Letters to the editor | VailDaily.com

Letters to the editor

Tom Smith

On a recent visit to Vail Valley I had occasion to read Alex Miller’s column on “How to win the war on terror.” My initial impression was that it was a facetious humor column analogous to the classic advice on how to get rich in the stock market, “buy low and sell high.” Easier said than done, indeed! Mr. Miller admits early in his piece that it is an accurate point that many critics do “much bitching and not enough solving.” He then goes on to do that exact thing with his first point: “Get out of Iraq as soon as is reasonably possible without letting the whole country devolve into civil war,” albeit with the magnanimous caveat “easier said than done, yes.” How? Alex, how? Certainly not by a premature exodus of the forces that are preventing such a civil war. Actually, Mr. Miller’s position is aligned with the administration on that point, as both want to withdraw troops “as soon as possible.”It’s just not possible yet.”Not enough solving”? Hell, I’d settle for rational, realistic THINKING and awareness of the geopolitical and military realities of the 21st century. Today’s military must retain the capability to win a conventional war against any foe, including North Korea, Iran or China (remember China, Alex?) while simultaneously protecting us from the terrorist forces of al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, and others of that ilk. All of these potential foes have conventional military forces, including the tanks, fighter jets, and warships that Mr. Miller finds outmoded. One can only hope that Mr. Miller’s unfounded proclamation that “most countries in this world are not prepared or inclined to attack us” doesn’t turn out to rank up there with Gen. MacArthur’s notion that the Chinese will never cross the Yalu and get involved in the Korean conflict. Mr. Miller’s condescending remark of “sending Joe Six-Pack with a tank” shows an incredible lack of respect for the brave men who literally put their life on the line to defend his right to write such drivel, and smacks at elitism. As a decorated combat veteran I find it personally offensive beyond description and belief. It’s one thing not to appreciate the efforts of those who are sacrificing and dying for you (while you’re safely ensconced in idyllic Vail Valley). It’s an entirely different matter to disrespect them! Worry less about knowing your enemy and worry more about knowing your defenders. To borrow Mr. Miller’s close: You can be smarter than that; you have to be smarter than that. Tom SmithSarasota, Fla.Saying goodbyeIt is with both great sadness and incredible gratitude that we have accepted the resignation of Vail Valley Chamber & Tourism Bureau President Frank Johnson. For over 14 years Frank has successfully captained the bureau. His leadership has helped the company grow into one of our community’s most important organizations. Frank’s resignation from the bureau marks the end of an era, one that saw the VVCTB grow from a small, local marketing group to the valley’s largest regional organization, representing 1,000 Vail Valley businesses.Frank’s career at the bureau began in 1991, when the organization operated as the Vail Resort Association. At that time, Frank recognized the opportunity to grow Vail’s summer business, and under his leadership the organization focused on marketing Vail during the non-skiing months. With the increasing success of Beaver Creek and the growth of the Vail Valley, Frank soon saw the need for a more regional approach to marketing. In 1995, Frank spearheaded the company’s transition to become the Vail Valley Tourism & Convention Bureau. Finally in 2001, Frank led the merger of the Vail Valley Tourism & Convention Bureau with the Vail Valley Chamber of Commerce to form the organization you know today, the Vail Valley Chamber & Tourism Bureau. Throughout the numerous changes in the organization, Frank has remained a steady and stalwart leader. Perhaps one of the greatest contributions Frank has made to the bureau and the community as a whole lies in his abilities as a talent scout. For the past 14 years, Frank has surrounded himself with some of the most creative, dedicated and passionate employees in Vail. Often Frank’s employees have been young and inexperienced, but he put his faith in their capabilities and entrepreneurial skills. Typically working behind the scenes, Frank gave his employees the freedom to explore their ideas while providing the support and trust for them to be successful. Many of Frank’s proteges have moved on to positions in the valley’s top businesses, and today dozens of locals owe their successful careers to a start at the bureau. As Frank moves on to pursue a new career in organizational consulting, the team he’s leaving behind at the bureau is more than capable and has solid leadership from four qualified vice presidents (Kathleen Halloran, Kelli McDonald, Robin Litt and Jim Steinbach). For the time being, the organization will operate in a “business as usual” mode. Meanwhile, our very engaged and committed board of directors will continue to develop a transition strategy that will, among other things, help to determine organizational priorities while we conduct a national search for a new president.This is both a sad and happy day for the Vail Valley Chamber & Tourism Bureau. We say goodbye to our trusted leader and friend, and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. We are also excited about the opportunity to establish new leadership in the organization and continue our 40-plus years of service and success in the community!Brian NolanChairmanOn behalf of the Vail Valley Chamber & Tourism Bureau Board of DirectorsHere, thereA friend sent me a page from the Aug. 24 Vail Daily featuring an article by Dick Hauserman, “A trip through Idaho Springs’ past.” In that piece he noted that “Downieville was named after another Californian. No record of his background is available.” Along highway 49 between Sierra City and Nevada City, Calif., is another Downieville. That town was named after Major William Downie (of Aberdeen, Scotland), who was a fairly successful gold miner during and after the Gold Rush of ’49. He also authored a book titled “Hunting for Gold.” By his account he mined in that area for some years and when things went sour for him there he moved on to other adventures. He sought gold in Panama and returned only with Indian pottery, joined the Alaska gold rush, and took part in the surveying parties searching for a railroad route through the Canadian Rockies and the Fraser River country. As near as I can discover, he died broke.In Downieville, Calif., there is a small museum with more of his colorful background. And as one can imagine, in our family mythology, Major Downie is some distant relative. We have never been able to establish that with any certainty. In Aberdeen, the name Downie rivals in numbers the listing for Smith in our phone directories here, so maybe there is indeed some family connection.I imagine that Major Downie is the very same for which Downieville, Colo., is named.Richard DownieMissed point of storyScott Miller, I found you article in the Sept. 3 Vail Daily extraordinary in its lack of accurate information and biased opinions about the issue of smoke-free PUBLIC places, INCLUDING bars and restaurants. There is a wealth of information available about this topic, which appears in respected journals and on the Web. In addition, there are numerous people who you could have interviewed to present the issue in an honest and responsible manner. You obviously did very little, if any, research and as a result, the uninformed views of your interviewees came across as believable.For your information, in NONE of the towns and cities where smoke-free laws have been passed have ANY business suffered. The issue is one of health. Everyone’s health. Passive or second-hand smoke is a carcinogenic agent shown to cause a variety of cancers. In addition, it is especially dangerous to pregnant women, children and any one with allergies. I suggest, in the future, if you want to write about this subject, you contact someone from The Colorado Education and Prevention Alliance (CTEPA), the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society or the American Heart Association. As a reporter, you have a responsibility to present an honest, accurate and well researched assessment of the issue upon which you are reporting.Carol L. Betson GoldsteinVail