Jim Hoffman
Free Press Opinion Columnist

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January 10, 2013
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HOFFMAN: William Randolph Seaton, newspaper baron of Mesa County

One of those stories you probably forgot about was the dust-up between the Daily Sentinel and Paul Brown, our previous public trustee.

The Sentinel, always one to dredge up news that conforms to its agenda, ran a summary of that sordid episode as a "top story" of 2012. No, it was not a top story.

If it should remind us of anything, it should remind us of the yellow journalism days of the Hearst newspapers of the late 1800s and early 1900s. It should remind us of when news was created, skewed and served to a gullible public all to satisfy an agenda determined by the newspaper barons of the day.

Publisher Jay Seaton now desires to become the same to our local community. He is rapidly learning that ownership of the Daily Sentinel allows him to bully the weak locals into submitting to his will. He is learning he can get what he wants by abandoning journalistic ideals and using biased coverage instead. When the Sentinel lost huge sums of advertising revenue due mainly to its abuse of the honor of being the perceived sole source to publish mandated legal notices, the paper began a noticeable campaign to have Paul Brown ousted from the position. Their campaign was assisted by the willing cooperation of State Rep. Ray Scott who obligingly introduced legislation to eliminate the Public Trustee position, an act that satisfied the special interests of the Sentinel.

Scott failed to get the position eliminated, and a new trustee, Mike Moran was appointed. Moran went about seeking new bids for the publication of legal notices. Given the obvious fact that the Daily Sentinel would again fail to win the bid, Seaton did the only thing that would allow them to win; he bought the competition and eliminated any bid other than his own. Now the trustee finds himself paying more than twice what the service of notice publication previously cost and Seaton has secured a virtual monopoly on local print news media, and has become, indeed, the sole source for the publication of legally mandated notifications. Seaton has become the William Randolph Hearst of Mesa County, an admittedly big fish in a very small pond. His action denied the trustee the opportunity to seek and obtain competitive bids.

The legislation that Rep. Scott ought to introduce is a bill to eliminate the archaic and ancient requirement of publication of legal notices in print.

Rick Brainard, VP of operations for West Star Aviation, has announced his intention to challenge Mayor Bill Pitts in the upcoming election. It seems Mr. Brainard is not satisfied with the manner in which our current council oversees our monetary resources.

While we know nothing of Brainard (but isn't that a really cool name?), we do agree that millions of OUR DOLLARS have been spent with little consideration or deliberation. It is time that we have a City Council that is a bit more prudent with our dollars. Not to belabor a subject, but, we recall the Avalon Theatre requesting $1,000,000 from city coffers and being rewarded with $3,000,000 instead. Our grievance is not with the Avalon or the merit of its request, but rather with the manner in which the request was handled.

That is but one of many instances which could be used to illustrate the way our current council has used tax dollars to benefit their pet projects and to reward cronies. Decisions involving millions of dollars seem to be made almost whimsically and based on snap judgments that appear to be bad judgment. We need more people to come forward to begin sweeping old pols and old boys (and girls) from a political structure that seems to remain rooted in leadership many generations old. We need some new blood without ties or commitments to anyone other than the citizenry.

Jim Hoffman is a local Realtor and investor who, when not working, loves skiing, camping and fishing (in season). He may be reached at freepressjim@gmail.com.

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The Post Independent Updated Jan 10, 2013 03:16PM Published Jan 10, 2013 02:56PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.