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Opinion: Leadership to prosperity

CORRECTION: In this column, Jim Hoffman indicated that Grand Junction council member Marty Chazen voted in favor of the initial allocation of $3 million dollars for the Avalon project. His recollection of the facts was incorrect and Mr. Chazen voted against that expenditure.

Some time ago in this column the possible appearance of impropriety was discussed regarding State Senator Steve King reimbursing himself for expenses from his PAC (Leadership to Prosperity) funds. At that time it was reported that King was reimbursing himself for expenses in an amount greater than contributions to political candidates, the stated purpose of the PAC.



In an angry letter to the editor of the Free Press, King blasted the article and my implication of illegal activity. It is not believed there was implication of illegal activity, but rather a suggestion that the expenditures may have the appearance of impropriety. Such appearance should be of concern to King as he runs for Mesa County Sheriff, given the fact he has previously been admonished in March 2010 by the House Ethics Committee for overpaying himself for expenses.

So, returning to the angry letter to the editor, King indignantly dared me to report on his next expense disclosure report for the PAC. He further stated that the funds paid to him were reasonable “start-up” expenses for a PAC.



Until now I have not bothered, as it all seemed a little silly. But then I decided to go back and look at the two expense reports filed since the original article.

For the reporting period 7/1/2013 – 9/30/2013, King reported providing $600 to candidates for political office and none to himself. Among the expenses is one for $406.50 to KV Political Consulting, LLC, of Highland Ranch, Colo. As was previously reported, a search of the Secretary of State’s database does not appear to have any record of such an organization. Was the search faulty or is King making payments to a non-existent LLC?

For the reporting period 10/1/2013 – 12/31/2013, King donated $400 to a candidate and reimbursed himself $287 for “Travel and Lodging” and $425.52 for “Other,” for a total of $712.52. Both reports reflect monthly payments in the amount of $400 to Strategic Compliance.

If, as King implied in his letter to the editor, the reimbursement monies paid him were for start-up expenses, then an obvious question would be — “How much longer are you going to be starting it up?”

The amount of money King has paid himself for reimbursement continues to exceed the amount paid to further the stated aims of the PAC. Again, there is no implication or suggestion of illegal activity in these comments, only a question of appearance. Certainly a candidate for public office should have a modicum of concern for how funds under his control are expended and the appearance of such use.

AVALON CONTINUES CONSUMING CASH

Well, to the surprise of few, the city of Grand Junction had to pony up some more bucks to keep the dream of an Avalon performing arts center alive.

The City Council was split on the issue, with Marty Chazen and Duncan MacArthur voting against any additional funding. Chazen, who supported the original allocation, now faces the reality of $3 million just not being enough. While the Avalon is a city-owned property, there may have been other re-development ideas which were more feasible and less costly. Given enough dollars it would be possible to create a performing arts center out of any property, but was this the correct property?

In a downtown devoid of adequate parking, the Avalon re-development devoured parking space. Upon completion of the Avalon at whatever it finally costs, we will then hear that it cannot succeed as planned because (big gasp of surprise here) there is not adequate parking. The city will then tell us of the need for an additional parking structure. Maybe the DDA will consider converting Whitman Park into parking rather than hoping it can be gentrified into a family attraction.

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 freepressjim@gmail.com.


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