Petition: Change the Name of “McInnis Canyons” back to Previous Name

August 24, 2014

NoMcInnisCanyonsA new Change.org petition asks to revert “McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area” back to its original name, “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area.” The federal land was renamed in 2005 for then-sitting Congressman Scott McInnis. Prior to that time, no federal conservation area was ever named for a person. Under U.S. tradition, they have been named only after geographic features.  The area was also previously known as the Black Ridge Wilderness Study Area, after Black Ridge, the highest point above the Colorado National Monument.

When the change of name happened in 2005 it was a surprise to most Coloradans. It came about after an Oregon congressman mysteriously introduced a bill to change the area’s name to honor McInnis in 2004. The bill’s only co-sponsor was another congressman from California. Coloradans were unaware that the bill had been introduced. Neither of the congressman who sponsored the bill sought the opinion or consensus of Coloradans for the change. No one knows why these two out-of-state Congressmen initiated the change, and Coloradans remain unclear why it happened.

McInnis Behind Effort to Block National Park Status for Monument

Former Rep. McInnis, who lives in western Colorado after a plagiarism scandal derailed his attempt to become governor in 2010, recently spearheaded an effort to block upgrading the Colorado National Monument into a national park.  McInnis Canyons is adjacent to the Monument. Some area citizens are suspicious that McInnis blocked the effort because he feared he might lose his name on the adjacent conservation area. A broad coalition of citizens worked for several years to lay the groundwork  for the upgrade. Many thought turning the Monument into a national park was appropriate given the beauty of the area, and that the change would be a cost-free shot in the arm to the local economy, which has lagged behind that of the rest of the state for years.  But McInnis succeeded in pressuring Congressman Tipton to drop the upgrade.

The petition to revert the name of McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area is addressed to Colorado’s Senator Michael Bennet and Rep. Scott Tipton.

It reads:

In 2005, Congress quietly renamed the 122,000-acre Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area on the western slope after then-sitting Congressman Scott McInnis, without soliciting input from Colorado citizens, and without giving them any notice.

The renaming was inappropriate and should not have taken place.

It is audacious for sitting members of Congress to rename public lands after themselves. It should be honor enough for a Congress member to serve their fellow citizens in the House of Representatives.

We also feel Rep. McInnis is an inappropriate figure to merit having federal lands named after him.

Former Congressman Scott McInnis's reputation was tarnished by a plagiarism scandal in 2010.

Former Colorado Congressman Scott McInnis’s reputation was tarnished by a plagiarism scandal in 2010.

In 2010, Rep. McInnis’ reputation was tarnished by charges that he plagiarized essays he was hired to write about water law for a nonprofit foundation. The scandal and his subsequent apology let him to quit the race for Colorado governor and refund the $300,000 the Hasan foundation had paid him to write the essays. McInnis was further charged with plagiarizing a 1994 column he wrote for the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News. McInnis admitted that in both cases he had relied upon others for materials rather than creating them himself. A congressman thus tainted does not derserve to have federal lands named after him.

Renaming the area after a human being also broke with long-standing U.S. tradition. To this day, the “McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area” is the only national conservation area named after a person rather than a geographic feature.

Furthermore, the idea to rename the area after Rep. McInnis did not arise from Coloradans. Legislation to rename the area was introduced by Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, and the only other sponsor was Rep. Richard Pombo of California,neither of whom was from Colorado’s congressional delegation. Neither congressman solicited any input about the change from Colorado citizens, nor did these officials seek any input from the other people who worked to create the conservation area.

Moreoever, naming federal lands after sitting members of Congress is a corrupting practice. By circumventing public input, representatives can confer such honors upon each other in exchange for political favors, like voting in a certain way on pending legislation. It is simply a bad practice, and we do not want it linked to our state.

For all of these reasons, we urge our current federal officials to revert McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area back to its original name: “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area.” Doing so will restore our state’s integrity and assure the conservation area’s name honors not one  individual, but the entire beautiful state of Colorado.

The petition can be seen and signed here.

Study: Daughters Bear Biggest Burden of Caring for Aging Parents

August 19, 2014

WheelchairA new research paper shows that daughters spend more than twice as much time caring for their elderly parents than sons, and when daughters are in the picture, sons tend to reduce what little caregiving efforts they make and leave the burden to the sisters.  The study, titled “When Gender Trumps Everything: The Division of Parent Care among Siblings,” will be presented today at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

The study found that daughters provide an average of 12.3 hours of care to elderly parents per month, compared to just 5.6 hours of care provided by sons.

The study’s author, Princeton sociology doctoral candidate Angelina Grigoryeva, concluded that by pushing most of the duties of caring for aging parents onto their sisters, brothers also shift the financial burden and physical and mental stress of providing that care onto their sisters.

Grigoryeva’s research found that women tend to base how much time they spend caring for elderly parents on competing concerns, like how much time they need to devote to their own families and careers, while men base the the amount of caregiving time they spend on whether or not they have a sister or sisters who can handle those responsibilities.

Grigoryeva’s study study analyzed sample data from of over 26,000 Americans over age 50.

A 2013 study found that approximately 42.1 million adults in the U.S. are caring for aging or disabled family members or friends, and almost two-thirds of them are women. The average person performing caregiving duties is a woman over 49 years old, who typically works outside the home and spends about 20 hours a week caring for her elderly mother without pay.

Main source: Daughters provide twice as much care for aging parents than do sons, study findsWashington Post, August 19, 2014

Does This Look Small to You?

August 15, 2014
This loaf of challa bread costs $6.40 at Main Street Bagels.

This challa cost $6.40 at Main Street Bagels today. It’s only about 2″ thick.

Canal Roads and Conflicting Policies

August 11, 2014
A purposely-built pedestrian path in the Summer Hill subdivision north of town leads walkers onto the Grand Valley Highline canal bank maintenance roads for a stroll, even though the canal roads are supposedly "no trespassing" zones. Despite the "no trespassing" status, no one has been  cited for walking on the canal banks in at least 28 years.  Former Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said that reports of people walking on the valley's canal banks roads are the "lowest possible priority" misdemeanor to area law enforcement authorities

A landscaped foot path in the Summer Hill subdivision north of town leads walkers onto the beautiful Grand Valley Highline Canal bank maintenance roads for a stroll, even though these roads are supposedly “no trespassing” zones. Not one person has been cited for walking on the canal banks in almost three decades, however. Former Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said he knows of no one who has ever been prosecuted for walking on the canal roads, and that violations of the canal bank “no trespassing” rule are the “lowest possible priority” misdemeanor for area law enforcement authorities.

CO Rep. Ray Scott Throws Women and Kids Under the Bus

July 29, 2014
Colorado Rep. Ray Scott poses with a fancy car while Mesa County's poorest women and children go without health insurance

Colorado Rep. Ray Scott proudly poses with a hot sports car while Mesa County’s poorest women and children go without health insurance

Colorado House Rep. Ray Scott may love fetuses, but he doesn’t care much about women and apparently doesn’t think much of kids, either.

Besides being a chronic no-show at election-time debates sponsored by the League of Women Voters, in January of 2012 Ray Scott co-sponsored HB1130, a bill titled “Penalties for Violent Offenses Against Fetuses.” The bill’s very title ignores the fact that typically the woman surrounding the fetus would be the primary recipient of any violent acts perpetrated against the fetus. But in Ray Scott’s mind, women matter less than their fetuses.

Ray Scott even supported a fetal personhood amendment in the past. Such proposals are among the ultimate affronts to women, since they are religiously-based efforts that would make it a crime for women to use some forms of contraception, in accordance with Mr. Scott’s own personal religious beliefs.

But there is even more evidence that Scott doesn’t care about women’s safety:

Evidence shows that widespread, unfettered gun possession poses particular dangers for women, but Rep. Scott consistently votes to liberalize gun laws to reduce restrictions on who can buy or carry them.

Women are Prime Targets of Gun Violence, but Scott Doesn’t Care

From 2001 through the end of 2012, fully 6,410 women were murdered in the United States by an intimate partner using a gun. That’s more than the total number of American servicemen and women killed in action during the entire wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Of all the women killed by intimate partners during this period, 55 percent were killed with firearms. American women are eleven times more likely to be killed with a gun than the women in any other high income country.

Despite this, Rep. Scott co-sponsored a bill to repeal state background checks for firearm purchases, and on February 4, 2011 he sponsored a bill to authorize the concealed carrying of a weapon WITHOUT A PERMIT.

Women between 19 and 34 also constitute one of the most significant uninsured groups in Colorado (pdf). In Mesa County (in Ray Scott’s district), almost 17% of the population remains uninsured, many of whom are women struggling to raise families on low incomes. Despite this, in May, 2011 Rep. Scott voted against establishing a health insurance exchange where low income Coloradans could arrange for federal subsidies to help them afford health insurance coverage for themselves and their families.

Anti-Child

A grinning Rep. Scott poses with a well-fed dog, while hundreds of kids go hungry in Mesa County every week

A grinning Rep. Scott poses with a well-fed dog, while hundreds of kids go hungry in Mesa County every week

Not content just to vote against women’s interests, Ray Scott is even anti-kid. On March 12, 2014, he voted against a bill that would make it illegal to cyber-bully a minor. He didn’t even bother to show up to vote on a bill to assure students attending public schools get appropriate vaccinations to reduce the spread of preventable diseases like whooping cough, chicken pox and rubella.

To what do western Colorado’s women and children owe these slights by Rep. Scott? Perhaps his ignorance keeps him voting the wrong way on so many issues. Rep. Scott’s educational level remains in question because he doesn’t list any information about his educational background on any of his biographical descriptions. Word is he only graduated from high school.

It’s a little late now for Rep. Scott to actively take an interest in women’s issues. If he did, it would only be for show anyway. He’s already proven they aren’t anywhere near the top of his priority list.

Sheriff Candidate Mike Harlow: The Ugliest Face of Mesa County

July 13, 2014
Mesa County Sheriff write-in candidate Mike Harlow

Mesa County Sheriff write-in candidate Mike Harlow

It’s no surprise that Mesa County’s tea party faction endorsed custom holster-maker and write-in candidate Mike Harlow for sheriff.

What is a surprise, though, and a huge embarrassment for Mesa County citizens, is that Harlow got the endorsement of anyone at all.

Harlow’s smugness and extreme hate-filled views reveal one thing: he is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.

If his writings are any indication, contempt and hostility ooze from Harlow’s every pore. Read more »

Grand Junction Gun Club Urges Action End to Mass Shootings

July 11, 2014
A portion of the postcards delivered to Congressman Scott Tipton by members of the Grand Junction Gun Club on Friday, July 11.

A portion of the postcards delivered to Congressman Scott Tipton on Friday, July 11, by members of the Grand Junction Gun Club .

A new citizens’ group in Grand Junction is saying “no more” to gun violence. The group came together to advocate action be taken to reduce the growing number of mass gun slaughters occurring in the U.S.

On Friday, July 11, 2014 the Grand Junction Gun Club presented Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) with 1,500 postcards from constituents in his district saying “Not One More” person should be killed by gun violence. 150 of the postcards were from residents of Grand Junction. The postcards were collected by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety, two national groups working to overcome the inaction by Congress on the issue of  growing gun violence.

The words were inspired by Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher Martinez, was one of the six people killed in the May 23 gun massacre in Santa Barbara, California. In a statement to the media after his son’s death, Mr. Martinez said,

“When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say ‘Stop this madness!’ Too many people have died. We should say to ourselves, ‘NOT ONE MORE!’”

His words inspired a national movement to urge legislators to enact measures to reduce the number of guns getting into the hands of unstable and violent people. The Grand Junction Gun Club is standing in support of the survivors, families and communities throughout the U.S. that have been affected by mass shootings.

The perpetrator of the Santa Barbara shootings, Elliot Rodger, sought retribution against women for rejecting him and to punish young men whom he believed lived a better life than he did. Rodger visited a shooting range to train himself in shooting handguns and owned a Glock 34 pistol. When he finished his gun rampage, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

Secrecy Surrounds Sudden Ditching of Colorado National Monument Upgrade

July 8, 2014
Scott Tipton: Hiding the actual number of public  comments he received both for and against upgrading the Colorado National Monument to a national park, but ditched the proposed legislation saying support wasn't there.

Scott Tipton is hiding the number of public comments his received both for and against upgrading the Colorado National Monument to a national park, but says support for the change just wasn’t there.

In a stunning reversal, Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) suddenly killed area citizens’ longtime effort to upgrade the Colorado National Monument to a national park.

But the reversal is shrouded in mystery, and neither Tipton nor Senator Udall’s offices will make public the data about number of comments they received for and against the proposal.

The legislators asked the public to submit comments on proposed legislation to upgrade the Monument to a national park over a period ending June 30. Citizens submitted comments via the legislators’ websites, phone, mail and email.

Both Tipton and Udall’s offices report they received thousands of comments about the proposed change, but when asked for the total number of comments received and the breakdown for and against, they refused to answer.

Public Information, Big Secret

When asked how many comments they received for and against the Monument upgrade, Deanna Pickman, an intern at Rep. Tipton’s Grand Junction office, said 500 people contacted them online and over 2,500 people signed petitions about the redesignation. She added a “vast majority were against” upgrading the Monument to a national park, but refused to give the actual numbers, saying flatly, “We’re not giving that out.” She referred me to Rep. Tipton’s Washington, D.C. office.

Barbara, an intern at Rep. Tipton’s D.C. office who refused to give her last name, said they got “quite a few” comments about the Monument legislation, but when asked for the hard numbers, she said flatly “I can’t give that to you.” She said the numbers “are not available.”

Not available? The Congressman just based a legislative action with significant consequences on the results of these numbers, but the numbers “aren’t available”?

Wow.

When asked for just a rough percentage of the breakdown between pro and con national park, Barbara refused to answer that question, too. She suggested I talk to a paid staffer, Jason Eastman, but said he wasn’t in the office, she didn’t know when he would be back, and she refused to give me a phone number or email for him.

Senator Udall’s D.C. office was just as tight-lipped about the public response to the proposal to upgrade the Monument.

Nicholas Hubler, an intern in Udall’s D.C. office, flat-out refused to answer the same question about the actual numbers of comments received for and against the Monument upgrade, saying “We can’t release that information.” When asked why not, he said it was “due to the privacy of constituents.” I reassured him that I wanted no addresses, names or data about the commenters’ positions, but I just sought the hard numbers of the total responses received, and the breakdown of comments for and against. He refused to give out the information. When I asked to speak to a paid staffer, Nicholas referred me to Loren, or Lauren (she also refused to give the correct spelling of her first name or give her last name.) Asked the same question about the number of public comments they got for and against, Loren said “I’m not sure that’s information we’re going to release.” When asked why she wouldn’t be able to release such information, she said she “can’t comment.” She told me to go to the Senator’s website to submit the question so they could refer it to the appropriate person, and I told her that when I submit a question through their website, all I get is a general, form-letter-type answer back that doesn’t really answer anything, and that all I wanted was just a short, easy answer to a very simple, specific question.

She nervously refused again to answer.

Hiding the Truth

Sen. Mark Udall's staff is also dodging questions about the number of comments their office received for and against upgrading the Monument to national park status.

Sen. Mark Udall’s staff is also dodging questions about the number of comments their office received for and against upgrading the Monument to national park status.

The royal dodge that Tipton’s and Udall’s offices are giving about the comments they got for and against park status was absolutely surreal. Why would these numbers be such a big a secret? They were public comments submitted to our elected officials about a very public question.

Are we supposed to accept at face value these politicians’ claim that significant public support for the legislation just wasn’t there? The claim just doesn’t hold water.

Support to change the Monument to a national park was broader and more non-partisan than support for anything proposed in recent history in this area. Backers of the change included the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, the Downtown Development Authority, the Downtown Association, the Grand Junction Visitors and Convention Bureau, the Daily Sentinel, notable local politicians like Tilman Bishop, Josh Penry, and Bernie Buescher plus local hotels, restaurants, wineries, resorts, shoe stores and other retailers, banks as well as every local municipality, chamber of commerce and tourism board.

That’s a flat-out amazing amount of support for anything proposed in this region.

If the numbers of comments Tipton and Udall received really supported ditching the legislation as they claim, you would think they would eagerly make those numbers public, to back their conclusion that support for the legislation just isn’t there.

But from the nervous runaround their staffers are giving to questions about the numbers of comments their offices received for and against, the only possible conclusion is that the comment really went the other way, and the majority actually supported park status.

But election year politics are these legislators’ main concern, not the benefit of the area they represent.

Retail Marijuana Boosts Businesses in Carbondale

July 7, 2014
Colorado's new marijuana economy is bringing big benefits to towns that embrace it.

Colorado’s new marijuana economy is benefitting towns that embrace it.

Carbondale is one of the few towns on Colorado’s western slope that started selling retail recreational marijuana on January 1, 2014. Only one marijuana shop opened in Carbondale, The Doctor’s Garden, but that one store is boosting the fortunes of other businesses throughout the town. A grocery store across the street from the Doctor’s Garden reports a definite increase in the number of people in town after marijuana became available, and says sales of snacks and drinks increased markedly. New people are also coming to town from other resort towns, like Aspen and Vail, and people are even coming from outside the contiguous U.S., to buy marijuana at the Doctor’s Garden. When the X-Games were ongoing in Aspen last winter, the Carbondale chamber of commerce got a call from an out-of-state ski club seeking to bring 450 people to Carbondale, specifically to go the Doctor’s Garden. Tourists going out of their way to patronize the marijuana shop also patronize other businesses in the course of doing so. Coffee bars report increased business and a local pizza shop, Peppino’s Pizza, reported gaining plenty of new customers after marijuana went on sale last January. Business owners say the demographics of the new visitors are not the “stoner” or younger, slacker-type crowd they expected, but 50-something people, which one business owner described as “an older, normal clientele.”

Source: Colorado Independent, February 5, 2014

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