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.
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:
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 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.”
Police murdering unarmed citizens in cold blood doesn’t just happen to people from other places.
A National Park Ranger murdered a young Fruita man last March in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, as he was headed home to Fruita from Texas.
The murder was covered locally in March, but has taken on renewed significance after George Floyd’s brutal murder in Minneapolis shined a spotlight on the unchecked police brutality going on all across the nation.
Gage Lorentz was unarmed and had no drugs or alcohol in his system when he was pulled over for going too fast on a dirt road.
In a new documentary released Friday, May 22, Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe V. Wade, reveals that she was paid by anti-abortion factions to switch her position from supporting to opposing abortion rights for women.
If you are pregnant and looking for an abortion in Mesa County, you may find information about abortion services is very hard to find here. Local obstetrical practices don’t mention abortion on their websites and may not even offer abortion services. “Pregnancy Centers” are fake health clinics in the area that lure in scared and worried women by promising free services, like pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and “counseling,” but they are really Christian ministries whose real purpose is to shame and guilt women out of getting abortions.
The closest provider of safe medical abortions is 90 miles away in Glenwood Springs, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. Their slogan is “Care no matter what.”
But don’t despair. You may not have to leave town to obtain a safe abortion.
Thanks to the internet, there are now options for women to access abortion services no matter where they are, and you may even not have to leave home to get an abortion if you live in Grand Junction.
UPDATE: On December 16, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permanently lifted restrictions on access to abortion medications by mail, making them more widely and easily available for use by women who are up to 10 weeks pregnant. The move allows women to obtain the pills by mail instead of having to appear in person at a clinic.
The Mesa County Health Department suspended residential open burning in the county indefinitely on March 18 in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
No doubt tens of thousands of valley residents are greatly relieved.
The Health Department explained the ban by saying:
COVID-19 is a lower respiratory illness impacting residents with underlying medical conditions, more severely than other groups. This decision was made to ensure the best possible air quality for residents in high-risk categories, and to ensure our medical community has enough resources to care for the patients impacted by COVID-19.
The last-century scourge of open burning is halted at last, at least for awhile
Mesa County’s spring burn season — a throwback to a time when this area was predominantly agricultural — runs from March 1 through May 31. Every year like clockwork, as soon as the weather warms up and people start getting outdoors, they find their springtime ruined by plumes of smoke that give them sore throats, burning eyes, runny noses, headaches, asthma attacks, and exacerbate their lung conditions. Beautiful spring mornings are soon fouled by smoke drifting across the valley, forcing people to close doors and windows and grab their inhalers.
The western slope’s nonprofit watchdog organization Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) encourages people to report violations of separation of church and state in places like public schools and at local government meetings, so they can address the violations.
Past violations reported to WCAF have included a Mesa County Commissioner praying to Jesus Christ at the start of public hearings, a Delta county middle school student being forced to watch a nativity play after asking to opt out, a Delta County middle school teacher hosting weekly Bible study classes in his own classroom immediately before school and handing out free doughnuts to students who attended, Fellowship Church promoting its youth indoctrination center in a Mesa County middle school by showing a video about it during gym period and handing students admission slips to the facility afterward, a Mesa County elementary school student being told by a lunch aide in the cafeteria in front of her friends that she MUST believe in God “because God created everything,” a Delta County high school student having her grades slashed and college grant applications sabotaged for reporting Christian proselytizing going on within the school system, Colorado Mesa University students having Gideon Bibles foisted on them as they stepped off the dais at their graduation ceremony, a Delta County Middle School teacher telling her class that “non-Christians are bad people” and “the bombers aren’t Christians,” quoting the Bible in class, and much more.
Do you have questions about sexual health but can’t afford to call a medical doctor? Are you finding it tough to find somewhere on the western slope where you can get unbiased, non-judgmental, medically-accurate sexual health info on your specific situation?
Planned Parenthood now offers a FREE chat/text program that allows young people to live-chat with trained health educators from their cell phone or computer about any topic dealing with sexual health.
This service is available nationwide and it provides completely non-judgmental, medically-accurate information on any and all sexual and reproductive health topics, including the various kids of birth control, how they work and how to use them, sexual intercourse, how and where to obtain emergency contraception, sexually-transmitted diseases/infections, pregnancy, abortion, unusual discharges, menstruation and anything else you need info on.
To access the program, just text PPNOW to 774636 to get started. It’s 100% anonymous and 100% free.
Western Colorado’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender + (LGBTQ+) students have a new scholarship fund to boost their higher education aspirations, thanks to the thoughtful people who formed the Basinger Leadership Scholarship Committee. The Jeffrey Alan Basinger Leadership Scholarship was established to recognize beloved local resident Jeff Basinger, who died in May of 2018. Jeff was a strong advocate for western Colorado residents living with HIV/AIDS and members of the LGBTQ+ community through decades of working with various community organizations, and as a volunteer. Jeff worked on the “Vote No on Amendment 2” campaign in 1992 and was a founding member of the Common Decency Coalition, which later became Western Equality. He belonged to the Grand Junction Downtown Association and other community organizations, had a deep working historical knowledge of the Grand Junction area, and a long and successful career working with the Western Colorado AIDS Project (WestCAP).
The Colorado Reproductive Health Rights and Justice Coalition will be putting on a Reproductive Rights Roadshow at Colorado Mesa University on Friday, October 4 from 12 noon – 1:30 p.m. in Room 221 of the University Center building, on the 2nd floor attached to the parking garage. Appetizers will be served!
The Roadshow is traveling around the state to inform Colorado citizens about what is happening in the legislature and what’s being done in our community to preserve and strengthen reproductive rights and access to abortion care. The Coalition also wants to listen to you and find out what issues are of greatest concern to people here in our community.
The Coalition is an umbrella group comprised of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU-CO), New Era Colorado, ProgressNow Colorado and Soul2Soul Sisters.
Janet Rowland is running for Mesa County Commissioner.
She’s already been a Mesa County Commissioner — from January, 2005 to January, 2013 — but that doesn’t mean her being commissioner again is a good idea. It arguably is not a good idea. From her previous two terms, we have an abundance of experience with her and know what is in store if Janet Rowland gets another chance to be Commissioner.
So let’s take a look at the past and see what it tells us.
Morally and ethically challenged
Certainly Janet has done some good things through her career, like trying to address child abuse and finding homes for foster kids. While those endeavors are laudable, we also need to take into account all the things she’s done that have set a poor example for kids, and our entire community and that have harmed the County.
Shortly after losing statewide election for lieutenant governor as Bob Beauprez’s running mate in 2006, and while she was previously Mesa County Commissioner, Janet was a guest columnist for the Grand Junction Free Press, at the time a competing newspaper to the Daily Sentinel. She wrote several articles for the Free Press until one day a sharp reader noticed Janet had lifted most of one of her columns word for word from a government-published pamphlet, and brought this information to the attention of the Free Press’s editor.
The Daily Sentinel reported on Rowland’s plagiarism on February 3, 2007:
A Mesa County official has plagiarized a government substance abuse booklet in her two most recent columns in the Grand Junction Free Press, that newspaper’s editor confirmed Friday.
The majority of Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland’s Feb. 1 column in the Free Press, titled “The importance of a strong parent-child bond,” was lifted verbatim from a 2006 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism publication titled, “Making a Difference: Talk to Your Teen About Alcohol.”
A reading of Rowland’s unattributed column and the text of the booklet revealed the two are virtually identical. The only differences were found in the column’s first sentence and its lead into several bullet points.
The editor said if Rowland had been a staff writer, she probably would have been fired.
Janet’s first reaction to the plagiarism charge was to claim she couldn’t even remember writing the columns. (Denial.) When that failed to tamp down the controversy, she next said the information she used in her columns had been intended for “mass duplication anyhow,” adding that if people wanted to make what she did out as something evil, that was THEIR prerogative. (Sour grapes.) Next, she blamed the plagiarism on others, saying she had included the necessary attributions in her column, but Free Press staff had edited them out. (Lying and blaming.) Free Press management quickly produced the emails that contained the articles exactly as they had received them from Janet for publication, showing that they contained no references or attributions.
On the same day Trump’s raids on immigrant families are scheduled to start (today), Trump issued a series of tweets that make his racism very clear:
“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly…… ….and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how……..it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”
Trump and his administration are working to create terror in immigrant communities throughout the U.S. by directing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) carry out sweeping “family op” raids across the country on undocumented immigrant families who have been in the United States for years.
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?
Are you a teacher looking for ways to teach kids how to tell the difference between real and “fake” news, how to determine whether an online source is legitimate, reliable and fair, and how to engage in social media discussions responsibly? Are you looking for ways to help kids negotiate topics in the news, like immigration, civil rights, race and gender identity?
Well, here’s your answer.
The Southern Poverty Law Center now offers free Common Core-compatible classroom materials and resources that can help kids discern malicious online fare like propaganda deployed by hate groups to recruit new members, false conspiracy theories and racist lies. It will also help kids become more sophisticated consumers of news and social media and navigate topics like race and ethnicity, religion, variations in ability, immigration, class, bullying and bias, gender and sexual identity and rights and activism.
And did we mention it’s all free?
SPLC’s, program, “Teaching Tolerance,” includes K-12 lesson plans that align with Common Core standards and offers professional development tools that will help teachers increase their own online savvy. Teachers can access a multitude of resources, like lessons for different grade levels, student tasks, lesson plans, teaching strategies for different grade levels, film kits, printable posters and other classroom materials, and they are all available at no cost by visiting Tolerance.org.
Delta County School District, are you listening?
Colorado State Senator Don Coram, a Republican who represents Montrose and Ouray counties, is a sponsor of HB19-1032, “Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education,” a bill to prohibit sex ed instruction in K-12 public schools from “explicitly or implicitly teaching or endorsing religious ideology or sectarian tenets or doctrines, using shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools, employing gender norms or gender stereotypes, or excluding the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.”
The bill would appropriate least $1 million annually for a grant program to carry out the new law, and it would give highest priority for the grant funds to rural public schools.
Why is this bill needed? Because of the Delta County School District.
Need a safe abortion even though it’s hard to get one in or around Grand Junction?
Now there’s an answer, if you’re healthy and less than 9 weeks pregnant.
AidAccess is a private initiative by a committed team of medical doctors and longterm abortion rights activists. The website is supported by a team of English and Spanish-speaking help-desk members. The goal of AidAccess.org is to assist women who don’t have access to locally available abortion services.
AidAccess was established a decade or so ago by Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, acting on the conviction that laws do not control whether or not abortions happen, the only thing laws can control is whether or not they happen safely.
Aid Access helps arrange for abortion pills to be shipped to patients around the world, and last October, as a result of growing requests and tightening abortion laws, the organization started arranging for the shipping of abortion pills to the United States.