Category: Elections

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.

Clueless Colorado House Rep. Ray Scott Denies Climate Change

In this 2013 video, Colorado House Representative Ray Scott, a climate change denier who represents Colorado’s western slope, argues against increasing the amount of renewable energy required from rural electric co-ops to 20% within the next 6 years. The bill, SB 252, was ultimately signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Scott says “We have better things to do.” and “We’re going too darn far.” Incredibly, he further states,

“I have people in rural Colorado who say ‘You know, I don’t have a problem with renewable energy. I have solar panels on my house, that’s fine.’ But they’re having a hard time getting their mind around fields of solar panels in a field, or wind generation facilities out in the plains that they’ve never seen before. And if we’re really environmentally conscious, why would we want to look at those things? They don’t even make sense to me. I know I’ve driven through places in Utah and California and said, ‘Oh my gosh. All of this just to say we are changing something that we’re not even really sure we’re changing, based on studies that make no sense and the science is not necessarily true?’ “

According to NASA, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the last century are very likely due to human activities. Most leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.

Some of the current consequences of climate change, according to NASA and a majority of scientists, include loss of sea ice, longer and more severe heat waves, and accelerated sea level rise.

The Crucial History Lesson Behind CO Ballot Initiative #75: the “Community Rights Amendment”

SummitvilleSuperfund

Colorado citizens learned their lesson from the Summitville Mine Disaster of 1992-93, but the state courts and legislature did not, and have repeatedly invalidated local laws that communities enact to protect their citizens from hazardous business pursuits.

Colorado citizens are now gathering signatures to get Ballot Initiative #75, a groundbreaking constitutional amendment, onto the state wide ballot in November.

Business interests have called Initiative #75, also known as the “Right to Local Self-Government” or the “Community Rights Amendment,” an “anti-fracking” initiative, but the measure confers more protection on Colorado citizens than just an anti-fracking initiative, and there are some very solid recent history lessons that are driving Colorado citizens to push for this initiative.

One of them is the Summitville Mine Disaster of 1992-1993.

The Summitville Mine, operated by the Summitville Consolidated Mining Corporation, Inc. (SCMCI), was an open-pit gold and silver mine located in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, about 40 miles west of Alamosa.  SCMCI used a cyanide heap leaching technique to extract gold and silver. The process involved excavating ore from the mountain, then crushing it and placing it onto a 1,235 acre open leach pad lined with clay and synthetic material. The company then poured a sodium cyanide solution over the crushed ore to leach out gold and silver. The contaminated water was collected and held in leach ponds on the mine property.

Sodium cyanide is highly toxic, and among the most rapidly-acting of all poisons.

Benita Phillips to Run for Mesa County Sheriff

Benita Phillips and her husband are residents of Palisade.

Benita Phillips and her husband are residents of Palisade.

Benita Phillips, 61, a local retired Registered Nurse, will announce her intent to run for Mesa County Sheriff as a write-in candidate on Saturday, May 3 at the Cinco de Mayo celebrations in downtown Grand Junction.

Phillips got her BSN from the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education in Spokane, Washington in 1975.  She has been married for 39 years to Tom Phillips, a chemical engineer from the University of Washington.  Benita and Tom have two daughters.

Phillips has in-depth experience with analyzing, planning, implementing and evaluating policy, processes and procedures. She has dealt with budgets, administrative and human resource duties, works well with multi-national and multi-cultural individuals, and has supervised large numbers of professional nurses using team-building models. Benita has worked intensely in the community for years, promoting public interaction between the community and government entities to reach common goals of a safe and healthy community.

Phillips believes the Mesa County Sheriff position, a predominately administrative and policy position, can be filled by a long term citizen who appreciates the special bond between a Sheriff department and the public it honors with service and protection.

Where are the Jobs? Where are the Trails? Brady Trucking Site Sits Untouched

BradySite

The Brady Trucking site by the Colorado River more than a year after citizens voted to re-zone the site. Proponents promised the re-zone would create high-paying jobs and a landscaped extension of the Colorado riverfront trail. 

 

“Vote for Jobs and Trails!”

That was how local pro-business interests promoted passage of Referred Measure A on the April, 2013 City ballot, which asked voters to uphold light industrial zoning by the Colorado River and the proposed Las Colonias Park site, so a private company, Brady Trucking, could expand its operations.

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, it’s deep-pocketed lobbying arm, the Western Colorado Business Alliance and the West Slope Oil and Gas Association all championed the re-zoning measure.

Chamber President Diane Schwenke, CEO said, “This is an issue where the voters can support good jobs and development of trails.” Schwenke promised that if the measure passed, the new jobs Brady would provide would average $70,000 per year.

“What would we as a community be willing to give up to attract this kind of business and job opportunity? And yet here we have a private company that is willing and eager to provide the opportunity and actually enhance the riverfront’s recreational opportunities at the same time,” Schwenke crowed.

If the measure passed, voters were told, Brady Trucking would build a walking and biking trail within on a 50-foot wide easement along the river, as well as fencing and landscaping. Proponents boasted Brady’s expansion would attract even more businesses and jobs to the area.

Voters passed the measure.

One year later the site is completely untouched.

No jobs, no trails, no landscaping, no nothing.

Schwenke suckered us again.

So much for the promises of a Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

Update – as of January 15, 2015, the site looks exactly the same.

 

Untangling Colorado’s Web of Anti-Fracking Ballot Initiatives

NoFrackingColorado voters who try to figure out all the proposed statewide ballot initiatives to regulate drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) are in for a real challenge. So far, fully eleven ballot initiatives have been proposed on the subject, with many of them extremely similar to each other.

It’s tempting to think the oil and gas industry filed some of them to confuse voters and try to pass a watered-down measure, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. So far all of the initiatives filed seem to have been brought by people who truly want more serious regulation of the energy industry, or who are trying to gain an advantage over Colorado’s legal and regulatory regimen, which favors corporate dominance over the desires of residents.

Here’s a rundown on what is known so far about Colorado’s slew of proposed anti-fracking ballot measures.

Colorado Ballot Initiative Puts Rights of People Over Corporate Rights

corporate_logo_flag_new-500x333Think businesses have too many rights over citizens? Then attend a free informational session Tuesday, April 29 in Grand Junction about the groundbreaking Ballot Initiative #75, the “Right to Local Self-Government,” also known as the “Colorado Community Rights Amendment.” Initiative #75 would amend Colorado’s constitution to make the rights of people superior to corporate rights. It is now moving to the petitioning stage, and if it passes, will give local communities “the power to enact local laws establishing, defining, altering, or eliminating the rights, powers, and duties of corporations and other business entities operating or seeking to operate in the community.” Initiative #75 would bar the state from forcing unwanted for-profit corporate projects onto unwilling communities. It would let communities have the final say in whether they want to allow pursuits like hazardous waste dumps, factory farms, fracking, GMO crops, etc., near houses, schools, playgrounds, etc. Communities would be able to make these decisions freely, without the threat of lawsuits by the state or by corporations or their lobbying groups..

What: Informational session on Ballot Initiative #75
When: Tuesday, April 29 at 6:00 p.m.
Where: Mesa County Public Library, Central branch (5th St. and Grand Ave.)
Who: By the ballot initiative’s main listed proponent, Cliff Willmeng, a registered nurse from Lafayette, CO.

Retail Marijuana Coming to DeBeque

DeBequeThe new marijuana economy crept a bit closer to Grand Junction this week, after the citizens of DeBeque, Colorado, just 25 miles east of Grand Junction, voted to approve the sale of retail pot.

DeBeque’s election is an object lesson for everyone who thinks their vote won’t count.

DeBeque has just over 500 residents. Of the 234 ballots sent out, 165 were cast. Of those, 69 were in favor of retail marijuana and 65 against. The measure won by just four votes.

DeBeque’s Town Clerk, Shirley Nichols, reports the election went smoothly, with no questionable ballots.

So, in DeBeque’s case, just four voters indisputably made Colorado history.

Hey, man, but isn’t retail pot illegal in Mesa County?

Amendment 64 legalized recreational use of marijuana throughout the state, but the law allows cities and counties to opt out of permitting retail marijuana commerce within their borders.

In August, 2013, Mesa County’s three Commissioners — Rose Pugliese, John Justman and Steve Aquafresca — unilaterally passed an ordinance banning retail marijuana commerce (pdf) in the county, but the measure only bans retail pot in unincorporated areas of the county. Incorporated cities and towns can make their own choice, so DeBeque, an incorporated town, can do whatever it wants.

And it did.

Interestingly, DeBeque citizens voted down a medical marijuana question in November, 2012. That measure failed by about 13 or 14 votes. So what’s changed since then?

Mesa County Tea Partiers Continue to Battle “Old Guard” GOP Machine

AnneLandmanBlog has obtained video of western slope conservatives meeting at a local restaurant December 20, 2013 to pressure former Palisade Police Chief Carrol Quarles to run against State Senator Steve King for Mesa County Sheriff.*  King is the candidate the Mesa County Republican Party has selected to run for Sheriff in the upcoming 2014 election. Quarles was fired from his position as police chief by the town of Palisade in October, 2012.

Mesa County GOP Gets Slapped at the Ballot Box

District 51 GOP school board candidate Mike Lowenstein: ""The people have voted and they'll get what they deserve."

“They’ll get what they deserve…,” said Mesa County GOP school board candidate Mike Lowenstein about voters, after finding out he lost the race. (Photo credit: Mike Lowenstein for School Board, http://mikelowensteinfor51d.com/)

All three District 51 School Board candidates endorsed by the Mesa County Republican Party — Mike Lowenstein, Patrick Kanda and John Sluder — lost in yesterday’s election, the same three who had also taken financial support from C. Edward McVaney, a front range billionaire and private religious school supporter. The defeat of the GOP/Tea Party slate of candidates in Mesa County was remarkable since historically the area votes overwhelmingly Republican and off-year elections tend to favor Republican candidates. But none of these factors combined were enough to help the local GOP pull off even one win in the race. The Daily Sentinel reported that at an election-night gathering of GOP candidates at the Blue Moon Bar and Grill in downtown Grand Junction, Mike Lowenstein, one of the GOP’s candidates, said simply, “The people have voted and they’ll get what they deserve,” and walked out of the restaurant. The GOP’s big local loss came on the heels of the multi-week federal government shutdown, largely attributed nationally to tea party Republicans’ intransigence over the new Affordable Care Act. By endorsing candidates in a school board race, the Mesa County GOP also tread onto new ground, turning a historically nonpartisan race into a partisan challenge. It is no coincidence that the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce has also become political at the same time the GOP has started weighing in on traditionally nonpartisan races, since there is significant overlap between local GOP leaders and the Chamber, and the two entities often appear to be working together politically. Chambers of commerce in smaller Colorado towns typically remain apolitical to avoid offending any citizens and business owners who may not agree with their views. But the GOP and Chamber’s strategy of weighing in on traditionally non-partisan races seems to be backfiring big time. In addition to the local GOP’s stunning losses in the school board race, the Grand Junction Chamber has faced significant backlash from area citizens and business owners who feel the group has far overstepped its boundaries by becoming highly political.

Right Wing Front Group Compass Colorado Uses New Unethical Tactic

CompassColoradoLogoThe shady right-wing political front group Compass Colorado us using a new strategy against its opponents: filing frivolous ethics complaints against candidates, and then using the fact that a complaint has been filed to impugn the integrity of the candidate. Compass applied this strategy against Governor John Hickenlooper, who is running for a second term, last July. The group filed a complaint against the governor claiming he violated a gift-ban provision in a state ethics laws. Compass then put out a news release touting the complaint. But the state’s bipartisan Independent Ethics Commission rejected the complaint out of hand as “frivolous” before it ever set a hearing date for it. Compass Colorado promotes the news that a complaint has been filed against the candidate on its website and in press releases, but never mentions the complaint’s dismissal. Compass Colorado does not disclose its donors, its physical address or telephone number, or the names of its principles, staff or board members. Its executive director is Kelly Maher, a former Secretary of the Denver County Republican Party.

Main source: Denver Post blog by Lynn Bartels, October 31, 2013