Daily Sentinel Threatens CO Sen. Ray Scott with Defamation Lawsuit

Publisher of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Jay Seaton, publisher of the Grand Junction, Colorado Daily Sentinel, publicly threatened Colorado State Senator Ray Scott with a defamation lawsuit in his editorial column Sunday, February 12, after Scott, in a tweet, charged the Sentinel with publishing “fake news.”

The confrontation came about after Scott’s committee failed to hold a hearing on SB-40 (pdf), a bill to update Colorado’s Open Records Act (CORA), also known as a “Sunshine Law.” SB-40 would make it easier for the public to access and analyze government documents, in particular computerized records. If a digital document exists in a state or local government office in a searchable format, the new law would require the government deliver it in searchable format to members of the public who request copies of it under CORA. If passed, the bill would save citizens and journalists a huge amount of time searching through documents for specific information.

Newspapers often use CORA requests to obtain documents about lawmakers’ activities, but many legislators don’t like the idea of making such information more accessible to constituents and journalists.

Ray Scott is apparently one of those legislators.

Hearing Canceled Without Explanation; Scott Dodges Questions

SB-40 was to be heard Monday, February 6 by the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs (SVMA) Committee, chaired by none other than our very own Senator Ray Scott. This committee is also known as a “Kill Committee,” where legislators send bills they don’t like to make sure they die. Ray Scott did his job and duly canceled the hearing on SB-40 indefinitely without offering any explanation or new hearing date, likely rendering the bill dead for this year. He did the same thing for a similar CORA bill that came before his committee last year, too.

The Sentinel tried to contact Scott to ask why he canceled the hearing on SB-40, but Scott did not respond.

The Sentinel then published an editorial February 8 titled “Better Open Records” asking Scott to reschedule SB-40, give it a fair hearing and advance it out of his committee to the full senate for a vote.

Soon after, Scott issued the following Trump-esque tweet charging the Sentinel with publishing “fake news”:

Ray Scott flames the Daily Sentinel in a sophomoric tweet

 

Colorado State Senator Rep Ray Scott (R) may face a defamation lawsuit after charging the Daily Sentinel with publishing “fake news.”

In response, Seaton wrote an editorial February 12 titled “A False Character Assassination That Can’t Go Unchallenged,” in which he threw down the gauntlet.

Seaton said he takes very seriously the Sentinel’s duty to watchdog government, uncover the facts and report them to the public in a truthful, dispassionate manner. Seaton pointed out that credibility is his newspaper’s stock-in-trade, and that Scott was applying a proven method to avoid accountability, specifically undermining the credibility of the Sentinel rather than addressing the issue at hand. Seaton also charged Scott with knowingly making a false statement with the intent of diminishing the paper’s credibility — a key fact that must be established in order to prevail in a defamation suit.

“When Sen. Scott asserts that The Daily Sentinel is ‘fake news,’… he intends to diminish The Sentinel as a purveyor of reliable information…[T]here is a difference between criticism of a news story, editorial stance or perceived bias and what Sen. Scott has done. His tweet is patently, provably false.”

Seaton then wrote:

Jay Seaton’s public threat to sue Ray Scott for defamation

 

How did Scott respond?

Why, with yet another sophomoric tweet, of course:

Ray Scott’s schoolyard taunt back to Seaton

 

We’ll see if the Sentinel follows through on its threat to sue Scott. If it does, it will be an extremely rare — maybe even historic — case of a newspaper suing an individual. Most of the time, it’s the opposite; a newspaper prints something a legislator or individual finds objectionable, and the individual sues the paper for defamation.

These days even our highest-level elected officials have been using charges of “fake news” almost every day as a ploy to avoid discussing facts and having to justify what they are doing. A defamation lawsuit against Scott, if the Sentinel files it, could put legislators across the country on notice that they can no longer flippantly throw out the term “fake news” to try and harm a news outlet’s reputation. Such a lawsuit could be groundbreaking, and extremely important to the future of news coverage across the country, especially now, in the Trump era.

Maybe Grand Junction’s hometown newspaper will rise to national prominence and make history by drawing a line in the sand against elected officials throwing around fake charges of “fake news.”

We’ll see.

 

 

Another Reason G.J. Needs a Recreation Center: The Skyline Warehouse

Skyline Warehouse: easy to miss if you’re driving on Highway 6 & 50

Last night I had the opportunity to attend a kids’ indoor soccer game at the Skyline indoor sports facility at 2522 Highway 6 & 50.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, Skyline is an old warehouse that in 2011 was repurposed into an indoor sports facility. It is located behind the Auto Zone on Highway 6& 50, just west of Sam’s Club.

The Skyline Warehouse definitely serves a need in western Colorado. Its indoor batting cages and soccer field keep kids active in sports throughout the winter without their having to be out in the cold and the snow. It’s a wonderful thing for kids and parents alike to have a warm, indoor place to play sports in winter.

But Just Look at It

That said, the Skyline warehouse is one very sad-looking, ramshackle place. The walls separating the batting cage area from the soccer field are unfinished and barely slapped together. The insulation in the walls is shredded and falling apart. There aren’t any bleachers for people to sit in to watch soccer games, so onlookers have to stand the whole time to watch games. Many kids aren’t even tall enough to see over the wooden wall of the soccer field to see the games. A window in one of the doors leading into the warehouse is broken and the shattered glass is held together with tape. The parking lot is dirt, which turns into mud after rain and snow.

The interior of the Skyline Sports facility

It’s easy to see a facility like this is badly needed and much-appreciated by parents and kids in Grand Junction. But by the same token, local kids and families deserve better than this, don’t they?

If Grand Junction residents could be persuaded to put just a bit more public funding (yes, *gasp,* taxes!) into building an attractive, up-to-date recreation center to keep families active throughout the winter, we’d have a far more comfortable, appropriate place for families to recreate and have fun. We could also all be a lot prouder of our town, and have happier lives here.

Until we collectively start caring enough to invest a bit more in our quality of life here in Happy Valley, we’ll have to settle for the Skyline Warehouse.

 

No bleachers for families and fans to sit next to the soccer field

 

The soccer field at Skyline warehouse

The interior of Skyline Sports facility: slapdash, ramshackle, unattractive, poorly maintained

 

The Citrus Gypsies are Back!

The Citrus Gypsies’ booth at First Street and Patterson Road

The Citrus Gypsies are those wonderful people who for the past three years have been driving down to Arizona, picking up the sweetest, juiciest oranges, grapefruits, lemons and pomelos and other goodies from a long-established orchard in Arizona, driving it up to Grand Junction and selling it at two booths, one at the corner of First and Grand Ave., and the other at Patterson and First Street.

This is the best citrus around, folks, far better than what you get at the local grocery stores. The Citrus Gypsies make multiple trips back and forth to Arizona during the latter part of the winter and they get fruit from the same orchard each time, so with every trip they make, they bring back fruit that has been on the trees longer, and that is even riper and juicier. They make several trips throughout the season until the citrus harvest is done, and then these great folks disappear until next year.

It’s Time to Talk About Donald Trump’s Mental Health

The first week of Donald Trump’s presidency has made one thing clear: Americans must start considering Mr. Trump’s mental health a serious problem.

There are no two ways about it: Mr. Trump has exhibited inappropriate behaviors this week, repeatedly, raising concerns across the country about his mental status and ability lead, and Americans are getting alarmed.

Specifically, Mr. Trump has continued to lie to Americans, attributing his loss of the popular vote to his imaginary conclusion that millions of unauthorized immigrants voted for Clinton illegally in the November election. Mr. Trump restates this conclusion even after being informed that it is not even remotely possible. Mr. Trump also keeps insisting that he had “the biggest crowd in the history of inaugural speeches,” despite photographic evidence to the contrary.

Mr. Trump’s obsession with his own popularity is unnerving at best, freaky at worst. And it’s getting more and more inappropriate.

Massive Anti-Trump March in Grand Junction One Day After Inauguration

If yesterday’s massive Women’s March to protest Donald Trump in Grand Junction proves anything, it’s that western Colorado is clearly not a politically monolithic area for conservatives any more.

Grand Junction saw the largest crowd ever in its local history turn out today to participate in a march downtown in support of liberal values like women’s rights, equality, diversity and respect for all human beings. Grand Junction’s march was held simultaneously as, and in support of the massive Women’s March in Washington, D.C., as well and similar protests in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles other cities all across the world.  The marchers turned out they day after the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, who openly insulted women in many ways during his long campaign for president and in public venues throughout his life and career.

Mike Anton is Back, This Time Plugging an Events Center

Michael P. “I’m Your Worst Nightmare” Anton, author of the Grand Junction’s only negative campaign ad, and cheerleader for the chamber’s lies and political interference

Mike Anton is back, appearing on TV and speaking to groups around town, telling Grand Junction residents they should vote for an extra sales tax to build an events center downtown.

Do you remember Mike Anton?

No?

Well then let’s recap exactly who Mike Anton is, and what he has done over the last few years, so you will remember him:

Anton owns a business in town called EmTech. He sat on the board of directors of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce in 2013. That was the year the chamber backed Rick Brainard for city council.

Remember how THAT turned out?

Putting Grand Junction’s Costco Rumors to Rest

Costco Warehouse Store – Sam’s Club is the major obstacle to Grand Junction getting a Costco

For years western slope residents have been hoping and wishing that a Costco warehouse store would open in Grand Junction.

Around 2010, rumors started circulating that Costco was considering locating a new store in Grand Junction. People even started proposing possible locations for the new store in the Daily Sentinel’s letters-to-the-editor column.

But Costco never came to Grand Junction, and to this day rumors continue to abound about why the area was passed up.

People blamed the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce for chasing Costco away, saying the Chamber wanted to keep the wage scale low here, and Costco would upend our area’s low-wage apple cart. Costco is known for it’s generous wage and benefits packages, paying a starting salary of around $17/hour, or $45,000/year, and offering employees medical insurance, retirement and more.

Others claim Costco rejected Grand Junction because of our notoriously underfunded District 51 schools. 

None of these are true.

She’s Back! Self-Styled Grand Junction Missionary June Fellhauer Returns to Pitch her $99 Religious Video Series to D-51 Girls

Self-styled G.J. missionary June Fellhauer, giving a talk on “Women’s Purpose” July 12, 2015 (Photo credit: YouTube)

June Fellhauer is back, once again taking advantage of School District 51’s “PeachJar” literature distribution system to plug her $99 video evangelism series to girls 11 years and up.

Fellhauer is kind of like Grand Junction’s own Shelly Donahue, but without the plastic bags of full of spaghetti and waffles, and titillating talk about masturbation. And unlike Donahue, Fellhauer apparently preaches only to girls, not boys, at least when she preaching for money.

Several days ago Fellhauer sent out a flier to D-51 families promoting another free sales-pitch event, this one called “Becoming Love,” aimed at girls 11 and up. The purpose of the event is to recruit kids’ families to pony up $99 for their daughters to view Fellhauer’s online, four-week video series in which she teaches biblical myths to girls with the primary message that women are subservient to men rather than qualified, able individuals in their own right. Fellhauer warns girls not strike out on their own, and tells girls if they remain helpers underneath the “cover” of their men, the men will “lift them up,” and they will get their power that way.

U.S. Congressman Issues Statement on Decision Not to Attend Trump’s Inauguration

U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu of Los Angeles County

In the wake of the insults President-Elect Donald Trump hurled at civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis today on Twitter, just days before Martin Luther King Day and his own inauguration, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D – Los Angeles County) issued the following statement explaining his decision to not attend Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017.

The flap started when Rep. Lewis said in an interview today with Meet The Press host Chuck Todd that he will not be attending Trump’s inauguration in part because he doesn’t think Trump is a legitimate president due to Russia’s reported interference the U.S. election.

It’s Time for Grand Junction to Invest in its Residents

“What about us?” A GJ grassroots citizens group called PLACE has been lobbying for a community recreation center since 2015

The Grand Junction City Council announced plans to put a measure on the April, 2017 ballot to increase city sales tax by a quarter of a cent to fund construction of a 5,000-seat event center by Two Rivers Convention Center. The tax would cost every G.J. household about an extra $30 per year.

The only problem is, City residents don’t want an event center. Residents have said over and over that they want a community recreation center where people can gather to meet, recreate, learn and have fun indoors and outdoors year ‘round. They want a place where kids can go to have fun and stay out of trouble.

Lack of Amenities

Grand Junction has long suffered with a lack of community places where kids, teens, seniors and families can congregate, have fun and learn.