Catching up on community events 
after a respite and road trip

There’s no shortage of topics to catch up on after skipping a column last week and spending 10 days on the road, enjoying family and the back roads of the southwest.

Most recent is the reminder, via the travails of Grand Junction City Councilor-elect Rick Brainard, that our actions, and elections, have consequences.

While some may wonder what Brainard’s jailing on domestic violence allegations over the weekend may mean regarding his City Council service, the probable answer is that it’ll be up to Brainard, who is scheduled to be sworn in just prior to the first council meeting in May.

I’m unaware of any City Charter or state laws that would preclude his service if he were found guilty of the misdemeanor charges against him. And absent the dropping of the charges, his case won’t be settled by May.

The incident does highlight a serious social issue here and elsewhere. And, like it or not, it lets us know that we call it “representative government” for reasons both good and bad.

✔ The municipal election last week held few surprises. As a member of a City Council that turned down the opportunity to purchase the riverfront property now owned by Brady Trucking for what appeared to be good reasons at the time, I found it hard to justify denying Brady’s use — especially when remembering the hard work folks like former Mayor R.T. Mantlo, Realtor Ward Scott and others put into obtaining riverfront trail easements like the one offered by Brady. 

✔ The narrowness of the defeat of the proposed TABOR override contains a lesson or two. Too early, too loosely written and too much, describe the problems with the proposal.

The narrow margin indicates city voters would likely support retention of excess revenue in the future. But such a proposal will have to come from a council with a new “business friendly” majority that thinks it’s OK for you and me to be taxed to pay for traffic problems prompted by private developments.

✔ The earth moved, or at least some red rock spires wiggled a bit, with the limited endorsement by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce of making the Colorado National Monument a national park. The “when hell freezes over” caveat of a local veto over decisions about park activities will be interesting to watch and gives the chamber and the Grand Junction Economic Partnership an easy future out.

✔ The $1.5 million shortfall in private fundraising for Avalon Theatre renovations and the deadline placed by the Fruita City Council on fundraising for a zoo proposed on city property highlight an oft-missed issue with these sorts of feel-good projects. Being the deep-pocketed partner in any venture increases pressure on public entities when things don’t go as expected.

Any doubts? Just remember the calls for the Grand Junction to take over the failed Glacier Ice arena.

✔ Kudos to the District 51 Board of Education for heeding the recommendations of its school safety committee and ignoring minority pleas to turn our schools into armed camps.

✔ Half-hearted congratulations to Sheriff Stan Hilkey for finding a way to navigate political pressures that have some fellow sheriffs pledging to ignore new state and federal gun laws. Hilkey would say only that enforcement would not be a primary focus. Interesting but scary, isn’t it, to see the “law ‘n order” guys now choosing which laws are necessary to maintain order?

✔ Finally, our happy travels were tragically interrupted with the phone call telling us Bonnie’s brother-in-law, Bob Zarlingo, had died unexpectedly. As noted in the obituary written by daughters Lacey and Darcie and in the Sentinel’s editorial, Bob was a devoted husband, loving father and a community-oriented businessman, as well as my friend and sometime hunting companion.

Few knew that Bob’s business successes stemmed not from desire but from responsibility. With a degree in forest management and a love of the outdoors, he was working for the U.S. Forest Service when the death of his father called him from the mountains around Minturn and Vail to take over the family business.

He fulfilled that responsibility well, while still finding ways to indulge the outdoor passions he shared with wife Cathie for 34 years. Our “godfather” will be missed.

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