Voters can change free-spending City Council

Finally, an opportunity to clean up the mess at Grand Junction City Hall. That’s not a terrifically specific statement, given the number of possible scenarios, but let’s start with the City Council election.

The municipal election for City Council members and referred measures falls on April 2. If you’re a qualified city resident, you should be receiving a ballot next week to make your choices.

If you’re not a city resident, you should find a candidate or issue to feel strongly about and work for it, because if you live anywhere in the area surrounding Grand Junction, the city is spending your tax dollars but you don’t have a say about how they’re spent.

I bring this out because there is also the inevitable Taxpayer’s Bill Of Rights override in this election. Since the idea of living within one’s means seems to be unattainable for the majority of the incumbent council, there is constant alarm over the idea that citizens may, by law, be entitled to keep some of their money.

This comes at an auspicious time, when sales tax revenue has been reportedly down 4 percent, which is, of course, a “surprise.” One might ask, if private citizens were repeatedly shocked, surprised and bushwhacked by projections of their cash flow, how long could they could stay in business or in their jobs? Not very long.

The present council is expert at spending. Emblematic of that is something we’ve talked about before: taking a request for $1 million for the Avalon Theatre project that was dubious in its utility even at that amount, and unilaterally awarding $3 million because, gosh darn it, what a great feeling!

One would think there should be a Spirit of Ironic Enlightenment that would visit council members, perhaps on tax day, like the Ghost of Christmas Past. The spirit would see if it could awaken in them the irony of throwing money away that was not even requested, having revenues fall, as most would’ve predicted in this economy and then asking citizens to allow them to keep more of their tax dollars ... again and again.

Some of the prior council members running for re-election have also been telling folks they are “fiscal conservatives.” It’s interesting. There’s not a shred of evidence to support it, but it’s a free country, sort of. It is a nice example of linguistic dissonance.

It’s not merely the reckless spending and staff-driven decision-making of the last four years that are troubling, but the seemingly accidental and aimless way in which it occurs.

For instance, look at Referred Measure A, which has to do with the Brady Trucking use of the riverfront and involves zoning decisions, council decisions, council backpedaling, council indecision and, eventually, a punt back to the public.

In the meantime, the Brady Trucking people, in a vain attempt to rely on some sort of identifiable system in which to base their business decisions, are out about 1 million bucks. I recognize this seems fairly small change the way money is awarded from the present city council, but it is real money to some people.

I suppose this is consistent with some of the surreal campaigning I’ve seen going on. We have one incumbent who has a couple of smallish cutouts of himself apparently dancing on a couple of his larger mobile signs. Can’t say as I’ve really seen anything like this before and I think there may be a reason for that.

The most poignant, however, is one incumbent’s sign that says “Re-elect Experience.” That slogan should really be followed by a question mark. After all, it’s experience with politicians that causes them not to be re-elected.

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


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