- Associated Press - Thursday, July 27, 2017

The (Colorado Springs) Gazette, July 26, on President Trump needing to be “The Great Uniter”:

President Donald Trump had an opportunity Tuesday to become “The Great Uniter” by reducing the left-right hostility that’s damaging the social fabric of our country.

Speaking at a rally in Ohio, Trump explained he was cutting through “fake news” and taking his message directly to the people. Nothing wrong with that.

Then, only moments into the speech, a disruption briefly became the central focus.

A man held up a sign that said “Trump/Pence must go.” Trump supporters grabbed the sign. One man hit the protester over the head with a pro-Trump sign.

As security dragged the man away, Trump returned to the lectern. He smiled and asked: “Where the hell did he come from?”

After a long pause, Trump said he had created a difficult week for the media by forcing journalists to travel throughout the country and spend time with tens of thousands of proud Americans who believe in defending “our values, our culture, our borders, our civilization and our great American way of life.”

The president talked about the Second Amendment, the Constitution, the flag and called “family and faith” our foundation.

“In America, we don’t worship government. We worship God,” he said.

A second scuffle broke out when another man held a small anti-Trump sign. Trump stood silently away from the lectern. After security removed the protester, the president said: “Boy, he’s a young one. He’s going back home to mommy. Oh, is he in trouble. He’s in trouble. He’s in trouble. And I’ll bet his mommy voted for us.”

Trump’s unapologetic emphasis on “making America great again” got him elected in an electoral landslide, to the dismay of academics, journalists and Hollywood types who think bold American pride is passé.

We aren’t surprised by the resonance of his message. The masses in the middle are angry at being mocked and marginalized by coastal liberals who wouldn’t deign to visit “The Flyover.” We are surprised it took a New York billionaire to finally tap Middle American angst.

Trump could back up the talk about our Constitution, the flag and American values by defending those who peacefully express differences of opinion. Doing so would not harm his relationship with his base.

Neither protester dragged from the rally did anything wrong. Each held a small sign that merely countered the sentiments of thousands of other small signs. Each peacefully exercised his First Amendment right.

Trump could do a lot to unify the country with just a few words. He could acknowledge the protesters, and their right to peaceable opposition. He could say “I see your sign, and I will try to try to earn your respect.” He could tell the crowd to “leave peaceful protesters alone, they have the right to their opinions. I’m their president, too, and I defend their right to challenge us.”

Americans did not build a great country by demonizing one another for contrary views. We became great by respecting one another, and realizing an American on the left is not so different from an American on the right.

When The Gazette’s editorial board met with Trump last summer, we encountered a man who appeared to genuinely love his country. He could convey it to the masses by publicly defending the next person who confronts him with an anti-Trump message. He should defend all Americans and their right to peacefully support or oppose his agenda. We need a great uniter, like never before.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2w1apzM

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The Durango Herald, July 24, on the Every Kid Outdoors Act:

Kudos to Rep. Scott Tipton for recommending that a good government program be made permanent.

The Every Kid Outdoors Act, introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, asks the Department of the Interior to maintain a program that provides fourth-grade students, along with their families, free access to federally managed lands, waters and historic sites.

Especially in a time such as this, when politics are impassioned and divisive, the United States of America may seem more like an ideal than a physical place, where those politics are driven by the vastness and stunning diversity of the landscape. Between one shining sea and the other, from Canada to Mexico and outward to Alaska and our island states and territories, there is a lot to see and a lot to understand.

Rep. Niki Tsongas, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said, “Our nation’s public lands protect, celebrate and give access to the many places that have shaped and defined who we are as Americans.”

She’s right. The nation’s formative history did not take place only in the 13 original colonies. As the frontier moved westward, governing concepts that made sense in seaboard cities had to be adjusted.

The National Anthem sounds different to children who have visited Fort McHenry. The costs of war seem real at a Civil War battlefield or the Little Bighorn. Cultural parks and monuments from Mesa Verde to Independence Hall to Birmingham put American history in a broader perspective. The science and natural history of places like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon is almost incomprehensible until viewed up close.

We never know what will pique a student’s interest, but among our forests, parks and monuments, there is something to interest every child. A park pass is an invitation to explore and experience; It is an invaluable partnership with parents and teachers.

A similar strategy, giving free season ski passes to fourth-graders, has turned Colorado students into lifelong skiers. Let’s turn American youths into lifelong learners who recognize, understand and appreciate the country’s trove of wonderful places and stories. That is education at its finest, and it only costs the government the price of admission.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2uUDLTJ

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The Denver Post, July 24, on needing more time to consider $1.8 billion DIA overhaul:

After more than two years of behind-the-scenes negotiations, Denver International Airport executives have given the Denver City Council a little less than 40 days to consider a $1.8 billion contract to retrofit, redesign, maintain and operate the airport’s Great Hall over the next 34 years.

In less than a month, airport officials must convince council members that the 15,000-page contract with the Madrid-based company Ferrovial Airports represents a good deal.

Complicating that task is the fact that the airport is still struggling to convince the airlines - who will ultimately pay for the project and likely pass a portion of the cost on to fare payers - that the redesign proposed will accommodate the projected millions of additional passengers that will pass through DIA by 2020.

Which brings us to our point. While we still support airport CEO Kim Day’s vision for the 22-year-old terminal, we think a delay in the contract deadline of Sept. 1 would be wise.

We also think it would be a good-faith move for Ferrovial to approve such a due-diligence pause without imposing a $9 million, or potentially higher, penalty the company is entitled to under the contractual deadline set in pre-negotiations.

The 120-day extension the airlines seek would give the parties involved time to address concerns and bring down the cost of construction and financing.

If negotiations fall apart after three months, then by all means Ferrovial is due cash for damages.

A spokesman for the Denver Airlines Airport Affairs Committee said they are concerned that moving security screening to the sixth floor alongside reduced space for ticketing counters will “fail on day one.” The airlines say it defies reason to convert space in the Jeppesen Terminal now dedicated to primary airport functions to serve additional retail. Their fear is that the new retail-focused Great Hall would see security lines backed up into ticketing counters, creating a jumbled, unworkable mess of crowded delays. Clearly, none of us wants that.

Airport officials say that won’t happen. We have been convinced by the logic of moving security out of the risky open foyer where it now sits and to a more secure area. Day presented us with what seems like a smart plan to make security screening more modern, efficient and safe.

However, as we feared, the contract and redesign plan has dropped with too little time for analysis of proposed alternatives to the sixth-floor security proposal.

Finally, projected costs have skyrocketed. When Day and other airport officials first presented the Great Hall project, it was estimated the final contract would be over $1 billion. Then we were given the estimate of $1.3 billion. Now it’s $1.8 billion. That cost doesn’t even include the airport’s financing and interest costs it will incur on $600 million in bonds, which will add up to an additional $440 million to the overall cost, putting the bill uncomfortably above $2 billion, even though it includes 30 years of maintenance and operation costs.

Day said that the contract is structured to guarantee a 4.8 percent return on investment for Ferrovial, but that profit could increase to 10.8 percent based on the performance of retail sales in the area maintained by the company. In return, the airport washes its hands of cost overruns - aside from a $120 million contingency to cover unforeseen construction problems that are no fault of Ferrovial.

Big picture - that seems like a reasonable deal. Yet it hinges on two main factors: that the redesign accommodates more passengers in a safer and more efficient manner, and that it’s cost-effective.

Editorial: https://dpo.st/2h2SJRY

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The Coloradoan, July 20, on Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity:

The white picket fence lining the southeast corner of Harmony and Taft Hill roads may offer the best crystal-ball view into Fort Collins’ housing future.

The Coloradoan editorial board peeked beyond that fence earlier this week, when Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity shared its vision for Harmony Cottages.

When complete, the new neighborhood will feature 48 new homes built on nearly 4½ acres, embracing “new urbanism” themes of shared common spaces, maximum housing density, energy efficiency and a location off a city bus line.

The homes - 44 duplexes and four modest single-family structures - are expected to fulfill the American dreams of 58 adults with 86 children. Families who qualify for the nonprofit’s housing assistance earn no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income, about $47,000 for a family of three.

They’ll pour their own sweat into their new homes, bolstered by the generosity of a community of donors and volunteers that each reader of this piece is encouraged to join.

The Coloradoan for years has supported Habitat’s work to provide long-term housing options for the growing number of working professionals who would otherwise struggle to afford to live and work in Fort Collins. The need for Habitat’s work is clear: 150 applications were received for the eight Fort Collins homes Habitat plans to build this year.

Harmony Cottages also represents a bold leap away from single-family construction and places Habitat in a place of leadership in helping form the housing future of a city where single-family homes now selling for a median $393,000 dominate the landscape.

The Coloradoan editorial board believes others, including Northern Colorado’s home construction industry and city leaders, should learn from and act on the key takeaways from this project.

First, aim for maximum housing density while preserving neighborhood feel. Harmony Cottages is proof that beauty doesn’t have to be sacrificed in the name of density.

Instead of building the 30 single-family homes the site was designed to hold, the move to smaller houses with 1-car garages allowed Habitat to build homes that are expected to appraise in the $275,000 to $300,000 range.

Still, without Habitat’s assistance, these homes would fetch a price that exceeds the means of many working families. That’s where smart changes to city policy can help.

First, city leaders can iterate on their 2015 decision to drop the 800-square-foot minimum house size requirement from city land-use code by allowing smaller homes built as part of a new development to share new connections to city utilities.

Smaller, freestanding structures clustered around shared spaces can save on water and electricity costs while fostering community by keeping residents out of the cloister of a fenced-in backyard.

A “tiny home” community developed under an HOA can evenly spread the cost of utilities such as stormwater and wastewater among its residents while cutting the per-unit cost of new connections.

Second, area builders must take advantage of such policy changes by building smaller homes built around shared spaces.

Builders know what to do to maximize the per-square-foot price they get on a home. Go too big or too small and they’ll fall out of the 2,000-square-foot range many families are living in today.

However, simply building more large single-family homes in a city where the average age hovers around 29, thanks in part to its many young working professionals, is short sighted.

A 2,000-square-foot house is great for a family. It’s an echo chamber for a single homeowner.

The Colorado Legislature finally passed meaningful change on a construction defects law that could spur condo development. And while more condos would be a welcome entry point for homeownership for many young professionals in Fort Collins, a more robust diversity of housing options is needed.

Simply spurring on small builds won’t be the panacea for Fort Collins’ housing ills, but neither is staying the course. The city must make smart choices to help more developers follow Habitat’s lead in embracing more densely built communities that still feel like neighborhoods.

Habitat is to be congratulated on its vision, but eight houses per year is not enough to fix what ails Fort Collins’ housing crunch.

The Harmony Cottages homes will make all the difference in the world to the eight families who move in each year. Smart policy and community-focused building will make a difference to Fort Collins’ future generations.

Editorial: https://noconow.co/2vK2zLQ

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