Having already filed my column for the Feb. 1 edition, I was ready to relax and not worry about a deadline for another week. But, wait, there's more! Sitting at the breakfast table I had the misfortune to read the Sunday, Jan. 27, editorial in the Daily Sentinel.
First, let us regress to the beginning. More than one year ago this column began in large part due to disillusionment with the Sentinel and how, in this writer's opinion, it had deserted journalist standards in pursuit of profits. Yes, we are again referring to the Public Trustee, the publication of legal notices, and the manner in which the Sentinel launched a vendetta against Paul Brown when the legally mandated notices were published elsewhere at a reported decline in revenue of approximately $500,000.
The Sentinel won, Paul Brown was fired and a new trustee, Mike Moran appointed. Moran again requested bids for the publication of mandatory foreclosure notices. Realizing it could not possibly win the bid, the Daily Sentinel purchased the small local papers in Fruita and Palisade, eliminated any competition, and presented the one and only bid. It won. It had created a monopolistic situation in which it was the one and only source for this specialized product.
Now, on its own editorial pages the Sentinel becomes the poster child for hypocrisy. It forgets its own history only weeks old. On that page they argue against HB13-1064. This proposed legislation would allow counties to post legal notices on county websites and cease the century-old method of publication in a local newspaper.
They note that their "survival doesn't depend upon them. However, many small newspapers in rural communities do need the revenue .....to remain afloat." Do they mean those small newspapers in the rural communities of Fruita and Palisade they purchased for the specific reason to deprive them of this revenue? They go on to speak of due process which would be denied if they are not allowed to continue to milk this revenue source. They speak of "residents of many small communities" without Internet access to read online notices without naming those poor souls. This saga just will not quit. Technology changes; "constructive notice" need be in the arena the public is coming to rely upon for information, not relegated to micro-type in the pages of the local paper.
Our local elected "representatives" have proved once again they are accountable to only their inner circle of the power elite and not to the public that elected them.
You may recall that after the last City Council election the newly seated council sacked the city manager. She received a year's salary and other undisclosed benefits without a single word of explanation to the city voters who paid the price. That began the first of many actions which squandered OUR tax dollars with little to no communication with the citizens of Grand Junction.
Our newly seated county commissioners took a page out of that playbook and immediately came to a "mutual agreement" with County Administrator Chantal Unfug and let her go. By contract she was due only six months of salary, so, by contrast, firing her may have been a bargain. Of course, being that it was a "personnel matter" discussed and agreed upon in secrecy we are not allowed to know the particulars.
Her contract also allowed her to receive a six-month notice of termination and continue to function at some level for the money paid.
But, no, our commissioners wanted her gone, and gone now for reasons unknown. One can only guess this is another example of political ax grinding at our expense. These "fiscal conservatives" continue to waste dollars without consequence or concern.
With our new commissioners we were promised a new level of transparency and openness. We get closed door meetings and no communication. Good going guys (and lady) we look forward to your next act(s).
Jim Hoffman is a local Realtor and investor who, when not working, loves skiing, camping and fishing (in season). He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.