Let’s get ready to rumble


Recent interactions between the city of Grand Junction and Mesa County administrations seem to leave us little choice but to recall the profound words of national treasure and statesman Bugs Bunny when he has said, many times, to opponents ranging from Yosemite Sam to Wile E. Coyote, “You realize of course, this means war.”

I know there will be many calls from the usual quarters about everyone working together and pulling in the same direction and generally that’s correct, but there is something to be said for conflict as a clarifying exercise.

After all, not everybody’s right about what they want or why they want it and sometimes it’s only when they’re resisted that you truly find out the what and the why behind their demands.

The grievances of the city are legion. They include such things as not having been properly consulted about what the county is doing with its own finances, and not receiving a large enough share of the money that the county is seeking for operations that are, for the most part, wholly funded by the county.

There are others, of a similar vein, but lack of space and tedium do not allow us to list them here. Suffice it to say they revolve around someone giving them money.

Perhaps some representative, emulating Martin Luther, will trudge to the doors of the county building and nail upon them their version of the 95 theses of complaint.

Clearly, we have observed that for a long period, the citizenry has not allowed a plug nickel (referring back to when American coinage actually contained valuable metal, which sometimes was removed from the center and “plugged” with some base material and passed off as true coinage — an astonishingly apt comparison to some of the recent ballot issues) for the various harebrained (apologies to B. Bunny) projects city officials have sought to finagle onto taxpayers.

This appears to have made them a bit mad, but as mentioned earlier, conflict does bring clarity and there emerges from this conflict some illumination.

First, it becomes clear that city management apparently believes all money generated in the county belongs to them and any attempt to ask taxpayers for the use of it should be cleared through them and they should receive a portion of it because they agree to go along with it.

Also, there are humanitarian reasons which revolve around the fact that they have struggled to adequately manage any endeavor since Mark Achen left as city manager in 2000 and constant transfusions of cash are necessary to prevent the calamity of paying for projects from existing funds.

There is no question that I pick on the city administration substantially more than the county. This is partly because it’s so much easier, given the sorts of things they’re doing, and I feel, rightly or wrongly, that the motivations are bit different.

County officials make many mistakes, bu for the most part they’re are a bit like a construction worker who has had a power tool fall upon his head from some height. He may seem confused, have poor decision-making skills and not adequately communicate with coworkers, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of mischief involved. Plus, they don’t have as much money to throw around on thought-provoking and grandiose storylines.

With the other, it seems as though there’s a bit more calculation involved — albeit calculation on an instrument with some of the keys stuck. But calculation nonetheless.

However, the people involved are good people. It just seems as though there is some sort of background radiation present in their building. Nevertheless, it’s like the Apple Dumpling Gang plotting to rob a bank. You don’t go along with the idea, but you still like the people.

As far as the county needing some permission from the city to proceed on its own tax question — being at odds with the municipality is probably a good thing. In the past, their support has been, if not the kiss of death, then at least the henpeck of temporary paralysis.

So I say use the conflict to hash out some issues, but keep it clean. No hitting below the belt or eye gouging and in the words of the great ring announcer Michael Buffer, “Let’s get ready to ruuumble!”

Rick Wagner is a Grand Junction attorney who maintains a political blog, The War on Wrong. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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Instead of “rumbling”, which many like to do (it makes them feel macho) he should concentrate on learning facts by studying issues in context, listening to what others have to say and make a sincere attempt to understand their positions.  Otherwise, if he wants to “rumble” he (as well as those like him) would do better to choose another venue or other issues.

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