Mountain Town News: Jackson mayor takes down picture of Trump |

Mountain Town News: Jackson mayor takes down picture of Trump

Allen Best
Mountain Town News

JACKSON, Wyo. — If many mayors of ski towns veer liberal, Peter Muldoon is more exceptional in his politics. After being elected last year, he set off to South Dakota, to support American Indians protesting the oil pipeline at Standing Rock.

Then, on June 5, he took down photos of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the Jackson Town Hall. In their place he put an image of the famed Shoshone leader Chief Washakie. There’s a town on the Wind River Reservation, east of Jackson Hole, named Washakie.

Muldoon said the pictures were divisive for some who attend public meetings. “I’ve heard from constituents who found the portraits offensive,” he told the Jackson Hole News&Guide, “and since we’re a nonpartisan municipality, I decided we didn’t need to be taking sides.”

But in earlier comments to the same newspaper he had a sharper critique of Trump, suggesting the president was as poor a role model for town officials as Bernie Madoff, the Ponzi scheme mastermind, would be for investment bankers.

The action spurred national comment but especially elsewhere in Wyoming. Most of Wyoming jerks hard right, compared to the left-ward tilt of Jackson Hole. The joke, says the News&Guide, is that Jackson is 20 minutes from Wyoming.

The Casper Star Tribune noted that one state legislator for arch-conservative northeastern Wyoming posted a video on YouTube that has been seen 100,000 times. The legislator pointed out that nobody in his area had taken down photos of Barack Obama and Joe Biden from government offices.

Paul Vogelheim, chairman of the Republican Party in Teton County, said the photographs of sitting president and vice presidents had been on display at the Jackson Town Hall since at least the mid-1980s.

Will Muldoon’s action strain relationships in the Wyoming Legislature? State aid was secured to deal with a landslide in Jackson and building a new elementary school. Next, a new bridge will have to be built across the Gros Ventre River.

State Sen. Leland Christensen, a Republican, said he thought it imperiled continued support. “I have very strong concerns about this. It puts us at risk of losing that continued support, and we depend on the state.”

Andy Schwartz, a Democrat and a state representative, is less worried than Christensen. “This won’t help, clearly, but I’m not taking the bills I was thinking of introducing and saying, ‘Oh, I’m not going to bother with these because they may not pass now.’”

The News&Guide notes other instances where Jackson bucked the state, first in supporting the protection of people living in the country illegally and also supporting the Paris climate accord.

Vail’s rare stand about national political issues

VAIL, Colo. — If President Donald Trump is withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accord, Vail is among the hundreds of towns pointing in the other direction. They’re staying the course.

In Telluride and Aspen, such resolutions are common enough. But Vail traditionally has been more shy.

The difference, said Greg Moffet, a longtime councilman who made the motion to adopt the resolution, is because of the importance of climate change.

The unanimously adopted resolution said the municipality recognizes that scientific evidence of warming of the Earth’s climate system from human activities is unequivocal.

“Combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum and natural gas is increasing the concentration (of) greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, pushing average global temperatures higher and changing our mountain ecosystems — making winters warmer and shorter, summers longer and hotter, and increasing the risks of wildfires, droughts and floods,” the resolution reads.

Being struck by lightning, and living to talk about it

GRAND LAKE, Colo. – Few among us have been hit by lightning. Barbara Stemple was hit and lived to tell about it. That was three years ago. It was an August day of clear, blue skies.

She is now hoping to join a group of people who have undergone what she has gone through, she told the Sky-Hi News. “A lightning strike kind of scrambles a person’s brain,” she said. “It changes your whole neurological system.”

Survivors can suffer short-term memory loss and ear-aches. Also, depression and chronic fatigue. Survivors often feel as though their thought processes are delayed, which is why many are loath to talk about their experience.

Dead octopuses and other stories from food festival

ASPEN, Colo. — Aspen hosted the Food and Beverage Festival last weekend, and it was a busy, busy time in the town. The event draws a very well-heeled crowd. Consider that it costs $1,650 for a weekend pass.

This is the 35th year for the festival. The event was launched in 1983, when June was a somewhat slower month in Aspen. There are 50 winemakers pouring for just 300 guests.

It was an instant hit, but not a financial success. That didn’t come until a pairing several years later with Food and Wine Magazine and a rebranding as the Aspen-Snowmass Food & Wine Classic. “And, as they say, the rest is history,” The Aspen Times writes.

Now, the festival attracts big-name chefs from far away to talk about chocolate and whatever else. For example, the first seminar on Saturday morning had renowned chef Daniel Boulud holding a skinned rabbit high in the air. “Once you go rabbit, you never go back,” he said.

It wasn’t the only time he dangled a dead animal in the packed house at the “Exotic Mediterranean” seminar, Times correspondent Rose Laudicina wrote. What ensued were “three delicious dishes inspired by the Mediterranean with three wine pairings. The second was octopus — two of them, followed by a more sedate honey-glazed eggplant.

Outside the tent, on Aspen’s malls, municipal code enforcement officer Jim Pomeroy was trying to keep order. “It’s like a mosh pit in there,” he told the Aspen Daily News.

Pomeroy’s job was to ensure that people weren’t trying to hawk goods, competing with businesses that buy licenses and pay sales and property taxes.

One of the offending businesses was a woman trying to sell handcrafted mirrors. But he also had to tell two girls working for Red Bull, wandering around the mall, handing out free samples of the energy drink, that it was a no-no.

Food and wine organizers demand that guerilla marketing be stamped out, lest it water down the exposure of the brands paying big bucks to get in front of the well-heeled attendees.

But what about the 11-year-old with a lemonade stand? The municipal code officer didn’t say close it down, reports the Daily News. Instead, he told the proprietor’s father that the enterprise would have to move a block away, to avoid creating congestion.

Summer labor shortages unusually high this year

JASPER, Alberta – Filling all the jobs in Jasper’s high summer season is always a challenge. This year seems worse, reports the Jasper Fitzhugh.

In early June, 380 jobs were available, more than double the number of jobs posted at the same time last year. “We’re already seeing managers making beds in hotels,” said Ginette Marcoux , executive director for the Jasper Employment and Education Centre. “That usually doesn’t happen until August. The fact that we’re seeing that in June is telling.”

Why is this? She cited the lack of housing, fewer university students, and changes to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker program. Employers in the low-wage service sector cannot access that program if the regional unemployment rate is 6 percent or higher. The unemployment rate in that part of Canada stands at 6.9 percent.

As for university students, employers may not favor them because they leave when schools resume in mid-August, when tourist season continues.

Demographics don’t look good for Eagle County

EDWARDS, Colo. – Colorado’s state demographer, Elizabeth Garner, warns that the demographics for Eagle County aren’t setting up well.

Anchored by Vail and Beaver Creek, the county currently has 4,000 people aged 65 and older. But every year about 550 people in the county celebrate their 65th birthdays, and only about 150 of them leave the county. The rest stay — and this is tilting the population older.

The question is who will be there to work.

According to the Vail Daily, she said that people between 20 and 30 are now arriving in Eagle County, but when they’re in their 30s and 40s they’re leaving. “We need exceptional 45-year-olds,” she said.

Eagle County has fewer jobs than it did in 2007. Job creation in neighboring Summit County has grown. Could it be because of the more aggressive housing program in Summit County, where more than 400 deed-restricted homes have been built or acquired in the last several years?

A recent study by the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments — which includes the Breckenridge, Vail and Aspen areas — found that the average annual salary in the region is $13,000 per year below the state average. Garner said that Eagle County simply can’t sustain its current high-cost, low-wage model.

Much of the same thing was said in the 1990s by Garner’s predecessor, Jim Weskott, but with one exception: He predicted fast and continued population growth. Growth stalled in 2009 and hasn’t resumed since then.

Drug use partial cause of death during flood

KETCHUM, Idaho – Flood waters have started receding in Ketchum, leaving damages to be calculated and one death.

Michael Wirth, 54, was in the basement of his rented home north of Ketchum, where he had been attempting to pump water. He was found facedown in the water, probably the victim of drowning.

Drug intoxication probably contributed to his death, sheriff’s investigators said. Cocaine, tramadol, oxycodone and diphenhydramine, commonly branded as Benadryl, were all found in his body. Sheriff’s investigators also said hypertensive cardiovascular disease was a contributing cause.

Small surge in demand for smaller-sized homes

HAILEY, Idaho – Home sizes in ski towns and mountain valleys got much, much bigger over the decades. After the Great Recession, there were reports of smaller homes. Is that continuing?

The evidence from the Hailey area, about 15 minutes down-valley from Ketchum and Sun Valley, is slim and anecdotal in nature. But that evidence shows that yes, home sizes are getting smaller. For example, the Sonitalena Cottages, which are now under construction, range in size from 560 to 1,400 square feet. Another project has homes of 860 square feet.

Chase Gouley, a designer and project manager, told the Idaho Mountain Express that the success of these projects has “opened people’s eyes as to what can be done and to what people want.”

But just four years ago — after the recession — people were looking for homes with multiple dining rooms and spacious bedrooms. Now, he says, “some people are beginning to see that they would rather be outside around here and have a tiny place to hang their stuff and cook a meal.”

One of the local developers, Jim Warjone is proposing rental units of less than 200 square feet, what are called micro-apartments. He has completed similar developments in Seattle. He said millennials favor small apartments.

Plans aplenty for the solar eclipse in Oregon

BEND, Ore. – What a spectacle the full solar eclipse will be on the morning of Aug. 21. In Oregon, that eclipse will be best observed in the Madras area, an hour north of Bend.

Central Oregon’s population is expected to double as a result of travelers wanting to see the spectacle. Locals have been planning and plotting.

“Our highway system in Central Oregon is set up for the 220,000 people who live her and the transient traffic through the region,” said Michael Ryan, emergency manager for the Crook County Sheriff’s Office. “If we double our traffic, it’s fair to say the system is going to show (its flaws).”

The municipality of Madras even has a solar eclipse plan facilitator. Lysa Vattimo, told the Bend Bulletin that she advises residents to get gas, buy groceries and run other errands a week in advance of the phenomenon.

Shopkeepers are also making plans. The Bulletin said one insurance office plans to stay closed, while another business plans to hire temporary workers to shoo eclipse watchers out of the store’s parking lot.

Do you suppose everybody will stay home and watch the eclipse on their smart phones? Just wondering.

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