Opinion: Steve King, a fiasco worth commentary
Special to the Free Press
Being absent from these pages have, at times, been regretted.
Sometimes there are things that just seem to burst forth and demand expression. The Steve King fiasco is just one of several local occurrences that invite commentary.
For me, unfortunately, state Sen. King’s alleged fudging of his timecard was not of great surprise. King has exhibited a repeated pattern of disregard for financial propriety. There was the instance of his supposed “double dipping” at the state House, numerous instances of possible personal reimbursement from his PAC, and now, reports of cheating on his time cards at not one but two jobs. There are additional questions as to where he was on what day and how he could have worked so many hours in Grand Junction while claiming reimbursement for expenses (apparently including motel rooms) at two other cities the same day.
However, it should occur to others the real story is not that he fulfilled the expectations of this writer and others, but that he had these jobs in the first place. The real news story should be a questioning and close examination of our tax-supported institutions that supported King with these jobs. The fact he held the jobs comes as a surprise to the vast majority of the local citizenry.
Now, we need to ask our Mesa County sheriff how he came to be appointed to this job. Further questions should be if the job was necessary, if it was a political appointment, if his hiring violated any hiring guidelines, and if his treatment of the job as a “no show” assignment was long standing. Additionally, we could inquire as to what hiring policies and/or guidelines were skirted by filling this position by classifying it as “part time,” “temporary,” or other ruse that may have allowed King to be hired without scrutiny and oversight.
Like questions should also be directed to the administration of Colorado Mesa University. Was King serving in an “acting” capacity to avoid a requirement to announce the position and hire according to existing state guidelines? Why are we allowing our tax dollars to be used to provide financial support to politicians? Do these jobs they hold fulfill a true need or are they merely subterfuge to mask what may be a questionable contribution? Now that we know King held not one but two jobs paid for with our tax dollars, we may also ask the legitimate next question: How many politicians, ex-politicians, candidates and ex-candidates are on the public payroll without applying for the jobs in a process normally associated with filling of positions?
The real scandal may not be in King’s continued lack of good judgment, but rather in the discovery of facts that our local tax-supported institutions are being used as piggy banks to support political hacks as they currently fill elected office or plan their next political move. The question should also extend to spouses and children of the same persons who may have also been hired onto the public payroll without the unpleasant necessity of applying and competing for the position along with other qualified applicants.
Just a closing thought and speculation: A long-time reader recently brought an item to my attention he found curious and possibly worth further inquiry. He claimed to recall that in earlier columns Josh Penry had related he and King shared rides to Denver. He opined that if one reviewed the travel reports of Penry and King for those “carpooled” trips, one would likely find they both claimed and received reimbursement. I lack the time, resources and time to follow-up that interesting piece of conjecture. Perhaps someone else may and add another interesting wrinkle to this sordid tale.
Former 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 email@example.com.
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