Opinion Columns, Columnists
My wife insists that a product labeled “organic” is better than something labeled as being “natural.” Is there a difference, and is she right that one is better than the other? — Nigel, BreckenridgeLearn more »
To Whom it May Concern,
I hope you’re well, and I hope I’m not distracting you from your important tasks of balancing budgets and not starting wars. I have a problem I’d like to call to your attention.Learn more »
When I was a child, I remember passing through any number of national park entrance stations in our family station wagon. I remember the historic stone kiosks where the rangers greeted us, and my excitement as we began the slow drive toward the greatest wonders of nature. Visiting a national park felt a little like entering sacred ground — it was a place to be quiet, to pay careful attention, to absorb all the details and be grateful.
If anything, this feeling of reverence towards lands and sites managed by the National Park Service has intensified. When I worked as a ranger at Kings Canyon National Park in California, I found that much of the visiting public treated rangers like clergy. I took their respect seriously and tried to earn it, passing on both the science and the tradition of the national parks. Indeed, for many people, national parks are a kind of church. They are special places that connect us to nature and to our country.Learn more »
On last Wednesday, a small group of Democrat lawmakers disrupted Congress’ business, staging a noisy demonstration and sitting down on the floor of the House of Representatives. It was a tantrum by petulant children who, not receiving their heart’s desire, flung themselves to the floor in a fit of frenzy, whining about how unfair it all was. Unfair it was not, at least to those who believe in rules; ironic, it was: This was the group that protests at the drop of a hat about Congressional inaction, making it impossible for Congress to do any work because they did not get their way.
On last Thursday, citizens of the United Kingdom dealt an unexpected defeat to the European Union, saying “no” loudly to open borders and mountains of new regulations imposed by the faceless and unaccountable bureaucrats of Brussels and Strasbourg. Petulance quickly followed: The German and French foreign ministers called for Britain to leave “as soon as possible.” The EU president and the head of the “European Parliament” agreed. Britain must leave quickly — before the contagion spreads to Finland and the Netherlands — and then, uncontrollably, beyond.Learn more »
In September 1960, at age 58, John Steinbeck and his poodle, Charley, set out on a journey across America in a camper. For three months, they traveled the nation, meeting friends, strangers and relatives and immersing themselves in America while reflecting on its character, racial hostility and particular form of loneliness found most everywhere.
In September 2015, at age 72, my son and I set out on a journey across America in a VW, Chevy Blazer and a U-Haul. Seven months later, after 21 states, 9,000 miles and two residences leased and vacated, I returned to Summit County. What I experienced, chronicled and discovered was an America much different than the one Steinbeck encountered 56 years ago.Learn more »
My mate and I were relaxing in the Nevada dessert when we noticed a toilet rapidly approaching.
An hour before, we left the interstate, drove our camper about 10 miles down a narrow, rough road. From there we took a dirt track that dead ended at a washed-out creek bed. It would be our home for the night; we pulled out our lawn chairs and books. The sun was low in the sky, the clouds were blood red.Learn more »
This column almost wasn’t written. At least not on this topic.
You see, at the moment, I’m mad at God.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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. . .Learn more »
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.Learn more »
The following piece was the third-place finisher in the 6th annual Rotary/Summit Daily high school short story contest.
Learn more »
“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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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, BreckenridgeLearn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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?Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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?Learn more »