Opinion Columns, Columnists

Hillary Clinton strategy: omit, misdirect and obfuscate (column)

May 25, 2015 — 

I did not have sex with that woman…Ms. Lewinski.”

Words to remember now that we are watching another example of the oddly unsavory behavior that is the hallmark of the Clintons: telling the truth slowly, in bite-sized jigsaw-puzzle pieces, but only when compelled to do so and never without a liberal seasoning of ambiguity or occasionally, outright lying. Like the above. You remember: multiple perjuries to protect a serial sexual predator who happened to be President.

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Saving an island fox could be a benchmark (column)

May 23, 2015 — 

The recovery of the endangered fox on Channel Islands National Park off the Southern California coast might be a benchmark for modern conservation. With the cinnamon-colored fox due to come off the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species list in about two years, this could be the fastest recovery of a land mammal in the history of the Endangered Species Act.

It nearly didn’t happen. Santa Cruz Island, which had been the most biologically diverse of eight islands in the Channel Islands chain, was virtually denuded by feral sheep and pigs by the 1990s. When I first started surfing and kayaking around there in the late 1980s, I assumed the island had always looked like a wasteland. But it was an unnatural environment.

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A valley in Colorado fights for its rural life (column)

May 23, 2015 — 

I agreed to buy our 45-acre ranch sight unseen after my husband, Kevin, came back from a fishing trip to western Colorado’s North Fork Valley. He’d been suffering from a kind of emptiness that couldn’t be filled by our marriage, our family, or his work. It turned out he needed to get back to the mountains of his home state. I signed those mortgage papers the same way I would have signed a release for Kevin to have lifesaving surgery: It had to be done.

The North Fork Valley lies on the western side of the Rocky Mountains, due west of Colorado Springs. Its streams drain the Grand Mesa, the Ragged Mountains, and the West Elk Mountains into the Gunnison River. The valley runs east to west, with the towns of Delta, Hotchkiss and Paonia situated in the fertile bottomlands at an elevation ranging from 5,000 to 6,300 feet above sea level. This area is home to the largest concentration of organic farms in the state. Our own ranch is in Crawford, a town of 300 or so perched on the southeast edge of the valley.

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EPA plan to ban coal hits major roadblock (column)

May 22, 2015 — 

The EPA proposal to impose a de facto ban on new coal-fired power plants received more than two million comments from the public — but it looks like it was just one five-page comment from the Energy and Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) that sent EPA scrambling back to the drawing board.

The draft rule mandated the use of so-called carbon capture and storage, a technology that would inject carbon dioxide underground but which has so far proved to be little more than a white elephant experiment. To mandate this technology, the law required the EPA to prove it was “adequately demonstrated” and “commercially available.” Thanks to E&E Legal, they failed.

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Becoming better bystanders (column)

May 21, 2015 — 

Last week Summit County students, parents and community members came together to view a documentary. Not so unusual in the county, where our young kids trek annually to see the wonders National Geographic produces, and where Warren Miller’s latest ski extravaganza attracts a crowd. “The Hunting Ground,” however, was in a far different vein.

When entering the auditorium all attending received a small adhesive dot. Some were white, others were different colors. Mine was orange. Before the film started the facilitators asked everyone with a colored dot to stand. About one-fifth of the people rose to their feet. The exercise provided a visual of the percentage of the population that has been sexually assaulted. While an unnerving amount of people were standing, the majority remained seated, filling the role of “bystander.”

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The bloodbath down the street (column)

May 20, 2015 — 

I know the place: the place where bullets flew and blood flowed the other day, where TV crews set up their trucks for one more gruesome body count.

I know that place. It’s called America.

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Littwin: The death penalty's dying breaths, even in Nebraska

May 20, 2015 — 

Someday when they write the history of the death penalty in the United States, it will include the fact that on the day Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was being sentenced to death in federal court in anti-capital-punishment Massachusetts, the Nebraska legislature was voting nearly two-to-one to repeal the state’s death penalty law.

Yes, Nebraska.

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Smaller employers more exposed to discrimination suits under new law

May 20, 2015 — 

Until this year, Colorado law did not permit an award of compensatory or punitive damages or attorney fees and costs to an employee who prevailed in a complaint before the Colorado civil rights commission or in a lawsuit alleging a discriminatory or unfair employment practice, even in cases of intentional discrimination. While federal laws have long allowed such damages, only employers who employ 15 or more employees are subject to the federal laws. That meant smaller employers enjoyed a protected status where they were unlikely to be sued for discriminatory practices under either state or federal law.

That all started to change when Gov. Hickenlooper signed into law the Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act of 2013, which amends the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA). CADA is the state law prohibiting employment discrimination because of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, national origin, or ancestry. Despite the amendment being signed in 2013, it only started applying to cases this year.

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May 11, 2015: The day the blues died (column)

May 18, 2015 — 

Legendary musician B.B. King has passed into history; we are poorer for the loss.

B.B. King, whose first name was actually Riley, is what a less cynical and self-absorbed time would have called an American success story. Born at Berclair, Mississippi, into a sharecropping family in 1925, he lived through the height of Jim Crow in one of America’s most racially oppressive states. His mother left when he was four; he and his siblings were raised by a grandmother and an extended family. He was a child for most of the Great Depression. But he did more than survive; he thrived.

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The Bush years: an explainer (column)

May 17, 2015 — 

This week in Nevada, Jeb Bush accidentally declared he’s running for president to reporters. He was supposed to say, “if I run” and instead said, “I’m running for president!”

So now that it’s official, I feel it’s my duty to explain the Bush years to younger/amnesiac Americans who may not remember what life was like before Obama. For example, Fox News used to co-sign and coo over everything that came out of the Oval Office. True story. The party line at Fox News was that “libruls” were an evil plague and if George W. Bush could just get his way — the country would be better for it.

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Finding a confluence on the Bright Angel Trail (column)

May 17, 2015 — 

The young man who looked like he was from the Middle East was sitting against the wall of the Grand Canyon, a GoPro camera strapped to his chest. My aching quads begged for a break, so I stopped, said hello, and pulled out my own camera lest he think I was intruding.

He had chosen a spot with an unobstructed view of the Grand Canyon’s multi-colored peaks, and I could look down and see, with more than a little satisfaction, several coils of the Bright Angel Trail that I had already climbed.

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Littwin: Brother Jeb's lesser Iraq disaster (column)

May 16, 2015 — 

The question we are facing now is as obvious as a mission-accomplished sign: If Jeb Bush knew now what question he was going to be asked four days ago, would he be able to come up with a decent response?

The answer, finally, is yes.

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Hamner: Colorado state legislative session in the rear view (column)

May 15, 2015 — 

The legislature has adjourned after 120 productive days where I am proud to report that I worked hard for my constituents in House District 61 and the people of Colorado. This legislative session was one of the most challenging, rewarding and intense experiences of my professional life, and I want to share with you some of our achievements at the state Capitol.

During the previous session in 2014, I served as chair of the House Education Committee, where we worked to ensure that we have a K-12 public education system that serves all Colorado students, parents and teachers, regardless of where they live. This year I was assigned vice-chair of the Joint Budget Committee, but I was still very involved with the negotiations on how to reduce the number of state-mandated standardized tests while still maintaining our accountability system and ensuring that we have the ability to create pathways to learning for every Colorado student.

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Are cows drinking the West dry? (column)

May 15, 2015 — 

On a recent trip to California, I visited the North Coast, where spring usually means green hills with deep grass strewn with lupine and bright orange poppies bobbing in sea breezes.

This year, we found stunted grass, browning hills and the local news obsessing on the worst drought in California’s recorded history. Suddenly, the most populous state in the country faces harsh reality, with water shortages threatening all aspects of life, from the economy to our food supply, to the very livability of our homes.

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Ask Eartha: The hazards of the household (column)

May 15, 2015 — 

Dear Eartha,

I understand that Saturday, May 16 is Town Clean Up Day, but most activities revolve around cleaning up public spaces. I have some toxic materials sitting around my house that I want to get rid of but I’m not sure how. Can you recommend some ideas? — Tyler, Breckenridge

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On the stump for 2016 with Corporate Jesus (column)

May 14, 2015 — 

A tried-and-true advertising concept is a technique called myth analysis. In it, the marketer establishes a narrative that has nothing to do with the product, but which sticks in the minds of consumers.

It applies to beer and beach volleyball, GEICO and geckos, Budweiser and Clydesdales, AFLAC and a duck.

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How's that coexistence working out for you? (column)

May 13, 2015 — 

What is it about those who abandon American ideals that they would otherwise hold dear the moment terrorist groups make threats or when a particular point of view stands against theirs in opposition? Is it fear? A lack of moral grounding? Both?

Those who only stand for freedom for likeminded individuals or just up until they feel threatened might do well to analyze what it is they really believe. Will they ever be content living in a place that believes so much in freedom its soldiers are willing to go to the ends of the earth dying to defend it?

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Littwin: Did someone say 'Huckabee'? (column)

May 13, 2015 — 

Four years ago at around this time, I wrote that none of the candidates in the race could possibly win the Republican nomination, even though I, and everyone else, knew Mitt Romney would.

Still, it made sense. How could Republicans possibly nominate the guy who invented Romneycare to run against the guy they couldn’t stand for inventing Obamacare? They couldn’t — and yet they did. Well, in the end, it was him or Rick Santorum. That was 2012.

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Full faith and credit and new Constitutional attacks (column)

May 11, 2015 — 

The signs were unnerving. As we passed from Colorado into Kansas on I-70 in the wee hours, we were treated to a blossoming of orange at the roadside: “Police checkpoint in two miles.” Then, “Stop in One Mile.” Then, “Vehicle Check Ahead.” As a child of the Sixties, there was…apprehension. Finally, “drug-sniffing dogs deployed.” Oh, snap.

It being the hour it was, we sailed past the putative barricade without impediment; no dogs, cars officers or any other creatures were stirring. But the episode set me thinking on — among other things — Article IV, section one of the Constitution.

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Heard around the West (column)

May 9, 2015 — 

UTAH

The “giant genitalia” gracing a bull statue placed atop Barista’s Restaurant in Hurricane, Utah, March 14, created such a humongous brouhaha, reports the St. George News, that a few weeks later, the statue was, in effect, castrated. Over 600 of the town’s 14,576 residents signed a petition demanding non-renewal of the restaurant’s business license because of the bull’s offensive, er, member, and though restaurateur Stephen Ward called his brand-new copper statue “beautiful and amazing,” he was forced to back down. To many Hurricaners, apparently, the intact bull was too lascivious for the likes of teenagers, who attend high school across the street and are much too young and innocent to be exposed to the differences between male and female mammals. A week later, however, the bull was altered again, this time regaining its male appendage. Restaurant patrons demanded it, said the owner.

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Let's preserve Dillon's historic structures (letter)

May 9, 2015 — 

May is Preservation Month and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) outlines it as a monthlong task to communities. As in years past, the trust encourages preservation and Main Street organizations to use this monthlong opportunity to showcase how they are celebrating and saving historic places year-round. It is a great opportunity to excite their current supporters and introduce new audiences to the work they are (or are not) doing to enrich and preserve the places that make your community special.

In my 35-plus years as an architect within the sphere of historic preservation, I have found there is far too much misunderstanding as how resources are officially designated as “historic.” Case in point is Ivan Ottoborgo’s quote in the May 7 Summit Daily News article titled “Developer looks to bring hotel-condo to Dillon.”

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Lessons of drought and cheetahs in the grass (column)

May 8, 2015 — 

On a walk through the coastal hills north of the Golden Gate this April, you could be forgiven for doubting all the talk of a record-breaking California drought.

Grassy slopes glowed an emerald green, wildflowers erupted from among the wild oats, and the blossoms of madrone, manzanita and mountain lilac drew marble-sized bumblebees to their sweet nectar.

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The vole truth: How a tiny rodent can create big problems for Summit County homeowners (column)

May 8, 2015 — 

Dear Eartha,

I keep hearing about how bad the vole problem is this year. Do you have any advice for keeping them at bay, and keeping them from eating my lawn and veggies? — Elizabeth, Silverthorne

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Bargell: This is the Mother's Day to make a difference (column)

May 7, 2015 — 

When our oldest was about eight months old I had a recurring dream, a nightmare really. She was all alone, outside, in a nearby field. I was nowhere to be found. It was devastating to somehow see her alone, fragile and helpless. While she never met any harm in my dreamscape, what I remember even more vividly was waking to find her safely tucked in her crib. The feeling of relief that washed over me was indescribable.

There probably is some deeper meaning to the dream that I never probed. Instead, it all but faded into obscurity until last week. Quite unexpectedly memories of the dream came back to me in a rush. Although I’m not certain of the reason, I have a hunch.

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Two words to describe GOP's contraceptive stance: more abortions (column)

May 7, 2015 — 

Someone explain why Republicans like Don Coram are so hard to find. You’ll have to travel all the way to Montrose, Colorado, to find him, unless he’s in the Colorado state Capitol.

There the state representative recently encountered frustration with fellow Republicans on something you’d think every person of any persuasion would support: fewer unwanted pregnancies among teens, and fewer abortions.

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Littwin: Seeing and unseeing Freddie Gray's Sandtown

May 6, 2015 — 

The question of what happened to Freddie Gray will, with luck, eventually be answered in court. And although it’s a critically important question, it’s not the only one.

As a New York Times headline put it the other day, Sandtown — the impoverished section of Baltimore where Gray was born prematurely and where he suffered from lead poisoning as a child and where he grew up in and out of trouble and where he was arrested one April night and put into the van that sent him to his death — is home to “lots of Freddies.”

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Bread, circus and looting in Baltimore (column)

May 5, 2015 — 

“I’m not calling these people rioters... The city is burning because the police killed Freddie Gray.” – Mark Lamont Hill, professor, Moorehouse College

“We love these youths (who attack police).” - Lawyer Malik Shabazz

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The GOP's daddy issues (column)

May 3, 2015 — 

While running for president in 2012, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was chatting up some students at Otterbein University about how they could get ahead in this world. He offered that his friend, Jimmy John, borrowed $20,000 from his parents to start a sandwich shop. “This kind of divisiveness, this attack of success, is very different than what we’ve seen in our country’s history,” said the candidate. “We’ve always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business.”

Yes, Romney, the son of a governor who also ran for president, knows how helpful parents can be. The U.S. has two Australias worth of impoverished people — 23 million Aussies, 45 million Americans below the poverty line. This could all be solved if these dummies would just swallow their pride and ask Mommy and Daddy for some dough. Stop attacking success already!

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The heartbreak of oversharing (column)

May 2, 2015 — 

While the nation sleeps, a virulent epidemic snakes across our width and breadth like a twisting toxic tornado. Every day, the tragic sufferers of this dreaded disease stagger dazedly down streets walking into poles and Armenians and through glass doors, oblivious to all around them. Often wandering into the path of oncoming traffic. Many times, they are the traffic that is oncoming.

Of course we’re talking about the virulent pestilence that is ... oversharing. It’s a communicable condition commonly mischaracterized as communication. These pitiable self-absorbed social media casualties are easy to spot with their bowed heads and marked tendency to stare fixedly into their laps, faces bathed in an eerie glow and furiously twitching their thumbs. At least we hope that’s what’s going on.

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Tim Neville's Colorado Senate is from another planet (column)

May 2, 2015 — 

In the upset of the day — maybe of the legislative year — a freshman Republican senator from Thornton named Beth Martinez Humenik bucked her party and voted against a provocative, late-session abortion bill.

And so the bill died in committee, leaving everyone to wonder exactly what had happened.

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