Illegal immigrant fired after NBC program airs
GLENWOOD SPRINGS The day after Christmas, newsman Tom Brokaw narrated an hour-long special about foreign immigration, using the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado as the setting. It was called In the Shadow of the American Dream.The story was a familiar one, if Brokaws newscast had value in telling the story with vivid human voices and faces, both that of a construction contractor and an immigrant who deceives the contractor with fraudulent documents.The contractor, who does business in the Aspen and Vail areas, tells of his quest to find employees for $14 an hour, the de facto minimum wage for construction laborers in these resort valleys. He gets many applications, mostly from Latinos and some with obviously fraudulent documents. In the program, he rejected them. But others documents appear valid, and he hires the immigrants, knowing that he has probably been deceived by some.As well, the show took cameras into schools in Carbondale, downvalley from Aspen. The schools are largely Spanish speaking. Locals despite being generally very liberal have enrolled their children to other schools, particularly in Aspen. Parents with children remaining express their worries.Even more unusual was the programs ability to put light on the shadow. Viewers were taken clandestinely to the trailer where a document forger does business. The illegal immigrant, Trino, speaks freely and at length and freely into the camera, explaining the manner of his deceit, the motivation, and his ultimate goal: creating his own construction business in Mexico. He also allowed the cameras into the four-bedroom house that he shares with 18 others, and even at his wedding.The contractor, Mark Gould, defends the shadowy world as the backbone for prosperity. He means not only his business, but also more broadly the real estate and tourism-based economy of the Aspen and Vail areas. The viewer is left to conclude that the nations prosperity of the last 20 years is also built on the foundation of immigration labor.The Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported that Gould was inundated by 600 job applications the day after the show, and also e-mails. The hate mail bothered me the most, said Gould. People want to put their head in the sand about this issue,Gould fired the illegal immigrant, Trino, and his brother, Juan, the day after the broadcast. We had to, Gould told the Glenwood newspaper. I did not know he was illegal until last night (when the show aired). But, he added, he felt badly about it. Theyre darned good workers. They learned fast. They learned English.Concluded Gould: It was hard to watch last night. I didnt feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Theres something wrong with the world and we need to fix it. We cant fix it unless we talk about it.The New York Times described the Brokaw show as a decent job of translating one of the years most bloviated-upon topics, immigration, into human terms. But the newspaper also noted where the one-hour show fell short: Essentially absent, though, are the rich people and vacationers whose demands for creature comforts are presumably fueling all of this. Who is going to be staying in that hotel Gould Construction is working on?Making that point more tartly was Frosty Woolridge, a long-time anti-immigration activist from the Boulder area of Colorado. Follow the money! he demands in a column published in The Aspen Times. With unending growth, 21st century robber barons enjoy unending profits.And, for Woolridge, the other reality is the rest of us live harsh realities of an invasion by a foreign country named Mexico.
Steamboat sale expected to push real estate salesSTEAMBOAT SPRINGS Real estate sales during the last year were brisk in Steamboat Springs and Routt County, with a total volume surging past $1 billion for the first time. Sales and prices are expected to escalate even more as a result of Intrawests projected purchase of the Steamboat Ski Resort.It will put petrol onto a large and already hot fire, said developer Michael Hurley. It was already burning. Its just going to go quicker, faster and hotter, he told the Steamboat Pilot & Today.Jim Cook, a developer, projected the greatest impact will be to redevelopment of the ski area base, which is located several miles from downtown Steamboat Springs. American Skiing Co. (the current owner) has a lot of good people here, but they had no money to spend. This is going to be encouragement for projects already on the board.Condominiums that previously sold for $500 per square foot are now selling for $600 to $700 per square feet, realty agents tell the newspaper, and could fetch $800 a square foot within the next year. Meanwhile, entry-level condominiums that were selling for $200 per square foot have shot up to $350 per square foot.But the broader story here is that mountain town prosperity is not directly correlated to the growth in skiing. Mountain town observer Jonathan Schecther crunched numbers for Steamboat and Routt County for the period from 1991 through 2004. Skier numbers actually declined by 2 percent during that period, while constant dollar per capita income increased 34 percent.In Colorados Summit County, Linda Venturoni made the same observation. There,population and sales tax revenues have both far outpaced the growth in skier days.10th Mountain ski hut planned near Camp HaleCAMP HALE After a hiatus of about 10 years, the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association is planning to expand again. The newest hut is proposed near Camp Hale, where the 10th Mountain Division trained during World War II. The area is described as being 1.5 miles northeast of Vances Cabin, near Ski Cooper. All of this is located between Vail and Leadville.
Why the decline in national park visits?YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. Visits to national parks have been on a downhill slide for a decade, some 20 percent for overnight stays and slightly more for camping. Why?Both young people and minorities are not being drawn to the parks, National Park Service officials tell the Los Angeles Times.Children have more say in family vacation destinations than ever before, says Emilyn Sheffield, a social scientist at Cal State Chico. If they must be outdoors, they prefer theme parks. Too, they prefer parks closer to cities.Minorities are also more inclined to stay away, and they comprise an increasingly larger part of the U.S. population. One reason is that they do not feel welcome or safe in parks. Part of the reason is culture. For example, while extended Latino families may number 15 to 20 at picnics, park regulations require a permit for such a large group.Baby Boomers are also going to parks less frequently. Boomers remain enthralled with adventure, be it paddling kayaks or climbing rocks, but are also more gadget-oriented. For example, they like mountain bikes and other things not normally permitted in national parks. Finally, they want more luxuries, at least by night.Baby Boomers want hard adventure by day and soft adventure by night. They want to paddle and rock-climb and also their Cabernet and almond-crusted salmon with asparagus. And a nice bed, said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the Outdoor Industry Association.Why not satisfy this market demand? If national parks become slave to recreational fashion, critics tell the Times, they will soon roar with the sound of jet skis, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles, and cell phone towers would rise among redwoods and touch-screen computers would dot wilderness trails.Another take on why park visits have declined comes from Bill Schneider. Writing on the website New West (and reprinted in the Jackson Hole News & Guide), Schneider points the finger at the increased user fees authorized by Congress in 1996. If the money hasnt been used to tackle the deferred maintenance of national parks, that may be just as well, he says. Less attractive parks may revert to wild nature.Telluride has its first tattoo parlorTELLURIDE Telluride now has a tattoo business, called Telluride Tattoo, which is believed to be the first in the town. Still, the Telluride Daily Planet does not see tattoos as particularly cutting edge. Getting tattoos is about as daring as riding your bike one-handed, noted the reporter. The two business owners spoke to eighth-graders at the Telluride Middle School. The reporter noted that several teachers had tattoos, and acknowledged his own tattoo. He divulged that even his mother, an elementary school principal elsewhere, has a tattoo.Still, for something rather ho-hum, the students seemed greatly absorbed in the presentation. Teachers confirmed that they never ask as many questions about, for example, the history of the Crimean War.
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