PROPS & DISSES: 11.20.13

By on November 19, 2013
Bob Sternberg
Bob Sternberg

Bob Sternberg

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Get it together, U-Flub DISS

The University of Wyoming’s current state of affairs is analogous to its football team’s season so far. Can you determine whether the following is an advanced scout’s notes on the Pokes’ gridiron success to date or this newspaper reporter’s jottings on a once-proud institution of higher learning?

“Great potential but missed opportunities … Poor anticipation … Can’t tackle for sh** … Too many big names out of the lineup … Guy in charge has to go.”

Things should be better at 1000 E. University Ave but U-Dub has been a school that has had trouble getting out of its own way of late. For a college that was ahead of its time (the land-grant university was established in 1886, four years before Wyoming became a state), UW sure is behind the eight ball.

UW’s troubles began in 1998 when the university became the whipping boy for hate crime based on sexual orientation. If being perceived as bigoted wasn’t bad enough, the Brown and Gold was accused of being defensive and overly politically correct when it caved to public pressure and cancelled two scheduled talks by 1960s radical Bill Ayers. Then-president Tom Buchanan cited security concerns and controversy but the university ended up looking like it preferred to squelch free speech at the close-minded, mile-high institute.

Then in May 2013, feminist and UW student Meg Lanker-Simons put the university back in the spotlight when she claimed she was the recipient of a rape threat on Facebook. When investigators seized her computer and were about to present a case that showed Lanker-Simons concocted the whole thing, she copped a deal.

Now Bob Sternberg resigned last week amid a storm of controversy after unusually high turnover – three deans and five administrators resigned or were fired – led to pushback and a hastily convened meeting of the board of trustees. Sternberg’s covert advisory task force looking into the College of Law prompted the resignation of the law school’s popular dean, Steve Easton. It was Sternberg’s final straw.

Sternberg became the latest notch in the university’s troubled past on his way to also becoming the school’s shortest-serving president with just five months under his belt.

Welcome to Grand Teton, now ante up DISS

Grand Teton National Park’s nickel-and-dime approach is annoying. Granted, GTNP is not the only park to explore fees for just about everything one could think to do under the Western sun and upon the terra firma of the federales. But price hikes announced earlier this week are too much.

It costs extra to float a boat, hike the backcountry, pitch a tent, bait a hook, climb the Grand, and a bunch of other things a visitor might be inclined to do while on vacation in the woods. Park officials have even thought of other things users might want to do and applied a price tag to those. Weddings will cost $100 beginning next year. Commercial filming? Yep, there’s a fee for that, too. Scattering grandma’s ashes? Actually, that is one of the only things still included with the entrance fee.

It’s plainly an effort to discourage the use of public land. This is the same agency that tried to block the mere observance of park features during the partial government shutdown.

Most visitors would probably enjoy an all-inclusive system where the fee at the gate covered us for everything we might want to do inside Grand Teton. That would be infinitely better than running the risk of developing an arthritic elbow constantly swiping a credit card for daring to engage in an activity.

Toll Booth

Curtain Call: Phantom Tollbooth PROP

Bravo to all who helped stage The Phantom Tollbooth at Center for the Arts last weekend. The annual youth musical must have been a massive undertaking. Set design, lighting, live music in the pit, and simply coordinating the moving parts of a cast of dozens had to be very challenging.

And the kids. They were fantastic. From the spot-on casting of Oliver Orchard as Milo to Max Hansford’s energetic Tock, this show was fast-paced and wonderfully dressed. A special shout-out to Lucas Hakoshima, who was delightfully funny as Dr. Kakofonous A. Dischord, and Mila Berry who rocked a blackbird demon in a Phyllis Diller wig.

Natalia Duncan produced and served as stage manager. Nicole Madison directed. Laura Huckin was the musical director.

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