Congress Suspended Rule to Rename McInnis Canyons

August 27, 2014

In 2004, the U.S.House of Representatives purposely suspended one of its own rules to pass HR 4827, which renamed the 122,000-acre Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area (NCA) in western Colorado after then-sitting Colorado Congressman Scott McInnis, and ironically the rule they suspended was one another Colorado Congressman had lobbied to put in place.

The House of Representatives’ House Rules (pdf) were created to ensure order, reduce corruption in Congress and prevent Congress members from misusing the political process for their own personal gain and glorification. For example, the Rules put a maximum value on gifts members of Congress can accept from lobbyists and prohibit members from accepting reimbursement for transportation, lodging or other trip expenses unless certain specific criteria are met.

Rule XXI, Clause 6 specifically bans House members from naming public structures after themselves. Public structures includes public works and publicly-owned lands like beaches, parks and national forests, so to rename Colorado Canyons NCA after McInnis, Congress had to circumvent the rule. To that end, House members purposely suspended Rule XXI Clause 6, so the McInnis renaming bill could pass.

The rule, found on Page 35 of the House Rules book, states:

Designation of public works

6. It shall not be in order to consider a bill, joint resolution, amendment, or conference report that provides for the designation or redesignation of a public work in honor of an individual then serving as a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner or Senator.

Ironically, Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado, McInnis’ home state, was the one who fought to put this rule in place, to stop an epidemic of sitting members of the House renaming federal structures after themselves. In arguing for House Resolution 343 during the 107th Congress (2001-02), Tancredo urged Congress to act more transparently and he eloquently pointed out the dangers and hubris of such self-renaming activity. Tancredo likened members of Congress renaming structures after themselves to putting themselves on “an almost god-like level”.

Tancredo said:

“Individuals who have had an impact on America will forever be remembered, and should be remembered, and waiting for the full impact of their public service to be realized is not too much to ask. By waiting a few years to reflect on their accomplishments, we are doing them, and the integrity of this Congress, a great service.

Federal structures all across the nation, including within my Congressional district are named after former Members of Congress. Members who have seen their names placed on post offices, federal buildings and highways are undoubtedly great men and women who served their nation. However, we need to draw a great distinction between honoring our retired leaders, and placing current leaders on an almost god-like level.

We are all given a great honor to serve within our nation’s Congress. We impact the lives of millions of Americans on a daily basis, and many of us will inspire our constituents to levels of achievement that are beyond anyone’s expectations, and they will do likewise for us. Yet we must remember that we are serving them for the good of the whole, the good of the people and we should be thankful for the opportunity.”

This photo shows how empty the chamber was on the day Congress voted to suspend House Rule XXI, Clause 6 and rename "Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area" after then sitting Congressman Scott McInnis (R-CO)

The House chambers were practically empty on the day Congress voted to suspend House Rule XXI, Clause 6, so they could rename “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area” after then sitting Congressman Scott McInnis (R-CO). The rule prohibits sitting members of Congress from renaming public works after themselves.

But serving in the House for the good of the people and being thankful for the opportunity to do it wasn’t enough for McInnis and his friends in Congress who engineered the passage of the “McInnis-as-god” bill.

The House suspended House Rule XXI, Clause 6 before the McInnis bill came to the full house, effectively blocking any other Congress members from being able to object to it because it violated the rules.

After the “McInnis-as-god” bill was introduced on July 13, 2004 as HR 4827, it was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources, the committee that considers legislation pertaining to public lands.

The only problem was, the Committee never considered the bill. Somehow it sailed through its committee assignment without ever being heard.

On September 28, 2004,  just two members of Congress spoke very briefly in favor of the bill, and neither of them were from Colorado. One was a representative from California and the other was the representative from Guam. No Coloradans were notified about the bill’s existence or invited to weigh in on the change. Then, in a nearly empty chamber, Chairman Darrell Issa took a voice vote which was completely inaudible on C-SPAN (and which was non-recorded, so we don’t know who voted for or against),  pronounced the “yeas” as a two-thirds majority of those present, and declared the bill passed.

In yet another irony surrounding this moment, in his invocation that day House Chaplain Reverend Thomas Spence said  “Teach us what it means to be humble in a world where we take ourselves too seriously.”

Congress does indeed need to learn to be humble. They have hubris down pat.

Resources:

C-SPAN clip of the vote

CSPAN recording of the full house session on September 28, 2004

Rules of the House of Representatives (pdf) – Rule XXI, Clause 6 regarding Designation of Public Works is on Page 35, at mid-page

Congress Suspended Rule to Rename McInnis Canyons

Petition to revert McInnis Canyons back to its original name, “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area”

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. Read more »

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. Read more »

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. Read more »

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. Read more »

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