Opinion Columns, Columnists

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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Biff America: Simple pleasures and good humor (column)

January 16, 2016 — 

A husband and wife are at a nightclub where they see a buffed guy on the dance floor doing splits, flips and moonwalking. The wife says, ‘That man asked me to marry him 25 years ago and I turned him down for you.’ To which her husband replied, ‘it looks like he is still celebrating.’

“Jerry’s Jokes,” page 86

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Littwin: Anger's winning the Republican debates (column)

January 16, 2016 — 

If the Republican debates are an exercise in who can scare Americans the most, GOP Debate VI was the clear winner.

This was the night, just 17 nights before the first votes are cast at the Iowa caucuses, in which it became frighteningly clear that either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz might well win the nomination. (No, I still don’t believe Trump can win — my imagination is just not that good — which would leave us with, yes, Cruz, and how do you get scarier than that, unless Dick Nixon makes another comeback?)

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Freeman: Bundle up and go outside (column)

January 15, 2016 — 

Your son looks quite … warm,” another mother says, eyeing my 3-year-old son as we drop off his older brother at kindergarten.

I look down at Isaac, his body encased in a snowsuit, two additional insulating layers hidden beneath. “He goes to an all-outdoor preschool,” I reply, but the mother is already distracted, busy waving goodbye to her child.

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Obama maintains hope as threat of Donald Trump presidency looms

January 14, 2016 — 

Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address may not have been a particularly memorable speech, but it was a remarkable one.

Who could have guessed that Obama would use this stage, the biggest and grandest available to any president, to choose to discuss with the nation the clear and present danger as presented by … Donald Trump?

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Knudson: Bullies must not be allowed to hijack our story (column)

January 13, 2016 — 

The armed protesters occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Oregon have indicated that they will leave if the locals so desire. Well, it’s time for them to go: Harney County residents, who just held a huge community meeting about this invasion, seemed to heartily agree that they want the vigilantes to pack their bags and skedaddle.

Sieges like the one happening near Burns exploit Western communities as a stage to perform political theater. The people involved bring violence and hostility to places that in day-to-day life are mostly noted for their tranquility.

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Liddick: Obama and a state of discord (column)

January 11, 2016 — 

Late last Thursday, Philadelphia police officer Jesse Harnett was driving down a street on patrol when Edward Archer, a local Muslim convert who had “pledged allegiance to ISIS,” stormed across the street firing at least 11 shots from a 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol. Although hit three times, officer Harnett returned fire and helped pursue Archer, who was arrested nearby.

On Thursday, July 16, 2015, Mohammod Youssef Abdulaziz opened fire on a Navy operations center in Chattanooga, Tennessee killing five. Mr. Abdulazziz, who was not a member of a terrorist group, nevertheless penned a number of anti-US and anti-Western screeds; both family and friends reportedly noticed “changes in behavior” following his return from a trip to Jordan early last year.

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Biff America: Ice House Socialism (column)

January 9, 2016 — 

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”

— Mark Twain

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Polis: In Colorado, keep education local (column)

January 9, 2016 — 

When it comes to education, those that live in the mountains know that the needs, challenges, and strengths that Grand County School District or Summit County School District has are much different than those faced by Denver Public Schools or Douglas County School District. And more broadly, schools in Colorado face a different set of circumstances than those in Alabama, or California, or South Dakota.

We all understand this basic principle. But in the eyes of our current federal education law, No Child Left Behind, these differences don’t exist. That’s because our current education law tells school districts how to measure progress instead of allowing states and districts themselves to create accountability measures that best serve their unique needs.

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Ask Eartha: Tips for fueling environmental passion in 2016 (column)

January 8, 2016 — 

Dear Eartha,

For 2016, my resolution is to become more aware and involved in environmental issues and causes. Can you give me some insight into ways that I can become more informed of the hot-topic issues and ways that I can begin to give back? — Johnny, Breckenridge

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Larmer: Modern sagebrush rebels recycle old Western fantasies (column)

January 7, 2016 — 

Ammon and Ryan Bundy, sons of scofflaw Nevada rancher Clive Bundy, appear to have made an ambitious New Year’s resolution: Force the federal government, which has managed more than half of the American West’s lands for the past century, to relinquish them, at gun point if necessary, to the locals.

Over the weekend, the Bundy brothers and a group of a few dozen or so militiamen and their sympathizers took over the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon and declared it a safe haven for well-armed “patriots” who oppose federal land management.

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