Michael Turner: Meeting ignored
July 22, 2007
Steamboat Springs — On July 17, Jeannie Ritter, the First Lady of Colorado, sponsored a meeting in Steamboat to listen to the concerns of local mental health professionals, educators, law enforcement and citizens. Unfortunately, the front page article in the Steamboat Today the following day paid very little attention to that fact or presented the readers much viable information concerning that public meeting.
Instead, the reporter, Alexis DeLaCruz, used most of the article to write about the unfortunate incident the day before outside the governor’s office in Denver. The reason Mrs. Ritter was in Steamboat was to discuss and listen to concerns about mental health issues, not to talk about the incident in the state Capitol. Yet the reporter from the Today and the editor apparently did not believe those issues were worth writing about in the article. The 13-paragraph article contained 12 paragraphs talking about the shooting at the Capitol and only one half of the final paragraph talking about the actual meeting here in Steamboat. The photo chosen for the front page shows a First Lady who appears to be stressed over the incident, yet as someone who attended the meeting and saw that photograph being taken, I can honestly report that she was, in reality, listening intently to the discussion about mental health issues.
Representatives from Steamboat Mental Health and the Steamboat police, among others, discussed the relocation of the detox center from the jail to the new courthouse and how state bureaucracy makes that program difficult to administer effectively. Others in attendance discussed fetal alcohol syndrome and autism. I talked to Mrs. Ritter about how organizations around the state such as Horizons Specialized Services here in Steamboat provide services for early childhood development, along with group home and daily services for the adults in our communities with developmental disabilities, including my son, who is fortunate to receive those services. I also pointed out how there is a problem statewide with waiting lists for services that stretch many years into the future because of lack of funding.
I am extremely disappointed in the reporter, the editor and the publisher of the Steamboat Pilot & Today for ignoring the true reason for the First Lady’s visit to Steamboat and resorting to sensationalism. We have all had a chance to read about the events on Monday in other articles. This article should have been about Mrs. Ritter’s meeting and what was discussed among the participants. I found, as I believe did the other participants at the meeting, Mrs. Ritter to be an extremely intelligent, thoughtful and caring person. The article covering her visit did a disservice not only to the community by not properly providing thorough information about the meeting, but to Mrs. Ritter and her efforts.