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.

About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.


  1. Chan

    November 19, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    The National Parks just encourage people not to visit. It’s expensive enough just to travel to one. Now you get hit with fees for every conceivable thing. It’s just one more nail in the idea that these special places are accessible to all. Maybe the rich.

    the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management had & have their National Forest Adventure Pass, Recreation Permits, Amenity Fees, and the famous Recreational Fee Demonstration Program (to charge the public entrance fees to drive, walk or ride a bike into National Forests and to park along state highways passing though federal land).

    Utah just got some relief this year –

    Remember it’s CONGRESS – ENZI, BARRASSO, LUMMIS – that are behind this. They cut taxes for the rich and stick it to you.

  2. Linny

    November 19, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    It’s mostly about going after climbers.

    “….review of the financial aspects of its backcountry camping and special park use permit systems and determined that the park has not recovered the actual costs of operation for several years”.

    “Cost-recovery includes all expenses incurred to process a permit application, monitor a permitted activity, and perform site restoration, when necessary.”

    That’s funny. Just what campers want – a hall monitor. $25 entrance fee and a $25 camping fee. I find it hard to believe that someone out for an overnight in the backcountry is using $50 worth of services.

    If you’re on the backside – west – rangers are hard to find and so are resources.

  3. Paul

    November 20, 2013 at 5:44 am

    University of Wyoming is a basket looking for a case. Almost there.

  4. Saulin

    November 20, 2013 at 7:24 pm


    It’s $65 if you get a camping permit in advance. That’s crazy.

  5. Looks matter

    November 20, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    People who look funny usually aren’t successful in this type of position.

  6. J. Mitch

    November 21, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Bob Sternberg did not even know the history of Wyoming’s most famous football player:
    Google Conrad Dobler.
    Was he too clueless on the black 14 ? Google black 14 and Wyoming football.
    but, was he misled by some, who jacked him up on the UW law school.
    Did you know the UW law school has a higher rating than the UW engineering school.(US News & World REPORTS)
    Sad, was this guy living in a cave, after he came to Laramie.
    But, why was the Bd Of Trustees, so quick, to pull the exit trigger.
    Sternberg was their stalking horse, and the Bd of Trustees at lacking on trust.
    but, is that OK with the people in Wyoming, who follow the Teton Governor around like a flock of sheep

  7. Helen

    November 21, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    The new fees in GTNP are about keeping jobs for park employees. People will protect their jobs. They’ll make up any excuse to maintain & expand the monetary resources they consume from taxpayers. There’s never enough. The mission never gets smaller. The job’s never over.

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