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 rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

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 rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

Rob Douglas: We all live in glass houses

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Rob Douglas

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

Find more columns by Douglas here.

— Steamboat Springs High School students have crossed a formal classroom threshold for the last time this school year, but life's lessons continue. Unfortunately, the education they're receiving from some of us is nothing to be proud of.

The controversial 3-2 decision by the School Board to not renew the contract of Principal Mike Knezevich has resulted in some so-called adults demonstrating a level of maturity far lower than the children whose best interests are at issue. This unseemly behavior has been on display within the school system and outside of it.

The history of the board throughout the past several years is one tarnished by rivalries, backstabbing, costly personnel decisions and a general ugliness that has significantly eroded the public's confidence in the board. Monday night's spectacle did little to improve that image.

Once again, our community was treated to a display of internecine conflict - complete with charges and countercharges about the professional behavior, qualifications and legal certifications of the constantly shifting actors in this never-ending play. This was capped by a board member casting aspersions about the ethics of a colleague.

In what can only be described as the greatest act of unmitigated chutzpa in the recent annals of Steamboat, the latest stone in this increasingly tiresome battle was thrown at Laura Anderson by a man living in a glass house fully exposed as the quintessential pot calling the kettle black - John DeVincentis.

But, as if the civil warfare of the board was not enough, even more nastiness has been on display within the community at large. The personal attacks by some - within the camp that supports Mr. Knezevich and the camp that doesn't - against those of differing opinions have moved beyond civility.

More important, as the issue of Mr. Knezevich's employment directly impacts current high school students, those students are paying close attention. And they are paying attention to not just the decision, but also how the board, administration, teachers, parents and community interact with one another throughout the process.

Adolescent boys and girls are cultural sponges. They absorb and imitate the behaviors they observe within their community. Consciously and subconsciously, they learn from those around them how to interact and behave as they approach adulthood.

For better or worse, the adults in our young citizens' lives are the role models who will have the greatest impact on how they develop into full members of society. The lessons they learn from us about how to act during stressful events will serve as the foundation for their behavior when similarly confronted in their adult lives.

Put simply, how we behave is the single best predictor of how they'll behave.

So, perhaps we should all take a moment and ask ourselves whether - when it comes to the emotion-laden dismissal of Mr. Knezevich - we're acting in a manner we want the children of our community to emulate.

And, at the risk of sounding like a pompous scold (believe me, I'm writing this to myself as much as to anyone else), the ongoing fireworks about the School Board are not the only circumstance where we fall short in providing examples of good citizenship for the youths in our midst. The level of discourse by some of us when it comes to a range of issues here in the valley has at times been contemptuous if not outright defamatory.

We've all heard and read outrageous and unsubstantiated rumors and allegations of impropriety, illegality, corruption or other malfeasance leveled at just about everyone with a public persona in Routt County. Frequent targets include real estate developer Jim Cook; members of our city councils and town boards; the county commissioners; members of the various school boards; the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association; and yes, Sheriff Gary Wall, who - contrary to popular opinion - deserves his day in court just like anyone else.

Even more appalling are some of the comments so casually tossed around about private residents - including those unable to defend themselves because of tragic deaths - without any concern for the damage to their reputations or the trauma inflicted on families and friends.

Bottom line: What we say about one another here in a small community can cause unwarranted pain and make it more difficult to encourage people of good will to step forward and take on difficult and often thankless jobs. Although we should never shy away from harshly chastising a public official when the facts call for it - indeed, it is our civic duty to do so - we should stop the unfounded personal attacks.

After all, like Dr. DeVincentis, we all live in glass houses.

Rob Douglas can be reached at Douglas@privacytoday.com

Comments

bandmama 5 years, 10 months ago

BUT.... out of respect for several people.... I try very hard to refrain from posting on any of Robs articles, and will do so in the future, I just have to admit he is right on this one... so bandmama will never be heard form again on Robs space. my apologies for being childish.....heheheheheheheeeeee......

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colobob 5 years, 10 months ago

Wow, I had to pour a second cup of coffee and re-read this article to make sure that I read it right the first time. Rob, it would seem that maybe we have both started to turn the corner here. This article has much more merit (just my opinion) than those you have penned in the past. I think most, if not all, including myself, have fallen prey to some of the negative statements made of others. My Kennedy rant woud be a good example. While we still differ greatly on our opinions of certain issues, TC being one of them, this article actually made me stop and think. It has some good points. It wouldn't hurt any of us to be a little more compassionate and less offensive toward others. Incidently chutzpa is spelled chutzpah, I had to look up internecine. Now for that third coffee!

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skygazer 5 years, 10 months ago

I agree that civility needs to return to many of the arguments posted on the comments forum. It is hard to follow the logic of some arguments when couched in such harsh and personal rhetoric. I look to the comments to bring to light new information or new ways of looking at a problem, but skim through (or not read entirely) many of the rants.

How many qualified people won't run for important community positions like the BOE or city council because of the mudslinging that they will be the target of? Tone it down, don't reelect if you are unhappy.

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outsiderlookingin 5 years, 10 months ago

As an instructor once told a classroomful of cadets--"At one time long ago the following speech would not have to take place". So many things today have to repeated that should never be said in the first place. In church "Please turn off your cell phones" at the ball game "Please remove you caps for the singing of the national anthem" and everything Rob just wrote about. Call me old school but bring back the old days!!!!

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steamboatyahoo 5 years, 10 months ago

Rob Why don't you go back and read some of your commentaries about Triple Crown. In those you basically called anyone who thinks differently than you on that topic an idiot or at least "fantasists" and "utopians" and "dreamers" and "skipped civics class in favor of a doobie under the bleachers."

You got a little heated over that subject and even more so when it came to Emerald Park.

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bandmama 5 years, 10 months ago

oh man..... rob, i hate to agree with you....(You were the wiener who contacted my employer when I pointed out, what a turd you were........how un-professional by the way, on a forum such as this....) but I think you may have hit the nail on the head here. Now.....you gonna call my boss on this one???????? The parties involved should realize that they are a big impact on the students....... P.S.---- ummm.... I am at home...my computor...and free speech and all......Oh please do what you did last time......

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2007 5 years, 10 months ago

I agree completely. What is very sad but true is the comment above that qualified people will be reluctant to take paid and volunteer positions in this town due to immature comments and mudslinging that is disseminated primarily through the comments section of this newspaper. I would like to see the Steamboat Pilot modify this 'comments' section and monitor it more closely. I see that inappropriate remarks are removed periodically. Perhaps if ALL comments were reviewed before being allowed to be seen by all readers it would raise the quality of discussion here. Actually it may make it possible to have more actual discussion and less grandstanding by a few vocal individuals.

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stillinsteamboat 5 years, 10 months ago

bandmama: If these posts are anonymous, how did Rob know how to contact your employer? He really does have contacts in DC.

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clearperspective 5 years, 10 months ago

THANK YOU for this column. I so rarely read our little hometown paper - I'm not interested in the gossip & mudslinging you discuss above - I do, though, check your column, either in the paper or online (when I'm checking the weather forecast, such as today). The behavior of the "adult" community in Steamboat, both in terms of public figures & private citizens, is a major factor in my family's decision to leave the Valley after nearly 12 years of calling it home. The school board nonsense has been a major concern - I'm far more interested in educating my child than reading about the board's dirty laundry. Some may chalk it up to "life in a small town" - but I've lived in plenty of small towns and there is something different about this one - a unique attitude that I do not wish to pass on to my child. As you say, Rob, this attitude and level of intellect and sophistication infiltrates MANY facets of life in Steamboat Springs...from the school board to development (and oh yes, I have heard a few choice comments about Jim Cook, for instance, when he was offering to help boost PR for a certain little artists' co-op in town, some of teh artists had some very derogatory remarks - his success is apparently offensive to those less fortunate. So sad that "success" is a dirty word in this town...) to any sort of healthy progress, Steamboat "locals" (and of course I generalize) have a knack for showing their insecure, can't-handle-the-real-world, self-centered selves. Yes, self-centered - why else would we try to raise kids in a town known for recreation & the pursuit of leisure?? Our kids deserve better. My family has decided how we're going to handle the problem - but I sincerely hope that Steamboat takes note of this column, and instead of being grumpy & defensive takes a hard look at itself & the lessons & messages being conveyed to the children of our valley. They deserve better, and Steamboat deserves better.

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bandmama 5 years, 10 months ago

still- good point, Rob had recieved a very hateful phone call from a customer at my place of employment, caller id you know. my comment that was posted was actually defending Rob as the contents of the phone call/message were very hateful and stupid. I made the mistake of pointing out that he had called me and really put me on the spot while I was at work, so yes he may have connections, but it was a pretty easy identification..... he mistook my defense of him, as an insult I guess. I was offended that as an anonymous post was no longer anonymous. I sort of expected some professionalism from a journalist. My mistake. This is why at times I feel the childish need to resort to being silly.....my bad. But I do agree with Robs opinions in this particular article. again, no disrepect to anyone....just keeping up the game. it makes me feel just soooooo important to see my comments in print.......HA!

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StbtWatchmen 5 years, 10 months ago

Confucius says; he who lives in glass house must dress in basement! Have a Happy Fathers Day dads!

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