Friction between council members 
highlights a growing rift in ideology

I find it pays to read the newspaper carefully. Often after a story is reported, there is, as the late Paul Harvey used to say, “The Rest of the Story.”

Case in point: the April 24 portion of The Daily Sentinel, titled “Getting It Right.” It sought to clarify an item about the outgoing Grand Junction City Council passing a resolution, reportedly with support from all members except one, asking Councilor-elect Rick Brainard to resign.

The April 24 entry corrected a story that had indicated former Councilor Teresa Coons had supported the resolution regarding Brainard.

No matter what differences one might have with her on policy, Coons is, in my opinion, a thoughtful, honest and highly intelligent person who seeks to do what she believes is right.

With respect to the Brainard issue, in pointing out that she did not support that resolution (neither did Councilor Sam Susuras), Coons said she did not condone the accused of behavior and had chosen to make her own statement asking the council to “follow the proper processes to protect citizens’ rights and Brainard’s rights.”

But it appears there is a bit more to it.

I received a copy of an email that was apparently sent from Coons’ city email account before she left the City Council. Addressed to Councilor Bennett Boeschenstein and dated April 18, it begins: “Bennett: Imagine my surprise last night when I watched the City Council meeting and heard you announce my name as a “signatory” to your resolution! I don’t actually recall giving you permission to do that.”

She followed that with a statement about difficulties in retrieving a copy of the resolution, then she continued: “As you heard, I took the opportunity to make my own statement, rather than asking someone else to speak for me. Bennett — my point here is not whether or not I supported the resolution or whether I condemn Rick Brainard’s behavior (which I do). The point is that you made an assumption about my wishes, and in effect, acted to take away my voice. Not only do I believe that this action is unethical, it is underhanded, since you knew that I wasn’t going to be present at the meeting.”

Recently, the Sentinel’s editorial corner has referred to some council interactions as “cartoonish.” This doesn’t appear to be all that funny.

It’s no secret that various council members who were voted out of office by the community did not take well to that result. As we too often see, certain politicians are willing to nail their political agendas to the circumstances of the moment.

Undoubtedly, there was a hope to utilize Brainard’s criminal proceedings to push him out and allow the outgoing council members to appoint someone to his position. Rumor had it this would be a person who had just lost a council seat in the April election.

Boeschenstein won his seat on the council by running unopposed in the 2011 City Council election, and he probably only survived the recent bench-clearing in April by dint of not having been on the ballot this year.

The real beef here seems to be developing into a fight between the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and two of the three council members who weren’t up for re-election this year — Boeschenstein and Jim Doody — because the chamber will support candidates favoring jobs and business rather than spending and taxation in the next electoral effort.

These members seek to delegitimize the chamber by trying to tie Brainard’s present legal woes to the chamber’s original support of his candidacy, which was shared by a number of organizations.

The chamber should not be surprised that the more it becomes involved in supporting causes and candidates (through a separate organization not supported by chamber dues) the more pushback it will receive, although it is unfortunate to see it coming during council meetings.

A similar dust-up is happening with the Denver City Council, as that area’s chamber has requested to see communication between council members and that city’s powerful unions.

Sadly, city governments and job creators increasingly seem to be in opposition.

Rick Wagner writes more on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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