G.J. Garbage Follies: Inefficiency Rules the Day

City of Grand Junction Garbage service: fast, efficient and very reasonably priced

City of Grand Junction Garbage service: fast, efficient and very reasonably priced

Every day in our subdivision, trucks from at least five different private garbage companies rumble through the neighborhood, hopscotching from house to house picking up trash. Most private trucks have 2-3 people operating them: one driver and one or two others who hang onto the back of the truck and jump off to gather trash cans. Sometimes just one guy does it all, driving a few feet, putting the truck in park, jumping out, emptying trash cans, jumping back in the truck, driving a few more feet, jumping out to get trash, etc.

Of all the trash services coming through the neighborhood, one is clearly the most efficient: the City of Grand Junction. One employee drives the truck, operates an automatic lift that picks up and dumps the trash cans and them puts them back down again. The City’s service is extremely quick, too. One City garbage truck services the entire neighborhood in mere minutes.

The City’s rates can’t be beat, either. For $10.85/month, the City provides a 64 gallon trash can and weekly pickup. The standard trash can is just 30-45 gallons, so this is a generous size. The City also provides free junk pick up in the spring, and fall leave removal. By contrast, private trash companies’ charge from $16-18/month for comparable service. Some charge an extra fee to provide you with trash cans and extra fees to remove large items. Some also charge fuel surcharges when the price of diesel fuel exceeds a certain amount. The one advantage of private companies is that they will often pick up up to five or six trash cans for the same price.

From an efficiency standpoint, though, if the City were to service every house in the neighborhood, we’d have five fewer big, diesel garbage trucks rumbling through burning diesel, spewing exhaust, going over the very same route emptying trash. It would be quieter, a better use of energy resources, generate less air pollution and make for more efficient use of workers’ time.

But because of the necessity of private enterprise, we have the current, inefficient system of multiple garbage companies all duplicating the same service, covering the same places over and over, wasting gas and creating noise and air pollution unnecessarily.

G.J. Chamber Ad Promotes Low — Um, NO Wages

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce's ad in the 7/27 Daily Sentinel

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce’s ad in the 7/27 Daily Sentinel

An ad run by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce in last Monday’s Daily Sentinel featured this headline, designed to make local employers drool. After all, from a business owner’s standpoint, what could be better than employees you don’t have to pay? At one time this was called “slavery,” but let’s not let that little detail sidetrack us.

The ad was about a Mesa County Workforce on-the-job training program in which the Workforce picks up 50-90% of the employees’ wages for a set period of time, so employees can get experience and training. Once you get past the Chamber’s demeaning headline, the program sounds great, but this really seems like entirely the wrong way to promote it. The ad’s headline is a slap to local workers and the thousands of low-wage earners in Mesa County.

Things are hard for working families in Mesa County. A living hourly wage for a family of two working adults and two children in Mesa County is $15.02/hour, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But the average per capita hourly wage in Mesa County is just $12.83/hour. Workers in Mesa County on average earn 85% of what others in the state earn, and almost 15% of Mesa County citizens live below poverty level, compared to 13.2% for the state as a whole. To make things worse, local elected officials reject out of hand new economic opportunities literally laid at our feet — like making the Colorado National Monument into a national park, and participating in the growing and prosperous marijuana industry — that could greatly help lift Mesa County’s long-suffering economy.

The only time Diane Schwenke, president of the G.J. Chamber, promised to bring good-paying jobs to town was in 2013, when she urged voters to approve a ballot measure to uphold light industrial zoning for the Brady Trucking property by Las Colonias Park, down by the Colorado River. Schwenke promised that if citizens kept the industrial zoning, Brady Trucking would bring a slew of jobs to the area that would pay $70,000 a year. She promised Brady would also build a landscaped trail along the Colorado River to boot.

If it sounded too good to be true, it’s because it was.

The Brady Trucking parcel by the Colorado river. The Chamber's promise of an influx of $70k/year jobs if voters upheld light industrial zoning for this parcel never came to fruition.

The Brady Trucking parcel by the Colorado river. The Chamber’s promise of an influx of $70k/year jobs if voters upheld light industrial zoning for this parcel never came to fruition.

Voters listened to Schwenke and passed the measure, but the jobs never came. Neither did the trails. In fact, absolutely nothing happened, and today the land sits exactly as it was back then — vacant, with crumbling buildings and a pile of debris along the waterfront.

Many people would rather see the G.J. Chamber promote better wages and benefits for hard working people in Mesa County instead of tacitly promoting low wages and exploitation of workers, as in the above ad headline. If working people in Mesa County earned living wages and had good benefits, they’d be able to spend more locally and lift up the local economy. Fewer District 51 children would have to go hungry and maybe we’d have fewer medically indigent people and less homelessness. This would be far preferable to the rush to the bottom and slave wages that people have long suffered with here under the current political regimes.

Downtown Grand Junction’s Frightening Public Toilets

Grand Junction's Public Toilets

Downtown Grand Junction’s public toilets at the Farmers Market: ICK!

Have you avoided the public restrooms in downtown Grand Junction because you fear what they might be like?

Well, your fears are justified.

A visit to the public restroom in downtown July 30 revealed a bad scene. The lights at the back of the room weren’t working, and the toilet stalls were dark and scary. They were also dirty. One stall closer to the front of the room was slightly better lit and a little cleaner, but try to use it and you’ll find it doesn’t have a door. The roomier, handicap-accessible stall at the back of the room had a door that worked, but it was also dirty. The worst part of the whole experience is that the toilets are positively prison-like: cold stainless steel without seats on them! They’re a lot like Model #1675 on this website that sells stainless steel security plumbing fixtures under the header of “penal ware.” The item description for Model #1675 says “Institutional Applications: Correctional.” That’s it. There is no second institutional application for this toilet. It doesn’t, for example, also say “Ladies’ Public Restrooms.” THIS IS A PRISON TOILET, period. My guess is that a man chose these toilets for the downtown women’s restroom. No female would ever subject other females to these things.

If you need to use the public restrooms downtown, ladies, “steel” yourself for the punishing experience of being treated like a common criminal. The only problem is the poor tourists who stop to experience a day in downtown won’t have that luxury.

Mysterious Creature Spotted in Highline Canal

This highly unusual creature was spotted swimming in the Highline Canal this morning. It's obviously a lot bigger than a muskrat, but what is it?

This unusual creature was spotted swimming in the Highline Canal this morning. It’s obviously a lot bigger than a muskrat, but what is it?

Above is a photo of a very odd creature that was spotted swimming in the Grand Valley Highline Canal this morning. It was much bigger than a muskrat, along the size of a beaver, but did not have a wide tail like a beaver, and didn’t engage in tail-slapping-the-water behavior like beavers do when they are scared. It looked more like a seal. Also, this creature did not get scared. Instead, it seemed curious, even following people on the canal banks and poking its head far up out of the water at times to get a better look at them. It was a remarkably powerful swimmer, too, easily swimming upstream against the current in order to keep up with people walking that direction. The creature even appeared to get more curious if people made noises or gestures, too. In my opinion, it looked and acted a lot like a river otter. But if it was, what was a river otter doing in the canals? Have otters ever been seen in the Grand Valley canals before?

Here are a couple more pictures, for a better look. Can anyone tell what it is?

Unknown animal swimming in canal

Unknown animal swimming in canal


Another pic of the animal

A zoomed-in pic of the animal

I Need Your Help

Attention Readers,

I need your help.

Our apartment in Boulder, Colorado got completely destroyed in the September, 2013 floods. It had six feet of swirling water in it and after the floods there was nothing left. Now, almost two years later, it is finally being rebuilt and is nearing completion. Because it was so small, space was tight and at a premium. To that end, we had a wonderful little stacking dinnerware set in the kitchen that looked like this:

Stackable dinnerware set with rack

It basically crammed an entire dinnerware set for four into a tiny footprint, sparing a lot of space. I can’t find another one like it anywhere. Have you seen anything like this anywhere? If so, let me know where! Thanks!

If You Want to Die Peacefully at Home, You Need to Know This

First page of Colorado's 2015 MOST form

First page of Colorado’s 2015 MOST form

If you want to avoid extensive hospital treatment or heroic measures being used on you towards the end of your life, it’s much harder than you think. It’s far more difficult than ever these days to die a peaceful, natural death in your own home than you probably realize.

These days many people don’t relish the idea of dying a prolonged death in a hospital, hooked up to life support machines. If you are one of those people, you can complete an advanced directive and a will, put all your assets in a trust, and even verbally tell your closest family members that you don’t want any more hospitalizations. But that’s not enough.

Chances are great that unless you do one more thing, you’ll still end up in a hospital getting a host of unwanted procedures or mechanical life support at the end of your life.

If near the end of your life you do not want to go to the hospital under any circumstances, your family members or caregivers risk charges of medical neglect or abuse if they abide by your wishes to let a natural process take your life. This is the case even if you have put all the above due-diligence documents in place. It’s extremely hard for relatives who love you to watch you getting weaker and sicker and not do anything. Caregivers fear lawsuits for not giving every last possible measure of care in what they perceive as a desperate time of need. Some paid caregivers may be a different religion that you are and under their belief system it may be impermissible for you to determine the time and place of your own death. These and many other conflicts can abound at the end of your life.

To protect caregivers and close relatives from a legal onslaught and assure you get the kind of care you really want at the end of your life, there is one more thing you must do: fill out a MOST form.

MOST stands for Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment.  Most people have never heard of this form, but it in recent years it has become the key to self-determination at the end of your life.

The MOST form is relatively new. Colorado implemented its MOST form only about five years ago, and recently revised it. Every U.S. state now has its own version of a MOST form. In some states they are called a Physicians Order for Life Sustaining Treatment or a POLST form.

The MOST form is a very specific medico-legal instrument that summarizes and documents your personal preferences for a number of common life-sustaining treatments, including things like CPR, antibiotics, artificial nutrition and hydration, and mechanical ventilation. You can choose the extent to which these treatments will be used to save or prolong your life, under what circumstances and for how long. The form is usually printed on bright green paper, for quick location and recognition.

Individuals may use the MOST form to refuse treatments selectively, request full treatment under certain circumstances or specify certain treatments they do not want. Any section of the form that is not completed implies full treatment is desired. Filling out a MOST form assures that not only will you get the specific care you want at the end of your life, but it will protect those who are responsible for making medical decisions on your behalf from legal charges for abuse or neglect if they abide by your wishes. Such charges can be brought either by relatives who don’t agree with the kind of death you desire, or by law enforcement.

The MOST form is used in conjunction with other legal instruments, like advanced directives and living wills. You must complete the MOST form while you still have your mental capacity. You and your doctor both sign the completed form. Everyone who is could be even tangentially involved in your care towards the end of your life should get a copy of your completed MOST form. Make sure to give a copy to whomever has your medical power of attorney. Give them to all of your children, even ones who live elsewhere and visit rarely, and even the crazy ones. Give them to your close friends, too.

The MOST form must be honored in any setting, including at home.

This relatively new form is the key to being able to have the kind of death you want, especially if your choice involves refusing invasive, life-sustaining treatments.

You can view Colorado’s MOST form here (pdf).

For more information on the MOST form, to see one, download a free copy or get answers to frequently asked questions about the form, go to the Colorado Advanced Directives Consortium, or talk to your doctor or your attorney.