Printed letters, June 13, 2013
The fundamental issue with the Avalon is not its value as a performing arts center but its financial viability and thus who should pay for it.
Government at its core should focus on building an infrastructure that benefits everyone. Private businesses can then come forward and use that infrastructure to serve the community by creating businesses, employing people and seeking a profit from the goods and services they provide.
Government infrastructure certainly includes streets, sidewalks, sewers, zoning, laws, law enforcement, air traffic control, national defense and the like, but not grocery stores, lube-and-oil-change facilities, clothing manufacturers, restaurants, newspapers or even theaters.
All of those things and literally millions more are provided daily by private business, not government. Why? It is because they are not infrastructure and hence not within the purview of government’s proper taxing and spending power.
Why can’t a theater or performing arts center be built privately and used for movies, live plays, symphonies, talent shows, conferences, recitals, bands and orchestras, comedians, aging rockers and anyone else needing a venue? Why can’t its owners make money doing so, as have many others in the private sector by providing something of value? Why do taxpayers get the call to fund this instead?
Full disclosure here: We moved to Grand Junction in 2006, after living in southern California for 37 years. We did not know a soul in Grand Junction at the time, but we were well aware of the direction California was moving both politically and economically.
California has long been effectively bankrupt, in large part because government grew well beyond the bounds of building infrastructure and now cannot afford to operate what it built or pay the gold-plated retirement of all the people it “employed” in the process.
In short, it simply forgot that the taxpayers of the state could not afford the tax receivers but continued anyway. California is a clear lesson on how Grand Junction should not operate — beyond its means.
As to the financial status of the project, my observation is: Citizens are not making significant voluntary contributions, which means they will have to contribute coercively, if at all. If taxpayers can be forced to build a theater, why can’t they be forced to build a hardware store?
Make investment in Avalon to benefit entire community
“It takes a village to raise a child,” said Hillary Clinton. It takes the Grand Valley to save the Avalon. Stand up and prove to the Grand Junction City Council that an investment in the arts is not just a business investment, but also an investment in a quality of life that cannot be measured in dollars and cents. That quality of life will benefit the entire valley.
Remember, city parks do not generate revenue; they generate pleasure. So will a renovated theater.
Stand up for the Avalon. Don’t wait for the Avalon directors to come asking for capital. County commissioners, give a donation. City of Fruita, give a donation. City of Palisade, give a donation. Colorado Mesa University, give a donation.
Individuals donate, too, by making a pledge, calling your council member or attending the Grand Junction City Council meeting when the decision is voted upon. For more information, contact The Cornerstone Project: avalontheatrefoundation.org/.
Will this be a successful project? To paraphrase a famous quotation, “Build it and they will come.”
Prudhomme wisely points out dangers of money in politics
Joel Prudhomme, in his June 5 letter to the editor, points out the dangers that can accrue from allowing big spenders to dominate politics. In the 2012 election a prominent big spender was Sheldon Adelson, casino owner, who donated $94 million to Republican campaigns. But he was philosophical about his losses. “I don’t cry when I lose,” he said. He plans to donate more in the next election.
Adelson’s largesse was due in part to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision of January 2010, which gave corporations the status of citizens. At present, a movement is under way to repeal Citizens United by a constitutional amendment.
Will the repeal of Citizens United block the predatory hold big money has on government? Absolutely not. Greed knows no bounds and is no respecter of laws, persons and the common good.
The last election saw the emergence of superPACs (political action committees), which spent millions of dollars running negative ads. In the 2012 election, superPACs spent $609 million, an amount which came from just 3,138 donors.
Organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, Karl Rove’s Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce were specifically formed to influence congressmen to vote “yes” on issues favorable to their clientele.
“Prudhomme” in French means wise or prudent man. Thanks to Joel Prudhomme for supplying the questions. Only an informed public can supply the answers.