Category: Violence

Woman and Girls Used as Slave Labor in Irish Laundries Operated by the Catholic Church

Women who were held as slaves in Catholic laundries in Ireland are seeking justice for their imprisonment and abuse

Women who were held as slaves in Catholic laundries in Ireland are seeking justice for their imprisonment and abuse

A BBC investigation has revealed that Irish nuns from the Catholic church took female children out of church-operated state orphanages and used them as unpaid slave labor in church-owned commercial laundry facilities called the Magdalene Laundries. Women and girls made to work in the laundries were held as prisoners and endured significant abuse. The slave laundries existed into the 1980s and did the laundry for restaurants, railway stations, convents and the airport. Some women were held in the laundries for over 50 years.

The Irish Examiner newspaper investigated the finances of religious orders that operated the laundries in 2012 and found they owned assets of $1.9 billion. (Yes, that’s “billion” with a “B.”).

One woman, the main subject in BBC’s report, escaped the laundry, ran to a nearby church for help, got raped by a priest and returned to the laundry. She became pregnant from the rape. The nuns took her baby away from her at birth and gave it up for adoption. The woman was forced to work in the laundry for 14 years. She was finally reunited with her daughter 40 years after her birth. The woman is demanding an apology — just an apology — from the Church.

Source: Demanding justice for women and children abused by Irish nunsBBC News, September 23, 2014

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.

Sheriff Candidate Mike Harlow: The Ugliest Face of Mesa County

Mesa County Sheriff write-in candidate Mike Harlow

Mesa County Sheriff write-in candidate Mike Harlow

It’s no surprise that Mesa County’s tea party faction endorsed custom holster-maker and write-in candidate Mike Harlow for sheriff.

What is a surprise, though, and a huge embarrassment for Mesa County citizens, is that Harlow got the endorsement of anyone at all.

Harlow’s smugness and extreme hate-filled views reveal one thing: he is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.

If his writings are any indication, contempt and hostility ooze from Harlow’s every pore.

Grand Junction Gun Club Urges Action End to Mass Shootings

A portion of the postcards delivered to Congressman Scott Tipton by members of the Grand Junction Gun Club on Friday, July 11.

A portion of the postcards delivered to Congressman Scott Tipton on Friday, July 11, by members of the Grand Junction Gun Club .

A new citizens’ group in Grand Junction is saying “no more” to gun violence. The group came together to advocate action be taken to reduce the growing number of mass gun slaughters occurring in the U.S.

On Friday, July 11, 2014 the Grand Junction Gun Club presented Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) with 1,500 postcards from constituents in his district saying “Not One More” person should be killed by gun violence. 150 of the postcards were from residents of Grand Junction. The postcards were collected by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety, two national groups working to overcome the inaction by Congress on the issue of  growing gun violence.

The words were inspired by Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher Martinez, was one of the six people killed in the May 23 gun massacre in Santa Barbara, California. In a statement to the media after his son’s death, Mr. Martinez said,

“When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say ‘Stop this madness!’ Too many people have died. We should say to ourselves, ‘NOT ONE MORE!'”

His words inspired a national movement to urge legislators to enact measures to reduce the number of guns getting into the hands of unstable and violent people. The Grand Junction Gun Club is standing in support of the survivors, families and communities throughout the U.S. that have been affected by mass shootings.

The perpetrator of the Santa Barbara shootings, Elliot Rodger, sought retribution against women for rejecting him and to punish young men whom he believed lived a better life than he did. Rodger visited a shooting range to train himself in shooting handguns and owned a Glock 34 pistol. When he finished his gun rampage, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

Rick Brainard Resurfaces

Rick Brainard's arrest in APril, 2013 shocked Grand Junction citizens and embarrassed the City

Rick Brainard’s arrest in APril, 2013 shocked Grand Junction citizens and embarrassed the City

Rick Brainard, the infamous, short-lived Grand Junction, Colorado City Councilman who was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend four days after he was elected to City Council last April, has gotten a job with KaiserAir in Santa Rosa, California as Director of Maintenance Marketing and Business Development.

His arrest in April, 2013 stunned the community and galvanized hundreds of citizens who protested in front of City Council and worked tirelessly over the next four months to oust him from Council. Brainard insisted on taking his seat on Council despite his arrest and guilty plea. After citizens formed a recall committee and it appeared his recall was imminent, he finally stepped down from Council on July 18, 2013, but claimed his leaving had nothing to do with the months of protests against him. Brainard was fired by West Star Aviation and pushed off several prestigious local boards after his guilty plea.

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce selected Brainard to run for office and backed his campaign financially through their “social welfare” (lobbying) group, the Western Colorado Business Alliance, leading locals to dub him a “chambermade.”

In a March 4 press release, KaiserAir announced, “We are excited about the addition of Rick to our team.”

Source: AviationPros.com, March 4, 2014 press release

Thousands Protest at ALEC’s 40th Annual Meeting in Chicago

Police tangle with protesters at ALEC's 40th Annual Meeting at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago in August.

Police tangle with protesters at ALEC’s 40th Annual Meeting at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago in August.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) held its 40th annual meeting earlier this month at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, drawing a crowd of about 3,000 protesters.  ALEC is a conservative bill mill that masquerades as an educational nonprofit. ALEC holds meetings in tony resorts and at fancy hotels, where it provides corporate lobbyists with face time with thousands of state legislators over dinners, happy hours, tennis, golf and other activities. Corporate representatives draft the “model bills’ they prefer, and at ALEC meetings, hand them off to legislators, who then take them home and introduce the bills in their own state legislatures as if they were their own ideas.  The public is not allowed to weigh in during any phase of the drafting of any of ALEC’s so-called “model bills.” The prime sponsor of ALEC’s 40th annual meeting was tobacco giant Reynolds American, who ponied up $100,000 for the honor. $50,000-level sponsors include ExxonMobil, the Cigar Association of America, Inc., Peabody Energy, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a front group for coal companies. Other sponsors include CenturyLink, UPS, Pharma, Cloud Peak Energy, TransCanada and BNSF Railways. ALEC is responsible for the proliferation of “Stand Your Ground” laws, the type of law that permitted George Zimmerman to kill Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American Florida teen, and get away without any punishment. About two dozen states how have such “shoot first” laws. Many  protesters at ALEC’s Chicago meeting wore hoodies and with targets on their chests and backs that said “Stand Your Ground.” Activists unfurled huge banners inside the Palmer hotel that said “ALEC makes For-Profit Prisons,” “Moral Monday – NO to ALEC” and “ALEC Attacks All Workers.” The peaceful protest turned violent after Chicago police rushed into the crowd and started arresting people and beating them to the ground.  Photos of the protests can be seen here.

Rick Brainard Resigns, Disses Almost Everyone on the Way Out the Door

Grand Junctin City Councilman Rick Brainard

Grand Junctin City Councilman Rick Brainard

Grand Junction citizens breathed a huge sigh of relief yesterday morning after hearing the news that convicted criminal Rick Brainard had formally resigned from the City Council, effective immediately. In his official one-page resignation letter, Brainard said he felt unappreciated, that he is not a violent person, that he became disillusioned with City Council in part because an unnamed Council member had passed an angry note to him filled with underlining and exclamation points, that expressed irritation at how he had voted. Brainard said he has “reconnected” with his former live-in girlfriend, Cindy Franzen, the woman to whom he had given a black eye, that he has “reorganized his priorities around her,” and he speculated that “maybe its time for some new scenery.” TV news cameras showed a large RV parked in the driveway of his home, apparently being loaded up. But Brainard wasn’t done after sending that letter. He also sent a much longer version of his resignation letter to the Grand Junction City Manager, who in turn passed it on to Council. Brainard really spilled his guts in that letter. He named yet another Chamber of Commerce-backed Councilman Marty Chazen as the angry note-writer, and told Mayor Sam Susuras that “Your behavior upset me  so much that I am writing this letter today.” Brainard also castigated the press and media over their coverage of his assault and his subsequent events, which he said “lacked integrity,” and then he wrote the following to the citizens organizing to recall him, a group that, incredibly, he referred to as the “Re-Elect Rick Brainard Crowd”:

(To) The Re-Elect Rick Brainard Crowd: You are welcome. But be perfectly clear on this, my
stepping away has NOTHING to do with you. My comments here should be taken to
heart and you should seriously reflect on them as you move forward. You may want to
consider getting some counseling of your own. I have learned a lot about a topic from my
councilors that I knew nothing about previously, I think my counselors Dr. Saul
Tompkins and Patrick Mills for their advice and direction. You guys are wonderful. But
for this group that couches their behavior in the support of Domestic Violence victims.
Yet, when they produce a web site two thing ring very true. First, there is not a single
reference or link to a domestic violence resource. Does that seem odd? It does to me. It
suggests that you have gotten so caught up in being the bully that you forgot your
mission. Second, clearly you have become the bully, just flip through the pages and you
will see that. Again, I suggest you take a little of your own medicine and learn about your
own behaviors and how to best deal with them. Patrick Mills can certainly help if you
need a resource, he is amazing. The bottom line is this, I have reached out to you using
every means I know to do so engaging you to talk to me, actually get to know me and
learn that I agree with your Domestic Violence mission and wanted to use my position on
City Council to be your advocate. But you were not interested, because it diminished the
fun of being the bully. I’m sorry, but the best way for me to take the wind out of your
now poorly directed sails is to take myself away from you and point out to everybody
else how you have lost your way.

It is unclear what Brainard will do next.

Sentinel Exposes G.J. Chamber of Commerce’s Hubris

Chart from the Daily Sentinel showing GJ Chamber President Diane Schwenke's compensation far outstrips the compensation earned by other comparable chamber presidents around the region

Chart from the Daily Sentinel showing GJ Chamber President Diane Schwenke’s compensation far outstrips the compensation earned by comparable chamber presidents around the region. The same goes for the G.J. Chamber’s lobbying expense.

The Grand Junction, Colorado Daily Sentinel on July 21 published a scathing expose’ of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce’s recent activities that have citizens in an uproar.  The Chamber, once seen locally as a respected and helpful institution, in recent years has started engaging in hard-core political activity, and spending plenty on it. In 2011, the G.J. Chamber spent a whopping $74,000 of members’ money on lobbying expense. The next closest comparable Colorado Chamber of Commerce that spent anything at all on lobbying was the Montrose Chamber, which spent just $2,000. The Sentinel also revealed that G.J. Chamber president Diane Schwenke’s compensation far exceeds that of her counterparts at comparable Colorado chambers. In 2011, Schwenke made $133,930 in salary and benefits. Her next closest counterpart made just $112,477. Most of the other presidents of comparable chambers made well under $100,000/year in combined salary and benefits. The G.J. Chamber’s headlong dive into hyper-political activity has led to a backlash among citizens, who have started boycotting Chamber-member businesses. In many citizens’ eyes, the G.J. Chamber stepped out of bounds after it formed a secretive political group, the Western Colorado Business Alliance, that takes in unlimited money and spends unlimited funds to get Chamber-backed candidates elected to local office. The Chamber did exactly that in the last City-wide election, only to have one of their winning candidates, Rick Brainard, get thrown in jail four days after the election for beating up a woman. Brainard pled guilty to assault on May 17.  Throughout his legal travails, Brainard has refused pressure from citizens to resign from Council, and will soon cost City taxpayers $50,000 for a recall effort. Making matters worse, the Chamber continues to back Brainard, making Grand Junction the first city in Colorado to allow a freshly-convicted criminal sit on its Council. Former G.J. Chamber member Harry Griff of the law firm Griff, Larson Laiche & Wright, told the Sentinel he quit the Chamber after being a member for 25 years, calling it “a very, very exclusionary group.” Another business owner, Marilyn Charlesworth, also quit the Chamber over it’s unwelcome political activity, calling it a “little boy’s club.” Other businesses to quit include the CandyTime Shoppe, Pablo’s Pizza and the Hot Tomato in Fruita. New businesses in town are also opting not to join the Chamber due to the firestorm of controversy surrounding the organization. Citizens who are outraged at Chamber activities are boycotting Chamber-member businesses and using Facebook to organize, share strategies and share names of businesses that belong to the Chamber and those that do not, or to name who recently dropped their membership. For its part, the Chamber’s leadership remains completely unapologetic. In response to a question Sentinel reporter Charles Ashby posed about whether the local backlash is having any impact on the Chamber’s decision to get more political in the future, Chamber president Diane Schwenke responded that yes, it’s had an impact, but only to the extent that it will make the Chamber try to become even more effective at its political involvement in the future.

Source: Grand Junction, CO Daily Sentinel, Politics and Business, by Charles Ashby, July 21, 2013 (NOT behind a paywall!)

Rick Brainard Recall Campaign Moves Closer

Eager NoBrainard petitioners-in-waiting gather for signature gathering training #1

Eager NoBrainard volunteers gather for signature gathering training #1 at the Historic Melrose Hotel

The campaign to recall Rick Brainard from Grand Junction City Council is on the move. Area citizens volunteered their time Saturday evening July 19 to attend the first of many signature gathering trainings to be offered in preparation for the Brainard recall effort. Brainard, who sits on the Grand Junction City Council, pled guilty to assaulting a woman just four days after being elected to Council, but cannot be pushed off Council because the court considers his crime a misdemeanor. Under the City’s charter, a council member must be guilty of a felony to be administratively removed from office. The one hour training was held in downtown Grand Junction at the Historic Melrose Hotel on Colorado Ave., which offered a cozy space, iced tea and lemonade for the first wave of eager, soon-to-be petitioners. Many participants brought previous signature-gathering experience to the table, and shared strategies and innovative ideas to boost the effectiveness of signature-gathering efforts. The NoBrainard recall campaign says time is on it’s side, and organizers are taking time to lay the necessary groundwork to guarantee a successful signature gathering effort. Citizens who want to join the effort can be empowered to gather signatures by attending one of the many upcoming such trainings. For information on the dates and locations of upcoming trainings, visit the recall website, NoBrainard.com, and click on either the “News and Events” or “Volunteer” tabs.

Grand Junction Citizens Unveil Recall Website, “NoBrainard.com”

Screen shot of new NoBrainard.com website

Screen shot of new NoBrainard.com website

Grand Junction citizens organizing to recall newly-elected City Councilman Rick Brainard have created a new website, NoBrainard.com, where the public can go to donate money to the recall effort, volunteer to circulate petitions, help gather signatures, find out where to go to sign a petition, download free recall promotional posters and volunteer to help in other ways. The site tells the story of Rick Brainard, an aviation company executive who was elected to City Council April 6, 2013, and just four days later was arrested for assault after beating up his live-in girlfriend badly enough to give her a black eye. At first he denied the assault to police, then Brainard confessed, telling police (pdf) he had to do it to get her “to shut her mouth.” Brainard’s bad behavior and subsequent guilty plea has horrified citizens, and his dogged refusal to step down from his Council seat despite months of pressure will force the City to spend $45,000 – $50,000 of taxpayer money on a recall election and force citizens to collect enough valid signatures to recall him. Brainard is pushing the campaign to this point even though he ran as a fiscal conservative. The recall site compiles a list of news articles detailing the continuing saga of Mr. Brainard and the progress of the recall, and lists the dates, times and locations of training sessions for petition circulators. Recall organizers say if Mr. Brainard voluntarily steps down from his council seat prior to the signature collection drive, they will donate all funds raised for the recall effort to victims of domestic violence.

The Man Rick Brainard Beat

Former Grand Junction Mayor Bill Pitts

Former Grand Junction Mayor Bill Pitts (Photo Credit: KREX TV)

By any measure, former Grand Junction Mayor Bill Pitts is a stalwart of the community. A licensed private pilot and resident of Grand Junction for over 50 years, Pitts turned down several lucrative promotions offered to him by his former employer, a big security firm that sold safes, in order to move to and stay in Grand Junction. His company offered him a position supervising sales over the entire west coast, and he turned it down. Later he turned down another big opportunity to manage sales over the entire U.S. midwest region from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. “This is the best place in the world to live,” Pitts says. “I’ve been in every state and over 21 countries, and there isn’t any place better than Grand Junction.” Married for over 50 years and a true booster of the community, by his own calculation Mayor Pitts put in 3.2 days per week into doing City business for the paltry sum of $700 a month, and he did every last duty his mayoral position called on him to do, no matter how small. “Anytime someone asked me to do something extra, give a graduation speech or whatever, I did it, no matter what,” Pitts says. Pitts is also a creative guy, having invented six different useful items that are currently on the international market. One is commonly used locally here in western Colorado: those plastic covers with magnetic edges that you slap over swamp cooler vents inside the house in winter to keep out the drafts. Pitts is also an accomplished businessman who began several local businesses from the ground up and sold them off. One is Security Alarm Company, which he sold to former City Councilor Bruce Hill. Pitts also started the campground and RV park at 22 and H Roads. As a realtor and developer, he started the Fountainhead subdivision at G Road at 25 Road. Pitts was also an active dues-paying member of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce for over 44 years. He helped start Dinosaur Days, was active in Chamber Rangers and other Chamber programs. Mr. Pitts is also a lifelong Republican, and in addition to regularly paying membership dues to the Chamber, he also was a regular donor to the Mesa County GOP.

Bill Pitts is the quintessential, dyed-in-the-wool, patriotic, community-loving Republican Grand Junction resident. But at the May 1, 2013 City Council meeting he announced that after 44 years, he was withdrawing his membership in the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce. He also has stopped giving money to the Mesa County GOP.

Why?

The End of The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce?

WhoaDiane-edited1

Op-ed

The Rick Brainard debacle — the ongoing saga of the newly-elected Grand Junction city councilman who pled guilty to criminal assault minutes before being sworn in as a City Councilman May 6  — has led to greater scrutiny of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, the group responsible for foisting Brainard onto the local political scene.

In the decades before Brainard, to the people who even noticed it at all, the Grand Junction Chamber was generally regarded as a well-meaning force in town. Becoming a member of the Chamber was a rite of passage and a feel-good move for businesses, and a way to show support for the community. The Chamber, a long-standing organization incorporated in Grand Junction way back in 1915, typically engaged in helpful and uncontroversial activities like recruiting volunteers to help tutor elementary school kids in reading and promoting its “Blue Band Buy Local” program aimed at keeping local dollars in the area. The Chamber weighed in on policy matters like taxes and fees, but it’s influence wasn’t out-sized. Its political activity stayed in check in part because its 501-c-6 IRS designation limits the amount of lobbying it can engage in. Because it was a relatively helpful, low-key organization, it had few enemies.

All that changed in 2012, when the Chamber  stopped being satisfied to simply weigh in on policy issues like every other nonprofit group in town. Suddenly the Chamber started acting like the sober person in the car who needed to seize the wheel from a drunk. The Chamber decided it needed to force its will upon citizens by actually becoming City Council. In 2012, the Grand Junction Chamber turned ruthlessly competitive, devised a winner-take-all strategy, then stacked the deck to make sure it got what it wanted: total control of City politics.

New Video Seeks Support for Bradley Manning

A new YouTube video features big-name stars and historical figures soliciting public support for Private Bradley Manning, the military whistleblower who turned over a classified U.S. military video made public by WikiLeaks called “Collateral Murder” that shows an airstrike in Baghdad in which the U.S. targeted two Reuters war correspondents after mistaking their cameras for weapons. U.S. forces killed one of the journalists and injured the other in the strike. After a van appeared and unarmed people emerged and tried to carry the wounded correspondent to the van, the U.S. helicopter crew repeatedly begged for permission to open fire on the van and its occupants. Permission was granted, and U.S. forces killed the surviving correspondent and wounded two children who were sitting in the van’s front seat. Manning also turned over footage showing similar war crimes in Afghanistan. For exposing the truth about U.S. military actions in Baghdad and Afghanistan, Manning was imprisoned in solitary confinement for three years and charged with “aiding the enemy,” a capital crime. Manning’s trial is currently ongoing, and the prosecution is seeking a life sentence for Manning.  The video is a project of the Bradley Manning Support Network.

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce Clams Up, Hunkers Down in Political Storm

Op-ed

Grand Junction Area Chamber President Diane Schwenke (Photo Credit: YouTube)

Embattled Grand Junction Area Chamber President Diane Schwenke (Photo Credit: YouTube)

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce is up to its ears in alligators, and its best proactive strategy is to hope all its self-caused problems will just go away.

Just four days after the April 6 city election, Rick Brainard, one of the Chamber-backed candidates for City Council who won, was arrested for hitting his live-in girlfriend in the face hard enough to give her a black eye. In his official arrest affidavit, Brainard told police he hit her because she “needed to shut her mouth,” a comment that inflamed local citizens and galvanized public opinion against Brainard. The Daily Sentinel withdrew its endorsement of Mr. Brainard and published an op-ed recommending he vacate his Council seat. Community Hospital pushed Mr. Brainard off its board and West Star Aviation fired him from his executive job as Vice President of Business Development. Thousands of people signed an online petition titled “Woman Beating Councilmember Must Go” and citizens angrily picketed the Chamber of Commerce over its tenacious support of Mr. Brainard. When the Sentinel asked the Chamber if, despite his arrest, the organization still supported Mr. Brainard’s presence on Council, Chamber President Diane Schwenke refused to answer reporters’ calls. Instead, in true Sarah Palin style, she issued a response through the Chamber’s Facebook page:

“Mr. Brainard is entitled to due process. It sends an equally wrong message to our children to condemn without benefit of going through a process where we assume innocence until found guilty by the courts. Once that process has happened we will again review our position on Mr. Brainard.”

On May 17 Brainard pled guilty to the assault in Mesa County Court. So does the Chamber still think it is appropriate for Brainard to remain on Council?

Upset Grand Junction Citizens Keep Brainard Issue Before Council

Mare Charlesworth addresses City Council about Rick Brainard May 22.

Mare Charlesworth addresses City Council about Rick Brainard May 22.

At the Wednesday, May 22 Grand Junction City Council meeting, citizens took advantage of the public comment period to speak out about their feelings about Rick Brainard sitting on Council. Brainard pled guilty in Mesa County Court May 17 to a charge of third degree assault for hitting his live-in girlfriend in the face hard enough to cause a black eye and facial bruising. The assault took place just days after he was elected to the Grand Junction City Council. The Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce backed Brainard as a candidate, and has continued to support him despite the assault, angering citizens. John Williams, an artist and author who lives in the 7th Street historic district and writes about Grand Junction, spoke to Council and said his family has lived in Grand Junction for 50 years, and he knows a lot of people in town. Williams said many citizens are upset about Rick Brainard’s presence on Council and have called for him to step down. “You’ve heard a lot of people in town,” Williams said. Citing Mr. Brainard’s guilty plea in court, he spoke directly to Mr. Brainard told him he “should be a man and step down” from Council.

Brainard Enters Guilty Plea in Mesa County Court

Rick Brainard

Rick Brainard

Grand Junction, Colorado City Councilman Rick Brainard pled guilty in Mesa County Court today to misdemeanor third degree assault for pushing and striking his former live-in girlfriend, Cindy Franzen, in the face April 6.  Mr. Brainard’s attorney, Stephen Laiche, tried to enter a no contest plea on the charge, but Judge Craig Henderson said he would only accept a charge of “guilty” or “not guilty.” After conferring briefly in the hallway with Mr. Laiche, Mr. Brainard agreed to plead guilty. Mr. Laiche, trying to get as much leniency from the judge as possible for Mr. Brainard, indicated that Mr. Brainard did in fact lose his job at  West Star Aviation as a result of this assault incident and the surrounding publicity. Mr. Laiche called Mr. Brainard as “a 51 year old man without a job.” During the court session, the Assistant District Attorney handed the judge an 8 1/2 x 11,” close-up color photo of Ms. Franzen’s face taken shortly after the attack, showing her blackened left eye and bruised face. The judge held the photo up several times for the court to see during the hearing.

Saga Drags On as Brainard Assumes Seat on Council

Two views of citizens  turning their backs on Brainard at his swearing in ceremony May 6, 2013.

Two views of citizens turning their backs on Brainard at his swearing in ceremony May 6, 2013. Ruth Ehlers is seen in the hot pink jacket in the top photo. (Photo Credit: Demand Rick Brainard Resign Grand Junction Facebook page)

Rick Brainard was elevated to Grand Junction City Council this week amid an unprecedented citizen protest at his swearing in ceremony. As City Clerk Stephanie Tuin read Mr. Brainard his oath of office, 60 percent of the audience stood and turned their backs on him in silent protest — a remarkable showing for a municipal ceremony on a weekday morning in this small, conservative town. Brainard claimed to the media that he was unaware of the protest, but was sweating after the ceremony. In response to a question about the protest from a KKCO Channel 11 news reporter, Brainard responded “You know, it is what it is …My supporters have been steadfast, and I’m grateful for that.” An unidentified Brainard supporter was overheard saying, “All they did was turn their backs. They have a right to do that. I thought they were very civil. Not nearly as obnoxious as I thought they were going to be.”

Brainard Episode Exposes Chamber Plot to Seize Political Control of Grand Junction

Grand Junction citizens protest in front of the Chamber of Commerce. The blue sign says "GJ Chamber endorses violence."

Grand Junction citizens protest outside the Chamber of Commerce. The blue sign says “GJ Chamber endorses violence.”

Rick Brainard’s election to the Grand Junction City Council and subsequent arrest for assault and harassment have appalled and galvanized City residents, but it’s also raised awareness of a sea change happening in Grand Junction politics right now that would otherwise have gone little-noticed. City Councilman Tom Kenyon alluded to it when he told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel the day after the election that “This election was very different” from others. “It was very organized,” Kenyon said, “It felt like they were out to get you. They raised a lot of money.”

Kenyon was right. This election was very different from previous local elections. That’s because, thanks to the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, a new group has appeared in town that has vowed to take a “proactive role” in setting local public policy. Translation? That group has vowed to take control of the City of Grand Junction. That group is the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce’s newly-created 501(c)4 political arm, the Western Colorado Business Alliance (WCBA), which exerted its muscle in the last election to seize control of Grand Junction’s City Council.