Opinion Columns, Columnists

Biff America: Part of the solution (column)

February 13, 2016 — 

“There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can ‘control’, and what they cannot.”

— Plato

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Whitman: Potty-mouths and Western politics (column)

February 12, 2016 — 

A pre-school teacher buddy of mine thinks Donald Trump ought to be scolded for being such a potty-mouth. She thinks no politician in history has uttered such deliberately shocking phrases. This was after Trump said that Hillary “is a loser and should be schlonged.”

She might be right about Trump, but politicians making shocking statements uttered are nothing new in the West. Some candidates have even been elected anyway — think Davis Waite, a member of the Populist Party who served as Colorado governor from 1893-95.

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Best: A deadly year for fun in the backcountry (column)

February 12, 2016 — 

This has been a deadly winter for fun in the heavily snow-laden backcountry. Through early February, avalanches had killed 24 people in North America, including hikers, climbers, skiers and snowboarders.

Snowmobilers — including the five killed in late January in British Columbia — account for 12 of the 24 deaths. Every case is different, but a fatality in late January in Colorado is revealing. It was on a day of blue skies at Crested Butte in western Colorado, when six local men decided to hop on their snowmobiles.

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Ask Eartha: The manifold glories of baking soda explained (column)

February 12, 2016 — 

Dear Eartha,

I’ve noticed that baking soda is helpful in all sorts of household ways. What is it and why does it have so many uses? — Ruth, Frisco

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Schartzman: Big picture America (column)

February 11, 2016 — 

Were the Founding Fathers to be witnessing our current day electoral process, they’d be spinning in their graves.

Determined not to allow the country they were birthing to be subject to religious rule and persecution, they nonetheless created barriers and balances that would reflect ethical, biblically-grounded governance — for, they were aware of the laws against graft, bribery and corruption that the Hebrew Scriptures promulgated.

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Brooke: Jack's cookie a sweet serendipity in Breckenridge (column)

February 9, 2016 — 

Alone and having completed several laps on the slopes already, I looked forward to some company. I pulled a quick hockey stop, unclicked and leaned my skis against the rack. “Tea time” I thought, meandering inside the Vista Haus.

Lifting off my helmet, a chill spread across my shoulders, triggered from sweat. My thighs, pinched from deep snow, made sitting down feel like a reward. I cupped my pink-cheeked face with my hands, thinking, “Good day out there.” Simple, fulfilled thoughts were all I mustered on days like this.

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Brown-Wolf: Standardized schools test a parent's patience (column)

February 9, 2016 — 

Sharpen your #2 pencils. Stop. Never mind. Fill in the bubbles correctly. Stop. Never mind. Write your essay clearly. Stop. Never mind. Take the test via the computer. Stop. Never mind. The testing procedure has changed. Again.

‘Tis the season for standardized testing, although it’s easy to lose track of which one is being administered. CSAP? TCAP? CMAS? PARCC? NWEA? ACT or SAT? The amount of money spent to create and choose the best test to maintain accountability is mindboggling.

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Heard around the West: 'Feral cats learn to avoid traps and guns' (column)

February 8, 2016 — 

THE WEST

Ball caps off to the feisty writer Ted Williams, called a “national treasure” and “Rachel Carson for sportsmen” by Forbes magazine for his decades of environmental and outdoor writing. He didn’t pull his punches in a December interview with contributing editor Monte Burke. He called most sportsmen “easily manipulated by their worst enemies” and blasted the National Rifle Association, saying it “can now be counted on to be on the wrong side of every environmental issue.” And he still has it in for feral cats, those domestic feline marauders estimated to gorge on up to 4 billion birds a year: “Feral cats learn to avoid traps and guns. The only solution is selective poisoning — again by wildlife professionals, not the public. The Aussies do it; we don’t.”

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Liddick: A national shrug on racism in America? (column)

February 8, 2016 — 

There have been a spate of reports recently that black and white Americans generally have come to agree that the former has gotten a raw deal. To quote a headline from the Associated Press: “Racism a national problem.” The subhead reads “Group seeks solutions for ending racial inequality.”

The “group” in question is the W. K. Kellogg foundation, the nation’s seventh-largest philanthropic organization, which has for years devoted itself to the question of racial equity. Note: not “equality.” Equity. It is a difference with an important distinction.

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Bargell: Working out in wonder (column)

February 7, 2016 — 

Start.

Stop.

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Biff America: Time will tell (column)

February 6, 2016 — 

The beauty of being dead is that it puts life in perspective.

To be clear, I have no firsthand experience in the matter. But I do hope that after that last heart beat you retain a sense of humor; if so, Jimmy Glick was chuckling as he looked down on his memorial.

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Pudim: About the white stuff that's piling up outside (column)

February 5, 2016 — 

Few people — at least, few grownups — really enjoy snow. I live in Colorado where we’re drowning in it day after day, and, though it’s great for the high mountain watersheds, it’s not so fun for daily life. You have to clear it from windshields and crawl around in it, chaining up tires.

Supposedly, the Inuit have hundreds of words for snow. For example, upsik is igloo-building snow, and they probably have words for snowball-making snow or snow that crunches, making it hard to sneak up on a seal.

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Brooke: A Summit County skier learns to embrace socializing in stockings (column)

February 3, 2016 — 

No one seemed to love my ski socks more than my pup, which made me wonder, “What does he see in my socks that I can’t see?”

Before I moved to the mountains, I had two pairs of ski socks that went with me on every ski trip. I sustained an exclusive, yet highly-functional relationship between my ski socks and me for nearly a decade.

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Purcell: Immoral Girl Scout cookies? (column)

February 4, 2016 — 

The Girl Scout cookie season is upon us — which means people with nothing better to do will criticize Girl Scout cookies.

According to the International Business Times, one critic, a professor of medicine and public health at the University of Arizona, says it makes no sense for the Girl Scouts to “sell something so unhealthy.”

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Mountain Law: Cautionary tale about leaving more to kids, than spouse (column)

February 3, 2016 — 

When one spouse dies in Colorado, leaving a will, the other spouse has two basic options: One is to follow the will and take whatever interest in the estate it provides; the other is to take something called the “elective share,” which is essentially a default amount that a surviving spouse is entitled to receive by statute. A 2015 decision from the Colorado Supreme Court called Beren v. Beren provides an interesting cautionary tale about the elective share.

Before discussing the case, let me describe the elective share in more detail. The elective share is calculated as a certain percentage times something called the “augmented estate.” The percentage is based on the length of the marriage, starting at 5 percent for a one-year marriage and increasing in increments of 5 percent for every year of marriage up to 50 percent. (There are different rules for marriages of less than one year.) For example, the percentage for an eight-year marriage would be 40 percent.

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Montepare: When it comes to dog waste, pick it up and pack it out (letter)

February 2, 2016 — 

How about we talk about dog poop — or, more specifically, the over abundance at our numerous trail heads in Summit County.

For some reason, in arguably the most litter-free county in the state, we are not picking up our dog waste at our trail heads, usually within the first 100 to 200 yards of the parking lots. I will not lecture you with stats about the environment damage of dog waste, but it is real.

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Liddick: A taxpayer's guide to the presidential primaries (column)

February 1, 2016 — 

Now that the W-2s and 1099s are falling like the snow on I-70 – with much the same effect on life and mental health – it’s time to look at what some potential presidential candidates are saying about the whole sordid process of income taxes in America.

To begin, a few rules of reality. First, “free” isn’t. “Free” is shorthand for “I’ll make someone else pay for what you’ll get.” Taxes are the vehicle for this. Second, what one taxes, shrinks. What one subsidizes, grows. Wealth and poverty are not exempt. Third, a complex tax code is the Devil’s playground for cronyism, influence peddling, favoritism, vote-buying and other corruptions. In 2015, the Federal Tax Code, regulations, legal precedents and commentaries was 78,608 pages and tax authorities, to paraphrase Jacob Marley, “have labored on it since.” Even the IRS admits that if “tax compliance” was an industry, it would be one of the nation’s largest, with over 3.8 million workers, most of whom make over minimum wage.

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Biff America: Fences make good neighbors (column)

January 30, 2016 — 

Dave Drew had only two tasks to accomplish while his parents left him home alone for the week of their Cape Cod vacation. Mow the lawn and keep Rex from eating Itty-Bit.

Dave was to be a high school senior, Rex was his spotted large mutt, and Itty-Bit was an elderly white toy poodle owned by their neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Haskell.

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Jenkins: Rep. Rob Bishop's war on Theodore Roosevelt (column)

January 29, 2016 — 

Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop is using his position as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee to wage a war on the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, our Republican president from 1901-1909. The latest front in this war is Bishop’s plan to mangle the mission of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The fund helps protect hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation opportunities, while safeguarding our national parks and preserving historic sites. It is based on a very conservative idea: Use a small portion of revenue from the extraction of offshore oil and gas to conserve other natural resources. This program has served our nation well for 50 years without costing a dime of taxpayer money.

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Ask Eartha: Aliso Canyon methane leak; it's not just a California issue

January 28, 2016 — 

Dear Eartha,

Recently, there has been a lot of worry about the methane leak in California. Does this leak have any negative implications for Colorado residents?

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Bald-faced fantasy

January 28, 2016 — 

I smelled the familiar buttered rum coffee smell drifting my direction. Then, I heard the echo of women chatting from across the tree tops. It was ten degrees below zero, and yet those girls were back again, before dawn.

“An entire mountain range, and I’m the one they always wake up!” I grumbled to myself.

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Breckenridge Film Festival: We believe in diversity in film (column)

January 27, 2016 — 

#OscarsSoWhite. It is a regretful thing that in today’s age, inequality lingers. On Jan. 14, the 2016 Oscars nominations were announced, and, for the second year in a row, the slots open to the highest prestige and recognition of excellence in the industry were completely “whitewashed.”

The overwhelmingly white nominations announcements garnered attention that same day, when Oscars host Chris Rock tweeted, “The #Oscars. The white BET awards.” The topic — and hashtag — quickly became a flurry of excitement and criticism when, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, renowned and respected members of the film community spoke out in judgement of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences, the Oscars nominating body.

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Littwin: John Elway's storied promise to Peyton Manning (column)

January 26, 2016 — 

Because this is sports, and in sports — unlike life — anything is possible, John Elway probably believed what he said when he was recruiting Peyton Manning to come play for the Broncos.

You know the story. Elway told Manning that he’d do whatever he could to ensure that he’d end his storied career in the same way that Elway had ended his — with a Super Bowl victory. It would be a chance, Manning must have decided, at redemption, if that’s not too strong a word for it.

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Liddick: A limit on second chances for police (column)

January 25, 2016 — 

I agree with Angela Williams, a Democrat state representative from Denver, about at least one thing. She plans to introduce legislation in this session changing aspects of the hiring process for law-enforcement agencies. Specifically, she plans to close loopholes in the exemption process that allows those with criminal convictions or deferred judgments to become police officers.

You read that right. Since 2010, almost 200 people have applied for exemptions to Colorado’s rule that generally bars those with felony or serious misdemeanor convictions from becoming policemen and women. 170 applications were approved. Of the 46 applications for waivers to criminal convictions, only six were denied. There were drug crimes, which one might see as somewhat antique in the state of elevation that Colorado has become. But there were also assaults and domestic violence — no laughing matter in a person who is asking for a gun, a badge and a certain degree of leniency regarding the use of force.

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Biff America: Who do the Voodoo (column)

January 23, 2016 — 

Sometimes it can take a friend of the devil to restore your faith in heaven.

My pal Brian recently wrote me in regards to a recent column asking if the story I told was totally factual. When I told him it was, he apologized for doubting me. I wrote back saying it was a fair question as I’ll sometimes change names, locations and merge characters for brevity, privacy and humor purposes. For instance, my mate never stole the batteries from my avalanche transceiver for her nose hair clippers nor did she demand that I buy her a riding vacuum cleaner.

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Littwin: Michael Marshall didn't have to die

January 22, 2016 — 

Everything, sadly, went just as expected. Nobody was charged in the jailhouse death of Michael Lee Marshall, a mentally ill man arrested for trespassing and held on a $100 bond. In Mitch Morrissey’s tenure as Denver DA, no one ever gets charged in these cases. It’s the surest bet in town.

And no less surprising, when the video was finally released to the family, the story it told offered up many more questions than answers.

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Gulliford: Justice in the West has a double standard (column)

January 20, 2016 — 

In Boston over 200 years ago, a group of American patriots dressed and painted like Native Americans smashed crates and dumped tea into the city’s harbor. In today’s American West, protesters ride their ATVs into publicly owned canyons to protest federal restriction of motorized access, and more recently, grazing-fee opponents forcibly “occupy” the desks of wildlife biologists. In a different spirit of protest not so long ago, a young man quietly disrupted the sale of oil and gas leases to save two national parks from industrial development.

For centuries, protesters committed to their causes have broken the law and changed the United States, sometimes for the better. But to earn a place in American history, I think protesters must be willing to accept their punishment. Justice must also be doled out evenly, and that has not been the case in the West.

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Think twice: Warrior women are not girls, Hollywood (column)

January 20, 2016 — 

I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, but childhood nostalgia pulled me to the new Star Wars film during the holiday break. Chewy and the gang did not disappoint. However, the movie, which had the potential to stand as an intense feminist film, fell short of an achievement in gender equality.

The movie was diminished by the new and powerful female lead, Rey. Not because of her performance, which was stellar, but because she was referred to as ‘the girl’ throughout the film. Rey was not four or eight or twelve-years-old. She was not a girl. Rather, she was a tough and buff young woman. Very few young male warriors are referred to as ‘boys’. Why was she?

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Mountain Law: Colorado HOAs can now restrict short-term rentals (column)

January 20, 2016 — 

Can HOAs restrict short-term rentals? Until the Colorado Court of Appeals addressed the issue last year, in a case called Houston v. Wilson Mesa Ranch Homeowners Ass’n, Inc., there were no Colorado decisions directly on this subject. Houston involved an HOA in San Miguel County whose restrictive covenants stated that properties within the subdivision had to be used for residential purposes and could not be used for commercial purposes. The HOA’s executive board adopted a rule interpreting these covenants to the effect that they banned short-term rentals, and the court ultimately struck down the rule. As explained below, Houston confirmed three of my previous conclusions about the law in this area while raising questions about another.

To begin with, I have concluded that covenants allowing residential use only do not prevent owners from renting out their units because such uses are residential in nature. I based this conclusion in part on a Colorado Supreme Court decision called Double D Manor, Inc. v. Evergreen Meadows Homeowners’ Ass’n, which held that a group home for developmentally-challenged children did not violate a residential use only covenant. Houston cited Double D Manor and confirmed that covenants allowing residential use only do not restrict short-term rentals.

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Liddick: Republicans must first deal with our Tweedledums (column)

January 18, 2016 — 

The rustling sound on Friday last was the Republican establishment bestirring itself to thwart the progress of their two worst nightmares: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Soon, the wagons will circle around the Chosen One of the leadership clique, and the nomination process will stall. There are conclusions to be drawn here, and they better be drawn soon while there is still a party and Republic to save.

First, Republican notables and the money men behind them hate and fear both the senator and the businessman more than the Democrat nominee — most likely the congenital liar, conniver and enabler Hillary Clinton. The reasons for their odium are simple, stupid, dangerous and illuminating: neither man truckles. Neither can be controlled. Neither has time for party or media elites who consider themselves better, wiser and deserving of more forelock-tugging deference than has been forthcoming.

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