The Daily Sentinel’s Energy Expo Coverage Disappoints

The Daily Sentinel ignored the important back stories about this year's Energy Expo, leaving people wondering if they were trying to protect the local oil and gas industry

The Daily Sentinel ignored the important back stories about this year’s Energy Expo, leaving people wondering if the paper was trying to protect the local oil and gas industry

In an era of corporate concentration of media ownership, Grand Junction citizens are fortunate to have a daily paper whose publisher, editors and reporters live in the same community in which they work. The thought is that by living here, Sentinel employees will be more responsive and cover what people in this area really need to know, so citizens can make more informed choices when it comes to local politics and economic development.

Since Jay Seaton replaced George Orbanek as the paper’s publisher several years ago, the Sentinel has acted noticeably less like a poodle for the area’s political elite, an started showing more backbone in its reporting. I’ve been greatly impressed by the Sentinel’s new willingness to do whatever it takes to get the information its readers deserve, from filing Freedom of Information Act requests to bringing lawsuits to access to information important to area residents. On occasion, the Sentinel has even taken real risks to pursue its mission. One example is how the paper exposed the hypocrisy of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce in claiming to promote local business while taking its own business out of town. (Reporting on the chamber’s antics is not without its risks for the Sentinel. The chamber buys huge amounts of advertising in the Sentinel, pumping tens of thousands of dollars into the paper’s coffers annually. That’s money the paper risks losing if it gets crosswise with the chamber.) The Sentinel also reported in detail on the Grand Junction Regional Airport Board’s fraud and corruption and former State Senator Steve King’s embezzling. The way the Sentinel doggedly pursued those stories for its readers was a big reason why I subscribed to the Sentinel again after 20 years of boycotting the paper. I saw real change for the better in our local paper, and wanted to support it with my dollars.

That’s also why the Sentinel’s coverage of John L. Casey’s appearance the Energy Expo was so incredibly disappointing.

Just when I and probably many others started to think the Sentinel was finally starting to tell the real stories of what goes on around here, the poodle re-emerges. Reporter Gary Harmon’s unquestioning coverage of the Energy Expo was insultingly superficial. He took everything Expo organizers handed him at face value and he touched only on the most mundane and perfunctory aspects of the event while ignoring the bigger back stories behind this year’s Expo.

Exactly what were those stories?

Kathy Hall and Bonnie Petersen, the event’s private owners, failed to confer with hosts and sponsors about the speakers this year the way they have in the past. They blind-sided their hosts and sponsors by springing a race-baiting, tea party fringe speaker on them after the event’s promotional materials were already printed. Hall and Petersen profoundly embarrassed, and in some cases offended the western slope’s premier educational institutions, Colorado Mesa University, Colorado Mountain College and the John McConnell Math and Science Center, with their choice of Casey as a speaker and the way they forced him on event hosts; they listed Colorado Mountain College as a host of the event without even bothering to get the schools’ permission to use it’s name. Multiple investigators in different states were unable to verify the positions Casey claims he held in his curriculum vitae, yet the Sentinel held Casey up unquestioningly as qualified to speak at the event.

The Sentinel’s coverage also failed to highlight that people protested the Expo for the very first time ever, and failed to discuss all the reasons why people were outraged enough to push back against this event. The protest was significant for what is says about Grand Junction’s changing political and cultural makeup, and some area residents’ questioning of what Hall and Petersen dish out to our community.

One thing is certain: This year was very different for the Energy Expo. The Sentinel failed as the western slope’s “chronicle of record” by glossing over the important back stories to this year’s Expo and acting as though they didn’t exist.

If the Sentinel really wants to win over area residents and grow its subscriber base, it needs to commit to telling the whole story consistently, and not keep pandering to oil and gas or other special interests by leaving out the most significant information about local issues.

G.J. Dining Review: Citrola’s Italian Grill ♦♦1/2

Citrola's Italian Grill's wonderful, warm ambiance makes it a comfy place for a meal

Citrola’s Italian Grill’s wonderful, warm ambiance makes it a comfy place for a meal

Citrola’s Italian Grill at 624 Rae Lynn St, Grand Junction, 81505, is located due west of the 24 Road City Market, next to the Cherry Berry frozen yogurt shop and the free-standing Starbucks on 24 Road, north of Patterson Road. There is plenty of easy parking next to the restaurant.

Citrola's humble dinner salad was nothing special, but the home-made Italian dressing it came with made it shine

Citrola’s humble dinner salad was nothing special, but the home-made Italian dressing it came with made it shine

We arrived at 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday evening to find a restaurant with plenty of open tables. The place started filling up steadily after that. By the time we were left, most tables were filled.

Citrola’s has a warm and wonderful ambiance. The lowered faux ceiling, drop lights over the tables, polished, woodsy decor and interesting, fake electronic fire places give it a cozy, upscale feel reminiscent of restaurants in much bigger cities. There are lots of tall, north and east-facing windows dressed with wooden venetian blinds which, in our opinion, should have been opened a tad more to let in the remaining evening light and beautiful views of the Grand Mesa and Bookcliffs at sunset. The windows in the restaurant face north and east, so sun shining in people’s faces wouldn’t have been a problem. Why not maximize the wonderful evening views this place is so lucky to have?

Citrola’s steak salad

I ordered the lobster ravioli ($17.00), listed as one of their signature dishes. It came with a humble dinner salad that consisted of just iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and red onion slices. Only two of Citrola’s salad dressings are home-made: balsamic and Italian. But the home-made Italian dressing redeemed that plain little dinner salad and made it shine.

The bread was fresh, tasty and had a nice authentic crust on it. It was served with a generous dollop of herb-butter that was both unique and delicious. The bread would have benefitted tremendously from even a slight warming in the oven prior to serving — a small touch that can really make a difference between an O.K. restaurant and a memorable one.

The lobster ravioli is served with a “pink” sauce, really a cream tomato sauce, that was excellent. The dish was served at just the right temperature, was nicely plated and the sauce had a rich flavor that was just right. My companion wasn’t so lucky. He ordered a steak salad ($12.90) and was roundly disappointed. The steak was cold, overcooked and over-salted. It was almost as though the meat had been cooked earlier on the day and slapped on the salad at the last minute. We told the waiter about the disappointing salad and he tried to make it up by offering another dish. My companion chose the Tuscan Chicken Salad — another bomb. When it arrived at the table (well after I finished my ravioli) there was no visible chicken visible on it. What little chicken there was on the plate was buried at the bottom and, just like the steak in the steak salad, was cold, dry and disappointing. The waiter ended up not charging us for either salad, which we thought was generous.

We asked the waiter if they had an espresso machine, and they don’t — very surprising for an Italian restaurant. The waiter pointed out that there was a Starbucks right next door, but who wants to get up and run over to the Starbucks to get an espresso with your meal? That was kind of crazy. The availability of espresso would be another great touch that could help put Citrola’s on the local culinary map in a big way.

Citrola's Lobster Ravioli in Pink Sauce

Citrola’s Lobster Ravioli in Pink Sauce…delicious!

If you go to Citrola’s, stick to their “Signature Dishes,” which may be code that those are the better dishes on the menu, and the dishes they really care about. The cooks clearly don’t seem to care as much about their salads as they do about some other dishes on the menu. don’t seem to care nearly as much about their salads as they do about other dishes on the menu.

Disappointing Tuscan Chicken Salad -- where's the chicken?

Disappointing “Tuscan Chicken Salad” — so where’s the chicken?

Despite the bad salads, I wouldn’t call it quits on this place. It just has too much going for it, and here in Grand Junction, we need to work on our restaurants to make them better, not abandon them completely. With some time and customer feedback, Citrola’s maybe one day Citrola’s will start to get everything on their menu right, and add a few thoughtful touches like warming the bread, that will make it a truly memorable place people will want to go to again and again.

If and when that ever happens, Citrola’s will really stand out, and work its way into our hearts.

Citrola's ladies' restroom

Citrola’s ladies’ restroom

Rating is out of a total of five diamonds. (♦♦♦♦♦)


Energy Expo Protesters Shame Organizers over Fringe Speaker, Demand More Focus on Clean Energy

Crowd of protesters at Grand Junction's Energy Forum and Expo 2015

Crowd of protesters at Grand Junction’s Energy Forum and Expo 2015

A crowd of people rallied outside Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction today to protest Energy Expo speaker John L. Casey, who lectures on climate change but does not have any qualifying degrees or peer-reviewed publications on the subject. Casey is known for pandering to the belief popular among the tea party fringe that global warming is a massive scientific fraud perpetrated by the U.S. government and the United Nations. YouTube videos of Casey speaking before tea party groups in Florida show him to be a fear monger whose talks devolve into race-baiting and instilling fear in ILoveSciencehis audiences. He warns people to lay in a year’s supply of food to deal with food shortages he predicts will occur in a coming ice age, and tells them to be ready to defend their stored food supplies from urban minorities whom, he says, will try to beat them up and kill them to get it.

Colorado Mountain College on Energy Expo: “We are not hosts of the event”

CMCRachel Pokrandt, Dean of the Rifle Campus of Colorado Mountain College (CMC), says she didn’t know anything about the Energy Expo’s speaker program and the school is not a host of the event, despite being listed as a host on the event’s promotional materials.

“We never agreed to be a host” of the event, Pokrandt said. She says the event organizers “Really did represent us quite horribly.”

Pokrandt says CMC just has a small booth at the event, which they have rented annually for the past 10 years, to educate people about their solar, biofuels and other programs.

“We don’t want to be connected with that type of speaker,” Pokrandt said, referring to Energy Expo speaker John L. Casey, who speaks on the topic of climate science despite having no degrees in climatology and never having published any peer-reviewed research on the subject. His talks typically start out with charts, statistics and scientific claims, but by the end of his talks, he devolves into fearmongering and racist statements.

Videos posted online of Casey’s talks show him speaking before tea party groups. He says anthropogenic climate change is a scientific fraud perpetrated by the U.S. government and the United Nations. He says global warming is over, that sun entered a period of “hibernation” in 2007 and the earth is now entering a prolonged period of cooling that will lead to an increase in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Casey further says this cold phase will cause the world’s food supply to diminish and people will need to lay in a year’s supply of food and be ready to flee to the countryside and defend their food stores from urban minorities who, he says, will start beating and murdering people to get their food supplies — after government food stamp programs can no longer sustain them.

Pokrandt said that in the past, the Energy Expo and Forum has been “fairly level” in regard to balance in the types of speakers they’ve had, and between renewable and non-renewable types of energy, but that unfortunately due to the circumstances this year, CMC may have to withdraw its involvement from the event in the future.


Protest Planned at Energy Expo

W.Slope stupidty signGrand Junction residents concerned about integrity in science, environment and education are planning to protest at this year’s Energy Expo and Forum at 1:00 p.m. Friday on the south side of Two Rivers Convention Center, and are inviting others from around the west slope to join in.

The reason for the protest — the first ever at the Energy Expo — is this year’s speaker, John L. Casey, who claims anthropogenic global climate change is a scientific fraud and government conspiracy. Casey writes and speaks about climate change, yet has no degrees in climate science, nor has he ever published any peer-reviewed information on the subject. He appears almost exclusively before tea party groups.

Online videos of Casey’s prior talks reveal him to be a fear monger and a racist. He starts out with a dry talk using charts and statistics and says global climate change is a fraud perpetrated by the United Nations and the U.S. government. He then tells his audiences that the sun has gone into a “hibernation” phase and the earth is entering a cold era that will devastate crops and lead to food shortages. He then tells audiences they need to store away one year’s worth of food, and get ready to defend their food stores from starving, inner-city minority groups, who will rise up in mass and try to assault and kill people to steal their food.

The Energy Expo is a privately-owned event that is free and open to the public. The event owners are former Club 20 Executive Director Bonnie Peterson and former Mesa County Commissioner and oil and gas lobbyist Kathy Hall. Peterson was responsible for choosing Casey as a speaker this year. Neither event owner informed the event’s supposed “hosts” or sponsors, including Colorado Mountain College, Colorado Mesa University and the John McConnell Math and Science Center, about the choice of speakers until event materials had already gone into production. When “hosts” then complained about Mr. Casey being a speaker, they were told it was too late to change the lineup, because event materials had already been printed.

Two Rivers Convention Center, where the Expo and protest will be held, is owned by the City of Grand Junction.

The public is invited to join the protest at the Energy Expo and the organizers’ shocking choice of John L. Casey as a speaker.

Online Videos Reveal John L. Casey to be a Fearmonger and Racist

Online videos of talks by John L. Casey, the 2015 Energy Forum and Expo’s keynote speaker, reveal him stimulating fear and racism by telling audiences that in the coming cold era that will occur on Earth, minority groups in urban areas will rise up to become thieves and murderers who will try to steal your food.

In videos of his talks, mostly given to Florida tea party groups, Casey tells his audiences that anthropogenic global warming is a “widespread fraud of climate science.” He says carbon dioxide (CO2) has nothing to do with climate change, that changing climate is purely related to the sun. Casey says the sun is now in a period of “hibernation” that will lead to extreme cold that will devastate crops and result of massive food shortages globally.

One of Casey’s talks in reveals his fearmongering and cultivation of racism.

In a video published to YouTube on December 4, 2014, around minute 56, Casey tells his audience:

“After the first panic, when the shelves are cleared out…your neighbor is going to come across the street — maybe your neighbor’s wife — and say ‘sorry to come to your house’ and say there’s no bread and no milk, would you give me something because we know you have a one year food supply. What are you gonna do? What are you gonna do? You’re gonna try and help of course. That’s the human thing. But at some point you’re gonna have enough neighbors lining up and at some point you’re going to have to say ‘I’m sorry we need to preserve our food for ourselves.’

Guess what happens after that point? They’ll beat you up and they’ll kill you. …Nothing is more driven than a starving person. They will do anything, especially if they have children who are starving….

Worst case, have a sanctuary away from urban areas…this may not apply too much here…but it absolutely applies if you live in Miami, New York City, or Atlanta, Georgia,…I mean, pick a major metropolitan area, especially those that are heavily minority and dependent on government food. That’s another reason we need to get rid of the food stamp program, ladies and gentlemen. We need people to be self reliant, not dependent. By making them independent and self-reliant, we give them a chance…”

“The death and destruction will be biblical in scale,” Casey tells the crowd.

See the clip here.