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Here even enemies can be friends

Don Rogers

Ceil Folz grimaced when she saw me. In a pleasant way, I swear. So of course I made sure to sit next to her at the Eagle County Board of Commissioners session a couple of weeks back.The executive director of the Vail Valley Foundation and I have opposing views on an issue for the moment. But that will change. Eaton Ranch will pass, as open space where it belongs or where we don’t need it, too. I don’t hold having the wrong views against people.If anything, I’ve found since Bob Little sat on me in a schoolyard fight in fourth grade, disagreement has a way of helping us understand each other better. Treasure your fights, short of improvised explosive devices. They can make bonds stronger rather than weaker. This has happened to me time and time again, including becoming best friends with the big kid who sat on me.Today Eagle County Commissioner Peter Runyon and I will have lunch. I know from experience that I’ll enjoy it thoroughly and get lots of insights – about life as well as county issues.I’m sure we’ll discuss the Eaton Ranch purchase as open space that Peter sees as serendipitous. I’ll happily argue that’s just another word for rash. He likes to use shades of gray as his metaphor for weighing out the county’s decision to overspend to save the gravel pit in downtown Edwards as open space. Even to the point of emptying the entire open space piggy bank of $3.8 million and dipping into the county’s general fund for $2.2 million more.For him, buying the land at that price shades right. I’m sure I’ll remind him that seeing gray just means you’ve lost the perspective to distinguish among the root blacks and whites. Besides, I’m not the one pretending the issue is all open space or none at all. That’s not the argument here.The same open space committee that had just one dissenting vote against spending $2 million to help preserve the 5,000-acre Bair Ranch in Glenwood Canyon was split 6-5 in favor of Eaton. One of those six, Tom Edwards, explained in a commentary later that he favored developing part of the Eaton land and preserving the important part along the river. Even open-space advocates who supported Peter’s candidacy for office do not universally agree about the wisdom of Eaton. Those shades lean the other way for plenty of people who have made the effort to sort through it.Most telling to me is the open-space grant application to Great Outdoors Colorado that concentrates on 16 acres along the Eagle River instead of the full 72-acre property. Ceil and Peter and the rest pushing for this deal know that GOCO is highly unlikely to award $500,000 for a gravel pit, even with a skin of grass atop. And the cost of premium downtown Edwards land would be among the most expensive per acre that GOCO has ever awarded. I’ll try to keep this in mind while Peter schools me on the many errors of my viewpoint here. And he will. I’m sure I’ll encourage him to be assertive about the county’s interest in “Ginturn,” a developer’s bid for Minturn to annex 5,300 acres on up to Red Cliff for a gated community that would dwarf the existing town.He might suggest I scale back on some of my rich imagery while calling out the residents to get themselves involved sooner rather than later. Of course, Peter and Commissioner Arn Menconi can and perhaps must treat the Minturn leadership as if veritable statesmen. I don’t suffer from this illusion. The people are going to have to make their voices heard or the rest of us can watch that gorgeous land become swarmed with so many little castles, a golf course and maybe even a gated ski hill, too. I look forward to being proven wrong about that.But then, I can’t have this view because Vail Trail Editor Tommy Boyd hasn’t seen me in Minturn. I don’t drink with his invisible, anonymous militia. Still somehow, I am familiar with the Boo’s burrito at the Turntable, best breakfast place around, where the ladies who work there still call people “hon” and seem to mean it. And I’ve eaten at the Country Club just enough to know it offers the best steak anywhere. I’ll have to compliment Tommy on his column last week in the Trail. And congratulate him on finding common ground with conservative nemesis Michael Cacioppo. Who’d a thunk that possible?Michael and Tommy apparently share the belief that if you did not sit in on a discussion or decision, or see an event unfold, well, you just cannot have an opinion about it.By their own logic, Tommy and Michael cannot weigh in on Iraq, President Bush, anything Congress takes up, anything the state Legislature takes up, CU events, Vail Resorts decisions. … You get the drift. Of course this is absurd, sophistry.I’ll look forward to Tommy limiting his musings to his favorite CDs, the workday drive and the quality of his meals and drinks in Minturn. Let’s hope that like Michael in his heyday, Tommy can manage to get pulled over by the State Patrol, grabbed by an angry teacher or have some other misadventure we all can follow through the courts. Alas, Speakout is gone with Michael to Mexico for at least the winter.But I’ll miss reading what Tommy thinks I’m thinking about whatever issue it is that I’m not supposed to have a thought about. Got that?His predecessor, David Williams, had the same channel into my brain for many commentaries over the years. “Being Don Rogers.” Flattering. But there’s a lot more insight to be had sticking to personal musings about favorite CDs and places to eat. I’m fully aware that I’m just not that interesting. I need all these people I’ve named above, whom I genuinely like and admire, along with the many others here who enrichen my life beyond measure.Consider that in places like Iraq, your political opponents will try to kill you. Here, we can argue more or less amiably over lunch, our weaponry limited to words. We can even be friends. Now, are we blessed or what?Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 600, or editor@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado


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