Playing Don Quixote |

Playing Don Quixote

Don Rogers

Part of journalism is tilting at other people’s windmills.If not quite the scope of how Kennedy really got shot, these little exercises can sponge up much more than their weight in time. And there’s just enough to the rare one to make them worth the effort. Just part of what makes this work so interesting.What about the mysterious green Subaru near the big rig accident that killed the FedEx driver? Did this Crossroads developer really come from New York and truly not know about a phone scam in 1997 that involved his company, however tertiary? What no good sneaky things is the company wanting to build on Battle Mountain up to? The airport coming apart at the seams? Hockey coaches had a couple of beers while supervising the kids in Aspen? TAP program in place because an administrator’s wife who doesn’t work for the district won a $25,000 award from the foundation that provides the program? How about those UFO sightings over Vail? And on and on. We seem to be at a little peak these days.Other than the UFO sightings, nearly all of these questions come from people with vested interests. That’s normal. Otherwise they wouldn’t have the energy or imagination to make some of the connections they make. And don’t forget, some are true.Co-workers can’t believe their friend crashed on her own. Some Vail folks hate the idea of Crossroads being rebuilt so big. Some outside Minturn can’t believe decent folks would turn Battle Mountain into a bunch of second homes. A taxi company has longstanding problems with airport management. Some parents are concerned about the hockey program. The school district’s merit program for teachers still has some insurgents.Cover some of these and the paper has given them way more attention than they deserve; we’ve “sensationalized.” Ignore and we’re part of the “cover-up.” Lose-lose. There’s a Latin word for it. Dilemma. I don’t know if we’re still trying to get information about the green Subaru near the Fed Ex crash site at Dowd Junction. The authorities don’t seem to know about it. The folks writing e-mails and in the comment section following the story on the Web site are either reporting second-hand or not responding to our inquiries to them. They are as illusive as whoever helped Oswald.Someone secretly sent one of our columnists news from the ’90s about Kathy Brendza, wife of Eagle County schools Superintendent John Brendza, winning a $25,000 educator award from the Milken Foundation in 1999. Rather breathlessly, the informer posits that this is somehow proof of a nefarious relationship with the same foundation that developed the TAP program. The district adopted this program after voters approved raises firmly attached to a merit system in November 2001.First, congratulations again to Kathy. That’s an enviable honor. Second: Huh? The logic trying to connect an award and the program doesn’t follow on any level. Besides, it was then-Superintendent Mel Preusser and the school board that brought TAP to the district. An individual award for someone outside the district has nothing to do with the program today, unless you are a bitter-ender or one of the parents sucked into that maw.Here’s how the Crossroads saga will go: The Vail Town Council will in short order approve this “big, giant” rebuilding of the key complex – it will be nearly 100 feet high at the tallest point. Only in Vail is that “giant.” And the clutch of folks doubting the credentials of the developer, Peter Knobel, will quickly move onto the next fight over Vail’s growth.For the moment, though, a few question whether he’s even from New York and wonder about his explanation that he knew nothing about an FTC complaint alleging that his company had a part in a scandal that charged porno site viewers for long-distance calls without their knowledge back in 1997. Knobel signed a settlement that did not admit guilt and said he knew nothing of it before the complaint. So I went and met Knobel and had a nice chat, and I had a nice chat with the fellow in New York who helped get him started some 25 years ago in New York real estate, Stephen Ross, head of the Related Companies.Ross described Knobel as visionary and very savvy, someone who will be good for Vail. They still talk occasionally, and my sense was that Ross thinks well of Knobel. I still have calls to make, tilting at these windmills, but thus far Knobel’s recounting of his working life holds up exactly. And in that inevitable size-up when you meet someone person-to-person and talk, he impressed me. Besides, this line of questioning still strikes me irrelevant. The real issue is how Knobel will do rebuilding Crossroads from an eyesore to a jewel. I believe he’ll do very well.I’m sure that likewise, we’ll hear more fuss about Bobby Ginn once upon a time, long ago, going through bankruptcy proceedings. As if that has a thing to do with aiming now to build 1,700 homes south of Minturn. I object to this project strongly, but I have yet to see the developer do anything wrong to this point. The hand-wringing about what they might do, or studies to come and all that, well, we’re going to have to see. The concerned hockey parents nicked the coaches, though. They did have a couple of beers in an Aspen restaurant after a game while responsible for the kids’ care. The event wound up earning them one-game suspensions and some angst with the paper. It will pass, the program will survive and I’m sure thrive in the long run. And now we all know that it’s simply wisest to stick to Coke while on the road.The taxi wars at the airport will play out at one level, the most important, in a lawsuit. At least that is clearly reportable.Meantime, I think I’m switching to Coke, too.Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14600 or editor@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado

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