- Associated Press - Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Daily Sentinel, June 4, on valedictorians and gays:

There’s much to be admired about the reaction of a Carbondale audience after Roaring Fork High School’s valedictorian revealed that she’s gay during a graduation speech on Saturday.

There was no hissing. No smattering of boos. If Emily Bruell’s revelation offended anyone, they kept it to themselves.

We don’t want to diminish in any way the courage it took for Bruell to stand before her classmates and her community and share something so deeply personal - especially because her message was received so graciously.

The speech drew a standing ovation.

It’s refreshing that she had enough support among family, friends, teachers and administrators to even broach the subject in a public setting. She has embraced who she is. In that way, Bruell’s story is a triumph. She was able to declare at a young age something that many gay people don’t come to grips with until much later in life.

If there’s a drawback to this story, it’s that Bruell felt compelled to reveal something that we think is nobody’s business but hers. To what degree is a person’s sexuality relevant to anyone other than their partner?

The answer probably depends on whether you’re gay or straight. If society judges you by your sexual preference, you’re more apt to own it in a profound way.

In her speech, Bruell used herself as an example of the dangers of labeling. “I couldn’t give a speech about talking about identity and leave this important part of my identity out,” she said.

You can’t argue with that logic. But Bruell presumably chose the topic of her speech and structured it to accommodate what she obviously felt was a critical piece of information - that she’s gay.

So what?

Someday, as gays gain more acceptance in society, this will be a common reaction. Obviously we’re not there yet. Bruell’s story was front-page news in The Daily Sentinel.

Our intent is not to criticize or belittle Bruell. At a minimum she performed a public service by testing gay acceptance in her own community.

But is a graduation ceremony the place to do that? Debatable. We’re impressed, nonetheless, that the people of Carbondale reacted the way they did. They showed respect to a young woman feeling her way through a narrow passage.

We look forward to the day when a person’s sexual orientation is so irrelevant that it doesn’t surface in commencement speeches. But we’re probably not going to get there without the Emily Bruells of the world reminding us that gay comes in every size, shape and color.

Editorial: http://bit.ly/1HNtqUT

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The Loveland Reporter-Herald, June 3, on lawmakers’ private emails:

Colorado legislators should be held to the same standard of transparency that state workers are held to - whether it’s bureaucrats or CDOT snowplow drivers.

A recent 9News report revealed that every one of the state’s 100 lawmakers uses a private email account for public business. This means that records of these elected officials’ correspondence with one another - and with other’s outside the state’s bureaucracy - are kept off of state servers and out of public reach, unless those legislators offer them up.

That needs to change.

When email messages regard a lawmaker’s public business, those emails are public record. Keeping them on public servers, and having them readily accessible, is the only way to guarantee the right of Colorado residents to know what their elected officials are up to. And that argument stands even if the lawmakers state that the current system is working.

“We’ve had a system in Colorado that’s worked for us for a very long time,” House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, who represents Boulder County’s District 10, told 9News. “Yes, I hand it all over.”

We believe her. The problem is that even if every current lawmaker will hand over every email related to their public business, it doesn’t mean that this will always be the case.

Allowing lawmakers the leeway to reveal what they want to reveal and keep hidden what they want to keep hidden leaves open the door to governance in secret.

There’s no good argument against public emails on public servers for any lawmaker who believes in government transparency. And as it turns out, not every lawmaker handed over emails that were requested by the 9News reporter.

After his first report on the use of private email accounts, Jeremy Jojola sent emails to every Colorado lawmaker. Several days later, he sent open records requests to every one of them seeking access to his original emails. Sixty replied within the required three-day period.

After a second request was sent to those who had not replied to the first request, another 36 replied. In all, 17 said they “had no prior emails or records in their custody,” 9News reported.

Colorado lawmakers should listen to groups from both the left and right that say that the current system is inadequate for keeping a check on government, and during next year’s session, they should do something about it.

Of course, individual lawmakers don’t have to wait that long. Let’s see which of them will step up now and request that his or her public emails be kept public.

Editorial: http://bit.ly/1M8nTM7

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The Durango Herald, June 2, on illegal camping:

After the second instance of a bear biting humans, it should be clear that Durango has a problem. Exactly what that is, however, may be as hard to nail down as a solution.

At some point, though, it has to come down to curtailing the illegal camping going on around Durango. Allowing people to set up camp anywhere they want in bear country guarantees conflicts. And when those conflicts occur, the bear ultimately loses. What is happening now is testing whether there will be a human fatality, as well.

On the most basic level, we simply cannot have people being chewed on by bears. The authorities had no choice but to kill the bear that bit two men Sunday night and was, most likely, the same bear that bit two others in late May.

That the bear essentially was taught to misbehave - and effectively lured to its death - by careless people leaving trash and food lying about their campsite is terribly unfair to the bear. It also is well-understood. And to the extent that the community tolerates such illegal camping, we are complicit in the bear’s death.

The problem is not just what to do but who should do it. The incident Sunday occurred in an area near the Durango Tech Center known for illegal camping and home to multiple such campsites. The actual ownership of the land is unclear, but it is in an unincorporated part of La Plata County.

While technically the sheriff’s jurisdiction, Durango police responded because there was a 911 call, and they were close. Parks and Wildlife officers were notified because of the bear and Wildlife Services, part of the federal Department of Agriculture, helped track it.

But the wildlife folks have no jurisdiction over camping, the Durango police do not regularly patrol outside the city, and the Sheriff’s Office does not have the personnel to track every potential campsite around here. Sad as it is, killing the bear is simpler than dealing with the illegal camping that led to the problem.

What is needed is a community-wide understanding as to what to do about illegal camping and a resultant agreement across jurisdictions as to how to implement that policy. That would have to involve multiple government agencies, as well as programs to help.

What needs to be targeted is not homelessness, but illegal camping and the accompanying trashing of public lands. There are programs, charities and churches that offer food and shelter. They could, of course, be better funded, but that in no way explains the proliferation of illegal campsites.

Editorial: http://bit.ly/1Q9nkI6

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The Denver Post, June 3, on Denver growth and the city council:

And then there were three. Three new Denver City Council members, that is, who are pledged to take a closer, more skeptical look than their predecessors at how the city is accommodating growth.

On Tuesday, Wayne New became the latest addition to the trio, joining Rafael Espinoza from northwest District 1 and Paul Kashmann in southeast District 6, both of whom won their seats outright in the May election.

“We’ll have a good group of like-minded new council people come in, looking to help develop a great city but also to question the way things have been done,” New told The Denver Post. “We’ve been on a development drive, but we really haven’t paid attention to the traffic and parking issues our residents are really concerned about.”

We endorsed two of the three, and don’t believe for a second that they are “anti-development,” any more than we are. But they - and we would hope other new council members as well - will take a fresh look at concerns about how well certain proposals fit into the texture of existing neighborhoods.

Three of 13 council members is nothing like a majority, so it may be too much to say that voters sent a resounding message. But they did send a message, and an unmistakable one, too.

Editorial: http://dpo.st/1cA6Mqc

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