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Opinion

  • The great New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell has an unfailing ability to find interesting things to write about. In his recent collection of essays titled “What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures,” he explains what makes some topics so interesting. “Curiosity about the interior life of other people’s day-to-day work is one of the most fundamental of human impulses,” he writes.

    We are relational beings, and we’re interested in how others live their lives.

  • This week marks the halfway point of the Colorado General Assembly’s 120-day 2010 session. The state’s fiscal woes have dominated the session to this point. The legislature has adopted a package of bills that raised revenues by eliminating a variety of tax exemptions as well as approving a 32-bill package that reduced spending by state agencies for the current fiscal year that ends June 30.

  • Last week’s shootings at Deer Creek Middle School were an awful reminder of the events at Columbine and Platte Canyon. Yet in the midst of our concern for the two wounded students, there was also cause to celebrate the heroic actions of Dr. David Benke, a math teacher whose split-second decision to tackle the shooter undoubtedly saved lives.

  • Victims have a champion in Evergreen resident Ann Jaramillo. Inspired by personal tragedy in 1989, Ann has helped pave the way to victim rights for the five out of six people predicted to be involved in a violent crime.

  • A recent story on National Public Radio suggested that people who find themselves with mortgage balances that are more than their homes are worth would be smart to stop making payments, have their homes foreclosed upon and then go buy another house in the same neighborhood based on the newly diminished housing values. They even found a contracts lawyer to say the reason there are default provisions in contracts is because defaulting on contracts is a rational option that is available to anyone who enters into any contract.

  • Writing before the election results are final, I have no idea of the outcome of the presidential race. So from behind a veil of ignorance, this column is an expression of support and good wishes to the newly elected president — whoever he is.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision allowing more corporate spending on elections has generated a great deal of attention. 

    In Congress, politicians (who fill their own coffers with corporate dollars) feign indignation: They are shocked — shocked! — that tainted money is influencing elections. To fix it, they propose a set of “reforms” to clean up campaign spending once and for all.

  • Oliver needed a friend.

    The 9-year-old chihuahua mix was sick, missing about half his teeth and hadn’t had a place to call home for more than a year. He was a hefty14 pounds — a bit much for a pooch his size, likely due to months of inactivity and a poor diet.

    Things weren’t looking good for him in general.

    He was scheduled to die on Jan. 19 at a metro-area animal shelter.

  • When I first met former Colorado attorney general Duane Woodard in 1981, he was a member of the Public Utilities Commission. He and the other two commissioners were charged with evaluating requests from utilities to raise their rates. A variety of businesses, governments and residential consumers that needed utility services would routinely challenge the rate hikes. The PUC needed to determine that utilities received a fair rate of return while ensuring that consumers got fair rates.

  • Jefferson County Schools is the largest Colorado district not to recently win voter approval for a mill-levy increase. The weight of cutting $32 million now falls on our county’s educational system. Coupled with the recent change in the school board, one wonders about the direction in which education is headed.

  • Few industries have gone from boom to bust as quickly as newspapers.

    In 1989, I was working for the Rocky Mountain News, and times were good. Really good. Our circulation was soaring, and ad sales were humming along.

    Fast-forward 20 years, and many things have changed. The Rocky has disappeared, and several other major dailies have followed that same path to extinction. Craigslist has drained away classified advertising. The current economic downturn is taking its toll. And of course readers are turning to the Internet for their news and away from print publications.

  • In 1999, the New Orleans Saints traded all of their draft picks — and their first- and third-round draft picks the next year — to the Washington Redskins for the first pick in the NFL draft. With it, they selected University of Texas running back Ricky Williams. The Saints went 3-13 that year, and within three years Williams would be playing for the Miami Dolphins.

  • When members of Congress and Pentagon leaders realized we needed to close military bases around the country and find ways to use others better, they knew they would face impossible political dilemmas. Communities around the country would fight to keep their bases and missions. What politician with an ounce of self-preservation instinct would vote to close a base in his or her own district?

  • “And he carries the reminders

    “Of every glove that laid him down

    “Or cut him till he cried out

    “In his anger and his shame

    “I am leaving, I am leaving

    “But the fighter still remains.”

    — Paul Simon

    For me, hanging in Evergreen is all about the happy little surprises that crop up and punctuate your day — and the unexpected connections that result from other, less-lighthearted encounters.

  • When Gov. Bill Ritter announced he was leaving office to spend more time with his family, some greeted the news with skepticism and doubt. After so many scandals involving public figures, it’s easy to assume ulterior motives.

    But I’m giving the governor the benefit of the doubt. I do believe that sometimes elected officials leave office for the sake of their families, because I did it myself.

  • Shortly after I started as the founding director of Denver’s Mayor’s Office of Regulatory Reform in 1991, Elbra Wedgeworth, the office’s deputy director, told me she wanted us to have breakfast with one of her Leadership Denver classmates from the district attorney’s office. Shortly thereafter, she and I met with Bill Ritter. From that day, the three of us went on to bigger and better things. Elbra became president of the City Council and brought the Democratic National Convention to Denver.

  • As I write this column, I’m looking at an online Denver Post story announcing that my friend and former colleague in the state House, Kathleen Curry, has renounced her affiliation with the Democratic Party and is now officially “independent.” It comes as a surprise only insofar as sitting elected officials rarely leave their parties. That said, Curry, who hails from Gunnison, has always had an independent streak.

  • There is nothing quite like starting the new year standing chest deep in 33-degree water. Regardless of what happens in 2010, everything else should seem like a walk on the beach.

    After years of covering the annual Evergreen Lake plunge, I finally had the guts to participate. I made the decision to jump several weeks ago, but it wasn’t until I was standing on the edge of a hole cut through 20 inches of ice that I was fully committed. With a giant step forward, I leapt into the icy water.

  • It’s disappointing on every level that health care reform, like the stimulus plan before it, will be enacted without bipartisan cooperation. While Democrats have charged Republicans with being obstructionists and Republicans have called Democrats arrogant, the simple fact is that President Obama’s major initiatives will be enacted without Republican support.

  • Last week, the Denver Post reported that “Colorado’s budget shortfall has grown another $40 million, reaching a projected $600.6 million for the fiscal year that ends in June.” This is due in large part to declining tax revenues as a result of bad economic conditions.

    To make matters worse, in the upcoming fiscal year — which ends in July — the budget shortfall is expected to be $1.5 billion. 

    To put those numbers into perspective, the stateís operating budget for fiscal 2009-10 is just about $19 billion.