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Letters to the editor

Michael Gallagher

Dear Friends and Neighbors:In early April, I wrote to you concerning my candidacy for re-election as your county commissioner. At that time I informed you of a persistent neuropathy (nerve disease) that was affecting my ability to serve you.I have spent the last few weeks at the Mayo Clinic seeking advice of their medical experts for diagnosis and treatment. Unfortunately, I return with more questions than answers. The disease cycles; during the “good” times I can work fully, while during the “not good” times I must limit my activities and availability to only the most important meetings and for only a few hours a day. This is at least a full-time job, and I believe that you deserve better from those you have trusted to work for you.There is no strong indication (though I continue to hope) that my health will appreciably improve in the near future. I believe that improvement is necessary for me to ask for your confidence in an election. Therefore, I will not be a candidate for re-election to the seat of commissioner for District 1. I will not seek to be on the ballot by petition.This is a heart-breaking decision for me. Painful because of my sincere affection for each of the great employees in the county shops and office with whom I have been blessed to work, as well as my genuine fondness for each of the citizens whom I have been blessed to serve.As of today, I am still your servant, still your county commissioner and I am still working for you and your good. I will make every effort to continue in your service until the end of my term. And I look forward to what manner I might work to serve you in the future.I have, and always will, hold the good of the people of Eagle County as the highest goal of any decision I make as your commissioner. The good of the people is much more important than self, popularity, or political correctness, or even political party. I encourage you to examine all of the candidates with this in mind.I thank you for your love of Eagle County along with you continues prayers and support for my recovery.Michael GallagherEagle County commissionerPerspectiveThe preservation of open space, almost by definition, deserves a long term perspective. Words such as “in perpetuity” or “for generations to come” always seem to accompany the consideration of specific open space proposals, and rightly so. It’s only appropriate to view such efforts through a 50- or even a 100-year looking glass. Come with me then, to the year 2024, a mere 20 years hence. As we look back at the funds that the thoughtful citizens of Eagle County have used to preserve that which is important to them, we find that the mill levy now generates $7 million annually. Back in the year 2004, shortly after the funding was initiated, that number was only $3 million a year, but thanks to a little inflation and some modest real growth in Eagle County, the annual allocation has more than doubled. In those past 20 years, at an average of $5 million a year, a total of $100,000,000 has been spent preserving dozens and dozens of sites in a myriad of fashions. Some of the decisions were no-brainers, while others were more complex, and in some cases even controversial. But one thing we know with our 20/20 hindsight, because the decision was made to preserve the Bair Ranch (way back when), 4,800 acres that mark the western gateway to Eagle County is NOT a collection of homes, condos or commercial development. We know that it is not generating lots of traffic, nor putting ever more demand on our limited water resources, nor straining the environment in other ways. It may be a dude ranch, it may be a working ranch, it may just be empty, quiet land that nobody even walks on. Regardless of what it is, though, we know for sure what it is not. As we look back those short 20 years, can there be any question that $2 million allocated in the year 2004 wasn’t money well spent? Rob LeVineYes on BairThis past Saturday I went to the Bair Ranch to find out for myself why any Eagle County resident would be opposed to spending this year’s county open space funds on purchasing a conservation easement there. Please note that views expressed in this letter are not those of the organization I work for but are solely mine. When I arrived at the Bair Ranch at 7 a.m., I was greeted by Craig Bair and his son Jim, the oldest of his six children. From what I learned about the family, they have been integral members of the Gypsum and Eagle County community for three generations, attending school and church here. The Bairs’ house, barn and outbuildings seen from I-70 are only a small portion of the working sheep ranch. Much of the ranch is to the east along the Colorado River and the hills above all the way to the new Two Rivers development at Dotsero and to the south up and over the ridges seen from I-70. The lower eastern portion of the ranch will become public land held by BLM if the conservation easement deal goes through. Through the morning the three of us rode four-wheelers, stopping along the way tending the ranch’s irrigation system. All the while Craig shared stories about three generations of family life on the sheep ranch and his hopes for passing the ranch on to his children. We discussed how he decided to put the ranch under easement for a price of $5 million rather than sell it to a private buyer for the appraised amount of $17 million. He told me that he had discussed the options with his children. He told them they could each have a million dollars if he sold the ranch, or if they chose the conservation easement they would maintain their home and their family tradition of life on the land. The children chose to stay on the land. The more Craig spoke, the more I realized I was speaking with a man who is passionate about his land, his family and his community. His sparkling blue eyes and friendly smile soften the edges of this man who has been hardened by a life working outdoors. I could see the sadness and frustration when we talked about the small handful of people who oppose spending the county’s open space funds on the conservation easement and protecting the land from development. One of the reasons these people are opposed is because they don’t like the fact that he is leveraging the small portion of his property along I-70 to modestly diversify his income in order to preserve the core of the land for sheep ranching operations. At one of our stops to refill a generator pumping water to an irrigated field, Jim told me his dad had recently found a bison skull and an arrowhead buried in the field. We also stopped at the guest facilities, modest by Eagle County standards, which are part of the Bair’s dude ranch operations. There is a new small cabin, a new guest lodge, two rustic cabins used by hunters and a site for campfire dinners. I discovered that these commercial guest operations are truly small in comparison to the larger sheep ranching operations on the land. The Bair family is in the process of rebuilding their sheep herd. During the drought of 2002, the herd could not survive on the dry land available, and the family was forced to sell the animals. Craig is rebuilding his herd to several thousand head of sheep that are now expensive and relatively hard to come by because many other sheep ranchers in the West are in the same situation. He worries that this summer may bear as little rain as the summer of 2002 and what that will mean for his new sheep and his family’s livelihood on the working ranch. While Jim pointed out special places of interest, I marveled at how pristine the land still is after decades of sheep ranching. A place called Spruce Creek harbored a diversity of plant and animal life. Evidence of mountain lion, elk, deer, wild turkey and many other native wildlife species are regularly encountered on the ranch. The ranch provides these animals with access connecting their winter and summer grounds and allowing them safe harbor to the Colorado River below. All of us in Eagle County know that places like this are becoming increasingly rare. There are few places where housing and commercial development do not block seasonal migrations between higher elevation habitats and the lower elevation habitats along the Eagle and Colorado Rivers. We all see the impact of habitat loss almost every morning as we drive to work with ever increasing amounts of road kill on I-70. The Bair Ranch is a place where deer and elk can still live with access to year round food, water and shelter.I went to the Bair ranch to do a bit of ground truthing for my own personal satisfaction and peace of mind. What I came away with is a much better understanding of the motivations behind Craig Bair and his family and the magnitude and importance of preserving the land in its present state. Over the course of my 34 years in the Eagle Valley, I have seen developments rise up out of the land where I thought it never possible. The Bair Ranch is ideally suited to yet another development conveniently located along I-70 with riverfront property below and impressive views above. In its current state, the ranch is a precious resource contributing to our community’s cultural and natural heritage. Places like this are all but gone in Eagle County and we need fight with every ounce we’ve got to preserve them for the future. The way I see it, the protection of our home places is the very essence of patriotism. The people of Eagle County have an opportunity to take action for the present and future good of our community by asking our county commissioners to approve the open space funds for Bair Ranch. Commissioner Arn Menconi is all for it. Commissioner Tom Stone is against it but still has time to change his vote. And Commissioner Mike Gallagher has yet to place his vote. The vote will occur at 1:30 p.m. June 1 at the Eagle County Building. Please express your support NOW for the preservation of Bair Ranch by sending an email to eagleadmin@eaglecounty.us or calling the commissioners at 328-8605 and asking them to vote YES on spending the open space funds for Bair Ranch.Kim LangmaidVailPicking on CacioppoMr. Kittay’s letter of May 19 claiming censorship by Don Rogers was followed with an editor’s note that read: “While we do not edit for ‘liking content,’ we make no apologies for editing letters, Tipslines and other submissions for potential libel, private matters vs. public issues, language and overt bigotry.”Obviously, Mr. Rogers defines bigotry differently than the dictionary. In my dictionary, bigotry is defined as “stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from ones’ own.” Bigotry need not be based solely on one’s race, creed, ethnicity or sexual preference. It can also be based on one’s philosophy or political leanings. Apparently Mr. Rogers only objects to acts of bigotry when they are directed at people with whom he agrees. For all others, particularly when their evidence and their reasoning are unassailable, bigoted name-calling directed at them is the order of the day.Mr. Kittay was absolutely right in saying that Mr. Rogers has allowed many vicious attacks on Michael Cacioppo’s credibility. Even worse, Mr. Rogers has allowed attacks on Mr. Cacioppo’s very person. Where was Mr. Rogers’ editing pencil when the following submissions were printed in the Vail Daily:April 21 Tipsline: … a very bitter, narcissistic person like Mike Cacioppo … Cacioppo’s super ego … obviously a very insecure person …May 6 letter to the editor by Carolyn Pope: … Cacioppo is a wart … he is a cosmetic inconvenience …May 6 letter to the editor by Jon Becker: … Cacioppo is a misguided fool who suffers from low self-esteem and a need to be noticed …May 7 letter to the editor by Andy Wiessner: … Cacioppo is like a bad boy in school … any attention is something he desperately needs to fan his ego … Cacioppo needs to feed his obsessions that life is one big conspiracy …All of the above submissions have one thing in common. Not one of them contains specific arguments to counter Cacioppo’s position on 3D. They are all character assassination and innuendo; they are all bigotry at its worst and a horrible example for the young people of Eagle County.I wonder, Mr. Rogers, what would your response be if a boycott list of your advertisers was distributed because of your editorial opinions? Bigotry of the type noted above should be edited out. No newspaper (Speakout, the Vail Daily or any other) or business that advertises in newspaper should be subject to blacklisting because some people in the community can’t tolerate a difference of opinion.Aggie ChastainEagle-VailNeed more signsArriving back to Vail for our May visit, we were surprised to see all the “upheaval” in downtown Vail – and were even more surprised to see the lack of proper signs for the stores brave enough to weather these times in downtown Vail. Luckily we knew the fabulous bookstore we’ve frequented in Lionshead, Verbatim, moved. But if we were not on a mission to find it or had we not known of its existence surely we would have missed it. The lack of proper signs to direct people to locations such as Verbatim will probably cause this business to struggle unnecessarily – for it is the only bookstore in town and well worth finding. I’m using Verbatim as my case in point, but there are too many small businesses that are off the main drag that visitors are never directed to. Times are tough enough – especially in this very slow time – at least shop owners who support this town and stay open should have the town’s support.Helen BertaleVailTelling talesDear Tom (Stone): If you’re good for one thing, it is the amusement you gave to me and those who know me as we read your dismissal of my request for a criminal inquiry of your real estate dealings in (Saturday’s) paper. You stated, “This wasn’t started by Bill Sepmeier. He did it on the behalf of Arn Menconi.”Tom, nothing could be further from the truth. That you would hope this kind of mud would stick shows only how out of touch you are with both libel law and reality.I wrote to Mr. Hurlbert after 18 months of watching you prepare to line your pockets in a complex deal involving county contractors. The deal structure, as reported in various local media, smelled like a box full of minks to me. You state that you’re protected in this scheme by real estate law and the lack of local ethics regulations. I simply don’t agree with you. I spent the time writing my letter and the 37 cents needed to file my complaint without talking to Menconi. Why would I have needed his input? While he seems to have matured a lot since his election, Arn’s not going to be my choice in November, after all, I’ve known and respected A.J. Johnson for almost 20 years and would not feel right about voting for anyone else in that race. Furthermore, Mr. Menconi and I have met only one time, back in 2001 at a memorial service in Singletree. As you’ll recall, you and I have met much more than once, during various Upper Eagle Valley Water Authority, ECOGE and Berry Creek Metro Board meetings over the years. No, Tom, I made my complaint based only on my own sense of ethics. Ethics, Tom. You can take classes to learn about them at CMC if this is a new concept for you.The issues Mr. Hurlbert’s office are looking into don’t involve Menconi, Tom, they belong to you and are a result of your actions. Suck it up, take responsibility, and quit pretending all of your problems are due to Arn Menconi. There are more people besides Menconi out here who question your ability to govern honestly; I am but one of them. I have had no interest in seeing my name in the paper these past few months, Tom, that’s why I wrote the DA instead of Don Rogers back in April. Since you feel free to invent motivations for me, however, I have copied this letter to the Daily, in the interest of clarity. Since you cannot prove your allegations that I am some type of shill for Commissioner Menconi, I strongly suggest to quit making them, immediately.C. William SepmeierEdwardsOdds are goodSki season is gone and lots of people leave town in search of other action. Appears that the great part of the people who flee are the female type. If not, they (females) must be hiding somewhere, because the ratio of eight men for a woman is already noticeable at the night scene. However, I try not to see the small picture. The Vail Valley area is flourishing with young beautiful couples, products of the successful ski industry that bloomed and still goes. As a result, the women are not in bars anymore. Instead they are in the grocery store or jogging on the streets with the souped-up baby cart rigged for mountain racing. They are around, beautiful, but not available. But there are single women, common friends of the younger mothers who prefer being in a more productive social environment than out in a bar being chased by too many odd figures. Often the term “not available” is used for an excuse of not worth the try of a flirt. There are women out there and they know their value. Women in Vail Valley, at least some of them, act like they have a full hand of aces to gamble in the off-season. Shell shock from women, with post-rejection traumatic disorder, the poor bastard cannot make the move because he is so scared to approach them and not have the chance of a minimal conversation. In reality, it is not polite to ignore someone from the get go. People forget that there is more in flirting than just poor fooling around. Great friendships can result from casual conversations and you never know when fate brings you happiness. I never throw away the chance of making new friends of either gender. We can never have enough friends, maybe ending up to meet a friend of a friend and in the process get to know an amazing very special person in life. However, if I would be a female, I’d think twice before going to the “meet market” out in the village. Must be hard to be harassed by drunken guys every minute through bad comments or stripping looks. Suddenly the act of going out loses the pleasure of the moment. Unless there is a better reason to enjoy a bar environment, being to meet interesting people that you already know or enjoy a casual and productive conversation.A lot of people don’t go out anymore unless there is a guaranteed opportunity of a good time. Planned meeting dates are more common and casual, available single girl out becomes more and more scarce. A lot of that has to do with age groups. Younger people tend to go out for the “meet market” scene than mature ones, but when comparing males and females, appears that the conflict of interest grows with aging, occurring a natural mismatch of individuals of the same age group but different gender. The male crowd still wants to get laid at the first site, while female wants a quality sensitive time that was forgotten somewhere in the past when gentlemen were young enough to not have calluses on their elbows accustomed with the bar counter. …People should be more friendly with everybody, erase second intentions and just relax and be open. Summer is coming. My advice to the guys: No matter what, the ultimate decision belongs to the most chased one. She has the power. Just relax. One day it will happen when you’re not expecting it, a girl will be right there in front of your eyes.Don’t let the shell shock get in the way to make the move. But most important, no matter what, don’t be a drunken stupid and let the cycle continue. Be a gentleman. Advice to the ladies: I believe they know what is going on. Just give it a chance.Eli DeSouza


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