Sometimes those politicians just give you a gift when you are on deadline and needing some column fodder for the week. Rick Brainard, our newly elected Grand Junction city councilman, finds himself in hot water and we find ourselves red-faced, confused, and just a little bit betrayed. It seems that Mr. Brainard had the police called to his residence recently. Upon arrival they reportedly found a somewhat battered girlfriend and an angry and hostile Brainard. During an ongoing argument about Brainard's possible infidelity, the situation apparently escalated into a physical confrontation during which the girlfriend was repeatedly shoved against furniture and ultimately struck in the face. Upon arriving and interviewing Brainard and the live-in paramour, the police determined that just cause existed to place our councilman-elect under arrest. He was transported to jail where he remained for longer than a ceremonial booking and release. (This experience may provide for a more empathetic understanding for the needs of inmates.) During the election, there were questions raised as to Brainard's ability to satisfy his duties as city councilman as his history could suggest he did not have the available time to serve adequately. It appears as though his time on May 6 (the date the new council is sworn in) may be limited as he has to appear in court on the domestic violence charges. Maybe he can make arrangements to attend the swearing in from the Justice Center via audio/video hook-up.
I feel a bit betrayed. As a supporter of Brady Trucking in their epic battle to build on their property, I drank the Kool-Aid and bought into the new hiking paths and new jobs we were promised. OK, it was a bit more than that; it was a property rights issue, but now we are told the building Brady wanted to do will not be done, at least not yet. Maybe we will see something next year, but the cynic in me says we will see nothing.Given that we were fed a steady dose of the importance of this issue and the urgency of rapid action, it is felt that maybe once again we were fed a line. Maybe Brady did not divulge their true intentions in their hopes to improve the value and marketability of the property in question.Once our new council is installed there will be several pressing issues on their plate: 1) Given the Avalon Theatre's failure to attract any significant private sector funding, will the City continue its strong commitment to this project? As councilman-elect Marty Chazen has pointed out, the City seems to acquire properties at the end of their economic life (read: when no one else is willing to buy them) and ends up with a less than desirable asset. The upkeep alone may exceed the value of the Avalon and the proposed remodel an ill-fated attempt to remake it into something not economically feasible. Maybe the City could take a lesson from St. Joe's and determine rebuilding is a desirable alternative to remodeling. It could be the cost to build an entirely new structure that incorporates the existing faade may be a reasonable consideration.2) The acquisition of White Hall needs to be revisited. A local attorney voiced his concern over this transaction due to the "suspect" manner in which it was acquired. That concern aside, it remains true that the value of "White Elephant Hall" is far less than the $1.5 million suggested by some members of the current City Council. That valuation was labeled "ludicrous" by a real estate source with knowledge of the property.It could have been purchased for probably less than half that amount before it became a burned-out shell. It is likely that its current value may be less than the cost of demolition. Maybe our new council could explore the likelihood of regifting this liability to Home Loan & Savings.This is yet another example of the City acquiring property of little to no value in the private market. Once our new council is seated - with or without Brainard - we shall see how well they deliver. We can only hope that the failure to adequately vet candidates does not lead to any other immediate embarrassments.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.