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.

When asked for just a rough percentage of the breakdown between pro and con national park, Barbara refused to answer that question, too. She suggested I talk to a paid staffer, Jason Eastman, but said he wasn’t in the office, she didn’t know when he would be back, and she refused to give me a phone number or email for him.

Senator Udall’s D.C. office was just as tight-lipped about the public response to the proposal to upgrade the Monument.

Nicholas Hubler, an intern in Udall’s D.C. office, flat-out refused to answer the same question about the actual numbers of comments received for and against the Monument upgrade, saying “We can’t release that information.” When asked why not, he said it was “due to the privacy of constituents.” I reassured him that I wanted no addresses, names or data about the commenters’ positions, but I just sought the hard numbers of the total responses received, and the breakdown of comments for and against. He refused to give out the information. When I asked to speak to a paid staffer, Nicholas referred me to Loren, or Lauren (she also refused to give the correct spelling of her first name or give her last name.) Asked the same question about the number of public comments they got for and against, Loren said “I’m not sure that’s information we’re going to release.” When asked why she wouldn’t be able to release such information, she said she “can’t comment.” She told me to go to the Senator’s website to submit the question so they could refer it to the appropriate person, and I told her that when I submit a question through their website, all I get is a general, form-letter-type answer back that doesn’t really answer anything, and that all I wanted was just a short, easy answer to a very simple, specific question.

She nervously refused again to answer.

Hiding the Truth

Sen. Mark Udall's staff is also dodging questions about the number of comments their office received for and against upgrading the Monument to national park status.

Sen. Mark Udall’s staff is also dodging questions about the number of comments their office received for and against upgrading the Monument to national park status.

The royal dodge that Tipton’s and Udall’s offices are giving about the comments they got for and against park status was absolutely surreal. Why would these numbers be such a big a secret? They were public comments submitted to our elected officials about a very public question.

Are we supposed to accept at face value these politicians’ claim that significant public support for the legislation just wasn’t there? The claim just doesn’t hold water.

Support to change the Monument to a national park was broader and more non-partisan than support for anything proposed in recent history in this area. Backers of the change included the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, the Downtown Development Authority, the Downtown Association, the Grand Junction Visitors and Convention Bureau, the Daily Sentinel, notable local politicians like Tilman Bishop, Josh Penry, and Bernie Buescher plus local hotels, restaurants, wineries, resorts, shoe stores and other retailers, banks as well as every local municipality, chamber of commerce and tourism board.

That’s a flat-out amazing amount of support for anything proposed in this region.

If the numbers of comments Tipton and Udall received really supported ditching the legislation as they claim, you would think they would eagerly make those numbers public, to back their conclusion that support for the legislation just isn’t there.

But from the nervous runaround their staffers are giving to questions about the numbers of comments their offices received for and against, the only possible conclusion is that the comment really went the other way, and the majority actually supported park status.

But election year politics are these legislators’ main concern, not the benefit of the area they represent.

Retail Marijuana Boosts Businesses in Carbondale

July 7, 2014
Colorado's new marijuana economy is bringing big benefits to towns that embrace it.

Colorado’s new marijuana economy is benefitting towns that embrace it.

Carbondale is one of the few towns on Colorado’s western slope that started selling retail recreational marijuana on January 1, 2014. Only one marijuana shop opened in Carbondale, The Doctor’s Garden, but that one store is boosting the fortunes of other businesses throughout the town. A grocery store across the street from the Doctor’s Garden reports a definite increase in the number of people in town after marijuana became available, and says sales of snacks and drinks increased markedly. New people are also coming to town from other resort towns, like Aspen and Vail, and people are even coming from outside the contiguous U.S., to buy marijuana at the Doctor’s Garden. When the X-Games were ongoing in Aspen last winter, the Carbondale chamber of commerce got a call from an out-of-state ski club seeking to bring 450 people to Carbondale, specifically to go the Doctor’s Garden. Tourists going out of their way to patronize the marijuana shop also patronize other businesses in the course of doing so. Coffee bars report increased business and a local pizza shop, Peppino’s Pizza, reported gaining plenty of new customers after marijuana went on sale last January. Business owners say the demographics of the new visitors are not the “stoner” or younger, slacker-type crowd they expected, but 50-something people, which one business owner described as “an older, normal clientele.”

Source: Colorado Independent, February 5, 2014

National Park Designation Boosts Economic Fortune of California Town

July 3, 2014
The spire at Pinnacles National Park reflects on a calm reservoir below it. (Photo: NPS.gov)

The spire at Pinnacles National Park reflects on a calm reservoir below it. (Photo: NPS.gov)

Some fearful “old-guard” folks in Grand Junction are trembling in their boots at the prospect of the Colorado National Monument being upgraded to a national park, but if the experience of Soledad, California is an indicator, national park status confers a significant bump in the local economies of small towns situated near them.

In the year and a half since the Pinnacles National Monument near Soledad, California was designated the nation’s 59th national park in February, 2013, Soledad has seen its sales tax receipts jump 11 percent. Nearby restaurants report that signage posted on the routes to the new national park is bringing in more customers.

Pinnacles National Park has also seen a jump in admission fees over when it was a national monument, and the park’s book store has experienced record sales.

Park designation has brightened the economic outlook for Soledad, which previously struggled with a limited economic base.

Prior to the national park designation, Soledad’s economy was based almost solely on agriculture and the presence of a state prison. The national park designation has opened up a whole new area of clean, sustainable economic productivity for the town.

Now Soledad is gearing up to capitalize even more on the good fortune of having a national park in its back yard. The city is welcoming the diversification of its economic base and all the benefits it confers.

This summer, Soledad will open up a brand new visitor center downtown to enlighten tourists going to the park about other nearby offerings, like wineries, vineyards and specialty restaurants.

Grand Junction is poised to experience the same type of boost to its economic fortune as legislators consider bringing a bill to upgrade the Colorado National Monument to a national park.

 

Source: KAZU 90.3, June 25, 2014, National Park Status Boosts Tourism and Hopes

Unlike the G.J. Chamber, Bin 707 Walks the “Local” Talk

July 3, 2014

bin707logoBin 707 Foodbar in downtown Grand Junction is serious about supporting local food products and organic food producers. “We’re local first, Colorado second,” says Bin’s new website. “Locally purchased products keeps money in the local economy for longer, instead of investing it in large corporations.”

Yup, Bin gets it.

When the time came to create a new website, Bin patronized Synergy Marketing Consultants at 2478 Patterson Road, a full-service digital marketing agency located right here in Grand Junction. Cat Mayer of Cat Mayer Studio, located at 3360 Star Court in Grand Junction, did the photography for the new site, and the photographs are gorgeous.

Bin’s seeking out of local talent and expertise contrasts starkly with the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, which claims to promote local business while frequently taking its own business out of town, and often clean out of the state.

Bin 707′s true devotion to local, and its creative, innovative culinary offerings have catapulted it to success — all without joining the chamber.

Now the highest-rated restaurant in town on TripAdvisor and the second highest-rated on Yelp, Bin has quickly become a well-loved local institution. It provides GJ residents with a top-level eatery for special occasions as well as everyday dining.

Thank you, Bin 707, not just for helping to bring our town’s culinary offerings into the 21st century, but for demonstrating you are truly devoted to the real meaning of “local.”

Grand Junction’s First Secular A.A. Group Moves to New Location

July 1, 2014
Mesa County's new secular Alcoholics Anonymous group meets every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Veterans Art Center at 370 S. 12th Street (SW corner of 12th and Ute.)

Mesa County’s new secular Alcoholics Anonymous group now meets every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Veterans Art Center at 370 S. 12th Street (SW corner of 12th and Ute.)

Mesa County’s new secular Alcoholics Anonymous group, “We Agnostics,” which started up just a few months ago, has already moved up to better digs. The group now meets at 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday the Veteran’s Art Center at 307 S. 12th Street (at the southwest corner of 12th Street and Ute Ave., in the old Sentinel Printing building). We Agnostics is for recovering alcoholics who prefer an alternative to AA meetings that emphasize religion and use the “higher power” rhetoric commonly encountered in many meetings. As We Agnostics says on their brochure (pdf), “The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.” We Agnostics’ goal is “to assure suffering alcoholics that they can achieve sobriety with the support of A.A. without having to accept anyone else’s beliefs or deny their own.”

Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce Violates Own “Buy Local” Advice — Again!

June 30, 2014
Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke (Photo Credit: YouTube)

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke (Photo Credit: YouTube)

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce once again dealt a hard slap to local businesses by hiring an out-of-state web developer to create its new “Save Local Now” web page and mobil app.

As quickly as the chamber debuted its new “save local” program, the Daily Sentinel revealed it had hired an Ohio-based firm to create it.

Such web development expertise is available in Grand Junction. Thin Air Web at the corner of First Street and North Avenue is one local company that offers such services, but the chamber chose not to patronize this or any other local web development business for this need.

Local-Washing

The Grand Junction Chamber regularly rolls out programs nominally aimed at supporting local businesses, like it’s “Blue Band Buy Local” program, while actually taking much of its own business out of town. This practice is known as “local-washing,” or trying to look concerned about local businesses without actually supporting local business.

Local-washing is akin to “greenwashing,” in which the chamber claims to be environmentally conscious while backing environmentally devastating pursuits unpopular with many businesses, like fracking and oil shale mining. The chamber also “job-washes,” or claims to support efforts to create jobs locally, while working to undermine innovative new economic pursuits that are already generating significant economic activity and good-paying jobs in other parts of the state. Read more »

Clueless Colorado House Rep. Ray Scott Denies Climate Change

June 24, 2014

In this 2013 video, Colorado House Representative Ray Scott, a climate change denier who represents Colorado’s western slope, argues 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 says “We have better things to do.” and “We’re going too darn far.” Incredibly, he further states,

“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?’ “

According to NASA, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the last century are very likely due to human activities. Most leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.

Some of the current consequences of climate change, according to NASA and a majority of scientists, include loss of sea ice, longer and more severe heat waves, and accelerated sea level rise. Read more »

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