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An editor ponders his empty nest

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By Doug Bell

A little less than five years ago, Evergreen Newspapers had a sudden opening for a photo editor. Though I’ve never had kids myself, that week I experienced a taste of what it must be like.
Two students of whom I was particularly fond had recently moved to the East Coast, and I was fairly certain that either would hurry back to join our team. And therein lay the dilemma: Who would come home, and whom would we go on missing?
It was an impossible decision to make, and so I took the coward’s way out: I let them decide. A few days later, Matt Jonas arrived, and the commitment he showed in driving across the country without a break has never wavered in his time here.
Matt’s photos have defined our four newspapers these past five years, and he has become part of the fabric of the four communities he chronicled. And as he heads off to a job at a daily paper and a very bright future, I am reminded again of time’s persistent push and nudge, the existential hum that nags at the edge of all our days.
But Matt, who has been integral in teaching this old-dog editor a few new tricks, would be the first to chastise me for being sentimental. So I wish him good luck and great adventures … and I welcome Gabe Christus to our staff.
Gabe is another graduate of Metro State College and joins us this week as the new photo editor of Evergreen Newspapers. Gabe is already familiar to many of our readers, since he’s been freelancing for us for quite some time. But you’ll be seeing a lot more of him now.

School negotiations again are closed book
Recently the Jeffco school board tagged a closed session onto the end of a long meeting to select the two members who will negotiate with the teachers union.
And while that executive session may not have technically violated the Colorado Open Meetings Law, it stands as one more assault on the public’s right to know in our state.
Not surprisingly, the board did not select the one member who has questioned the power and influence of the union, and it did not give the public the benefit of hearing the discussion that led to the decision — even though the district’s closed-door negotiations with the union last time around were roundly criticized.
State law says it plainly enough: The public’s business should be conducted in public. But our lawmakers themselves are determined to find bizarre ways to interpret that very simple and straightforward mandate.
In yet another example, some current legislation, House Bill 1036, sponsored by our own Rep. Jim Kerr, R-Littleton, would let the state’s regulators and enforcers of administrative law withhold investigative records.
It’s a bad idea; the bill in its current form could create numerous loopholes that would let governments at multiple levels withhold information that should remain in the public domain. The bill needs to be reworked, or shelved with extreme prejudice.

Doug Bell is the editor of Evergreen Newspapers.