Local Business owner weighs in on rec center, affordable housing, the workforce, development

Octopus Coffee on Horizon Drive

Alexis Bauer owns Octopus Coffee on Horizon Drive. Last week she emailed me to talk about the proposed community recreation center on the upcoming April ballot. (We differed on what we think about it. I am for it). As we got into a longer conversation, Alexis sent a follow-up email in which she offered a variety of  insights from her standpoint as a western slope resident and local business owner. She talked not only about the Rec Center, but also other issues facing Grand Junction, like the housing shortage, the cost of doing business, her experience with the local workforce, City Council’s recent approval of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and what it portends for the City, the buzz she hears from customers, and more.

I found Alexis’s insights interesting and felt they deserved a wider forum, so with her permission I am sharing her email to me below, edited slightly for clarity, in hopes others find it enlightening as well.


Hi Anne,

Maybe I need to let go of the rec center. I’m very biased against it because one of the original organizers would have her meetings in my shop. She is from somewhere urban and lives in the Redlands and is relatively affluent. When she was chatting with me one day, she shared that she really wanted a pool for her boys. I asked why they didn’t use the pool in Orchard Mesa, and although she was too well-spoken to say it plainly, it was clear she didn’t want her children associating with Orchard Mesa kids. From that moment, it felt very much like a gentrification issue and I do worry, quite a bit, that we’ll attract another wave of Texans and Californians if we build it. 
Also decreasing my enthusiasm is how much I’ve noticed that my helicopter parent clients just love the idea of the rec center because then they can hover comfortably around their children and supervise every moment of their lives. If you read [City Councilman Randall] Reitz’s letter to the editor in the Daily Sentinel rallying for the center, he used the word “safe” at least 8 times in 3 paragraphs. As if playing outside isn’t safe. But playing outside is a core G.J. value, or at least it was when I moved here. 
Having lived in northern California for nine horrible years, I’ve seen the results of helicopter parenting, and I think we can all agree it’s awful. When I moved here, I did study the trending parenting style as an indicator of community culture, and when I saw kids playing unattended in their yards or riding their bikes in a group to the park, my heart sang with hope. (I was looking to move here and start a family, although in the end I did not get so lucky.)

Alexis bakes home made cinnamon rolls. Mmmmm.

In nine years of living in North Bay, I only saw an unattended group of children playing one time, and as someone who hires the young, I’m very aware of the devastating effects helicopter parenting has on mental health. I wanted to move as far away from that trend as possible. I wanted to move to where the nation was raising children able to withstand the storms of life. I was exhausted by the feeble, miserable children who stressed out to the max over their untied shoelaces or couldn’t handle something as simple as being interrupted mid-crafting a beverage by a customer who was looking for the half and half. Yet, last summer I had 2 young people stress out and quit over customers looking for half and half. “They’re so rude!” the last one said. “She could see I was working, and she just said it anyway!” She literally couldn’t handle being asked a question by a sleepy person who just wanted to get to work and was too sleepy to find the half and half on her own. So it’s here now, just like housing scarcity and a surge in homelessness and everything else California-style culture has to offer. I may have escaped the version of Hell Gen-X calls parenting, but I guess I only escaped for a few years. I worry, very much, about where the town is heading, both from the poor thinking of the far right and the poor thinking  of the far left.

Indeed, town just passed funding to help homeowners build ADUs … In order to qualify for a tax-funded ADU, homeowners have to pledge not to vacation rent it for five measly years. Crested Butte did this same strategy, and I believe Telluride and Aspen tried this also. What happens is one of two things: it fails right away, or it fails in five years. What happened in Crested Butte was all the homeowners sued and successfully won, and all the ADUs became vacation rentals overnight. Overnight, your neighborhood turned into a hotel lobby, with people wandering about, and raging parties in the quiet hours of the night. It goes so fast, it’s astonishing. The home values skyrocketed from $450k average to $1.2 million in two years. Now everyone lives in Gunnison, Paonia or somewhere else. Of course CB, Telluride and Aspen all failed to build affordable housing because once people are paying over a million for a house, they don’t want neighbors with rowdy bumper stickers and three dogs. Instead, they funded free bussing and now the working class rides an hour or more to and from their jobs every single day. Or farther. Telluride working class are now displaced to Olathe and most of Aspen’s workforce lives in Rifle or Parachute. Ski bums do not do well with being forced off like this, and suicide rates have skyrocketed. Worse though, the sense of community is just gone. Walking down the street, no one waves or says hello because why would they? They’re just hotel guests in the hotel lobby that used to be a village. They’re not going to be friendly at all. In Crested Butte when I last checked, the number of year ’round locals is about 380 people, down from 2,000. Town averages 10,000 tourists a week in high season — just imagine that workload, distributed across 380 people. Even the second homeowners are angry, because they thought they were buying a home in a village and they weren’t. Restaurants are only open 3 days a week, city tax revenues fall because sales cannot happen because no one can operate a full business on the skeleton crews that remain. Morale for these crews is awful, and why wouldn’t they be? They’re sleeping in tents for the entire summer season and their drive in to work passes nothing but row after row of empty homes that they are not able to live in, nor will most of them ever be able to. No wonder they lose their hearts and kill themselves. Their whole world is nothing but a hot mess.
The best case scenario is that in five years, G.J. will get a crop of vacation rentals and then, overnight our town will convert to a hotel. It’s just so obvious, but council doesn’t seem motivated to really do the research. The towns displaying how these scenarios work out are literally surrounding us, yet I have to charge $13 for breakfast burrito so my crew can pay their climbing rents. There’s no land scarcity here, so how did the rents double in the past 18 months? Why do we complain so loudly when oil and gas extort us, but merely whimper when the landlords collaborate and push rents sky high?
Last summer, I overheard two developers in my shop discussing the “last best” option to make “killer returns” on housing. Their game was to buy a trailer park and then, because moving a trailer costs 5-10k, double the lot fees. “Check it out,” the one bro said to the other, “They’re too poor to move, so you double your return overnight!” 

They high-fived in delight, but I had such a line of cups to fill, and such crew shortages from the housing market gone crazy, that I couldn’t cross the counter and engage them on what kind of community devastation they’re unleashing — issues that tax payer money then has to clean up. Issues that make me have to raise my prices to insane levels. Everyone’s talking about inflation raising costs and how it’s Biden’s fault, but my COGs [costs of goods] are well within margins. I’m forced to raise pricing just so my crew can keep roofs over their heads, and the culprit is greedy landlords and city councils that refuse to knuckle down housing costs. I did some research and found there are programs to combat this by creating collectives to purchase their own community-run [housing] parks, in Colorado we have one called Thistle, I believe. 

Octopus coffee

Yikes, I’ve gotten long winded! 
I apologize, this email has wandered all over. But I know you as someone who deeply cares about the community and I guess I needed to get it all out. What to do about it, is my question. I have recently qualified for a mortgage so I’m trying to buy a duplex or triplex so I can lock in some staff housing now, even though real estate is already so high the rent won’t be terribly reasonable. I think all storefront owners should start aggressively purchasing housing, to survive the next housing market explosion. Interest rates or not, it’s coming for us. 
I want to do more though, but I’ve found that I can’t stay up late enough to attend city council meetings and participate that way (downside of being a baker, I fall asleep by 8 pm, if not 730. Yes, I hate daylight savings time, lol). I do have a reach to the public at the shop and I do get ideas out there, I’ll be sharing your work the next two weeks – both on the city council candidates but also on the trouble with the charter school replacement in OM. What an eye opener that is! 
Thanks for reading! And thanks for your valuable research, so thankful for the illuminations you provide!
Happy Tuesday,

D-51 School Board President Andrea Haitz violates School Board Ethics Code

Andrea Haitz’s Feb. 15 mass email violates an ethics rule that says school board members must refrain from using their board positions for partisan gain

District 51 School Board President Andrea Haitz violated the School Board’s ethics rules by sending out an overtly partisan, political mass email February 15, 2023 using her position as School Board President to promote her husband Greg’s bid to get a seat on Grand Junction City Council this April.

Andrea Haitz

Haitz wrote,

I am writing to you today because, despite our victory, the LEFT is still here seeking majorities in local government to make Grand Junction the Denver of the Western Slope.

We can put a stop to this by voting for conservatives in the April 4th Grand Junction City Council Election like my husband, Greg Haitz, who is running for District B. [Underlining emphasis in original.]

Haitz’s email violated Mesa County Valley School District 51’s Code of Ethics for School Board Members (pdf), Policy BCB-E, which says school board members will

Avoid being placed in a position of conflict of interest and refrain from using my board position for personal or partisan gain.

Mesa County Commissioner Bobbie Daniel endorses fraudster Greg Haitz for City Council

Greg Haitz

Greg Haitz’s campaign sent out a mass email today, March 20, that appears to be from Mesa County Commissioner Bobbie Daniel, saying Daniel endorses him for a seat on Grand Junction City Council and asking people to send a minimum donation of $50 to his campaign.

If Commissioner Daniel actually endorses Haitz for Council, then she is endorsing someone who is openly perpetrating a fraud on Grand Junction citizens by selling a “dangerous” and “reckless” weight-loss program on his business website, RimRockWellness.com.

Bobbie Daniel (R), shown here with indicted former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters

“Dangerous” and “reckless” are the words the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses to warn people about the type of weight loss program Haitz is currently promoting for $199 — a discount from his usual much higher price of $399, according to his website.

Still no accountability for the murder of 25 year old Gage Lorentz by a National Park Service Ranger


Screen shot from Ranger Mitchell’s body camera showing the moment he shot Gage Lorentz point-blank in the chest after pulling him over for speeding on a dirt road in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Lorentz was unarmed, unintoxicated and alone at the time.

Gage Lorentz, a graduate of Fruita Monument High School, was murdered on March 21, 2020, by a law enforcement officer while heading home to Montrose. He was driving home alone on an isolated back road in Carlsbad Caverns National Park to see his family after working for weeks on a drilling rig in the outskirts of Pecos, Texas.

National Park Ranger Robert Mitchell pulled Gage over for speeding on a dirt road inside the Park. Gage was alone, unarmed, unintoxicated and followed all of Mitchell’s orders until he ordered Gage to turn around and put his back to him. At that point, Gage refused to comply. The officer’s body camera video shows that seconds later, Mitchell had pinned Gage to the ground, was on top of him and shot him, point-blank, in the chest, killing him.

First hint of accountability for Red Rock

A copy of a letter sent to Red Rock Nissan by the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Auto Industry Division. This copy of the letter came to Michelle Mondragon, whom Red Rock Nissan initially charged over $15k above the price they advertised for her truck. The Mondragons filed a complaint with the Auto Industry Division against Red Rock last October. The letter warns Red Rock that their dealer’s license could be in jeopardy.

Michelle Mondragon, whose hair-raising story about buying a vehicle from Red Rock Nissan last year was featured in this blog November 1, 2022, received the above letter from the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Auto Industry Division last week indicating they have finally taken some action against the dealership, albeit a very weak action.

The letter warns Red Rock they “may have” violated several laws and regulations in the Mondragons’ case regarding deceptive advertising and sales of vehicles, and says “No action will be taken against your dealer’s license at this time. However, any further violations may be referred to the Motor Vehicle Dealer board,” and “your dealer’s license may be subject to disciplinary action that could include fines, suspension or revocation of your license. It is imperative that you take measures to correct the matters within your organization.”

This is likely just the beginning.

The Mondragons submitted their complaint against Red Rock last October. Since then, many more Red Rock customers have submitted complaints about how Red Rock defrauded them.

If you review paperwork from your deal at Red Rock and find irregularities like forged signatures, charges for items you never agreed to like extended warranties, special coatings or detail packages, or if you check with your lender and find Red Rock lied to them about your gross income, monthly rent or mortgage payment or the features of the vehicle you were buying, file a complaint with the Auto Industry Division at this link.  Be prepared to upload images of your paperwork to substantiate what you found that was fraudulent.



As D-51 School Board’s conservative majority rushes to close East Middle School, it fast-tracks the opening of a religiously-affiliated charter school

District 51 School Board President Andrea Haitz

As the conservative District 51 School Board majority headed by Board President Andrea Haitz hurries to shut down East Middle School, it is fast-tracking the opening of yet another charter school, the Ascent Classical Academy, a project of Hillsdale College, a private Christian religious school located in south-central Michigan.

Ascent Classical Academy uses a curriculum advanced by Hillsdale’s Barney Charter School Initiative, “an outreach program of Hillsdale College devoted to the revitalization of public education through the launch and support of classical K-12 charter schools.”

Ascent Classical Academy plans to open in Grand Junction in August, 2023, at 545 31 Road, the building that formerly housed the Rocky Mountain Gun Club, just as the District puts the finishing touches on shutting down East Middle School, a high-performing traditional public school in the heart of downtown Grand Junction.

Teachers union president resigns via email amid flap over school closures & conservative school board members’ rejection of health clinic at GJHS

Timothy Couch, President of the Mesa Valley Education Association (MVEA), resigned via email March 8, on the same day the three-member conservative District 51 School Board majority ignored the pleas of students and voted to reject an offer by Marillac Health to operate a grant-funded, school-based health clinic at Grand Junction High School.  The three Board members rejected the clinic at a time when homelessness among D-51 students is rapidly increasing and a Youth Risk Behavior survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (pdf) found poor mental health and suicidal thoughts and behaviors among students are increasing nationwide. According to the CDC, in 2021, almost 60% of female students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness during the past year and nearly 25% made a suicide plan. Suicide is also a growing problem among Mesa County youth and suicide prevention is a “health priority” for Mesa County Public Health.

Grand Junction City Council candidate rundown 2023

For this article, I drew from publicly available sources, including the candidates’ own websites and social media accounts, newspaper articles, the candidates’ financial disclosure statements filed with the City of Grand Junction, background-checks done on TruthFinder.com, and public records requests to the Grand Junction Police Department (GJPD) for records of any contact the candidates had with local law enforcement agencies. I felt the law enforcement piece was necessary after seeing Mesa County voters elect people to public office who were later involved in theft, falsifying time cards, embezzlement, assault, plagiarism, DUI, double-dipping, election tampering and other offenses.

These City Council candidates are asking voters to hire them for a job. City taxpayers pay their salaries. The candidates should be background-checked.

Tina Peters is certain she will do no jail time for her conviction on obstructing government operations

Tina Peters’ mugshot for her arrest on 3/9/2022

KRDO TV in Colorado Springs is reporting that Tina Peters, who is now running for Chair of the Colorado Republican Party, believes her ongoing legal battles won’t hurt her ability to lead the Party if she is elected. She also believes she will not serve any jail time in connection with her conviction on obstructing government operations.

A jury found Peters guilty of the charge earlier this month. She is scheduled to be sentenced at 9:00 a.m. on April 10 in Courtroom 2 at the Mesa County Justice Center.

Peters told KRDO, “I promise you I’m not going to jail. This is not a jailable offense, so I’m not worried at all.”

Her conviction carries a potential sentence of up to 6 months in jail, a $750 fine, or probation and community service.