Opinion Columns, Columnists
I’ve never liked the fact that Forest Service staffers — chained to their desks — hire private concessionaires to run some of the day-use recreation areas in our national forests. Ever since the October federal government shutdown, I like it even less — thanks to one man who revealed what he really thinks of the deal: He claimed that his “Special Use Permit” from the agency turned our public lands into his “private parks.”
The man is Warren Meyer, president of Recreation Resource Management, which holds permits to operate campgrounds and day-use sites in Arizona’s Coconino National Forest. During the federal shutdown of 1995, his company was allowed to continue its operations on federal land. This time, though, things were different, and Meyer wasn’t happy about it.Learn more »
A dusty dragon peers at me from my daughter’s shelf, a remnant of a prior season in our lives. He sports the colors that have been abandoned in favor of green and gold, and the small smile that nearly brings a tear to my eye. I know that even though he has fallen out of current favor, he embodies a legacy in our household — one I hope is not left on the shelf.
Once upon a time, the DVE Dragon was the light at the end of the school year tunnel, the holy grail of attendance. By the time second grade rolled around the girls knew that only those students who did not miss a single day would be awarded the famed dragon. They both wanted one all their own. Their presence in class meant much to their teachers, and to their fellow students as they were part of a small community with large tasks ahead, learning to read and to write and to assimilate into school. We encouraged them to go for the dragon, perhaps a bit selfishly as it made our days easier when they groused about having to get out of bed.Learn more »
Patty Fontneau wants a raise. I can see why. Ms. Fontneau is the CEO of Connect for Health Colorado, our state’s version of an Obamacare-mandated health insurance exchange, and that’s difficult work. It’s undoubtedly worth far more than the miserly $190,549 a year taxpayers are dishing out now — and that $5,000 raise last year was just insulting. So yes; she’s asked for the raise and bonus, both of which are allowed in her contract.
Just for good measure, Ms. Fontneau asked that her chief operating officer, Lindy Hinman, and chief financial officer, Cammie Blais, get raises as well. At present, they both receive $164,800 annually. It may not be much, but … what’s a girl to do?Learn more »
Right around now, many Americans are picking at the last few chunks of leftover turkey. This annual ritual is a reminder that stripped of its pilgrim mythology, Thanksgiving is an extended paroxysm of meat consumption. Oh, sure, we go out of our way to pretend it isn’t really about that to the point where the president of the United States makes a public spectacle out of pardoning a bird. Yet, this particular holiday is our culture’s grandest celebration of flesh eating — and therefore, it has become a microcosmic example of our willingness to risk self-destruction.
I can already hear your inner monologue — the one saying that such apocalyptic language is irresponsible hyperbole. But take a moment away from those leftovers to consider just two scientific realities.Learn more »
Back in elementary school when I was hand-writing my newspaper The Lewisburg Snoopy Nose, I never dreamed what sort of tools journalists would be using today.
Unless I fell asleep watching “The Jetsons,” that is.Learn more »
My mate and I had every reason not to like Mitchell and we were adamant not to let the fact we never met him stand in our way. He had three strikes against him. First, he was dating Chelsea, who might be the sweetest, kindest gal in the world (my mate excluded). Second, he was a male model, and worst, he was a male model.
Chelsea was on the rebound, having kicked her last boyfriend to the curb because he was a jerk. Before the last boyfriend there were a few others who weren’t jerks but were boring, conceited — and one played the pan flute. (I’m not kidding).Learn more »
A hundred years ago, business tycoon Samuel Insull consolidated smaller utility companies to form the behemoth (albeit public charity-sounding) Commonwealth Edison. Because of the infrastructure needed to provide energy to an increasingly power-hunger public, Insull and others argued that Commonwealth Edison was a natural monopoly; inherently one company had to dominate the market. This battle cry enabled a mere 10 utility systems to control three-quarters of the nation’s electricity business by the time FDR was in the White House, subjecting consumers to higher rates with absolutely no competition save candles.
A series of New Deal regulations changed this, leading to decades of fair pricing to the consumer. (Until they were deregulated in the 1980s and 1990s, which is another column for another time.)Learn more »
Early last month, employees from Front Runner Seismic, a Pennsylvania company, showed up in my small town of Escalante, Utah, population 800. They quietly went about their business, knocking on doors and offering various contracts for mineral leases and access to private property. The men told residents they represented Denver energy developer James K. Munn. He’s after oil, and he believes there’s some to be had underneath our small town, located in the heart — though not actually within the boundaries — of the 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. My husband and I moved to Escalante five years ago to live in this desert we’d come to know and love. Both native Utahns, we had independently found solace here over the years. We still do.
When residents asked the men about fracking, Munn’s representative gave this answer: We are not ruling it out. In conversations with the Utah Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining, the agency confirmed that the company would certainly not rule out fracking, because this controversial extraction method has become routine: Today, 95 percent of all wells in Utah are fracked.Learn more »
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
A bison can weigh more than 1,000 pounds, so when one died recently in Yellowstone near Soda Butte Creek across from the Lamar River, its huge carcass became a prize destination for grizzlies, wolves, crows, magpies and ravens. Dillon, Mont., photographer Pete Bengeyfield, who happened upon the bloody buffet early, said that in 20 years he’d never seen anything like it. In the starring role was a large male grizzly, which clambered on top of the bison and stood up as if to say: “This is my bison, you better stay back,” reports the Billings Gazette.Learn more »
I recently watched “Vanishing of the Bees” and was extremely concerned about our pollinators. What do you think are the driving forces behind CCD and how do we save the bees?Learn more »
War on Christmas alert: In this season as we gather for our most cherished tradition, who stands ready to serve as an agent of its besmirchment?
Who but Pope Francis.Learn more »
Mascots: Will we ever stop arguing about them? Consider Teton County in Idaho, where school Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme said he was replacing the Redskins with a mascot less offensive to the Shoshonean people who originally inhabited that part of the state.
His announcement outraged many locals. Alumni protested loudly that their parents were Redskins, they had been Redskins, and by golly, their children would be Redskins, too. For now, Woolstenhulme, who has deep roots in the area, has retreated, but says he plans to revisit the issue.Learn more »
Everybody loves a good deal. You don’t need to look much further than Black Friday to see just how much. I can’t think of a person I know who is not disheartened by the stories of Black Friday deals gone bad, although I’ll leave it to our local news channels to capitalize on the details.
Even so, I am not ready to abandon the notion that shopping can be fun (conceding simultaneously my spouse need not concur). A few weeks ago, I joined a few thousand other folks who descended on the Outlets at Silverthorne for the annual shopping ExtravaGANNNza. I’d not been around for the event in the past so was not sure what to expect. It was a true zoo — but of the liveliest sort, and not just because of the liquor-infused whipped cream. Somehow, it was more fun to search for deals in the good company of friends, for good causes galore. While I can’t go so far as to say I was shopping for charity (lest the aforementioned spouse really cringe), seeing so many folks out smiling as they supported our economy with their hard-earned cash was worth the price of admission.Learn more »
Timesharing is said to have originated in the French Alps in the 1960s based on the need of consumers for assured accommodations in a prime tourist location. As such, it was logical the concept would find its way to Colorado. Unfortunately, despite increased regulation of the timeshare industry, many timeshare buyers succumb to high-pressure sales tactics and wind up dissatisfied with their timeshare purchases. When that happens, what legal remedies are available?
Right to Rescind: Colorado law provides a limited “cooling off” period during which a timeshare buyer may rescind (cancel) the sale. The rescission must be exercised within five calendar days after the sale and applies to any sale of a timeshare regardless of whether the seller is the timeshare developer itself or a private owner. The rescission must be exercised in writing by electronic means, mail or hand delivery and is effective when given by the buyer (not when received by the seller). Once the right to rescind is exercised, the timeshare seller must refund any down payment or deposit made under the timeshare contract within seven calendar days (or, if the check has not cleared, within seven calendar days after it clears).Learn more »
So much for bipartisanship. Farewell to collegiality. Goodbye to cooperation. Last week, Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats showed they were uninterested in any of that. After whining about “gridlock” and calling for “compromise,” the Left wing of the Senate voted in lockstep for single-party government, changing the cloture rules to allow a bare 51-vote majority to end debate on presidential nominees.
This wasn’t about “obstruction.” Honest counting indicates Republicans have blocked eight Obama picks in the past five years; Harry Reid’s use of 82 indicates that he is innumerate, illiterate, or a liar. Or all three. By comparison Democrats blocked 14 of George W Bush’s choices, 2003-08.Learn more »
I’ve heard a lot of interesting stories of people trying, and failing, to sign up for Obamacare, but this one takes the cake.
According to UPI, Shane Smith, of Fort Collins, Colo., had his new Obamacare insurance opened under his dog’s name.Learn more »
Welcome to the Liberals’ version of the Hunger Games, America; unapologetically brought to you by our Progressive friends in the Democrat Party, whose economic policies have lifted a record number of Americans from the middle class and plopped them face down — into poverty the past five years.
I know. This makes no sense, considering they claim they are the party for the folks, insisting they are fighting to expand the middle class. Forget what they say for a moment and take a look at what they’ve done the past five years. It seems the only things they’ve expanded are the size of government, welfare rolls, homelessness, unemployment, and the number of people who no longer believe anything that comes out of their mouths, thanks to Obamacare.Learn more »
Oil shale boosters and other enthusiasts were gathered at an annual Colorado School of Mines conference recently, when the talk turned to Shell Oil’s announcement that it was abandoning its oil shale project in western Colorado. Suddenly, the group’s comments seemed straight out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail:
DEAD COLLECTOR: Here — he says he’s not dead!Learn more »
I looked my buddy Paul straight in the eye and lied to him.
Yes, I hoped my assertion would come to pass, but I said it with the conviction of one who had no doubt. We both walked away feeling better, though I think both of us knew I might be full of it.Learn more »
For more than 30 years, the Nevada activist Jo Anne Garrett fought to preserve the environment, character and beauty of her sagebrush-stubbled quarter of the rural West.
The unlikely base for her “brushroots” organizing was the tiny outpost of Baker, Nev., on the doorstep of lightly visited Great Basin National Park and close to the spot where U.S. 50, the “Loneliest Road in America,” crosses into Utah.Learn more »
It’s Thanksgiving weekend in Summit County, and may you all enjoy a wonderful time with family and friends.
Many of us are still giving thanks for that party thrown by Moose Jaw owners Lynda “Mama Moose” and Jim Colety to mark their 40 years on Old Main Street Frisco.Learn more »
In the decade I’ve lived in the Colorado Rockies, I’ve driven roughly the same over-four-hour-long route dozens of times home from Boulder, where I grew up, without major incident: I-70 to Highway 24 to Leadville; I-70 to Highway 82 to Aspen; I-70 to Highway 133 to Paonia, where I live now.
This trip back in late October seemed to have everything going for it. The weather was crisp and edged gold with aspen and cottonwood leaves. Westbound traffic on I-70 streamed along at a fast clip. Winding, two-lane 133 from Carbondale into the West Elk Mountains was pleasantly snow-, rock- and elk-free in the deepening twilight. Crossing 8,755-foot-high McClure Pass, I yelled along to a dance tune by The Shoes to stay alert on the last dark stretch of the drive.Learn more »
While jogging up the road just yesterday I glimpsed a man outside on his deck, camera aimed at the distant horizon. His attention was so focused that I paused to glimpse over my shoulder and caught the scene from his perspective. It was purple mountain majesty at its finest, with ethereal white clouds hovering over multi-layered peaks. It took my breath — what little I had remaining — away.
The sight reminded me, somewhat oddly, of a recent post by a friend of her daughter’s senior picture. She too is a beaut, and I fired off a quick comment that I knew she was beautiful both outside and within. Surely, the same can be said of our community. This place is easy on the eyes, but its exterior grandeur often is dwarfed by its interior radiance, abundantly demonstrated at the recent Summit Foundation Philanthropy awards. The event honors the intense hard work of locals, individuals and businesses alike, that dedicate time and talent to causes and organizations that in turn give back to the community. The folks honored generally are people who volunteer after giving it their all at equally demanding “day jobs.” This includes the countless individuals who “retire” to Summit only to immerse themselves in efforts to support our kids, our families and ultimately our community. I know them as the people who say “yes” when I am sure “no” would be the far easier, and less costly, alternative.Learn more »
I hear the case made against teaching cursive writing, and it tells me this: My third-grade teacher, Miss Coleman, wasted my instructional time.
And heretofore I thought her to be a wonderful lady.Learn more »
I’m not sure whether it’s a sign of the recession ending, or more baby boomers starting to retire, but I have seen a noticeable resurgence of business sales and purchases in recent months. If you find yourself contemplating the purchase, or sale, of a business, or you have a family member looking for advice, I have some thoughts you may want to consider.
As a starting point, it is important to understand that almost all businesses have a value. My own father recently planned to shut down his small tax practice. When I asked him to consider selling it, he didn’t believe it was worth anything. After working with a business broker, he walked away with one year of revenues, and a great feeling that his customers were in good hands. If you are a business owner close to retirement, why not retain that last bit of value and retire on top?Learn more »
In two days, most of us will gather with friends and family to sacrifice a turkey and more autumn vegetables than we care to consider. We do this in honor of the past, and in thanks for present graces. But before the tryptophan coma strikes, before the football haze descends, before the second helping of dessert, in the words of the couplet from the Book of Sirach, “Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers, who begat us.”
This country owes much of its character and success to people fleeing the crushing hand of government. The early 1600s were not a happy time for religious nonconformists in England, so many sought refuge in North America. The Pilgrims crossed the North Atlantic in late autumn, created their own government out of necessity and survived their first bitter year, to make the beginnings of an English colony in what would become Massachusetts. We should remember them on Thursday, and thank them for their fierce will to survive and prosper; they helped make America an example for the world.Learn more »
In the American West, “zoning” is often viewed as a taboo term. Indeed, despite a population boom and the rise of major cities in the region, this area is still seen as the wide-open frontier. The libertarian zeal that comes with that frontier spirit naturally leads many to believe they should be able to build whatever they want wherever they want.
One obvious problem with that attitude, though, is how the inevitable costs associated with willfully irresponsible development decisions are borne not just by the individual property owner, but by all taxpayers. Such is the case with firefighting. Over the last decade, as so much suburban sprawl has reached into known wildfire zones, governments are still on the financial hook for protecting homes from blazes. That’s not frontier freedom. That’s forcing taxpayers who make responsible residential decisions to subsidize — and thus encourage — irresponsible development decisions.Learn more »
Mrs. Bieschel came running into the fourth-grade classroom like a crazy lady. She had black circles under her eyes and brown lines running down her cheeks. Now, of course, later in life I discovered that this was caused by mascara and face foundation being streaked by tears. But at the time and with the mind of a 10-year-old I searched for an explanation.
Just a few weeks earlier Johnny Ryan had a similar-looking black eye when Jimmy Spada punched him in the face at recess. My first thought was that my grammar school principal had stepped into a three-punch combination. If her appearance wasn’t odd enough, Mrs. Bieschell did something I had never seen an educator do; she grabbed our teacher, Miss Casey, and hugged her. They clutched each other and rocked gently.Learn more »
When Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November to be the federal holiday, Thanksgiving, he invited his fellow citizens to use it as a day of atonement; a day to pray for orphans, widows, mourners and sufferers of what he described as the “lamentable civil strife.”
This is the 160th anniversary of that proclamation. Somehow a day of “humble penitence” has evolved into candying already-too-sweet tubers and mauling your neighbors at the local Walmart for a $30 Furby Boom.Learn more »
The error-prone website for the Affordable Care Act website is causing considerable glee to critics who like to believe that the federal government can do nothing right, or at least not as efficiently as the private sector.
If fixes are not forthcoming, the rollout glitches and botched assurances might eventually do what the Tea Party’s attempt to shut down the federal government didn’t — crash the whole Obamacare program. But if that happens, where will we be?Learn more »