SKINNERS: Chamber’s meddling in local politics could backfire
Free Press Opinion Columnists
HE SAID: I can only watch with awe the amazing discussions over a very minor expenditure by the Grand Junction City Council. With a budget of more than $140 million, somehow a measly $6,000 dollars has stirred emotions and captured the attention of the local media. What is even more interesting are the stances of the opposing sides. Yet, the donnybrook can’t really be over $6,000 given all the other money the city spends. For example, the millions given over the years by local governments to Colorado Mesa University makes this $6,000 a flyspeck. I was interested in a conversation between two friends where one said that in the old days what was good for the community was good for local business, Now, however, whatever is good for a few select businesses must be what the community does. Now that’s something to get excited about.
SHE SAID: What? Local government has historically been controlled by a few, usually old, white businessmen. It was not necessarily bad as most of those old time politicians cared about the community first, their self interests second. In the times of tight money, why should the city council support the Grand Junction Chamber? I prefer that the flyspeck, as you call it, be applied to something like starting to sod the field at one of the parks along F Road. I do not like the money I pay in taxes to go toward supporting the questionable candidates that have been endorsed by the Chamber in the last four years. The group is much more politicized and I am not sure why. I do not mind the council supporting the college or the school district because those entities represent people without political clout, namely children and people seeking to be educated. They provide far more jobs than most of the businesses in the valley.
I hope the new council members will not be like those in Washington who are cowed by the likes of Grover Norquist and always obey the party or Chamber board line. I keep wondering when the sensible Republicans will take back their party.
HE SAID: I never know if you include me as one of those “old white men” in your rants and I’ve also been a businessman. Why would anyone want a seat on the city council? It certainly would not be for the money. For some, it must be duty and others it must be power. Is the Chamber being driven by power or duty? There are certainly other business people in the community who do not espouse the same political views. It makes me wonder if a business person would have the support of the Chamber if they wanted to promote green business alternatives that would also bring in jobs.
The Chamber has always supported conservative candidates. But, now, even when the supporters of those causes are locally a super-majority, they still seem to be uncertain and frightened about losing their power. Is it the desire to control change or is there a terrible fear of the changes the globalized world will bring to us? That fear and uncertainty may be driving the political cycle so far from the mean that by their own actions, these grand plan makers will cause the cycle to react and return to a more normalized stance based upon what is good for the community overall.
SHE SAID: Let me see if I translated your thesis correctly. Are you saying the antics of those currently in power will upset the silent majority so much that they will finally get involved to get local government back onto a more rational track? A track with people in charge who care more about the community than toeing a party line for what is supposed to be a nonpartisan job? I would also imagine the same quiet people might choose not to pay dues in the future to a Chamber they feel does not represent them.
Yes, you are an old white man, but you are one who cares about your family and the community and it shows in the choices you have made. You have certainly refrained in beating on me all these years! I hope I can depend upon the new council members to follow your stellar example.
The Skinners hope all of us, no matter the politics, can work together for the good of the community. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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