Category: Elections

AnneLandmanBlog Voter Guide 2015

ALVoterGuideThis guide presents voters with a citizen’s perspective on a number of upcoming ballot measures, and provides recommendations on which candidates to vote for in the City of Grand Junction’s Municipal election on April 7, 2015. Recommendations are evaluated based on what residents feel is important to their quality of life, safety and welfare, and the best economic interests of our area.

 

City of Grand Junction Referred Measure 2A: Restoring authority to the City to provide high speed internet and cable television service, either directly or indirectly, with public or private sector partnerships.

Explanation: This ballot measure allows the City to ignore SB 05-152 (pdf), a stupid law passed by the Colorado legislature in 2005 that prohibits municipalities from providing cable TV or telecommunications services, like broadband internet service, in any form to anyone. Fortunately, the law has a loophole that allows municipalities to opt-out of the law as long as they hold an election asking people if they want their city to opt out.

We should opt out.

The City of Grand Junction has its own broadband network in municipal buildings, but under the above-mentioned stupid state law, they can’t offer free wifi to citizens in their buildings even though the network is there. The city’s broadband network even runs into its streetlights, but the because of the stupid state law, the City can’t share the network with citizens. That’s just ridiculous, especially since we already pay for it through our taxes.

Approving this measure would let the City share its network, so people can get free wifi downtown. It will also let cable companies install and repair fiber optic lines during city construction to improve streets.

Since we’re all stuck with Charter Communications for high speed cable broadband internet and Charter has no competitors in this area, we need to opt out of the state law.

Recommended vote on 2A: YES

City of Grand Junction Referred Measure 2B

Explanation: This measure authorizes the city to take on $14.5 million of additional debt to finance more construction on the Westside Beltway project, also known as the Riverside Parkway.

The City wants to continue the Riverside Parkway, starting where it currently ends at 25 Road and the I-70 Business Loop, extending it north up 25 Road to F 1/2 Road, then west to 24 Road, and up 24 Road to I-70. The City wants to finance the project by keeping taxpayer funds that would normally have to be paid back to citizens under the TABOR Act (the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights).

The measure sounds fine at first read, but we recommend a “No” vote on Measure 2B.

Here’s why:

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”

State Sen. Ray Scott Votes to Kill Economic Assistance Bill for Rural Communities

House Rep Ray Scott (R) voted on 2/3/15 to kill a bill to provide economic help to rural Colorado communities that get hit with devastating economic events that cause mass layoffs.

House Rep Ray Scott (R) voted on 2/3/15 to kill a bill to provide economic help to rural Colorado communities that get hit with devastating economic events that cause mass layoffs.

On February 3, 2015, recently re-elected Colorado State Senator Ray Scott, voted to kill SB 36 (pdf), a bill that would have provided economic help to rural Colorado communities that suffer devastating economic events like large-scale layoffs or plant closures.

Freshman Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail introduced SB 36 on January 7, 2015, in large part as a reaction to the devastating closure of the Elk Creek Mine in Somerset (Gunnison County) after a fire struck the mine on October 1, 2013. The fire resulted in 142 mine employees being laid off. The layoffs forced workers to leave the area to find more work, causing a downward economic spiral that put pressure on the area’s housing market and schools.

SB 36 would have provided one-time emergency grants to rural Colorado communities in the wake of such devastating economic events. The grants would have provided funding to help laid off workers get additional job training and help them with finding other employment in the area.

Republican Senate leadership assigned the bill to the State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee, chaired by Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction), known as a “kill committee,” where Senate leadership sends bills they want struck down. Ray Scott dutifully voted against the bill, even though he has claimed to be concerned about area jobs and the bill would have provided much-needed help to rural western Colorado communities like Somerset that get hit with devastating economic events. The bill ultimately was killed in Scott’s committee, even though it had won bipartisan support and the backing of business-related groups.

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.

Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner, Up for Re-Election, Makes 2nd Major Screw-up in Palisade Ballots

Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner just racked up her second screw up in Palisade ballot measures regarding marijuana retail sales. Coincidence?

Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner just racked up her second screw up in Palisade ballot measures regarding marijuana retail sales. Coincidence?

First Palisade residents reported getting mail-in ballots without Referred Measures 2A and 2B on them. Now other people who live near Palisade but outside the town limits report getting ballots that do have Referred Measures 2A and 2B on them. The measures are only to be voted on by town residents.

Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner blamed the printer for the first screw-up of neglecting to include the two measures on some ballots, even though before commencing a print job a printer offers the customer, who in this case would have been Reiner, a proof to approve to assure accuracy of the final print job. If Reiner did not get a proof of the ballots prior to printing, she definitely should have requested one. When she got the ballots, she should have examined them for accuracy before mailing them. Ms. Reiner apparently did none of these things, but instead passed the blame onto the printer, without saying who it was.

Ballot received by a county resident who lives near, but not in Palisade, that contains Referred Measures 2A and 2B. The two measures are only supposed to be voted on by residents within town limits

Ballot received by a county resident who lives near, but not in Palisade, that contains Referred Measures 2A and 2B. The two measures are only supposed to be voted on by residents within town limits

Measure 2A asks Palisade residents if they want to allow retail recreational marijuana sales and cannabis growing facilities within the town limits. Measure 2B asks town residents if retail sales of recreational marijuana within town limits should be taxed.

If voters approve the measures, Palisade would become the first town inside Colorado on I-70 where tourists could legally buy recreational marijuana. The measures have great potential to boost the town’s coffers and local economy in general, as well as increase Palisade’s already considerable agricultural-tourism appeal.

Reiner hasn’t yet said who she blames for residents who don’t live within town limits getting ballots with the two measures on them, but we’ll guess she’ll likely say it wasn’t her.

 

Update: Sheila Reiner called at 6:15 this evening to say she believes the error occurred with her print vendor in Arizona who appears to have grabbed ballots out of the wrong stock during the stuffing procedure for ballots destined for a particular area of the Palisade outskirts. There is a number printed vertically along the right side of every ballot’s outer envelope, to the right of the address window. Sheila is trying to figure out who got them, and how many are wrong. If you got the wrong ballot, please call the Mesa County Clerk’s office at (970) 244-1662 to tell them your ballot number and let them know. 

Colorado House Rep. Ray Scott’s Weird 2014 Bill

Here ya go, Ray! Introduce a bill for us, will you?

Here ya go, Ray! Will you introduce a bill for us, now, too?

Have you been wondering what Colorado House Rep. Ray Scott has been doing to benefit the western slope during his time in the Colorado House? So have we, but looking into this question left us scratching our heads.

In April, Ray Scott sponsored HB14-1046, a very important bill to create a Scottish-American license plate. To get the plate, all a person would have to do is prove they made a financial donation to the St. Andrew Society of Colorado. That’s right…Scott introduced a bill that would financially benefit a group that has almost no presence on the western slope. The St. Andrew Society has exactly one member in Silt and one member in Montrose. They have no members or branches in Mesa County, and they only put on two annual events, both of which are on the front range. Ray Scott does not belong to the group, either, according to Jean Casson, the group’s self-professed “mother hen” for 40 years, who is also their public contact for phone inquiries. According to Casson, the Scottish-American constituency here on the western slope at the moment isn’t even big enough to support a single pro-Scottish group.

McInnis Campaign Fails to Get Permission to Post Signs

Illicitly-placed "McInnis" campaign sign on a power pole along G Road, placed without permission from XCel. The McInnis campaign has been asked to remove the signs.

Illicitly-placed “McInnis” campaign sign on a power pole along G Road. XCel has asked McInnis’ campaign to remove the signs.

The “Scott McInnis for Commissioner” signs that have appeared on power poles throughout the county have been placed illicitly, without first obtaining permission from the power company. The power poles are private property and the signs will have to be removed.

When someone from a different campaign contacted XCel to ask permission to place signage on the company’s power poles for a different candidate, and pointing out that Scott McInnis already had signs on the poles, XCel responded:

“The area contact has notified the [McInnis] campaign office to remove all signage from our private property. At this time, we are not allowing any political signage on our poles or other property. Again, we appreciate that you asked for consent prior to posting signs for your candidate. We hope you have a wonderful weekend.”

Former congressman Scott McInnis withdrew from a 2010 run for Colorado Governor amid a plagiarism scandal, for which he later apologized. In 2004, Congress also violated its own House Rule XXI, Clause 6 to rename a natural conservation area in Colorado after McInnis, who was then a sitting congressman. The rule prohibits sitting members of Congress from naming public works or lands after themselves.  McInnis did not notify anyone in Colorado about the bill to change the area’s name to honor him, and only two representatives spoke in favor of it — one from California and one from Guam. The bill was passed with a non-recorded voice-vote on a day when the House chambers were practically empty.

AnneLandmanBlog Voter Guide 2014

ALVoterGuideThe November, 2014 elections will determine whether western Colorado can finally pull out of its negative economic and political spiral. But many people are so busy making a living and caring for their families that they don’t have time to study up on the candidates and issues. To make things easier for everyone, AnneLandmanBlog is providing this handy voter guide. Here is a list of how to vote if you are unhappy with our area’s status quo, want to protect the gains we’ve already made at the state level, keep extremists and unethical candidates out of public office, get rid of legislators who have failed to help western slope citizens and to make some badly-needed positive changes here western Colorado:

United States Senator: Mark Udall

House Representative for District 3: Abel Tapia

Colorado Governor/Lieutenant Governor: John Hickenlooper/Joe Garcia

Secretary of State: Joe Neguse

State Treasurer: Betsy Markey

State Board of Education: Henry C. Roman

State Senate, District 7: Claudette Konola

State Representative, District 55: Chris Kennedy

County Commissioner, District 2: Mark N. Williams

County Clerk and Recorder: Jennifer Manzanares

Mesa County Sheriff: Write-in candidate Benita Phillips

Amendment 67 (Fetal personhood): NO

your_vote_counts_button_3Amendment 68 (Large-scale gambling to fund schools): NO

Proposition 104 (Forces school district boards to have open meetings): NO

Proposition 105 (Shall genetically-modified foods be labeled as such?): YES

Referred Measure 2A (Shall the town of Palisade allow retail recreational marijuana shops within the town?): YES

Referred Measure 2B (Should the town of Palisade tax the sale of retail recreational marijuana to economically benefit the town?): YES

Referred Measure 2C (Should the town of DeBeque tax the sale of retail recreational marijuana to economically benefit the town?): YES

Related posts:

It’s Time to End GOP Rule in Mesa County, Nov. 2, 2014

Why a Fetus is Not A Person, Oct. 31, 2014

Mesa County Clerk, Sheila Reiner, Makes 2nd Major Screw Up in Palisade Ballots, Oct. 18, 2014

Phillips: WaPo Cites Mesa County Sheriff’s Office as Misspending Public Funds, Oct. 15, 2014

All You Need to Know About Mesa County Politics, All in One Place, Sept. 17, 2014

Sheriff Candidate Mike Harlow: The Ugliest Face of Mesa County, July 13, 2014

CO House Rep. Ray Scott’s Weird 2014 Bill, Oct. 9, 2014

Ray Scott Tanks Club 20 Debate, Sept. 12, 2014

Colorado Senate District 7: Claudette Konola w. Ray Scott, The Club 20 Debate in Full, Sept. 10, 2014 (video)

CO Rep. Ray Scott Throws Women and Kids Under the Bus, July 29, 2014

Clueless CO House Rep. Ray Scott Denies Climate Change, June 24, 2014

McInnis Campaign Fails to Get Permission to Post Signs, Oct. 6, 2014

Congress Suspended Rule to Rename “McInnis Canyons,” Aug. 27, 2014

Petition: Change the name of “McInnis Canyons” Back to Previous Name, Aug. 24, 2014

 

All You Need to Know About Mesa County Politics, All in One Place

In Mesa County, things are little backwards. The candidates are the biggest signs are the ones NOT to vote for.

Mesa County rule of thumb: Vote AGAINST the candidates with the biggest, most professionally-made signs

Have you been so busy trying to make ends meet, putting food on the table and raising your kids that you haven’t had time to bone up on local politics? There’s an election is coming up this November. How will you know who to vote for?

It’s simple.

The one thing you need to know is that the same party has been in charge of everything here for decades: the Mesa County Republican Party, which some call the “Old Guard Republican Establishment” (OGRE). They’ve had a lock on local elected offices for a very long time.

So have they done a good job? Judge for yourself:

1) Mesa County’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in the state;

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

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

4) Our suicide rate is among the highest in the U.S.;

5) Mesa County was the drunkest county in Colorado 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, an 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 each WEEK.

Yes, you read that right. Eighteen hundred Mesa County school children are food insecure every week.

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.

Ray Scott Tanks Club 20 Debate

Ray Scott may be running out of gas in the legislature, after not really getting anywhere anyway

Ray Scott may be running out of gas after several terms in the state legislature, after not really getting anywhere anyway in trying to  pass bills since January, 2011

Things aren’t going very well for poor Ray Scott, the incumbent Republican candidate for Colorado Senate District 7. The senate seat he is after will soon be vacated by longtime Mesa County GOP favorite son, Steve King, who currently is facing multiple misdemeanor and felony charges for theft and failing to report income as required by legislators. King’s fate may not be directly tied to Ray Scott in any way, but it certainly doesn’t help the beleaguered local GOP, which has put forth a truly embarrassing long string of inept and/or discredited candidates for office.

Ray Scott faced off with Democrat Claudette Konola in the recent Club 20 candidate debates, where he took a real hit.

Claudette opened the debate by linking Scott and his party with some of those truly bad candidates, including Steve King and former congressman Scott McInnis, who got his buddies in Congress to name a federal wilderness area named after himself in violation of congress’ House Rules, and who stepped down in disgrace from the 2010 race for governor amid allegations of massive plagiarism.

Scott opened at the debate by saying he probably wouldn’t even have gotten up that morning if it hadn’t have been for the debate. Not exactly the level of enthusiasm an incumbent legislator should project with an election just weeks away.

CO Senate District 7: Claudette Konola vs. Ray Scott, the Club 20 Debate in Full

Many Mesa County residents noticed the almost complete lack of local media coverage of the Club 20 debate between the candidates for Colorado’s State Senate District 7, Claudette Konola (D) and Ray Scott (R). The Daily Sentinel offered only one short quote from each candidate, and the local television stations ignored this important debate completely. In the interest of helping western Colorado citizens get adequately informed about the Senate District 7 candidates, we offer a two-part video (credit: Bill Hugenberg) and a transcript of the Senate District 7 candidates’ debate.

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.

CO Rep. Ray Scott Throws Women and Kids Under the Bus

Colorado Rep. Ray Scott poses with a fancy car while Mesa County's poorest women and children go without health insurance

Colorado Rep. Ray Scott proudly poses with a hot sports car while Mesa County’s poorest women and children go without health insurance

Colorado House Rep. Ray Scott may love fetuses, but he doesn’t care much about women and apparently doesn’t think much of kids, either.

Besides being a chronic no-show at election-time debates sponsored by the League of Women Voters, in January of 2012 Ray Scott co-sponsored HB1130, a bill titled “Penalties for Violent Offenses Against Fetuses.” The bill’s very title ignores the fact that typically the woman surrounding the fetus would be the primary recipient of any violent acts perpetrated against the fetus. But in Ray Scott’s mind, women matter less than their fetuses.

Ray Scott even supported a fetal personhood amendment in the past. Such proposals are among the ultimate affronts to women, since they are religiously-based efforts that would make it a crime for women to use some forms of contraception, in accordance with Mr. Scott’s own personal religious beliefs.

Secrecy Surrounds Sudden Ditching of Colorado National Monument Upgrade

Scott Tipton: Hiding the actual number of public  comments he received both for and against upgrading the Colorado National Monument to a national park, but ditched the proposed legislation saying support wasn't there.

Scott Tipton is hiding the number of public comments his received both for and against upgrading the Colorado National Monument to a national park, but says support for the change just wasn’t there.

In a stunning reversal, Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) suddenly killed area citizens’ longtime effort to upgrade the Colorado National Monument to a national park.

But the reversal is shrouded in mystery, and neither Tipton nor Senator Udall’s offices will make public the data about number of comments they received for and against the proposal.

The legislators asked the public to submit comments on proposed legislation to upgrade the Monument to a national park over a period ending June 30. Citizens submitted comments via the legislators’ websites, phone, mail and email.

Both Tipton and Udall’s offices report they received thousands of comments about the proposed change, but when asked for the total number of comments received and the breakdown for and against, they refused to answer.

Public Information, Big Secret

When asked how many comments they received for and against the Monument upgrade, Deanna Pickman, an intern at Rep. Tipton’s Grand Junction office, said 500 people contacted them online and over 2,500 people signed petitions about the redesignation. She added a “vast majority were against” upgrading the Monument to a national park, but refused to give the actual numbers, saying flatly, “We’re not giving that out.” She referred me to Rep. Tipton’s Washington, D.C. office.

Barbara, an intern at Rep. Tipton’s D.C. office who refused to give her last name, said they got “quite a few” comments about the Monument legislation, but when asked for the hard numbers, she said flatly “I can’t give that to you.” She said the numbers “are not available.”

Not available? The Congressman just based a legislative action with significant consequences on the results of these numbers, but the numbers “aren’t available”?

Wow.