Opinion: Strange bedfellows find common ground
Free Press Weekly Opinion Columnist
Politics makes strange bedfellows, I have heard said.
Until recently that saying had little meaning until I realized I now find myself on the same side of the issues as Marty Chazen, Duncan MacArthur, Janet Rowland, and maybe a closet supporter of Steve King. These realizations are easy to accept in some cases and a bit harder to ‘fess up to in others. I consider myself a pragmatic libertarian and that requires accepting reality and not toeing a dogmatic line for no reason than the fact the “other side” is wrong 100 percent of the time.
In the case of Chazen and MacArthur, we all support revitalization of the Avalon, but not with our tax dollars. It is easy to misconstrue an opposition to funding a project with our taxes with opposition to the project as a whole. The Avalon project, like many where “stakeholders” have a vested interest in the outcome, sometimes evolve in isolation of competing thought. At this particular point in time we are now committed to the Avalon and there simply is no turning back unless we wish to have an incomplete building.
Chazen, MacArthur and I also concur on the inadvisability of paying or waiving development fees for various projects. While our reasoning may differ, we have arrived at the same conclusion — that well-funded charities and well-heeled developers do not need the city to subsidize their projects. Again, this cannot be construed as a lack of support or enthusiasm for a project; it is merely a position in which the city need not be an investor in the project. In the case of paying development fees, we become an investor in some commercial projects without an equity state. Certainly it’s a great position for the developer to be in, but certainly a poor position for the taxpayer.
My opposition to payment of development fees has been that it occurs without any guidelines as to when and why it should occur. It is an action that, in my mind, seems to benefit those least in need. While the city is insistent on the payment of these fees when small business is involved, they seem more lenient when bigger business comes to them hat in hand looking for a handout. These fees and their strict enforcement stifle small business, not foster it. While the fees are not going away, the city councilors and city employees should not have the authority to waive or pay them period.
Janet Rowland has voiced support for Steve King in his race for sheriff against John Pennington. Inasmuch as Pennington’s support is largely from the Tea Party faction of the local party, Janet seems to be distancing herself from that group. There have been times when I have questioned King’s judgment and have been less than excited about his terms in Denver and the prospect of him as sheriff. However, I would expect King as sheriff to enforce the laws which he was elected to enforce.
Pennington claims he would be a “constitutionalist sheriff.” In his view the county sheriff has the authority to interpret the constitution and enforce or not enforce laws which, in his personal view, are not constitutional. I am unsure which constitution he or his supporters are reading, but I have failed to find the clause that vests such power and authority in the hands of the local sheriff. More and more frequently the “constitutionalist” crowd is proving themselves to be less than well grounded in what that document says. They continue to pursue a broader and broader claim of supporting the constitution while expanding a scope of action that looks more like anarchy than democracy.
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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