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 Sometimes easy decisions are difficult.
Today's column is my last.
Starting Sept. 12, I will launch a radio show discussing national politics. My co-host will be Cari Hermacinski. The show will initially air Saturday mornings on KBCR 1230 AM from 8 to 10 a.m. The show also will be available on the Internet and by podcast. With luck, we'll expand the number of outlets and hours of broadcasting.
Our goal is to provide independent talk radio for politically independent Americans. We'll provide a voice for those tired of the federal government dictating to states, counties, municipalities and individuals what they can and cannot do. We believe it's time Washington politicians listen to hard-working Americans - especially those from the heartland of this country that the media elites dismissively refer to as "flyover country" - who are tired of increasing government encroachment in their lives.
As a successful entrepreneur and small-business woman with independent views about the challenges facing our country, Cari was the natural choice for co-host and will bring balance to a male-dominated medium.
But, because Cari also is a Steamboat Springs City Councilwoman seeking re-election, I am obligated to step aside from writing about local issues as a columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
It's an easy decision intellectually as it is the ethical course of action. Given that Cari and I now are in business together, it is a conflict of interest for me to write about her actions as a councilwoman or the actions of her opponents. Any local matter I might write about that affects Steamboat Springs - which is almost everything that unfolds in the valley - would be suspect because of that conflict of interest. Even if Cari fails in her bid for re-election, anything I write about her replacement would be a potential conflict, as well.
Although stepping aside on local issues is an easy decision intellectually, it still is difficult, as I've loved writing this column.
When I first accepted the Pilot's offer to pen a column, Editor Brent Boyer told me the hardest thing would be finding topics.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The list of local topics I wanted to address grew weekly. My greatest regret is that I now will disappoint those who entrusted me with information to investigate and, if warranted, write about.
For that, I apologize.
But before relinquishing my perch, there is an issue I'd like to address.
On Sunday, Steamboat Pilot & Today reporter Tom Ross wrote an important article about the impact the construction of New Victory Highway and an extension of Abbey Road through the greenbelts that bracket the West Acres mobile-home park will have on homeowners in the park. The article, "West Acres residents fight road route," is available at www.steamboatpilot.com.
The homeowners think that by replacing the greenbelts with roads to reduce traffic on U.S. Highway 40 - traffic that will be exacerbated by any development west of Steamboat - the tranquility of their 30-year-old neighborhood will be destroyed and the value of their homes will be diminished.
An appraisal found the greenbelts add $400,000 to the value of the homes, but the city offered only $44,000 to be divided by 82 homeowners. The city also negotiated with the owner of the mobile-home park for the city to provide trees, a fence and other improvements the homeowners find inadequate. The homeowners are appealing an adverse decision concerning their ability to seek damages from the city by District Court Judge Shelley Hill.
But even if the West Acres homeowners lose legally, the bigger social justice question is whether the homeowners have been treated with less deference by the city than other homeowners have been in high-end neighborhoods that don't consist of mobile homes. Without a doubt, some of the homeowners at West Acres think that is the case.
I think they're right.
In the final equation, the reality of whether the homeowners received disparate treatment or whether the city prevails legally does not matter. It's a question of what is the right thing to do. Undoubtedly, the right thing is for the city to sit down again with the homeowners and seek a compromise.
But, if not, the homeowners at West Acres certainly know how to vote and can sign a petition for referendum on any development seeking annexation west of Steamboat. And, I suspect, they have many voting friends, as well. Wouldn't it be something if those angered voters were just enough to tip the balance in any election involving annexation?
That might bring a whole new meaning to the New Victory Highway.
To reach Rob Douglas, e-mail Rob.Douglas@Comcast.net