GOP primary battles and a potential food fight enliven local politics
“Death, taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them.”
— Margaret Mitchell,
“Gone with the Wind”
It was a simple statement, really, the first sentence of Greg Ruland’s piece in last Saturday’s Daily Sentinel on the Grand Junction City Council retreat. But one rife with consequences if there were the proverbial snowball’s chance of it coming true.
“Grand Junction City Council directed staff to prepare a report about how a tax on food sales would impact seniors and the poor should voters decide to tax groceries instead of real property,” Ruland wrote.
File the possibility of a food tax under “F” for Fat Chance. Or, perhaps better, Foolishness.
“The art of taxation,” Jean Baptist Colbert said, “consists in so plucking the goose as to get the most feathers with the least amount of hissing.”
It doesn’t take a genius, or even a columnist with some local government experience, to imagine the cacophony of hissing we’ll hear if our business-oriented City Council actually has the huevos to place a grocery tax on some future ballot. Any Grand Junction voter with a detectable pulse and an IQ above room temperature wouldn’t need staff help to predict the outcome.
Mayor Phyllis Norris, the former City Market president, ostensibly wants to make certain “everybody pays their fair share.” Very few jurisdictions tax groceries to do that because, as council member Bennett Boeschenstein pointed out, that tax impacts lower-income citizens who spend a higher percentage of limited incomes on basic necessities disproportionately.
Unspoken is the desire to make Grand Junction, already known as one of the most business-friendly places to operate, even better for business despite the warning from staff that the city is running out of ways to do that.
If you operate a business in Grand Junction, you don’t need a license and you collect the third-lowest sales tax of 21 comparable cities. Other cities collect millions of dollars through a use tax on things such as building supplies purchased locally but used elsewhere. Grand Junction taxes those supplies only if used within the city limits, a tax break unique to our city.
If there’s a need for more municipal revenue, there are other obvious answers besides a levy on your lunchables. But that’d require a council concerned about all of its constituents, not just the business community.
I suspect city and county staffs could point to a time or two in my 12 years as a city council member or county commissioner when I sent them scurrying down various rabbit holes to research some curious proposal that never panned out.
Let’s hope this bad idea meets a similar fate.
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I suppose, now that primary ballots are in our hands, it’s time to offer a few comments on local politics.
I’ll make it short.
Steve King will be our next sheriff.
Dan Thurlow will be the new state representative from District 55.
GOP voters seem poised to correct the craziness of their county assembly, where delegates gave top line designation to an inexperienced candidate promising to be a “constitutional sheriff,” whatever the heck that means. To more than a few county voters, keeping us safe trumps picking fights with the feds based upon dubious constitutional expertise.
While several other contenders, including a Democrat also unburdened with any practical law enforcement experience, will also be on the general election ballot, “it doesn’t take a weatherman (or full immersion in current Mesa County politics) to know which way the wind blows” to paraphrase one Robert Zimmerman.
One of the two contenders for the GOP nomination in District 55 appears to be running a real campaign, a fully-engaged effort that depends on doing more than appearing before various candidate forums.
His name isn’t Steve Acquafresca.
I’d be hard pressed to come up with a campaign theme more attuned to the times than the one we see on all the signage for Thurlow’s campaign. Or a candidate better designed to capitalize on that theme.
Given the impotence of our recent batches of state legislators relative to the rest of Colorado, I expect my Republican friends, and ultimately a general election majority, to agree with Thurlow’s theme: “Let’s do something different.”