Ray Scott for GOVERNOR? Laugh or Cry, Your Choice

House Rep Ray Scott (R) voted on 2/3/15 to kill a bill to provide economic help to rural Colorado communities that get hit with devastating economic events that cause mass layoffs.

House Rep Ray Scott (R) voted on 2/3/15 to kill a bill to provide economic help to rural Colorado communities that get hit with devastating economic events that cause mass layoffs.

The Daily Sentinel reported on January 28, 2016 that our western slope State Senator Ray Scott is considering running for governor of Colorado in two years. He’s considering the governorship in lieu of running for a national office like senator, because, he says, he “feels he can do more if he stays within the state.”

Do more?

The notion is either side-splittingly funny or utterly tragic. Or maybe both.

The tragic part is that by mulling over his lofty ideas to the Sentinel, Scott is putting his narcissism on display for all to see. The funny part is that he’s been the worst legislator imaginable and has consistently acted to the detriment of most of his constituents, if you can call that funny. Maybe it’s the tragic part.

But tragicomedy is nothing new to the western slope Republican political crowd.

Join the Nutty Crowd

Mesa County has turned out a long list of arrogant, narcissistic, embarrassing and ineffective elected officials who have made western slope citizens want to hide our heads in shame.

Ray Scott has certainly taken his place among their ranks.

In case you can’t recall what the track record has been like, here’s a reminder of some of the politicians the local GOP has foisted upon us:

–In 2006, then-Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland publicly equated homosexuality to bestiality while on the state-wide television talk show “Colorado Matters.” At the time, she was a candidate for lieutenant governor on a ticket with Bob Beauprez.

— In 2010, now-Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis made statewide headlines and went down in flames after being hit with a plagiarism scandal during his own race for governor. While a sitting congressman, he finagled getting a national conservation area named after himself, in violation of House Rules that prohibit sitting congress members from naming public works after themselves. Now he opposes land conservation.

— In 2012, former State Senator Laura Bradford made her own headlines after getting arrested for a DUI in Denver with a gun in her car. After that unfortunate incident, Bradford “retired” from office and decided not to run for another term. Even worse, Bradford had unseated longtime west slope incumbent Bernie Beuscher, who at the time in 2008 had been on the verge of becoming Colorado’s Speaker of the House.

— While in office, former Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis repeatedly broke the law and then tried to bully law enforcement officers out of giving him tickets by threatening them. Fortunately, none of them caved to his antics.

— In 2013, the Republican-backed candidate for Grand Junction City Council, Rick Brainard, got arrested for domestic violence just four days after being elected. He clocked his girlfriend in the head with his fist and pulled her hair, all in front of her 13 year old son.

— In 2014, western slope State Representative Jared Wright embarrassed himself and his constituents by leaving a loaded handgun in a legislative hearing room in the state Capitol building.

— In 2015, the Mesa County GOP’s favored candidate for Sheriff, and former state senator Steve King pled guilty to charges of embezzlement. He dropped out of the sheriff’s race.

Okay, there are a few of the stupid things we’ve had to endure from local elected Republicans.

But Let’s Get Back to Ray Scott

RayScott

In 2011, Ray Scott, at the time a freshman in the Colorado House, wrote a funny newsletter for his colleagues he called “Lessons I’ve Learned.” In it, he explained what he learned during his time in the legislature. He wrote:

“Never be in the chamber until after the Pledge.”

and…

“Committees are for spending time in the hall, texting or catching up with family.”

The newsletter earned him the title “Class Clown.”

Anti-Consumer

In January, 2015, Scott introduced SB15-091 (pdf), titled “Reduce Statute Of Limitations Construction Defects,” a bill that would have protected developers from lawsuits after things went drastically wrong with the homes they built. Scott wanted to cut in half the amount of time Colorado homeowners would have to file lawsuits over egregious construction defects, from six years to three. This anti-consumer bill would have shielded homebuilders from accountability for significant problems and expenses homeowners incurred due to construction defects that appear just a few years after moving in a new home. Most states give consumers a 10-12 year window in which to file suits over blatant construction defects in a new home. Scott’s bill would have made Colorado one of the states with the smallest windows for consumers to gain recourse against shoddy construction.

Anti-worker

Just a month after introducing the above bill, in February, 2015, Scott voted to kill SB 36 (pdf), a bill that would have provided economic help to rural communities in Colorado that suffer devastating economic events, like large-scale layoffs or plant closures.  Another western slope senator from Vail introduced SB 36 in the wake of the devastating closure of the Elk Creek Mine in Somerset, Gunnison County, after a fire struck the mine on October 1, 2013. The fire casued the layoff of 142 mine employees, forcing workers to leave the area to find more work, and causing a downward economic spiral that put pressure on the area’s housing market and schools. SB 36 would have provided one-time emergency grants to rural Colorado communities in the wake of such devastating economic events.

Scott voted to kill the bill.

Climate Change Denier


In a shocking 2013 video he made as a House Representative, Scott, who has a high school education but did not go on to college, argued against increasing the amount of renewable energy required from rural electric co-ops to 20% within the next 6 years. The bill, SB 252, was ultimately signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Scott said of the bill, “We have better things to do.” and “We’re going too darn far.” In the video he reveals his astounding ignorance of the scope of renewable energy and environmental issues by saying:

“I have people in rural Colorado who say ‘You know, I don’t have a problem with renewable energy. I have solar panels on my house, that’s fine.’ But they’re having a hard time getting their mind around fields of solar panels in a field, or wind generation facilities out in the plains that they’ve never seen before. And if we’re really environmentally conscious, why would we want to look at those things? They don’t even make sense to me. I know I’ve driven through places in Utah and California and said, ‘Oh my gosh. All of this just to say we are changing something that we’re not even really sure we’re changing, based on studies that make no sense and the science is not necessarily true?’ “

Anti Women’s Rights, Anti-Child

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, titled “Penalties for Violent Offenses Against Fetuses.” The bill showed great concern for human fetusus, but ignored the fact that a woman surrounding the fetus would be the primary recipient of any violent acts perpetrated against the fetus. In Ray Scott’s mind, living 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 propose to criminalize women for using certain forms of contraception. In supporting this type of religiously-based measure, Mr. Scott’s sought to force his own personal religious beliefs onto the rest of the state’s population.

Not content just to vote against women’s best interests, Ray Scott has even shown himself to be anti-child. On March 12, 2014, he voted against a bill that would make it illegal to cyber-bully a minor, and 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.

A Time-Waster in the Legislature

In 2014, Scott sponsored HB14-1046, a bill to create — get this — a Scottish-American license plate. To get the plate, all a person would have to do was prove they made a financial donation to a club called the St. Andrew Society of Colorado.

Colorado Rep. Ray Scott

Colorado Rep. Ray Scott

Yes, you read this correctly. Ray Scott introduced a bill to financially benefit a small private group that has no presence on the western slope. At the time, the St. Andrew Society had exactly one member in Silt and one in Montrose. They had no members or branches in Mesa County. The St. Andrew Society puts on only two annual events, both dinners  on the front range. Ray Scott was not a member of the group, and, according to Jean Casson, the group’s self-professed “mother hen” for 40 years, the Scottish-American constituency on the western slope has never been big enough to support a single pro-Scottish group.

So where did Ray Scott get the idea to introduce a bill that had no pressing need, benefitted virtually no one within his district, that had practically no constituency and that absolutely no one on the western slope asked him to introduce?

According to Casson, someone in the Denver area just happened to ask Scott to introduce the bill as a favor, so he did.

Legislators get to introduce only five bills per session. Apparently Scott couldn’t come up with any ideas for legislation to potentially help his western slope constituents by addressing pressing ongoing issues that consistently plague our area, like child hunger, endemic poverty, persistent low wages and high unemployment, our extraordinarily high suicide rate, chronic homelessness and under-funded schools.

Nothing.

Reality Denier

Colorado House Rep. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) promotes methane gas -- the most potent greenhouse gas -- as an "incredibly clean fossil fuel" that "reduces emissions."

Colorado House Rep. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) promotes methane gas,  the most potent and damaging greenhouse gas currently known, as an “incredibly clean fossil fuel” that “reduces emissions.”

Scott continues to deny reality by opposing marriage equality for no rational reason, even after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June of 2015 that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that marriage is a fundamental right to which all American citizens are entitled (pdf). Of the issue, Scott says “Same sex marriage is nothing more than a grenade the democrats like to throw each year into the mix. The voters in Colorado were clear. Marriage is defined as a man and a woman.”

Scott has failed Project Vote Smart’s 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014 Political Courage Test, which is intended to increase transparency in American politics.  The test just asks legislators to be open with voters and tell them where they stand on the top 10-15 most pressing issues of the day. It even lets legislators leave up to 30% of the questions unanswered, to accommodate fears of political sensitivity.

Stop the Insanity

It’s time to stop wacko, nutty, ignorant, backward-looking Mesa CountyRepublican nut job politicians from running for office, period, let alone for any higher office in Colorado.

Western Slope residents deserve better. We deserve better educated, more earnest, thoughtful, socially responsible and caring representatives in public office, both in Mesa County, in other western slope counties, and in Colorado.

One thing we we definitely don’t deserve any more of is Ray Scott, and from the looks of things already, we’ve had too much.

 

 

 

A Moneymaking Proposition

Colorado Mesa University is charging $50 these classes, but all the instructors are volunteering their time to teach them.

Notice how Colorado Mesa University is charging $50 for these classes, but all the instructors are volunteering their time to teach them. As long as all the labor for the program is 100% free to the University, perhaps a lower fee could make this educational opportunity accessible to more people. (Ad from the Daily Sentinel, January 27, 2016)

More Proselytizing Reported in District 51 Schools

Proselytize definition

Yet another incident of inappropriate proselytizing was reported in a District 51 school late last month. The parties spent the last few weeks working to resolve it. An update was just recently available. Following is a description of what happened.

On December 31, the father of a Lincoln Orchard Mesa (LOM) Elementary student contacted Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF), a western slope group that advocates for separation of church and state, about an inappropriate incident of proselytizing involving his child that occurred at LOM on November 20.  The student is 8 years old and in the 3rd grade.

According to the parent and child, here is what took place:

LOM students were taking their regularly-scheduled lunch break in their school’s lunchroom on Friday, November 20, 2016.  The student at the center of the incident was sitting at a table chatting with friends in the lunchroom, as was usual for kids at lunch. During the conversation, the student shared with her friends that she did not believe in God. A friend who heard the comment immediately went to a nearby lunchroom assistant named Jody Payne and told her that her friend did not believe in God. Ms. Payne went over to the table and told the student, in front of her friends, that “God created everything” that she “needed to, and should believe in God.”

After the student went home that day, she told her father about the incident. The parents felt Ms. Payne’s actions that day amounted to inappropriate and illegal proselytizing of their child on school grounds and during school hours, and they were disturbed by it.
Leia KraeuterThey emailed LOM Principal Leia Kraeuter about the incident that same day and asked for a meeting to discuss the incident and get the school’s version of what happened. The parents were able to get a meeting in person with Principal Kraeuter and the lunch assistant, Ms. Payne, at which time Ms. Payne apologized verbally to Mr. and Mrs. Daniel for the incident. But the parents asked that the lunch assistant apologize directly to their daughter, who was that target of her comment, not to themselves. They also asked the principal for “copies of any training which would be implemented/given to staff regarding the regulations of discussing topics such as this in the school.”

The father told WCAF that Principal Kreauter refused to arrange for an apology to their child or tell them what training or guidance school staff members get regarding matters like this. Instead the principal told them “she was no longer willing to be the point of contact regarding this incident.”

The parents have kept copies of their correspondence with the school and copied the info to Superintendent Steve Schultz on their emails as well.

Policies Only Recently Enacted

In a recent update on the situation, the father reported that the parents had a meeting with the District 51 Superintendent about the matter, at which time they were told that policies governing these types of incidents were only recently put in place, on November 17, 2015, just three days before the proselytizing incident involving their child took place. District 51’s Policy AC (pdf) is titled “Nondiscrimination,” and applies to students as well as employees. It AC states,

No student or other person who is otherwise qualified shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to unlawful discrimination under any district program or activity on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, creed, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disability or need for special education services. [Bold emphasis added.]

The second policy, AC-E (pdf), implemented the same date (11/17/15), is procedural and gives guidance on how to report such incidents. It directs complainants to the School District’s compliance officer, Dan Sharp, and the federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

Since the policies were in force at the time of the incident involving their child, the parents are considering possible legal options for dealing with the incident, but have not yet decided what to do.

Teacher Reports Walking in on Bible Study Session in a GJHS Classroom

GJXCFRONTA teacher reported to Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) that she accidentally stumbled into a Bible study group being held at Grand Junction High School on Tuesday, January 12 during lunchtime in an Advanced Placement (AP) English classroom. The teacher who walked in on the group was looking for a microwave oven to heat up lunch.

According to the teacher who walked in on the prayer group, the English teacher whose room it was in was present at the study session and sat, without interacting, while a younger man was talking. The identity of the younger man who was speaking was unclear, and it is unknown if he was a teacher, an older student, or from off campus. The Bible study session was being held in a room in the northern-most block of classrooms to the east of the main building, in the part of school that holds language arts and some science class rooms.

Teachers Cannot Lead, Organize, or Participate in Prayer with Students

The U.S. Department of Education Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools, states that under the law, teachers cannot lead or organize prayers, or participate with students in prayers on school grounds during school time.

The relevant official guidance is as follows:

“When acting in their official capacities as representatives of the state, teachers, school administrators and other school employees are prohibited by the Establishment Clause from encouraging or discouraging prayer, and from actively participating in such activity with students. Teachers may, however, take part in religious activities where the overall context makes clear that they are not participating in their official capacities. Before school or during lunch, for example, teachers may meet with other teachers for prayer or Bible study to the same extent that they may engage in other conversation or nonreligious activities.”

For insurance, state law or policy purposes, teachers or other school employees may be required to be present during meetings of student clubs, but if a student club is religious in nature, employees of the school can only attend as monitors, and must make clear they are only there as a monitor.

It was unclear whether the teacher present at the January 12 Bible study session at GJHS was acting as a monitor or was an active participant in the session.

District 51 Distributes Flier for Christian Event Targeting Adolescent Girls

June Fellhauer, the local religious woman behind the "Sleeping Beauty" Christian worship event at CMU for adolescent girls. [From a July, 2015 YouTube video titled "Women's Purpose."]

June Fellhauer, the Grand Junction woman behind the “Sleeping Beauty” Christian worship event at CMU aimed at adolescent girls and preserving their “purity.” [From a July, 2015 YouTube video titled “Women’s Purpose.”]

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers was contacted by a Mesa Valley School District 51 parent who is upset over an ad for a Christian religious event targeting young girls that she received through the email system District 51 uses to send electronic fliers home to parents.
The flier promotes a Christian Bible study event for adolescent girls to be held at Colorado Mesa University called “Wake Up Sleeping Beauty: Worship At His Feet.”
The flier contains white text overlaid on a pink silhouette of a girl’s face that says,
“As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. Luke 7:38.”
Pink silhouetteThe program preaches a Christian version of how to handle sexuality to girls while urging them to remain “pure.”
A television ad for the event shows a father leering at his attractive teenage daughter through the doorway of her bedroom as she puts on makeup, while a male voice tells Dad he needs to “protect her purity.”
The parent who contacted D-51 was disturbed not only about the flier being delivered through public school channels, but also by the imagery the flier uses, specifically of a female humiliating herself at the feet of a male figure. The parent points out that District-51 has a policy against distributing material which “demeans a person or group based on gender,” saying “The idea of a woman or girl (“she”) crying at a man’s feet, then using her hair to wash his feet, then kissing his feet, seems pretty demeaning to me. Apparently the irony of this imagery used to promote an event which purports to strengthen or support girls/women is lost on all involved.”
Indeed.

A Talk With a Grand Junction Jehovah’s Witness-Turned-Atheist

Andrew Vodopich

Andrew Vodopich, a life-long Jehovah’s Witness, left the religion to become an atheist

For most of his life Andrew Vodopich of Grand Junction was a devoted Jehovah’s Witness. His parents were raised in the faith, they raised Andrew in the faith and like a good child, he became a devout believer himself. For most of his life, he never questioned what his elders told him about the world, and hoped, as all Witnesses do, to become one of the chosen few who would make it into the coveted Kingdom of Heaven. Andrew even met and married his wife within the religion, so the religion was pretty much the basis of Andrew’s entire life.

That was then.

In November of 2015, at age 32, Andrew suddenly left the Jehovah’s Witnesses, gave up religion entirely and became an atheist.