Jim Hoffman
Free Press Opinion Columnist

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January 3, 2013
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HOFFMAN: King of cockamamie legislation

Continuing forth with the idea that we are going to protect our children by placing armed police in our schools: According to a Google Search, there are 132,656 public K-12 schools in the U.S.

If we could place a single armed officer in each of those schools for the nominal cost of $35,000 per position (a cost that is admittedly conservative and low), our tax bill would be $464,296,000. Yes, that is right, half a billion bucks.

In our national frenzy to produce only zero-cost proposals for new expenditures, the question becomes what services will be eliminated to fund this project? Or, what new taxes need to be created to fund it?

Locally, State Sen. Steve King, in lockstep with the NRA, is introducing legislation to provide armed policemen at our public schools. Using the same cost projection as above, his suggestion would result in expenditures of more than $63 million annually. King, before jumping on this bandwagon, did you complete any cost analysis?

There is a question here as to if students in private, charter and religious schools should also be protected and if it is the state's responsibility to do so. Also, it is not felt that King's legislation answers either of the crucial questions raised in the previous paragraph. King's self-proclaimed fiscal conservative, small government bona fides would seem to be violated by this high-cost, big government proposition.

As he begins a new term in Denver, King continues to fail to introduce meaningful legislation or develop a legacy of accomplishment. He continues to squander what should be a considerable talent to pursue knee-jerk, emotionally driven legislative campaigns that lack long-term vision and demonstrate minimal thought and consideration. It appears he reacts to the crisis du jour and has little understanding of the bigger picture. Rather than being so concerned about a nonexistent and unproven oil shale industry, and further pandering to his base, perhaps he should look at the overall state of our state and map out a legislative agenda that addresses larger and more encompassing needs.

Rather than merely parroting the position of the NRA perhaps he could demonstrate some capacity for independent thought and consideration and determine if there are other possible solutions that could ensure the safety of our children. It appears to me that this approach to curbing gun violence (the fortifying of our schools) is myopic and one of those "slippery slopes" we hear about so frequently.

When children are targeted at recess will it then become necessary to enclose the playgrounds in high-walled compounds? If our children continue to be targeted, will we next need to armor our public school buses? How about all those hundreds of children waiting on unprotected street corners for their bus to arrive? If it is true that evil finds a way, then we may need to find a way of curbing the evil as opposed to defending against it. Otherwise, we may find ourselves continuing to lose freedoms and developing an ominous milieu of fear that will forever scar our national psyche.

On another, less sinister note, I find myself in total agreement with Josh Penry. (It continues to frighten me when I realize my positions occasionally coincide with those of others with whom little other common ground exists.)

In this case, legal marijuana is the topic. Josh and I both agree this is a state issue in which the federal government should not intercede. Locally, nothing has been read which would lead one to believe any of our local elected officials shared Josh's thoughts on this. There seems to be a rush toward making sure none who seek to capitalize on opportunities in this new soon-to-be legal industry will be able to create jobs or pay taxes here in Mesa County. The time is at hand for our local pols to demonstrate some of that small government, less regulation they speak of in sound bites and applause lines and just get out of the way of business.

Jim Hoffman is a local real estate broker and investor who you can find up at Powderhorn or Snowmass.

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The Post Independent Updated Jan 3, 2013 03:05PM Published Jan 3, 2013 03:04PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.