"Dems and Don'ts," Jason Sheehan, August 21
I just read Jason Sheehan's pan on The Fort and my heart sank into my stomach. Why does he hate us so much? Why does he primarily promote the chain steakhouses? Can you let me know what I or my staff have done to create such a hateful pan on The Fort? As you know, our 83 employees work so hard every day to carry on the amazing legacy of my late father, Sam Arnold, on historical Colorado cuisine and giving shinin' times to our loyal customers who have been coming for generations. What have we done to Jason? This hurts not only me, but our loyal staff who work so hard putting in twelve-to-eighteen hour days and are doing such a great job.
I strongly feel we should be promoting the independent restaurants and not the chains. You can eat at any chain in any city. By panning your independent restaurant, you are destroying the local culture. Pretty soon, all you will see will be chains and you will not be able to distinguish one city's eatery from another. Wouldn't that be boring?
Holly Arnold Kinney
Proprietress, The Fort
I love Jason Sheehan! I loved his advice for visiting convention delegates in "Dems and Don'ts," and I really loved his response to Cindy Adams's dis of this city in the Cafe Society blog.
Jason is always balls to the walls — literally, in this case — and I appreciate that.
Editor's note: You can read Jason Sheehan's rant about Cindy Adams in Cafe Society, our food blog at westword.com, where you'll also find responses from readers.
"The Station Agents," Joel Warner, August 14
Union Station will be the mother of all transportation-oriented developments (TODs) and a great asset to the city if it stays on track. The Regional Transportation District is faced with challenges that it has the capability to surmount, but it won't be easy. The recent rise in fuel prices has increased demand for mass transit and increased operating costs. Unfortunately, fares are only a small portion of RTD's revenue and fuel costs are a large portion of the operating budget, so any increase in fare revenue is not nearly enough to offset fuel costs.
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The bulk of RTD's operating revenue comes from sales taxes in the metro area, which have declined recently. Fortunately, Colorado real-estate prices didn't increase as much as some other parts of the country in past years, so we are experiencing a "softer landing" than California and Florida. But like any business, RTD has to manage its cash flow. The district has wisely "locked in" fuel prices for a while longer and perhaps can weather the storm if the world economy continues to soften and reduced demand continues to bring fuel prices down. But it must plan for a likely operating deficit.
Similar challenges apply to the FasTracks project. Increased fuel and commodity prices such as steel, concrete and asphalt have gone through the roof and nearly doubled the construction costs. No one saw the increased fuel prices and commodity prices coming, so finger-pointing at RTD is useless. Metro-area mayors, who supported FasTracks when it was proposed, appear to favor completing the program with a minimum of delay and without changing the scope.
And finally, RTD is challenged by the real-estate transactions it must conduct to build FasTracks. The acquisition of land for the new rail lines and selection of potential sites for bus and train maintenance facilities is difficult at best, and the difficulty is exacerbated by evolving ownerships, ongoing negotiations with railroads and an active real-estate market. The board, together with astute general manager Cal Marsella, has recently done such a good job of managing operations and FasTracks that the American Public Transit Association named the agency the Best Transit Agency in North America — but experience on the board is more critical now than ever.
Bill James (candidate for RTD board of directors)