OPINION: Regretting what we wrought? | PostIndependent.com
Jim Hoffman
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Free Press Weekly Opinion Columnist

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OPINION: Regretting what we wrought?

Well, the scuttlebutt on the street and feedback I've personally received seems to indicate that the voters of Grand Junction may wish that the recall Brainard effort re-emerge as "Recall 'em All."

While the consensus may fall solidly into that category, you should not expect any real activity. Local voters through the last few election cycles have proven themselves to be extraordinarily complacent. Casual conversations seem to show that local citizens have just slightly more confidence in our new city council than we have for Congress. The actions of three councilors to alter the city charter and the seeming arrogance of the GJ Chamber of Commerce have proven off-putting for many of the ordinary folks who live and vote here.

Truth be told, many who voted for the original bloc of four candidates supported by the Chamber and its secret society now seem to regret their actions. Emails, letters to the editor and whisperings in meetings all seem to be a harbinger of movement away from support toward cautious concern. Maybe all these folks will step up to the plate, demand to be heard, demand action, and take action if they learn they are not being represented and served.

In a public relations move, the council has announced that their workshops will now be audio-taped and a transcription made available for the general public. There has long been concern that the business of government is being conducted in off-the-record meetings. While any meetings where four or more councilors are present are to be open to the public, it is difficult for public watchdogs to attend multiple meetings per week. Transcriptions of conversations may make oversight a bit easier. However, "casual" meetings between three or fewer councilors in which city business is discussed and perhaps decided will remain off-record.

POLITICIANS SAY THE STRANGEST THINGS

Our "pro-business" city council seems set to follow in the steps of our county commissioners and not allow commercial pot shops within the borders. Recently-appointed Councilor Duncan McArthur bases his opposition on the fact the citizens voted against it. Yeah, well they also voted against you, Duncan, and that did not seem to stop you from taking office.

When politicos can claim their action reflects the desire of the people they immediately do; when their actions lack support of those very same voters, they find some easy rhetoric with which to explain it.

While it is true Mesa County and Grand Junction voters did vote against the legalization of marijuana, did they, by extension, vote against jobs being created? If asked would you be opposed to the creation of "x" number of jobs and an increase of $250,000-$400,000 in local tax revenues, would the voters vote no? Again, our "representatives" tell us what jobs will be allowed, they are against the evils of pot but continue to hope for an expansion of gambling. Choose your vice, councilors, and then tell us why it is best for us.

CAN WE TALK?

This column has been written to stimulate conversation. It is an attempt to overcome what has become the absolute bane of our political process, the polarization that prevents opposing sides from speaking. The current environment is one in which there is little to no respect for one of an opposing view. Rather than engage a fellow citizen of differing views we now seem to see them as an enemy resulting in a climate lacking in respect and civility.

I have prided myself on maintaining a productive and non-adversarial dialogue with those whom I have occasionally criticized. Jared Wright, Rose Pugliese and Bill Pitts come to mind. In the absence of dialogue and sharing of differing patterns of thought, we have only polarity reinforced by a narrow group of groupies and sycophants more than glad to say, "Yes, you are right".

EXECUTIVE DECISIONS

Locally, our President Barack Obama is not held in high regard. There are many who frequently claim he is usurping the Constitution. Our city council usurped our City Charter by unilateral action. Their action would seem to validate the right of the Executive Branch of government to supersede all when it is convenient to do so.

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.