Reviving a dead horse
EDITOR’S NOTE: This column originally ran in the Aug. 3 Grand Junction Free Press and is reprinted now with the publication’s permission.
By Jim Hoffman
WTF! No, I do not mean “Welcome to Fruita,” although I continue to think that is a great marketing tool.
I am certainly growing tired of the turmoil surviving the Mesa County Trustee’s office, as perhaps are you. It felt necessary to re-visit the controversy once again due to the fact that The Daily Sentinel refuses to quit making an issue of the situation.
My first interest began with an article by Gary Harmon in December of last year, in which the writer quoted an out-of-town source to imply that renters of homes in foreclosure were not notified. That quote did not accurately show local practices, a fact the reporter surely knew.
Since that time, the Sentinel has continually proven itself not to be concerned with facts. On page 2 of the July 25, 2012 paper, Sentinel reporter Charles Ashby weighed in with an article of selective and misleading facts.
Since, for many, the Sentinel remains the only local source for facts surrounding this on-going spectacle, they are deprived of much information which is not published as it does not fit an agenda dictated by Sentinel management.
This blow-up began when Trustee Paul Brown chose to publish foreclosure notifications in another newspaper. This decision cost the Sentinel a revenue source of approximately $500,000 per year. This is business they have had without a contract or competitive bid process since the incorporation of Grand Junction. The fact that no one else ever had an opportunity to bid for the business was not of concern to them.
Okay, back to the July 25 article (above). It was reported that the Colorado branch of Americans for Prosperity had requested that the Governor not refill vacancies created when 10 appointed trustees resigned en masse at the Governor’s request. The article further reports this request is “nearly identical” to a request made by Rep. Ray Scott.
Unreported is the fact that the Sentinel had taken an editorial position opposing such an action. The article repeated the fact that Brown has initiated a bid for the publication rights for foreclosure notices his office is mandated to post. It repeated the fact that Brown had, a month earlier, signed a contract with the Palisade Tribune. Unreported is the fact that Brown, the Sentinel, and the Palisade Tribune considered the bid process legitimate and that the parties would abide by the outcome. Unreported is the fact that the Sentinel’s bid was significantly more than a bit higher than the competition. Unreported is the fact that, at the time, Brown was not obligated to follow state procurement guidelines.
The Sentinel article goes on to report that the “contract is worth up to $500,000.” Unreported is the fact the contract is only worth that amount if the notifications are published in the Sentinel. Unreported is the fact that the contract is worth approximately one half that amount if the notifications are published elsewhere.
So, in actuality, the contract is worth somewhere in the range of $200,000 to $500,000. Were you making the decision of where to place those ads based on price, the decision is obvious. There are many facts surrounding this dust-up that the Sentinel has selectively decided not to share with their readers.
Among the facts not reported is that the three County Commissioners have voiced confidence in the manner in which Brown has conducted the business of the Public Trustee office. Unreported is the fact that those same commissioners have reportedly recommended to Governor Hickenlooper that Brown be re-appointed.
Unreported is the fact that at a recent meeting of Republican Men, Rep. Ray Scott was confronted with his involvement in this matter. Apparently he conceded as to never having visited the Mesa County Trustee’s office, and that he had no reason to question Brown’s competence or ethics.
Additionally he was scolded for his apparent service as a hand maiden to the Daily Sentinel in a tawdry situation that seems mostly grounded in a financial dispute inappropriate for political solutions.
Finally, a reportedly bedrock Republican stated support for Brown, a Democrat, which deviated from a decades-old pattern of support of Republican individuals and positions. It is sincerely hoped that this is my last foray into this subject matter.
Jim Hoffman is a local real estate broker and investor who is trying to move from semi-retired to retired. He needs to retire to devote more time to unpaid interests such as skiing, camping and fishing.