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Letters to the Editor

Don’t buy it

In a moment of high irony, Eagle County Commissioner Tom Stone informed the Board of Commissioners of a potential conflict of interest that he expects to have, as he plans to enter into an upcoming business deal with ASW, the Miller Ranch housing developer.

He did this on the very day that the Vail Daily quoted Stone as proclaiming that there was a potential danger of “extreme undue bias” for any member of the Eagle Valley Land Trust to sit on the county’s open space citizens advisory committee.



Stone would have you believe that his noble gesture would set a good example. Don’t buy that for a minute. His ploy was nothing more than an insurance policy to protect a large payday that took place on Dec. 23, 2003, from the closing of a land sale between the Miller Ranch developer, ASW, and the owners of Cotton Ranch. This is a relationship first reported 18 months earlier by the Vail Daily on June 13, 2002.

Stone was mentioned prominently in that article, as the appearance of a conflict of interest issue had been raised. The conflict was that ASW had entered into an agreement with the county to develop homes at Miller Ranch and Stone was a transactional broker involved in the ASW-Cotton Ranch deal. That’s when Stone should have fully disclosed his relationship to the developer, ASW, and recused himself from any county meetings and decisions on Miller Ranch.



A year and a half later, the Cotton Ranch deal is finally closed and Stone has had not only a significant payday, but also expects to make even more money with ASW by acting as the listing agent on the sales of new homes. In that long wait for a sales commission check for the ASW-Cotton Ranch deal, Stone has aggressively overseen many critical aspects of the Miller Ranch development.

While he might protest loudly that he has always acted in the public’s best interest at Miller Ranch, even the most detached observer could reasonably ask, was Stone able to remain fair and objective at all times? When it comes to the public trust and public money, even the appearance of a conflict of interest is cause for concern.

I have discussed this issue, at length, with experts in the media, real estate and legal professions. The key debate here should be sharply focused on the ethics and legality of Stone’s actions. At best, there appears to be a strong breach of ethics. At the worst there may be possible grounds for legal action ranging from failure to disclose a conflict of interest to first degree official misconduct.



You don’t need a law degree to understand that even though there was a year and half interval before closing the transaction, Stone’s involvement, no matter how limited, creates a very real conflict of interest. An interest that Stone never disclosed.

Tom Stone has continued his jihad, beyond reason, to derail the Bair Ranch open space proposal. While he rails against the open space committee members’ conflict of interest, he sees no problem in his own dubious behavior. This is a commissioner-Realtor who has not so subtly tried to use his political position for personal advantage. While the Bairs and the Eatons didn’t buy into it, it looks like the management at ASW did. And that’s certainly not ASW’s fault. They’re focused on sensible business opportunity, not the ethical baggage brought on board by Stone.

We’re all adults here and I’d like to think we’re realistic in understanding that there are certain advantages and temptations that exist at the nexus of business and politics. We’re pretty generous and forgiving as an electorate and, more often than not, willing to give public officials the benefit of the doubt.

Tom Stone has depended on this benign neglect from the voters and has artfully danced along the fine margins of ethics as it’s suited his own aims.

Let’s clear the air on this once and for all. I believe the public’s interest is best served to have a thorough, independent investigation and accounting of Stone’s past relationship with ASW. The most appropriate agency to do so is the District Attorney’s Office.

Concurrently, I would urge Commissioner Arn Menconi to again introduce a code of ethics for the county to adopt, to eliminate any future ambiguity on how the commissioners should conduct themselves in office. Perhaps this time the other commissioners will finally agree that putting in place a code of ethics not only is in the public’s best interests, but also in theirs.

Don Cohen

Edwards

Disease is fact

How sad that Alice Pankey (“Obvious disregard”was so “heart-wrenched” over a letter that pointed out that many people who enter our nation illegally might also carry a disease organism.

If Ms. Pankey will do a Google search on the key words “chagas” and “tuberculosis,” she will learn that students in Michigan, Pennsylvania (also home to deaths from Hep-A from Mexican-grown onions), Texas and Washington have contracted this disease that had been erradicated from our nation in the 1940s but has been on the upswing since immigration started to increase in the 1970s, but now down to a “low” of 16,000 new cases in 2000.

She may also learn that some of these TB strains are resistant to all but the most expensive medications. She will be disturbed to note that the University of New Mexico researcherstarget migrant workers and illegal crossers as possible carriers of TB. “It’s unreasonable to think that tuberculosis cases in Mexico can’t or won’t be reflected in bordering areas of the United States.”

Chagas disease is even more troubling, as it infects 18 million and kills 45,000 a year in Latin America, which provides most of our illegal alien population. It is transmitted through blood and feces-to-food contamination. Moreover, since there is no test to determine if a person is a “silent” carrier, our blood supplies are at risk.

There are plausible health as well as economic and civic reasons for our nation to screen immigrants before entry. These diseases, as well as the tens of thousands of criminal aliens who hide within the communities formed by the millions of illegals in our nation (or is it a “homeland”?) are reason enough to rebel against the price we in the general population pay for the “cheap” labor. Well, that’s all the racist venom I can fit into one letter.

Barbara Vickroy

Escondido

Rescue in China Bowl

With the current atmosphere of prevailing Vail bashing, I am motivated to get a note off to express admiration and great respect for all involved in an event that took place Saturday, Feb. 7, at the base intersection of Poppyfields and Jade Glade in China Bowl.

It is my understanding that a woman skier sustained spiral fractures of both her upper and lower leg while skiing down Poppyfields, adjacent to Chair 21.

After securing the area from other skiers, a helicopter was swiftly flown in from Summit County, meeting Vail Ski Patrol at the intersection of these two runs, avoiding what would have been at least an hour and a half toboggan and multi-chairlift trip to the medical center at the base of the ski resort.

What I find tremendously impressive is the ability for several independent factions to pull together quickly and flawlessly, in the coordinated execution of a pinpoint targeted rescue that I am told took eight minutes to fly in from Summit County. Upon arrival, almost immediate pain relief was administered to this critically injured skier and she was immediately whisked to appropriate medical attention.

Vail Resorts ski patrollers, the U.S. Forest Service, probably the FAA and a likely cast of “unsung heroes” who are never recognized for

their ability to provide this kind of response deserve to be applauded for adding the kind of value that makes Vail Resort justifiably the number one place to ski in at least this country.

Lloyd Skougor

East Vail

Suppose

Suppose our president had told us – soon after he was elected – that he had decided to depose Saddam Hussein because he was a terribly evil man. And that he also told us the truth that despite his strong suspicions, there was no hard proof that Iraq still had weapons of mass destruction or that they were a nuclear threat, nor did they have proven ties to Al Quaida. Following that, that he patiently explained to us that the war would cost many American lives and a great many more Iraqi lives. That he also told us that it would cost many billions of dollars each year and he didn’t know for how long.

Furthermore, he could have also explained, that in all fairness to our active servicemen, our “reserves” and our National Guardsmen that he would have to restart the draft. He should have also mentioned that a general increase in taxes would be required so that the financial burden wouldn’t be passed on to the next generation. In short, he should have told us that significant sacrifices would be required.

If we had been told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, does anyone think that we’d be stuck in Iraq begging the much maligned United Nations to come and bail us out?

David Le Vine

Avon

Sex sells; duh

As I picked up this morning’s USA Today, I wasn’t surprised to see yet another article on today’s censorship of network television.

Apparently, ABC is taking the liberty of cutting a 15-second sex scene out of a recent “NYPD Blue” episode, which will air an hour earlier than previous broadcasts.

After Janet’s tacky attempt at a comeback, the major networks are naturally taking more precautions airing indecent material during hours when children are more likely to watch.

Network producers are certainly frustrated by the new crackdown. “NYPD Blue” producer Steven Bochco called ABC’s action “lame.” John Wells, “ER” producer, is claiming the cable channels now have an unfair advantage. He’s wining more producers and viewers will flee “to HBO and other cable outlets that do not censor responsible storytelling.”

What it all really boils down to is writers and producers will now have to use creativity instead of sex and nudity to capture their viewers’ attention.

Too many people today forget what a powerful medium the television actually is. TV is our primary societal influence. Why else do you think companies and corporations pay around $6 million for a 60-second spot during a football game?

TV is channeled into our living rooms, dorm rooms, offices, kitchens and bedrooms every day, all day long, showing us what to eat, what to drive, what movies to watch, what music to listen to, who to vote for, where to vacation – the list goes on and on. It’s like our menu of individuality. What we see is what we get.

I don’t understand why people think all the violence and sex on TV has absolutely no effect on our children and teenagers.

A nipple is still a nipple. We all have them, right? No big deal. But what most people are missing is the context of the performance. I read somewhere Justin said he’d have Janet naked by the end of the song. With one rip of her shirt, Justin unveiled to presumably millions of young viewers how he treats women.

Sex and boobs are great, but not on network television between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Sex is easy and it sells. That’s why the producers are complaining. It’s not like the FCC is taking any freedoms away from Americans by censoring a TV show. After all it’s really just a TV show. It’s not like sex is now illegal. We’ve got the Internet, strip clubs, adult stores; what more do you want? I’m sure Bochco and Wells can come up with other ways to present the story minus the steamy sex scene and brief nudity. I personally hope more is done to censor and get rid of all the trash on TV.

Joseph W. Struyk

Sheldon, Iowa

Temporary resident of Vail


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