Category: Diane Schwenke

RN literally begs Mesa County Commissioners to urge public to wear masks, distance, avoid gatherings

Benita Phillips, R.N., B.S.N. begged Mesa County Commissioners on 11/9 to make a definitive public statement urging the public to wear masks, avoid gatherings and strictly follow other public health protocol to help rein in the rapid spread of the novel Coronavirus in our community

A registered nurse openly begged the Mesa County Commissioners to make a statement telling people they need to wear masks when patronizing local businesses, maintain physical distancing and strictly avoid gatherings, to help rein in the area’s skyrocketing Covid-19 infection rate.

Benita Phillips, R.N., B.S.N., a retired Veterans Administration nurse, spoke to the commissioners in the public comment period of their Monday, 11/9 meeting (video, @ 1:02). Phillips spoke after Mesa County Public Health Department Executive Director Jeff Kuhr told commissioners about the dire situation the county faces from the ongoing uncontrolled spread of the novel Coronavirus. Dr. Kuhr told commissioners that last Saturday the county reached its highest new Covid case count in a single day: 180.

Just how BAD of a candidate is Lauren Boebert for 3rd Congressional District House Representative?

Lauren Boebert, Republican candidate for CD-3, is such a far right extremist that she said she hopes “QAnon is real” (Youtube)

Lauren Boebert such a terrible Republican candidate for CD-3 that the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce has refused to endorse her.

You have to understand how the Grand Junction Area Chamber works in order to fully grasp how momentous this non-endorsement is.

Even the Tea Party Chamber doesn’t like Boebert.

Under Diane Schwenke, its president of the last 30 years, the G.J. Area Chamber in 2012 became a politically far right wing tea-party group that portrays itself as a champion of small business, while they actually put their political effort into lobbying for the big businesses that pony up their highest membership fees of $7,000/year.

This makes for some weird actions by the Chamber.

The Chamber has endorsed criminals for city council, they’ve endorsed people who can’t write a coherent sentence for school board, and they even endorsed a dental hygienist for Drainage Board who’d lived here 2 years, moved here from San Diego and couldn’t tell a drainage ditch from an irrigation ditch over a candidate who’d served on Palisade Town Council for 8 years, been mayor pro-tem, sat on the 5-2-1 Drainage Authority Board, sat on the Colorado Municipal League’s Executive Board for 6 years, had attended seminars on wastewater management and subscribed to periodicals about drainage just for fun. Why? Because the lady from San Diego opposed a fee the drainage district sought to fund much-needed updating of the valley’s troubled, outdated drainage system.

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce linked to racist comments at City Council meeting

 

Michael P. Anton, Chamber member and owner of Emtech, Inc.

Grand Junction citizens who attended the August 5, 2020 City Council meeting to promote racial justice and propose solutions were met with openly racist comments from Michael Anton, a local business owner and representative of the Western Colorado Business Alliance (WCBA), a subgroup the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber formed WCBA in 2012 to serve as the Chamber’s lobbying and political arm. WCBA is a 501-c-4 “dark money” group, so-called because it does not disclose its donors, but according to 2012 article in the Business Times, WCBA is funded by local business owners. In 2013, an anonymous former Grand Junction mayor told AnneLandmanBlog that WCBA was initially financed with a $50,000 donation from Doug Simons, owner of Enstrom Candies.

The social justice groups Right and Wrong (RAW) Grand Junction and Black Lives Matter (BLM) Grand Junction invited citizens who have felt discrimination locally to join them in an “Oppressed People’s March” to the Grand Junction City Council meeting at City Hall Wednesday evening to propose policies for Council to consider that would benefit minorities, like incentives for minority business owners and funding for the Latino Chamber of Commerce.

But in response to the groups’ presence at the meeting, WCBA member and local business owner Michael Anton made it clear that in his view, racial minorities were unwelcome in Grand Junction, stating in his public comments to Council:

“This RAW. This BLM. They need to go away. They’re not Grand Junction and you need to send them down the road because, believe me, there’s a lot more of me here in this valley than there is of you. I guarantee it and it will not be a pretty day if that comes forth.”

Shadowy Chamber “social welfare” group funds billboard thanking racially tone-deaf members of G.J. City Council “for their service”

The Chamber and WCBA’s billboard thanking the most tone-deaf city council members when it comes to racism in Grand Junction

The little-known, seedy political arm of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, the Western Colorado Business Alliance (WCBA), has appeared again in Grand Junction, this time funding a billboard praising four sitting Grand Junction City Council members who recently earned the reputation for being the most tone-deaf when it comes to racism: Philip Pe’a, Duke Wortmann, Phyllis Norris and Kraig Andrews.

Pe’a was the councilman who was so threatened by what he claimed was the presence of G.J. Police Department’s “swat team” at the June 3 Council meeting that he proclaimed he thought he might need to bring his Glock handgun into the meeting. That was the meeting that was attended by a crowd of City residents who showed up to protest pervasive racism they had seen or experienced in Grand Junction, or to support friends who had experienced it.

Grand Junction’s Police Chief later confirmed there were no SWAT team members at the meeting that day.

Oil and gas front group “Protect Colorado” pumps out frightening hype about Proposition 112

Firestone, CO home explosion from oil and gas lines, April, 2017, which killed two people who were in the house. Proposition 112 seeks to prevent against hazards like this posed by oil and gas operations being too close to homes, schools, playgrounds, hospitals, etc.. (Photo: CBS)

At election time we’re always told the same old thing from wealthy business interests: “Ballot measure X is going to wreck our state! Ballot measure X will crush our businesses and cost hard working Coloradans thousands of jobs! Vote NO on Ballot Measure X!”

Now they’re doing the same thing with Proposition 112.

Sentinel wrongly blames citizens for North Avenue name change “imbroglio”

Grand Junction Mayor Rick Taggart says the City’s system for enacting ordinances is flawed

In an op-ed in today’s Daily Sentinel, the paper blames KeepNorth4Ever — the citizen group lobbying to keep “North Avenue” from becoming “University Boulevard” — for turning the issue into an “imbrolgio,” saying they failed to pay adequate attention to local government. The op-ed also blames KeepNorth4Ever for “sowing division” in the community by their activities.

The paper’s narrow, sour-grapes style viewpoint misses the bigger picture and places blame when instead plaudits are due.

The Chamber’s North Ave. Name Change is One of a Long String of Losing Proposals

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce is driving the effort to rename North Avenue to “University Boulevard.”

Oh, boy. Here we go again.

This proposal is just another one in the chamber’s long track record of pushing ill-fitting projects onto Grand Junction citizens, whether they like them or not. The chamber’s proposals typically range from unpopular to disastrous and almost invariably go down in flames. The promises they make about their proposals’ costs and outcomes often contain misinformation, too. So who can blame people for not supporting yet another one?

Grand Junction Chamber Opposes Protections for Public and Environment from Drilling Hazards

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke and the Chamber’s Board oppose a legal ruling that protects Colorado residents from drilling hazards.

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce is squarely opposed to protecting Colorado residents’ safety when it comes to oil and gas operations, and is demonstrating this by siding with oil and gas companies in an ongoing court case filed by Colorado children who feel their health, safety and the environment are threatened by overly permissive drilling and fracking activity.

City Processing Marijuana Petitions

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-12-59-11-pmOn Thursday, November 17, members of Grand Junction Cannabis Action Now (GJCAN) turned petitions in to the City containing 3,300 signatures to get a proposed ordinance (pdf) on next April’s citywide ballot to bring marijuana commerce back to Grand Junction.

The group needs 2,254 valid signatures for the proposal to advance.

The City has ten days from the day the petitions were turned in to validate the signatures, making November 27 the deadline for the city to declare whether the goal was met. City Clerk Stephanie Tuin says they are working now to validate the signatures, and says they actually validate each signature turned in.

If GJCAN has submitted enough valid signatures to get the measure on the ballot, City Council will get an opportunity at its January meeting to approve the petition’s wording and adopt the ordinance as-is. Council’s other option, if they are still too afraid to address the marijuana issue themselves, is to send it to the April ballot for a vote of City residents. Either way, by its inaction on the marijuana issue, Council has missed it’s opportunity to weigh in on the matter and left it to City residents.

That’s probably just as well, though.

Survey: G.J. Chamber Members Don’t Support the Chamber’s Political Meddling

The G.J. Chamber gets unfavorable reviews from members on its political involvement

The G.J. Chamber gets unfavorable reviews from members on its political involvement

The website of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce says “We take the lead in shaping laws that affect business on the western slope,” but according to a new chamber survey, only a tiny fraction of its members seem to think the chamber should be meddling in government affairs at all.

On October 12, the chamber sent out a survey to its approximately 1,500 member businesses. Only 15 percent of its members responded to it.

One question on the survey asked whether “being the voice of business with government” should be a priority for the chamber. Only 39 percent of the small percentage of business owners who responded said “yes,” showing very few chamber members think the chamber should meddle in government at all. What’s more, fewer than half the respondents (48%) thought the chamber’s Government Affairs committee was even beneficial. According to the survey, only 67 of the chamber’s estimated total 1,500 member businesses said they joined the chamber “to have a stronger voice with government.” When asked about the most important issue business owners face today, not even 5 percent answered that the political environment was important to them.

G. J. Chamber “Hasn’t Even Considered” Marijuana as a Way to Boost the Local Economy

CLUELESS - Diane Schwenke attending a meeting at Main Street Bagels this morning

Diane Schwenke attending a meeting at Main Street Bagels this morning

Diane Schwenke, the CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said at a meeting at Main Street Bagels this morning that the chamber’s board hasn’t even discussed or considered the possibility of bringing retail marijuana commerce to Grand Junction as a way to boost the local economy.

Schwenke made the statement after being asked about the chamber’s position on retail marijuana, which over the last two years has proven to be one of the biggest economic drivers in elsewhere in the state.

Grand Junction Chamber Drops its Longstanding Support for Scott Tipton

House Rep. Scott Tipton (R), formerly a favorite of the tea-party leaning Grand Junction Area Chamber, has failed to win the chamber's endorsement for re-election this year

House Rep. Scott Tipton (R), formerly a favorite of the tea-party leaning Grand Junction Area Chamber, has failed to win the chamber’s endorsement for re-election this year

In a subtle but stunning rebuke, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce has quietly declined to endorse Scott Tipton (R) in his bid this year to win re-election as Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District’s House Representative. In its 2016 Voter Guide (PDF), the chamber endorses candidates in other races, but for the first time it does not endorse Tipton.

The chamber has endorsed Tipton ever since he first ran for Congress in 2010, and maintained its support of the tea party favorite throughout the years, until now.

This year, no endorsement. Zero. Zip.

Why We Need to Question the Chamber’s “Experts”

Diane Schwenke of the Grand Junction Chamber quotes a statistic by Erc Fruits, a freelance, pay-for-play economic consultant who works out of his home in Portland, Oregon, producing reports that meet the needs of his paymasters

Diane Schwenke of the Grand Junction Chamber quotes a statistic by Eric Fruits, a freelance, pay-for-play economic consultant who works out of his home in Portland, Oregon, producing reports that meet the needs of his paymasters

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce is working hard to defeat Amendment 70, which would raise Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 and hour by 2020. Part of its opposition involves chamber president Diane Schwenke running TV ads against the measure in which the chamber claims “90,000 Colorado jobs” would be lost if the measure passes.

Who is “Dr. Fruits”?

The chamber’s “90,000-jobs-lost” figure comes from “Eric Fruits,” of “Economics International Corps.” Fruits is a part time economic consultant who works out of his home and also works part time as an adjunct professor at Portland State University (PSU).

Adjunct professors, also called “contingent professors,” are not tenured. They are typically low-paid, part-time contract workers who rank below “assistant” and “associate” professors. Adjuncts typically don’t receive any health insurance or other benefits through their workplace and are often paid less than pet sitters.

Costco vs. Sam’s Club: Busting the G.J. Chamber’s Minimum Wage Myths

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-11-38-08-amColorado’s Amendment 70, if it passes this November, will gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $12.00 an hour by 2020. Some people wonder, if we pay people a higher minimum wage, where will the money come from?

The money comes from either a businesses’ profits, or its debts. But raising the minimum wage doesn’t necessarily mean customers will pay higher prices for goods and services. To the contrary, a number of real-life examples show that rock-bottom pay and benefits don’t necessarily translate into lower prices. In fact, stingy wages often prove even more costly.

G.J. Chamber Runs TV Ads Opposing Increase in Colorado’s Minimum Wage

Diane Schwenke of the Grand Junction Chamber quotes a statistic by Erc Fruits, a freelance, pay-for-play economic consultant who works out of his home in Portland, Oregon, producing reports that meet the needs of his paymasters

Diane Schwenke of the Grand Junction Chamber cites a statistic produced by “Eric Fruits,” a pay-for-play economic consultant who works out of his home in Portland, Oregon producing economic reports that bolster the positions of his big-business paymasters. Fruits’ claim directly contradicts the U.S. Department of Labor regarding the actual effects of increases in the minimum wage.

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke has been appearing on TV in ads opposing Amendment 70, which would increase in Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 and hour by 2020. The western slope has among the lowest per capita income in the state (pdf), and among the highest rates of homelessness, poverty, suicide and hunger. The ads reinforce the chamber’s longstanding reputation of opposing the best interests of area workers and their families, and continues its long-standing record of lobbying to keep area wages extraordinarily low compared to the rest of the state. The ads also reinforce the chamber’s image as an elite club that lobbies for wealthy business owners and out-of-state member corporations, while neglecting the needs of the rest of the community.

Fruits?

Why Average People Shouldn’t Listen to the Grand Junction Area Chamber

chamberIt’s election time again, and soon the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce will issue it’s “2016 Voter Guide” in an attempt to try and influence how people in Mesa County vote on ballot measures and local elected offices.

If you’re an average, hard-working working citizen in Mesa County, there is only one thing you need to know about the chamber’s voter guide: ignore it.

Why?

Because the chamber doesn’t represent Mesa County’s working population. It exists solely to promote the financial interests of the few Mesa County businesses who pay its dues, and nothing more. What’s more, most businesses oppose measures aimed at helping workers and their families, so the chamber reflexively opposes any ballot measures that would benefit the thousands of workers and residents who spend money locally and really keep this area humming.

Western Slope Workers’ Public Enemy #1: The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Department of Labor says that in 2014, the Wall Street bonus pool was roughly twice as much as all minimum wage workers' pay

The U.S. Department of Labor says that in 2014, the Wall Street bonus pool was roughly twice as much as all U.S. minimum wage workers’ pay combined

On August 1, 2016 the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce announced its opposition to a ballot initiative to raise Colorado’s minimum wage to $12/hour. The main reason the chamber gives for opposing the higher wage is a claim by Economics International Corporation — a company located in Portland, Oregon — that raising the minimum wage in Colorado will put 90,000 Coloradans out of work, mostly younger people.

Consider the Source

So who is “Economics International Corporation”?

It is a one person consultancy run by a man named Eric Fruits, who hires himself out as an expert witness in economics and statistics. The official registered business location of Economics International Corporation is “4318 NE Royal Court, Portland, Oregon 97213,” a four bedroom, three bathroom home. Fruits is the sole registered officer, agent, president and secretary of the corporation.

Economics International Corp headquarters

The official registered headquarters of the Chamber’s expert on Colorado economic issues, is this 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house in Portland, Oregon

Fruits specializes in “litigation support” for businesses, meaning he hires himself out to say whatever his paymasters need him to say, much like independent scientists did for the tobacco industry in the 1970s-1990s.