Friday letters: Eighth and Midland project, shoestring budgets, Gaza Fights for Freedom

Protect city land

The selling or giving away of public land for private development without a city-wide vote is a counterproductive action that goes against the well-being and goals of the city’s own Comprehensive Plan. The city administration was made aware of the potential harm that could come from giving away approximately one-half acre of city owned open space to build a high-density housing project at the busy Eighth and Midland arterial street intersection.

Moreover, the project given the name “Confluence” reflects a lack of discipline missing the careful management needed to avoid the detrimental outcomes of future land use in the greater confluence area. Despite being aware of the risks and consequences, the city administration approved the project well before they allowed public input. This process whereby city-owned land could be sold or given away without the citizens first being made fully aware of all the outcomes affecting quality of life in the city, including the good, bad and ugly should not continue. The citizens’ voices need to be heard.

Glenwood needs to prioritize the preservation and protection of our open space and river corridors in the confluence area as its most important responsibility to maintaining quality of life here. The confluence of two rivers is our greatest natural asset and is at risk of being targeted by overdevelopment. The Comprehensive Plan does not provide the tools needed to resist the pressure for development of high densities in the wrong locations. We need to make sure that our riverbanks are preserved and protected by a wide green line of trees, parks, trails and open space.

Visit the website to learn more about how you can add your signature to the petition “to change the city charter to give you a vote on annexation and development on our Public Lands.”

David Hauter, Glenwood Springs

Working on shoestring budgets

Let me advise the Board of Garfield County Commissioners, John Martin, Mike Samson,  and Tom Jankovsky, after reading “Garfield County Libraries Report: A quick look at  GCPLD’s 2024 draft budget” ( Sopris Sun, November 23, 2023, page 4) that the Garfield County Public Library District (GCPLD) Board of Trustees should reduce their advertising and marketing budget simply bumping up their promotions and cultural events publicity efforts by using more Yankee Ingenuity and Beverly Hills’ fabulous Rodeo Drive Committee legacy strategic antics to capture the news media’s and the general public’s imagination for wanting to be there for the spectacular action and dazzling showmanship during one-of-kind moments. 

Furthermore, let me suggest the GCPLD board and library staff get busy using their present precious resources to turn mud into rivers of gold. Get busy and read their books. Wonders never cease! 

If Mr. Beverly Hills Fred Hayman and the original Rodeo Drive Committee could produce spectacular special events and publicity stunts on shoestring budgets time and time again in yesteryear with little planning, then GCPLD board and the library staff can do it today. Let them use their brains to show everybody they are not educated fools. 

In conclusion, I say the same thing to the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, (Rifle) Colorado River Valley Chamber of Commerce, Basalt Chamber of Commerce, and other unmentioned area business groups.  

Emzy Veazy III, Aspen

Gaza Fights for Freedom

Come watch “Gaza Fights for Freedom,” a 2019 documentary about the historic March of Return, a peaceful act of resistance to Israel’s 16-year blockade of Gaza. Beginning in 2018, for 52 weeks, Palestinians marched to the Israeli border in the only form of peaceful expression available to them. Conditions in Gaza were already dire even before President Trump ended funding to the UN’s program for Palestinian refugees.

The unwritten rule of automatic support for Israel’s policies, evident in most of the letters in our local papers and used to shame two city council members, is stifling and coercive.

Americans are complicit in ethnic cleansing in Gaza. The UN has only documented 10,000 civilian deaths in Russia’s 20-month war in Ukraine. Israel’s bombing and invasion has killed an estimated 15,000 innocent people — mostly women and children — in less than two months. Israeli fighters dropped 6,000 bombs on Gaza in the first week of bombing alone. Compare that to the 7,400 bombs the U.S. dropped on Afghanistan in the most intense year of bombing (, Nov. 20). The World Food Programme now warns hundreds of thousands of Gazans face starvation. The mantra is “Israel has a right to defend itself.” This is not self-defense. Netanyahu called it “mighty vengeance.” Likud politician Ariel Kallner called for a new Nakba, referring to the forced expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians at Israel’s founding in 1948. The claims of their 5.6 million descendants living as refugees to stolen property and a right to return to their homeland have never been addressed in peace negotiations.

“Gaza Fights for Freedom” includes on-the-ground footage from inside Gaza and historical context essential for Americans to understand as their government continues to underwrite atrocities. Dec. 7, Carbondale branch library, 7-9 p.m. Free. RSVP:

Will Hodges, Hannah Saggau, Cassidy Glad, Carbondale

Roaring Fork School District welcomes new faces to school board

The Roaring Fork School District Board of Education witnessed a shift in leadership at Wednesday’s meeting with the introduction of two new members: Lindsay DeFrates and Betsy After. DeFrates and After are stepping into roles previously held by Maureen Stepp and Natalie Torres, respectively, following the end of their four-year terms.

DeFrates, the new District C board member, expressed her enthusiasm about the opportunity.

 “It means a lot to me,” DeFrates said. “I have spent so much time in the valley and this school district has had a great impact on my life, whether it’s me teaching or my kids attending school. I am excited to be in a position where I have a chance to make a positive change.”

Joining her in these sentiments, After, representing District B, shared her sense of achievement. 

“There is definitely a sense of accomplishment for me,” After said. “I put in a lot of hard work to be here and this is just the start. I have a lot to learn and I am committed to serving the board and the school district in the best way possible.”

In addition to welcoming the new members, the board meeting also saw the reelection of Kathryn Kuhlenberg as board president and Jasmin Ramirez as board vice president. Kenny Teitler, representing District A, was elected as the secretary and treasurer. Ramirez, who ran unopposed, reflected on her ongoing role. 

“I’m grateful to continue this role and continue to be serving our community,” Ramirez said. “I’m confident both new and returning colleagues are committed to continuing to be a great governing body for this school district.”

The board’s next steps involve tackling key issues facing the district, from budget allocations to curriculum updates, with the newly reformed team ready to steer the district toward a bright future.

The school district’s next board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 13.

Roaring Fork Rams girls basketball coach steps down due to health concerns

The Roaring Fork High girls basketball team will see a new face leading them into the upcoming season. Mike Vidakovich is stepping in as the head coach, replacing Albert Blanc, who relinquished his duties earlier this week due to health concerns.

Blanc’s tenure as head coach was short-lived due to a series of health setbacks. Recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and hospitalized at St. Francis Hospital in Colorado Springs, he also suffers from a hip flexor injury and multiple torn ankle ligaments following a snow shovel incident earlier this year, which have impeded his mobility. 

“This is a wonderful group of girls,” he said. “They are a bunch of great kids, both in the classroom and on the court. It breaks my heart that I can’t coach them this year, but I have to put my health first.”

His coaching career is marked by significant achievements, including a state championship win with Swink High School in 1996 and an induction into the Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame in 2018. His coaching legacy, with over 650 victories, places him fourth in all-time wins in Colorado high school basketball.

Having graduated from Glenwood High in 1966, his basketball prowess was evident as he earned all-conference and all-state honors under Coach Bob Chavez. He continued his basketball journey at Western State College, Gunnison, before embarking on a coaching career, which included mentoring Vidakovich as a freshman coach at Glenwood in 1976.

Vidakovich, a seasoned coach in the Roaring Fork Valley, steps into a significant role, embracing the challenge with optimism. 

“It’s a bummer because he is a hall of fame coach, and the girls really loved him,” he said. “Albert is a great person. I really hope he is able to heal quickly and get back up here for a return next season.”

The team’s spirit, especially among younger players like sophomore Nikki Tardiff, remains high despite the coaching change. 

“I think this team had a really special connection with coach Blanc,” she said. “When we first heard, we thought maybe he was just stepping away for a little bit. A lot of us teared up when we heard that he was resigning, but coach Vidakovich is a great coach, and we are ready to play a great season and make coach Blanc proud.”

Blanc said he is excited to watch the girls play this season once his health deems him ready.

The Rams are set to open their season against Prospect Ridge Academy in the Brenda Patch Tournament on Friday, with him sitting firmly in the back of the team’s mind.

Carbondale enlists former RFSD superintendent to find housing for Venezuelan migrants

The town of Carbondale recently hired Rob Stein, former Roaring Fork School District superintendent, for a new temporary unpaid position dedicated to finding housing for the group of unhoused Venezuelan migrants living in a temporary shelter in Third Street Center. 

One of Stein’s most pressing responsibilities is to provide humanitarian aid for the group in the form of shelter. Right now, Stein’s goal is to find a location where the group can take shelter for the winter months of December through March. 

“What I’m working on, among other things, is finding shelter for maybe 100 people,” Stein said. “The term ‘permanent’ (housing) isn’t quite accurate … but these are dangerous months to be sleeping outside and in cars.” 

Carbondale Mayor Ben Bohmfalk called Stein around two weeks ago to ask him if he’d be interested in this kind of role, to which Stein responded positively. Bohmfalk said the idea to tap Stein for the role came from Roaring Fork School District Interim Superintendent Anna Cole. 

“I was just talking about … the challenges the town was facing and Anna mentioned that she had just run into Rob the day before at the grocery store and that he was back recently from Colombia and was interested in making himself available if he could help in any way,” Bohmfalk said. “And so I just picked up the phone and called him immediately. Rob’s really well suited for this because he’s bilingual, he’s very culturally proficient… and he’s just very well connected in the Roaring Fork Valley.” 

After meetings with Bohmfalk and Town Manager Lauren Gister, Stein officially began his role on Nov. 20. 

Stein’s new role is a part-time, temporary position, the length of which is to be decided by the town depending how the situation develops. Bohmfalk said that Gister was previously taking on those responsibilities herself, but there eventually came a point where the need for specialization became inevitable. 

“They have this emergency and they don’t have staff on board right now to manage this on top of the daily responsibilities of managing the town’s affairs, so they brought in some extra help,” Stein said. 

The position also emerged out of a need to coordinate the efforts of various nonprofits and governmental agencies who may not already be communicating with one another.

“The town manager, a lot of nonprofits, a lot of service agencies … they’re working a little bit separately to try to figure this out. And part of my role is just to connect the dots,” Stein said. 

“It’s not just shelter,” Gister added. “It’s also, how do we set up a way for people to donate to help some of these migrants get their legal paperwork in order? Or things that aren’t generally municipal or county obligations.”

In terms of compensation for the job, Gister said that they are not paying Stein at the moment, but that could change in the coming weeks.

“The town has not committed general fund dollars to that. He is basically volunteering his time, and he is just a godsend,” Gister said. “That may change as we get more of a plan, but I do not anticipate that his involvement with this project will be anything long term.”

Gister said there is a possibility that anything the town decides to pay Stein for his work can be reimbursed by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

In addition to working closely with the mayor and town manager, Stein said he’s been coordinating with Voces Unidas de las Montañas, the nonprofit organization currently managing the temporary shelter at Third Street Center. 

“Voces has stepped up and taken a lead role that’s outside of their normal scope of activities as an organization … and they’re more of an advocacy organization than they are a program organization and they don’t want to continue to manage the shelter,” Stein said. “That’s another goal that the town and I have is that, and I think Voces shares it, is that we activate a regional response to this crisis and identify a lead organization and staffing to address it as a valley-wide effort.” 

“Voces Unidas is grateful to the town of Carbondale for starting to take a leadership role in this crisis. Our organization, even with the best of our intentions, should not have to be in a first-responder or emergency management role,” Alex Sanchez, president of Voces Unidas, wrote in an email statement to the Post Independent. “Rob Stein is a respected leader with deep community roots in the Roaring Fork Valley. I am confident that Rob can help organize governments, nonprofits and philanthropy to be able to respond to this crisis but also help us be better prepared as a region.”

Stein expressed the importance of filling a “void in our communities” that would ideally be prepared for an emergency response to the inflow of migrants the town is experiencing. 

“For example, if this were a fire, the Red Cross would activate, the county and municipal emergency services would activate, and there would be an immediate response,” Stain said. “But for refugees or for immigration, those systems don’t exist yet in our communities. And so, this is my personal opinion that we need to create that infrastructure, and I don’t think I’m alone in that belief.” 

Both Stein and Bohmfalk cited the shortage in affordable housing in the valley as a major challenge to their operation. Their initial goal was to find an alternate location for the migrants by Dec. 1, which will now have to be pushed back. 

“There’s sort of an unlimited potential for people to move up here because there’s so many people from Venezuela and other places that are looking for somewhere to land in the United States right now,” Bohmfalk said. “I think one of our biggest challenges is, how do we act compassionately and humanely to the people who are here now, but at the same time prevent Carbondale from becoming a major destination for a volume of people that we just can’t handle?”

Bohmfalk said another major challenge is a lack of coordinated federal, state or county efforts. The town of Carbondale hasn’t received any help from higher levels of government.

“Typically in emergency or disaster-type situations, you have a lot of guidance. Even in (COVID-19), we had a lot of state-level regulations and a lot of state-level support and a federal influx of funds,” Bohmfalk said. “That doesn’t exist here, and that’s really disappointing.” 

Even though there are currently government systems that exist to support the resettlement of refugees, many can only help with controlled flows of people. Bohmfalk said he’s concerned that the town of Carbondale may not qualify for that kind of help due to the amount and frequency of arrivals. 

The town of Carbondale’s efforts toward providing housing to people experiencing homelessness don’t only extend to the group of Venezuelan migrants. Bohmfalk said that a large portion of the town’s work sessions and meetings are focused on workforce housing, too.

“There’s a public perception that Carbondale’s working on this, but we’re not taking care of the locals who have needed housing for a long time. And I want to make sure that that’s corrected, that we’re still doing a lot of work,” Bohmfalk said. “What’s new is that we have never had a large population of unhoused people arrive in Carbondale at the same time, as we’re going into winter with no support system for them. This is not distracting us from our core work.” 

Action but not ‘formal action’ on Glenwood Springs’ city manager resignation

The resignation of former Glenwood Springs City Manager Dr. Beverli Marshall earlier this year resulted from informal action taken in an executive session, Mayor Pro Tem Marco Dehm said in court on Thursday. 

“Action was taken to direct negotiations,” Dehm said. “It was not a formal action.”

Former Glenwood City Council member and current 9th Judicial District Attorney Tony Hershey recently filed a lawsuit alleging the city of Glenwood Springs has not cooperated in releasing details over an executive session it conducted during an Aug. 10 special session. Hershey also claims that city leaders took action during the executive session, which was called to address the city manager’s contract.

After the Aug. 10 meeting ended with no public vote by city council, then-city manager Beverli Marshall was placed on administrative leave. According to an automatic email response by Marshall, hired in January 2023 at a $215,000 salary plus a $2,000 per-month housing allowance, she stated, “I am no longer employed by the City of Glenwood Springs. Please contact Steve Boyd,” open records requests show.

City council formally accepted Marshall’s resignation during a public meeting on Aug. 17. The city also agreed to give Marshall more than $85,000 in severance pay. Since then, the city hired Boyd as its new city manager on a two-year, $215,000 contract.

According to Colorado Sunshine law detailing executive session standards, a “board may not reach any informal decision on a matter that is then rubber-stamped during the subsequent public session.”

Dehm was subpoenaed to appear as a witness before Judge Elise Myer on Thursday. He was examined by Hershey’s attorney Kathy Goudy, who argued “no such vote occurred after the special session” until Aug. 17.

“These things cannot be done in affirmation or in secret,” Goudy said.

During Goudy’s examination of Dehm, Dehm said he joined Glenwood Springs Mayor Ingrid Wussow in meeting with Marshall on Aug. 11 — the day after the executive session.

“I do recall madam mayor calling me, saying, ‘You’re coming with me,'” Dehm said.

Dehm said he and Wussow presented Marshall two options on Aug. 11: either resign discreetly or do it in a public meeting. Pressed on whether a decision was made during the executive session the previous day, Dehm said city leaders informally decided to come up with strategies for Marshall’s resignation.

Despite Marshall’s auto email response saying she was no longer employed by Glenwood Springs, Dehm claimed on Thursday that he did not have any knowledge of Marshall’s resignation prior to the Aug. 17 Glenwood Springs City Council meeting. He did, however, admit that he knew Marshall had essentially cleared out her office on Aug. 11, except for a few items.

“She packed her stuff and walked out,” Dehm said.

Attorney Shoshana Rosenthal of Karp Neu Hanlon, P.C., which represents the city, argued any open records requests over details of the Aug. 10 executive session should be denied because it’s protected by attorney-client privilege. She also repeatedly objected to many of Goudy’s examination questions directed toward Dehm because of the same argument.

“City Council needed a private space to discuss matters on Marshall,” Rosenthal said, adding that City Attorney Karl Hanlon was present during the executive session, which was intended to negotiate her position. “Dr. Marshall provided, in writing, she wanted an executive session.”

“Dr. Marshall going on leave does not constitute a formal action,” Rosenthal added.

Myer said the court would take the city’s objection to releasing executive session details on a “step-by-step” basis throughout court proceedings.

The case is slated to continue in court at 8:30 a.m. Friday in District Court in Glenwood Springs.

Powers Art Center’s new exhibition ‘Wrapped’ opens Friday

The Powers Art Center is opening its newest exhibit, “Wrapped,” curated by Melissa English and Sonya Taylor-Moore from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1. The exhibit will run through Nov. 2, 2024.

“Wrapped” explores the spectacular works of Issey Miyake and Christo & Jeanne-Claude, artists who created new dimensions, whether in landscapes, monuments, or the human form.  

Miyake redefined the relationship between the human body and fabric, advancing fashion as an art form, and was the first fashion designer celebrated on the cover of “Artforum”.  Miyake’s experimentation with fabric and folds continued to evolve fashion designs until his death at 84 in 2022.

Similarly, Christo & Jeanne-Claude are known for installations of fabric, changing perceptions of landmarks and public venues. Like Miyake, the duo engineered fabrics and created complicated designs to be seen for only a moment in time.  Christo & Jeanne-Claude personally funded their installations through proceeds from the sale of preparatory work studies. These studies will be on display, along with a portion of the Rifle Gap Curtain.

Like other artists in the Ryobi collection, John and Kimiko Powers were friends with both Miyake, Christo & Jeanne-Claude, and introduced the artists in the 1980s. It was a friendship that lasted through the passing of Jeanne-Claude in 2009 until 2020 at Christo’s passing.

While Miyake’s, Christo’s, and Jeanne-Claude’s works are in permanent collections of museums all over the world, all works on display are from the former collection of John and Kimiko Powers now stewarded by the Ryobi Foundation.

The Powers Art Center is a world-class museum and study center dedicated to the memory of John G. Powers who, along with his wife, Kimiko, was an avid collector of contemporary art. The upper galleries in the museum feature the current show, “Seasons of Change,” a Jasper Johns’ exhibit exploring the fragility of the passage of time, on display until, April 27, 2024.

In addition to the galleries, the Powers Art Center has an extensive art library and a learning lab for hands-on experiences.

Powers Art Center Hours:

• 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday
• 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday 

Admission is Free courtesy of the Ryobi Foundation

Wilderness Land Trust acquires property just outside Mount Massive Wilderness

Mount Champion and Independence Pass, south of Aspen, is a popular destination for visitors and locals. Much of the mountain’s south and west faces have been privately owned, a news release from The Wilderness Land Trust states. 

In November, Amy Margerum Berg, the owner of 275 acres on the west face of Mount Champion, donated the property to The Wilderness Land Trust, the release states.

Soon, it will be transferred to public ownership in San Isabel National Forest. The property boundaries are from the North Fork of Lake Creek almost to the summit. It includes remnants of the Champion Mine, which was active from 1907-1940 and where mining of gold, silver, copper and lead took place, the release states.

“My late husband, Charles ‘Chuck’ McLean, had the foresight to purchase these mining claims with the intent of protecting them from development. My son, Slater McLean, and I are so proud to be donating this land in his honor” Berg said in the release. “He loved this land more than anything and spent hours exploring and hiking every inch of this spectacular backcountry wilderness. He would be very happy to know that the land will now be protected forever.”

The popular North Fork Lake Creek Trail leads into the 30,000-acre Mount Massive Wilderness and runs through the base of the donated property, the release states.

Protecting the property under public ownership will ensure public access on the trail and mitigate the management and liability concerns that have recently cut off access to several of Colorado’s 14ers, the release states.

The donation also protects important wildlife habitat, spanning from streamside riparian zones to alpine meadows above treeline, and is home to bighorn sheep, the release states.

Sarah Chase Shaw of Basalt, chair of The Wilderness Land Trust board of directors, said of the acquisition, “We are so grateful for the McLean-Berg family’s generosity and are thrilled to be able to help them leave a legacy of conservation and protect this remarkable landscape as public lands for future generations.”

The Champion Mine South property is just up the drainage from the 20-acre Blue Lake property which The Trust added to designated wilderness last year, removing the last remaining inholding in the Mount Massive Wilderness, the release states.

In total the Trust has protected 168 properties in Colorado, covering 6,530 acres in 21 wilderness areas, the release states.

Garfield County opposes proposed SEC investment rule

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has proposed a rule that would allow Natural Asset Companies (NACs) on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Under this rule, NACs must be managed for sustainable purposes, removing natural resource production from some federal lands.

The Garfield County Board of Commissioners (GCBC) discussed NACs at their board meeting on Nov. 20, opposing the SEC’s proposed rule.

“Natural Asset Companies would provide a vehicle for investors and governments to profit from the protection of natural resources,” said Board Commissioner Mike Samson. “It would allow foreign entities to own these NACs.”

NACs are defined by the NYSE from an article by Reuters, as a tradeable asset class based on sustainable enterprises that hold the rights to ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, produced by natural, working or hybrid lands. 

The NYSE says that natural assets globally produce $125 trillion annually in ecosystem services, like water purification and biodiversity. 

The Intrinsic Exchange Group (IEG) worked with the NYSE to develop NACs. The IEG said on their website of NACs, “The purpose of the company is to actively manage, maintain, restore (as applicable), and grow the value of natural assets and their production of ecosystem services, with the objective of maximizing ecological performance.” 

Nerdwallet broke down what stocks are: stocks are an investment. When you buy stock, it becomes an ownership share in that company, and you own it. 

If NACs are created, stockholders would be able to control stock in these NACs. To create a NAC, according to IEG’s website, a resource must be identified, then a NAC must be formed as a new corporation with license rights to ecosystem services, like the identified resource, then the natural asset value will convert to finance capital. 

The possible NACs in question are federally owned land; however, the IEG, alongside their Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), are working with the Costa Rican government, other sovereign nations, private landowners and public companies on the development of NACs. 

IEG has investments from the NYSE, IDB, The Rockefeller Foundation and Aberdare Ventures.

Commissioner Samson on Nov. 20 went on to explain that air and water are included in SEC proposal, and this proposal failed to have a benefit analysis done and that the proposal skirts congressional authorization. He also said that NACs don’t allow for extractional activity. 

The Garfield County Commission has written a letter to SEC in opposition of this NAC proposal. stating about Garfield County: 

“Approximately 62% of these lands are public lands owned and managed by the federal government, the Bureau of Land Management manages 615,973 acres and the U.S. Forest Service manages 515,865 acres,” the commission stated in the letter.

The commission said that Garfield County’s ability to provide resources for schools, hospitals, emergency services, roads and other necessary services are directly dependent on the productive use of these federal lands.

The letter also explains in further detail why Samson said that the proposed analysis skirts congressional authorization. 

“There is also no guidance or limitation on the ‘management authority’ the SEC NAC rule will convey,” the letter states. “It is simply blanket permission that appears to give private companies unlimited ability to set rules, definitions, permissions, and possible penalties that will directly impact our county.”

The letter also states that the proposal infringes on the right, stated by federal statute, that requires federal agencies to “coordinate” the management of federal lands with local jurisdictions. Congress requires this so as not to do harm to the surrounding communities in that jurisdiction. 

“The Intrinsic Exchange Group (IEG) claims the new natural asset company economy will be $5,000 Trillion economy, four times larger than today’s economy, which is $105 Trillion,” the letter states “This is because they are creating an entirely new set of values — quantifying and monetizing “natural processes” and “ecosystem services” that every human being must have to live, and no one has a right to own. They are quite literally attempting to profit from, and control, the air we breathe.” 

Commissioner Chair John Martin answered questions about NACs and what investing in their stocks could mean. 

“The SEC runs the NYSE, and they want to create companies that manipulate all natural resources, including air and water, including wave generation, and all mining, which can be bought, sold, and traded by anyone who can form a company — is it conservation or a way to make money on the NYSE? When are public lands no longer public lands?” Martin said. 

He also said this is a worldwide movement, because the NYSE affects world economies.  

The Senate has also gotten involved in this proposal, and three senators in particular have also written a letter to the SEC on Nov. 2. Senators Pete Ricketts (Republican, Nebraska), Mike Crapo (Republican, Idaho), and James E. Risch (Republican, Idaho) stated in their letter similar concerns to the Garfield County Commission about publicly-owned lands being included in private investment portfolios. 

“We are concerned that corporate involvement in the stewardship and control of our federal lands would create unintended consequences,” the Senate letter states. “We are also alarmed by the SEC’s allowance under the proposed rule of foreign investment in these uniquely U.S. assets.”

The letter requested the SEC provide members of Congress and the public with potential risks and benefits of the proposal. They also requested six questions be answered no later than Nov. 30.

Whiting column: Teacher, time and tenacity

Student learning is a function of three Ts: teacher, time and tenacity.

Research, common sense and our own experience support teacher competence as the dominant factor. Time is multi-pronged: number of school days, time in class each day and time teachers are provided to prepare and execute their teaching. Tenacity relates to all: the extra effort teachers, students and their parents are willing to spend.

Finding and retaining extraordinary teachers is simple and complex. As in other professions, the first key is attracting more people into the talent pool. When one or two seek a given position, the selection process becomes irrelevant. When school starts the principal must have a body in the classroom.

Education must compete with other professions as individuals choose their desired career. Society can attempt to reform education all they want, but results aren’t going to significantly change until it can motivate the best and brightest to enter the profession.

In today’s market, two of the main factors in career choice are compensation and company culture. We desire the dedicated who view teaching as a “calling” but they are few and far between with the number reducing further when we also desire extraordinary competence.

Recently, compensation has increased significantly, but not to where a school system can compete with other professions whose average salary is six figures. Most service industries, such as construction or plumbing, are earning at that level. The recent labor settlements whether it be UPS, UAW or the airlines reinforce the difficulty in attracting the cream of the crop.

Disturbingly, total educational funding has increased at a rate greater than the percentage allocated to teachers. Districts received extra money through COVID funds: Colorado $2.9 billion; RFSD $13.8 million. Most received additional funds designated to facilitate increased achievement for 2022-24. Colorado has allocated $150 million over their original 2023-24 budget with each district receiving $10,579 per student: a 10% increase from 2022-23. With the local property tax valuations increasing 33% from 2022, local districts will receive a 33% increase in funding at the same mill levy.

Cumulatively, this extraordinary increase facilitates a unique opportunity for districts to allocate the majority to teacher compensation, attracting additional people to the profession and quality educators to a local district.

Districts could further increase and sustain this percentage of funds allocated to teachers by reducing spending on the increasing educational bureaucracy composed of district office administrators who aren’t in the classroom, in front of students every day. Between 2000 and 2022 Colorado student enrollment increased 24.6%, teacher numbers increased 26%, but in-school administrators 73%, District level administrators 132%.

In-school administrators are in the building, dealing with students every day; however, most district level administrators are not. Superintendents and school boards are tempted to grow their kingdom. For the superintendent it builds their résumé as they look toward their next position. For the board, it facilitates a feeling of accomplishment. Most are well intentioned individuals who weren’t effective teachers for a couple decades. Consequently, they are persuaded these positions might aid learning rather than realizing teachers are the ones working in the “arena” generating learning.

In 2010, RFSD had 15-20 personnel in the district office. Today there are over 60. This occurred with student enrollment decreasing from 5,637 in 2016-17 to 5306 in 2022-23. With district office administrators typically earning from 150% to 500% of a teacher’s salary, considerable money is available for those in the classroom.

If one thinks a district starting their first-year teachers at $75,000 and with proven results to over $100,000 in three or four years wouldn’t attract the very best, one is naïve. Skilled, dedicated people don’t need a lot of managing. Give them what they need and get out of the road.

If improving student attendance is the goal, teachers are the ones creating the environment and the motivation. Students don’t decide to go to class because of a district level position.

The culture of individual schools attracts people to the profession and to specific districts. Culture has many items, but time is predominant, especially time in the classroom. If the goal is increased learning more time is required. This involves additional classroom days and time spent in the classroom. As a result, some districts have moved beyond 175-180 classroom days to as many as 210 by eliminating the one- or two-day vacations and reducing traditional vacations. Some are expanding the traditional six daily in-class hours to seven or eight.

Culture also involves facilitating teachers spending their time working with kids and generating learning. Quality individuals don’t become teachers to do hall duty, lunchroom duty, parking lot duty, and fundraise. Taking those activities off teachers’ plates would be productive use of this “new” money.

Accountability is a desired element of school culture. Effective teachers seek, don’t fear, accountability. They look forward to a principal who was a proven, quality educator for over 10 years, providing feedback and suggestion. Quality teachers want to do their job well. It’s difficult to objectively examine one’s own teaching. Accountability attracts good teachers because they know they won’t have to deal with or have their classroom negatively affected by the inability of others. If a colleague isn’t doing the job, they will either improve or be gone. Accountability develops a staff with common values, goals and commitment.

Tenacity involves a high level of effort and toughness by all. It’s work ethic and dedication. Teachers must be willing and glad to spend more than the typical 40-hour work week. Students must attend class on powder days, do their homework and solicit additional help when needed. Parents must hold their kids accountable for attendance, homework, behavior; provide support by talking about school every day, and attending their activities.

To improve learning, we must allocate our resources to teacher, time and tenacity. It is our responsibility to understand the factors affecting students’ learning and advocate for their implementation.

Bryan Whiting feels most of our issues are best solved by personal responsibility and an understanding of non-partisan economics rather than government intervention. Comments and column suggestions to:

Doctor’s Tip: Please pass the tofurky?

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the average American eats 200 pounds of red meat and poultry a year. The average European eats 140 pounds a year; 130 pounds in Latin America and the Caribbean; 60 pounds in East and South Asia; and 30 pounds in Africa.

There is extensive evidence that the high meat intake in America contributes to most of the chronic diseases that so many suffer and die from, such as obesity, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases and cancer. Diets high in animal products are also bad for the health of the planet, contributing to global warming, deforestation, water pollution, erosion of topsoil and other environmental problems.

The holiday season is upon us and people are thinking about enjoying tasty holiday meals with family and friends. Can these meals also be healthful and environmentally sensitive? First of all, there are numerous tasty plant-based, whole food recipes on the internet and in vegan cookbooks such as “Oh She Glows,” “Thug Kitchen,” “How Not to Die Cookbook” and “Isa Does It.” If you make lentil loaf or your own bean or mushroom burgers, for example, they can be tasty, healthy and have minimal environmental impact.

What about fake meat? Although fake meat has some environmental impact, according to Nutrition Action, published by Center for Science in the Public Interest, commercial fake meat has a much lower impact than real meat.

Whether fake meat is healthier than fake meat for you is less clear. Most options are soy-based, and soy has many proven health benefits. Some companies are now using non-GMO soy. Sometimes other proteins are used, such as quinoa, pea, or chickpea. Unfortunately, many varieties of fake meat are ultra-processed, loaded with sodium, and some — including Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger — contain harmful oils such as coconut and palm. The November 2021 issue of Nutrition Action rated various brands of fake meat; following are their favorites, although it’s still a good idea to check labels for sugar, sodium and added oil:

  • VEGGIE BURGERS: Dr. Praeger’s Perfect Burger or Whole Foods 365 Plant-Based Patties
  • FAKE GROUND MEAT: Whole Foods 365 Plant-Based Ground; Gardein Classic Meatless Meatballs
  • BACON: Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon; Tofurkey Smoky Maple Bacon (made from Tempe, which is minimally processed, fermented soy)
  • SAUSAGE: MorningStar Original Sausage Patties
  • CHICKEN STRIPS: Breaded — Gardein, Whole Foods, MorningStar; unbreaded — No Evil Comrade Cluck; Gardein Chick’n Scallopini

Tofurky is one of several brands of fake turkey. It looks, tastes and smells like turkey and has the same texture. Meat eaters will eat it without whining much. You can buy it at some local grocery stores, and some options include plant-based stuffing and gravy. If you add some vegetables, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, etc., you end up with a tasty, relatively healthy meal that is also environmentally friendly. Turkeys will appreciate your choice as well.

In summary:

  • There is extensive evidence that the healthiest diet for humans is plant-based, unprocessed food with no salt, sugar, or added oil, and there are many tasty recipes out there using these ingredients.
  • A plant-based, whole food diet is clearly best for health of the planet.
  • Fake meat is not as healthy for us as real, unprocessed plant food, but a small amount such as a half a fake sausage cut up and added to pasta sauce for flavoring, or a small amount of fake parmesan cheese on pasta occasionally are not a big problem—nor is something like Tofurky for the occasional holiday meal.
  • There are some environmental concerns with fake meat, but in general it is significantly better for the planet than the real thing.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market, and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment, or email