Cross Currents

Random thoughts while waiting in line

Column by Bill Christopher
Posted 6/26/17

Who does the public trust?

I saw a recent poll on who trusts James Comey, former FBI director. The poll was evenly divided on whether the respondents trusted Comey and his conduct both prior to …

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Cross Currents

Random thoughts while waiting in line

Posted

Who does the public trust?

I saw a recent poll on who trusts James Comey, former FBI director. The poll was evenly divided on whether the respondents trusted Comey and his conduct both prior to the presidential election as well as during the recent Russian intrigue with the president, his son-in-law and campaign staff members.

The results reflect similar opinions on President Trump regarding the public's level of trust. It is really sad that our federal government and its leaders are in such a low point in American history.

You have to wonder if any national figure could survive the mood and attitude of the public these days. After all, the public has a lot to point to in forming their lack of trust.

Well, I bet Wonder Woman would garner lots of trust. At least she is setting records at the box office!!

Basic math

Did you see the one about the University of Colorado at Boulder administration flubbing basic math when they miscalculated the soda tax the university would have to pay in a year's time to the City of Boulder?

Originally, they had calculated a cost of over $1 million, which wasn't in their budget, and had submitted a formal waiver to avoid paying the tax.

Just recently, the administration withdrew their waiver request and acknowledged that the projected soda tax would only cost about $200,000. Oops! The original estimate was only five times off the mark. What math are they teaching up the road?

Amazonitis

In past years, we would hear the prediction that Walmart would some day take over the whole retail spectrum as Bentonville, Arkansas giant expanded into one sector of retail after another. They even implemented stand-alone smaller grocery stores.

But alas, they are no longer the "big dog" on the street. Amazon has surprised the world with its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods and has jumped in with both feet in the grocery business.

When Amazon founder Jeff Bezos gets through with the Whole Foods platform, it won't be like your kid nephew's kind of grocery store. It will be "Amazonized." It is an awesome combination of Whole Foods' 460 upscale stores and fresh-food distribution network combined with Amazon's vast scale and digital prowess.

Speculation has it that Target with its grocery venue will be the hardest hit in the new lineup. What could be next for Amazon? Don't they sell everything now? Look for home delivery of groceries and lower Whole Foods prices to evolve.

Transit development plan shot down

Last week Greenwood Village voters resoundingly killed a proposed urbanized development plan adjacent to the RTD light rail Orchard Station.

By a hefty 3-to-1 ratio, voters rejected a mixed-use plan of housing of various densities, retail and restaurants. The 44-acre site currently is home to several office buildings.

In the whole RTD light rail and commuter rail system, most cities have sought the opportunity to have train stations located in their jurisdictions. That would, in turn, accommodate transit-oriented development.

In particular, transit-oriented development opportunities have centered on higher residential densities. They rely on the idea of residents being able to conveniently use passenger rail service, they downplay the use of vehicles on the already congested highways and major streets and they promote walking to close-in neighborhood retail outlets.

Is the Greenwood Village voters' rejection the start of a trend in metro Denver? I hardly think so. Higher density and neighborhood retail services around passenger rail stations are considered "smart growth" versus more urban sprawl.

Colorado sales tax reform: Forget it

Our state Legislature didn't think it had enough to do this last session so they created a sales tax system task force. The object of the group is to come up with sales tax simplification and reform.

Currently, there are 700 combinations of sales tax collections which businesses are faced with in our state. Yes, Colorado has overdone a good thing with state legislative tax exemptions along with a plethora of city, county and special district tax rates.

I would say this state task force is DOA - dead on arrival. In Colorado, sales taxes and the rates charged are sacrosanct. Cities for the past 50 years have viewed sales tax as THEIR territory and anytime anyone starts sniffing around wanting to change it they get real defensive.

Colorado is only one of six states in the nation that does NOT have a single uniform sales tax rate. The common practice is a single rate for the whole state with cities getting a "share back" portion from the state collected tax.

Our state constitution grants home rule cities much power in setting and collecting their own sales tax. A potential idea that might gain traction with the task force is a central collection point for all sales taxes. However, cities are pretty possessive in wanting to collect their own, saying they can do it better.

Don't hold your breath on this task force's outcome.

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

Bill Christopher

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