PROPS & DISSES: 12.4.13

By on December 3, 2013

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Mayor bows out after six-peat PROP
Jackson Mayor Mark Barron has been a tireless servant of the community. When his sixth term wraps up in 2015, he will call it quits. Whether the likable city leader’s political leanings line up with most citizens can be debated, but Barron’s sense of prideful duty for a community he loves has undeniably been on display every day he has been in office.

Five times Jackson citizens went to the polls and selected Barron as their mayor. Challenged, occasionally, for building too much too fast and modernizing a Jackson for the New West, Barron has had few naysayers in the dozen years he has been on the job, and even fewer challengers to the seat. Mike Lance, Franz Camenzind and Jim Fulmer tried to rally votes from the “smart growth” audience, a political stance that could infer Barron’s approach is not smart.

But Barron has been business savvy in guiding from Town of Jackson to the City of Jackson. His political opponents have made headway only when the timing was right. With business in full bloom and the economy in high gear, opposition came in the form of starry-eyed activists like Save Historic Jackson Hole, who choked on the construction dust.

Lance’s run at the progressively minded mayor had some traction from idealists who were tired of seeing boardwalks, grass and log cabins yield to steel girders. When Camenzind made his play, Barron was just what a city sputtering in stagnation needed. An environmentalist had no shot.

But Barron’s appeal is his appeal. He’s a hand shaker, an outgoing guy who bikes places and shows up at so many functions he makes the Chamber’s Howdy Partners look like shut-ins.

When Barron’s end-of-office date is finally added to his portrait already yellowing with age among the wall of Jackson’s past mayors, he will have put a cap on a mayoral run that is the second longest in the town’s history — a longevity owed to the popularity of Mark Barron, a man who connects with people on a personal level.

Cowboys cut Christensen loose PROP
Turnover continues at the University of Wyoming but this firing needed to happen. The Cowboy football team isn’t a good one, and it’s gone on too long.

The logic behind bringing Dave Christensen on board in 2008 was sound. The former offensive coordinator at Missouri promised to bring a high-octane, spread offense to Wyoming — a style of play designed to attract talented quarterbacks to Laramie. It worked, as the Pokes landed Brett Smith, but the kid was asked to do too much with too little.

Smith led the Brown and Gold to some impressive victories but the Pokes never beat a ranked team in 14 tries under Christensen and were a dismal 5-27 against teams that ended their season with a winning record. Beneath Christensen’s high-flying offense, chinks in the armor began to appear.

The Cowboys were still getting beat in the trenches. Unable to recruit bigger lineman on either side of the ball, the Pokes got all they could out of undersized players with oversized hearts. Too often Smith ended up running for his life while the defense was pushed around late in games when more physical opponents imposed their will and their weight.

This year’s team could have been better and should have been better.

They never built on the momentum of nearly beating perennial powerhouse Nebraska on opening day and by season’s end the Cowboys were a team with very little confidence in themselves. That’s something a head coach needs to instill.

Sports director Tom Burman will begin a nationwide search immediately for a replacement. The university is going to have to pay more. They need a high-profile coach who can recruit. They need a man who believes in fundamentals and will teach the boys to tackle if nothing else, for Pete’s sake. And he better learn “Ragtime Cowboy Joe.”

Government closest to the people is dysfunctional DISS
Our two closest examples of government should be the best, right? At least that’s true if one subscribes to the common Republican Party mantra. At the town and county levels, government has either been dragging its feet or missing opportunities.

The Town of Jackson is usually flush with cash. So much so that even through a recession, city spenders managed to drop big bucks on frivolous items like street beautification and a land purchase for a private agency that was coming up a bit short. Meanwhile, over at the county, desks and offices have been empty for years, and another top administrator is on the way out (we can’t say who yet but wait for it). All because the county can’t pay anyone what they are worth.

Numerous real estate deals, including the high-profile 10 acres on North Cache owned by Forest Service, are stalled waiting for definitive action on the new LDRs/Comp Plan, a process moving with the urgency of global warming. At the county level, it’s “act like we’re Teton Valley” and simply sue when the Board of County Commissioners doesn’t like it. The county has neither the manpower nor the funds to fight developers who choose to build first and pay later.

About Jake Nichols

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