Category: Lobbying

What’s Up With That Pervasive, “Too Much Big Government” Theme?

An example of pictorial anti-government propaganda. Corporations have applied the anti-big-government theme for decades to avoid government regulation.

This column was originally published August 26, 2012. It was revised on 12-30-2016 and again on 11-26-2018 to include some new graphics. It’s explains how Americans came to hate our own government, and is still as true as ever.

We hear it everywhere, all the time, like a mantra.

Candidates, TV pundits and political ads tell us we have “too much big government!” Candidates portray virtually any attempt to regulate or tax any industry as a government intrusion into our lives. Candidates are always for “less government.”

What’s up with this pervasive, anti-government theme? How and why did so many self-professed “patriotic,” flag-waving, red-blooded Americans start hating their own government?

“Government intrusion” is a powerful propaganda theme that has been around for a long time, and it’s an argument big businesses often use to subtly manipulate public opinion. As with so many other corporate-derived propaganda tools, the anti-government theme originated largely with the tobacco industry, which has relied on it for decades to get its way in public policy.

Ray Scott relying on huge amounts of campaign financing from outside Mesa County

Ray Scott’s big smile might be because his campaign is being boosted by lots of money from big corporations based outside Mesa County.

A new campaign mailer arriving in people’s mailboxes takes digs at SD-7 candidate Dan Thurlow in an effort to boost Colorado Senator Ray Scott (R-Mesa County) in the primary election this month.

The pro-Scott mailer was funded solely by a group called “Citizens for Cost Effective Government” (CFCEG), whose address is in an unspecified suite in the 56-story Republic Plaza building on 17th Street in downtown Denver. Citizens for Cost Effective Government’s funding comes from just two sources, neither of which are in Mesa County. $25,000 of their total $45,000 in funding comes from Extraction Oil and Gas Company, which — whoops! — just happens to share the same address on 17th Street as “Citizens for Cost Effective Government.”

The other $20,000 of CFCEG’s funding comes from the Colorado Apartment Association based in Denver’s Greenwood Village, not in Mesa County.

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce takes off it’s fig leaf

Grand Valley Drainage District pipe choked with weeds. (Photo credit: GVDD)

If there is a shred of doubt left that the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce exists only to promote it’s own political ideology, it dispelled that notion today with an ad in the Daily Sentinel endorsing the Grand Valley Drainage District (GVDD) Board candidate notable for being the remarkably far less qualified person for the seat.

The Chamber endorsed the less-qualified candidate for one reason only: she opposes the fee imposed by the GVDD in 2016 to raise funds for crucial improvements needed to the Grand Valley’s stormwater drainage system. Residents pay an extra $3/month. The fees assessed to businesses are higher because their larger “big box” buildings and paved parking lots create far more polluted stormwater runoff than homes, burdening the valley’s drainage system more than residences do. The drainage system, designed in 1915 primarily to collect agricultural seep from fields, is already in bad shape and needs improvement and expansion to cope with the valley’s change from primarily a rural/agricultural area into an urban area. If runoff exceeds the amount of drainage capacity we have, the result will be flooding, property damage and damage to other important infrastructure, like roads.

City Council endorses protections and path to citizenship for DACA recipients. G.J. citizens react.

On January 17, 2018, the Grand Junction City Council sent an official letter (above) to Senators Cory Gardner, Michael Bennet and House Representative Scott Tipton urging the House and Senate to pass “a clean bill as soon as possible to prevent the end of DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] in March.”

Republican and “Deplorable” G.J. City Council member Duncan McArthur voted against the letter supporting young DACA recipients in our community

The letter was signed by Mayor J. Merrick (“Rick”) Taggart. City Council approved it on a 5-2 vote. Councilmembers Duncan McArthur and Barbara Traylor-Smith voted against it.

AnneLandmanBlog Voter Guide, 2017

Following are AnneLandmanBlog’s recommendations on how to vote on this November’s Mesa County ballot (pdf). I’ve spent quite a bit of time researching the issues, listening to all the candidates, reading their websites, following the money spent on the ballot issues and researching both pro and con arguments on the tax measures. As a result, I have come to the following conclusions. A discussion of my thoughts on each vote follows the recommendations:

CBS/Washington Post: U.S. Congress complicit in advancing the U.S. opioid epidemic

Colorado House Rep. Scott Tipton. The bill that hobbled DEA’s pursuit of out-of-control opioid pharmaceutical distribution passed the House on a voice vote, so no record of individual votes was made.

A blockbuster CBS News/60 Minutes and Washington Post investigation reveals that after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) cracked down on big pharmaceutical distributors who were knowingly pumping millions of addictive opioid drugs into the black market in cities and towns across the country, the U.S. Congress passed a law to block DEA from freezing such highly suspicious drug shipments to keep them from getting to the streets.

CMU 20000 Steering Committee asks City Council to reconsider changing name of North Ave. to “University Blvd.”

The CMU 20000 Steering Committee has formally asked the Grand Junction City Council to reconsider it’s decision to change the name of North Avenue to “University Boulevard,” saying the matter has “become an inadvertent distraction” from the overall goals of the CMU 20000 effort. The steering committee sent a letter to City Council on October 13 asking them to reverse their decision, and City Council has added the item to the agenda for it’s next meeting.

Make a Difference with this Little-Known Way to Give Powerful Feedback to City Council

Are you irritated that the Grand Junction City Council voted to change the name of North Ave. to “University Boulevard” without asking people what they thought about it first? Are you tired of tourists getting killed on Horizon Drive while the City pleads it has no money for pedestrian safety, while at the same time the City gives away half a million taxpayer dollars every year to Colorado Mesa University, and almost $6,400/year to the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce?

What would you say to City Council if only you could?

Grand Junction’s Tax Day March Dominates Downtown on the Day Before Easter

While some stayed home dying Easter eggs Saturday, almost 300 western slope citizens turned out for the national Tax March to demand Donald Trump make his tax returns public. Marchers gathered at Grand Junction City Hall and listened to speeches before starting off on a figure 8-shaped route through downtown that took them along Main Street, Grand Avenue and by the Post Office, where they mailed post cards to Trump saying they want him to release his taxes.

On January 11, 2017, Trump dismissed the idea that voters were interested in his tax returns, claiming the only people who care about his tax returns are members of the media. But he was proved badly wrong when on April 15, thousands of people in hundreds of cities across across the country took to the streets to demand he make his taxes public. An ABC News/Washington Post poll (pdf) released on January 16,2017 showed 74% of Americans want to see Trump’s returns.

Saying “No” to the Events Center Doesn’t Mean You’re Saying “No” to Grand Junction

Table tent-style ad for a real event coming to an existing venue in Grand Junction this May

The events center promoters call their group “Say Yes for Grand Junction,” but a “no” vote on the proposed events center doesn’t mean you are saying “no” to Grand Junction as a whole. Far from it.

Grand Junction residents aren’t shallow or selfish. They put a lot of thought into their votes, and there’s a lot to consider with this measure, particularly given Grand Junction’s dire financial position and long list of other needs.

Promoters say the events center, known as Measure 2A on the citywide ballot, will cost $65 million to build, but their own press release and the wording of the ballot measure both say that, including the financing costs over its proposed 30 year term, the total cost to taxpayers for the event center will actually come to $134 million. Fully half that amount is interest the City will have to pay on the loan needed to finance the project. That’s twice the amount we’ve been told about in promotions for the project, and while it’s the more realistic total estimated cost of the project, it’s not the figure event center promoters have been touting.

Also, voters need to consider other information about this project that isn’t being volunteered by promoters, like the potential long term risks of the project.

Mike Anton is Back, This Time Plugging an Events Center

Michael P. “I’m Your Worst Nightmare” Anton, author of the Grand Junction’s only negative campaign ad, and cheerleader for the chamber’s lies and political interference

Mike Anton is back, appearing on TV and speaking to groups around town, telling Grand Junction residents they should vote for an extra sales tax to build an events center downtown.

Do you remember Mike Anton?

No?

Well then let’s recap exactly who Mike Anton is, and what he has done over the last few years, so you will remember him:

Anton owns a business in town called EmTech. He sat on the board of directors of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce in 2013, the year the chamber backed Rick Brainard for city council.

Remember how THAT turned out?

Petition Asks the Electoral College to Make Clinton President

Donald Trump mocks a disabled reporter: now school children are doing the same

Donald Trump mocks a disabled reporter; now school children are doing the same

A Change.org petition is circulating asking the Electoral College to make Hillary Clinton president. It has gotten 4.36 million signers so far, and it’s aiming to get 4.5 million. The petition reflects the fears of at least half the country over Donald Trump’s apparent win in the November 8 election.

Trump’s win in the electoral college unleashed an unprecedented wave of racial and ethnic intimidation across the country, with perpetrators emboldened by Trump’s racially and ethnically-charged campaign, which won him an endorsement by the KKK.

Why We Need to Question the Chamber’s “Experts”

Diane Schwenke of the Grand Junction Chamber quotes a statistic by Erc Fruits, a freelance, pay-for-play economic consultant who works out of his home in Portland, Oregon, producing reports that meet the needs of his paymasters

Diane Schwenke of the Grand Junction Chamber quotes a statistic by Eric Fruits, a freelance, pay-for-play economic consultant who works out of his home in Portland, Oregon, producing reports that meet the needs of his paymasters

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce is working hard to defeat Amendment 70, which would raise Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 and hour by 2020. Part of its opposition involves chamber president Diane Schwenke running TV ads against the measure in which the chamber claims “90,000 Colorado jobs” would be lost if the measure passes.

Who is “Dr. Fruits”?

The chamber’s “90,000-jobs-lost” figure comes from “Eric Fruits,” of “Economics International Corps.” Fruits is a part time economic consultant who works out of his home and also works part time as an adjunct professor at Portland State University (PSU).

Adjunct professors, also called “contingent professors,” are not tenured. They are typically low-paid, part-time contract workers who rank below “assistant” and “associate” professors. Adjuncts typically don’t receive any health insurance or other benefits through their workplace and are often paid less than pet sitters.

Why Average People Shouldn’t Listen to the Grand Junction Area Chamber

chamberIt’s election time again, and soon the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce will issue it’s “2016 Voter Guide” in an attempt to try and influence how people in Mesa County vote on ballot measures and local elected offices.

If you’re an average, hard-working working citizen in Mesa County, there is only one thing you need to know about the chamber’s voter guide: ignore it.

Why?

Because the chamber doesn’t represent Mesa County’s working population. It exists solely to promote the financial interests of the few Mesa County businesses who pay its dues, and nothing more. What’s more, most businesses oppose measures aimed at helping workers and their families, so the chamber reflexively opposes any ballot measures that would benefit the thousands of workers and residents who spend money locally and really keep this area humming.

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:

Gun Safety Advocates Outnumber Gun Nuts at W. Slope Hearing on SB 175

ALL IN FAVOR? - Only two people -- Mesa County Commissioner John Justman and one other person -- showed up to testify in favor of making large-capacity gun magazines legal again in Colorado at today's hearing on SB 175 at CMU

Only two people — Mesa County Commissioner John Justman and one other person — showed up to testify in favor of re-legalizing large-capacity ammunition magazines in Colorado at today’s hearing on SB 175 at CMU

Grand Junction citizens who support keeping Colorado’s ban on large capacity gun magazines far outnumbered those showing up who want to dump the ban at today’s remote hearing on the measure at Colorado Mesa University (CMU).

Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee members in Denver heard remote testimony from western slope residents on SB 175 (pdf) via a video hookup in the West Ballroom at CMU. If enacted, the measure would repeal a law currently in place that prohibits possession of large capacity ammunition magazines. The legislature enacted the current magazine ban after the Aurora Theater massacre on July 20, 2012.

The crowd showing up to testify on today’s bill wasn’t big, but was remarkable for the fact that gun safety advocates far outnumbered those showing up to support legalizing large capacity ammo magazines. Exactly the opposite had been expected.

ALL OPPOSED? - Nine western slope residents (including the photographer) showed up to oppose bringing back large capacity gun magazines in Colorado at today's hearing on SB 175

Nine western slope residents (including the photographer and another not yet seated) showed up to oppose bringing back large capacity gun magazines in Colorado at today’s hearing on SB 175

Mesa County Commissioner John Justman was one of only two people who supported bringing back large capacity ammo magazines, even though twenty four people had registered to testify for the bill. Nine people showed up to testify in favor of keeping the current ban in place.

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.

13 Insane Republican Arguments Against Upgrading the Colorado National Monument to a National Park

LIES, LIES, LIES -Opponents to changing the Colorado National Monument into a national park posted this photo on their website, "Friends of the Colorado National Monument," to warn that lack of access will ensue if the Monument becomes a national park. The photo's caption says it was taken at the entrance to the "Kapalua National Conservation Area." No such conservation area exists.

Mesa County Republicans who oppose changing the Colorado National Monument into a national park posted this photo on their website, “Friends of the Colorado National Monument,” to warn that lack of access will ensue if the Monument becomes a national park. The photo’s caption says it was taken at the entrance to the “Kapalua National Conservation Area.” There is no such conservation area.

Name a simple, cost-free way to boost our area’s sagging local economy and put Grand Junction on a lot more tourist maps.

That’s right, it’s upgrading the Colorado National Monument to national park status.

The push to turn the Monument into a national park has won widespread support from a broad spectrum of the community, and for good reasons.

The Monument has all the natural features it needs to qualify as a national park, and making the change would clarify what tourists are looking for. Right now, tourists think the Colorado National Monument is a statue or a commemorative plaque. If the Monument were called a “park” instead, it would clarify what they are heading to see. Also, as a national park the Monument would draw more travelers from the airport and more tourists off I-70, boosting business at local hotels, restaurants, coffee bars, rental car companies, gas stations, art galleries and other businesses.

Sounds like a good idea, right? That’s because it is. And for that reason, the Grand Junction Economic Partnership endorses it. The Chamber of Commerce has supported it. The Grand Junction Visitors and Convention Bureau says it is a “clear opportunity to attract more visitors.” Even the Western Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association supports it. The Daily Sentinel supports it, saying “Studies show that monuments which become national parks don’t necessarily see a big increase in the number of visitors. But they do see a change in the types of visitors, with more people coming from outside the immediate area, staying longer in the area and spending more money.”

So if upgrading the Colorado National Monument to a national park is such a no-brainer and it would do our area so much good, why isn’t the effort going forward full throttle?