The Mesa County Commissioners have been totally silent on the impact the COVID-19 crisis will have on the County’s ability to deliver basic services to residents during the many months before our economy returns to normal. Rather than buckling down and addressing the tough financial questions, they meet weekly to hear updates from County staff and to whine about just how terrible the Governor is. There is nothing wrong with these two activities. Staff needs to know the bosses support them. Complaining about what happens in Denver is a waste of time but it apparently makes them feel important.
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Republican State Senator Ray Scott got only 107 out of 349 total delegate votes cast for County Commissioner in yesterday’s Mesa County Republican Assembly. Scott, who is running for the District 1 commissioner seat, is seeking to abandon his state senate seat halfway through his term and seize the job of County Commissioner instead, which would pay him three times as much ($30k vs. $90k/ year).
Scott got crushed at the assembly by Cody Davis, former chair of the Grand Valley Drainage District, who won 231 votes. Even with that miserable result, though, Scott will still be able to appear on the primary ballot in June.
Certified Public Accountant Dennis Simpson, a long-time advocate for transparency in Grand Junction City and Mesa County government, discovered that in 2019 Mesa County purchased two new late model SUVs at a cost of $45,000 each, for the exclusive use of Commissioners Scott McInnis and John Justman. Before that time, Simpson noted, the County had provided a single passenger car for all three commissioners to share. He also noted that the decision to greatly increase this transportation expense for taxpayers was not made in public, and that while Commissioner Rose Pugliese tried to distance herself from the purchase, she failed to protest it publicly.
When Simpson raised these issues to Scott McInnis, McInnis deflected attention from the matter by asking Simpson to instead focus on coming up with financial suggestions for ways the County can cope with the COVID-19 pandemic rather than concerning himself with the purchase of the vehicles, which McInnis dismissed as unimportant.
Simpson obliged and produced the following suggestions, which he submitted to all three county commissioners on March 19, 2020.
A short blurb in the Sunday, Feb. 8, 2020 Daily Sentinel offers a lesson on why Republicans are such harmful elected officials.
The Sentinel has a regular weekly news quiz on Fridays, and gives the results in the following Sunday paper. An item today stood out for what it demonstrates about the ramifications of conservative Republican views not just for the western slope, but for society.
History shows that if Republicans had their way in the last century, most of America wouldn’t have electricity.
* OGRE is an acronym for “Old Guard Republican Establishment.”
Voters unhappy with the longtime direction of Mesa County politics and tired of the same old people running for office can finally breathe a collective sigh of relief. A new and viable candidate has entered the 2020 race for Mesa County Commissioner District 3, which comprises most of the eastern side of the county, generally east of 30 Road. The current commissioner, Rose Pugliese, is term-limited out.
Don’t cheer the relocation of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) out of Washington, D.C. to Grand Junction until you understand the Trump administration’s real motive behind moving federal agencies out of Washington. Hint: It’s not to help them, and it’s not to help us.
The real motive for moving agencies out of Washington is to hobble and destroy them.
Uprooting federal agencies and moving them out of D.C. into “red” areas is a method the Trump administration is using to pressure skilled federal workers to leave by attrition and destroy federal oversight agencies. Republican Senator Cory Gardner, all three of our Republican Mesa County Commissioners (John Justman, Rose Pugliese and Scott McInnis) and Trump administration employees have all been telling the public that moving the agencies out of Washington is a way to streamline them, and make them more efficient and responsive to the people and industries they oversee.
Mesa County has two job openings right now that pay $87,300/year gross salary with additional generous perks and benefits, and that require absolutely no experience and no required level of educational attainment. That’s a pretty good wage in Mesa County for someone with no experience and no particular educational attainment, since the wages here are so low compared to the rest of the state. (The average weekly wage in Denver in the last quarter of 2018 was $1,414. In Mesa County it was $895). The opening is for two new county commissioners. The only requirements to be county commissioner — literally — are that you have to be a minimum of 18 years old and have lived in either County Commissioner District 1 or District 3 for at least one year. That’s it. In case you don’t believe me, the photo above gives the salaries for each of our three county commissioners for just one month — the month of June, 2019. The information was printed in the legal notices in the Sunday, August 11, 2019 issue of the Daily Sentinel. You can see the minimal requirements for the job yourself posted on Mesa County’s website. Multiply the above salary by 12 to get your new annual gross salary if you land this job ($87,500/year). Oh, and did I mention it’s also free to apply? You can even have a criminal record and it’s okay. This position can be held for up to 8 years.
Colorado Mesa University is hosting climate change denier Steve Goreham this evening, for a speech titled “Energy, Climate Change & Public Policy.”
Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese promoted the event on her Facebook page.
Republican Matt Soper has been oddly silent about the legal challenge to his residency requirement to serve as District 54’s House Representative in the state legislature.
Soper hasn’t responded to journalists’ questions about his residency, nor has he challenged the conclusion that he didn’t actually reside in District 54 for the required 12 months prior to the election. Reporters noted that Soper didn’t show up for freshman orientation at the Capitol last week, and a Colorado Public Radio reporter was unable to find him at freshman orientation this week. He isn’t answering phone calls or emails, and there’s no evidence he’s moved into the 10 Hartig Drive house that he claimed was his legal residence, even after he had the occupants of the house evicted as retribution for telling the Daily Sentinel Soper didn’t live there with them.
No one seems to be able to find Matt Soper, much less get a comment out of him about his predicament.
So does his radio silence indicate guilt?
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported on March 15 that Mesa County’s three Republican County Commissioners publicly admonished a Collbran landowner for violating the law by hosting commercial events on his property for years without required permits.
Then they rewarded him by making his activities legal.
The following is a guest column from the August 28, 2016 issue of the Daily Sentinel that many people may have overlooked. The author is the operations manager for the elections division of Mesa County. She describes how the County treats its employees. I am reposting it here because many people probably missed it, and county residents need to know about the poor management of county under our current county commissioners.
The domestic media has been quiet about the fact that the Republican Party’s candidate for U.S. president, Donald J. Trump, has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed on September 30, 2016 for rape of a child. The plaintiff originally filed her case in June, 2016, but pulled it and then re-filed on September 30, 2016. The victim says she was 13 years old when Trump violently raped her at a Manhattan party in 1994. The woman pulled her original suit after filing it herself, without the help of attorney, and making errors in the filing. She has since refiled her case with the help of Florida attorney J. Cheney Mason, who served as co-counsel in the successful defense of Casey Anthony, the woman who was acquitted in 2011 of murdering her two year old daughter, Caylee Anthony, after the child’s disappearance in 2008.
The lawsuit names Trump and a friend of Trump’s, Jeffrey E. Epstein, who is a registered sex offender. The Florida sex offender registry describes Epstein’s crime as “procuring a person under age of 18 for prostitution.”
It is unprecedented for a candidate for U.S. president to face a rape a lawsuit during the course of a campaign.
This guide offers AnneLandmanBlog’s opinion on how to vote on candidates and issues in the November 8, 2016 election.
A discussion of the issues follows the recommendations.
President/Vice President: Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine
U.S. Senate: Michael Bennet
Representative to U.S. Congress District 3: Gail Schwartz
Western slope Republicans constantly point to a “war on coal” or a “war” on drilling and fracking as the cause of massive job loss. They scapegoat western slope residents who are concerned about degradation of the environment and global climate change, while clinging to tired, predictable responses like boosting extractive energy industries that are technologically on the way out.
Republicans’ hand-wringing and finger-pointing reveals their narrow view of what is happening in our world.
Blaming Obama and environmentalists for job loss is like looking at the Grand Canyon through a toilet paper tube and saying you know everything about what’s there.
A June 27, 2016 article on this site discussed how Mesa County turns away almost half of eligible applicants who go to the local Department of Human Services to apply for food stamps. This unused assistance leaves millions of dollars on the table that not only could help more needy county residents buy food for their families, but that would also boost the local economy by pumping millions more dollars of revenue into local grocery stores.
Half of Mesa County residents who are eligible for food stamps get them, while the other half who apply are routinely turned away.
Rose Pugliese, the Mesa County Commissioner who leads the Department of Human Services (DHS) commission in charge of managing food stamp programs in Mesa County, has picked nasty public fights with county DHS management (video) and follows her predecessor, Janet Rowland, in trying to restrict Mesa County residents from participating in federal food assistance programs.
The Mesa County Democratic Party became the party of “Yes” today when it came to allowing recreational marijuana commerce in Mesa County.
At their assembly at Central High School auditorium, Democratic Party delegates voted by an overwhelming majority to amend the party’s platform to back ending the ban on recreational marijuana sales and cultivation into the County.
The current Board of Mesa County Commissioners have banned marijuana commerce, sending cash-carrying tourists and area residents seeking legal weed up-valley to DeBeque, Parachute, Silt and Glenwood Springs, to purchase legal pot.
Democrats in favor of the measure cited the economic benefits much of the rest of the state is enjoying from sales taxes on marijuana, the tourism and job creation Mesa County is missing out on, and the lives unnecessarily ruined by the criminalization of marijuana, which is now widely accepted to be a failed strategy. Opponents cited the fact that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, but those in favor countered that the federal government is no longer actively enforcing marijuana laws in Colorado and other states that have legalized it.
Dems: Change McInnis Canyons back to “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area”
In another notable amendment to their platform, Mesa County Dems also voted to support reverting “McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area” back its original name, “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area.” The change would require an act of Congress. Speakers in favor (and all speakers were in favor) noted that the idea to change the area’s name did not originate from Colorado’s representatives or from any Colorado citizens. Also, in order to pass the name change, a handful of House representatives suspended a Congressional House Rule that prohibits sitting members of Congress from naming public works and lands after themselves. Supporters also cited the fact that national conservation areas are always named after the geological features that make them unique, and not after people. Others took exception to former Congressman Scott McInnis’ opposition to land conservation locally, and his 2010 plagiarism scandal as making him unfit to have the area named after him.
The vote to revert the name was unanimous, without a single dissenter among the approximately 150 delegates at the assembly.
Also by another unanimous vote, Mesa County Democrats backed adding a 5-10 cent deposit on bottles and cans locally to encourage recycling, help clean up litter around the county and provide a source of income for homeless people.
Districts 1 & 3 Commissioner Candidates Accept Nominations, Promise Economic Benefits
Palisade Mayor Pro Tem Dave Edwards formally accepted at nomination to run for District 3 County Commissioner. The District includes eastern Mesa County, Palisade, Orchard Mesa, DeBeque). The seat is currently held by incumbent Rose Pugliese, an attorney who is currently mired in a malpractice lawsuit and facing legal sanctions, and who openly opposes wilderness areas.
Fruita City Councilman Mel Mulder accepted the nomination to run for County Commissioner in District 1 (western Mesa County, Fruita, Mack, Loma and Glade Park) to replace incumbent Commissioner John Justman, who last year took a controversial $2,500 trip to Hawaii on the taxpayers’ dime, and who holds anti-federal government views while also accepting over $200,000 in federal agricultural subsidies for his own farm.
Both candidates vowed to start working on turning around Mesa County’s failing economy as soon as they are elected. Since the County Commission consists of only three members, they pointed out, electing both of them at once would allow them to start initiating quick changes for the better as the two would be a majority on the county commission.
Dems enjoyed the morning, and each other’s company, snacking on union-made doughnuts from Safeway and locally brewed coffee from Traders’ Coffee at 7th and Patterson Road as they organized to move forward stronger than ever before.
Two intelligent, hard-working and civic-minded citizens, Mel Mulder and Dave Edwards, today announced they are entering the 2016 race for County Commissioner to replace incumbents in District 1 and District 3, respectively. Mulder is challenging District 1 incumbent John Justman and Edwards intends to replace incumbent Rose Pugliese.