Opinion Columns, Columnists

LaGreca: Colorado kicked in the shin by coal industry (column)

June 25, 2016 — 

Even with the cushion of twenty-years worth of coal reserves already under lease, I was still kicked in the shin and verbally assaulted yesterday on my way out of a public meeting in Grand Junction to review future coal leasing on federal lands. In the style of the NRA at events concerning any limitations on gun control, the “Coal Forever” lobby was unmistakably present, sporting an overwhelming, yellow-shirted tide of support for this carbonized plant matter.

The Obama administration issued a moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands in January to evaluate a program that has been all but untouched since the Reagan era. In this time, the formulas for establishing royalties to tax payers have been distorted, while the bidding process for leases has become opaque and noncompetitive. Since 2010, our reliance on coal has dropped from 44 percent of our electricity generation to just 29 percent, in large part due to cheap natural gas and decreasing international demand. Coal has annually become a less important component of our energy mix, yet it remained in the protected graces of the untouchable fossil fuel giants, that is, until this moratorium.

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Wind Sprints: On blasphemy and brisket (editor column)

June 24, 2016 — 

He was an older gentleman. I didn’t get his name. I did not get his forgiveness; at least not on that day.

Last week, a colleague came into my office to tell me a man was here who wanted to talk. “He doesn’t seem happy,” she told me as a warning. I walked out to meet him. “Let’s go out here,” he said, waving me into the building lobby.

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Buhler: Breckenridge Ski Resort weighs in a transit talks with town (column)

June 24, 2016 — 

As all of you will recall last summer, we had a robust discussion with the Breckenridge Town Council and with the community about how best to address parking and transit needs in Breckenridge. The council came to that dialogue with some very strongly-held and very public positions. We often did not agree with the council but ultimately came together in a landmark moment of cooperation, with an agreement on a $3.5 million annual tax to be paid by skiers that would bring significant new skier parking to the core of town. However, after that tax was passed by voters, it appears that council is moving away from everything that was said last summer.

Last summer, the council was adamant that we needed to add new skier parking, and that this was an urgent matter that was truly imperative to our community (The council said in the Summit Daily News regarding adding new parking that “2016 would be spent planning and 2017 would be construction.”) Vail Resorts was in complete agreement with the council on this point.

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Subberwal: The true costs of a TABOR education (column)

June 22, 2016 — 

For me, the start of every school year was an exciting time. By August, the freedom of the early summer had dulled to boredom, and I would start to look forward to meeting my new teachers and reuniting with my friends. There were matching notebooks and pens to be bought, reading to be done, backpacks to be packed and regrettable outfits to be chosen.

Once again, this moment of excitement is on the horizon: In two months, Summit County’s students will store away their summer adventure gear and flock back into the classrooms of Summit School District.

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Spirits of the mountains

June 21, 2016 — 

Not much is known about the Inca tribes of the Andes except that they chose to build their vast stone cities on some of the most precipitous mountain peaks in the world.

I have been to Peru and climbed among several of these ancient sites: the mysterious citadel of Machu Picchu; the Pisac ruins that lie at the end of hundreds of narrow, exposed steps a thousand feet above the Sacred Valley; the Temple of the Sun in Ollantaytambo with its bare, windswept alter of rock high above Urubamba.

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Liddick: Islamist extremism and the Second Amendment (column)

June 20, 2016 — 

Okay, everyone — Breathe. Step back.

After Orlando, after San Bernardino, after Boston, on the stage set by Paris, Brussels and God-Knows-how-many other places over the past few years, we know we have … issues. And that they won’t be solved by screaming over each other.

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Hamner: A look back at the legislative session (column)

June 20, 2016 — 

As chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee, the state budget was my highest priority in the legislative session that ended last month. After hundreds of hours of JBC hearings and intensive negotiation and collaboration among its members, we drafted, the House and Senate approved and Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a 2016-17 state budget that protects and defends Colorado’s way of life.

For the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, we managed to increase per-pupil average spending for K-12 schools by 1.5 percent; avoid a $20 million cut to higher education recommended by the governor; maintain the statutory 6.5 percent budget reserve; and avert recommended cuts to payment rates for medical providers. On the downside, the budget sets transfers to the state’s highway fund at $150 million, a reduction of $50 million, and it cuts $73 million from support for hospitals around the state.

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Rotary/Summit Daily high school short story contest: A true hero's light (first place)

June 19, 2016 — 

The following piece was the first-place finisher in the 6th annual Rotary/Summit Daily high school short story contest.

A sea of white flooded into my fingertips as I clutched the book. My heart knocked against the inside of my chest, and I got closer and closer to the climax. I sat up straighter and my eyes widened and then. . .

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Rotary/Summit Daily high school short story contest: Misguided (second place)

June 19, 2016 — 

The following piece was the second-place finisher in the 6th annual Rotary/Summit Daily high school short story contest.

The Administrator reclined in his desk, sifting through the various messages that lit up his tablet. Most were the average trade updates and project reports that passed through his station every day; there was middle-management that took care of that sort of thing. The Administrator took it upon himself to check every message that entered his station, though he, and his colleagues, often asked why. In that exact moment, however, he was very glad he had such a habit. There was an odd one, broadcast in, was that radio waves? Such a message would have been filtered out by said middle-management as background radiation, as no known planet, government or species bothered with such archaic methods anymore. The Administrator was indeed confused, as the video clip would not register in his universal translator or was compatible with any software that the Hegemony had used for centuries. This was a puzzler, though the Administrator had other dealings, and so he saved the abnormality onto his personal chip and finished the work day.

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Rotary/Summit Daily high school short story contest: Paper hearts (third place)

June 19, 2016 — 

The following piece was the third-place finisher in the 6th annual Rotary/Summit Daily high school short story contest.

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Biff America: The blood of a father (column)

June 18, 2016 — 

“I’ve had worse than that on the end of my tongue.” My father wasn’t long on sympathy. He used that declaration to describe anything from a fat lip to a ruptured appendix. To his credit he was as tough on himself as he was on his children.

It was a rusty three-foot piece of re-bar, as thick as a finger and sharp as a spike. I didn’t see him walk into it, but I heard the curse and saw the blood. The pointed end got him in the forehead just above the eyebrow and left a gash large and scalloped.

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Clayton: Just let politics go to the dogs (column)

June 18, 2016 — 

I’d like to name my next dog “Obamacare.”

I live in one of those mountain towns that are both politically conservative and dog-crazy. So I think it would be fun to walk the dog around town and have my neighbors say, “Good dog, Obamacare,” and “I just love Obamacare.” Obamacare’s very presence would make people smile.

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Walking our faith: My Father, Our Father, and all God's Children (column)

June 17, 2016 — 

My father was like the best book in the world wrapped in one of those brown grocery bag book covers we all made in high school to protect our textbooks.

From the outside, there was the non-descript, humble shell. In my dad’s case, it was a baggy pair of jeans, a navy windbreaker, a blue striped polo shirt with a penguin instead of polo player, and a pair of brown heavy-soled shoes, well-worn at the heel.

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Ask Eartha: Garbage is a terrible thing to waste (column)

June 17, 2016 — 

Dear Eartha,

The Colorado Association for Recycling’s annual conference was just held in Grand Junction June 13-14. What were some of the takeaways to help improve recycling in Colorado? — Cody, Breckenridge

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LaGreca: Fixing past mistakes will define a generation (column)

June 16, 2016 — 

The sun seems to take the sweat from my creased brow even before it emerges. The grayed and long neglected cedar fence posts drink the stain with nearly the same thirst as I apply it.

Since purchasing my new home about 6 weeks ago, my partner and I have spent several thousand dollars and it feels like nearly as many hours on improvements, upgrades and updates. For a house built just before the turn of this century, it is in fairly good shape, especially considering the housing stock we sorted through ranging back to 1900. This fence however, is the first of a litany of already decrepit features hastily installed by the developer twenty years ago that need to be addressed promptly in the present day. Much like the cheap vinyl windows and the desiccating wood prevented from splintering beyond repair only by a hot day’s labor, the ‘economical’ choices made by the past generations have landed my generation, deemed “millenials” by some demographers, in a position where our only option is to repair the outcomes of these short-sighted decisions at our own expense.

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Best: Let's tax what makes the whole world sick (column)

June 16, 2016 — 

Many coal-supporting Westerners cheered when the U.S. Supreme Court halted the federal government’s implementation of its Clean Power Plan, pending judicial review. But even though the attorneys general of Colorado, Wyoming and other states might succeeded in gutting the Clean Power Plan, they can never do what they really want to do: They cannot return the world to the 1990s.

Low-sulphur, high-Btu coal from the Powder River Basin and other Western coalfields was king back then. Now, the science of climate change has become too compelling, the risks too worrisome and the ultimate costs too great. If you parse most criticism of the Clean Power Plan, it sounds like this: Technological innovation reached its peak after World War II, when we developed large power plants fired by burning coal. The electricity produced was cheap, and we still need it as a reliable base nationwide.

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Subberwal: Growing up under the gun (column)

June 15, 2016 — 

On the morning of June 12, Andy Carvin wrote a Facebook post that was destined for 30,000 shares. It described how, mere hours before, investigators working their way through the eerie stillness of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando had to tune out the sound of the phones ringing in the pockets of the lifeless bodies on the floor. Friends and families, desperate to be certain of the safety of their loved ones in Orlando, were calling phones that no longer had owners. In a world of constant connectivity, 49 people dropped off the grid as the news of their deaths flooded across social media.

I’ve grown up in a time where mass shootings occur with a numbing regularity. I was 2 years old when a pair of teenagers killed 13 people at a high school only an hour’s drive from my house in Frisco. When, at age 14, I went to see The Dark Knight Rises in Denver just weeks after the arrest of James Holmes, I spent the entire movie bolt upright in my seat, my ears straining for the slamming of a door, the readying of a rifle. I sat in tenth grade history and told my teacher, stone-faced, that someone had just opened fire in a kindergarten classroom in Connecticut. Last year, I worried for my family in Colorado Springs when I heard that a Planned Parenthood just down the road had been attacked.

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Liddick: Clinton cash raises questions (column)

June 15, 2016 — 

Pot, meet kettle. For all the gleeful squeals from Hillary and her minions, one would think the putative Democrat nominee for president has no scandals to haunt her. That would be wrong.

I do not refer to violations of State Department regulations or various portions of the U.S. code dealing with protection of classified information. I refer instead to a plausible reason Hillary wanted to keep her emails private. Something simple: avarice and fear of getting caught selling favors while in office.

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Murphy: On rape and the stubborn defense of the indefensible (column)

June 13, 2016 — 

On Jan. 18, 2015, Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Despite having been convicted of three felonies in the case, he’s been sentenced to only 6 months in prison, of which he’ll only serve only 3.

Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, and he will serve 3 months in prison.

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Brown-Wolf: Gender-free bathrooms and the vote (column)

June 12, 2016 — 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard something about the gender-free bathroom debate. It’s been written and talked about often, but my spin on the controversy is not focused on who uses what bathroom but rather on the consequences of the vote. Specifically, I take issue with voters in North Carolina who are now full of complaint.

Here’s a brief background: In March, North Carolina’s state legislators voted to pass a bill barring transgender people the right to use restrooms and locker rooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificates. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill, which also pre-empts local legislators from passing nondiscrimination laws.

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Rieber: Keep ranchers on the land, and the land stays open (column)

June 11, 2016 — 

It turns out that the men and women who graze cattle on America’s public lands are largely a level-headed bunch. No one paying attention during the 41-day standoff at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon could have missed the deafening silence from about 22,000 public-lands ranchers when Bundy and Co. urged all of them to tear up their federal grazing permits and start demanding the “return” of public lands to “the people.”

Absent any substantive evidence that ranchers are radicalized, opponents of public-land grazing are reprising the argument that ranchers are subsidized. This is a lesser evil, to be sure, but still a serious charge. Does the American taxpayer dole out dollars so ranchers can graze public lands on the cheap?

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Anderson: Holy knitting (column)

June 10, 2016 — 

On Monday, I sat in the living room doing my devotions. Occasionally, a question requiring prayer would come to my mind and I would put down my Bible and pick up my knitting. I’m working on a fluffy purple sweater.

For me, knitting is a part of prayer. As I circle the sweater with stitches created by my yarn and needles, I talk to God. The repetitive knit stitches quiet my mind, so that I can hear God speak.

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Ask Eartha: Summer reading for the environmentally conscience

June 9, 2016 — 

Dear Eartha,

I have more time for reading over the summer, and I’m always on the lookout for great recommendations. Do you have any suggestions for the conservation-minded bookworm?

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Holbrook: Radical change in midlife (column)

June 8, 2016 — 

“Sail forth – steer for the deep water only,

Reckless, O soul, exploring. I with thee, and thou with me,

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Liddick: The Left doing what it takes to silence unpopular opinions (column)

June 6, 2016 — 

“She was looking for it.”

“She got what she deserved.”

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Raggio: The missing piece to better mental health (column)

June 5, 2016 — 

There is a missing piece in the current Senate Bill 169 on Governor Hickenlooper’s desk: psychiatric care.

Being placed in a hospital or a jail in the middle of a mental-health crisis tops any person’s worst-day-ever list. None of us hopes to reach that point, nor do we our family members or friends suffer through such a time without proper psychiatric care.

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Brown-Wolf: Time traveling to 1977: Can a modern kid survive? (column)

June 5, 2016 — 

The first few days of summer are the best. So good, in fact, that some parents take a day or two off, so they might revel in the well-remembered feeling. No more school. No more tests. No more teachers. No more social pressures. No more responsibility. Kids sleep in, hang out in pajamas and eat pancakes. It’s great. Until about the third day.

Summer can become a parent’s nightmare. What if the kids never get out of their pajamas? What if they become zombies? What if they hook themselves to screens with an I-V, and their brains shrivel into peanut-sized capsules?

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Schendler: Some state legislators prefer fantasy to fact (column)

June 4, 2016 — 

Let’s say you were a legislator in Colorado during this year’s session, and you needed some help making policy decisions on a topic that required scientific knowledge. What might you do?

Because you’re a booster of the state, you’d know that we have some of the finest academic and research institutions in the country. These include the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, the University of Denver, the National Renewable Energy Lab, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. So it would make sense to ask those groups what they think on a given subject before moving forward. That, after all, is how public policy-making ought to work: Get the facts, make the policy.

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Arenson: Hummingbirds may be tiny, but never call them timid (column)

June 4, 2016 — 

The first hummingbird feeder I got can hold a cup of sugar water and has enough spots for eight hummingbirds. It hangs outside my kitchen window. I imagined doing the dishes while watching squads of eight little hummingbirds as they swooped down to perch and suckle nectar, shoulder to feathery shoulder.

Instead, only one bird visited the feeder at a time. That bird would take a furtive sip, then look back up at the sky. As soon as he bent for another sip, a second hummingbird darted down like a dive-bomber and chased him away. Hoping to give peace a chance, I hung another feeder around the side of the house. This feeder has spots for four birds. But the dive-bombing hummer who had chased every rival from the kitchen feeder had no intention of sharing this one, either. He took up a high-ground position on the telephone wire, where he guarded both feeders at once and proclaimed his territory with a buzzy “tik-tik-tik-tik.”

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Walking our faith: We are all together in the dark (column)

June 4, 2016 — 

In 1993, my last year on Wall Street, I worked on the 98th floor of Two World Trade Center. I was in my office when the truck bomb went off in the basement of One World Trade Center.

We were told to stay in our offices until the firefighters were able to evacuate us via the stairwell. We would be walking down ninety-eight flights.

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