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Dave Simpson: The ‘Children’ Who Oppose Higher Taxes

in Dave Simpson/Column
3246

By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily columnist

Our local paper – I live east of Cheyenne – wrote this in an editorial Sunday:

“We hate to treat our elected leaders like children, but…”

Children? That’s not the half of it, as the legislature lumbers into the final days of the budget session, and the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the For God’s Sake Raise Taxes Crowd is at full wail/gnash.

It isn’t enough to simply propose a state income tax. No, proponents must insist that anyone who disagrees is a child, a hopeless case, a denier of reality. Oppose Medicaid expansion? How could anyone be so stupid and heartless, they ask, as to oppose free money from Washington?

A corporate income tax? Anyone who disagrees, they suggest, is greedy, oblivious, ignorant, hoodwinked by distant corporate interests.

The beating from the raise taxes contingent – particularly evident here in Cheyenne – is unrelenting, and reliably disparaging to our legislative majority. They’re “children,” as our local paper suggests.

Well, not so fast.

I moved a lot back when I was in the newspaper business. Three towns in Wyoming. One in Colorado. Two towns in Illinois. One in Nebraska.

(When I finally retired from the daily newspaper biz, we scurried back to Wyoming.)

The great thing about Illinois was the neat old houses that were available for not much money. In 1995, we bought a big old Victorian house that was great for raising kids, for $125,000. We worked like the dickens on it, before selling it six years later for $175,000.

When it came to taxes, however, Illinois was not a great deal. Every year we paid around $3,700 in property taxes. And we paid state income taxes – we both worked – of 3 percent.

Nebraska was just as bad, maybe worse. We bought a beautiful brick house, walking distance from the newspaper, right across the street from a city park, for $165,000. Beautiful lawn. Great garage. Big trees. Nice neighbors.

Once again, however, the property taxes were enough to make a grown man cry – around $3,600. The state income tax, graduated, was 6 percent.

I wrote an editorial about high taxes depressing housing values, and it was one of the rare times I got some real pushback from the movers and shakers in that town, especially the real estate people.

(I found Nebraskans to be incredibly patient with the high taxes, and chalked it up to the fact that average guy is too busy rooting for the Cornhuskers to care about taxes.)

So then, daily journalism darn near ran the wheels off me, and we finally moved back to Wyoming. It took a lot of work, three houses, and three basements that I finished myself, but we ended up in a nice house and some land (a “ranchette,” making me a ranchetter) that the county assessor says is worth well over $400,000.

And our property tax bill – GET THIS – is $2,700 a year.

That’s $1,000 less than on the $125,000 house in Illinois. Nine hundred less than the $165,000 house in Nebraska. And we pay no state income tax. We saved $10,000 the first year, and wondered why we hadn’t moved back to Wyoming far sooner.

And yet, according to our friends in the media, any lawmaker who doesn’t support higher taxes and Medicaid expansion is a “child.”  Lawmakers must be “brave” enough to raise taxes, according to most editorial pages. (Why are editors such fans of tax increases? Beats me.)

And, of course, the pressure to expand Medicaid is huge, with hospitals and health care groups banging the drum to accept free money from a federal government that is already $23 trillion in the red. “Free money?” From Washington? Now there’s a horse laugh.

Some among us are determined to give up a significant competitive advantage and make us just like Colorado, Nebraska, even Illinois, with their high taxes, spending, and taste for more free money from the federal government. And they call those who disagree “children.”

Folks like my wife and I appreciate common sense Wyoming lawmakers who are doggedly preserving a tax climate that is one more thing making this state so attractive.

We may be a voice in the wilderness, but they have our thanks.

Dave Simpson — Splitsville: States Head for the Exits

in Dave Simpson
3174

By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily columnist

BAILING OUT: I see on the news that some folks in Virginia, upset over gun control, want to secede from their state and join up with West Virginia.

In Oregon, saner residents want to pull up stakes in that nutty liberal state and saddle up with Idaho, giving Idaho some swell new Pacific coastline.

There’s always talk in Illinois of the rural areas of my home state splitting the sheets with Chicago, and forming their own state. Forming a new state, some feel, would be preferable to moving to get away from Illinois’ precarious state finances, high taxes, and corrupt politicians.

In Colorado, several years ago Moffat County, on the Western Slope, and Weld County, in eastern Colorado, expressed interest in bailing out and joining Wyoming. Lately, folks in Weld County want to try it again.

It’s not easy getting out of one state and joining another, or forming a new state. Nobody has done it since West Virginia became it’s own state. Everybody and their brother, including Congress, has to agree, making it virtually impossible.

Back in the 1980s, I was a reporter at the Wyoming Legislature when a group from western Nebraska showed up, saying they wanted to secede from Nebraska, and attach themselves to Wyoming, like a big Cornhusker carbuncle on the eastern border. Their complaint: It was 400 miles to their state capital in Lincoln. (Apparently, they had just figured that out.)

I find it reassuring that parts of two of our neighboring states wanted to attach themselves to Wyoming. And no part of Wyoming, to my knowledge, wants to leave our state and join some other state. (We’ve got it good out here, with fresh air, awesome vistas and low taxes. But, don’t tell anybody.)

I’ll always remember the advice one Wyoming lawmaker gave to the delegation from western Nebraska:

“Sober up.”

HALF FULL: Who says there’s no good news in the paper these days?

According to recent news reports, an unspecified number of personnel at Warren Air Force Base, who provide security for 150 Minuteman missiles buried in silos north and east of Cheyenne, have been smoking marijuana on the job.

(Marijuana, as you know, is legal a mere nine miles away in Colorado.)

Living cheek by jowl with one leg of our nuclear triad is no big deal out here. We’ve done it since the 1960s. On Interstate-80 and I-25, you see armored cars with gun turrets, dark blue government Suburbans and crew-cab pickups transporting missile crews to and from the underground launch control facilities that each control 10 missiles. Periodically, you see convoys of well-armed vehicles, with two helicopters circling above, going to swap out nuclear warheads or missiles at the silos that dot our landscape.

Way back in the 1980s, in a Cheyenne bar, I talked to an airman who worked in an underground launch control facility. Does it get boring? He replied, “Have you ever read every word in a Playboy magazine? That’s how boring it gets.”

I asked if he could turn the key to launch missiles. He said by the time he would get the order to launch, he figured his girlfriend and his stereo would already be incinerated by the enemy, so yes, he could turn that key.

But Dave, you’re wondering, how could the fact that airmen are suspected of smoking marijuana on the job possibly be good news?

Well, as we all know, we need to see the glass as half full instead of half empty, and always look for the pony hidden in the pile of manure.

The good news is that four years ago, they caught a small number of missile security personnel taking LSD.

We’re making progress here, people.

Give it another four years and they’ll be drinking Near Beer.

NO WINNEBAGO:  I was disappointed to see that Andrew Yang gave up his run for the presidency.

You’ll recall that the Democrat businessman, who is rich, proposed giving every American $1,000 a month, even though we’re already $23 trillion in debt.

I was holding out for Andrew to throw in a free Winnebago RV for senior citizens like me. I think seniors have a RIGHT to a free Winnebago.

Don’t you?

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

Dave Simpson:An Old Reporter Checks Out the New Capitol

in Dave Simpson/Column
State Capitol
3121

By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily columnist

My, how things have changed at the Wyoming State Capitol over the 38 years since I spent time there.

For four years in the early 1980s, I was part of the Casper Star-Tribune team that helped our Cheyenne bureau chief (the truly amazing Joan Barron)  cover the bases during legislative sessions. It was a fun opportunity for editors to be reporters again.

These days, reporters are covering the news from up in the balconies surrounding the House and Senate. Back in the old days, we got to sit down on the floor, close to the lawmakers. In the House, there was a table to the left of the Speaker’s desk. In the Senate, our table was to the right of the Senate President’s desk.

There we were, right in the thick of things. (Lawmakers got a little ringy toward the end of sessions, and one year a senator from Casper hit me with a piece of Jolly Rancher candy as I sat at the reporter’s table on the final evening. Funny stuff. Everyone was tired and ready to go home.)

The great access began to unravel while I was there. A radio reporter from Cheyenne insisted on filling his coffee mug – about the size of a Big Gulp – from the urns in the doughnut room, draining them dry. Some reporters may have been chowing down on too many doughnuts. (Not me.) We were summarily banned from the doughnut room, and reimbursed for the money we had paid into the doughnut fund.

I also heard that the Cheyenne radio reporter was ambushing lawmakers as they came out of the bathrooms off the House and Senate floors, sticking a microphone in their faces for surprise interviews. Not good.

Not long after that, our access to the floor was limited to the press tables, and we had to be invited to visit lawmakers at their desks. Today, I noticed a couple of young reporters doing their work right beside me in the House gallery. No more press tables on the floor.

Another big difference today is that everyone, EVERYONE, has a computer.

Lawmakers all have laptop computers, which they peruse as the process of introducing, amending and deciding the fate of bills drones on. Up in the gallery, the reporters sitting next to me took their notes on laptops as well. And folks in the gallery could be seen peering into their cell phones every few minutes.

It wasn’t that way in the ’80s. For the first couple years, it was all taking notes in reporter’s notebooks, then scurrying up to the third-floor press room to write our stories on clunky, unreliable desk-top terminals.

When you finished a story, you took your life in your hands and hit the “send” button to send your work to the office in Casper. One Saturday I wrote four stories, and every one of them was lost in transmission. (I think they disappeared somewhere between Wheatland and Glendo.)  An entire day’s work, gone, and I was wastebasket-kicking mad.

In 1983, however, along came the Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100. The paper equipped us with the $1,000 early laptops, and suddenly we were able to listen to the debates in the House and Senate, and write our stories right at the press table. And you still had a copy of your story if something went haywire in the transmission process.

The TRS-80, while revolutionary, was primitive. It had 8 kilobytes of memory. (My computer-savvy son laughs at the notion of 8 kilobytes.)

Our “Trash-80s,” as we called them, were so primitive that much of the software was written by a guy named Bill Gates.

“Part of my nostalgia about this machine,” Gates said in an article I Googled, “is this was the last machine where I wrote most of the percentage of the code.”

When we started using our TRS-80s, suddenly the lawmakers were coming up to our press table to see what we were doing. (They didn’t need an invitation to visit our desk.) Our equipment was that new, and ground-breaking.

Today, all that has changed, and everyone has at least one computer on their desk, and a cell phone in their pocket. And I’m guessing that news stories don’t disappear between Wheatland and Glendo anymore.

They say that if you get an old reporter talking, he or she will talk longer than you want to listen. So, I’ll end with this.

In an age when national politicians call folks “lying, dog-faced pony soldiers,” a visit to the Wyoming Legislature will lift your spirits. I highly recommend it. All the lawmakers seemed to be at their desks and paying attention to the process. Good humor was evident, as even the opposing parties seemed to be getting along, at least for the moment.

And there’s this. The newly-renovated Wyoming State Capitol building is, in a word, spectacular. The old Supreme Court Chambers are fully restored. The House and Senate chambers are stunning, faithfully brought back to their original grandeur.

The entire renovation process was first class in every way. (I think Esther Hobart Morris belongs out front, where she used to be, but the statue still looks great in the lower-level concourse.)

You hear a lot of talk in legislative sessions about living up to the ideals and virtues of our forefathers. Wyoming’s restored Capitol building is a true testament to our state’s amazing brick-and-mortar commitment to our roots.

Every Wyoming resident can be proud of our beautifully-restored Capitol.

Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson began his journalism career at the Laramie Boomerang in
1973. He has worked as a reporter, editor, publisher and columnist at
newspapers in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska. He lives in
Cheyenne.

Dave Simpson: I’ve Got Just the Solution for UW President

in Dave Simpson/Column
University of Wyoming
3027

By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily columnist

Let’s see if I’ve got this straight.

About a year ago, trustees from the University of Wyoming got on a plane and flew down to Arizona to interrupt the university president’s vacation with the news that they wouldn’t be renewing her contract.

Surprise! Enjoy the rest of your vacation!

A lot of us were surprised. I think most of us figured Laurie Nichols had been doing OK under some pretty tough conditions, cutting approximately $42 million out of  the university budget in the three years she had been on the job.

We figured Nichols was likely to continue at UW, and maybe things were finally settling down over in Laramie.

When the news hit the papers that Nichols would not be offered a new contract, the reasoning was treated with Manhattan Project-type secrecy. The stories about her ouster made it clear that whatever happened regarding Nichols was one of those personnel matters that qualify for Area 51-type confidentiality.

Some news organizations took UW to court to release details, and that dragged on for almost a year. While that was going on, it was reported that UW had hired a company from Colorado to investigate Nichols, and what they found led to the trustees’ decision.

A judge in Laramie ruled that UW couldn’t keep everything secret. And while UW officials thought about appealing that decision, they ultimately released some details.

They claim there were numerous complaints about Nichols’ management style. She made people feel bad when she chewed them out. One staffer said she threw up all weekend after Nichols criticized her. Nichols allegedly was upset by an international student who helped cater an event at Nichols’ home, and didn’t like Nichols’ dog. We’re left with the image of a short-fused diva who made people throw up.

Nichols, who is now president of Black Hills State University in South Dakota, says that when you cut $42 million out of a university budget, there will be some unhappy campers. And, she says, the UW trustees never let her know about the complaints against her, which violates their own personnel policies. She never got a chance to improve her performance.

Meanwhile, the obligatory “nationwide search” is going on to find the next president of UW, with the help, of course, of consultants. But you have to wonder about anyone who would want the job. The guy two presidents before Nichols lasted six months. The trustees had Nichols investigated without telling her. And they canned her while she was on vacation. Doesn’t sound like the best university president gig out there, if you ask me.

Who do we believe? Nichols? The trustees? The faculty? The food service employee who doesn’t like dogs? The person who threw up all weekend?

I write this as a guy who spent two years at the University of Wyoming (eighth floor of Orr Hall one year, fourth floor the second), but went on to graduate from a small college in Wisconsin. My wife has an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree from UW. My daughter and her husband have degrees from UW. My first newspaper job was at the Laramie Boomerang. We all love Laramie, root for the Cowboys, and have fond memories of UW and the Buckhorn Bar.

That said, I have a suggestion. I think one of our former governors should be asked to take one for the home team, become university president for a few years, and get things settled down over there.

I’ve never met Dave Freudenthal, but he’s got the kind of common sense that would give us confidence that a steady hand was at the tiller, and we could trust whatever he had to say. He’s a Democrat that even Republicans (like me) kind of like. And he looks like he might have some good years left in him.

I met Mike Sullivan once, years before he became governor, and I think he’d make a good choice for this special assignment as well. Again, a common sense, even keel, honest guy.

As a retired guy myself, I’d hate to ask anyone to give up the absolute wonderfulness of retirement. But it seems to me they could do a lot to get the university we all love through these rocky times.

Dave Simpson: Strike ‘Heartland’ From the OK List

in Dave Simpson/Column
Aerial drone view of cultivated green corn field landscape
2950

By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily columnist

Those of us who live in Flyover Country are in big trouble once again with our more evolved bi-coastal cousins. 

Dang, we’ve gone and done it again, Ma. Another ding-dong faux pas.

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (and did it ever take me a while to learn how to spell THAT name), who is proud of the fact that he polled his campaign staff to see if they have suffered “micro aggressions” while in his employ, has nevertheless stepped in it big time by using a term that many of us did not realize is politically incorrect.

(The How Dare You Scolds need to put out a weekly newsletter so that we can all keep up with what suddenly is NOT OK to say. It would be a big help.)

It seems that Mayor Pete, despite his many good intentions as he runs for president, got himself into a pickle (unacceptable food-group cultural appropriation?) when he claimed to have some kind of special virtue in his “vision shaped by the American Heartland.”

To our surprise out here in the Big Empty (I think it’s still OK to use that term), the word “Heartland” is apparently now on the Official Do Not Say List, because it has been deemed a “dog whistle” (a subtle indicator of bigotry), a micro-aggression, and – as is everything else Democrats don’t like – racist. (I knew they’d get around to that last one.)

For years now, we have heard the term “Flyover Country.” And if folks like us, who live in Flyover Country, were in the habit of telling other people how to talk (we aren’t), we might call the term Flyover Country a dog whistle, implying that we are backwoods, unsophisticated hicks.

Since the term Flyover Country has been used for years, I think of it less as a dog whistle, and more of a fog horn of coastal superiority. It has pretty much entered the lexicon.

(I once lived in an area of Illinois that some called the “Heart of Illinois,” because of its upper middle of the state location. But wags – every zip code has them – pointed out that it was more like the “Pancreas of Illinois,” or the “Gall Bladder of Illinois.” We won’t get into what organs or body parts areas of Southern Illinois might be dubbed.)

So anyway, a Buttigieg critic pointedly asked if living in Compton, Cal., might also provide a “vision shaped by the American Heartland.” And a journalist who said she grew up out here in whatever you can still call where I live, dubbed our area the “land of casseroles, county fairs and Friday night bingo.” She can apparently say this, having somehow escaped living where I live, and not be accused of dog whistling. But it sure sounds like dog whistling to me, even though my hearing isn’t what it used to be.

For the record, even though I live in deepest Flyover Country – you can hardly even see the planes flying over my back yard, they’re up so high – I have not been to a county fair in decades. I don’t play bingo. (Yet.)  And casseroles are not on the South Beach Diet.

Amazing, isn’t it, what you can get away with saying in these otherwise contentious times, if your political beliefs are dubbed correct. For the rest of us, it’s open season.

Now Buttigieg will have to apologize for where he was born, and the color of his skin, his faulty “vision,” and probably some other stuff we haven’t thought to be outraged about yet. The only thing he won’t have to apologize for is being gay, which is gangbusters with the How Dare You Scolds.

Since they are mildly derogatory terms, it is probably still OK to refer to where I live as “the Big Lonesome,” “the Big Empty,” “the Corn Belt,” “the Sticks,” “East Bum Something or Other,” “Rubesilvania,” and my favorite, “Out Where the Buses Don’t Run.”

The acceptability of these terms could change at any time, however, so keep a close eye on the How Dare You Scolds for guidance.

In the meantime, so long from Out Where the Buses Don’t Run.

Dave Simpson began his journalism career at the Laramie Boomerang in
1973. He has worked as a reporter, editor, publisher and columnist at
newspapers in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska. He lives in
Cheyenne.

Opinion: We’ll Walk Across Hot Coals to Re-elect Donald Trump

in Dave Simpson/Column
2854

By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily columnist

So, what have non-coastal, common-sense folks like us – odoriferous Walmart shoppers, wearers of hats with ear flaps,  purveyors of homespun wisdom – learned from the presidency of  Donald Trump?

What do we think out here in the Big Lonesome?

Some thoughts:

On his first day on the job, Trump should have fired everyone he could legally fire.

“Thanks for your service,” he should have said. “Good luck in your new careers as lobbyists, top-level hangers on, and screaming Trump critics on CNN and MSNBC. Don’t let the door hit you in the caboose on the way out.”

It would have caused chaos. The media would have screamed like mashed cats. Imagine getting along without the deputy undersecretary of the assistant to the administrator of the counsel on incredibly important affairs. But the festering boil would have been lanced.

Instead, Trump kept a lot of people in place, and many have proven to be knife-wielding scoundrels who were (and still are) itching to betray him. Did you ever think you’d see accounts of presidential phone calls to foreign leaders leaked to the press? I didn’t. Did you ever think an anonymous staff member would write an opinion piece for the New York Times, claiming to protect us from the dangerous man we stupidly elected president? I didn’t.

And some of these back stabbers are still on the payroll.

Saboteurs, even civil service saboteurs, can’t be tolerated. They have done terrible damage.

The guy who spent 15 years firing people on TV should be firing leakers in his administration.

We have also learned in the Trump years not to get in the way of Congress when it’s spending billions. (Borrowed billions.) All Trump did was delay sending $400 billion to the Ukraine, and ask some questions about corruption. Isn’t that a good thing?

But, it resulted in impeachment in the House and trial in the Senate. At a time when we’re already $23 TRILLION in debt.

We all know there are different rules for Democrats, who are the passionate love interests of the media, and Republicans, who are hated by the media. In Ukraine’s struggle with Russia, Obama sent blankets and meals ready to eat. Trump sent missiles. And Trump gets impeached for somehow abusing Ukraine. Go figure.

Joe Biden can be seen on video telling Ukrainians that $1 billion in U.S. aid would be held up unless they fired a prosecutor. We’ve all seen it. And yet, the adoring media says any suggestion that Biden did anything wrong is a “debunked conspiracy theory.” But, Trump gets impeached for maybe doing what we SAW Biden doing. (Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up.)

Does anyone remember the word “debunked” being used in reference to Obama’s lie that if we liked our doctors we could keep our doctors? How about that $2,500 he said we would save?

Why aren’t those promises dubbed debunked?

We have also learned that asking questions about corruption in Ukraine is off limits for Republicans. And questioning Joe Biden’s son making $50,000 a month, or maybe $83,000 a month, from a Ukrainian gas company is way out of line, and none of our business. So if your dad is running for president, any sweet deal you can come up with is nobody’s business. Move along folks, nothing to see here.

Say what you want in defense of the Bidens, but a guy making $50,000 a month, or maybe $83,000 a month, will never fly out here in Flyover Country.

(Fifty thousand a month would buy you one heck of a bass boat.)

Most stark of all, Barack Obama, who killed hundreds of terrorists with drone strikes, was a hero for giving the go-ahead to kill Bin Laden. But Trump’s decision to kill Iranian terrorist Gen. Qassem Soleimani was immediately dubbed an “assassination” by hysterical, hair-on-fire Democrats, who then passed a meaningless House resolution to limit Trump’s war powers.

Funny how that works.

Looks to me like there’s only one way to win this stacked-deck deal with the Democrats and their liberal media pals:

Flyover Country folks like us have to be ready to crawl over broken glass and hot coals to get to the polls in November.

Dave Simpson began his journalism career at the Laramie Boomerang in
1973. He has worked as a reporter, editor, publisher and columnist at
newspapers in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska. He lives in
Cheyenne. Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

Joan Barron: Hall of Fame Reporter

in Dave Simpson/Column
2774

The easiest job I ever had in newspapers was editing news stories written by longtime Wyoming capitol reporter Joan Barron.

That was back in the early 1980s, when I was state editor for the Casper Star-Tribune.

Talk about a sweet deal. Not long after I got to work in the morning, Joan (pronounced Jo ANN) would submit a list of stories she would be writing that day. There were always four, maybe five stories, about all kinds of things going on at the state capitol. After lunch, her stories would start arriving, and they would keep arriving all afternoon.

While being state editor involved some heavy duty pick and shovel work for a number of the 25 correspondents spread out all over Wyoming – part-timers with varying levels of writing talent, paid by the inch –  Joan was full-time, and a real professional. Her copy was clean as a whistle.

(Conversely, one of our far-flung correspondents once submitted a story with this lead: “It was an island, completely surrounded by water.”)

If you asked Joan to cover a story late in the day, she never complained, and always got right to work and had something for you on deadline. It usually ended up on the front page. That’s how good she was.

She was the Star-Tribune’s capitol reporter for an amazing 45 years, covering legislative sessions, committee meetings, state government issues, and the administrations of six Wyoming governors. (Ed Herschler called her “Snoopy.”) She retired in 2014 at the age of 85, and continues to write a weekly column for the Star-Tribune. If you want to understand state government issues in Wyoming, read Joan’s Sunday columns.

Simply put, she was the best reporter I ever worked with in over four decades in the newspaper business. And she never editorialized.

So, it’s great news that this weekend, in Casper, Joan is being inducted into the Wyoming Press Association Hall of Fame, at the group’s annual convention. She is the first inductee who worked an entire career as a reporter. The other 28 inductees, named since the Hall of Fame started in 2003, are publishers, editors, advertising executives, an author, and two former directors of the press association.

Joan started out as a part-time correspondent for the Star-Tribune in Rock Springs in 1966, a job that allowed her to take care of her young son and daughter. In 1969, she became a full-time capitol reporter in Cheyenne, and remained in that job for the next 45 years.

While she had opportunities to move into editing positions, “I never wanted to,” she told me. “I was holding my breath that nobody would say I had to.”

When she retired in 2014, she told an interviewer she was perfectly happy to be an observer of the news, and report on it.

“The fly on the wall,” she said. “That’s me.”

For a time in the 1980s, editors and reporters from Casper would come to Cheyenne to help cover the legislative sessions. Joan was busy working on a story one day, so I filled in for her at a news conference held by Gov. Herschler.

I noticed that the governor kept delaying the start of the news conference and looking out at the gathering of reporters. It finally occurred to me that he was looking for Joan, so I raised my hand and said that I would be covering the news conference for the Star-Tribune. I could tell he wasn’t pleased to be dealing with the junior varsity. That’s the kind of trust and respect he had for Joan.

Dan Neal, former editor of the Star-Tribune, said Joan “knew people in offices throughout state government. People trusted and respected her reporting. Those relationships are built over time. The institutional memory she compiled over many, many years is invaluable. We’ll be lucky if we ever see it again in Wyoming.”

Rob Hurless, former publisher of the Star-Tribune, agreed.

“With her long career, I think it is safe to say that she probably has been read by three generations in the same family trees across Wyoming,” Hurless said. “What an amazing contribution, and legacy. Her recognition for literally decades of service is wonderfully deserved.”

The induction ceremony in Casper this week is serving as sort of a reunion for Star-Tribune veterans from over the years. Some are coming from as far away as California, North Carolina and Tennessee to honor Joan. I can’t think of a single Star-Tribune alum who isn’t delighted to see her inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The only question in the minds of many Star-Tribuners:

What took them so long?

Dave Simpson began his journalism career at the Laramie Boomerang in
1973. He has worked as a reporter, editor, publisher and columnist at
newspapers in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska. He lives in
Cheyenne.

Golden Globes: Taking Our Licks From Hollywood

in Dave Simpson/Column/arts and culture
2683

By Dave Simpson

PEACOCKS: The annual award show season – always good for a horse laugh out here in Deepest Frozen-Tundra Flyover Country – kicked off last week with the Golden Globe Awards.

This is when preening, self-absorbed peacocks who I couldn’t name if you held a gun to my head, dress up like they’re going to the prom, and gather for a feed folks like us could never afford, and slobber all over each other over movies that Corn Belt types like myself have never seen, and will never see.

This is an exclusive gathering of rich people with big hair who like to whine and complain about how rotten the country that made them so rich and glamorous and superior really is.

They view it as an opportunity to make rubes like us aware of all kinds of problems.

The last movie I paid actual money to see was “Forrest Gump,” which was released 25 years ago. So, if you do the math, it has been a quarter of a century since I saw an actual movie, which no doubt excludes me from the award show target audience.

The only interesting part for me was waiting for the next obscenity-laced kick in the pants, as these vacuous Hollywood boobs took the opportunity to show us their great compassion and vast knowledge of politics and foreign affairs.

(I will say that if you’re only going to see one movie in a quarter century, “Forrest Gump” was a pretty good movie to see. It was swell. The star, Tom Hanks, reportedly shares the Hollywood belief that anyone who voted for Donald Trump is stupid and hopeless, but he’s smart enough to keep it under his hat. He has the brains not to lead the parade of Hollywood Trump haters.)

So anyway, despite a warning from host Ricky Gervais that nobody is interested in their loopy political beliefs, the beautiful people nevertheless gave the rest of us the dickens for electing a president they loathe with theatrical gush and histrionics. One award recipient/foreign policy expert predicted that we are “on the brink of war” with Iran, thanks to the evil Trump. And they fretted, of course, over climate change, striking a major blow by eating a cow-emissions-free vegan dinner. (I wonder if they’ve heard that vegetables scream when you pick them.)

They were in fine form, using lots of filthy language – during family viewing hours, no less – that had to be bleeped out as they lamented the country many of the rest of us like just fine.

Who on earth would want to go see a movie put together by awful people like these?

I don’t know about you, but I’m good for another 25 years without seeing a movie.

THAT SAID: I’m not like the beautiful people above (duh) complaining about major aspects of life in America. But there are some minor irritants that come to mind. Stuff that we tend to notice more at this time of year when we’re stuck inside and can’t escape to the woods, and which wouldn’t take too much ding-dong effort to fix.

Some that come to mind:

People on TV who insist on all talking at the same time. The more interesting the subject is, the more frustrating it is when everyone talks at once.

Pundits/hosts who insist on asking long, detailed questions with multiple examples baked in, that go on so long that nobody can remember what the first part of the question was. (Sean Hannity and Joe Scarborough are the absolute worst, and should be sentenced to diagram their sentences.)

Guys who walk around naked in the locker room at exercise, like they’ve got a blue-ribbon entry in the county fair.

Cell phone rings built into advertisements to get your attention. A pox upon them.

The “LIMU EMU” ads on TV. Lord, have mercy.

Selfish imbeciles who block traffic waiting for a great parking space at Walmart. I’ve mentioned this before, but they endure, like bed bugs. Get the tar and feathers.

Those white plastic sleeves that soda crackers come in, that fight you every inch of the way.

Telemarketers. Keel hauling is too good for them.

Tailgaters.

Hollywood award shows.

Dave Simpson began his journalism career at the Laramie Boomerang in
1973. He has worked as a reporter, editor, publisher and columnist at
newspapers in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska. He lives in
Cheyenne.

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