Governor Hickenlooper called a special session in early October so legislators could fix a mistake in Senate Bill 17-267, passed last spring, that is costing public entities across the state millions of dollars in lost pot tax revenues.
Legislators passed the bill with an error in it that keeps voter-approved special districts across the state from collecting marijuana sales taxes to fund their services. Many of the affected districts, like the Denver Regional Transportation District, the Denver Zoo, the Denver Botanic Gardens and Museum of Nature and Science are on the front range, but western slope entities are losing critical funding as well. Western slope districts losing funds because of the error include the Gunnison Valley Regional Transportation Authority, the Summit Combined Housing Authority, the Roaring Fork Regional Transportation Authority, the San Miguel Regional Transportation Authority and the Edwards Metropolitan District.
At a special session convened to address the problem during the first week of October, a bill to fix the error that originated in the Democratic-controlled House passed by a 37-25 vote, mostly along party lines. Our very own Rep. Dan Thurlow (R-Mesa County), was the only Republican House Representative who voted for the fix. In arguing to pass it, Thurlow said, “We’re here. We spent the money [for the special session]…I think we should just go ahead and fix it.”
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?
State Senator Ray Scott doesn’t want to be bothered with having to fix a huge mistake the Colorado legislature made in 2017 that is blocking dozens of entities from getting crucial funds they need to function.
The headline article in today’s Daily Sentinel, “No quick fix on Horizon,” tells how for years businesses along Horizon Drive have been begging the City of Grand Junction to make the street safer for pedestrians.
Three pedestrians, all tourists, have been killed by vehicles on Horizon Drive in the last seven years trying to cross the street between the hotels and restaurant establishments. The three victims were all killed within 700 feet of each other. These people lost their lives merely because they visited our town. Many others have been very badly injured crossing Horizon Drive, but lived. The safety problem on Horizon has been well known to the City for a long time, but nothing has been done during all this time to make the street any safer for pedestrians.
The worm turns.
However uncharacteristic, prominent local conservative Marjorie Haun, who bills herself as “ReaganGirl,” has found a tax she likes, and she’s urging others to like it, too — and vote for it.
Haun backs a proposed sales tax increase on the next local ballot that will help support the Mesa County District Attorney’s office and the Mesa County Sheriff Department.
First the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and downtown business owners like Doug Simons of Enstrom Candies told city residents they needed to pay an extra sales tax to fund an event center downtown. People panned the idea and voted it down by a huge margin. A common criticism was, “A tax to build an event center? But what about our crumbling schools?” Then the chamber, Simons and CMU proposed waving a magic wand and changing the names of North Avenue to “University Boulevard,” and 12th Street to “Maverick Way,” saying this will be really great. People again panned the idea for the cost and inconvenience. A widely-expressed sentiment about the proposed name change has been ”Change the name of North Avenue? But what about our crumbling schools?”
Pay attention! One of your elected officials voted to take away your right to access the court system.
Your House Representative, Scott Tipton (R-CO), voted today to block Americans from suing big banks that defraud or abuse them. Tipton voted to repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rule that keeps banks from forcing customers to give up their right to access the courts whenever they sign a contract to open a bank account. The banks seek to force customers into arbitration as the only way to deal with disputes. Arbitration typically results in fewer decisions in customers’ favor and in lower payouts. Rep. Tipton’s vote sided with the big banks.
Think House Representative Scott Tipton is on your side? Think again.
In the last couple of weeks, Rep. Tipton has voted against cleaner air, against creating more American jobs, and in favor of keeping financial information secret that would allow Congress to tell if changes President Trump proposes in the U.S. tax code would benefit his family’s income.
It’s a new thing for people on Grand Junction’s Main Street to cheer the Mesa County Democrats as they pass by in the Independence Day Parade. Years ago, the Democrats’ parade entry consisted four or five people and a donkey, and the crowd was stone-faced when we walked by.
But times are changing in Mesa County.
People are starting to see that the Democratic Party (pdf) isn’t just the party that goes to bat for working people on issues like a living wage, sick pay, parental leave and a diversified economy in Mesa County. It isn’t just the party that believes everyone should be able to get the health care they need. It isn’t just the party that recognizes the value of science and technology to humanity’s future. People now seeing that the Democratic Party is the party grown-up candidates who understand and respect America’s system of government and who show respect towards all people regardless of race, religion or non-religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity.
Yes, Mesa County. That recognition is worth cheering about.
When was the last time a Mesa County Commissioner or a state-level elected official from Mesa County gave a public statement about the skyrocketing number of families and children suffering from extreme poverty in our county, or proposed possible solutions to the problem?
That’s right. Never.
If you live in the area of 26 1/2 and H Roads, a big change is coming to your neighborhood, and it may not be a change you’re going to like.
Verizon Wireless has submitted plans to the Grand Junction Planning Department to build a cell phone tower in a field right near the corner of 26 1/2 and H Roads, in the city-owned cornfield known as “Saccomano Park.”
Here’s a question for Mesa County workers:
When was the last time your political party helped make your life better?
If you can’t think of anything, there’s a reason.
The dominant political party in our area has long been the Republican Party, but if you work for a salary or hourly wage, or have a small business, are registered as a Republican and think the Republican party has your best interests at heart, think again.
While some stayed home dying Easter eggs Saturday, almost 300 western slope citizens turned out for the national Tax March to demand Donald Trump make his tax returns public. Marchers gathered at Grand Junction City Hall and listened to speeches before starting off on a figure 8-shaped route through downtown that took them along Main Street, Grand Avenue and by the Post Office, where they mailed post cards to Trump saying they want him to release his taxes.
On January 11, 2017, Trump dismissed the idea that voters were interested in his tax returns, claiming the only people who care about his tax returns are members of the media. But he was proved badly wrong when on April 15, thousands of people in hundreds of cities across across the country took to the streets to demand he make his taxes public. An ABC News/Washington Post poll (pdf) released on January 16,2017 showed 74% of Americans want to see Trump’s returns.
The way ballot proposals typically come about in Grand Junction, the Grand Junction Chamber, big local business owners and members of the Old Guard Republican Establishment (OGREs) conceive of some idea that benefits one or more established, successful businesses. They then try to convince people “our community is dying,”** promote this single idea as the only way to save the local economy, and portray it as the key to creating jobs. They may include language to the effect that their idea will also contribute down the line somehow to a project city residents really do want, like a community recreation center or more walking and biking trails.
Then proponents pool their money, hire a professional marketer to develop an ad campaign to make their idea look fantastic and then get their project on the next local ballot, where it gets trounced, because voters know it won’t really make their lives better as the bigwigs promised. Or voters go ahead and approve it only to see it never happen.
In a word, this method is a failure.
The western slope’s U.S. Congressional Representative Scott Tipton (R) faced a packed and overwhelmingly liberal/progressive crowd in the gymnasium at Montrose High School Friday evening, April 7, 2017, at his town hall meeting. Citizens came from Montrose, Crawford, Paonia, Ouray, Grand Junction and other locations. They asked Rep. Tipton about topics including where he stands on health care, why Congress is failing to recognize that the existing for-profit health care system isn’t working, why he hasn’t introduced any legislation to deal with climate change, where he stands on plans to de-fund the EPA, U.S. involvement in foreign wars without Congressional approval, the threatened end to student loan forgiveness promised to people who went to work in the public sector after graduation, the $3 million per weekend it costs taxpayers to protect President Trump on his golf trips to Mar-A-Lago, and more.
Overall, it appeared the audience was decidedly unhappy with Rep. Tipton’s responses, in which he stated that health care in the U.S. was a privilege, not a right, that he sided with big corporations and businesses and the oil and gas industry when it comes to climate change. When asked about the tremendous expense to taxpayers of President Trump’s many weekend golf trips to Mar-A-Lago, Rep. Tipton won howls of anger from the crowd when he said merely that the same protection was afforded to President Obama. There was plenty of booing and foot stomping in response to Rep. Tipton’s answers throughout the town hall. A lot of people came equipped with (and used) signs that said “Disagree” and “Answer the Question!”
The events center promoters call their group “Say Yes for Grand Junction,” but a “no” vote on the proposed events center doesn’t mean you are saying “no” to Grand Junction as a whole. Far from it.
Grand Junction residents aren’t shallow or selfish. They put a lot of thought into their votes, and there’s a lot to consider with this measure, particularly given Grand Junction’s dire financial position and long list of other needs.
Promoters say the events center, known as Measure 2A on the citywide ballot, will cost $65 million to build, but their own press release and the wording of the ballot measure both say that, including the financing costs over its proposed 30 year term, the total cost to taxpayers for the event center will actually come to $134 million. Fully half that amount is interest the City will have to pay on the loan needed to finance the project. That’s twice the amount we’ve been told about in promotions for the project, and while it’s the more realistic total estimated cost of the project, it’s not the figure event center promoters have been touting.
Also, voters need to consider other information about this project that isn’t being volunteered by promoters, like the potential long term risks of the project.
If you’ve eaten out lately, you may have seen table tents displayed at downtown restaurants promoting Measure 2A on the city ballot this coming April. The measure asks city residents to approve increasing the City’s sales tax by a quarter cent to fund a $60 million downtown events center.
But beware, these promos strive to deceive.