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Opinion: Begging and betting

Jim Hoffman
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Free Press Weekly Opinion Columnist

We notice that the City of Grand Junction is once again preparing to address the blight of panhandling.

The ACLU has provided advance notice that they will pursue an aggressive defense of beggar’s rights to pursue their chosen profession free of undue restraint. It cannot be denied that panhandling seems epidemic. While we should not be indifferent to the plight of the needy, it does not necessarily follow that we should expect to be confronted with begging on every busy street corner and on downtown streets. As this situation does not appear to be an equal problem in many other cities, there clearly would seem to be a manner in which it can be reduced.

The undeniable truth is that it would not exist if citizens ceased supporting it via handouts to the many habituating our street intersections. There are many local organizations that provide a wide ranging array of services to this group, and our support should be directed to them. Those street corner denizens and Main Street beggars needing gas or money for a bus ticket would not be missed if the city arrives at a solution to curb the behavior.



DON’T BET ON IT



Gambling has returned to the news again. Now Debeque is begging to become a new gambling Mecca catering to Western Slope gamers. A group of citizens has the backing of State Senator Steve King and State Rep Ray Scott in this quest.

You may recall that local political powers that be attempted to force feed us gambling as a panacea for political blues last year. They promised a world class destination with wonderful restaurants and hundreds of great jobs paying well above average wages. Now we are told what failed to gain approval in Grand Junction (video lottery and horse racing) has been abandoned and a full-fledged casino town concept introduced for our struggling neighbor to the East.

We cannot believe that gambling is a good thing. We need to dig a bit deeper and identify what political cronies will directly benefit from this proposal. Who will gain a license to build this casino or casinos? What if any contributions have they made to campaigns, PACs or other entities affiliated or legally non-affiliated with our political leaders? The last proposal of this type we saw would have clearly been of benefit to one business owner; is this proposal of similar benefit?

Early indications are that this proposal will stall and fail to get approval. That will be yet further proof that those Denver liberals just don’t get our Western Slope way of life.

OUR DENVER REPS

State Senator Steve King — soon to be County Sheriff in an uncontested election — continues to push funding efforts for air tankers to battle wildfires. He continues to stress the “F” word, you know, FREE. He also seems to confuse the fact that “free” air crafts from surplus stockpiles will cost millions to retro-fit for their new role as water tankers and millions more to maintain and staff. He has not indicated from where he wishes the state to take funds for his proposed air force.

He has introduced legislation to name the “Palisade Peach” the official state fruit. How could one not support that? While it certainly would give our local agricultural community a bit more panache, it hardly could be elevated to the level of significant legislative accomplishment.

State Rep Jared Wright wants everyone that can legally own a gun to conceal and carry. This is a proposal even quite conservative law enforcement professionals cannot support. Poor Jared continues to propose legislation that will go nowhere to satisfy his mostly out-of-county donors. While he continues to wage his conservative vs. liberal war, it is one which few seem to take great notice. We hope he has his resume out and some excellent job prospects, as even Mesa County will not return him to Denver.

State Rep Ray Scott wants every school district to choose which academic achievement test they shall use. While I am unsure as to the purpose or reasoning behind this proposal, it does not appear feasible. Use of a standardized test state-wide at least allows some comparison based on specific criteria. That standardized test may be perhaps flawed, but one would not think abandoning a uniform standard would be of any benefit. Scott’s proposal would increase costs for local districts opting to use alternative testing and at the state level for processing requests to use differing test methods.

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 freepressjim@gmail.com.


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