The Agency of the Irresponsible

The following commentary on how Colorado Mesa University (CMU) is handling the coronavirus pandemic was written by CMU History Professor Sarah Swedberg, who is now experiencing CMU’s policies in person. This article was originally published on Nursing Clio, an open-access, peer-reviewed, collaborative blog that ties historical scholarship to present-day issues related to gender and medicine. The article is reprinted here with full permission from Dr. Swedberg.

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Like many faculty at state universities, the beginning of this school year brings me more terror than excitement. Colorado Mesa University (CMU), the institution at which I have taught since 1999, will require neither masks nor vaccines for students, and faculty cannot enforce mask mandates in the classrooms. This flies in the face of best practices for public health. When I asked the reason for this policy, I was told that there were strong feelings on both sides.

“Strong feelings” is clearly code for the fact that CMU is in a politically conservative region where there is strong resistance to both vaccination and masks. These words remind us that public health measures have always been politicized. Because I teach about HIV and AIDS and because I was a young adult in the 1980s, it is that pandemic that is foremost in my mind as I try to negotiate my own and my students’ safety.

Secretary of State lawsuit against Mesa County Clerk also names Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley

Belinda Knisley is described in the SOS lawsuit as “absent and/or unable to perform her duties,” like Tina Peters

The text of the Secretary of State’s lawsuit against Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters (pdf) essentially says Deputy Clerk and Recorder Belinda Knisley lied to State employees with Tina Peters’ knowledge when she told them a non-employee County Elections staff allowed to access voting equipment last May was a County employee, when in fact he was not, and had never been a County employee. Knisley, described in the suit as a “possible successor” to Tina Peters in the Elections Department, is specifically named as a Respondent in the suit in addition to Peters.

Secretary of State pursuing ethics complaint against Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters

Trump supporter, election conspiracy theorist and Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters is under criminal investigation by three agencies for allegedly compromising voting equipment.

At least one ethics complaint submitted to the State of Colorado about Mesa County’s crazy Clerk Tina Peters is starting to bear fruit.

Luis Lipchak, the Secretary of State’s Campaign Finance Enforcement Manager, determined that a complaint by Mesa County resident Scott Bielfuss (pdf) alleging that Peters violated campaign finance laws has merit and their office has decided to pursue it.

Bielfuss alleged that Peters “flew up to Mr Pillows cybers-symposium on a private plane provided to her and is staying as a guest of the Pillow foundation in clear violation of accepting gift laws. Complainant [Bielfuss] alleges that by engaging in the aforementioned activities, Respondent [Peters] failed to report contributions or expenditures associated with said activities and accepted gifts over allowed amounts.”

CO SOS files suit to remove Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters as Designated Election Official

The Colorado Secretary of State filed a suit asking a judge to legally remove Tina Peters as Mesa County’s Designated Elections Official, saying she is unfit for the position.

Colorado Secretary of State (SOS) Jena Griswold filed a lawsuit today asking a judge to remove Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters as Designated Election Official (DEO) for the county. The suit asks for Wayne Williams to be appointed as the DEO and Sheila Reiner be appointed Director of Elections for Mesa County. Sheila will apparently replace Brandi Bantz, who was Director of Elections for Mesa County according to her LinkedIn page. Bantz was the fourth Director of Elections Peters hired during her tenure.

A press release said the SOS was acting quickly because time is short before the November elections. It also said that the  legal action “is necessary because although the Secretary of State’s Office can require supervision of a county clerk’s conduct, it cannot remove a sitting county clerk from acting as the Designated Election Official.” The suit asks a judge to remove Peters.

County Commissioners do about-face on pot with referred ballot measures

Mesa County may finally be recognizing that Colorado’s new cannabis economy has brought big benefits to towns and counties that have embraced it.

Item #8 on the Mesa County Commissioners’ agenda today is a proposal to refer a measure to the countywide ballot a measure that will give voters a choice to “override” a 2013 ordinance (pdf) that prohibited the cultivation, manufacture, testing and retail sales of cannabis in the unincorporated county, and instead ALLOW such activity.

Agenda Item #9 will refer a related measure to the ballot that would let the County charge an excise tax on the sale or transfer of “unprocessed retail marijuana.”

The measures represent a 180 degree turn from where the county was 8 years ago, and appears to be an effort to start grabbing some of the cash the cannabis industry has been generating throughout the state, that Mesa County has lost out on for so long.

Taxpayers pay increasing bills for Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters’ loony behavior

Wayne Williams, via Wikipedia, photo By Jeffrey Beall – Own work, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72780852

Item #7 on the agenda at the Mesa County Commissioners’ meeting tomorrow (Monday, August 30) at 9:00a.m., is signing a contract, (pdf) drafted by former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams himself, that will officially make Williams Mesa County’s Designated Election Official (“DEO”) for the November 2021 coordinated election for the County. The contract says Williams will get a salary of $180/hour, discounted from his normal rate of $400/hour, and Mesa County will pay any non-lawyer assistants Williams taps from his law firm for help at the rate of $50/hour. The County will also pay Williams’ travel expenses to and from his home in Colorado Springs.

There is no stated maximum expense Mesa County will incur from retaining Williams for this position. Rather, the contract states the expense can be unlimited:

“Any estimate of fees and costs that we may have discussed is only an estimate, and is not an agreement to a fixed or maximum fee. Accordingly, we have made no commitment concerning the maximum fees and costs that will be necessary to resolve or complete this matter.”

Mesa County Commissioners approve extended contract with Dominion Voting Systems

Commissioner Janet Rowland gives angry audience a dose of reality, and votes to do the right thing

Screen shot of Zoom of today’s meeting, with chat box, while County Commissioner Scott McInnis was speaking. He was wearing a pink shirt.

The Mesa County Commissioners voted unanimously this afternoon to extend the County’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems so they could get new voting equipment for no up-front cost from Dominion. The Commissioners voted to maintain the County’s contract with the company until 2029, and agreed to make progressively higher payments to the company throughout that time. The County needed new voting equipment to replace the equipment decertified by the Colorado Secretary of State because Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters was unable to prove the equipment had been kept secure and had not been compromised.

CMU to host another superspreader event on 8/27

As if holding one massive superspreader event to kick off Colorado Mesa University’s fall ’21 semester wasn’t enough of a public health threat to students and the community, in today’s Daily Sentinel, CMU is advertising another big event on August 27th to be held inside the Meyer Ballroom in the University Center that involves eating, dancing and drinking alcohol.

The ad does not mention any coronavirus precautions being used at the event, like proof of a negative Covid-19 test, proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid-19, or masks or physical distancing.

Have you seen this woman?

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters fled the state with My Pillow Guy and election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell, and is currently on the run from multiple criminal investigations into her alleged actions to compromise election security in Mesa County.

Mesa County residents freaked out by CMU’s semester-kickoff superspreader event

CMU’s held its freshman orientation semester kickoff event in an indoor gym without taking any coronavirus precautions, like masking or physical distancing.

 

No masks, no physical distancing, lots of open-mouths and yelling among the younger crowd, the age range currently being most infected with the more dangerous delta variant of Covid-19

Mesa County residents are horrified by photos Colorado Mesa University (CMU) gleefully posted on it’s Facebook page yesterday showing the school held a jam-packed, high-energy indoor semester-kickoff event without taking any coronavirus precautions.