For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email

For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email

Rob Douglas: A Dear Jon letter


Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at

Find more columns by Douglas here.

— As everyone is busy this weekend decamping for their annual pilgrimage to warmer climes, I thought I'd sneak a private letter to City Council freshman Jon Quinn while no one's looking. This is eyes-only to Jon Quinn. Everyone else, turn the page to last night's Avs recap.

Dear Jon:

I'm deeply disappointed you and other members of the Harwigs Happy Hour Haven haven't invited me to your Tuesday night soirees. Is that the thanks I get for defending you against Brent Boyer and his Merry Band of Sunshine Law Enforcers?

This is no mere faux pas. If you'd welcomed me to your circle of non-connivers, we could have quietly compared notes about the old days in Washington, D.C., without anybody overhearing. No worries. Because of this letter is just between the two of us, no one will be reminded of your D.C. past.

I'm sure you don't want to recall - given how your campaign contributions from east of the Potomac caused a bit of a stink during the election - that some in the 'Boat don't cotton to folks from back east. And they rightly have a jaundiced view of the build-it-bigger-and-taller mentality that some easterners import to our cozy valley.

But voters last November believed you cleansed of your outsider sins, declared you reborn and granted you a seat on the council. That speaks volumes for your political instincts and, so far, I've heard good reviews of your short tenure.

So, since you haven't stumbled yet, I want to be gentle in posing a simple question.

Have you lost your mind?

Have you lost your mind in supporting the St. Cloud Resort & Spa?

Have you lost your mind in supporting the St. Cloud Resort & Spa's request to replace Clock Tower Square with a humongous four-acre, 781,000-square-foot monstrosity that, at 126 feet tall, makes a mockery of the 63-foot height restriction currently in place?

Jon, don't feel I'm picking on you. I know other misguided souls on the council have lost their faculties as well concerning the St. Cloud. But you should know better. See, this is where your Washington, D.C., past comes in handy for a change.

I'm sure you'd agree there are many aspects of D.C. we're both happy to leave behind. Crime, traffic, Bill Clinton, the worst public school system in the nation, Bill Clinton - the list goes on and on.

Did I mention Bill Clinton?

But, given your D.C. heritage, recall one of the great things about our nation's capital.

The low skyline.

The low skyline - mandated by law - preserving panoramic views of the city's historic landmarks and monuments such as the Capitol Dome, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials.

The low skyline - mandated by law - keeping most buildings in D.C. lower than the proposed St. Cloud.

Jon, perhaps a quick refresher is in order.

In Washington, D.C., in order to preserve the low skyline and views, no newly constructed building is permitted more than 20 feet taller than the width of the street it sits upon. Significantly, that means almost every building in our nation's capital is shorter than the proposed St. Cloud.

Jon, before your young political career becomes tagged by the St. Cloud debacle, I hope you'll go walk the site as I did yesterday. If you have, walk it again. What becomes apparent to even the untrained eye is that by allowing the 781,000-square-foot St. Cloud to soar 126 feet into the air on a 4-acre parcel, you will ruin many sightlines to views of Steamboat's monuments.

Steamboat's monuments are our mountains.

If the St. Cloud goes forward at 126 feet, the equivalent of 12 stories, views of the mountains to the west and south will vanish from many vantage points - other than for the few wealthy enough to reside at the St. Cloud. Equally as tragic, the precedent will be in place for all developers to point to the St. Cloud when arguing height restrictions should be flushed for their project.

Jon, current development along downtown Lincoln Avenue already has been allowed to diminish sightlines to Howelsen Hill and other beautiful views. Need we repeat this mistake at the Clock Tower site?

So, Jon, let me offer a friendly piece of advice from one old D.C. guy to another.

Learn a lesson from the Old Town Hot Springs Board of Directors, which quickly backtracked from doubling membership dues, and don't double the height limit for the St. Cloud.

Otherwise, you may find those who elected you backtracking on their support.

- Rob Douglas can be reached at


JQPUBLIC 8 years, 11 months ago

Justjoe, "Congress was working for Bush, it's why the majority shifted in 2006. Too bad the new majority ignored the wishes of their constituents that elected them." MY POINT EXACTLY. You can't blame Bush when an ELECTED congress empowers him to do the things he does. You sure as hell can't blame Bush for the democrats failing to keep the promises they made to their constituents, the democrats do have congress so what's the excuse now? I don't agree with everything Bush has done but I think it's ludicrous to blame Bush for what congress has allowed to happen. Maybe congress is privy to more information than we are and that's the reason they vote the way they do or maybe they are too busy adding their pork projects to the bills to care about what they're passing, either way, blaming one man is ignorant. POLITICS, don't ya just love it!


BoatMaster 8 years, 11 months ago

Good Article

Should have left out the Bill Clinton thing. Not relevant to the article and will distract from your point of height constraints on the building.

Other than that a very good article.


JustSomeJoe 8 years, 11 months ago

It is a good article and wise advice to the entire city council. We shall see if this council was elected to make money for developers no matter the cost to the community, or if they are interested in reasonable development that balances the need to make as much money as possible with being a responsible steward for what the community will look like in 10 years.

Politics and elections are like any other business when you get down to it. Donors make an investment in a candidate based on the known facts and a hope their investment pay off. Look at Bush/Cheney and the pay off for their military-industrial donors that bankrolled their White House bid. Bush/Cheney were planning the invasion of Iraq during the transition period in 2000, as well as a roll-back on corporate taxes, environmental policies, etc. He was elected to take care of their interests and he gets an A+. Look at the earnings for big oil, the KBRs and defense contractors over the past 8 years.

Don't you wish you could have invested in Bush/Cheney in 1999? We will see over the next few years who invested in the new city council and what their return was. It's just how our system works.

Don't blame Rob for the Bill Clinton call-out. It's a generational thing for Reagan-Bush Republicans of a certain age, instinctive behavior even. My ditto head mother-in-law does the same thing. Clinton's also responsible for global warming, the credit crunch and the self-regulation of business not working out. JBB, Just Blame Bill.


George Danellis 8 years, 11 months ago

Nice article. But Mr. Douglas diminishes the impact somewhat by harping on Mr. Clinton. While Clinton may be one slippery character with more than a few character flaws, he doesn't relate to the greater goals of the article. And in light of the current dangerously bellicose and cronyistic regime, Mr. Clinton starts to look pretty darn reasonable. Oh wait. The subject of the article was "views". See what I mean?


424now 8 years, 11 months ago

As always this is my opinion,

I can see your (Philanderer) point posters. Why bring up the personal (Promiscuous while supposedly governing the country) behavior of a past president (Philanderer) when what we are discussing is the support Mr. Jon Quinn has for and the impact St. Cloud will have on the skyline now and the president it will set for the future.

Could it have been an innuendo? Perhaps the reference was used to impart an emotion. Maybe, just maybe, it was intended to emote the same sense of revulsion a great many American citizens felt at the reported behavior of the afore mentioned elected official.

Or maybe not.


justathought 8 years, 11 months ago

Nothing wrong with the Clinton statements, a little levity is always welcome.

JustJoe, I must have slept through the years when they changed our democratic system. Please explain, while Bush & Cheney were running amok and taking care of their "investors", where was congress?


JustSomeJoe 8 years, 11 months ago

Justathought - Congress was working for Bush, it's why the majority shifted in 2006. Too bad the new majority ignored the wishes of their constituents that elected them.

Every heard of signing statements, or ignoring the laws he wants? You can't seriously back up Bush's policies or where the country is going under him, or are you one of the 18%?


140938 8 years, 11 months ago


 Why throw rocks like a girl?

When someone attempts to provide a solid economic base for the community to raise a family, who have such a 'Hello Kitty' fit? Rob, call your mom and ask her to explain that America thrives on opinions and thoughts from people all over our great nation.

 Keep trying!!!

 Steve Ross

Rick Lobato 8 years, 11 months ago

Why is it that some people cry foul only when they wake up from blissful ignorance to see what is already going on? Few can argue the base area has been in dire need of renovation. Critics should understand that land values are market driven and that a developer has multiple criteria to satisfy before a project is economically viable. If it takes 126 feet to make it work, then the 63 foot standard is wishful thinking and out of date. Maybe a Motel 6 would make them happy.


elkeye 8 years, 11 months ago

If a project is not economically viable at the height allowed by code, the developer overpaid for the land!

Rather than increase the height standard (by code amendment or variance), the market will correct the land values IF projects are not approved above the code standard.


armchairqb 8 years, 11 months ago

Rules? who needs 'em? CC doesn't have to follow ordinances-and they don't have to follow the rules such as the sunshine laws. just ask them- they'll tell you Cari is a lawyer and if you don't believe her just ask City attorney lettnich Don't like it start a recall or unelect them next time -oh yeah to late damage is done and they don't like to revist old cc judgements...


factsfirst 8 years, 11 months ago

I think some of you should move to Meeker or Maybell, where there is no traffic, there are no tourists, all the buildings are short, and - oh yeah - they aren't trying to be a WORLD CLASS SKI RESORT. If you don't like the fact that this town depends on tourism for its economic base - then leave.


vanguy 8 years, 11 months ago

Developers ask for more than they need when entering the application process. St. Cloud will end up over 63 feet but under 126 feet. Anything to block the view of the Grand is a welcome addition in my book.

The venture will only be profitable when/if enough high-end buyers step up to the plate to purchase...which should be the real concern with all the projects being proposed. Otherwise, we will have another Highmark / Chadwick story on our hands. An don't forget that additional height creates additional risk for the developer.

Rob's jab at downtown is lame though. You never had views of Howelsen Hill walking along Lincoln Avenue.

Downtown is going to be awesome...when it's done. And with nothing to offer locals or tourists around the base area for a long, long time, how can you anyone complain about more restaurants, bars, and shops coming to downtown?

And when all of the downtown development is complete, there will still be fewer total condos in all of downtown Steamboat than in the St. Cloud project alone.


Matt Jacquart 8 years, 11 months ago

I was already having a Monday kind of Friday when I read this cheery article from Rob, which just put a worse spin on my day. First off, voters last fall didn't forgive Jon of any kind of earlier sins, voters last fall called for a change, that is why all incumbents were not re-elected.

Further, Rob, I never saw your name on the ballot, you're just an armchair quarterback screaming at the T.V. when a first down attempt goes bad. If you feel you can do better nut up and get in the game!

You said, Rob, that you were not singling out Jon; but, Rob, that's just what you did; although, you admitted his views may be in-line with other council members, Rob. You were grasping at straws for the D.C. connection, but we are not D.C. Let me make it clear that Jon did not have the political past that you assume to share with him. Instead, he simply had family there that tried to provide the best life for him.

Since you singled out Jon, let me do the same. In addition to being a business owner, which takes up 60+ hours a week, Jon is a father to two young daughters (yes, his second daughter, Dylan Sunshine Quinn, was born today!) and he still has the commitment and desire to devote his time to our community. If Jon's influence in our city is reflective of his commitment to his business and personal relationships, then we are sure to be successful, but people like you, Rob, do not seem to want this.

I find it difficult to believe that someone who would single out someone on a preliminary discussion of a major issue would have the guts to make the decisions we as a community entrust to our council members. They take on so much beyond their abnormally busy personal lives. If you, Rob, think that you could truly do a better job, then I sincerely look forward to voting for your opposition in the next election.


colowoodsman 8 years, 11 months ago

Dude-apparently a lot of 'your friends' read the 'Dear Jon' letter even though they were not supposed too. They must be the same ones whose "brains leaked out onto the pillow overnight". When you use the word 'we', who are you referring to? Do you have a mouse in your pocket?


JLM 8 years, 11 months ago

Sheesh! Grow up SBS and grow up Robbie Douglas (just another carpetbagger local wannabee) --- the freakin' world has discovered SBS and the days of old are gone forever. We like flush plumbing, super supermarkets and, hell yes, even a latte or a gelato. SBS is part of the world now and its' going to grow up just like everything else.

Build the damn buildings 300' in my book --- and don't worry they won't dwarf the mountains but they will dwarf the mental midgets who try to hang onto a past which just wasn't that damn glorious.



colowoodsman 8 years, 11 months ago

JLM- the "freakin' world has (not) discovered SBS", the SSCRA has been advertizing and marketing it to them for the last twenty years! This has resulted in not just more tourists but more speculators/investors that are only interested in making BIG MONEY and couldn't care less about the damage they cause here. Whereas the old locals were characterized by cowboy hats and jeans the new 'instant' locals are personified by the TWO pictures above.


factsfirst 8 years, 11 months ago

Dear Jon,

I hope you're not swayed by stupidity. Stand by your convictions - the ones the majority counted on when we voted you into office.


PRoni 8 years, 11 months ago

Oh Gosh! What another insightful and clever article by Rob D. How fortunate we are to have his seasoned wisdome on local issues. I like how he calls it "our valley" and how he uses local persona's (like Pete and Dave's) to try to integrate himself by association. To have such opinionated articles you would think he had a dog in the fight. You know what I wish you left behind in DC Rob?-Mean spirited, uneducated and unfunny diatribes.


factsfirst 8 years, 11 months ago

Colowoodsman - Guess you don't realize which family originally owned the Mountain you like to call yours. There are few more "local" people than the Temple family. A Temple had vision then, and a Temple has vision now. And whether you believe it or not, it's for the good of ALL of SS - old locals and instant ones.


ColoradoNative 8 years, 11 months ago

As stated earlier the issue at hand here is developers over paying for land then asking for zoning variances.

This time it's 12 stories what's next 20?

Oh and as for Rob goes he established his character in his triple crown article several weeks ago when he got into personal battles on this forum. It was sad.


okiegal 8 years, 11 months ago

oh good lord.

rob another stupid article.

so character assasination passes for journalism?.. are one of the worst writers the pilot has ever had.


id04sp 8 years, 11 months ago

Why would anybody want to see tall buildings at a world class ski resort?

Yeah, I wanna be riding an elevator with "Mrs. Robinson" playing on the Muzak with four tourists hauling their skis down from the 10th floor. What a great idea . . .


twostroketerror 8 years, 11 months ago

Rob, you don't seem to be responding to your fan mail this week..To reduce the flameage, maybe try


424now 8 years, 11 months ago


In regards to development. You can spread out not up. Enforce the existing limits. Force developer to comply and they will redesign. Give them the slightest hint that it's negotiable and they will pounce.

That is what happened here.


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