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Mountain Recreation: Together we are better

At Mountain Recreation, we believe that we have been entrusted with our community’s most prized possessions: your health, your families, and your tax dollars.

As part of finding new and relevant ways to best serve our community’s needs, we have found time after time that we are better together.

Thanks to partnerships across Eagle County we can approach programs and activities with our combined unique perspectives and areas of expertise. So far this year, this approach has allowed us to make programs and services more accessible, more affordable, more diverse, and best of all, more enriching.

Starting with our longest-standing partnerships, we recognize the town of Gypsum, the town of Eagle, and Eagle County. Their many contributions have broadened our reach across the valley, allowing us to provide year-round programming to thousands in the community. In return, our facilities also double as headquarters for those times the community comes together, whether for major community events or as emergency shelters in times of crisis.

Within each of these spaces, partnerships have provided new recreational and personal development opportunities to youth and adults.

We strongly support our youth and believe in their education, as it yields access to higher opportunities. That is why all our programs and activities are focused on complementing our valley’s school system. This means we have your back when there are late starts, when school is not in session — and new this year, even during classes.

Through our partnership with Eagle County Schools we are now able to provide teachers and students the opportunity to schedule free facility usage that complements their daily lesson plans. Additionally, we have established continuous year-over-year, free access to our facilities for middle schoolers during spring and fall break.

All of this begins with a healthy and balanced meal — which we recognize isn’t easily accessible to all and hope to better that. 

During the summer months, this means partnering with Eagle County Schools, Trinity Church, and Neighborhood Navigators for the Summer Lunch program. This program provides a free meal and activities for kids in Gypsum, Edwards, & Avon. Every child is welcome, no questions asked.

For meals during the school year, we were ecstatic to partner with Youth Power 365 and Eagle County’s MIRA Bus. We ran a month-long effort in helping bilingual communities up and down the valley to sign up for the Free and Reduced School Lunch program. This program not only provides a meal, but also waives high school AP exam fees, school sports & materials fees, as well as makes your children eligible for scholarships at Mountain Recreation and YouthPower365.

We would also like to recognize Alpine Bank and Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery for their long-time support of our youth sports leagues. Thousands of youth are able to participate in Gypsum, Eagle and Edwards every year for just $45 per league thanks to the support of those organizations.

Now that we have the bases covered: education, a balanced meal, and scholarships — let’s have some fun.

Have you heard about our new Video Production Series? Or family intro to camping? What about the new intro to stand-up paddleboarding, rock climbing, camping, multi-day backpacking trips? Or what about our new art camps, teen gardening camps, or Friday skate trips?

These new opportunities are a direct result of partners working together to deliver new and exciting experiences. These programs are possible thanks to our partnerships with High Five Access Media, Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement, SOS Outreach, CSU Extension-Eagle County, and more.  

As for serving adults, we have been steadily expanding our program offerings. Not only has the district expanded the number of fitness classes and improved its indoor facilities, but we have also added a number of other events of particular interest to adults thanks to our partnerships. This year, we held the Gypsum Rec Center’s annual Senior Day with Eagle County Public Health, hosted Mental Health First Aid workshops and a Public Charge Workshop on Nov. 12 and 13 with Neighborhood Navigators, and have planned a free full moon hiking and snowshoe series.

Why we don’t have all the space to recognize all our partners here, you can see why we believe we are better together. 

Thank you to our partners for helping us provide unique experiences for everyone in Eagle County. We recognize the importance of continuous learning, adapting to change, and being transparent to best serve you.

The door is always open. Visit us at the Gypsum Recreation Center, the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink, or the Edwards Field House if you or your organization would like to work together in shaping the future of our community.

Eddie Campos is the Content Marketing Coordinator at Mountain Recreation. Contact Eddie at ECampos@MountainRec.org

Voboril: The difference between can and should

Owing to a pernicious case of pinkeye, I just spent several blissful days holed up with Violet. Even that sweetest of little ladies is persona non grata in public when cursed with conjunctivitis. 

Our sequestration was not specifically productive for my caseload or her schoolwork, but that is not the only measure of achievement. Were our financial success measured in giggles, we would be awash in lucre. Interspersed with, and perhaps inspired by, the many hours of silliness were revelations that revealed the depth of Violet’s humor and intelligence. 

A grammatically correct household, we reverentially maintain the distinction between “can” and “may,” preserving the line between ability and permission that is sacrosanct to parents of a certain mind. Insisting on the use of “may” to seek authorization helps children understand that though they could theoretically accomplish something, it might not be the best idea to do so. A child might be physically able to stand up from the table but is not allowed to be excused because her grandfather still has food on his plate and stories on the tip of his tongue. 

This approach is perhaps tedious to youth and adults alike. But proper speech is highly relevant, it being the foundation for the polite exchange of ideas. It is no coincidence that the decline in formal diction is mirrored by a descent into vehement polarity. Words are not simply random; they are ciphers for larger issues. Transposing seemingly synonymous words is not always a harmless error.   

Consider the triumvirate of “can,” “may,” and “should.” We teach our kids that they can do anything to which they set their mind. Reality limits these possibilities, but there is still a wide swath of what can be accomplished. When they are younger, our children need assistance to distinguish between that which can be done and what may be done. While one can make the steps necessary to get to the park to play with that other kid, one may not because that other child loves throwing sand in people’s faces and the house is now out of eye rinse. 

As kids grow, they leave the constant presence of their parents and are subject to many outside influences. The opportunity to impose the external limitations inherent in “may” gives way to the need for the daughter to have the internal judgment necessary to evaluate whether she “should” do something. A child that reaches adolescence or adulthood thinking that “can” is the only necessary question is an unchecked id loosed on the world. Surely, you can think of multiple people who fit this description and you should remind yourself of their behavior the next time that you roll your eyes at correct grammar. 

You can eat, but you should be mindful of what you put in your body. You can speak, but you should not use your voice to demean others. You can drive a car, but you should not do so while texting. You can ski that line, but you should dig a pit and discuss risks with your partners before dropping in. You can drop megatons of bombs on a recalcitrant enemy, but you should attempt diplomacy before engaging military options. 

Of course, while separate words, their application can and should overlap. We can and should be kind to ourselves and our neighbors. We can and should do more to remedy the physical and social ills plaguing the globe. We can and should enjoy the ski season to come. 

T.J. Voboril is a partner at Alpenglow Law LLC, a local law firm, and the owner-mediator at Voice of Reason Dispute Resolution. For more information, contact Voboril at 970-306-6456 or tj@alpenglowlaw.com, or visit www.alpenglowlaw.com.

Financial Focus: Millennials may need to boost life insurance

If you’re a millennial — born between 1981 and 1996 — you’re either in the very early or relatively early stages of your career, and as the old song goes, you’ve got a lot of living to do. Still, it’s not too soon to think about a financial issue you may have overlooked: the need for life insurance.

Regarding this topic, Millennials need to ask three key questions:

When should I purchase insurance?

The answer to this question depends somewhat on your stage of millennial-ism. If you’re a young millennial, perhaps just out of college, single, and living in an apartment, your need for life insurance may not be that great. After all, you may well have other, more pressing financial needs, such as paying off your student loans. But if you’re an older millennial, and you’ve got a mortgage, a spouse and — especially — children, then you unquestionably need insurance, because you’ve got a lot to protect.

How much do I need?

Millennials who own life insurance have, on average, $100,000 in coverage, according to New York Life’s 2018 Life Insurance Gap Survey. But that same survey found that Millennials themselves reported they need coverage worth about $450,000, leaving an insurance deficit of approximately $350,000.

That’s a pretty big gap, but of course, these figures are averages and may not apply to your situation. Still, you should know how much insurance you require. You might have heard that you need life insurance worth about seven or eight times your annual salary. And while this isn’t a terrible estimate, it doesn’t apply to everyone, because everyone’s situation is different. A financial professional can look at various factors — your age, your marital status, number of children, size of mortgage, etc. — to help you arrive at an appropriate level of coverage.

Keep in mind, also, that your employer may offer life insurance as an employee benefit. However, it might be insufficient for your needs, especially if you have a family, and it will probably end if you leave your job.

What type of life insurance should I get?

Many people initially find life insurance to be confusing, but there are basically two types: term and permanent. As its name suggests, term insurance covers a given time period, such as 10 or 15 years, and provides only a death benefit. It’s generally quite affordable, especially when you’re young and healthy. Permanent insurance, on the other hand, offers a death benefit and a savings component that allows you to build cash value. Consequently, the premiums are higher than those of term insurance. Again, a financial professional can help you determine which type of insurance is most appropriate for your needs.

Thus far, we’ve only been talking about life insurance. But you may also need other types of protection, such as disability insurance, which can replace part of your income should you become ill or incapacitated. And you may eventually want to explore long-term care insurance, which can help cover you for the enormous costs of an extended nursing home stay.

You should at least consider all forms of insurance as part of your overall financial strategy. The future is unknowable — and as a millennial, you’ve got plenty of future ahead of you.

This article was written for use by Edward Jones financial advisors. Edward Jones and its associates and financial advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. Chuck Smallwood, Bret Hooper, Tina DeWitt, Kevin Brubeck, Charlie Wick, and Jeremy Lepore are financial advisors with Edward Jones Investments and can be reached in Edwards at 970-926-1728, in Eagle at 970-328-0361, 970-328-0639 or 970-328-4959 and in Avon at 970-688-5420.

Romer: Community engagement key to leadership development

People look to leaders to guide them in their actions. Good leaders are role models for the people they lead, motivating them, supporting them and facilitating communications among teams, resulting in better outcomes and higher service levels.

In business, good leadership translates to long-term success with high morale and a high rate of employee retention. In public entities, good leadership translates to effective and efficient public policy and stewardship of tax dollars.

The importance of leadership in both public and private society should not be underestimated. People look up to leaders to set the example and organizations often take on the personalities of their leaders. Good leadership helps shape a positive attitude, promotes harmony and facilitates maximum productivity. However, none of this happens by accident.

Vail Valley Partnership has made a commitment to the quality of Eagle County’s future. We are pleased to introduce Vail Valley Works as the premier local program for establishing, training, and supporting a network of aware and knowledgeable citizens ready to take on the challenges of an ever-changing community.

The quality of life in a community is at least partially determined by the quality of its public and private sector leadership. If a community is interested in creating change and supporting innovation, it will begin with a firm commitment to analyze its challenges and to identify, educate, train, and support a team of public and private sector community leaders to attack those issues.

Without that commitment, a community cannot develop the intelligent, creative, and energetic local leadership network that is essential for the community to achieve its full potential. Three different leadership development programs are available to help local organizations better engage in the community and grow their professional skills and networks.

Community Issues Bootcamp is an opportunity to learn about specific issues affecting our community including housing, health care, behavioral health, transportation, childcare, water, community sustainability and community resiliency. Each topic will be led by local and regional experts.

Community Leadership Academy is an experience for individuals looking to enhance their leadership capabilities and connect with like-minded professionals in Eagle County.

NEXT Vail Valley Emerging Professionals is an opportunity to meet with six dynamic community leaders, learn from their success and growth in this valley and grow your professional network.

Not only are these types of leadership and professional development opportunities good for people, but they are good for business too. Technology has helped create social networks but also has resulted in social isolation.

The increased availability of technology platforms means that in-person professional development and intentional community building is no longer something that is a “nice to have,” it is a “has to have.” Companies see the tremendous value when investing in employee professional development; they get happier staff who stick around longer and are more connected to the larger community. This is why we focus our programming on community building and the impact across industries and geographies is important to developing future leaders.

Why so many people are willing to devote so much time, energy, expense, and personal sacrifice to join communities to move the needle to build employee engagement and development? I think it is because well-structured, productive, and healthy communities bring out the best in people. Community engagement, leadership training, and professional development teaches us how to be better at what we do, how to solve problems, and how to build rewarding and lasting friendships.

That is a triple net win: it helps individuals, helps businesses, and builds stronger communities.

Chris Romer is president & CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com

Goldberg: Shaking down the rich is bad for democracy

Forget whether the math works. (It doesn’t.) Expecting billionaires to pay for all the nice things is bad for democracy.

One of the more exhausting rituals of presidential campaign season is the effort to make every new proposal “add up.” Sure, it’s better that politicians try to come up with a plan to pay for their wish lists. The problem is that the explanations are often a disguise that make the impossible seem possible, even practical. Fake budgets are the tribute that pandering pays to pragmatism.

You could confiscate the wealth of every billionaire and centimillionaire in the country and it wouldn’t come close to paying for Medicare for All or the Green New Deal.

But let’s pretend that the fantastical (albeit unconstitutional) wealth tax Elizabeth Warren has proposed would work as she claims. Let’s also stipulate that the wealthy wouldn’t respond by hiding their wealth, moving out of the country or cutting back in the sort of investments the government is utterly incapable of replicating. Let’s even concede for argument’s sake that Warren could get her plan through Congress and the courts.

Would that be good for the country?

Warren sees the rich as a natural resource that can be mined for its wealth indefinitely. Well, we have a lot of examples of countries that depend on natural resources to pay for everything. Saudi Arabia comes to mind. Oil revenues pay for almost everything. The problem with such societies is what political scientists and economists call “the resource curse” or “the paradox of plenty.”

It works like this: When the government doesn’t need the tax dollars of a middle class, the middle class has less political power. Virtually everywhere democracy has taken root, starting with England and Holland, it has done so because the middle class demanded representation in return for taxation. That was the heart of the whole “no taxation without representation” thing that led to the American Revolution.

The curse has an economic component as well. The countries that rely on natural resources tend to be poorer because they are less economically dynamic. Think resource-poor Switzerland versus resource-rich Venezuela. Exactly why this widely observed phenomenon works this way is debated, but part of it is surely that the existing stakeholders are hostile toward economic innovation. Another factor: When the state supports you, the incentive to support yourself — never mind be an entrepreneur — is dulled.

But the more important part is the democratic disincentive. Think of the old golden rule: Whoever has the gold makes the rules. (This insight apparently comes from noted philosopher Johnny Hart, the cartoonist behind “The Wizard of Id,” who coined it in 1965). When the bulk of tax revenues come from the people, or at least from the middle class, the government heeds the middle class. When all of the money comes from the aristocracy, as it did prior to the rise of democratic capitalism, the aristocracy made the rules. When it comes from the rich — aka “the donor class,” the “One Percent,” etc. — the rich care a lot more about the rule-making.

Today, the top 1 percent make roughly 20 percent of the money in this country and pay almost 40 percent of federal taxes. Meanwhile, 60 percent of U.S. households receive more money from the treasury than they pay into it. But Warren insists it’s the rich who aren’t paying “their fair share.”

Is it any wonder that our political system is so heavily influenced by the top 1 percent? Is it any wonder that the top 1 percent feel so incentivized to get involved in politics? The more skin you have in the game, the more you care about the game.

The left used to understand this. For generations, they opposed means-testing Social Security because they wanted it to be a broad American entitlement, not a form of welfare.

Americans are practical. When told that the rich can pay for cool stuff, they say “go for it.” When asked if they want the cool stuff so badly that they’d be willing to pay more themselves, they’re much stingier.

The danger of promising that the rich can pay for everything is multifaceted. First, it’s not true. Second, you don’t have to be a student of public choice theory to understand that the more Washington behaves as if it’s true, the more the wealthy will intervene in our politics. And third, the more citizens believe that a small group of undeserving wealthy people are denying them nice things, the uglier our politics will become.

Jonah Goldberg is editor-in-chief of The Dispatch and the host of The Remnant podcast. His Twitter handle is @JonahDispatch.

Hauser: Welcome to the CMC family, Salida

Earlier this month, we witnessed a historic act: For the first time since 1981, a new community has voted to join the Colorado Mountain College special taxing district, while simultaneously the existing CMC district has invited them in with open arms (nearly 80% voted yes). On behalf of the CMC Board of Trustees and all our employees and students, we welcome residents of the Salida School District, which includes both Salida and Poncha Springs.

The last time this happened was 38 years ago, when Steamboat Springs joined CMC in a similar fashion.

What does this mean for residents throughout the existing CMC district? When leaders in Salida reached out to CMC it was clear the college district had much to gain.

The Salida area has a lot in common with other CMC communities. It includes Monarch Mountain ski area and numerous outdoor outfitters that serve thousands of anglers and boaters who frequent the Arkansas River. It is a business and government center for the Arkansas River Valley and has been designated as a Certified Creative District by Colorado Creative Industries, a division of the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade. (Four of the seven CCDs in the state are within CMC’s total nine-county service area: Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, Grand Lake and Carbondale.)

The demographics are favorable to supporting a local college campus. Salida’s birth rate is growing faster than the death rate, suggesting that the community is becoming younger and attracting younger professionals with children. As those children get older, they will be looking at their local college for postsecondary education.

The Hispanic immigrant population in Salida and Poncha Springs is growing steadily and significantly. The expected growth in this population indicates strong potential enrollment across programs.

And adults living within the Salida School District have more education than the state average, which mirrors other CMC communities. This provides a local pool for qualified and talented faculty and staff.

What does this mean for Salida-area residents? When earlier this year CMC conducted a feasibility study about the potential annexation, Salida made perfect sense.

The area has been in the college’s service area for decades but Salida’s options were limited. High school students could take college-level courses at no cost to them, but the school district paid the higher tuition rate of $170 per credit hour, rather than the in-district $80 rate. The state, and the college’s accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission, restricted the number of courses that could be offered.

Salida’s economy is similar to the rest of CMC’s region, so the college has deep experience preparing the workforce for what our mountain communities need: the outdoor recreation industry, health care, tourism and hospitality, snow sports and more. Employers who have been struggling to fill vacancies in a fast-growing economy need a postsecondary partner to train current workers and hometown employees with the skills and education needed for their businesses to thrive.

The only age group in Salida with negative growth is that of 18- to 20-year-olds, suggesting that high school graduates generally leave the community for college due to the absence of local higher education opportunities. These students can now attend college at home — or at any of the college’s 11 other campuses in mountain resort towns much like their own including Steamboat Springs, the Vail Valley, Rifle, Breckenridge, Dillon, Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Leadville. They can now earn one of the nation’s most affordable bachelor’s degrees and one of Colorado’s lowest-cost associate degrees.

Thank you to voters in Salida and those across CMC’s vast geographic footprint for saying “yes” to the future of your local college. To the Salida School Board, volunteers who knocked on hundreds of doors, to local elected and public officials, and so many others who believed in something bold, you did it! Congratulations.

David Delaplane, CMC’s “founding father” who is 92 years young, wrote to me on election night expressing his genuine pride and noting the similarities between Salida’s annexation journey and the college’s founding by a similar process. Local residents voted yes on Nov. 2, 1965, creating a college to serve the central mountain region of Colorado. And, they just did it again on Nov. 5, 2019. History in the making.

Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser is president and CEO of Colorado Mountain College. She can be reached at President@ColoradoMtn.edu or @CMCPresident

School Views: A few words of thanksgiving

Recently I had an opportunity to meet with resort community superintendents from across the western United States. In speaking with leaders from Jackson Hole, Crested Butte, Sun Valley, and Telluride, I gained perspective about what separates our community from others.

Few get to experience the network of support comparable to what we enjoy in Eagle County. We are fortunate and grateful to have such a supportive community that prioritizes education for all. 

We are wrapping up three years of construction and renovation made possible by Eagle County voters who approved general obligation bonds by voting for 3B in 2016. Our schools are safer, brighter, and more connected than ever before. We have replaced high-mileage school buses and made sure that all students have access to computers and technology.

We also have made improvements in working conditions by increasing salaries, decreasing class sizes, restoring programs, and ensuring all students have access to school counselors. These changes were made possible with voter support of 3A, a mill levy override, in 2016. 3A sunsets in 2023, but as our progress has shown, the local investment is essential to maintaining quality schools. The state has made a few adjustments to its funding formula but is still requiring schools to rely on local support, so the future renewal of 3A will become critical for our continuing success.

Since the recession, state funding, though increasing a little each year, is still way below the funding established by Amendment 23, with legislators legally reducing funding with the inclusion of a negative factor into their formula, which they call budget stabilization. This reduction has cost Eagle County Schools over $60 million since 2009-10. The 3A mill levy override helps to offset this loss in funding and goes to our primary goal of attracting and retaining quality educators and support staff.

Local nonprofits contribute another layer of support. Walking Mountains Science Center, SOS, Mountain Youth, Mountain Recreation, Cycle Effect, Red Ribbon, Bright Future Foundation, YouthPower365, and Vail Valley Partnership all provide essential services for students. They pick up where Eagle County Schools stops and extend learning opportunities for all. The combination of great community schools and amazing after-school support and enrichment services leads to a robust and exciting student experience for our children.

We also enjoy significant support from local businesses. Among the most consistent partners are Vail Health, Vail Resorts, and the Gallegos Corporation. Students also receive substantial emotional support from Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, MindSprings, and the Hope Center. These organizations are critical to establishing a community-wide network of social-emotional supports for Eagle County youth. Dozens of other local companies have partnered with Eagle County Schools to provide internships and apprenticeships for local youth. They are helping create career-ready graduates who are prepared to make meaningful contributions to the workforce.  

Colorado Mountain College is another significant partner with the school district. The college developed a bachelor’s degree program for education that includes on-the-job internships in our schools and prepares future generations of teachers right here. We hired CMC’s entire first graduating class! In addition, we offer dual enrollment and advanced placement courses for students where they get college credit and high school credit, without parents having to pay for college tuition. Over 30% of our high school students take advantage of this unique offering.

I’m humbled to serve in a community so committed to creating an outstanding educational experience for our young people. Countless parents also volunteer in schools and participate in various programs supporting our schools directly and indirectly. Thank you for all you do to help our students succeed.

Philip Qualman is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools. Email him at philip.qualman@eagleschools.net

Thistlethwaite: God in politics

There have been a lot of references to God in the history of American politics, some perhaps cynical, some likely sincere.

Today, however, a very dangerous way of invoking God in politics has emerged. This is epitomized by Paula White, Donald Trump’s so-called “Spiritual Adviser.” She has recently joined the White House staff to lead the Faith and Opportunity Initiative, a division of the Office of Public Liaison.

White has taken to praying “against” the president’s opponents, and she suggests they “operate in sorcery and witchcraft.” Really. We should recall that for centuries charges of sorcery and witchcraft generally meant one is in league with Satan, and those charges have gotten a lot of innocent people killed.

White is a proponent of what is called the “Prosperity Gospel,” the controversial theology that claims God wants all Bible-believing Christians to be healthy and wealthy. In the God and politics mix we see in the U.S. today, “Prosperity Gospel” is a view found among many evangelicals, though not all, and it is a view held among Trump’s so-called “base.”

In general, this “base” is the Christian-identified, broadly “evangelical” and overwhelmingly white demographic that voted for Trump by 81 percent in 2016. These people still significantly support Trump, despite the sexual and political scandals that have rocked this administration. White’s role now, it seems to me, is to keep shoring up the president’s “base” through such polarizing political theology.

White represents an alarming, and frankly appalling, direction for God in politics. She is becoming a poster child for the part of white, Protestant evangelicalism that has, in my view as a Christian pastor and teacher, completely sold out its religious mission to a narrow political agenda. This kind of Protestant evangelicalism has lost its Christian faith and become a branch of the Republican party.

Paula White’s “prayer” about the president’s “enemies” is quite different from the kinds of prayer and spiritual advice American presidents have received from evangelical pastors before. For 50 years, the Reverend Billy Graham, who used to epitomize American Protestant evangelicalism, met with, prayed with, and presumably advised each president, Democrat and Republican, up through President Barack Obama. But Reverend Graham never once publicly, to my knowledge, condemned any president’s “enemies.” In fact, in 1989, in his prayer at the inauguration of George H. W. Bush, Rev. Graham prayed to God to give the new president “the wisdom, integrity and courage to help this become a nation that is gentle and kind.”

Some evangelicals are starting to wake up to how their faith has been twisted and corrupted by this political identification. Ben Howe is a self-described conservative Republican and Protestant evangelical, son of a preacher, and the author of the new book “Immoral Majority: Why Evangelicals chose Political Power Over Christian Values.”  They have become “snake oil salesmen,” as Howe writes, and describes himself as “stunned.”

As the effects of this corruption of white Protestant evangelicalism were starting to become clear in the election of Donald Trump, more than 300 Christian theologians and pastors, myself included, met at a church in Boston. We issued a warning and a call to Christian evangelicals to repent of this substitution of conservative politics for the Christian faith. We asked such evangelicals to “believe in the Gospel.”

I spoke at a press conference at this event about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Christian pastor who was arrested and ultimately executed by the Nazis for his opposition to Hitler. Bonhoeffer condemned the German Christians of his time for their “cheap grace,” that is, their selling their faith to gain political power in Hitler’s Germany.

I said: “The Christianity Bonhoeffer denounced is the Christianity we denounce today. It is a Christianity that literally enables hate, hate for people of color, for immigrants, for those of other religions, for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender human beings, for women and girls, for the poor and the most vulnerable among us.

“And why do these so-called Christians do this? Not out of obedience to the teachings of Jesus, because Jesus taught the exact opposite of their hate-mongering. No, they do it for power, for political gain.

“Jesus asks, ‘What does it profit you to gain the whole world and lose your soul?'”

I called on those kinds of evangelical Christians, and, indeed, I call on all of us who ascribe to the Christian faith to embrace the good news of the Gospel.

“The good news, and it is very good news, is an invitation to turn away from greed and turn toward love of neighbor.”

That call has become ever more urgent in our time.

I believe God weeps for such hatred and division promoted in God’s name. And we should weep too.

Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite is President and Professor Emerita of Chicago Theological Seminary. She and her husband now make their home in the Vail Valley.

Robbins: New York Times v Sullivan is a seminal case in American law

During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, the New York Times published a full-page advertisement by supporters of Martin Luther King Jr., entitled “Heed Their Rising Voices.”  The ad criticized the police in Montgomery, Alabama, for their mistreatment of civil rights protesters.  The ad also contained a number of factual inaccuracies, such as the number of times King had been arrested during the protests, what song the protesters had sung, and whether or not students had been expelled for participating. 

Although he was not named in the ad, Montgomery police commissioner, L.B. Sullivan, had his hackles raised. He claimed that had been defamed! But whoa there, pardner. Before seeking punitive damages in a libel action, Alabama law required a public figure to first demand a retraction.  So Sullivan hoisted up his quill and dispatched a written request to the Times asking it — politely one presumes — to publicly retract the ad.

A couple of quick asides for context. There are two kinds of defamation: slander which is spoken and libel which is written. Defamation itself may be defined as a false and unprivileged statement of purported fact that is harmful to someone’s reputation, and disseminated “with fault,” meaning as a result of negligence or malice.  As distinct from “compensatory” damages, which are meant to restore one to his or her prior condition after an alleged “loss,” “punitive” damages are meant to punish, set an example or send a message. 

When, the Times said, “Nah. Nothing to see here,” and failed to dull the burrs that had gotten beneath the commissioner’s saddle, he sued the Times and a group of African American ministers mentioned in the ad. Knowing which side his grits were buttered on, Sullivan “home-courted” his action, bringing suit in the cozy confines of the local county court. 

In the charged atmosphere of the 1960s, the result was predictable. The judge ruled that the ad’s inaccuracies were defamatory “per se,” and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Sullivan, awarding him $500,000 in damages. In this milieu, “per se” may be thought of as “inherently.”

 The Times appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court of Alabama, which, again — perhaps predictably — affirmed it. It then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. And there is where the rubber met the road.

The question teed up for the court’s consideration was this: did Alabama’s libel law unconstitutionally infringe upon the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and freedom of the press protections?

To sustain a claim of defamation or its squirming polliwog, libel, the First Amendment requires that a party knew, in deciding to publish the information, that the statement was false or reckless. 

‘Actual malice’

The Supremes were unanimous, holding in a 9-0 decision that news publications could not be liable for libel to public officials unless the plaintiff met the exacting standard of “actual malice” in the publication of the false statement. The rule of law applied by the Alabama courts was found unconstitutional for its failure to provide safeguards for freedom of speech and of the press, as required by the First and 14th Amendment.

The decision further held that the evidence presented in the particular case was insufficient to support a judgment for Sullivan.

Writ large, what the court ruled was that “the First Amendment protects the publication of all statements, even false ones, about the conduct of public officials except when statements are made with actual malice (with knowledge that they are false or in reckless disregard of their truth or falsity).”

In particular, the decision allowed newspapers greater freedom to report on the widespread chaos and police abuse during the Civil Rights Movement. More broadly, the decision opened the doors to the press to criticize or otherwise comment upon all public servants or officials.

In Sullivan, the Supreme Court adopted the term “actual malice” and gave it constitutional significance.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Black explained, “‘Malice,’ even as defined by the Court, is an elusive, abstract concept, hard to prove and hard to disprove. The requirement that malice be proved provides at best an evanescent protection for the right critically to discuss public affairs and certainly does not measure up to the sturdy safeguard embodied in the First Amendment.”

Following the Sullivan decision in 1964, the Supreme Court extended its higher legal standard for defamation to all “public figures” (not just public officials). Because of the high burden of proof on the plaintiff and the difficulty of proving the defendant’s real knowledge, these decisions have made it extremely difficult for a public figure to win a defamation lawsuit in the United States.

Sullivan opened up the doors to a free“er” press and helped remove the fetters from the Fourth Estate.

From the lips of Benjamin Franklin, “Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government: When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics and limited monarchies derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.” 

From Thomas Jefferson, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” And Jefferson again, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

Sullivan assured that the press must be free, especially to criticize those in power.

It does us all well to remember the essential role of a free press — as the founders wished it to be — in today’s all-too-contentious political huff and swirl.

Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the bars of Colorado and California who practices in the Vail Valley with the law firm of Stevens, Littman, Biddison, Tharp & Weinberg LLC. His practice areas include business and commercial transactions, real estate and development, family law, custody and divorce and civil litigation. Robbins may be reached at 970-926-4461 or at his email address, robbins@slblaw.com.

Haims: Good news on diabetes

Chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease cost the United States about $3.8 trillion a year. While heart disease and cancer together cause about 1.5 million deaths, and cost the U.S. about $375 billion a year, diabetes is responsible for under 100,000 deaths and costs the U.S. about $237 billion.

There are two types of diabetes — Type 1 and Type 2. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is not producing enough insulin and therefore causes blood sugar levels to be high. When blood sugar cannot get into cells, it builds up in the bloodstream and damages the body. Type 1 diabetes affects about 5% of people with diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is different. In Type 2, the body loses its ability to respond to insulin. While it may develop in children, it most often occurs in middle-aged and older people. The good news is that you can take steps to prevent or delay the development of Type 2 diabetes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the U.S. prevalence of diabetes of people between 8-79 years of age peaked in 2008/2009 when there were about 1.7 new cases per year. By 2017, cases of diagnosed diabetes declined to about 1.3 million new cases a year.

Determining the explanation for this decrease most likely lies in a combination of education from sources like the National Diabetes Prevention Program in addition to health awareness and changes in lifestyles.

Though diabetes affects many parts of the body including the heart, eyes, gums/teeth, kidneys and nerves, one part of the body that often is affected is the feet. Losing feeling and experiencing numbness in the feet often occurs over time. This is sometimes the result of a condition called diabetic neuropathy.

One of the types of diabetic neuropathy is called peripheral neuropathy. This is the most common type and most often affects the feet and hands. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Numbness or reduced ability to feel pain or temperature changes
  • A tingling or burning sensation
  • Sharp pains or cramps
  • Increased sensitivity to touch — for some people, even the weight of a bed sheet can be agonizing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of reflexes, especially in the ankle
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Serious foot problems, such as ulcers, infections, deformities, and bone and joint pain

A diabetes diagnosis can be daunting, but a simple attitude adjustment can make a world of difference in how well you fare while living with the disease. By proactively taking steps to monitor key health indicators, experts agree that it’s possible to prevent some of the most severe risks of diabetes, including lower limb amputation.

Tips from the American Podiatric Medical Association:

  • Inspect your feet daily, checking the entire foot and all 10 toes for cuts, bruises, sores or changes to the toenails, such as thickening or discoloration. Treat wounds immediately and see your podiatrist if a problem persists or infection is apparent.
  • Exercise by walking, which can help you maintain a healthy weight and improve circulation. Be sure to wear appropriate athletic shoes appropriate for the type of exercise you’re doing.
  • When you buy new shoes, have them properly measured and fitted. Foot size and shape can change over time, and ill-fitting shoes are a leading cause of foot pain and lesions. Certain types of shoes, socks and custom orthotics are available for people with diabetes, and they may be covered under Medicare. You can find a list of podiatrist-approved footwear and products for people with diabetes on the APMA website.
  • Keep your feet covered and never go barefoot even at home. The risk of cuts and infection is too great.
  • See a podiatrist to remove calluses, corns or warts — don’t tackle them yourself. Podiatrists are specially trained to address all aspects of foot health for people with diabetes.
  • Get checkups twice a year. An exam by your podiatrist is the best way to ensure your feet stay healthy.

To learn more about foot care for people with diabetes or to find a podiatrist, visit www.apma.org.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. Contact him at www.visitingangels.com/comtns or at 970-328-5526.