Props n Disses: 5.14.14

By on May 13, 2014

JACKSON, WYO – Vacation vocation DISS

As another tourist season gears up in Jackson Hole, this columnist feels compelled to issue a conditional “diss” to the valley’s service industry in general. A few hotels, shops, restaurants, and other tourist-based businesses can opt out on reading this. Some of you truly have it together. The rest, well, newly arrived 90-day wonders are often poorly trained, unreliable and just don’t give a rip.

After returning from a three-week hiatus visiting tourist destinations around the world, I was struck, as many often are when they travel, with the professionalism of everyone I handed a credit card to. From waiters and cashiers to guides and taxi drivers; each individual took pride in making their guests feel welcome and comfortable.

And good ambassadors truly love their city and love to show it off. They should be ready to provide background and be able to enhance local landmarks in a light of historical significance. They should anticipate needs, give restaurant recommendations, and accurate directions. They should know a magpie from a raven.

Too often, the mannerless phlegmbot behind any counter in Jackson is disinterested or irritable. Maybe it’s because he or she is sleeping eight to a house on a lumpy couch, forking over $450 a month to stand in line for the bathroom every morning. Still, this valley needs to do better than transient college kids on break and Russian robots on H-2Bs.

Jackson Hole is on the map as a regional, national, and to some degree, international destination. Family vacation is big business. We are in competition with other summer and winter travel locales. Look at our neighbor, Nebraska. Its Tourism Commission just launched a new branding called “Nebraska Nice,” taking advantage of Cornhuskers’ apparent reputation for genuine friendliness.

OK, so no one is going to book a week in Kearney even if the old geezer on the John Deere will give you the wife-beater off his back. But I, for one, would like to see a few more service industry workers up their game a bit. We live in a great place to show off. Act like you care, huh?

Bag of coal for Christmas DISS
He had to do it. The governor of the great state of Wyoming has to posture the state as put out by EPA regs that coal-fired plants have to clean up their act. But Matt Mead will only end up looking like Republicans of old who live solely in the day, mortgaging future generations’ entitlement to clean air and water for a few jobs and a more robust economy.

Carbon-capture technology is a decent compromise made by Washington heavies that will keep America powered in the face of a global shift toward sustainability. It’s hypocritical for our nation’s leaders to lean on polluting countries like China and India for their contribution to global weather change warming while we smokestack the bejeezus out of our digs.

At stake is Wyoming’s lifeblood – some 7,000 miners producing 40 percent of the nation’s coal to the tune of $560 million in payroll. EPA administrator Gina McCarthy’s clean air initiatives are set to go into effect next year with Mead kicking and screaming in tow.

The governor wrote McCarthy last Friday, saying the new plants are a threat to Wyoming’s economy.

“Numerous air regulations have been proposed and promulgated to eliminate use of the United States’ leading source of low-cost, reliable energy — coal,” Mead wrote to McCarthy. “This proposal is yet one more example. The proposed regulation will adversely impact Wyoming’s economy as the leading coal supplier to the United States. It lacks sound reasoning, technological justification and will not provide regulatory certainty.”

The bigger picture is clear: We all need to think and act globally on this. When the oceans rise a foot or more in the coming decades, we will all suffer the consequences.

Sidewalk prophets PROP
During this week’s town council meeting, Pathways godfather Tim Young stated while it was encouraging the town wanted to move forward with their Complete Streets initiative, it might be more prudent to wait and involve the county more to get a better sense of integration.

“Would it be feasible to ask the county to join in on this?” he asked the Council. “It seems to me that doing both town and county at the same time would save money and we would have a more unified Complete Streets effort.”

Mayor Mark Barron appreciated the sentiment but was eager to move forward, saying, “We’ve had a lot of requests to get this thing done.”

The town is indeed sitting on millions in SPET money set aside for sidewalks. We need them. Now. Councilman Jim Stanford said it best when he passed along a comment from a disabled friend who said, “We can go from here to Moose [on Pathways] but you can’t even walk around in East Jackson.”


About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.

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