Republicans urge people to abandon their First Amendment right to petition

Firestone, CO home explosion resulting from abandoned gas lines buried near home, April, 2017 (Photo: CBS)

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits government from “abridging the right of the people … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” but this isn’t stopping the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and area oil and gas apologist Keira Bresnahan from trying to talk Mesa County residents into voluntarily giving up their right to even sign petitions to get issues on the ballot, where everyone can have a chance to consider them.

The Chamber is running a “Decline to Sign” campaign urging people not to sign petitions for state-wide initiatives, including Amendment 93, a measure to create all-day kindergarten funded in part by corporate taxes, and another measure, Proposition 94, that would increase severance taxes coming to the state by reducing the number of oil and gas wells that are exempted from the tax. “Severance taxes” are royalties that oil and gas companies pay to the state in exchange for extracting the state’s non-renewable natural resources. The money eventually comes back to the counties providing the natural resources to help them financially. The extra revenues Proposition 94 would to bring to the state would help fund the all-day kindergarten.

The chamber’s “Decline to Sign” logo, an their effort to convince people not to even give others a chance to put a public safety measure on the ballot regarding oil and gas drilling

Mitigating public health hazards — keep your right to choose

In the aftermath of the sudden, fatal gas line explosion in Firestone, Colorado in April, 2017 that killed two men in their home and injured a woman and child, the grassroots group Colorado Rising is working to get a statutory measure, Proposition 97 (pdf), on the statewide ballot. It would create a 2500-foot protective buffer zone between oil and gas operations and any occupied buildings and other vulnerable areas, like playgrounds and water sources. The problem is a matter of public safety and the proposal aims to protect citizens from hazards like exposure to toxics and contaminants, the fatal explosion in Firestone, and other health and safety hazards posed by drilling activities. At least a dozen fires and explosions occurred along Colorado’s oil and gas lines in the eight months following the Firestone explosion, so this problem poses a real and present danger.

Colorado Rising is prepared to respond to other false claims like Bresnahan’s, and has a page on their website dedicated to addressing all the false arguments you will hear against the initiative.

Drilling companies playing dirty

Explosion and fire at an oil well drilling facility in Windsor, CO in December, 2017 (Photo: YouTube/CBS News)

In a letter to the editor in today’s Daily Sentinel, Bresnahan portrays Proposition 97, the drilling buffer zone public safety initiative, as a sinister plot by “out of state environmentalists” to “ban fracking.” That’s an overblown portrayal meant to scare people, though.

The initiative seeks to move drilling and fracking operations — an industrial activity — a reasonable distance from sensitive and densely populated areas where people work, live and go to school. Scientific studies have determined that one half-mile from drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations provides a reasonable safety buffer from the hazards of such activities. The one-page ballot proposal doesn’t contain any language that would even come close to banning fracking.

Explosions, fires and death matter. Don’t throw away your right to petition government.

Bresnahan’s letter inspired me to find out where I can exercise my First Amendment right to sign the Proposition 97 petition, so I went to Colorado Rising’s website to find out. I saw a list of places on the front range where people can go to sign, but there was a surprising lack of information about where people in other parts of the state can go to sign, so I emailed Colorado Rising to ask how people in Grand Junction can sign. They responded quickly, saying,

“We had to remove all of the other listings from our ‘Where to Sign’ calendar from our website because the oil and gas companies have hired so many ‘blockers’  —  people who are paid to harass our signature collecting volunteers — that it became impossible for us to collect signatures anywhere that we have listed on that calendar.” 

Oil tank battery explosion and fire in Weld County, May 25, 2017. The explosion killed one worker and injured three others. The explosion was 5 miles north of the Firestone explosion and caused high anxiety in the state.

So the oil and gas industry is doing a lot worse than just writing letters to the editor trying to convince people not to sign the petition for the initiative. They are actively taking steps and spending plenty of money to prevent Colorado citizens from exercising their right to sign.

Don’t give up your rights.

Understandably, people circulating petitions for Proposition 97 in our area are keeping their whereabouts a little quiet, so if you want to sign, contact me and I’ll get you in touch with them. I also found out they also plan to have a signing event in Grand Junction the near future. The date, time and location are to be announced.

Until then, don’t give up your right to Coloradans weigh in on policies that might benefit all Coloradans.

 

Ray Scott relying on huge amounts of campaign financing from outside Mesa County

Ray Scott’s big smile might be because his campaign is being boosted by lots of money from big corporations based outside Mesa County.

A new campaign mailer arriving in people’s mailboxes takes digs at SD-7 candidate Dan Thurlow in an effort to boost Colorado Senator Ray Scott (R-Mesa County) in the primary election this month.

The pro-Scott mailer was funded solely by a group called “Citizens for Cost Effective Government” (CFCEG), whose address is in an unspecified suite in the 56-story Republic Plaza building on 17th Street in downtown Denver. Citizens for Cost Effective Government’s funding comes from just two sources, neither of which are in Mesa County. $25,000 of their total $45,000 in funding comes from Extraction Oil and Gas Company, which — whoops! — just happens to share the same address on 17th Street as “Citizens for Cost Effective Government.”

The other $20,000 of CFCEG’s funding comes from the Colorado Apartment Association based in Denver’s Greenwood Village, not in Mesa County.

Wondering who to vote for for Mesa County Clerk and Recorder? This one’s EASY.

Are you voting a Republican primary ballot and trying to figure out who to vote for for Mesa County Clerk and Recorder? The race is between two candidates: Tina Peters and Bobbie Gross. Here is a brief rundown on both of them, to help you make up your mind about who is most likely to do the best job. Once you know about them both, the choice is very easy.

State Senator Ray Scott of Mesa County caught double-dipping

A Daily Sentinel article from May 24 details how Republican State Senator Ray Scott double-billed his legislative expense account and his campaign account for over $1,000 in Uber rides, and didn’t correct it until the Sentinel exposed it and questioned him about it. The Sentinel obtained information on Scott’s expenditures through a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request to the state.

Sen. Ray Scott supports big-government interference in the construction industry

Water intrusion issues around windows may not become apparent until years after construction is complete.

Water intrusion problems around windows may not become apparent until years after construction is complete.

An election is coming up this month, and supporters of incumbent Senator Ray Scott (R, Dist-7 – Mesa County) need to know who they’re voting for.

Scott supports big nanny-state government interference in the construction industry, according to a bill he introduced in 2015 — a bill that advantaged shoddy homebuilders and was terrible for home buyers.

It’s time to stop advertising guns.

In keeping with the linking of firearms to masculinity, Daily Sentinel ran a Sportsman’s Warehouse’s ad promoting guns as gifts for last Father’s Day

It’s time for our local paper, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, and other publications to stop advertising guns. This is the rock-bottom minimum that can be done to end the glorification of guns and senseless proliferation of gun violence in society. It is the metaphorical lifting a pinky finger to take action against a problem, but it is necessary.

Given the rate at which gun massacres are happening in our country, as a matter of health and safety, it’s time to just stop promoting guns in any way, and nowhere is this more true than in Mesa County.

Anti-Ray Scott billboard campaign starts May 11

 

Mesa County residents who are fed up with State Senator Ray Scott are running a campaign urging people not to re-elect him in 2018.

Constituents say they’re fed up with Scott’s narrow-minded fossil fuel boosterism, ignorance of climate science, sub-par spelling and grammar and inability to tell credible research from industry-backed studies designed to reach a specific conclusion. Scott’s constituents are also offended by his rudeness. Scott calls voters who disagree with him “idiots.”  In February, 2017, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel threatened Scott with a defamation lawsuit after he called an opinion piece critical of him “fake news.” When a Mesa County resident commented on Scott’s Facebook page that the Sentinel was actually a conservative newspaper, Scott responded with this grammatically-challenged comeback: “Your [sic] a foolish Democrat, go cry somewhere else” and blocked the constituent from his page.

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce takes off it’s fig leaf

Grand Valley Drainage District pipe choked with weeds. (Photo credit: GVDD)

If there is a shred of doubt left that the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce exists only to promote it’s own political ideology, it dispelled that notion today with an ad in the Daily Sentinel endorsing the Grand Valley Drainage District (GVDD) Board candidate notable for being the remarkably far less qualified person for the seat.

The Chamber endorsed the less-qualified candidate for one reason only: she opposes the fee imposed by the GVDD in 2016 to raise funds for crucial improvements needed to the Grand Valley’s stormwater drainage system. Residents pay an extra $3/month. The fees assessed to businesses are higher because their larger “big box” buildings and paved parking lots create far more polluted stormwater runoff than homes, burdening the valley’s drainage system more than residences do. The drainage system, designed in 1915 primarily to collect agricultural seep from fields, is already in bad shape and needs improvement and expansion to cope with the valley’s change from primarily a rural/agricultural area into an urban area. If runoff exceeds the amount of drainage capacity we have, the result will be flooding, property damage and damage to other important infrastructure, like roads.

Celebrate the National Day of Reason Thursday, May 3, 2018

The first Thursday in May of every year is the National Day of Reason, a celebration that coincides with the National Day of Prayer, which encourages Americans to pray to God for peace and prosperity for the nation. A big problem with the National Day of Prayer, though, is that it excludes almost a quarter of the U.S. population that doesn’t belong to any religion or doesn’t believe in God. That’s a whole lot of people to leave out of a national celebration.

Flex your muscle by getting out and voting in the May 8 Drainage District election!

Why drainage matters: Sherwood Park flooding after a sudden heavy summer rainstorm

Mark your calendars: there’s a local election coming up that Grand Valley progressives and intelligent voters can actually win if they just get out to vote: It’s an election in which typically only about 200 people turn out vote, so one or two dozen extra voters coming out could really tip the entire election in a good way for our valley. It’s for the District 3 seat seat on the Grand Valley Drainage District (GVDD) board, and it’s coming up May 8. (pdf)

The difference between the two candidates is stark. It should make for a very easy decision by voters.