Anne Landman

Mesa County’s pervasive right wing culture is damaging our public health and economy

No one wants to say it, but Mesa County’s far right wing culture is now hurting us all, physically and economically

Everybody is dancing around it, but no one wants to come right out and say it. It’s the single biggest threat to Mesa County’s population in the last hundred years, but everyone is scared to say it:

Mesa County’s dominant far right wing culture is now causing a resurgent spread of Covid-19, sending people to the hospital and endangering the children in our community who are too young to get vaccinated. Our area’s right wing culture, with its erroneous, misinformed beliefs, is causing the majority of Mesa County residents to refuse to get vaccinated against Covid-19. At the same time our elected officials have abandoned all other means of controlling the pandemic, like masking and physical distancing requirements.

We’ve heard over and over again that the Covid vaccine is now our only way out of the pandemic, but because most people in Mesa County are refusing to get vaccinated, we may never escape the pandemic.

People who won’t get vaccinated are continuing to act as if everything was normal again, too. They are gathering, recreating, shopping and engaging in other activities without taking Covid precautions. Country Jam is right around the corner, frightening residents with its outsized potential to be a big Covid-spreading event.

Local hospitals have reported they are full and diverting patients. This is happening because of an excess of Covid-19 cases among unvaccinated people.

Contrary to popular belief, the pandemic is not over. It is still here and still spreading, and now with the more transmissible and virulent Delta variant. That, combined with the large number of unvaccinated people here is making our area’s hospitals  fill up with Covid patients along with all the other seasonal emergencies the hospitals usually get, like hiking and rafting accidents, for example — to the point where they have to occasionally refuse to take any more patients.

This means that if you or a member of your family unexpectedly require hospitalization, there may not be a bed here because the hospitals are clogged with Covid-19 patients, and you’ll have to drive somewhere else in the state to get them admitted to a hospital.

This is a distinct threat to all Mesa County residents, and it’s all attributable to the county’s widespread and grossly uninformed far right wing beliefs.

Those same beliefs are now dragging our economy, down, too.

In a June 13 Daily Sentinel article, Robin Brown, Executive Director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, said our area’s low vaccination rate is now hurting economic growth, too. Brown said businesses that were considering moving to or expanding to Mesa County are pulling out because of our low vaccination rate.  Mesa County Public Health Department Director Jeff Kuhr explained why:

A typical misinformed conversation on Facebook about the pandemic and the Covid-19 vaccine in Mesa County

Mesa County’s unvaccinated people form the majority of the pool of potential employees, and when unvaccinated people get exposed to Covid-19, they have to quarantine for 10 days. As employees, they’d be forced to miss work. Unvaccinated employees are at a far greater risk of getting Covid-19, too, particularly with the more transmissible Delta variant running amok in the community now. Infected employees have to take sick leave.

People who are vaccinated don’t have to quarantine after being exposed to the virus, so why would any business consider moving here when they can move to one of the other counties where over 70% of people are already vaccinated, and where the potential for this added expense and uncertainty is far less of a factor than it is here?

If people don’t get vaccinated, we’re out of tools to control the pandemic

Mesa County held its own in the pandemic throughout 2020, but the County Commissioners ended public health protections early this spring when they issued their “Free to Choose” resolution, which says (and I paraphrase): “Well, we did what we could to get the pandemic under control and now we’re done with that. The economy is more important than people’s health, so now people can go do whatever they want.”

The resolution eliminated mandatory masking and physical distancing, but because the County has now summarily ditched the only other tools we had to keep people from getting infected with Covid-19, and since most adults in Mesa County are unvaccinated, we are left with ZERO tools to further control the pandemic. This hands the virus a big pool of unvaccinated bodies it will continue to infect and through which it can continue to spread, and that is exactly what it is doing right now.

The virus will continue to flourish here and keep us in a perpetual state of pandemic for the foreseeable future because we have a large and deeply misinformed population that harbors outlandish, unsubstantiated and often conspiratorial far right wing beliefs about the virus and the vaccine that keeps them from getting it.

Headlines tell the story of what Mesa County is now facing:

One of County Commissioner Janet Rowland’s Fox News Facebook posts from her campaign, spreading misinformation about the Covid pandemic

One of the rationales the Commissioners gave to justify their “Free to Choose” initiative was that we had flattened the curve, and hospital bed use in Mesa County was down so hospital capacity was no longer an issue.

Well, not any more.

On May 24th, St. Mary’s and Community Hospital both announced they were full and turning away patients. Community Hospital confirmed that the increase in the number of Covid-19 patients was a factor.

The same far right wing beliefs are now especially endangering kids in our area, and in particular kids under 11, who can’t get the Covid vaccine yet.

Twelve counties in Colorado have succeeded in meeting President Biden’s goal of getting over 70% of their residents vaccinated, taking those areas a long way towards ending the pandemic and getting back to normal where they are.

But that’s not happening here.

On June 9, the Mesa County Public Health Department issued an alert warning of widespread transmission of the Delta variant of Covid-19. The alert pointed out the particular danger this is posing to kids:

“Mesa County’s COVID-19 case data over the most recent 14 day period shows the most infections in the 10-19 age group (138). Another 50 cases have been in individuals age 0-9 in the last two weeks.”

The Delta variant now proliferating in our midst is 50% more transmissible and kids under 12 in in our county are ineligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, making kids bear the brunt of the local right wing culture’s mistaken beliefs, and the County Commissioners’ bad decisions.

Mesa County’s Covid-19 vaccination rate lags far behind the rest of the state

Dr. Megan Stiner, a pediatrician with Primary Care Partners in G.J. said on KKCO 11 News this evening that their practice has been seen a very large uptick in the number of kids presenting with Covid-19 over the last month, far more than they have seen in the course of the entire pandemic so far.

This is not abstract. Kids in Mesa County are suffering badly as a result of the decisions the politically right wing adults in this county are making, and most particularly the County Commissioners, whose job is to protect them.

Are you part of the problem? Take this quiz and see:

So what are those far right wing beliefs that are making masses of Mesa County residents refuse to get vaccinated against Covid-19?

Take this quiz and see:

  1. Do you think Donald Trump is going to ride a unicorn back into the White House this August?
  2. Do you think the health department is using Covid-19 vaccinations to inject microchips into people for Bill Gates, or to make people magnetic?
  3. Do you think the Covid-19 vaccines aren’t really vaccines because after you get vaccinated you still have to maintain physical distancing and wear a mask in some circumstances?
  4. Have you attended local presentations that featured speakers who have been formally charged with fraud and deception, charged with other crimes, or

    Another example of a typical misunderstanding among the local right wing populace of how vaccines work.

    gotten cease and desist orders from government agencies charged with protecting public health and safety?

  5. Have you read articles or watched videos that have been banned from public dissemination because they contain lies or try to extort money from low-information people by ginning up fear among them?
  6. Do you believe the virus was man-made, that the vaccination causes infertility or contains live virus, that masks don’t to work to help reduce transmission of it, that Covid-19 is no deadlier than the flu, that vitamins will cure Covid or that officials are exaggerating the death toll from the virus?
  7. Have you decided not to get the Covid-19 vaccination because, well, just you’re just going to show that goddamn government what’s what?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are part of the problem.

It used to be that Mesa County’s far right wing culture and track record of people in office who relied on misinformation and hoaxes was something we could laugh off and joke about, but not any more.

Now it’s a deadly serious matter.

Mesa County will not be a livable community again in the same way we knew it until around 75-80% of the population is fully vaccinated, and now we have to face the fact that that may never happen here.

We’ll never get there because misguided, erroneous, uninformed right wing beliefs are making us one of the lowest-vaccinated counties in the nation.

Unless things change, we’re likely to stay there, too, and it is posing a real danger to our county, kids and our struggling economy.

 

 

 

 

 

Former Delta County School District students pressure district to end racism in schools

Jordan Evans (L) and Marisa Edmondson (R) are graduates of Paonia High School and are pushing the Delta County School District to  actively work to end what they see as pervasive racism in Delta County Schools

Two alumni of the Delta County School District (DCSD) began an all-out effort last year to pressure the Delta County School District to address the pervasive racism and discrimination they and others say they have experienced in Delta County Schools. Edmondson says while they have made some progress, the School District and School Board have largely stonewalled them and resisted the change.

Orchard Mesa Baptist Church to host Covid-19 misinformation event by liars and grifters at $20 a ticket

The Eventbrite invitation to the Covid-19 disinformation event at Orchard Mesa Baptist Church tomorrow afternoon.

Tomorrow afternoon the Orchard Mesa Baptist Church at 2748 B 1/2 Road will host a Covid-19 disinformation event for $20 admission featuring three discredited and fake “doctors” and Sheronna Bishop, who was bumped from Rep. Lauren Boebert’s campaign last year after Bishop publicly endorsed the Proud Boys, a far right, white nationalist organization. The Proud Boys was one of the violent extremist groups targeted by the FBI in its investigation of the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Billed as the “Truth and Freedom Tour,” the event at the OM Baptist Church features three people who are well known for disseminating false, misleading and dangerous information about the Coronavirus pandemic.

Have you ever helped reverse a drug overdose? If so, your story is needed.

The University of Colorado Denver’s Anthropology Department is looking for Coloradans who have attempted to reverse a drug overdose and who are willing to tell their stories in a digital storytelling project for the benefit of Colorado.

The goal of the project is to increase knowledge about the role the use of drugs like Naloxone and Narcan play in reducing opioid overdoses in Colorado. These personal stories will be recorded and used to increase awareness of the importance of these drugs in helping to reduce the opioid overdose epidemic in the state. The project will also benefit opioid users who are at risk of suffering an overdose.

Delta County School Board blocks students from medically-accurate, comprehensive sex ed

Kathy Svenson of Delta County. speaking to the Delta County School Board, likens transgenderism to putting diesel in a gas engine. In 2013 Svenson, a former Delta County School Board Member, said transgender children should be castrated before they are allowed use school restrooms.

At its Friday, May 21, 2021 meeting, the Delta County School Board unanimously passed Resolution 2021-15, blocking students who attend Delta County public schools from being able to access a comprehensive, medically-accurate sexual education. People who attended the meeting reported that the School Board did not give the public any notice about its intent to vote on the resolution at the meeting. According to KVNF Radio, the school board had promised it would circulate a questionnaire and host a public meeting about the topic, but it did not.

Delta County right wingers fight the prospect of teaching medically-accurate sex ed in Delta schools; Gay groups to rally in support this Thursday

Conservatives in Delta are working to oppose the teaching of medically-accurate sex ed in Delta County schools

Delta County conservatives are in a tizzy over the prospect that their school district may implement a medically-accurate, comprehensive sex education curriculum in compliance with a new Colorado law passed in 2019.

Until recently, the Delta County Schools’ only consistent “sex education” curriculum consisted of presentations by a woman named Shelly Donahue, a Christian abstinence-only speaker whose talk relied heavily on shame, guilt and medically-inaccurate information. Donahue likened girls brains to cooked spaghetti and boys brains to toaster waffles. The slides in her show were sprinkled with crosses, and she told kids that having premarital sex put them “further from God.” Donahue’s $2,000 speaking fee was picked up by a Christian missionary group. One Oklahoma school district has banned Donahue from speaking because students said her talks were demeaning to girls and children from broken homes. (For more on Shelly Donahue and the Delta County School District, search on “Shelly Donahue” in the AnneLandmanblog search box on right side of any page.)

Shooters Grill logo up for auction by group trying to oust Boebert

UP FOR AUCTION – Shooters Grill trademark, now owned by Rural Colorado United and up for auction on Open Sea until May 14.

A Colorado-based organization working to oust CD-3 House Rep. Lauren Boebert from Congress, Rural Colorado United (RCU), has managed to purchase the trademark for Shooters Grill in Rifle, Colorado, the restaurant owned by Boebert and her husband, and are auctioning it off to the highest bidder on an online marketplace for digital works.

The situation came about after Toby Morton, a comedy writer for the animated series South Park, created a parody website about Rep. Boebert, TheLaurenBoebert.com, using the same photo Boebert has on the home page of her actual government website.

Colorado Mesa University Trustees anoint John Marshall as next President

New CMU President John Marshall. Many in the community considered his appointment  a foregone conclusion.

Colorado Mesa University’s Board of Trustees today appointed John Marshall as the next president of CMU.

Marshall, who formerly worked as a Republican political operative, was hired at CMU in 2007 by Tim Foster as “Development Director,”  a job that at the time paid $100,000/year with no experience in academia. He was widely considered one of Tim Foster’s many Republican crony hires at CMU.

One student called the appointment “Cronyism at its finest” saying “I’m sure this was decided before Foster even stepped down…and the ‘search’ was, well, just a farce.”

In the August 21, 2006 Denver Post, Marshall publicly disparaged progressive Coloradans, calling them “pampered, bed-wetting liberals” and adding “No one cares what they say about anything.” CMU people have related several anecdotes where they observed Marshall being dismissive of incidents of homophobia involving students on and off campus.

Concerns arise over CMU Presidential candidate Mirta Martin

Dr. Mirta Martin (2016)

Some faculty members at Colorado Mesa University (CMU) are raising red flags about CMU presidential candidate Dr. Mirta Martin.

The concerns stem in part from controversies arising during Dr. Martin’s tenure as President of Fort Hays State University (FHSU) in Kansas.

The Kansas Board of Regents hired Dr. Martin as FHSU University President on May 2, 2014. She resigned abruptly on November, 23, 2016.

Concerns about Dr. Martin’s management of the University were described in a November 11, 2016 article posted by Tiger Media Network (TMN), Fort Hays University’s “convergent media hub.” The article,  “Tempers Flare at Faculty Senate Meeting,” gives a detailed account of a contentious FHSU Faculty Senate meeting held on November 1, 2016 about then-FHSU President Martin, who is now one of three finalists being considered by the CMU Board of Trustees for president of CMU.

Shoe-throwing and other ‘unprofessional behavior’

A history of Republican cronyism at Colorado Mesa University

CMU President Tim Foster

Colorado Mesa University (CMU) President Tim Foster has long used CMU to create high-paying jobs for Republican friends who either lost elections, were term-limited out of office or simply had no other place to go. His use of CMU for patronage appointments for exclusively Republican pals is so notorious that in 2007 Leslie Robinson, a writer for the Colorado Independent, dubbed the school “Mesa Republican College.”

The financial misuse of a taxpayer-funded institution by a person in position of power to benefit friends and acquaintances is called “cronyism” Its formal definition is “the appointment of friends and associates to positions of authority, without proper regard to their qualifications.” People often confuse cronyism with nepotism, which is when a powerful person appoints family members to positions of authority without regard to their qualifications.

What’s wrong with cronyism?

Locals alarmed that CMU VP John Marshall is on the short list for new University president

Colorado Mesa University (CMU) announced today that CMU Vice President John Marshall is one of three candidates under final consideration to be the university’s new president.

A lot of local people are unhappy with that.

Ordinarily the second-in-command at a higher educational institution would seem a logical choice to step into the top spot, but this is the exception.

Did Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland water down the County Attorney job description to allow her to hire her pal Rose?

Former Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese was licensed to practice law in 2007.

That’s 13 years ago, and she spent 8 of of those years as Mesa County Commissioner. During her five years as a private practice attorney, Rose Pugliese messed up enough to have a malpractice lawsuit filed against her for giving bad advice. That case went to court and Mesa County District Judge David Bottger ruled that Pugliese did indeed give her clients wrong advice, and proceeded to invalidate a settlement agreement Pugliese had written for her clients based on the bad advice.

We don’t know what else Pugliese did while she was in private practice, but we do know that she has never worked for any local government as an attorney before.

Yet with NO experience as a local government attorney, and short and questionable experience as a private attorney, somehow Rose Pugliese is on a magical trajectory to become the new Mesa County Attorney, overseeing a department of 18 people, and replacing someone with 33 years experience as a local government attorney, six of those as the Mesa County Attorney, six years of outstanding job reviews, and under whom no scandals or improprieties whatsoever occurred in his department all that time.

Red flags abound over Commissioner Rowland’s struggle to appoint her friend Pugliese as County Attorney

My first attempt at a political cartoon

In an outrageous display of unabashed Mesa County Republican cronyism, Commissioner Janet Rowland is working hard to install her pal, former County Commissioner Rose Pugliese, into the position of Mesa County Attorney, the highest-paid position in the county. The position would double the salary Rose use to earn when she was commissioner just before Janet.

The situation portends great danger for the County, since the Commissioners have tremendous power, no oversight and Janet already has a long and worrisome track record of impropriety and unethical behavior.

Why installing Rose Pugliese as County Attorney is a crazy mistake

Rose Pugliese is the sole finalist being considered for County Attorney.

A top headline in yesterday’s Daily Sentinel announced that former Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese is the sole finalist for the job of Mesa County Attorney, which, as of 2019 was the highest-paid job in the County.

Based on Pugliese’s qualifications, or lack thereof, this is nothing short of crazy, and it smacks loudly of cronyism by Mesa County’s Old Guard Republican Establishment (OGREs).

Pugliese won consideration as sole contender for the job despite having a track record that would probably get the rest of us fired.

Oh, where to begin?

City Council candidate Jody Green appears to be barely literate

Jody Green

Jody Green is running for the Grand Junction City Council District E seat in the April 6, 2021 municipal election. His campaign website says he is construction worker and that he helped build the Oxbow subdivision, the Postal Annex on Patterson, Ratekin Tower Apartments, Lakeside Apartments and other buildings in Grand Junction. Green writes on social media that he “Works at School of Hard Knocks, University of Life,” but provides no other information about his educational background.

In a February 4, 2021 article in the Daily Sentinel, Green told the paper that he is running for City Council because God asked him to.

Car singled out for vandalism in Clifton Dollar Tree parking lot

A friend drove a car belonging to her now legally-blind housemate to Dollar Tree in Clifton, bringing her 90+ year old mother, who uses a walker, for a short shopping trip. It was late morning on Wednesday, March 31, and they parked in a handicapped spot in front of the store. They were in the store less than an hour, and when they came out, they found someone had vandalized their car with black spray paint.

No other cars in the parking lot were targeted.

AnneLandmanBlog Voter Guide for the City of Grand Junction’s Municipal Election of Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Are you wondering how to vote in the Grand Junction Regular Municipal Election on Tuesday, April 6, 2021? Are you sweating over where you’ll find the time to research the eight City Council candidates and the ballot measures?

Relax.

We’ve done the work for you.

AnneLandmanBlog has done substantial research into all of the candidates for City Council, and read the ballot measures. To see what we found out, scroll down anneLandmanBlog’s front page and have a look at the recent blogs about the election prior to this one.

Based on what we found, here are our recommended votes:

G.J. City Council candidate Mark McAllister known for posting false, xenophobic and racist memes

Meme that appeared on Mark McAllister’s Facebook page in early January, 2020

In 2013, former G.J. Mayor Bill Pitts said that the most money anyone had ever spent on a City Council race up until that time was around $3,000. 

In 2013, that amount had jumped to $10,000 to $12,000 per candidate for city council campaigns.

Now, in 2021, candidates for local office are routinely spending up to $20-30k on their campaigns.

That marked increase in the amount of spending should be accompanied by an equally higher level of scrutiny of candidates by the local press and media, but it hasn’t. The local paper seems to be giving candidates a pass by doing nice things like sending candidates a softball questionnaire and publishing their answers in full, without even verifying whether the candidates filled in the answers themselves.

Voters deserve more information — a deeper dive, like verifying candidates’ educational levels, their social, political and business affiliations, and verifying the claims they make on their campaign pages about what groups they belong to. We should also know if any information has been published about them elsewhere, and check their social media streams to see what they had been posting before they decided to running for office.  
 
One thing we’ve managed to find here at AnneLandmanBlog about the current candidates for Grand Junction City Council is that one candidate really stands out when given this kind of scrutiny, and not in a good way: Mark McAllister.