A sampling of recent editorials from Colorado newspapers:
The Gazette, Dec. 7, on Nelson Mandela:
We talk a lot about economic freedom in the United States. We debate which taxes are most fair, which are most oppressive. We wonder which regulations create a fair playing field and which stifle prosperity.
In matters of human relations, we continue to struggle with major problems involving race. But the race crimes we observe aren't sponsored by government or condoned by law. We've advanced to having the luxury of wondering whether to use the word "black" or "African American." We question with good intentions whether football teams should carry names that offend American Indians.
In former South African President Nelson Mandela's lifetime, things were much different. In his native South Africa, well into the 1990s, the government classified humans as "black," ''white," ''coloured" or "Indian" and gave them vastly different treatment. Black people didn't have citizenship. They were deprived of medical care, public service, educations and even access to public beaches that were taken for granted by whites.
Mandela, becoming the first black South African to hold public office, led opposition that ended racial segregation known as apartheid. He liberated people and brought about fundamental freedoms that are foundational to considerations of economic opportunity, income equality and social sensitivity. In the United States, he is widely considered the South African version of Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln and George Washington - all in one man.
Mandela died Thursday at age 95, and today the world stands in awe. He accomplished in one lifetime what has taken wars and centuries of struggle in other parts of the world.
As the first black president of his country, Mandela had something enormous in common with another man: President Barack Obama. Though we disagree with much that our president has done, we heartily agree with his respect and admiration for Mandela - one of history's greatest champions of freedom. Here is some of what our president said, in the wake of Mandela's death.
"At his trial in 1964, Nelson Mandela closed his statement from the dock saying, 'I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.'
We're quite confident Mandela resides with God today, watching over a humanity he loved - a collection of individuals and cultures striving to live free. After a life of selfless sacrifice - a life that improved our world - may Mandela rest in peace.
The Denver Post, Dec. 6, on the Colorado health insurance exchange and compensation:
The decision by the head of the Colorado health exchange to withdraw her request for a compensation increase was a wise one.
Patty Fontneau told us Friday the matter had become a "distraction," and she had withdrawn her bid for a 3 percent salary hike and bonus of up to 10 percent.
Even though Fontneau makes the case that Connect for Health Colorado is functioning well, the public perception of the exchange rollout is much different.
The fact is, the number of Coloradans who have bought health insurance through the exchange remains far below even the lowest projections. And it has been more than two months since it opened.
Were the projections too ambitious? Well, these estimates were made by health exchange staff and their consultants. This is not a bar that someone else set.
Given these facts, it's tough to argue that bonuses should be on the table, as Fontneau, the CEO and executive director, apparently realized.
Beyond the compensation issue, recent reports about the public relations strategies surrounding the exchange rollout also should raise eyebrows.
Solutions, a grant-funded publication of the University of Colorado Denver, obtained an e-mail that Fontneau sent on the eve of the rollout to exchange board members. In it, she advised them to "avoid" calls from the media.
It then listed a half-dozen "sample quotes," prompting board members to say things such as: "This is an exciting time for Colorado as we open the Connect for Health Colorado marketplace ... ."
Fontneau said her e-mail was an effort to ensure consistent information was disseminated about the exchange, especially on complex tech issues.
Perhaps so, but in the early going after launch of the system, Connect for Health did appear to minimize issues with signups in line with the upbeat messaging plan.
The consumer website is a central piece of the health care reform envisioned under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. And it involves significant public investment.
The public should have confidence that they're getting straight talk about the exchange's performance, not spin.
The Daily Sentinel, Dec. 9, on local broadcast competition:
It's no surprise to those of us at The Daily Sentinel that the news business has become more costly and more difficult in the early part of the 21st century. That's true, not just for the newspaper industry, but for broadcast media, as well.
In fact, the challenges facing broadcast news may be even more daunting than those that confront the print industry. Cable outlets, online programming and video recorders all make it more difficult for conventional, network broadcast companies to compete.
Even so, the consolidation that's occurring in the local television market, as reported by The Daily Sentinel's Greg Ruland on Sunday, is unfortunate because it is reducing the amount of independent local news reporting available to viewers.
As Ruland wrote, KJCT, the valley's ABC affiliate, was purchased in October by a company called Excalibur Broadcasting. But Excalibur is what is known as a "sidecar" to Gray Television, which owns KKCO, the local NBC affiliate.
Excalibur owns the FCC license for KJCT, but it contracts with Gray to operate the station. And Gray is reducing costs by duplicating much of its news coverage on both stations and reducing staff. Too bad, because while we obviously believe newspapers remain the best news delivery system available, both of these local stations have done some good original reporting.
All of this is a legal means for large television companies with multiple stations to skirt the FCC rules that no single company own more than one television station in a given market. And, due to the costs and competition facing broadcast television these days, such creative arrangements are understandable. But the resulting consolidation of news staffs and coverage is a disservice to viewers, who now have fewer options for obtaining the news.
The Pueblo Chieftain, Dec. 6, on Browns Canyon:
Designating Browns Canyon as a national monument is an idea whose time has come.
U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., announced Tuesday that he plans to introduce a bill to provide that designation during the next session of Congress.
The Browns Canyon National Monument and Wilderness Act, as Sen. Udall calls it, is a big step toward protecting an important and beautiful stretch of the Arkansas River between Salida and Buena Vista. The designation, if approved, would apply to 22,000 acres of land along a popular whitewater rafting route, as well as 10,500 acres of wilderness area.
Sen. Udall believes the designation would make the Browns Canyon area a bigger tourism draw, and local communities and businesses would benefit as a result. We think it's a great idea, especially considering the economic hit the businesses in the Upper Arkansas Valley have endured following recent wildfires.
Early in the process of developing Sen. Udall's bill, the designation was opposed by local ranchers who were concerned that such congressional action would negatively impact grazing rights and water supplies for cattle.
But over the past 18 months, the senator has worked with local leaders, ranchers and residents to make sure the bill meets the long-term needs of the community. Existing uses of the land — such as grazing, hunting, hiking, rafting and mountain biking — will still be allowed even if the designation is approved.
We urge the entire Colorado congressional delegation to support Udall's efforts and protect Browns Canyon so future generations can enjoy that property.