Thursday, November 27, 2008

December 1, 2008-The In-Between Time

Consider This for December 1, 2008—The In-between Time

Anticipation. That word always reminds me of the old Carly Simon song, “Anticipation” that eventually became the sales anthem for Heinz Catsup playing while the slow pouring catsup would finally hit the burger on the bun. Slow is better. Just ask any woman or catsup company. If the catsup pours too fast it is of a lesser quality than the thick, heavy slow kind.

Anticipation also describes this time of the year in Summit County. We are all living in anticipation that it will finally snow big time. We are all waiting for the deluge of thousands of guests coming with pockets full of money.

Summit County really does not have a fall season. We go from summer to Indian summer to winter. Even the few days that the Aspen are turning is not a real fall like they have back east or even in the Midwest.

It might even be described as the time when you put your golf clubs and bike away and get out the snowboard, skis and cross country gear. Although that is no longer true because I see intrepid mud and ice covered bicyclist rolling down Highway 9 just about every day of the year. Don’t see that with skiers if you don’t count the people roller blading with those long skis like things strapped to their feet. But again they are not doing that on the highway or if they do it only lasts until the first dump truck goes by and blows you off the road.

Small businesses have spent all of their reserve funds to buy enough stock to make it until the middle of April of next year. The owners have stopped watching the news because it is all bad news. We want good news. We want to know that the economy is finally rebounding and that the 2008-2009 ski season will be the best ever.

The Summit Foundation has a motto of being “The Soul of the Summit.” I am going to coin a new one, “The Spirit of the Summit.”

The spirit of the Summit is a willingness to take risks either on the mountain or in your personal life. It is taking all of your assets and putting them into a business and risking it all just to own a piece of this place. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. If you win then you did the right thing. If you lose you move on to another endeavor. I have seen it over and over again in the more than thirty years I have lived in this place.

It is almost the same as the pioneer spirit that brought the miners here to look for gold or the trappers here to trap beavers. It is that itch inside your head that can’t be scratched.

In this terrible global economy I think that we are going to have a good season overall. Yes, real estate will be down as well as some property management functions. But we should have a lot of people driving to Summit County from the front range for the day or for a weekend. These people will still ski and still shop and go out to eat and enjoy our local culture as much as they ever have.

I am not saying that it will be a growth year but I am saying that it should be at least flat and maybe even up in some sectors.

Last week I went for a two hour hike up the Ten Mile Range with my son’s dog and another unnamed dog that belonged to a friend of my son.

Even as far back into the woods that I had walked I could still feel the anticipation. I could sense how the entire county was holding its collective breath as we go into the uncertainty of this coming season.

As I came down off the mountain I felt some reassurance that this year will be a good year and that most of the hopes and dreams of our community will be realized. It might not be what we planned a year ago and I will guarantee that it will be different but things will go well. It always does. It always snows and life does go on regardless.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

November 25, 2008—Football for all it is worth

Consider This for November 25, 2008—Football for all it is worth

I am not a football fan but I am a fan of the people of Summit County.

The Summit Daily News Editorial Board is batting 1000 lately with their picks and opinions. They were wrong about the election and now they are wrong about the football field. Maybe the editor should just write editorials and not have editorial opinion shaped by a committee. Remember the thing about the decisions of committees? Something about a Camel being a horse designed by a committee.

I played football at Rockwell City Junior High School (Iowa) in the early 1950s and later for one year during my sophomore year at Rockwell City High School. I caught a hail Mary catch thrown by quarterback Ben Segar and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I remember that we lost that game as well as every game that season. I think that also carried on to High School but I could only be blamed for one year of that record.

I was miserable when I was in training and playing football. I actually acquired a major dislike for football and all sports during that time. The only other major bad experience in my life was Air Force Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base in June and July of 1960. I also decided at that point that I hated the military as much as I hated football.

To make this even more confusing I am a former High School Women’s Soccer Coach. I coached Women’s Soccer for a team from Wheat Ridge High School in the early 1970s. One of my players even went on to become a nationally ranked Woman’s Soccer player and coached Women’s Soccer at the college level here in Colorado.

Football at Summit High School was started many years ago by two local men. Al Witt and Fred Handy. Al worked for me as a Patrol Sergeant at the Sheriff’s Office and Fred Handy owned and operated the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Frisco. When they came up with the idea that Summit County needed a football team they were almost run out of town by the supporters of soccer. Fred and Al persevered and now we have a football team. Many others worked hard on the program including Tom Dickey and some other coaches.

I teach Sociology and in my class the students learn the importance of many different factors in a community or culture. Education is one factor and local school sports are a part of that. People are the glue that holds a community together. Any and everything that causes people to come together is a good thing for the community.

We have always had our Summer Softball Leagues. I remember the playing field at High Tor (Tiger Road and Highway 9) where you could break something on the rocks if you did not run or slide correctly.

The county and the Town of Breckenridge saw the value of the softball leagues and have invested a lot of time and money into playing fields. The county and the town both understand how the people are the glue and anything that brings the people together is a good thing. A couple of other examples are the Dillon Amphitheater, the Silverthorne Pavilion and the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge.

There should never be any discussion about whether or not we should have a new artificial playing field at the high school. There should never be any discussion about whether or not we pay for the costs. We should do it regardless if we give a damn about this wonderful place.

I live in one of the closest houses to the football field and when I can hear the screams of the crowd and when I can see the bright lights in the sky during a game I know that our community is safe and sound. The glue that holds Summit County together is still in place and is strong.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

November 10, 2008-Post Election 101

Consider This for November 10, 2008-Post Election 101

I cringed at times reading some of the letters to the editor in recent weeks and the apparent lack of knowledge that many writers had of our election process. It is a very sad commentary on our education system that voters are relegated to being told “who to vote for” or “what to vote for” rather than being told the reasons to vote for or against something or someone. I sometimes feel that voters are just moving blindly ahead following what their party leaders or the media might say about an issue or a candidate.

In the recent past there have been several laws enacted in the State of Colorado and other measures to help voters make informed decisions.

One was the single issue law that says that any ballot issue can only address one issue per measure to make it clear what you are voting for. There were violations of this law on the state and local level this past election. Bill drafters should know better but they continued to lump several issues into one question.

Another Colorado law says that if you vote “No” on an issue it means that you are against the issue. If you vote “Yes” that means you are in favor of the issue. As I write this there are at least two challenges to the wording of ballot issues being prepared on this single yes/no point.

In the past it was obvious that elected officials and governments at all levels were trying to confuse the voter on very creative wording of ballot issues. I am very disappointed that apparently some people never got the message this year.

Some basic election information that you can take with you before you vote again in the next general election in two years.

At the Federal level we vote every two years. The general election is always on an even numbered year such as this year 2008. The new office holders take office the following year and this election they will take office in January 2009.

At the federal level voters in Summit County only vote for President of the United States every four years. We vote for our United States Representatives to Congress every two years. All 435 members have to run every two years. That is why they call the House of Representatives “The People’s House.”

The members of the United States Senate have six year terms so approximately 33 Senators run every two years for another six year term. This year there were 35 Senators running.

The President has term limits and can only serve for eight years. Representatives and Senators in Congress are not term limited and can run for the rest of their lives. Colorado put Congressional term limits into law a few years ago but it was struck down by the Supreme Court. They said that the voters in Colorado could not make term limits for members of Congress.

I think that term limits are wonderful. Having served with some elected officials that might not have even deserved to live let alone be reelected, term limits are the way to go. Big lobbyists and campaign contributors hate term limits because it reduces the impact their money can have on elected officials.

Most of the state ballot questions are either to put something in state law (statutory) or an amendment to the constitution. I think that both methods are wrong. We send people to the legislature to do these things and it is only being lazy on their part to put the question to the people. This election we saw how large amounts of money can impact election outcomes.

I would like to thank both major political parties for running great elections this year. My only regret is that we don’t have many more parties attracting even more candidates. I am not sure that democracy is served by only two parties in an election. The rest of the civilized world is so much more civilized politically than the United States.

We get the kind of government we deserve like it or not. Only when you become informed will we get better government in the State of Colorado and in Summit County.

November 17, 2008—Believe in Something

Consider This for November 17, 2008—Believe in Something

“If you don’t stand for something then you will fall for anything.” In the two weeks since the election I keep hearing how people now do not believe in their leaders and everyone is pointing fingers at their fellow party members and blaming them for the loss.

Let’s face it folks. George W. Bush did everything he could in the past eight years to make sure that a Democrat would succeed him. One poll this week said that President Bush has a 90% rating as the worst president in history. Yet the brain trust of the Republican Party wants to blame Sarah Palin and her wardrobe for losing the election.

Come on folks. You can do better than that.

The disaster was so great that nearly everyone who was running for any office from President to dog catcher as a Republican lost big time. It was a very big brush that painted all Republicans as the party led by the most dysfunctional president ever.

This week even President Bush was whining about how sorry he was that he said certain things during his term as President. At the top of his list was the famous “Mission Accomplished” speech on the aircraft carrier where he declared the Iraq War over about five years ago. You remember. The war that is still going on in Iraq. The one that was also ended by the surge. It does not track George.

Yes, I am a flaming liberal. Every family needs one along with a grumpy old Conservative or two. I would prefer if we never had another war ever in the rest of history. Or at least not another preemptive war that has killed over 4000 of our children and was based on lies and more lies.

I find it interesting that the far right wing Conservative commentators never refer to themselves in that way. They hide behind lengthy platitudes exclaiming how there is nothing wrong and that the Emperor’s new clothes look great.

Fox news is a good example. They still refuse to believe that the Democrats won the election. They refuse to accept it to the point that they were the first news organization to exclaim all of the negative stories about Sarah Palin on the campaign trail.

This may sound strange to some of you but I thought that Sarah Palin was the only bright light in the Republican campaign. It might have been that I support women in high places. They have been put down by the good old boys for too long. Women are the black race of the 21st Century and are discriminated against daily in the workplace and at home. What a shame. Shame on Fox News and shame on those who spent an inordinate amount of time and money attacking Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin was about ten times better than John McCain and a hundred times better than George Bush. We need to encourage all of the Sarah Palin’s of the world to try to achieve a higher place in our society.

If you don’t agree with Sarah because of her politics then vote against her. If you don’t think that a woman should be vice president or president then shame on you. It is the same as people not voting for Obama because he is black. A person’s skin color or gender is not a reason to vote against or for someone.

I have heard Obama giving high praise to Ronald Reagan for his insight into the future and the economy as well as world politics.

You should stop being afraid of things that go bump in the night. The noised have always been there and will be there long after you have died and finished ranting about things that will never happen.

The point is that each of us must recognize the core values that we hold about politics, candidates and political parties. Once you have discovered these three things you will have a strong sense of what you believe in and what you expect from candidates.

If you are voting for President or dog catcher take what you believe to the polls and vote your heart. Each time you do this you will be making our country stronger.