When going gets tough, councilors might consider Roosevelt’s advice

I must have a prodigious amount of mind; it takes me as much as a week, sometimes, to make it up.” – Mark Twain

If it were only a week, perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad. But those in charge of governmental decision making lately seem to be tossing Harry Truman’s proverbial buck around like a hot potato rather than making any hard choices.

There are too many examples, unfortunately.

They’d include delays and uncertainty for a time in such seemingly minor decisions such as if and when kids should be allowed to enjoy the fountain in downtown Grand Junction built expressly for their enjoyment.

Or much bigger deals such as the decisions made (or not made) by Mesa County commissioners past and present regarding such matters as TABOR refunds or ponying up their share of funding for the Orchard Mesa pool.

We’ll see how the District 51 Board of Education does when it soon takes up the matter of appointing a successor who’ll fill the seat of the late Harry Butler.

That one seems destined for controversy, given the 2-2 philosophical split on the board and the legal opinion that a deadlock means Greg Mikolai, board president, gets to make the choice, a possibility likely anathema to supporters of Jeff Leany and Ann Tisue.

At the state level, Gov. John Hickelooper’s delays in deciding what to do about the death penalty caused as much upset as his certainty over fracking and oil and gas rules does among some community leaders and their constituents.

And let’s not even get started on delay and obfuscation in our nation’s capital, where decisions seem based as much on making the other side lose as on what’s best for the country.

But the blue ribbon for confusion, at least lately, surely goes to the Grand Junction City Council.

At least we have a decision regarding city funding for the Avalon Theatre, albeit with an empty elevator shaft. But only after a Keystone Cops scenario, replete with one changed vote apparently resulting from consultation with the Chamber of Commerce about reversing the decision to cut funding.

The fun and games are now being repeated over the choice of a successor to fill the remainder of Harry Butler’s term.

Thanks to a 3-3 deadlock, we remain in limbo over who’ll be chosen to cast the seventh vote on important issues, and one district remains without representation.

One of the two final contenders is understandably ambivalent about submitting himself to the same confusing process again. Any decent additional candidates, the kind of folks we’d like to see making decisions for us, can be forgiven for staying out of the center ring in this circus.

Up in Aspen, they faced the same situation recently. There, the tie was to be broken by a roll of the dice, according to their rules.

But Mayor Steve Skadron, whose election necessitated filling his council seat by appointment, broke the 2-2 tie by switching from his favored contender in the interest of moving forward without resorting to a game of chance.

Whether one of the six seated Grand Junction City Council members might be so collegial and responsible is a true roll of the dice.

I’ve had a little experience in some of these trenches, making what I think have proven to be some excellent decisions as well as some that, in retrospect, were pretty bone-headed. “Not every battle is the war,” I was told along the way by an more experienced friend whose advice I too often ignored.

Making decisions on behalf of all of us, at any level, is serious business. Most decisions, at least at the local level, are unanimous because the path forward is obvious and logical. The tone of government and our confidence in our leaders, however, are determined by how decision-makers act when the going gets tough.

In many of the instances cited, to coin a phrase, the tough need to get going and act rather than delay.

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”  — Theodore Roosevelt

Jim Spehar’s made his share of decisions, some good and some bad. Your thoughts, should you decide to offer them, are welcome at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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