage of Vail Resorts’ recent purchase of Park City Mountain Resort. As you’d expect, there’s a bit of unease on the part of residents and business owners there. We’re here to help ease some of that nervousness.

The Vail Valley has been through the queasiness that comes with changes in the structure of our bread and butter as a community a handful of times since Vail Associates became Vail Resorts in the 1990s.

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Vail Daily column: Donating for death

September 22, 2014 — 

“The world is looking to us, the United States of America, to come together and save these people.”

These words were spoken last week with the greatest of sincerity by our commander in chief, assuring us, along with the rest of the world, that once again Americans can be counted on to help solve the world’s biggest issues of the day.

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Vail Daily column: It’s election season

September 21, 2014 — 

The Nov. 4 general election is less than two months from now, and we are busy preparing the ballot and testing the voting equipment. This year’s ballot will ask voters to choose between candidates in federal races for the U.S. House and Senate. Statewide races include governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer and Colorado House and Senate. County offices up for election are Commissioner District 2, Commissioner District 3, sheriff, clerk & recorder, treasurer, assessor, surveyor and coroner. Town of Avon voters will choose four members to serve on their Town Council. The towns of Red Cliff and Basalt both have several questions. There will also be several statewide amendments and propositions.

This election will be a mail ballot election, and ballots will be mailed automatically to all registered active voters at their mailing address on record. If an alternate address should be used, please contact the Clerk & Recorder election department as soon as possible because by law, ballots cannot be forwarded. Ballots will be mailed on Oct. 15.

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Vail Daily column: Leaders improvise

September 21, 2014 — 

Critics mistakenly assumed President Obama was caught flat-footed when the Islamic State militants, also known as ISIS or ISIL, blitzkrieged unchecked across Syria and northern Iraq. Caricaturing the president as a bumbler in Middle East foreign policy, they said he admitted as much in late August. President Obama then declared that the U.S. would ramp up a military response to the Islamic State’s attacks but had to wait because “we don’t have a strategy yet.”

Now, it’s clear why the president didn’t plunge ahead militarily against the Islamic State jihadists. He wanted to form an Arab coalition to fight its common enemy—the Islamic State. Moreover, the president agreed with House Speaker John Boehner’s (R., Ohio), caution in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt. Although the president possesses power on his own to order airstrikes in Iraq, “it’s questionable whether he has the authority to do this in Syria,” said Boehner.

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Vail Daily column: Investment sets stage for Edwards project

September 18, 2014 — 

Over the past decade and with the support of the Edwards community, Eagle County and the Colorado Department of Transportation have made great strides toward improving vehicular and pedestrian access along the Edwards Spur Road. Phase I of a multi-year project included four roundabouts between Berry Creek Road and Miller Ranch Road. The results have provided a successful and sorely needed solution to traffic flow in the area, but there is more work to be done.

The effort to improve access in and out of Edwards began in earnest in 2003, when Eagle County entered into an agreement with the Department of Transportation to design improvements to the Edwards Spur Road, naming it the Edwards Interchange Upgrade Project. In 2004, a conceptual layout was developed and the project was divided into two phases, with Phase I encompassing the area just south of the Interstate 70 interchange to Miller Ranch Road and Phase II stretching from Miller Ranch Road to U.S. Highway 6.

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Vail Daily column: Making time for service

September 18, 2014 — 

The piles have grown piles, the plate loaded to spilling, the workday packed to the point a black hole might become a real possibility.

It’s always busy around here, one of the great charms of a career in news media, which tends to attract crazy ADD types who thrive on dealing with way too much all the time.

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Vail Daily column: Eagle County’s teacher leaders

September 16, 2014 — 

Eagle County Schools is an organization with a longstanding commitment and a lot of experience with teacher leadership. Specifically, over a decade ago Eagle County Schools began implementing a system to create leadership roles for talented teachers. These positions, called mentor and master teachers, came with added work days and responsibilities as well as meaningful pay bumps.

When the system was first implemented, it followed in the footsteps of a growing national program called the Teacher Advancement Program, or TAP. Here, much of the attention (and initial resistance) focused on the system’s performance-based compensation and evaluation approaches.

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Vail Daily editorial: A bit of good news

September 16, 2014 — 

Given the state of the world right now, we could all use a bit of good news, and there’s some wonderful news right here in our little valley.

The folks backing the Castle Peak Senior Care Community a few days ago announced they’d hit their fundraising goal of $4.4 million. That helps clear the way for construction to start this year on a senior care facility in Eagle, near Brush Creek Elementary School.

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Vail Daily column: Vail Resorts’ quest for world dominance

September 15, 2014 — 

Pinky: “Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?”

The Brain: “The same thing we do every night, Pinky — try to take over the world!”

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Vail Daily column: The road back to State Bridge

September 14, 2014 — 

Highway 131 out of Wolcott rose north, twisted, then sank and there it was, the Colorado River, slipping through the valley like Father Time, silvery with sun twinkle and quiet as forgotten memories until I dropped the window and the babble and gush and chill rushed in.

I eased my pickup truck over the bridge then turned right, slowly crunching down the dirt road once home to State Bridge Lodge. The old structure was long gone now, burned down nearly a decade prior by forces undetermined, foul play suspected.

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Vail Daily column: Don’t strangle compromise

September 13, 2014 — 

James Madison believed congressional leaders’ most significant trip forced them to meet each other halfway. The Constitution’s architect framed the founding document so that mutual concessions resolved political debate. Former President Bill Clinton sounded Madisonian when he recently said, “If you read the Constitution, it ought to be subtitled, ‘Let’s make a deal.’”

In contrast, Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz (R-Texas) rejects going down the road of compromise. He tells congressional leaders to take a hike if they dare bend principles around public policy that works for both sides of the aisle. Cruz rarely stops at verbal yellow lights, which signal to proceed with caution. He acts as if he seldom needs to stop haranguing or listen to opponents and catch up with new insights. He sounds like Sen. Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina) did in the 1970s, barring fresh views from disturbing their pre-conceived notions.

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Vail Daily column: Transparency needed in our food supply

September 12, 2014 — 

I am happy to announce that the hard work of over 500 grass roots volunteers across the state along with some paid circulators have been successful in placing GMO labeling on the ballot in Colorado this fall as Proposition 105.

It was at times a difficult task collecting signatures as our petitioners, exhibiting their First Amendment constitutional rights, were often asked or told to leave festivals, farmers markets, concerts and other events around the state by event organizers, local government officials and local law enforcement authorities.

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Vail Daily column: Planning a complete community of care

September 11, 2014 — 

What comes to mind when you think about Eagle County? Many tend to think of our community — and more specifically, the Vail Valley — as a destination resort, but that perception has changed since I arrived here in 1990. More and more people fall in love with the mountains and want to live here permanently. I think that’s a good thing — but we must now offer people something that allows them to stay.

Eagle County offers remarkable opportunities to live a well balanced life that includes hiking, biking, fishing, skiing and numerous other physical activities. We also have a thriving cultural community that celebrates the creativity of local residents. People here are in tune with nature and understand how mind, body and spirit are connected to health and wellness.

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Vail Daily column: Rivals for governor take ring

September 11, 2014 — 

Bob Beauprez won the show handily. No debate there.

Quip. Meat of the question. Quip. Delivered with the punch of complete certainty, in short sentences. Blue suit, red tie. No wasted movement.

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Vail Daily column: 13 years later

September 11, 2014 — 

I start getting the chills around this time every year. Part of it is due to the seasons’ transition; another element is also due to the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. I was in the Washington, D.C., area during the event. It’s a day I’ll never forget. I will probably reflect where the world is and the status of the al-Qaida and jihadist movement around this time every year for the rest of my life — 2014 is no different.

The period between Sept. 11, 2013, and Sept. 11, 2014, was a transition period for al-Qaida, its affiliates, and the jihadist movement.

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Vail Daily Hits and Misses

September 10, 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 short, sweet leaf season. And then, and then, the season that attracted so many to begin with …

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Vail Daily column: Evaluation as the quality killer

September 10, 2014 — 

Fueled by federal grant money and state policy, education systems across the United States (including Colorado) are engaged in a large-scale effort to dramatically improve the quality of teachers and principals through evaluations.

These evaluations go where no school system has gone before in that they require the use of student outcomes (in many cases, standardized test scores) to be heavily weighted in the overall merit rating.

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Vail Daily column: Service in Harvey’s DNA

September 9, 2014 — 

Calling the police has usually never been a positive thing for me. The first time I was assaulted on the job happened nearly five years ago in Utah. I had been incapacitated by my attacker and was fortunate to have a well-trained staff that knew how to respond to the emergency. The local police department responded quickly, for which I was grateful. Associating the police with this particular event still raises my heart rate every time I see an officer. I was grateful, but also scared. That fear and memory of violence from this event and others largely caused me to avoid the police for several years. I know they are on my side, but it was the association with the event that made me cautious.

In fact, until I moved to the valley, I viewed the police with what I considered to be a healthy suspicion of authority. I, like many of us, had heard exaggerated stories of inappropriate policing and use of power. I had decided that I would only have necessary contact with the police as a result.

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Vail Daily editorial: When buffalo rumble

September 9, 2014 — 

We’ve been watching with somewhat detached interest the legal wrangling between Vail Resorts and Powdr Corp. over the fate of the ski area in Park City, Utah. But if your interests lie in that part of the Beehive State, then your interest, and concern, is very real.

The Associated Press reports that a Utah judge last week ruled that Powdr, which operates Park City Mountain Resort, must pay Vail Resorts a $17.5 million bond to continue to operate this winter. Vail Resorts holds a lease on virtually all of Park City’s skiable terrain.

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Vail Daily column: Round and round we spend

September 8, 2014 — 

Vail did “it” first.

The year was 1995, if I remember correctly.

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Vail Daily column: Does government mess up the works?

September 7, 2014 — 

Since our nation’s birth, Americans have debated what’s the right balance of citizens’ rights, states’ roles and the federal government’s responsibilities.

How does the federal government work for the common good without overreaching? President Ronald Reagan answered that “government is the problem.” A majority of the Greatest Generation, however, depended on government to lift them out of the Great Depression. Led by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, they believed capable government functions like grease on a car’s gears. It makes the motor of progress hum by filling human needs. Government is part of the solution, claimed FDR.

President Barack Obama sides with Roosevelt. He’s instructed also by Reinhold Niebuhr, the preeminent intellectual who taught at Manhattan’s Union Theological Seminary from the 1930s to 1960s. Niebuhr coined an aphorism about the unjust human condition and government’s responsibility to rescue victims from its plight. Using sexist language common to his era, Niebuhr declared, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”

President Obama takes this aphorism to mean that government acts as a referee, making sure citizens are treated fairly and have a chance to improve their lives. Giving the 2011 commencement address, the president alerted Notre Dame University graduates to be wary of “voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s the root of all our problems, even as they [Washington’s bureaucrats] do their best to gum up the works.”

He challenged Notre Dame’s graduates to nurture a positive, practical political will. Use it “to harness the ingenuity of your generation, and encourage and inspire the hard work of dedicated citizens … to repair the middle class; to give more families a fair shake; to reject a country in which only a lucky few prosper.” Citizens working hand-in-hand with government improve society.

Theologian Leonard Sweet’s sports analogy exposes a faulty argument used by perfectionists who frown on government. “Every baseball team could use a player who never strikes out and who never makes an error,” observes Sweet. “The problem is getting them to put down their hot dog and come out of the stands and into the field.” Like Sweet, the Apostle Paul advocated government’s strategic place in civil society, even though the Roman regime had deficiencies: “Let every person,” he advised, “be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1).

U.S. history teaches about the value of government’s place in our lives. President John Quincy Adams, who served from 1825-1829, had no chance to win a second term because of conservatives’ fierce backlash against his conservation measures.

In 1828, Adams preserved 1,378 oak trees on Santa Rosa Island in Pensacola Bay. The president wanted to use this wood to construct naval ships.

Presidential contender Andrew Jackson sounded like conservatives today who rail against expansive government. He lambasted Adams’ tree-farm as a federal land-grab, robbing Florida’s citizens of timber rightfully theirs. Jackson’s partisans dubbed him “Old Hickory” because he didn’t bend to government pressure to further the common good by preserving trees to build naval ships. Where does the Constitution explicitly give government tree-farming rights, fumed conservatives?

Today, try selling this specious argument to citizens who vacation in Sequoia National Park, which the federal government preserves and protects.

President John Quincy Adams irked conservatives when he proclaimed a controversial “visionary agenda” in his December 1825 State of the Union message. He proposed the federal government spearhead the first national transportation infrastructure, calling for new roads, canals and bridges. In addition, Adams wanted government to fund a national university, establish a naval academy, send an exploratory expedition to the Oregon Territory and build an observatory to scan the universe.

During the 1820s, political adversaries objected to these visionary public services because the Constitution didn’t specify them. They denied the government’s constitutional implied powers.

Biographer Fred Kaplan reveals why Congress hamstrung John Quincy Adams’ administration. Washington officials accomplished little because conservatives believed the Constitution delegated very limited powers to the federal government.

“Jefferson and Madison had come to power, Adams noted, by attacking Washington and [John] Adams ‘under the banners of state rights and state sovereignty. They argued and scolded against all implied powers but such as were expressly delegated by the Constitution. They succeeded. Mr. Jefferson was elected President of the United States, and the first thing he did was purchase Louisiana. An assumption of implied power greater in itself and more comprehensive in all its consequences than all the assumptions of implied powers, in the twelve years of the Washington and [John] Adams administrations put together’” (John Quincy Adams: American Visionary, p. 363, 2014).

Conservatives’ anti-government arguments in the 1820s sound ludicrous today. They bashed government-sponsored canals, highways, bridges and reforestation, messing up the works.

Today, similar anti-government rhetoric gets a wide hearing because of historical amnesia. But it doesn’t convince President Obama who taught constitutional law and has mastered U.S. history.

The Rev. Dr. Jack R. Van Ens is a Presbyterian minister who heads the nonprofit, tax exempt Creative Growth Ministries (www.thelivinghistory.com), which enhances Christian worship through dynamic storytelling and dramatic presentations aimed to make God’s history come alive.

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