Jim Hoffman
Free Press Opinion Columnist

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April 18, 2013
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HOFFMAN: The brains behind Brainard's eventual replacement

The calls for Rick Brainard to resign appear to be growing; retaining his council seat appears unlikely.

Brainard has stated that he will take his seat, that he will serve, and that we should ignore all this distraction. The citizens of Grand Junction have other thoughts and have expressed them through a street protest, letters to the editor, petitions, and even a Facebook page. They will surely recall him if he refuses to resign. City Council joined the chorus; they passed a resolution asking Brainard not to take his seat. Sam Susuras was the only councilor not supporting the effort. The Chamber of Commerce has remained conspicuously silent.

What will happen at the time he does resign (assumption) is that the same tiny group of power brokers that selected him in the first place will now have absolute power to select his replacement. His hand-selected replacement will then be rubber-stamped by the majority of the council and we will have our new councilor.

At that point-in-time the voters of Grand Junction will become totally disenfranchised. We will have no vote in the matter. Our "representatives" will do as they are told and anoint our new councilor for whom we did not vote and with whom we are stuck for two years. If you thought a 35% or so turnout with a 10% under vote in the last election was a miserable majority to decide the face of our City Council, that will now be accomplished by a group significantly smaller, a group the membership of which the vast majority of local residents does not know. Folks, this is not representative government. I would guess the only thing we can wish for at this point is that they better vet their choice. Beware of also-rans with tons of baggage.

However, there is one other possible scenario. Should the new council deadlock 3-3 and fail to select a replacement, we voters would again matter. We get a "do-over" election and have the opportunity to elect a new council member that has both values and value. We can do so without the interference of would be kingmakers. After this fiasco, we hopefully will be much less likely to let them dictate future election outcomes.

When discussing our Constitutional rights we always hear about the "intent" of the Founding Fathers. Given the fact they could not have envisioned assault weapons or cell phone towers, arguing about their intent seem pointless. The tempest-in-the-temple debate over cell phone towers and religious tax exemptions will not go away, nor will the erection of the cell tower (e.g. Monument Baptist Church in the Redlands) disguised as a belfry.

Verizon and certainly other cell phone providers have learned how to use a loophole in tax codes and zoning regulations to benefit their businesses. One would certainly doubt this would have been the intent of the Founding Fathers so, on that test, this should be a prohibited use of tax-exempt religious property.

Some claim that Verizon was able to accomplish this by making a "contribution" in lieu of a payment. Why not seeing a real difference between the two I do recall that our contribution to our church is called a tithe and the church wants 10%. Ergo Verizon's contribution should equal 10% of their income, otherwise it is a payment. Now we have churches accepting payments from private industry for uses of tax-exempt property and the payments are both deductible to Verizon and non-taxable to the church. Some would applaud this as they do not want anyone to pay taxes, but, the reality is this becomes a tax subsidy. This commercial use creates a situation where those of us who pay taxes are subsidizing a church in a commercial endeavor. Are you confused yet?

As I recall, Jesus threw the moneychangers out of the temple. While the analogy may not be prefect, it is believed that Jesus felt commerce did not belong in a house of worship. Were he here today and asked to arbitrate this debate, what would Jesus do?

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 Apr 18, 2013 12:20PM Published Apr 18, 2013 12:18PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.