In response to the article about the Telluride Academy kids going to Bhutan, I've been there myself and it is no Shangri-la as Elizabeth Covington so mistakenly states. The government of Bhutan is an extremely repressive regime, where freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion are not tolerated. Anyone who speaks out against the king or calls for democracy is jailed, deported or murdered. The article quotes Caroline Kirkendoll's comments about uniformity in Bhutan. It is indeed a uniformity mandated by the king – there is even a national dress code.
Sadly, trip leader Nancy Craft has spent a lot of time in Nepal, where over 100,000 Bhutanese live in several UN sponsored refugee camps. In Nepal, human rights in Bhutan is a big issue. Nancy is no doubt aware that things aren't as portrayed in The Watch. The article states that only 750,000 people live in Bhutan; if that is true, do the math – well over ten percent of the population lives in exile. Hardly a Shangri-la. Nancy states that "The Bhutanese government wants to control tourism so they can maintain their culture and religious heritage." I don't think so – more likely so the king and his cohorts can maintain their power and make a lot of money (90 percent of the very high fees tourist pay go to the government, i.e, the king). Despite the fortune the government collects from tourism, there are few schools and clinics and as the article points out, the common people live with few comforts.
Where does all this money go, Nancy? Perhaps to maintain the king's golf course, his basketball court and his stable of fine horses, all part of their culture and heritage, no doubt. As for me, I also saw a lot of desperately poor, frustrated and disenfranchised people during my four trips through the country.
Don't take my word for it, you can visit the US State Department's website (www.state.gov) and read their annual human rights reports about Bhutan. To quote from the current report, released in February 2004: "The Government's human rights record remains poor; although there was some improvements in a few areas, serious problems remain. The king exercised strong, active and direct power over the government." The report goes on to cite numerous and systematic human rights violations. The State Department's website also has a page with background information about Bhutan that is further enlightening and casts doubt about the accuracy of The Watch article.
What I find truly sad about all this is that the Telluride Academy kids and our community are being misled by ill-informed, narrow-minded adults. Here in Telluride, unlike in Bhutan, the truth can be printed, but sadly it wasn't. In Telluride, supporting human rights has mostly been reduced to slapping a bumper sticker on an SUV, then looking the other way, instead of honest investigation, reporting and discussion of complex issues.
Make no mistake, Bhutan is a special place and I'm sure the Academy kids learned a lot on their visit. But a peaceful, pristine mountain kingdom, ruled by a benevolent king whose only concern is his peoples' happiness? Sounds like a fairy tale, doesn't it? It is.
– Charlie Fowler, Norwood
An Absolutely Fantastic Time
My husband, 12-year-old son and I were in Telluride the first week of August and had an absolutely fantastic time! The people are wonderful and the scenery was nothing less than spectacular. The service we received from every single place in town was exceptional! (even the gondola operators and one hour photo shop!) What a great town, wonderful people, and what unbelievable natural beauty. My son said that if you lived in Telluride you would never have to go on vacation. Special mention to the entire staff of the Ice House. They were professional, friendly and made us feel as if this was our 20th stay, not our first. Also, kudos to Richard at Telluride Outside who was our jeep driver for an all day adventure. We couldn't of asked for a better guide. Holly, at the Blue Point, set a new standard for dining service and the food was great too! Also, thanks to the bartenders at the Sheridan and Brown Dog for making us feel at home. You have a special town with an attitude and "aura" that cannot be duplicated. I hope the "governing bodies" always do what it takes to preserve the town's natural beauty and its collective soul.
– Sue Classen, Trail Creek, Ind.
Appalled by Adelphia
I am incensed and appalled at the arrogance of Adelphia Cable to delete Rocky Mountain PBS from the Telluride Cable system.
Adelphia unilaterally deleted KRMA from the Telluride system because the PBS station had asked for a paltry fee of 14 cents per subscriber per month. Adelphia took this action without even asking their customers if they would be willing to pay 14 cents per month for Rocky Mountain PBS. (With the rate increases we have seen from Adelphia since they acquired the cable system from Century Communications it appears they could easily absorb this meager program cost increase.)
Adelphia operates under a franchise from the Town of Telluride. I call on Town Council not to renew this franchise unless Adelphia immediately restores KRMA to the Telluride cable system.
– Don Lachowski
MV Property Owners Will End Up Paying
A recent full-page ad signed by the Mountain Village mayor encourages you to check the town's website for the full 18-page Resolution approving the development on Lots 50/51. In the interest of full disclosure, ask the town to additionally post the document called Agreement For Sale and Purchase of Lots 50 and 51 and all its exhibits and schedules immediately on their website or go to the town offices and request a copy before you vote.
When you do review these two documents, please keep in mind the following and then decide whether you still want the Town Council to make this decision for you.
1. The town agreed to the sale of this land, owned by Metro Services which is the Mountain Village Homeowners Association (if you own property in MV this includes you), without opening it to free market bidding and without an appraisal of its value.
2. Mountain Village homeowners and residents will be responsible for paying close to $6 million (plus an additional allowance of up to eight percent) for the subsurface structure (the garage and building foundation). This means that MV property owners will purchase the public amenities included in this building.
3. Ritz-Carlton has never made public its commitment to this project. They should be urged to do so and soon.
4. The Sale and Purchase agreement states who will pay for any unforeseen construction problems with the foundation/subsurface structure built on wetlands: that's you, the MV property owner.
5. Section 21 of the Sale and Purchase agreement states in bold, upper case: "Property owners in such [special taxing] districts may be placed at risk for increased mill levies and excessive tax burdens…."
Additionally, the ad's author misspeaks in saying there is opposition to "the proposed development of a world class hotel in the Village Core." This is simply not true. What many Mountain Village voting residents and second homeowners, as well as those owners who are not eligible to vote, are opposed to is the height variance and Mountain Village taxpayer cost of the building that will house the hotel.
The unusual height variance exceeding town regulations has always been the major point of contention in this issue, not development. Through the attention of some astute Mountain Village residents, the financial structure of the Sale and Purchase agreement that puts so much debt on Mountain Village property owners additionally came to light.
– Pamela Grieff, Mountain Village