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Letters – April 1, 2021

Locations: Letters Published

Re: Re: RFHS
According to School Board policy in the Roaring Fork School District, the superintendent has the final word on who is hired as principal, and his vote is the only one that counts. Four years ago, despite the unanimous support by her staff, students and community members, assistant principal Kelsie Goodman was not hired as principal by Rob Stein. The person that Rob unilaterally chose against the wishes of the school community lasted two years, as did the subsequent one that he chose. We are onto number four in nine years. The class of 2020 had three principals in four years, all chosen by Rob.
I was a teacher at RFHS for 34 years before my retirement last June. I served on various hiring committees (pre-Rob’s tenure as superintendent), and the recommendations of the hiring committee were honored by all of the previous superintendents. The superintendents respected the integrity of the process and the careful and thoughtful decisions made by the people who know the school and the Carbondale community best. A public school should reflect the community and its values and not the values of the superintendent.
Although Zoe Stern has been the assistant principal for the past three years, it is clear that she has been the de facto principal during those three years. In addition, this semester she is teaching two classes due to a mid-year resignation. Zoe’s vision for the school, her strength of character, her work ethic, her presence physically and mentally, her unwavering support of staff and students, her ability to handle difficult and contentious situations with equanimity, and her commitment to our kids and Carbondale have been exemplary. Kelsie and Zoe have provided the ONLY stability and continuity at RFHS at the top for the past eight years. Zoe is a proven leader.
The hiring process as it now stands is a sham and a waste of time if the outcome is predetermined – when the superintendent does not ask for recommendations or a vote from the hiring committee or if he disrespects the choices by the people who have the most to lose: the Carbondale community. His disregard is a slap in the face to the professionalism of the staff and to the community he is supposed to be serving. It also creates distrust in the community of Rob’s ability to successfully lead. I urge the school board to change the policy so that one person, the superintendent, does not have all the power in choosing school administrators – power which can make or break a school and the children within its walls.

Jill Knaus

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Re: Positive intent
This is to compliment you for publishing in the last issue of your paper the op-ed piece by Ben Bohmfalk entitled “Presume positive intent.”
First of all, Ben gives credit to all the appointed and elected officials for both planning and governing well – for doing the right things for Carbondale. Secondly, Ben asks for our patience and comprehension. I belong to a school of thought which holds that what rules the world is not the love of power, nor the love of sex, nor the love of money, but what rules the world is the love of negativity. Everybody just loves to complain.
This is also to rejoice in all the development which is currently going on, because it is taking place where Carbondale-elected and appointed citizens agreed it should go, after long discussions and conversations. I love living here. I used to pay for sushi meals in restaurants; now I buy sushi at City Market and I buy saké at Sopris Liquor. Housing is being built right in town where it should be. People will still be moving here because they love this place. That’s what we want. Aspen: eat your heart out.

James Breasted

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Re: Wild and Scenic
There are 39 miles of the Crystal River proposed for designation as “Wild and Scenic”. The groups asking for the designation are Pitkin County, Crystal River Caucus, and the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association (CVEPA). It is worth noting that these groups are all based in Pitkin County, even though 30 miles of the 39 miles of river being considered are in Gunnison County. Designation of the Crystal River as “Wild and Scenic” under the 1968 Federal Act sounds like a worthy goal. However, there is a reason why only one river in Colorado has been designated under the federal statute, and why, as noted in the Aspen Journalism article, even the state of Colorado seeks to avoid designation of its rivers under that act. The reality is that designation under the Federal Act would bring an unnecessary and unwanted layer of federal regulation in an area that already is protected by our state, county, and municipal leaders; it invites ongoing litigation over the interpretation of the additional federal regulations; and substantially interferes with private property rights.
The fear stated by the Pitkin County groups is that The Colorado River Water Conservation District and the West Divide Conservancy District have undertaken a study of a backup water supply plan, and that study, which has not been released, “could” include a recommendation that dams and reservoirs be constructed on the Crystal River. This fear has created the perceived need to “do something” to keep that from happening. First, it is premature to take such dramatic action in anticipation of something that hasn’t occurred. Second, the Crystal River, like most of the rivers in the state, already is highly regulated by federal and state statutes and county regulations. Even if the Districts were to recommend dams or reservoirs on the Crystal River, any such effort would take years and be extremely difficult and unlikely. Third, there are physical limitations on the amount of water in the Crystal River that could be used or diverted for any water development projects and it is unlikely that any dams or reservoirs would be economically feasible.
Designating the Crystal River as “Wild and Scenic” under the Federal Act is not an effective solution to the perceived problem and is not in the best interests of Pitkin or Gunnison Counties or the affected property owners. To begin with, the Act gives the federal government effective control of all private and public properties for ¼ mile on either side of the river and gives the federal government the right to condemn property for scenic easements and public access (Section 6(b) of the Act). Moreover, the federal government will have the authority to set the standards for local zoning ordinances and will dictate acreage, frontage, and setback requirements, without the consent of the county or the property owners. (Section 6(c) of the Act.) This authority goes far beyond the stated goal of limiting dams and reservoirs.
Even more troubling is the threat that once the river is designated as “Wild and Scenic,” then separate interest groups, such as the organizations that are requesting the designation, will file lawsuits against the U.S. Forest Service, the counties, or a property owner adjacent to the river, to enforce their interpretation of the Act and ask for stricter enforcement than even the governmental agencies might require. Any judge’s findings would become the new restrictions regardless of what even the Forest Service or the counties might require.
Giving control of the Crystal River to the federal government as a means of limiting water development projects is too broad and unnecessary. As noted in the Aspen Journalism article, even the state of Colorado is dedicated to avoiding the federal designation of rivers as “Wild and Scenic” under the Federal Act and has created a fund to foster collaborative processes to protect our rivers. There is simply no need to take away either Pitkin’s or Gunnison’s authority and responsibility to protect and preserve the Crystal River within their boundaries, and there is no need to take private property rights when other solutions are available.

Larry Darien

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A male robin will sing his song
2000 times this day.
Meanwhile in Boulder, a male shooter
Kills 10 people.
My broken heart clings to the precious notes of the robin’s song


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Tags: #Crystal River #Roaring Fork High School
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