Category: Human rights

Abortion access initiative makes it onto Colorado’s 2024 ballot

It’s official.

The initiative to enshrine abortion rights in the Colorado state Constitution will be on the ballot this November.

Since it seeks to amend the state constitution, it will need a vote of at least a 55% in favor to pass.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Election Office announced today that supporters of Initiative #89, the “Right to Abortion,” had submitted the required number of signatures to qualify the proposed constitutional amendment for Colorado’s statewide General Election ballot on November 5, 2024.

Colorado’s abortion rights ballot measure surpasses its signature goal, putting it one step closer to being on the 2024 November Ballot

Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom announced that it has surpassed their campaign’s goal of collecting 185,000 signatures to put Ballot Initiative 89 on the November, 2024 ballot, putting Colorado voters are one step closer to seeing a constitutional amendment on the November 2024 ballot that will protect abortion from government interference. The announcement comes just a few days after the Arizona Supreme Court upheld an 1864 law banning abortion, a law that was enacted when Arizona was still a territory and long before American women had the right to vote.

The campaign needs 124,238 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, including 2% of the total registered electors in each of Colorado’s 35 state senate districts. As of now, the coalition has collected over 225,000 signatures of which 48,175 were collected by over a thousand volunteers, and has qualified in all 35 state senate districts.

The text of proposed Initiative 89 says:

“A change to the Colorado constitution recognizing the right to abortion, and, in connection therewith, prohibiting the state and local governments from denying, impeding, or discriminating against the exercise of that right, allowing abortion to be a covered service under health insurance plans for Colorado state and local government employees and enrollees in state and local governmental insurance programs.”

Jess Grennan, Campaign Director of Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom, said “The news of Arizona’s near-total abortion ban ultimately

Jess Grennan

exposed just how vulnerable every state is, and will remain, without passing legislation that constitutionally secures the right to abortion. Ballot measures like Proposition 89 are our first line of defense against government overreach and our best tool to protect the freedom to make personal, private healthcare decisions — a right that should never depend on the source of one’s health insurance or who is in office, because a right without access is a right in name only.”

Current law is discriminatory

Because of a 1984 constitutional measure that barely passed, public employees and people on public insurance in Colorado are barred from having their health insurance cover abortion care. By establishing abortion as a constitutional right, Ballot Initiative #89 would remove that discrimination, providing access to teachers, firefighters, and other state employees who cannot currently get coverage for abortion care through their insurance. Private employers in Colorado are required to cover abortion in their insurance plans.

“Recent events have made it even more critical that we in Colorado restore what the Dobbs decision took away from us and secure abortion rights in the Colorado Constitution,” said Cobalt President Karen Middleton, Co-Chair of Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom. “As a fundamental, shared value, Coloradans trust people and their doctors, not politicians, to make decisions about abortion. That value has been reinforced in 2024 with the overwhelming enthusiasm for our ballot measure, as demonstrated by thousands of volunteers in every corner of the state collecting signatures. And we firmly believe that this energy and enthusiasm will carry us through to winning in November.”

Karen Middleton

“Abortion is legal in Colorado, but still not accessible for all pregnant people who need these services. Abortion may be legal in Colorado, and that’s due to our leadership passing the Reproductive Health Equity Act in 2022 to codify a person’s fundamental right to make reproductive health-care decisions, but statutory protections do not mean we are any safer from government interference than Arizona is,” said Dusti Gurule, President and CEO of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) and Campaign Co-Chair. “This is why our community is fighting to enshrine abortion rights in the Colorado state constitution, along with the more than 225,000 Coloradans who have signed on to support this measure. Crossing the signature threshold is a critical step forward in securing a future where abortion rights are protected, respected, and accessible for all Coloradans, regardless of which elected or appointed official is in power.”

Dusti Gurule

 

Former CMU Professor Tom Acker to run against Cody Davis for County Commissioner

Retired CMU Spanish Professor Tom Acker

A Democrat has joined the race against Cody Davis for Mesa County Commissioner. Tom Acker is currently the only Democrat running for local office in Mesa County.

Acker was a professor of Spanish language at CMU for two decades. He is now a retired professor emeritus, an honorary title conferred upon him for his distinguished service to the academic community. He is a founding member of the award-winning Hispanic Affairs Project.

Originally from the east coast, in the 1980s Acker worked with refugees from the Mariel Boatlift, after over 125,000 Cubans piled into boats and headed for Florida after the Cuban government announced that anyone who wanted to leave the country was free to do so.

While he lived in Pennsylvania, Acker worked with a federally-funded agency to help farmers interact with agriculture workers.

United Way to host Poverty Immersion Experience to increase understanding of what life is like for people living in poverty in Mesa County


The Poverty Immersion Experience allows participants to spend a simulated month in the life of an individual who is experiencing poverty in Mesa County. It is an interactive event that promotes awareness of poverty in Mesa County, increases understanding of people facing poverty situations and that will inspire local change. The intent is to shift the belief and paradigm about poverty from being seen as a personal failure or character flaw to the understanding that poverty is a systemic and societal issue.

The experience offers a unique opportunity to step into the shoes of a low-income family, navigating life with limited resources, while providing for their children and accessing essential community services.

School Board candidate forum cancelled after threat of violence posted on Facebook


A school board candidate forum that was planned for last evening, Monday, October 16, was cancelled abruptly the day of the event after the venue hosting the event, Good Judy’s Bar & Club downtown, received a violent threat on Facebook.

Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland has used county agencies to advance her personal ideology and interfere in personnel decisions before

Board of Mesa County Commissioners. (L-R: Bobbie Daniel, Cody Davis and Janet Rowland). Photo: Mesa County

District Attorney Dan Rubinstein announced he’s closed the investigation into the Mesa County Commissioners’ allegations of financial wrongdoing by Mesa County Public Health Director Dr. Jeff Kuhr, saying,

“We lack sufficient evidence of anything criminal…” and “…[We] lack sufficient evidence that Mr. Kuhr was personally involved in, or personally directed, any level of reporting that would make him criminally culpable for material misstatements.”

With Janet Rowland at the helm, so far the Commissioners have spent $49,000 in taxpayer funds on a financial audit of Kuhr in an attempt to try find some reason to fire him, in addition digging up and spreading around negative personnel comments about Kuhr from as far back as 2011. So far, everything they’ve found, including a $219 alcohol purchase that has since been reimbursed, have fallen flat. Even four members of the Mesa County Board of Health have said nothing they’ve seen about Kuhr so far rises to the level of a fireable offense. Then they all resigned in protest after learning the Commissioners were going to fire them if they didn’t agree to fire Kuhr.

Still no accountability for the murder of 25 year old Gage Lorentz by a National Park Service Ranger

 

Screen shot from Ranger Mitchell’s body camera showing the moment he shot Gage Lorentz point-blank in the chest after pulling him over for speeding on a dirt road in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Lorentz was unarmed, unintoxicated and alone at the time.

Gage Lorentz, a graduate of Fruita Monument High School, was murdered on March 21, 2020, by a law enforcement officer while heading home to Montrose. He was driving home alone on an isolated back road in Carlsbad Caverns National Park to see his family after working for weeks on a drilling rig in the outskirts of Pecos, Texas.

National Park Ranger Robert Mitchell pulled Gage over for speeding on a dirt road inside the Park. Gage was alone, unarmed, unintoxicated and followed all of Mitchell’s orders until he ordered Gage to turn around and put his back to him. At that point, Gage refused to comply. The officer’s body camera video shows that seconds later, Mitchell had pinned Gage to the ground, was on top of him and shot him, point-blank, in the chest, killing him.

City cancels meeting about homelessness, out of apparent concern the homeless would attend

After hosting two internal planning meetings and circulating emails (pdf) in which Grand Junction Community Development personnel warned the City faces a “really big surge” and “exponential growth” in the number of homeless people, and that the number of homeless kids in School District 51 is “staggering,” City Manager Greg Caton suddenly pulled the plug on a planned third meeting about homelessness, without any explanation why.

This left advocates for the homeless greatly concerned.

Bigger than Roe western slope march planned for Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023 @ 1:00 p.m.

Crowd gathering in front of the old courthouse before the 2019 Womens March in downtown Grand Junction

Fifty years to the day after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade made abortion a constitutional right, a march will be held locally in Grand Junction to demand that federal protections for abortion not only be restored, but be made even better than Roe allowed.

Last June (2022), the far-right Republican majority now sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court stunned the country when it reversed 50 years of precedent in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling, invalidating Roe v Wade.  The ruling end Americans’ federally-protected right to obtain an abortion.  It was the first time the Supreme Court has ever taken away a fundamental constitutional protection from people in the United States of America.

Kremlin state TV praises House Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) for refusing to stand and applaud Ukrainian President Zelenskyy

Tucker Carlson and Lauren Boebert praised by Russian state TV

Western Colorado House Rep. Lauren Boebert has a new fan — the Kremlin in Russia.

Need help finding and paying for an abortion in Grand Junction? Contact Cobalt. They’ll help.

Cobalt Advocates and the Cobalt Abortion Fund are a terrific resources for anyone seeking an abortion on the western slope

If you live in Grand Junction, Mesa County or anywhere on the western slope, need an abortion and are having a hard time finding and/or affording one, your best resource and first stop should be Cobalt Advocates.

Cobalt believes nothing should come between you and your reproductive decisions, no matter who you are or where you live. Cobalt operates the Cobalt Abortion Fund, a dedicated abortion fund that helps people cover the cost of an abortion. They also help with the costs and logistics and other needs people often have when getting an abortion, like transportation and lodging. The Cobalt Abortion fund is 100% donor-funded, and is the only independent fund of its kind in Colorado. Cobalt’s goal is to make sure no one has to endure a a financial or logistic burden when it comes to abortion.

Oklahoma is just the beginning of what life will be like under Republican rule

In late May 2022, Oklahoma once again passed the nation’s worst abortion ban, making it the first state to effectively end women’s right to have an abortion, and making this article, that I first published on May 20, 2019, even more relevant.

Oklahoma Republicans just passed a mind-blowingly strict law that makes abortion illegal in virtually every circumstance, effectively terminating the right of women in the state to control their own bodies and reproductive fate.

Oklahoma wasn’t alone in this, either. Other Republican-dominated states are also enacting extremely strict laws that effectively make abortion illegal, with some banning the procedure as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Republicans base these laws on their belief that a fetus is a fully legal person entitled to all the rights and privileges that all legal American citizens enjoy.

But if actually put into effect, what do these beliefs really portend for life in America?

March for Our Lives to hold local rally Sat., 6/11 at the Old Mesa County Courthouse, 6th & Rood, 10:00-11:30 a.m.

The national student-led group March For Our Lives will hold a local rally Saturday, June 11, from 10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m. at the Old Mesa County Courthouse at 6th and Rood to demand legislators enact policy measures to reduce the epidemic of gun massacres now gripping America. The rally will feature local youth and adult speakers and a march through downtown Grand Junction and more.

D-51 School Board President’s transphobic social media posts draw condemnation

District 51 School Board President posted this photo to social media recently on her personal account

Recent social media posts by District 51 School Board President Andrea Haitz, and one in particular that she posted on Mother’s Day, are drawing condemnation, disgust and shock from many Mesa County residents who saw them.

G.J. citizens get anonymous racist hate mail in response to yard signs promoting social justice, inclusiveness

An example of the yard signs Grand Junction, CO, that are prompting far right wingers to target homeowners with anonymous, racist hate mail

Grand Junction’s undercurrent of hatred showed itself again this week after several City residents reported they’ve gotten anonymous racist hate mail that they think was prompted, at least in part, by signs in their front yards indicating support of social equity, inclusion and justice.

A bi-racial downtown resident reports having gotten a total of nine racist hate letters so far, saying they have been coming steadily, approximately monthly, for about a year now, starting in 2020.

A Redlands Village resident got the following racist poem in the mail, authored by a “A. Wyatt Mann,” a pen name used by an American filmmaker named Nick Bougas, who produced racist, homophobic and anti-semitic material under the pseudonym. She also got a “Fuck Biden and fuck you if you voted for him” note, also posted below:

New online resource map shows real and fake abortion clinics in Colorado

 

KeepAbortionSafe.com now offers a Pregnancy Resource Map that shows which “pregnancy clinics” throughout the country are real, and which are fake.

Offices that bill themselves as “crisis pregnancy centers” or “pregnancy clinics” often are not actual medical clinics, but religiously-based anti-abortion operations that lure in women struggling with unexpected pregnancies. They intentionally withhold information from women about their full complement of reproductive options. Such “clinics” steer women away from abortions and offer “information” that casts abortion as debilitating, dangerous and frightening.

Finding true reproductive health services clinics in Colorado, that is, ones that offer a full range of medically-accurate sexual health information, contraceptives, information and treatments for sexually-transmitted diseases and infections, and all legal and safe reproductive health options can be tricky because in Colorado fake “pregnancy resource” clinics and outnumber real abortion and medical information providers by almost 3 to 1.

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.”