Category: Activism

Western slope nonprofit group encourages people to report violations of separation of church and state

The western slope’s nonprofit watchdog organization Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) encourages people to report violations of separation of church and state in places like public schools and at local government meetings, so they can address the violations.

Past violations reported to WCAF have included a Mesa County Commissioner praying to Jesus Christ at the start of public hearings, a Delta county middle school student being forced to watch a nativity play after asking to opt out, a Delta County middle school teacher hosting weekly Bible study classes in his own classroom immediately before school and handing out free doughnuts to students who attended, Fellowship Church promoting its youth indoctrination center in a Mesa County middle school by showing a video about it during gym period and handing students admission slips to the facility afterward, a Mesa County elementary school student being told by a lunch aide in the cafeteria in front of her friends that she MUST believe in God “because God created everything,” a Delta County high school student having her grades slashed and college grant applications sabotaged for reporting Christian proselytizing going on within the  school system, Colorado Mesa University students having Gideon Bibles foisted on them as they stepped off the dais at their graduation ceremony, a Delta County Middle School teacher telling her class that “non-Christians are bad people” and “the bombers aren’t Christians,” quoting the Bible in class, and much more.

Republicans have one last-ditch chance to save themselves, and the country

The President’s defenders deny any reason exists to remove Donald Trump from office. There’s nothing to see here. Everything is fine and normal, the President’s call with Ukraine President Zelinsky was “perfect” and he did absolutely nothing wrong. The impeachment is all a big hoax.

Meanwhile, House Impeachment Managers have presented days worth of detailed evidence, including the President’s own damning words, testimony from alarmed government employees, timelines and tweets detailing the totality of the President’s corrupt behavior, how he put his own interests above those of the country, intimidated witnesses, hid evidence of his wrongdoing, invited foreign governments to influence our elections, violated the Constitution and his oath to protect national security.

The difference is stark.

In the words former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele:

“When national polling shows that these folks think that Donald Trump was a better president than Abraham Lincoln, you know this is fucked up.”

State Senator Ray Scott (R) attends Denver rally opposing childhood immunizations

Colorado State Senator Ray Scott

You can judge legislators by the company they keep.

The Colorado Times Recorder reported that Mesa County’s State Senator Ray Scott attended a rally on the state Capitol steps January 8 in which two thirds of attendees displayed signs opposing immunizing children against disease. Yes, you read that correctly: this was a crowd of people who oppose immunizing children against disease. Other points of view represented included opponents of public health, opponents of equal rights for LGBTQ persons, gun rights and anti-tax activists.

Also attending the rally were members of the white nationalist group the Proud Boys, designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

Ray Scott is planning on abdicating his seat in the legislature to run for Mesa County Commissioner this year, a position that pays three times what he currently makes as a state senator.

Citizens protest Pendley at new BLM office in G.J.

Protest Jan. 2 at BLM’s new offices on Horizon Drive.

About 35 people turned out in 27 degree weather to protest a visit from Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) William Perry Pendley, a right wing anti-government zealot who was appointed to head the BLM without Senate approval.

Pendley was scheduled to visit the new Grand Junction BLM office on the morning of its first opening day.

The protest was at the BLM’s new offices at 760 Horizon Drive, which is also the same building that houses the corporate offices of oil and gas purveyor Chevron.

State House Rep. Janice Rich (R) attended 12/17 rally held to support President Trump’s impeachment

State Rep. Janice Rich (R-Mesa County), left, at the rally on Rood Ave. and 4th Street on 12/17 held to support Congress impeaching President Trump.(Photo credit: YouTube)

State Representative Janice Rich (R-Mesa County) attended the “No One is Above the Law” pro-impeachment rally at the federal building on Rood Ave. December 17, 2019. The rally was held to demand Congress impeach President Trump for Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress. The President was formally impeached by Congress the next day.

Congressman Scott Tipton’s Constituent Services Representative Brandon Bainer also attended the rally in support of impeachment.

Winter solstice billboard graces entry to town, thanks to Grand Junction’s growing secular community

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) is running it’s annual wintertime billboard celebrating the solstice on the digital billboard facing west on I-70 Business Loop in front of Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A at Rimrock Marketplace. At a recent meeting, WCAF members estimated that approximately 15-20% of western Colorado residents are non-religious and identify as atheists, agnostics, humanists or freethinkers.

Woman reports she was injured at “No One is Above the Law” pro-impeachment rally

A woman was pushed to the ground by a Trump supporter at the pro-impeachment rally Tuesday evening in front of the federal building on Rood Ave. at 4th Street in Grand Junction. The woman hit her head on the concrete and was injured. She recognized Congressman Scott Tipton’s Constituent Services Representative Brandon Bainer standing nearby and asked him to call 911 for her. She says he didn’t help her but instead said “I am on my own time and after 5:00.” The woman recognized Mr. Bainer because she goes to Congressman Tipton and Senator Cory Gardner’s offices frequently and has met him there many times.

Pro-impeachment rally most raucous in G.J. history

A rally at 5:30 p.m. yesterday (12/16) in front of the federal building at 4th and Rood Ave. to support the impeachment of President Trump turned out to be the loudest, most energetic rally in the city’s history as some raucous Trump supporters turned out to counter the demonstration.

About 200 sign-and placard-holding impeachment supporters were met by about 40-50 raucous “Bikers for Trump,” State Representative Janice Rich and other assorted self-styled “Deplorables for Trump” on the steps of the federal building at Rood and 4th Street. Trumpers amplified the volume of their comparatively small crowd by using bullhorns to try to overpower the pro-impeachment chanting, to no avail. Their actions just energized the impeachment crowd even more, who yelled ever more loudly and in unison chants like “Impeach Trump!,” “Lock him up!” and “Flush the turd!” At one point, the entire crowd started chanting “USA! USA!”

Offensive vehicle plagues the Valley, disgusts parents picking up kids outside Chatfield Elementary School

This vehicle bearing a gigantic, profane decal was spotted in the parking lot at the Texas Roadhouse on November 15. Now it’s plaguing a local elementary school.

This obnoxious vehicle and its huge, offensive window decal was spotted in the parking lot at the Texas Roadhouse on November 15. At that time I dismissed it as yet another disappointing reminder that there are people living among us here in the Grand Valley who tend to be full of hate and who lack respect for others.

But it was quite another thing when the same offensive vehicle was seen parked outside Chatfield Elementary School where it was seen by a mom who was waiting to pick up her seven year old daughter. Unfortunately, her child spotted the offensive car, instantly giving the child reason to question her mom’s efforts to keep her from swearing.

Talk about putting a well-meaning parent in a bad spot.

Now you can get free, medically-accurate sexual health info anonymously via text

Do you have questions about sexual health but can’t afford to call a medical doctor? Are you finding it tough to find somewhere on the western slope where you can get unbiased, non-judgmental, medically-accurate sexual health info on your specific situation?

Planned Parenthood now offers a FREE chat/text program that allows young people to live-chat with trained health educators from their cell phone or computer about any topic dealing with sexual health.

This service is available nationwide and it provides completely non-judgmental, medically-accurate information on any and all sexual and reproductive health topics, including the various kids of birth control, how they work and how to use them, sexual intercourse, how and where to obtain emergency contraception, sexually-transmitted diseases/infections, pregnancy, abortion, unusual discharges, menstruation and anything else you need info on.

To access the program, just text PPNOW to 774636 to get started. It’s 100% anonymous and 100% free.

New scholarship established for western Colorado LGBTQ+ students

Jeff Basinger, July 8, 1953 – May 6, 2018

Western Colorado’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender + (LGBTQ+) students have a new scholarship fund to boost their higher education aspirations, thanks to the thoughtful people who formed the Basinger Leadership Scholarship Committee. The Jeffrey Alan Basinger Leadership Scholarship was established to recognize beloved local resident Jeff Basinger, who died in May of 2018. Jeff was a strong advocate for western Colorado residents living with HIV/AIDS and members of the LGBTQ+ community through decades of working with various community organizations, and as a volunteer. Jeff worked on the “Vote No on Amendment 2” campaign in 1992 and was a founding member of the Common Decency Coalition, which later became Western Equality. He belonged to the Grand Junction Downtown Association and other community organizations, had a deep working historical knowledge of the Grand Junction area, and a long and successful career working with the Western Colorado AIDS Project (WestCAP).

Reproductive Rights Road Show to be in Grand Junction 10/4 at CMU

The Colorado Reproductive Health Rights and Justice Coalition will be putting on a Reproductive Rights Roadshow at Colorado Mesa University on Friday, October 4 from 12 noon – 1:30 p.m. in Room 221 of the University Center building, on the 2nd floor attached to the parking garage. Appetizers will be served!

The Roadshow is traveling around the state to inform Colorado citizens about what is happening in the legislature and what’s being done in our community to preserve and strengthen reproductive rights and access to abortion care. The Coalition also wants to listen to you and find out what issues are of greatest concern to people here in our community.

The Coalition is an umbrella group comprised of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU-CO), New Era Colorado, ProgressNow Colorado and Soul2Soul Sisters.

One more thing about commissioner candidate Janet Rowland…

Former County Commissioner Janet Rowland (January 2005 – January 2013) advocated a program that paid women with drug addictions $300 to get sterilized

Former Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland, who has already had two terms in the recent past and is now running for a third term, has given Mesa County voters plenty of reasons not to elect her again, but here’s another one, and get ready. This one is kind of creepy.

In 2008, Rowland promoted a program that paid drug-addicted women $300 to get sterilized so they couldn’t reproduce. The program, called Project Prevention, targeted its advertising mainly at women, and 37% of the women who had been sterilized under the program were African-American. In 2009, African-Americans made up just 12.4% of the U.S. population.

State Senator Ray Scott lied to the Daily Sentinel about social media blocking case

Full disclosure: I was the plaintiff in the lawsuit that the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado brought against State Senator Ray Scott for blocking constituents from his official social media accounts.

On August 31, 2019 the Daily Sentinel printed an article about the settlement we reached in the case.

Had the Sentinel contacted me for this article, I would have let them know that Ray Scott lied to them about several specific pieces of information regarding the case.

Ray Scott’s first lie:

Scott told the Sentinel that he blocked people from his social media accounts “only if someone posted a profane or inappropriate comment.”

That is absolutely false.

Court Settlement: State Senator Ray Scott must unblock constituents from his social media

Ray Scott

Senator Ray Scott blocked and banned constituents from his social media accounts simply for disagreeing with him on his policies. Then he got sued.

Every elected official in Colorado is now on notice: you cannot block constituents from your official social media accounts because they don’t agree with your point of view. If you do, you’re breaking the law.

ACLU of Colorado announced a settlement (pdf) today on behalf of Anne Landman, a constituent who State Senator Ray Scott blocked from his official social media accounts in 2017 after she was publicly critical of several of his policy positions. As a result of the lawsuit, Scott has now unblocked Landman and must refrain from censoring anyone else with critical viewpoints from his social media accounts as a Senator, or in any future elected position. 

“The overwhelming majority of cases has made very clear that the official social media pages of public officials, like Senator Scott’s, are public forums where individual’s speech is constitutionally protected,” said ACLU Staff Attorney Sara Neel. “Recognizing this, Senator Scott has agreed to unblock all users from his social media pages and will not block anyone else in the future based on viewpoint.” 

“Recall Polis” campaign violating laws to gather signatures – county passes Resolution prohibiting taping signs to their buildings

The Recall Polis people at 4:00 p.m. on 8/29/19 violating the law by setting up shop in a public park without obtaining the necessary permits from the City Parks and Rec Department.

Upset citizens have been contacting the City of Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department and the Mesa County Elections Bureau left and right to complain about the “Recall Polis” campaign violating laws by putting up tables and signage in places that require permitting or where it is prohibited by law.

In the photo above, the Recall Polis people had set up their operation at Spring Valley Park on Patterson Road, a public park. A reader sent the above photo and complained to the City about it, upon which G.J. Parks and Rec Department responded:

 

Tim Foster’s political stumping as CMU president may violate laws

Ad posted by Janet Rowland may violate the Hatch Act and the Fair Campaign Practices Act

[Update 8/14/19: Mesa County Commissioner candidate Janet Rowland pulled this ad from her Facebook page after this article was published].

People are questioning whether an ad that Mesa County Commissioner candidate Janet Rowland recently posted on her campaign Facebook page violates the law.

In the ad, Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster endorses Rowland for commissioner in his capacity as president of CMU, not as a private individual as the law requires. The law says Foster is permitted to make such an endorsement, but ONLY in his capacity as a private individual; he is specifically prohibited from using his position as a state employee for politicking or attempting to influence an election.

The ad appears to violate two separate federal laws: the Hatch Act and the Fair Campaign Practices Act.

Technical guidance issued for state employees by the Colorado’s Division of Human Resources (pdf) on the implementation of these laws states,

“The Hatch Act limits the political activities of individuals employed in state departments and higher education institutions (departments) that have programs financed in whole or in part by federal loans or grants.”

CMU accepts federal funding, thus Foster is subject to both laws.

What to do if ICE comes knocking: Know your rights

On the same day Trump’s raids on immigrant families are scheduled to start (today), Trump issued a series of tweets that make his racism very clear:

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly…… ….and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how……..it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

Trump and his administration are working to create terror in immigrant communities throughout the U.S. by directing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) carry out sweeping “family op” raids across the country on undocumented immigrant families who have been in the United States for years.