Opinion Columns, Columnists

Republicans are at odds with corporate America (column)

July 5, 2015 — 

The Republican brand is that they’re on the side of business. “Corporations are people, my friends,” uttered doomed 2012 presidential candidate, CEO-turned-Massachusetts-Governor Mitt Romney. At the time I assumed what he actually meant was, “Corporations are my friends, people.”

This has been the bottom line for the GOP: Business is their business. Even South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley defended the odious decision to have the Confederate flag fly at her state’s Capitol grounds by saying, “I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.”

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Biff America: Tired, poor, huddled masses

July 4, 2015 — 

Laura’s grandparents, Abraham and Aliza, came to America from Poland in 1901. They landed in Ellis Island and were processed like cattle. They met in a Jewish ghetto in New York — fell in love and married. Abe wrote his brother back in Poland saying he married an angel. He bragged of her good looks, great disposition and stew.

Two years, and two children later, Aliza died of a condition that now would be only a minor inconvenience. In keeping with an Old World tradition her younger sister, Claire, was dispatched from the old country to take the place of her dead sister.

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District Attorney Bruce Brown: Let's think twice about universal police body cams (column)

July 4, 2015 — 

In the wake of police officer involved shootings from Ferguson, Missouri to North Charleston, South Carolina, there is no hotter topic among law enforcement agencies and District Attorneys than the routine employment of body cams for patrolling police officers. In next year’s Colorado legislature, which has an enormous appetite right now for regulating police, there are bound to be proposals including requiring body cams for every police department.

An undercurrent of police distrust is driving a need to not to just hear their testimony in court but to see what the officer saw through the utilization of recorders mounted in their cars and upon their bodies. Similarly, police feel vulnerable to people they encounter who might make a false allegation of misconduct against them and the officers themselves view body cams as a tool to prove their own innocence with the tap of the “play” button.

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Supreme Court again declares Obamacare is the law of the land

July 4, 2015 — 

For the second time, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. We breathe a sigh of relief that thousands of Summit County residents will continue to have access to health insurance.

Regardless of the ruling, all of the benefits of health care reform, including tax credits aimed at providing affordable options for all Coloradoans, would have continued to be available in our state.

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Simple tricks for reducing Colorado energy bills

July 3, 2015 — 

What can I do about reducing my monthly electric bill? I have several friends who have gone solar in the last few years and absolutely love it. Should I invest in solar for my home? Is there anything else in preparation for the long winter I can do to help curb my pricey energy bills? — Katherine, Keystone

Here in the High Country, there’s no disputing the sun’s intensity. In any sunny environment, solar photovoltaic panels will effectively capture that intense radiation and convert it into a readily available and abundantly useful resource for the home (electricity). I would agree, having sold residential solar for a couple years, that solar customers share in the excitement of capturing and utilizing an otherwise underutilized source of energy. Going solar is an exciting endeavor, but, make no mistake, it will not always save you money.

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Young: On the run, on campaign trail: the defiant ones (column)

July 2, 2015 — 

Fugitives from the law. Desperate. Defiant. Hiding out in plain sight. Won’t go down without a fight.

We thought the two New York prison fugitives were a tough case. Now come the fugitives from the historic U.S. Supreme Court pronunciations on marriage equality and the Affordable Care Act.

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Littwin: DougCo's dodgy voucher plan boosts religious recruitment – not education

July 1, 2015 — 

The Douglas County School Board might be unhappy with the state Supreme Court ruling knocking down its dodgy voucher plan.

Religious schools throughout Douglas County might be unhappy with the state Supreme Court ruling knocking down the dodgy DougCo voucher plan.

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Mountain Law: Construction defect reform advocates lose at state house, then win in court

July 1, 2015 — 

When a new condominium project is built in Colorado, there is a high possibility that the developer will eventually be sued for construction defects. As a result, many developers say that it is simply not economical for them to build condominiums for sale. Instead, many developers construct condominiums and lease them as apartments, at least until the statute of limitations has run for construction-defect claims. This arguably contributes to a shortfall of affordable housing for those who can afford to purchase a condominium but not a single-family home.

Developers (and groups allied with them) say that they need construction-defect law reform before they can create such needed affordable housing. However, critics say that reforms are designed to strip condominium owners of their ability to recover for legitimate construction defects.

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Bargell: In time for July 4th, a resolution of interdependence (column)

July 1, 2015 — 

This week, it’s all about the history — or at least what we manage to fit in between sparklers and symphonies. That part of history that involves digging through old papers in courthouses always has fascinated me. The bigger the book, the smaller the writing, and the deeper the dust that pours off when the volume creaks open, the better.

These days, however, there’s no dust required to view visceral remnants of our past. Instead, they come to life on my oversized computer screen, a quirky courtesy of 21st-century technology. Recently, digging around online (an oxymoron, perhaps), I happened upon a simple handwritten resolution, one of the first official acts of the American Revolution. Advanced by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, the online image is haunting in its simplicity — “Resolved: That these united Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

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Liddick: Would we sign the Declaration of Independence today? (column)

June 30, 2015 — 

Saturday marks our country’s 239th anniversary — a suitable time to remind ourselves of some truths about our foundation. We should do this annually because there are many who would have us believe falsities about ourselves and our nation, for reasons either misguided or malign, or both.

Every American should understand: The first principle of this country is freedom. Those who pledged their fortunes, lives and sacred honor in a lopsided contest with the world’s greatest military power did not do so in the name of equality. They recognized the God-given right of Americans to pursue happiness but knew its achievement was guaranteed to no one. No soldier froze at Valley Forge, bled at King’s Mountain or fought at the Fusilier’s Redoubt before Yorktown in the name of health-care-for-all to be paid for by someone else. No Ranger staked his life against Britain’s Native American allies in the Ohio River valley, so that schoolchildren could have free lunches or farmers a guaranteed income. No mariner hoisted sail under the new flag against impossible odds for the welfare state, the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Education.

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How the Trans-Pacific Partnership gives corporations special legal rights (column)

June 29, 2015 — 

In promoting a proposed trade pact covering 12 Pacific Rim nations, President Obama has cast the initiative as an instrument of equity. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would, in his words, “level the playing field” and “give our workers a fair shot.” But, critics argue that within the hundreds of pages of esoteric provisions, the deal — like similar ones before it — includes a glaring double standard: It provides legal rights to corporations and investors that it does not extend to unions, public-interest groups and individuals.

Recently leaked drafts of the agreement show the pact includes the kind of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions written into most major trade deals passed since the North American Free Trade Agreement. Those provisions allow companies to use secretive international tribunals to sue sovereign governments for damages when those governments pass public-interest policies that threaten to cut into a corporation’s profits or seize a company’s property.

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Snake, love and facial hair (column)

June 27, 2015 — 

“Hey man, do you remember Jake the Snake?”

In a past life I spent summers in a small town in Northern California. The only remaining contact from that time is my buddy, Chuck Seater. Chuck and I were involved in a few ill-conceived enterprises back then. We also worked at the same bar called the Rendezvous. He calls me a few times a year and we’ll catch up on our old friends and our current circumstances. When I pick up the phone there is neither greeting nor introduction; he begins the conversation as if we spoke a few minutes before.

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Heard around the West

June 27, 2015 — 

THE SOUTHWEST

A California condor with a yen for new places apparently got tired of southern Colorado. “N8” — identified by the number on the GPS transponder on his wing — left Cortez and took off for New Mexico, a state that had never, in all its recorded history, had a confirmed condor sighting. The appearance of the 2-year-old male in Los Alamos was an unexpected treat for Joe Fitzgibbon, an Audubon Society stalwart who was amazed to find the big bird in his backyard. Fitzgibbon told the Santa Fe New Mexican that he’d recently spent more than a day driving to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim in hopes of glimpsing one of the 71 condors that have been released there, but had no luck. So having a condor loiter in his backyard for a whole half hour left him “flabbergasted.” Condors can easily fly up to 200 miles in a day, said Eddie Feltes, field manager for the California Condor Recovery Project. He added that N8 appears to be flying solo, but is probably hanging out with fellow carrion eaters — agreeing with turkey vultures and ravens that the dinner menu matters much less than the fact that the entrées are truly dead.

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Ask Eartha: Weeds running wild in the High Country (column)

June 26, 2015 — 

Dear Eartha,

My neighbor started giving me grief last summer about “noxious weeds” that he said are growing in my yard. One of the plants he says is bad is my favorite — a white daisy-looking plant that blooms in late summer. I didn’t have to plant them, and I don’t have to do anything! Why the fuss? What’s the big deal?

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Red Pope, Green Pope (column)

June 25, 2015 — 

He gets under their skin like termites in a boathouse. Drives them crazier than Hillary Clinton and Yoko Ono dancing on a gay pride parade float. He’s the itch you can’t scratch. The thorn in the palm of their paw. The 3-inch scratch on their favorite Ted Nugent album. I’m talking about that hot new Catholic sensation, Pope Frankie.

At first, it was his general commie-pink-yellow-rat-bastard predilection for focusing on the poor. “The poor. The poor. Why is it with him, always got to be about the goldarn poor.” But now, the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio has issued an encyclical that claims humans are responsible for global warming. Did he not get the memo? Listen close and you can hear Mitch McConnell echo Henry II, “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

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Whatever happened to common sense regarding climate change?

June 25, 2015 — 

Fear mongering is quite lucrative in what seems to be a burgeoning “climate change industrial complex,” where certain people benefit monetarily or politically in their promotion of global catastrophic risk due to catastrophic global warming.

Al Gore got filthy rich railing over imminent destruction due to rising sea levels, then purchased multiple beachfront properties, despite the “danger.” Now Pope Francis seems to think marketing it as a moral issue may be a handy tool to transfer wealth along with the Obama administration, which just released an EPA report suggesting that climate change may kill 57,000 people by year 2100. France’s environmental minister says the edible spread, Nutella, is damaging the environment.

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Possession is nine-tenths of racism (column)

June 25, 2015 — 

How could someone hate a person simply because of dark pigment? Based on our history of racial progress and regress, it’s simple.

Racism mostly is about entitlement, about power, about privilege. And this key point: In our country it’s about a victimhood that never really happened.

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Rachel Dolezal, the pain thief of Spokane (column)

June 25, 2015 — 

Spokane, Washington, the little city that has a knack for weirdness, is back in the limelight again. Not so long ago, it was all about the outing of our anti-gay mayor, who’d been discovered trolling for young men.

This time it’s all about Rachel Dolezal. Everyone knew her as the dynamic black president of the local chapter for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. And then, the world learned that she isn’t black, even though she still says, “I identify as black.”

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Littwin: Taking down the Confederate flag and racist pride, too (column)

June 24, 2015 — 

When the governor of South Carolina called for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from the State House grounds, it felt as if the world had stopped — if just for moment — to give itself time to adjust.

Yes, the moment was that big.

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In Charleston, political opportunism piles on tragedy

June 22, 2015 — 

On Wednesday, June 17, the Glock automatic pistol owned by white supremacist Dylann Storm Roof woke up and decided to drive to Charleston and kill African-Americans. Perhaps it found inspiration in the website of the Bushmaster .223 owned by Adam Lanza, author of the school massacre in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Maybe it had been chatting with the Remington model 870 shotgun owned by Colorado’s James Holmes.

Whatever lit the fuse, that afternoon, the Glock drove to Charleston, South Carolina, and found a target of opportunity at the historic Emanuel AME Church, where it was welcomed into a bible study group. After a while, it rose and slaughtered nine attendees, including the pastor who was also a state legislator. When arrested the following day, the homicidal pistol demonstrated no remorse.

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Sirota: Jeb Bush's audacious announcement (column)

June 21, 2015 — 

Presidential campaign announcement speeches typically rehash well-worn themes politicians have long championed. They rarely include shockers or attempts to wholly redefine a candidate. Not so for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — his announcement address at Miami Dade College this week was an extreme makeover that included passages that likely had America doing a double take.

To start, Bush slammed politicians for being too close to what he called Washington’s “swarms of lobbyists.” Yet, he himself has relied on that multibillion-dollar influence industry to bankroll his political campaigns.

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A uranium mine is anything but a good neighbor (column)

June 21, 2015 — 

Driving the road between uranium mines on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim recently, I got a taste of what it’s like to live along a truck route for hauling uranium. Unfortunately, it’s a reality that may soon face anyone living between northern Arizona and southern Utah if a uranium mine reopens close to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The trucks, which lack large and clearly seen markings indicating that their cargo is radioactive, are huge — the size of dump trucks — with 25 tons of ore piled high in the beds. The ore is covered by canvas tarps that seem scant protection from high winds or accidents. With only this flimsy covering, the ore travels hundreds of miles on rough Forest Service roads, county roads, highways and interstates, moving from the mines to the White Mesa Uranium Mill in Blanding, Utah.

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Biff America: Fun day wobbly rides (column)

June 20, 2015 — 

“You look just like your Dad.” On the surface my mate’s assertion that I resembled my father is a compliment; by all accounts he was a handsome man. But he was also a bit of a curmudgeon so her mentioning my Dad’s and my resemblance is a plea for me to not be a stick in the mud. Often my lack of enthusiasm for the, convoluted, multi-hour recreational missions she drags me on shows on my face. She calls it my “poopy look.”

“If you’re not having a good time, it’s you own damn fault.”

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Littwin: Secrecy and self-destruction in Colorado's GOP (column)

June 20, 2015 — 

Before we dig too far into the details of the Colorado GOP’s dance with extortion and dysfunction, I think we can first all agree that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has undoubtedly learned some valuable political lessons along the way. Unfortunately, we can also all agree that she learned them at the same time she was destroying her political career.

Life, huh?

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Writers on the Range: Soaking wet in Colorado (column)

June 19, 2015 — 

Every day since early May, an incredibly cheerful robin has been singing from the top of a tree behind my house. Chee-oo-woot, chee-oo-woot, chee-oo-weet, chee-oo woot. He’s the Gene Kelly of birds. Because for six weeks straight, it’s been snowing, hailing, spinning tornados, flooding or pouring here in Denver. And, this bird keeps singing in the rain. He may be the only living creature happy about Colorado’s wet weather.

My neighbors and I no longer bother with the “Had enough of this rain?” conversation. It’s an old and soggy subject. We just shake our heads at each other from our covered porches and garages. We all know the answer to several new-to-Colorado questions the deluge has sprouted. Think it’ll rain today? Of course it will. Could we live happily in the rainy Pacific Northwest? Heck no.

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Life on the Summit: High fliers and rib grillers

June 19, 2015 — 

When you call 9,100 feet above sea level home — most events are the “world’s highest.”

Right now, Frisco is holding its 22nd annual Colorado BBQ Challenge, sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. This has to be the world’s highest level of rib-smacking.

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Ask Eartha: The trials and tribulations of waste diversion (column)

June 19, 2015 — 

Dear Eartha,

Every time I go to an event in Summit County, it seems like the zero-waste guidelines have changed. Sometimes, compostable cups can go into the compost bin, sometimes they can’t. And what about paper plates? I’m confused about recyclables, too, especially plastic. I want to be a good steward, but I cannot keep up! Help! — Pat, Dillon

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Young: For the Way-Back Gang, it is because it is (column)

June 18, 2015 — 

What makes a conservative conservative?

Aversion to reality, that’s what.

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Mountain Law:

June 17, 2015 — 

If a construction lender takes deed in lieu of foreclosure from the developer of a failed construction project, what rights does the lender have to sue the developer’s subcontractors for construction defects relating to the project? That was the issue addressed by the Colorado Supreme Court in a recent case called SK Peightal Engineers, Ltd. v. Mid Valley Real Solutions V, LLC. As discussed below, the case holds lessons for the construction industry.

The basic facts were that a developer secured construction financing from a bank to build a residential home. The developer defaulted on the loan, and the bank — through a subsidiary — accepted a deed in lieu of foreclosure from the developer. Before the bank could sell the home, the bank discovered cracks in the foundation caused by settling soil. It sued certain subcontractors, including the structural engineer and geotechnical contractors, for negligence.

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Free Range Kids movement meets Mountain Range Parenting (column)

June 16, 2015 — 

“Play ball!” It is the quintessential call of summer, followed by the crack of a bat. When I was younger, it meant there would be a chance to sneak away to the concession stand open evenings at the local ball field offering uniquely tasty summer fare, from bubble gum to giant Sweet Tarts. Downing one of the mammoth tarts was a summer accomplishment all its own.

Summer takes on a myriad of different sounds around the county, from the shock of the horn starting a swim race to the unassuming “Ready, set, go” that sends runners off on a new trail. Summit kids are out in force, doing it all.

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