OPINION: You can’t beat state-sponsored advertising for business | Opinion

You saw it here, in these pages in recent days. It was an article stating that the Colorado Department of Transportation has created an online map to help drivers find reliable tire shops and tire discounts in their areas. Citing poor tires as a safety hazard in winter, CDOT wants […]

You saw it here, in these pages in recent days. It was an article stating that the Colorado Department of Transportation has created an online map to help drivers find reliable tire shops and tire discounts in their areas.

Citing poor tires as a safety hazard in winter, CDOT wants to make it “easier than ever” for drivers to have a source for good tires at the right price.

In my newspaper days, this source used to be called, well, a newspaper.

Not any more, as I read the article. It seems CDOT is now in the retail advertising business.

There’s nothing like state-sponsored advertising, if you ask me.

If the state and CDOT really wanted to make a difference, and not just trim the advertising budgets of tire retailers, it would require annual auto safety inspections.

In other states, you can’t legally drive your auto unless it has passed a safety inspection. In Texas, for instance, vehicle owners pay the grand total of $12.50 annually to have their vehicles inspected by a licensed service station.

The service station keeps $7, and $5.50 is remitted to the state.

What is inspected? The horn, wipers, mirror, steering, seat belts, brake system, tires, lights, signals, etc. In other words, things essential for safe driving are checked.

In Colorado, however, no one checks these things. Drive between Ridgway and Montrose some dark evening along the “Bloody Highway” and notice how many cars’ headlights are pointed every which way but straight ahead.

Ask yourself if you know for sure if that guy on your tail has had his brakes checked in the past five years.

If the state, and CDOT, really wanted to effectively take action insuring the safety of vehicles on the road, it would do a lot more than create a niche online marketplace for tire retailers, many of whom can afford their own advertising.

• • • • • • • •

Funny thing on social media this week: In a tweet noting that Uganda has blocked all social media in the country as it leads up to a national election, someone said, “Uganda is a private country. If you don’t like what it’s doing, start your own Uganda.”

• • • • • • • •

It’s a fair guess that when the two outgoing Ouray County commissioners recently voted to have attorney Marti Whitmore remain in her current county-appointed seat on the Colorado River Water Conservation District Board, the objections raised by nearly a dozen citizens had little to do with her ability to represent county interests.

Two of the other three applicants for this advisory board were current County Commissioner Ben Tisdel and incoming County Commissioner Lynn Padgett.

Even though the county was required by state statute to make an appointment at the first commissioners meeting of the year, the Whitmore dissenters objected and stated that the new set of commissioners were entitled to appoint someone because they were the ones who would be working with that person.

Whitmore, I’m guessing, falls on the “wrong” end of the ideological spectrum and this, rather than any question of ability or allegiance, is the reason why the objections were raised.

It’s easier to work with those who hold differing views, especially when you’re about to be in the unanimous majority, when you don’t have to work with those who hold differing views at all.

• • • • • • • •

Recently, I made mention that the Plaindealer newspaper office used to be located in the basement of the Wright Opera House. That was before the turn of the last century.

Since then, I don’t know a lot about the locations in which it was housed. I do know, at one point in the mid-1900s, there were two owners and they were known to get into arguments with each other. One of them, in a fit of rage, set fire to the office and destroyed a lot of history.

I was surprised when I bought the Plaindealer in 2010 that there wasn’t much of a morgue. No, I’m not talking about dead publishers and editors entombed in the office. The morgue is the newspaper’s archives.

When I worked at the Austin American-Statesman, there was a full-time archivist on staff, and she lorded over a vast library of original manuscripts and photos dating back decades and decades.

Nothing walked out of there without signatures from on high.

With the Plaindealer, I inherited a single file folder with mostly notes from former owner/publisher Joyce Jorgensen.

Joyce ran the paper out of her house on Eighth Avenue in Ouray for several decades from the 1970s on. Later, the paper was located in many locations including upstairs behind the Ouray Brewery (just prior to 2010), next door to the True Grit Café in Ridgway, at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Main Street in Ouray, under the candy store in Ouray, above Billings Art Works in Ridgway and in the Old School House in Ridgway.

As far as I can tell, the Plaindealer is the second-oldest business on the Western Slope, having been founded in 1877. The oldest is the Silverton Standard and The Miner newspaper, it having been founded in 1875. So, there’s no telling where all it has been housed in the county.

• • • • • • • •

Here comes round two of the Paycheck Protection Program. As a small business owner on Main Street in Ouray, I qualify for this assistance, as I did with round one earlier this year.

Do I absolutely need it? Debatable.

Am I going to apply for it? Probably so.

The government is going to spend the money whether or not I take some of it.

Businesses must show a 25% reduction in gross revenue from any quarter in 2020 versus the same quarter in 2019. That’s not going to be difficult in Ouray, since the town was essentially shuttered from mid-March through May of 2020.

Most every business will get the money, which amounts to 2.5 times their average monthly payroll expenses plus rent/mortgage and other incidental expenses.

Restaurants and lodging businesses will be able to apply at a factor of 3.5 times.

Heading into the spring, called the “shoulder season” because sales slump, many businesses, I’m sure, will take this money and use it for payroll and just stay closed. Ouray, for several months, will be even more shuttered than it usually is during the spring.

Hopefully, businesses will not only take this money, but remain open as well and continue to generate sales tax for the city.

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