Props & Disses 3.6.13

By on March 6, 2013


The sky is not falling (DISS)

With directors like this, who needs enemies? National Park Service director Jon Jarvis wrote a memo to all park employees last week that was all gloom and doom. When the sequestration hits, Jarvis warned, the resulting “reduced services and access will make families planning summer vacations think twice about coming to a national park.”

“Gateway communities such as Jackson could suffer significant economic impact as families alter summer vacation plans because of a budget impasse,” Jarvis cried.

What savings account has Jarvis been living under since 2008? We’ve all got it rough, pal. We’ve all had to tighten it up. No one’s saying the sequestration cuts are fair or the best way to handle government overspending, but it’s a reality.

Jarvis has officials at Grand Teton, along with headline writers at the News&Guide, all riled up with his doomsday rhetoric. “Budget logjam imperils tourism” front page headlines bellowed, while calling seasonal employees the “backbone” of a national park’s workforce. Even the excitable Jarvis only referred to seasonal employees as “utility infielders.”

To coincide with the dire predictions, a peer-reviewed study was released claiming GTNP’s 2.6 million visitors spent more than $436 million in nearby communities in 2011.

Many potential tourists are probably wondering how budget cuts will prevent nature from being open for business this summer. “Aha, so you DO feed the wildlife!”

Thankfully, some are seeing through the smokescreen. Tim Mayo, who has wanted park super Mary Gibson Scott’s head on a platter for some time now, wrote a scathing letter to the editor stating, basically, that GTNP has some nerve planning to close visitor centers and scale back visitor services when the 5 percent cuts could come out of the park’s grandiose capital improvement plans.

“They are blowing this way out of proportion!” wrote JH Wildlife Safaris, trying to save their business in the face of the Park Service’s political pandering. “Please share with everyone that Jackson, Grand Teton and Yellowstone will all be open for business this summer. Our livelihoods are being hijacked by being used [as] a pawn in their game.”

Park concessionaire Xanterra also felt the need to assure summer tourists that they’ll be able to get a popcorn and Coke. “We are happy to report the government sequester will not affect access to the national parks and all parks will remain open for guests. Lodging, dining and retail facilities within the parks will also remain open.”

Don’t believe the hype. GTNP, YNP, and every other park in the nation will learn to do more with less; just like we’ve all had to.

Teens are sobering up (PROP)

According to a state survey, use of alcohol and marijuana by Teton County students is on the decline. Binge drinking is down at all grade levels as compared to 2010 numbers and pot smoking, while up slightly with eighth-graders is down significantly amongst seniors.

Stacey Caesar of the Communities Mobilizing Coalition attributes the change for the better to a new attitude beginning to develop in teens.

“Kids are realizing that not everyone is doing it,” Caesar told News&Guide school beat journo Brielle Schaeffer. “[K]ids are realizing they don’t have to use substances to be cool.”

TCSD No. 1’s new STEM program and push to build an in-house fabrication lab is just one of the many avenues local educators are providing for thirsty minds, and it’s working. In addition to less substance use, kids are taking advantage of higher learning opportunities. More than 30 percent of Jackson Hole High School students take advanced placement classes, according to the annual College Board AP Report to the Nation.

CFA’s revolving door shrouded in secrecy (DISS)

Being the Center for the Arts’ executive director is like being ranked No. 1 this season in the NCAA college basketball AP poll: Enjoy the view, you won’t be there long.

Cindee George, in place just long enough to fire Doug Henderson and Don Kushner, is now bolting. The announcement was made by the board of directors. When directors step down, they announce their own decision. When they are forced out, the press release comes from the board.

George lasted barely a year. Her predecessor, Clare Payne Symmons, made it a little longer: almost two years. Before that it was Mark Berry, who abruptly resigned in 2007, and so on. Between the comings and goings of directors, underlings have also been dismissed with regularity – from accounting staff to publicity personnel. Firings, at least the ones we know about, are always done in ambush fashion under the supervision of hired security guards while the latest victim is given 15 minutes to clear out his desk like he was doing top-level research at Area 51.

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