Category: Women

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’s Bad Rap and What to Do About it

Op-ed

The arrest of G.J. Chamber-backed city council candidate Rick Brainard in April, 2013 shocked Grand Junction citizens and embarrassed the entire City, but could serve as a catalyst for beneficial change, if we want it to

The arrest of G.J. Chamber-backed city council candidate Rick Brainard in April, 2013 shocked Grand Junction citizens and embarrassed the entire City, but could serve as a catalyst for beneficial change, if we want it to

The dilemma of Rick Brainard, the Grand Junction, Colorado city councilman who pled guilty to criminally assaulting a woman just days after he was elected, has deeply embarrassed our City, but it’s not unique. It’s just the latest in a long string of political embarrassments and economic miscalculations that collectively have tarnished the City’s reputation and made us a laughing stock of the state.

Brainard isn’t the first or the only episode that’s dragged down our City’s reputation. His election is just the latest in a long line of bad decisions that have contributed to our town’s inability to be taken seriously.  Grand Junction is known for chasing prosperity in grandiose, short-sighted ways, and getting into big trouble because of it. We earned a place on the list of the biggest nuclear mining disasters in the U.S. after embracing uranium mining in the 1950s and 60s. Grand Junction required a decade-long, $746 million Superfund cleanup (pdf) to remediate the radioactive mess left behind. Then we pursued oil shale development and got slapped for that with the massive, 1982 Black Sunday Exxon Oil Shale bust that devastated town. Now there’s a big push do oil shale all over again, making it look as though people in this area either have an incredibly short collective memory, or aren’t smart enough to learn from previous mistakes.

We have plenty of things to be proud of in Grand Junction: our beautiful Main Street, great walking and biking paths along the river, sunshine and our wide variety of outdoor recreation, a wonderful canal system (that would be a fantastic built- in walking and biking trail system if we could just get out of the last century and bring ourselves to utilize it that way), the Colorado National Monument, the historic Avalon Theater, the Botanical Gardens, lots of wonderful people and thousands of acres of nearby BLM land where you can get away with doing almost anything. But what’s to draw people off the Interstate and get them enjoy it all?

Not our name. 

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.

Female Politicians Fight Republican War on Women

Ohio State Senator Nina Turner has introduced a bill that would require men seeking prescription drugs for the treatment of erectile dysfunction to submit to a mental and physical exams to assure they have appropriate medical reasons for obtaining the drug, and they would also have to get tested for HIV. Rep. Turner says the legislature should show the same concern about men’s reproductive health as they do women’s reproductive health. The bill is part of a growing national backlash against a wave of Republican-enacted bills that restrict women’s access to reproductive health care, including safe and legal abortions. Other female legislators across the U.S. have introduced bills that focus on men’s reproductive systems, too. Oklahoma Senator Constance Johnson introduced an amendment to the state’s “Personhood” bill that would make it illegal for men to ejaculate outside of a woman’s vagina, saying such an act “shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.” Illinois House Representative Kelly Cassidy introduced an amendment to a forced ultrasound bill that would order men to watch a graphic video depicting Viagra’s side effects before they could obtain a prescription for the drug. A bill filed by Virginia State Senator Janet Howell would require men to submit to rectal exams before getting a Viagra prescription. In Georgia, a state representative introduced a bill sharply limiting men’s ability to get a vasectomy.

 

Source: Huffington Post, June 28, 2013

House Republicans Renew Attack on Womens Rights

Chart: Guttmacher Institute

Chart: Guttmacher Institute

House Republicans passed symbolic legislation aimed at further restricting women’s ability to obtain an abortion nationwide — legislation that stands no chance of surviving the Senate, and that the President has vowed to veto. This week House Republicans voted to limit women’s right to obtain an abortion until the first 20 weeks after conception. Republicans passed the measure even though they know it is illegal because it defies the Supreme Court’s 1973 Rowe vs. Wade ruling that says women can legally obtain abortions up until the time a doctor deems a fetus is viable, or can live outside the womb, generally around the 24th week of gestation. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Arizona), who brought the bill, initially did not include any exceptions for rape or incest, saying in a committee hearing that that was because “the incidence of pregnancy from rape is very low.” Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), defending the bill, in a crazy statement went even further, saying he felt abortions should be restricted to 15 weeks, because that’s the point at which male fetuses can put their hand between their legs and “feel pleasure.” And Republicans’ war on women doesn’t stop there. In Wisconsin, Republicans just passed a bill that will force women seeking abortions to obtain medically unnecessary ultrasounds first. It also requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the clinics in which they work, a provision that will shut down at least one Planned Parenthood clinic in the state. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says he will sign the bill. Similar bills have appeared in states throughout the union. In fact, banning abortion is almost all Republicans have been working on with any vigor in the last few years. The number of bills brought to restrict abortion in various ways has skyrocketed in the U.S. since 2010, limiting the rights of women all over the country.

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.

Citizens Flood City Hall with Calls of Outrage Over Brainard Issue

Grand Junction City Councilman-Elect Rick Brainard (Photo Credit: GJ Police Department)

Grand Junction City Councilman-Elect Rick Brainard (Photo Credit: GJ Police Department)

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel has published audio of telephone calls made by outraged citizens to City Hall about councilman-elect Rick Brainard’s intent to assume office on May 6.  Mr. Brainard was arrested April 6 for assaulting his girlfriend — just four days after he was elected to the Grand Junction City Council. In his police affidavit, Mr. Brainard admitting grabbing and pushing his girlfriend, pulling her hair and hitting her “on the left side of her neck/cheek area,” hard enough to cause a black eye. Mr. Brainard’s arrest affidavit (pdf) states, “Rick stated that he slapped Cindy because she ‘needed to shut her mouth.’ ” Citizens have been calling City Hall to express outrage at Mr. Brainard’s intent to take his seat, and asking the City to do something stop him. One caller was angry at Mr. Brainard’s request to Mesa County Court Judge Craig Henderson avoid all of his court appearances. Another caller complained he cannot get a job because he has the same charge on his record, and yet Mr. Brainard will be allowed to serve on City Council. Following are some excerpts from the calls:

 

“My husband and I voted for this lowlife that is in jail right now. I wish you would ask for his resignation…”

“…Just letting you know that if you keep Mr. Brainard on board, all you are doing is letting the people of Grand Junction know that it’s ok to be a wife beater…”

“The fact that I can’t get a job with the same record, …I’m just curious how it is a man can stay on…I can’t get a job as a CNA or get a CNA license or anything with the same record…”

“If you people keep Rick Brainard on City Council you have everything coming to you that happens. This is only the beginning. I know this guy.”

“I’m calling to express my outrage at Rick Brainard being able to keep his seat after being arrested for domestic violence…”

“I’d just like to register my utter outrage that RB is going to be allowed to still sit on City Council after admitting to the police that he struck a woman for something she said, and I cannot believe the message this sends to the female members of our community…”

“This is not the type of individual I want as part of my City Council. I find it embarrassing…”

 

Citizens are planning to protest Mr. Brainard at his swearing in on Monday, May 6. Mr. Brainard’s first court date coincidentally is that same morning, just two hours before he is scheduled to be sworn onto City Council.

G.J. Chamber of Commerce Finds Its Fortunes Sinking with Brainard’s

Grand Junction citizens march and protest outside the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce

Grand Junction citizens march and protest outside the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce

The fortunes of the Grand Junction Colorado Area Chamber of Commerce are sinking this week alongside those of embattled councilman-elect Rick Brainard, an executive at West Star Aviation in Grand Junction, who faces criminal charges for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend during a domestic altercation April 6. Grand Junction Police arrested and charged Mr. Brainard just four days after he won election to the Grand Junction City Council. Appalled citizens have been marching, chanting, holding rallies and organizing phone banks to protest Mr. Brainard assuming his seat on Council. This week outraged citizens picketed the G.J. Chamber, which continues to stand steadfastly behind Mr. Brainard. Just days ago, Mr. Brainard resigned from the Chamber’s board, but the Chamber still backs him. Adding to the Chamber’s woes, this week, the City of Grand Junction voted to yank its $6,000 membership in the Chamber, saying the Chamber has changed from an economic development organization into an overtly political group. As if losing the City’s lucrative membership and being targeted with loud protests by Grand Junction citizens wasn’t enough, this week thieves targeted the Chamber stealing a number of copper backflow devices said to be valued at thousands of dollars. To top it all off, an alternative Chamber of Commerce announced its debut this week in town: the Western Colorado Latino Chamber of Commerce, with dues that are a fraction of the GJ Chamber’s dues, making the Latino Chamber far more accessible to smaller businesses.

Additional coverage: The Daily Sentinel publishes audio of calls from citizens to City  Council over the Brainard issue

Brainard Issue Sparks Fireworks at Council Meeting

Grand Junction City Councilman Sam Susuras, whom citizens  reprimanded for backing Rick Brainard. Rumors have emerged that the Chamber's four newly-elected candidates have met in secret and plan on making Susuras mayor as soon as they are sworn in.

Grand Junction City Councilman Sam Susuras, who may be subject to recall along with Rick Brainard, who was arrested for assault four days after being elected to Council.

As the first civil union in Mesa County was taking place across town in Grand Junction, Colorado, verbal fireworks flew at the last meeting of the sitting Grand Junction City Council.   In a surprise move, Council voted 4-2 to drop the City’s membership in the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, which has continued to support embattled councilman-elect Rick Brainard. Brainard was arrested on charges of third degree assault and harassment after allegedly pushing and hitting his live-in girlfriend in the face just four days after he was elected to office April 2. The arrest has outraged the community and galvanized a  grassroots effort to keep Brainard from taking his seat on Council. In a recent TV interview in his own defense, Mr. Brainard called citizens who oppose him “an uninformed lynch mob,” and insisted he will take his seat despite the charges. His statements further inflamed citizens, who have vowed to recall him as soon as the law permits it. The City has said a recall effort will cost taxpayers $45,000. Citizens against Brainard have conducted rallies and marched outside the Chamber of Commerce building and City Hall wearing black and white “No Brainard” T-shirts and “wife beater” undershirts that say “Domestic Violence is a No-Brainard.” Several businesses vowed to quit the Chamber if Mr. Brainard is sworn in and the Chamber continues to back him. The City of Grand Junction for many years was a “Chairman’s Circle” level member of the Chamber — the most expensive membership the Chamber offers, at a cost to taxpayers of $6,000 per year. Councilman Jim Doody noted that the Chamber has also created a 501-c-4 (lobbying) group specifically for the purpose of influencing local elections, but did not disclose how much it spent influencing the last election.

Grand Junction Citizens Continue to Pressure Brainard to Resign

Photo credit: KREX-TV, Grand Junction

Photo credit: KREX-TV, Grand Junction

The saga of embattled city councilman-elect Rick Brainard continues to unfold in Grand Junction, Colorado as citizens continue to pressure Brainard to resign his seat on City Council. Brainard, 51, won election to the Grand Junction City Council on April 2, but on April 6 was arrested on charges of third degree assault and harassment after admitting to hitting his live-in girlfriend in the face in a domestic dispute. Brainard said in a police affidavit that he struck his girlfriend because she “needed to shut her mouth.” His remarks have drawn the ire of the community. Most of the sitting city council members signed a resolution calling on Mr. Brainard to resign his seat. The local paper, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, endorsed Brainard prior to his election, but rescinded its endorsement and published an editorial calling on him to reject his seat on Council. The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce also endorsed Brainard for office, but has so far refused to pull their support for him, saying he is “entitled to due process.” Brainard served on the Chamber’s board. Mr. Brainard so far has vowed to take his seat on Council despite the furor.  He is scheduled to be sworn into office on May 6, coincidentally the same day that he is supposed to make his first court appearance in his assault case.