Sentinel wrongly blames citizens for North Avenue name change “imbroglio”

Grand Junction Mayor Rick Taggart says the City’s system for enacting ordinances is flawed

In an op-ed in today’s Daily Sentinel, the paper blames KeepNorth4Ever — the citizen group lobbying to keep “North Avenue” from becoming “University Boulevard” — for turning the issue into an “imbrolgio,” saying they failed to pay adequate attention to local government. The op-ed also blames KeepNorth4Ever for “sowing division” in the community by their activities.

The paper’s narrow, sour-grapes style viewpoint misses the bigger picture and places blame when instead plaudits are due.

Oct. 22 Sentinel op-ed blames the wrong people for dividing town over the North Ave name-change

KeepNorth4Ever organizers deserve a standing ovation for their remarkable grassroots organizing ability. They pulled together a huge number of people in a remarkably short amount of time, and pulled off the impossible in our current political climate: they united thousands of people from all sides of the political spectrum — the extreme right to extreme left — behind a single issue, all pulling for one result. For this alone KeepNorth4Ever organizers deserve huge plaudits. But there’s more.

By interacting on the ground with hundreds of North Avenue businesses and promoting these businesses on their Facebook page (which has over 3,800 members) KeepNorth4Ever raised the profile of many smaller businesses on North Avenue that many people never even knew were there. That’s more exposure than the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce has won for small businesses in Grand Junction in the last 30 years, even though networking is one of their primary reasons for being. And KeepNorth4Ever did it without charging the business owners a single cent.

G.J. mayor’s epiphany: the city’s ordinance process has long been flawed

What’s more, the KeepNorth4Ever coalition also exposed a huge problem with the way city has been creating new ordinances.

In a conversation over coffee with KeepNorth4Ever organizer Mackenzie Dodge on Friday, October 21, Dodge reported that Grand Junction Mayor Rick Taggart admitted the City’s system for enacting ordinances has been “broken” for a “long time.” Under the current system, Council holds a workshop on the issue, then has a public hearing and votes on the ordinance. Mayor Taggart said the process should be: Council holds a workshop, then hosts a public discussion, then holds it’s public hearing and a takes a vote.

The corrected system, with a hearing devoted solely to public discussion about the issue at hand, would have given City residents more time, notice and opportunity to comment on the proposed name change. But the current system seems designed more to limit public comment than solicit it, and causes ordinances to be rushed through without adequate input from the public.

KeepNorth4Ever’s activities were the only reason this major flaw in the current system was exposed. Their activities are the only reason why anyone on City Council even recognized it. For that, KeepNorth4Ever and Mayor Taggart both deserve huge props as well.

What’s more, the sole entity in town responsible for creating divisiveness over this issue is the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce. It’s not KeepNorth4Ever, which was forced to react to the proposal after it was rushed through in the current flawed system. Chamber Board President Jeffrey Hurd even admitted as much in public.

Chamber Board Chair Jeffrey Hurd’s apology: a milestone for the chamber

G.J. Chamber 2017 Board Chairman is Jeffrey S. Hurd

At last Wednesday’s Council meeting, Chamber Board Chairman Jeffrey Hurd actually said aloud to the audience gathered at City Hall Auditorium,

“I’m sorry [the name change proposal] created a rift in the community. That was the opposite of our intention.”

Wow.

Did you get that?

The Chair of the Grand Junction Chamber’s Board actually apologized to citizens for making a mistake!

That marked the first time the chamber has EVER apologized to City residents for making an expensive, wasteful misstep, erroneous claim or broken promise, and the chamber has made so many of them: promising the Brady Trucking rezone would bring high paying “jobs jobs jobs;” backing Rick Brainard for council in 2013 (Brainard got arrested for assault almost immediately after he was elected); Chamber President Diane Schwenke openly insulting secular citizens on her Facebook page; the chamber backing school board candidates who can’t write a coherent sentence, the chamber failing to consider legal retail marijuana as a possible way to boost the local economy; the chamber basing its political positions on the conclusions of bogus, out-of-state, part-time paid “experts;” the chamber advocating “buy local” while taking its own business out of town; the chamber advocating “green businesses” while cheerleading for extractive energy, and so many more offensive missteps there isn’t room to name them all here.

The momentousness of anyone at the Chamber apologizing to area citizens for taking the wrong course of action and inflaming and dividing City residents can NOT be underestimated. A public apology of this type is a first step toward creating better relations with area residents and working families, which the G.J. chamber sorely needs. For this Mr. Hurd deserves plenty of credit, and the rest of the chamber board needs to take notice of the significance of this action.

One great side effect of the chamber’s name-change debacle is that more voters have become aware of the way the chamber meddles in City politics, and they will from now on be watching more closely than ever what the chamber and the Grand Junction City Council do, and, we hope, weighing in quickly to nip bad ideas in the bud.

Let’s also hope that the recognition of a flawed ordinance-enactment system leads to changes for the better in Grand Junction’s policymaking procedures, and let’s also hope that the local paper starts to see things a little more from the perspective of Grand Junction’s residents than the perspective of the ever-present but deeply-flawed chamber.

 

18 comments for “Sentinel wrongly blames citizens for North Avenue name change “imbroglio”

  1. October 24, 2017 at 7:51 am

    While the KeepNorth4Ever folks have created quite a stir in “our” efforts to keep North Avenue, North Avenue; they are not the only ones fueling the fire, nor are they the only ones posting support for North Ave. businesses online, on Facebook. 1. Ted Rodriquez’s “Alumni to Keep it North,” and Jeff McCloskey’s group “Save North Ave,” should have at least been noted for their efforts to save North Ave. but no, they were not. Only one was mentioned. An apology needs to be posted by this publication to this regard and give these two full recognition of their efforts.

    Also, missing from this article and others; since the City Council decided to revisit its August decision of renaming North Ave to University Blvd. one entity has been removed or have removed themselves from view; the *4.5 members of the NAOA have pretty much disappeared from sight.
    They, right along with the Chamber, the “agnostic” view of the name change by CMU, and Levi Lucero are as much to blame as anyone else on two fronts. First off the NAOA agreed with the Chamber for the name change*, and secondly, the NAOA dose not (currently) fully represent the majority of the North Ave. businesses of which there are only 230; this article mentioned “hundreds,” (“…hundreds of North Avenue businesses” – I did, they didn’t, but that’s for another story),” as if to imply the counts of Diane Schwenke ** (1,000) and Levi Lucero ***(800+) “In July 2015, Mr. Lucero told City Council that he had contacted 848 North Avenue businesses,” FALSE! I have counted them all and know how these two came up with their numbers.

    The current NAOA (whomever they are now) does not represent all of the North Ave businesses as their name suggests they do. So when an unsuspecting reader reads where the NAOA has a voice in a local matter, the reader assumes that the majority of the businesses on North Ave are in agreement when in fact they are not. Like now, if the NAOA actually did support the North Ave businesses, of the pending name change, they would be in agreement with these grass-roots efforts to stop the name change, not be for it. The NAOA would have known the hundreds or thousands of dollar’s these businesses would have to spend if the name change were to go through, and they would have cared, but alas they did not and do not.

    On their own FB Page (“Revitalize North Ave”) the NAOA posted an ****NBC Poll on the name change with a majority of respondents being against it. I could go on, but there is not that much room.

    As much as I agree in part with the article here it is flawed, and needs to be re written to included every group in this fight, every group who is against the name change and the work we have done to give “our” grass root effort a chance to grow, to overtake “our” opposition, and to win “our” fight.

    Ref 1 – 4 available upon request, not allowed to post.

  2. Dennis Simpson
    October 23, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Thank you Anne. You have been a big help in our effort. The role of the Daily Sentinel in reporting only facts that support its opinion needs to explored further. This is not the first rodeo for Mr. Seaton.

  3. Mel Safken
    October 23, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Wow, how refreshing!
    THIS way of thinking & paying attention to our local government is what changes our worlds. IT STARTS HERE, PEOPLE!
    I want to hug everyone I see today

  4. Bradley C Hibberd
    October 23, 2017 at 8:14 am

    I’m scared! I have now agreed with your commentary on two (2) occasions! I may not agree with your politics, but do agree with your opinion on the good ol’ boy network in this town.

    • Mel Safken
      October 23, 2017 at 11:59 am

      I applaud you for thinking on your own!
      Don’t be afraid. You may be human… *joking

  5. American Patriot
    October 22, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Now, skip on down? Why not? They work for us, we don’t work for them. And the next thing you know, someone will suggest that we hold their feet to the fire, now and forever. Because we are the people. This statement is brought to you by the original Tea Party. Accept no substitutes. And we knew you had it in you all the time. And did you hear, the Republican party is coming under new management. Cause we’ve been there and done that.

    Well done people.

  6. jbiking
    October 22, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    I think we should applaud the chance the kill the blight of North Avenue. Nothing starts that better than a name change to something that is a growing vital part of my community.
    Just the view of a recent move in who’s driven down North Ave lately.

    • Mel Safken
      October 23, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      Sorry. but these citizens are not the cause of the so-called blight on North Ave. Maybe the City Council & Chamber of Commerce have been making decisions that were NOT in the best interest of local community & local economy all along?

  7. Laura
    October 22, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Great recall of the Chamber’s role in politics. It’s refreshing to see the truth in written form.

    • Mel Safken
      October 23, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      I agree!

  8. Michael
    October 22, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    Very well said. I give credit to our Mayor and to Mr. Hurd for their acknowledgement to a flawed system.

  9. Rhonda Weimer
    October 22, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    A well written article. Mr. Hurd is right on the money and the people in the valley will be watching the chamber and the council more closely.

    • susan smith
      October 23, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      I agree.

  10. Betty Hopkins
    October 22, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Well written, well expressed. Thank you for helping bring clarity to this issue.

  11. MJ
    October 22, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Excellent
    Very well expressed

  12. Paul Shockely
    October 22, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    Interesting that the Sentinel – ostensibly a champion of free speech and citizen engagement in local government – gets so butthurt when those things occur here. Whose interests do they serve here anyway?

    • Happy Valley on Prozac
      October 23, 2017 at 6:35 pm

      Three days a week the Sentinel is nothing more than a CofC newsletter. The rest of the time they are just a mouthpiece for them. Never forget the Sentinel killed all of the independent voices in the county to eliminate the competition for the legal notice gravy train which is nothing more or less than a direct governmental subsidy without which they would fold in a week and be outta here on the last train to Kansas.

  13. Trisa Mannion
    October 22, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Excellent article! You got it right from my perspective. Thank you.

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