Opinion: A silly season of politics to come
Free Press Weekly Opinion Columnist
Among the silliest things that will occur during the upcoming silly season of politics here in Mesa County is Coroner Dean Havlik’s defection from the Democrat party.
The quiet functioning of the Coroner’s Office has become the latest political battleground. Realizing that in a contested election a Democrat will not likely win, Coroner Dean chose the logical path to re-election and became a Republican. In local circles, that clearly labels him a RINO and will not result in a positive election outcome. At this early point in the campaign, it is hard to determine if this race is one of ideology or a business dispute among previous business partners.
Given the fact that our local government is dominated by Republican fiscal conservatives, and since it is widely known that those types can run an economy better than a liberal Democrat, why is our economy so anemic?
First, these folks who are always first on the bandwagon to point out others who blame others for their failures will blame the Denver liberals. They will blame oil and gas regulations they claim stifle local energy development. They will point to regulation that suffocates small business. They will point the finger everywhere except at themselves and their like-minded colleagues. They will do this while figuratively pointing their middle finger at any and all who fail to agree with them and then bemoan the lack of assistance received.
They fail, even when industry insiders verify it, that reduction in local rigs and exploration has more to do with the value of natural gas than any other factor. Energy companies are not going to extract a product from our Western Slope soils that has less value than the cost of extraction, a cost that exceeds the value of the product even before the cost of regulation is calculated. Energy companies are opportunists and rush to the next great spot for cheap and easy extraction. Just as they have abandoned the Western Slope (on more than one occasion), they will soon abandon the current hot spots and leave another local economy in tatters. Ideally all restrictive regulations for energy development should be removed and then their local cheerleaders would have to explain why energy companies did not rush back to the area. The irony would be just too wonderful.
Our local politicos continue to pursue an economy at which energy is the centerpiece and belittle attempts at diversification. They continue to remain married to a partner who has jilted them in the hope of another reconciliation and economic boom. Local job growth remains embarrassingly tied to the service industry which provides low-paying, non-skilled employment opportunity with little advancement. There are tax dollars expended on economic development. Where are the results of those efforts?
As we start a new year, we face another year of marking time as our local leaders rush to decrease our local quality of life through tax cuts for amenities while doing little to move the economy forward. We continue to need jobs that provide above average pay with above average potential for advancement. We need clean industries which offer our local children a reason to remain in the valley to begin and grow their professional careers.
Just a random thought about security at the Justice Center. All folk entering the building — jurors, defendants, plaintiffs, lawyers, etc. — must past through the metal scanner. This is to ensure that we are not carrying guns, knives or other weaponry. I find it curious however that employees bypass the scanner. I guess the powers that be have never heard of a disgruntled employee and have absolute faith that an employee will never bring a weapon into the building. I am not feeling very safe.
GJ Free Press columnist 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.
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