Two days after Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke made her May 5 Facebook post insulting atheists, a YouTube video shows her speaking at a May 7 Mesa County Republican Women’s luncheon with life-sized cardboard cutout of Ronald Reagan beside her. About 8 1/2 minutes into the 22 minute video, Ms. Schwenke starts to talk about the City of Grand Junction’s withdrawal of it’s $6,000 annual membership in the Chamber. (Recall that the City withdrew its membership in the Chamber after the April election saying the Chamber had become too deeply involved in influencing local politics. The City pronounced it a conflict of interest to fund a group that is dedicated to influencing City politics.) The crowd tittered as Ms. Schwenke trivialized the $6,000 loss, saying since her budget is over $600,000, and the City’s membership represented a mere “one percent or less” of her overall operating budget. Schwenke discussed how the story of the City yanking its Chamber funding had made her a star. “KKCO managed to get the story on the AP wire and the story made the Columbus, Indiana television station,” Schwenke said. “I had one of my peers in California ask me if I would do a presentation about what it’s like to stand up to the city and have your funding cut. We aren’t funded by the government,” she emphasized, yet in the same talk she thanked Mayor Sam Susuras and Council member Marty Chazen — both backed by the Chamber — for restoring her $6,000 in City funds immediately after they were sworn in. And despite the Chamber’s disastrous backing of Rick Brainard for Council — even after he was arrested just days after getting elected for assaulting his girlfriend badly enough to give her a black eye — Schwenke said, “We have elevated the need for qualified candidates …and I think that in and of itself is good for the community at large.”
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Richard Brainard, one of the newest members of Grand Junction, Colorado, City Council, was arrested early on the morning of April 6 on charges of third-degree assault and harassment after he allegedly got into a physical altercation with his live-in girlfriend. Brainard was just elected to City Council last Tuesday, April 2. Brainard’s girlfriend, Cindy Franzen, told police she dated Brainard for eight months and moved in with him last November. She said a physical altercation occurred in the bedroom, over text messages Brainard received on his phone from his former girlfriend. Franzen says Brainard pushed her into a dresser several times and pulled her hair, and grabbed her face and arms. She said Brainard later hit her in the face with what she believes was an open hand. It is unclear what the alleged incident means for his membership on Grand Junction City Council. He is Vice President of business development for West Star Aviation, Inc., in Grand Junction, and belongs to the G.J. Chamber of Commerce Board. He was also endorsed by the Grand Junction newspaper, the Daily Sentinel.
Main Source: KREX-TV, Grand Junction, April 6, 2013