Category: Corruption

Scot McInnis: Mesa County’s Land Conservation Hypocrite-in-Chief

Former Congressman Scott McInnis won a race for Mesa County Commissioner in November, 2014, even though his campaign broke several rules, including illegally posting campaign signs on power poles without permission and standing on city medians in violation of City Ordinance 9.04.250, "Prohibition against standing on or occupying medians."

Former Congressman Scott McInnis won a race for Mesa County Commissioner in November, 2014, even though his campaign broke several rules, including illegally posting campaign signs on power poles without permission and standing on city medians in violation of City Ordinance 9.04.250, “Prohibition against standing on or occupying medians.”

Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis has carefully cultivated an image of being a land conservation maven. Until recently he was a member of the board of Colorado Open Lands, a statewide land trust that holds the largest conservation easement in the state. That group’s mission is to conserve productive farmland and scenic areas of the state through voluntary partnerships with private landowners and federal, state and local agencies. Ostensibly, Mr. McInnis served on this board because he believes in the value of land preservation. As a U.S. Congressman, McInnis so closely linked himself with boosting land conservation that he even got his buddies in Congress to rename a 200,000 acre area public land on the western slope as “McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area,” even though doing so violated a House Rule created specifically to prohibit Congressmen from naming public works or lands after themselves.

Quite an accomplishment for Mr. McInnis.

So if we could presume that anyone on the western slope would be a champion for the value of land conservation, you would think it would be Scott McInnis, right?

Nope.

Since being elected Mesa County Commissioner just last year, McInnis has suddenly turned skeptical of the value of land conservation, and so far, he hasn’t explained to the public why he’s had such a radical turnabout in his views.

When the Mesa Land Trust asked the Mesa County commissioners earlier this month for a letter supporting a Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant application to put a conservation easement on 22 acres of productive private agricultural land on East Orchard Mesa, McInnis threw on the brakes and denied the request, claiming — of all things — that he needs more time to learn about easements and what they mean for the county’s future.

McInnis is suddenly very concerned that conservation easements might be harmful to Mesa County because they protect land from development in perpetuity. He now suggests open lands only be conserved for just 30 years, instead protecting them in perpetuity for later generations to enjoy.

McInnis’ new stance is a 180-degree flip-flop on land conservation, and has rendered him a complete and total hypocrite on the subject.

Land conservation seemed valuable enough when it meant McInnis could get a federal conservation area name after himself, but now, not so much. The idea that it might be inappropriate for a private landowner to choose to preserve his or her own farmland for future generations is incredible. But if we are to now believe Mr. McInnis, this is what he thinks.

Scott McInnis dropped out of the race for governor in 2010 amid plagiarism allegations, and got a national conservation area named after himself in violation of federal House Rules prohibiting Congressmen from naming public works and lands after themselves.

Scott McInnis dropped out of the race for governor in 2010 amid plagiarism allegations, and got a national conservation area named after himself in violation of federal House Rules prohibiting Congressmen from naming public works and lands after themselves.

It’s not as though Mesa County citizens had no warning that McInnis would be untrustworthy in public office. His 2014 campaign for commissioner violated several laws and ordinances, his infamous plagiarism scandal while running for governor in 2010 and the subversive way he got federal lands named after him in 2004 in opposition to what Coloradans wanted all made it painfully clear that McInnis was far from being a decent candidate, to put it charitably.

So now that McInnis has suddenly changed his mind and believes land conservation is a bad idea, what happens now?

Maybe he will now be willing to let the name “McInnis Canyons” expire, so the conservation area so mistakenly named after him can revert back to its original name, “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area.”

Or, if you’d rather not wait for that to become reality, we can initiate that action right now, so Mesa County citizens can finally end the embarrassment of having a national conservation area in their backyard named after a total hypocrite.

To get moving on fixing the “McInnis Canyons” mistake, click here to sign the petition to Colorado Senator Michael Bennet asking for legislation to revert “McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area” back to its original name, Colorado Canyons National Conservation area.

Beware How Voter ID Laws are Portrayed in the News

When will media report on the fact that Voter ID laws are really designed to prevent certain voters from accessing the polls?

When will media start reporting that Voter ID laws are, in fact, designed to make it harder for certain voters to access the polls?

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) is taking the New York Times to task for portraying the attack on voting rights in the U.S. as little more than a partisan disagreement. According to the NYT, Republican-enacted laws to shorten early voting periods and force voters to show identification cards are designed to prevent voter fraud, while Democrats say such fraud is nearly non-existent and these restrictions are a Republican effort to disenfranchise poor and minority voters.

But the Times failed completely to report on the actual facts pertaining to the issue of voter fraud in the U.S.

On many occasions Republican politicians have actually admitted that voting restrictions are, in fact, aimed at disenfranchising Democrats. Additionally, no Republican has ever been able to show that any American election was stolen as a result of in-person voter fraud. Not one.

Moreover, academic studies show voter fraud is practically nonexistent in the U.S.

Law professor Justin Levitt since 2000 has tracked down and analyzed “every specific, credible allegation that someone may have pretended to be someone else and the polls, in any way that an ID law could fix.” He found only 31 incidents over 15 years and over more than a billion ballots cast. Most of the incidents were due to voters misunderstanding the voting eligibility rules or making mistakes filling out registration forms. Levitt concluded that “There is almost no voting fraud in America,” and “The only reason Republicans are passing these laws is to give themselves a political edge by suppressing Democratic votes.”

Despite this, the New York Times failed to state that voter restriction laws are, in fact, an ongoing effort by Republicans to disenfranchise voters and gain an electoral advantage. Rather, the paper reports on the issue as though it is merely a disagreement over the facts between Republicans and Democrats.

Source: Jim Naureckas, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, March 9, 2015, “Voting Rights Shall Not Overcome NYT Reporting Like This”

The Daily Sentinel’s Energy Expo Coverage Disappoints

The Daily Sentinel ignored the important back stories about this year's Energy Expo, leaving people wondering if they were trying to protect the local oil and gas industry

The Daily Sentinel ignored the important back stories about this year’s Energy Expo, leaving people wondering if the paper was trying to protect the local oil and gas industry

In an era of corporate concentration of media ownership, Grand Junction citizens are fortunate to have a daily paper whose publisher, editors and reporters live in the same community in which they work. The thought is that by living here, Sentinel employees will be more responsive and cover what people in this area really need to know, so citizens can make more informed choices when it comes to local politics and economic development.

Since Jay Seaton replaced George Orbanek as the paper’s publisher several years ago, the Sentinel has acted noticeably less like a poodle for the area’s political elite, an started showing more backbone in its reporting. I’ve been greatly impressed by the Sentinel’s new willingness to do whatever it takes to get the information its readers deserve, from filing Freedom of Information Act requests to bringing lawsuits to access to information important to area residents. On occasion, the Sentinel has even taken real risks to pursue its mission. One example is how the paper exposed the hypocrisy of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce in claiming to promote local business while taking its own business out of town. (Reporting on the chamber’s antics is not without its risks for the Sentinel. The chamber buys huge amounts of advertising in the Sentinel, pumping tens of thousands of dollars into the paper’s coffers annually. That’s money the paper risks losing if it gets crosswise with the chamber.) The Sentinel also reported in detail on the Grand Junction Regional Airport Board’s fraud and corruption and former State Senator Steve King’s embezzling. The way the Sentinel doggedly pursued those stories for its readers was a big reason why I subscribed to the Sentinel again after 20 years of boycotting the paper. I saw real change for the better in our local paper, and wanted to support it with my dollars.

That’s also why the Sentinel’s coverage of John L. Casey’s appearance the Energy Expo was so incredibly disappointing.

Just when I and probably many others started to think the Sentinel was finally starting to tell the real stories of what goes on around here, the poodle re-emerges.

Colorado Mountain College on Energy Expo: “We are not hosts of the event”

CMCRachel Pokrandt, Dean of the Rifle Campus of Colorado Mountain College (CMC), says she didn’t know anything about the Energy Expo’s speaker program and the school is not a host of the event, despite being listed as a host on the event’s promotional materials.

“We never agreed to be a host” of the event, Pokrandt said. She says the event organizers “Really did represent us quite horribly.”

Pokrandt says CMC just has a small booth at the event, which they have rented annually for the past 10 years, to educate people about their solar, biofuels and other programs.

“We don’t want to be connected with that type of speaker,” Pokrandt said, referring to Energy Expo speaker John L. Casey, who speaks on the topic of climate science despite having no degrees in climatology and never having published any peer-reviewed research on the subject. His talks typically start out with charts, statistics and scientific claims, but by the end of his talks, he devolves into fearmongering and racist statements.

Videos posted online of Casey’s talks show him speaking before tea party groups. He says anthropogenic climate change is a scientific fraud perpetrated by the U.S. government and the United Nations. He says global warming is over, that sun entered a period of “hibernation” in 2007 and the earth is now entering a prolonged period of cooling that will lead to an increase in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Casey further says this cold phase will cause the world’s food supply to diminish and people will need to lay in a year’s supply of food and be ready to flee to the countryside and defend their food stores from urban minorities who, he says, will start beating and murdering people to get their food supplies — after government food stamp programs can no longer sustain them.

Pokrandt said that in the past, the Energy Expo and Forum has been “fairly level” in regard to balance in the types of speakers they’ve had, and between renewable and non-renewable types of energy, but that unfortunately due to the circumstances this year, CMC may have to withdraw its involvement from the event in the future.

 

Protest Planned at Energy Expo

W.Slope stupidty signGrand Junction residents concerned about integrity in science, environment and education are planning to protest at this year’s Energy Expo and Forum at 1:00 p.m. Friday on the south side of Two Rivers Convention Center, and are inviting others from around the west slope to join in.

The reason for the protest — the first ever at the Energy Expo — is this year’s speaker, John L. Casey, who claims anthropogenic global climate change is a scientific fraud and government conspiracy. Casey writes and speaks about climate change, yet has no degrees in climate science, nor has he ever published any peer-reviewed information on the subject. He appears almost exclusively before tea party groups.

Online videos of Casey’s prior talks reveal him to be a fear monger and a racist. He starts out with a dry talk using charts and statistics and says global climate change is a fraud perpetrated by the United Nations and the U.S. government. He then tells his audiences that the sun has gone into a “hibernation” phase and the earth is entering a cold era that will devastate crops and lead to food shortages. He then tells audiences they need to store away one year’s worth of food, and get ready to defend their food stores from starving, inner-city minority groups, who will rise up in mass and try to assault and kill people to steal their food.

The Energy Expo is a privately-owned event that is free and open to the public. The event owners are former Club 20 Executive Director Bonnie Peterson and former Mesa County Commissioner and oil and gas lobbyist Kathy Hall. Peterson was responsible for choosing Casey as a speaker this year. Neither event owner informed the event’s supposed “hosts” or sponsors, including Colorado Mountain College, Colorado Mesa University and the John McConnell Math and Science Center, about the choice of speakers until event materials had already gone into production. When “hosts” then complained about Mr. Casey being a speaker, they were told it was too late to change the lineup, because event materials had already been printed.

Two Rivers Convention Center, where the Expo and protest will be held, is owned by the City of Grand Junction.

The public is invited to join the protest at the Energy Expo and the organizers’ shocking choice of John L. Casey as a speaker.

Area Educational Institutions Blindsided by Choice of Expo Speaker

Bonnie Peterson is said to be the person responsible for inviting Casey to speak, without  informing hosts or sponsors of the Energy Expo.

Bonnie Peterson is said to be the person responsible for inviting Casey to speak, without informing hosts or sponsors of the Energy Expo.

Neither Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster nor Teresa Coons, Executive Director of the John McConnell Math and Science Center, were consulted or informed about the controversial speaker that members of small Expo subcommittee quietly selected to keynote this year’s Club 20 Energy Expo in Grand Junction.

John L. Casey, slated to give the keynote talk at this Friday’s Energy Expo, has alarmed citizens with his extreme fringe views.

In videos of his talks publicly available online, Casey tells audiences that man-made climate change is a scientific fraud perpetrated by the U.S. Government and the United Nations. He says global warming has ended, that in 2007 the sun entered a “hibernation” phase and now we have to prepare for a coming ice age that will devastate our food supply. In a November, 2014 video, Casey predicts dire food shortages worldwide. He urges people to lay in a full year’s supply of food to cope with it, telling people to ignore the expiration dates printed on food containers. He predicts that the diminished food supply will lead to massive social panic and tells his audiences that they need to get ready to defend their food stores from rioters, murderers and thieves. His mission is to “get the message out” about the purported coming devastation.

George Rossman, one of the three committee members responsible for inviting Casey to speak

George Rossman, one of the three committee members responsible for inviting Casey to speak

The Tea Party News Network bills Casey as a “climatologist,” and though he has made a name for himself speaking and writing about climate science, he has no degrees in climatology, nor has he ever published any peer-reviewed research on the topic. He is a favorite speaker of Florida tea party groups, and available videos invariably show him speaking before far-right conservative audiences and talk show hosts.

Foster and Coons are both quick say that their organizations have not contributed any money to the Energy Expo, but neither has stepped up to condemn the invitation of Casey.

Casey was selected to speak by a three person subset the committee that organized the Energy Expo. Members of this committee reportedly are Bonnie Peterson, former chair of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and now Executive Director of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, Kathy Hall, a former lobbyist for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and George Rossman (who is a woman), a professional event organizer. None of these committee members informed the Expo’s hosts or sponsors about their choices of speakers prior to finalizing the schedule.

There are only two possibilities these women could claim that led to selection of this embarassing speaker: 1) They were fully aware of Casey’s fringe views and lack of credentials, and invited him anyway, or 2) they didn’t properly vet Casey prior to hiring him to keynote the event.

Neither scenario is acceptable.

If the first scenario is true, then these three acting alone pulled the Energy Expo into the tea party political fringe zone without informing the hosts or sponsors whose organizations’ names appear on Expo promotional materials about their choices.

If the second scenario is true, they neglected a duty to vet Mr. Casey by checking out his previous talks, and should be held accountable for this mistake and the shame it has brought to the event.

The event’s biosketch of Casey, whichi says up front that he’s been called a scam artist and a fraud, would seem to indicate scenario #1 is the case, and that Peterson, Hall and Rossman knew exactly what they were doing, and what they were bringing to the Expo by inviting Casey.CaseyEnergyForum

Event hosts Colorado Mountain College, CMU and the Math and Science Center, may not have contributed any money to the event, but they have put their credibility as respected educational institutions on the line. By trusting the Expo organizers, they’ve shot themselves in the foot. In exchange for lending their names to the event, the organizers have dragged them into the mud by purposely choosing a wacky, fringe tea party speaker who trades on generating fear to make a name for himself.

 

 

 

G.J. Energy Expo Keynote Speaker is a Tea Party “Clown Act”

 

John L. Casey, who will be a featured speaker at this year's G.J. Energy Expo, gives a talk titled "Man Made Global Warming: The Biggest Scientific Fraud in History" to a tea party group in Florida

John L. Casey, a featured speaker at this year’s G.J. Energy Expo, gives a talk titled “Man Made Global Warming: The Biggest Scientific Fraud in History” to a tea party group in Florida

Club 20 is outing itself as a tea party group, and in so doing joins the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce in shedding any pretense of being politically even-handed. Unfortunately, it looks like the same can now also be said for Colorado Mountain College, Colorado Mesa University and the other hosts and sponsors of the Club 20 Energy Expo and Forum.

Club 20’s annual Energy Expo and Forum is scheduled to be held at Grand Junction’s Two Rivers Convention Center February 27, and the keynote speaker at this year’s event is raising lots of eyebrows.

He is global warming conspiracy theorist John L. Casey.

The Energy Expo is dominated by extractive energy pursuits, like drilling and fracking, but that is nothing new. It is hosted by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce (already a well-established arm of the local tea party), Club 20, Colorado Mesa University, Colorado Mountain College and the John McConnell Math and Science Center.

Given the respect for education and level of intelligence the public expects of at least some of the above sponsors (CMC, CMU and the Math and Science Center), members of the public are left scratching their heads about how such a nutty keynote speaker got selected this year.

What’s Wrong with Jimmy John’s Sandwich Shops? Plenty.

Religious sign posted in Jimmy John's -- an ominous sign that there is more wrong with the chain than meets the eye.

Religious sign posted in Jimmy John’s — an ominous sign that more wrong with the chain than meets the eye.

Under pressure from a family member, I tried a Jimmy John’s sub shop last week. I had never eaten at one before. I tried their “Vito” Italian sub with few hot peppers on it. It turned out to be pretty decent — good enough, I thought, to go to another Jimmy John’s store few days later and order the same sandwich again. It tasted just as good as the first one, but this was probably the last Jimmy John’s sandwich I will ever eat. Here’s why:

As I stood at the cash register ordering sandwich #2, I noticed a huge, religious-theme sign posted on the wall right above the place where you wait to pick up your sandwiches. I asked the cashier why there was a religious sign on the wall of their sandwich shop. She just said “It’s a corporate thing.”

That was my first hint that something was very wrong with Jimmy John’s. It seems like businesses that go out of their way to push a god-and-country meme on their patrons (pdf) often have a slew of bad things going on behind the scenes that they are trying to hide from the public. It was just a hunch, a gut feeling I’ve gotten over years of observing these things, so I checked it out. I hit the internet and started investigating Jimmy John’s.

E-Coli, Mistreatment of Employees and Tax Avoidance…for starters

Sure enough, my suspicions about the chain were confirmed. I found article after article about a wide variety of things that are very wrong not only with Jimmy John’s sandwich stores, but also the chain’s owner, Jimmy John Liautaud. The more I read, the more horrified I got, and the less I wanted to eat there again.

In 2012, Jimmy John’s was found to be the source of a multi-state outbreak of E-coli that sickened 29 people in 11 states. Seven victims had to be hospitalized.

Jimmy John's "God" sign, alongside a giant pickle

Jimmy John’s “God” sign, alongside a giant pickle

Liautaud makes his lowest-paid hourly employees — not just managers — sign no-compete agreements that prohibit them from working at ANY sandwich shop within three miles of the first shop where they worked for two years after leaving Jimmy John’s, and prohibits them from working at any other Jimmy John’s for 12 months after leaving. This makes it tough for high school or college student employees to get other jobs nearby after working at a Jimmy John’s. Former employees have brought a lawsuit against Liautaud over the practice.

A vocal critic of income taxes, Liautaud owes the state of Illinois over $1.4 million in taxes on his 2009 purchase of two corporate jets. Jimmy John refused to pay the taxes by arguing that the jets qualified for a commercial transportation tax exemption. The state of Illinois didn’t agree.

Jimmy John’s also recently settled a class action lawsuit in California (pdf) for falsely advertising over a 2 1/2 year-long period that their sandwiches had sprouts on them. They didn’t.

Jimmy John’s has come under fire for making financial contributions to extreme, anti-immigrant politicians in Arizona, like Joe Arpaio (the Maricopa County Sheriff known for racial profiling, arresting his critics and locking up innocent people) and failed presidential candidate John McCain, who selected Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008.

Wage Theft, Anti-Immigrant Policies, Canned Hunts

Two former Jimmy John employees from two separate store locations have also filed a lawsuit charging Jimmy John’s with committing systematic wage theft by forcing workers to work off the clock and refusing to pay them overtime. Jimmy John’s delivery drivers also sued the chain in 2013 charging that company stiffed them of wages and forced them to pay for their own vehicle insurance and maintenance. The chain has also been charged with crushing employees’ attempts to unionize.

Jimmy John's owner, Jimmy John Laiutaud poses with an endangered African elephant he killed on a canned hunt.

Jimmy John’s owner, Jimmy John Laiutaud poses with an endangered African elephant killed on a canned hunt.

Pretty bad stuff all around, and all of the above would have been plenty to put me off. But by far the most repulsive thing about Jimmy John Liautaud is that he loves to go on canned (fake) hunts and kill threatened species of large, wild animals. Canned hunts are hunts where shooters pay large fees to “hunt” trophy animals confined inside fenced enclosures. Sometimes the animals are pre-wounded to make the hunt even easier for a paying shooter. Website after website shows horrific photos Liautaud grinning proudly over carcasses of endangered African elephants, leopards and even an Alaskan brown bear that he reportedly killed inside a wildlife refuge.

Jimmy John with a dead endangered leopard.

Jimmy John with a dead endangered leopard.

The public response to Jimmy John’s killing of endangered animals has been visceral. The Facebook page “Boycott Jimmy Johns” urges people to stop patronizing Jimmy John’s restaurants in response to Liautaud’s pointless joy-killing of endangered large animals. A petition on Change.org asks people to boycott Jimmy John’s sub shops until Liautaud stops killing exotic animals for sport. The petition asks Liautaud to make a public apology and give a donation towards wildlife preservation in Africa. The petition is now closed, but Liautaud offered no apology nor gave a donation as requested.

The above is all I need to know about Jimmy John’s. However good, fast or cheap their sandwiches may be, my appetite for them has been completely wiped out by what I now know about the chain and the truly disgusting behavior of Jimmy John Liautaud, the chain’s founder and namesake.

Ray Scott Working to Block Constituents’ Access to the Courts for Construction Defects

Water intrusion issues around windows may not become apparent until years after construction is complete.

Water intrusion issues around windows may not become apparent until years after construction is complete.

On January 14, Colorado State Sen. Ray Scott introduced SB15-091 (pdf), a bill titled “Reduce Statute Of Limitations Construction Defects,” that would protect developers from lawsuits when things go drastically wrong with the homes they build. Scott’s bill would cut in half the amount of time homeowners in Colorado would have to file lawsuits over construction defects, from six years to three. If enacted, the bill would shield homebuilders from being accountable for significant problems and expenses that homeowners incur due to construction defects they discover just a few years after moving in a new home. Most states provide consumers a 10-12 year window in which to file suits over damages due to construction defects in a new home. Scott’s bill would make Colorado one of the states with the smallest windows for consumers to gain recourse against shoddy construction.

Many construction defects aren’t apparent until years after construction, after the home has been through several wind, rain and snow storms, and cycles of cold, heat, dryness and humidity. It takes time for these conditions to reveal problems with roofs, foundations or wall construction, like use of inadequate materials or poor workmanship. Mistakes and oversights by builders or subcontractors are not only common, but are often completely unnoticeable within the first few years after construction. They can also result in extremely costly repairs for the homeowners. Under Scott’s bill, homeowners would be left holding the bag for expensive repairs to their homes needed due to shoddy construction.

Above the Law: Mesa County Republican Candidates Broke G.J. City Ordinance

Note: The following commentary was written by, and reprinted with permission from a local tea party activist who goes by the handle “American Patriot.” A few spelling errors have been corrected and links are provided to further information, including the City Ordinance cited in the piece, which was fully in effect in 2014.

A Commentary by American Patriot — November 16, 2014

Former Congressman Scott McInnis won arace for Mesa County Commissioner in November, 2014, even though his campaign broke several rules, including illegally posting campaign signs on power poles without permission and standing on city medians in violation of City Ordinance 9.04.250, "Prohibition against standing on or occupying medians."

Former Congressman Scott McInnis won a seat on the Mesa County Commission in November, 2014, even though his campaign broke several rules, including illegally posting campaign signs on power poles without permission and waving signs while standing on city medians in violation of City Ordinance 9.04.250, titled “Prohibition against standing on or occupying medians.”

Just before the last election, it was reported that Scott McInnis was parading up and down the Highway 6 and 50 traffic medians parading a political sign. And the Matt Lewis for sheriff campaign was engaged in the same illegal activity at First and Grand in violation of City Ordinance 9.04.250 which specifically forbids the use of medians for “political campaign activity.”

It would be bad enough if it were only a commissioner-elect and a sheriff-elect that flagrantly, if unintentionally, violated the law of the land, but wait for it; here’s the kicker. It was none other than our incumbent District Attorney Pete Hautzinger, who was sign-waving on behalf of sheriff elect Matt Lewis’ campaign while occupying a designated median at 1st and Grand. Now, if you or I were to do the same thing, it could cost us up to a thousand dollars and/or one year in jail.

Have you ever heard the saying, usually used by prosecutors, DA’s and law enforcement officers that “ignorance of the law is no excuse?” Well, between McInnis, Lewis and Pete Hautzinger, which one of those three do you think could get away with using ignorance of the law as a defense? Well, maybe if they just plead ignorant, a jury of Mesa County voters could buy that?

Palisade Pot and Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner

The Mesa County Clerk's two goofs on the Palisade ballot appear to have been effective at keeping recreational pot out of the Grand Valley for the immediate future.

The Mesa County Clerk’s two goofs on the Palisade ballot right before the Nov. 4 election — both affecting only Palisade and the town’s two pot measures — appear to have helped keep recreational pot out of the Grand Valley for the time being.

It’s no secret that Mesa County’s Old Guard Establishment Republicans (OGREs) oppose legalized marijuana. Even though Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012, the Commissioners — all OGREs — exercised their option under the law to prohibit retail sale of pot throughout the unincorporated county, shutting off a new source of badly-needed new jobs and tourism, and blocking a desperately-needed economic boost to Mesa County’s long-suffering economy.

The OGREs’ only problem is that despite their best efforts, retail pot keeps creeping closer to Grand Junction, and there’s little they can do about it. Under state law, home-rule cities and towns can make their own rules regarding the sale and cultivation of pot, and last spring the town of DeBeque, 32 miles east of Grand Junction, approved retail pot shops by four votes.  Now DeBeque is poised to reap the benefits of being the first town on Interstate 70 inside Colorado’s western border to have retail recreational marijuana shops.

But retail recreational pot was about to creep even closer than that.

It’s Time to End GOP Rule in Mesa County

GOPIndistressDo you plan to vote for Republican incumbents and the same Mesa County politicians we’ve had in office before?

Think again.

Mesa County’s long reliance on the local GOP has led it to disaster.

Just look at the Mesa County GOP’s record:

1) Our unemployment rate has long remained among the highest in the state;

2) Our local wages are among the very lowest in the state;

3) 13.4 percent of our area’s residents live below federal poverty level ($23,550 for a family of four),

4) Mesa County’s suicide rate is among the highest in the U.S.;

5) Mesa County is the drunkest county in the state in 2013 (based on the average blood alcohol concentration for arrested drunk drivers);

6) Forty one percent of School District 51 students qualify for free and reduced-cost lunches at school, and Kids Aid, the area nonprofit that provides backpacks of food to hungry students so they can get through the weekends without starving, sends 1,800 District 51 students home with backpacks full of non-perishable food home every WEEK.

Yes, you read that right. Eighteen hundred Mesa County school children are food insecure every WEEK. Have you heard a single local GOP elected official mention this state of affairs? No.

Online Database Details Religious Crimes Against Humanity

fishAn eye-opening database publicly available on Google Docs lists known major organized crimes implemented globally by the Catholic church and other religions. The list includes systematic child abductions by the Church (the seizure of millions of babies from unmarried women and girls from the mid 1940s to the mid 1970s who were then adopted out for profit), child and female enslavement, sexual abuse, child pornography, abuse of deaf victims, beatings, severe punishments and use of orphans as “guinea pigs” in human experimental and clinical trials. All entries are documented to authoritative sources or reporting. One example of crimes committed by the Catholic church is the so-called “Baby Scoop Era,” in which unwed pregnant girls were “disappeared” into Catholic “Mother-Baby Homes.” There the girls and young women were fed and housed with minimal attention until they gave birth in rooms alone, without support, assistance, counseling or coaching. The new young mothers were then coerced or forced to surrender their babies for adoption. This human rights crime against women is backed up with a link to a one hour investigative news program by Dan Rather titled “What the Catholic Church failed to tell you: Abominations of the Catholic Church in USA and Canada” that details how from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, Catholic nuns coerced over one million American women and girls to give up their babies. The Church then sold them into illegitimate adoptions for “astronomical profits.”

Woman and Girls Used as Slave Labor in Irish Laundries Operated by the Catholic Church

Women who were held as slaves in Catholic laundries in Ireland are seeking justice for their imprisonment and abuse

Women who were held as slaves in Catholic laundries in Ireland are seeking justice for their imprisonment and abuse

A BBC investigation has revealed that Irish nuns from the Catholic church took female children out of church-operated state orphanages and used them as unpaid slave labor in church-owned commercial laundry facilities called the Magdalene Laundries. Women and girls made to work in the laundries were held as prisoners and endured significant abuse. The slave laundries existed into the 1980s and did the laundry for restaurants, railway stations, convents and the airport. Some women were held in the laundries for over 50 years.

The Irish Examiner newspaper investigated the finances of religious orders that operated the laundries in 2012 and found they owned assets of $1.9 billion. (Yes, that’s “billion” with a “B.”).

One woman, the main subject in BBC’s report, escaped the laundry, ran to a nearby church for help, got raped by a priest and returned to the laundry. She became pregnant from the rape. The nuns took her baby away from her at birth and gave it up for adoption. The woman was forced to work in the laundry for 14 years. She was finally reunited with her daughter 40 years after her birth. The woman is demanding an apology — just an apology — from the Church.

Source: Demanding justice for women and children abused by Irish nunsBBC News, September 23, 2014

Phillips: WaPo Cites Mesa County Sheriff’s Office as Misspending Public Funds

Benita Phillips is Mesa County's only woman candidate for Sheriff, and is running as a write-in candidate. She and her husband live in Palisade.

Benita Phillips is Mesa County’s only woman candidate for Sheriff, and is running as a write-in candidate. She and her husband live in Palisade.

Mesa County Sheriff write-in candidate Benita Phillips is drawing the public’s attention to an October 11 article in the Washington Post, “Asset seizures fuel police spending,” that specifically cites the Mesa County, Colorado Sheriff’s Office  (MCSO) as an example of a law enforcement agency guilty of grossly misspending public funds.

The article states,

Auditors found the Mesa County, Colo., Sheriff’s Office paid thousands for projectors, scanner equipment and other items that were not intended for law enforcement. They also paid for 20 lawyers in the Mesa County prosecutor’s office to attend a conference at the Keystone ski resort. Auditors questioned more than $78,000 in spending. The Mesa Sheriff’s Office also did not respond to calls from The Post. [Emphasis added.].

Sheriff Candidate Benita Phillips Pledges to Investigate Local Corruption, Asks Other Candidates to do the Same

Benita Phillips is Mesa County's only woman candidate for Sheriff. She and her husband live in Palisade.

Benita Phillips is Mesa County’s only woman candidate for Sheriff, running as a write-in. She and her husband live in Palisade.

Benita Phillips, Mesa County’s first female candidate for Sheriff, has pledged — and asked her opponents to pledge — that if elected they will conduct a public investigation into corruption in the Sheriff’s Office, and take steps to prevent future corruption and preferential dealing.

Her challenge comes after the local GOP’s top candidate for sheriff, State Senator Steve King, was charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors for allegedly falsifying time cards while working at the Sheriff’s office, embezzling public property and failing to report all his sources of income — a requirement for state legislators. King stepped down from the race after the charges were made.

Phillips specifically asked all sheriff candidates to pledge to openly review and amend any policy of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office that supports what she calls “a culture of double-dipping.”

State Senator Steve King worked at Colorado Mesa University (CMU) at the same time he worked at the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office. An investigation revealed that he occasionally billed both entities for the same time he worked.

Chamber Supports Amendment 68, Takes Mesa County Down Another Primrose Path

Dunce capThe Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce apparently loves some vices, but not others, and the “sins” the chamber backs don’t seem to match the desires of Mesa County citizens. Once again the chamber adds to its long list of disastrous political moves and fails to consider the big picture in their election-year endorsements.

The chamber recently announced it supports Amendment 68, which will pave the way for horse racing and large-scale video lottery terminals in Mesa County. Amendment 68 requires 34 percent of the gambling proceeds go to support schools.

Diane Schwenke, president of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said whether or not the local community wants gambling was the most important criteria for their support.

“As long as it’s up to the local residents, the local leadership,” she said. “That’s of paramount importance to us.”

But the chamber doesn’t really care about what the local residents think.

Congress Suspended Rule to Rename McInnis Canyons

Reposting this article, because it bears repeating.[Update: 2/5/16 – Scott McInnis is now a Mesa County Commissioner

In 2004, a handful of members of the U.S.House of Representatives engineered the suspension one of its own House Rules to pass HR 4827, which renamed the 122,000-acre Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area (NCA) in western Colorado after then-sitting Colorado Congressman Scott McInnis. Ironically, the rule they suspended was one another Colorado Congressman had lobbied to put in place.

The House of Representatives’ House Rules (pdf) were created to reduce corruption in Congress and, ensure order and prevent Congress members from misusing the political process for their own personal gain and glorification. Among the House rules, for example, are ones putting a maximum value on gifts members of Congress can accept from lobbyists, and prohibiting members from accepting reimbursement for transportation, lodging or other trip expenses unless certain specific criteria are met.

Rule XXI, Clause 6 specifically bans House members from naming public structures after themselves. Public structures includes public works and publicly-owned lands like beaches, parks and national forests. In order to rename Colorado Canyons NCA after Scott McInnis, then, Congress had to circumvent the rule. To that end, a few House members managed to purposely suspend Rule XXI Clause 6, so the McInnis renaming bill could pass.

The rule, found on Page 35 of the House Rules book, states:

Designation of public works

6. It shall not be in order to consider a bill, joint resolution, amendment, or conference report that provides for the designation or redesignation of a public work in honor of an individual then serving as a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner or Senator.

Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado, McInnis’ home state, was the one who fought to put this rule in place, to stop an epidemic of sitting members of the House renaming federal structures after themselves. In arguing for House Resolution 343 during the 107th Congress (2001-02), Tancredo urged Congress to act more transparently and eloquently pointed out the dangers and hubris of such self-renaming activity. Tancredo likened members of Congress renaming structures after themselves to putting themselves on “an almost god-like level”.

He said:

“Individuals who have had an impact on America will forever be remembered, and should be remembered, and waiting for the full impact of their public service to be realized is not too much to ask. By waiting a few years to reflect on their accomplishments, we are doing them, and the integrity of this Congress, a great service.

Federal structures all across the nation, including within my Congressional district are named after former Members of Congress. Members who have seen their names placed on post offices, federal buildings and highways are undoubtedly great men and women who served their nation. However, we need to draw a great distinction between honoring our retired leaders, and placing current leaders on an almost god-like level.

We are all given a great honor to serve within our nation’s Congress. We impact the lives of millions of Americans on a daily basis, and many of us will inspire our constituents to levels of achievement that are beyond anyone’s expectations, and they will do likewise for us. Yet we must remember that we are serving them for the good of the whole, the good of the people and we should be thankful for the opportunity.”

This photo shows how empty the chamber was on the day Congress voted to suspend House Rule XXI, Clause 6 and rename "Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area" after then sitting Congressman Scott McInnis (R-CO)

The House chambers were practically empty on the day Congress voted to suspend House Rule XXI, Clause 6, so they could rename “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area” after then sitting Congressman Scott McInnis (R-CO). The rule prohibits sitting members of Congress from renaming public works after themselves.

But serving in the House for the good of the people and being thankful for the opportunity to do it wasn’t enough for Scott McInnis and his friends in Congress who engineered the passage of the “McInnis-as-god” bill.

The House suspended House Rule XXI, Clause 6 before the McInnis bill came to the full house, effectively blocking any other Congress members from being able to object to it due to the fact that it violated the rules.

McInnis-As-God Bill Introduced

After the “McInnis-as-god” bill was introduced on July 13, 2004 as HR 4827, it was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources, the committee that considers legislation pertaining to public lands.

The only problem was, the Committee never considered the bill. Somehow it sailed through its committee assignment without ever being heard.

On September 28, 2004,  just two members of Congress spoke very briefly in favor of the bill. Neither of them were from Colorado. One was a representative from California and the other was the representative from Guam. No Coloradans were notified about the bill’s existence or invited to weigh in on the change. Then, in a nearly empty chamber, Chairman Darrell Issa took a voice vote which was completely inaudible on C-SPAN (and which was non-recorded, so we don’t know who voted for or against),  pronounced the “yeas” as a two-thirds majority of those present, and declared the bill passed.

In yet another irony surrounding this moment, in his invocation that day House Chaplain Reverend Thomas Spence said  “Teach us what it means to be humble in a world where we take ourselves too seriously.”

Congress does indeed need to learn to be humble. They have hubris down pat.

Resources:

C-SPAN clip of the vote

CSPAN recording of the full house session on September 28, 2004

Rules of the House of Representatives (pdf) – Rule XXI, Clause 6 regarding Designation of Public Works is on Page 35, at mid-page

Congress Suspended Rule to Rename McInnis Canyons

Petition to revert McInnis Canyons back to its original name, “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area”