Not all of our dreams are sweet, some of them turn into nightmares
“We would often be sorry if our wishes were gratified.” — Aesop’s Fable, “The Old Man and Death”
Said another way, be careful what you dream. That was my first response to several news stories in the past week.
There were the recurring reports concerning northern and eastern Colorado counties still pawing and snorting about secession. They’re egged on by Weld County commissioners with a well-earned reputation for being a chip or two shy of a combination plate. Also involved in the discussions are Morgan, Sedgwick, Phillips, Washington, Yuma, Kit Carson, Lincoln and Cheyenne counties.
Let’s let ‘em go and wish them well. Perhaps even throw a going away party and give fair warning not to let the door hit their backsides while exiting.
I expect those chest-thumping county commissioners and other secessionists haven’t perused Colorado water law recently, especially the part that prohibits selling Colorado’s water across state lines.
I suspect few of us over here on the Western Slope would mind if some of the water from up in the headwaters of the Colorado River that’s now diverted over to northern Colorado via the Big Thompson project stayed on this side of the mountains. Ditto the water that flows from Twin Lakes to Pueblo and on out to southeastern Colorado via the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project.
I haven’t done the research and arithmetic and don’t intend to, given that nothing will come of all this secessionist rhetoric. But it’d be a pretty safe bet that, except for energy-producing counties in the Julesburg Basin, most of the other Eastern Plains hotbeds of saber-rattling are net takers when state taxes paid per capita are compared to services, education funding and other benefits provided back to them by the state.
Word that Steve King wants to be our sheriff and that Scott McInnis might like to be one of our county commissioners could also have elements of dreams turning into nightmares.
You see, when you’re in the state Legislature or especially when you’re in Congress, you are insulated from your constituents. What we know about your activities 250 miles away on the other side of the mountains or a couple of time zones to the east in our nation’s capital is pretty much what you tell us.
Don’t think so? Just check the surveys that say we all tend to love our own representatives but abhor the institutions in which they serve.
It’ll be very different for King and McInnis when they’re doing their jobs every day in full view of their constituents. They’ll be filling up at the same gas pumps or standing in the same checkout lines with folks who don’t have to depend on a news release or a self-congratulatory speech to know what’s up. They’ll have to look into the eyes of the folks directly impacted by actions they’re about to take.
It’s easy to see why King wants to be sheriff. He’ll more than double his legislative salary, and the job comes with clothing and a car. It’s harder to imagine why McInnis would re-enter politics at the local level.
Thanks to those readers who took time to respond to last week’s column about the city’s new political party, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce. When backslaps and attaboys come from former chamber board members and other well-known business types, you know you’ve hit the ball squarely.
It’s occurred to me since then that we may be giving too much credence to the chamber’s claim to represent the viewpoint of local businesses.
I’m told that Grand Junction has about 4,500 sales tax licenses currently issued. Those are just retail businesses. Because the city doesn’t require a business license, the figure doesn’t capture your doctor or dentist or chiropractor, your banker or accountant or financial advisor, your lawyer, your favorite newspaper or radio or television station, or any other service providers.
The chamber claims “over 1,000 members” (some outside city limits), including nonprofits and local governments, on its website.
With at least four out of five business owners in the city choosing not to join, can any organization made up of 20 percent (or less) of local retailers, manufacturers and service providers really claim to be the voice of business locally?