By Allen Best
ASPEN & VAIL, Colo. – Major national attention will
be focused on the immigration issue as it plays out in the high-end resort
valleys of the West. NBC News has spent eight months in the Aspen-Rifle-Vail
triangle in research for a one-hour program that will be broadcast on Dec. 26.
The report is to be called “In the Shadow of the American Dream.” It will be
narrated by Tom Brokaw, the former anchorman for NBC.
NBC says the report will look at the “economic realities,
social consequences and political controversies” surrounding Colorado
immigration, and will feature interviews with police, government officials,
teachers, doctors and others.
While the dynamics of immigration are fundamentally the same in
the Vail and Aspen areas as they have played out elsewhere, they provide an
attractive place for telling the story because cheaper, immigrant labor has
financed rapid economic growth in both places, and because the dichotomies
between rich and poor are even more distended than in most places. Not least,
the immigration to both places surged even in the late 1980s, well before most
other places in the country.
Same-sex couples get benefits
EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. – Same-sex couples who are among the
450 employees of Eagle County government are now eligible for insurance
benefits. A human resource director, Nora Fryklund, told the Vail Daily she
expects that a half-dozen of Eagle County’s employees might qualify, and maybe
only two will request the benefits.
The standard that will be used is the same as has been used for
cohabitating heterosexual couples. They must provide proof of commitment as
reflected in such things as jointly holding a mortgage or lease, or even just a
joint bank account.
Vail Resorts, a major presence in Eagle County, has extended
insurance benefits and ski passes to same-sex couples for several years. That
corporation, however, requires couples to sign paperwork saying they are
married according to common law. “We’ve done it for several years now,” said
corporate spokeswoman Kelly Ladyga. “It’s important for us, and it is used.”
The Vail Daily also notes that its parent company, Colorado
Mountain News Media, which publishes newspapers in the Aspen and I-70 corridor
from Summit County to Grand Junction, also offers benefits to same-sex couples.
Other governments, including the towns of Vail and Avon, do not
provide the benefits to domestic partners, nor does another major employer, the
Vail Valley Medical Center.