Tag: Economics

Saying “No” to the Events Center Doesn’t Mean You’re Saying “No” to Grand Junction

Table tent-style ad for a real event coming to an existing venue in Grand Junction this May

The events center promoters call their group “Say Yes for Grand Junction,” but a “no” vote on the proposed events center doesn’t mean you are saying “no” to Grand Junction as a whole. Far from it.

Grand Junction residents aren’t shallow or selfish. They put a lot of thought into their votes, and there’s a lot to consider with this measure, particularly given Grand Junction’s dire financial position and long list of other needs.

Promoters say the events center, known as Measure 2A on the citywide ballot, will cost $65 million to build, but their own press release and the wording of the ballot measure both say that, including the financing costs over its proposed 30 year term, the total cost to taxpayers for the event center will actually come to $134 million. Fully half that amount is interest the City will have to pay on the loan needed to finance the project. That’s twice the amount we’ve been told about in promotions for the project, and while it’s the more realistic total estimated cost of the project, it’s not the figure event center promoters have been touting.

Also, voters need to consider other information about this project that isn’t being volunteered by promoters, like the potential long term risks of the project.

Event Center Promos Mislead; Proposed Events are Costly

John Legend Table Tent

A quick glance at this tabletop promo for Measure 2A makes it look like John Legend is already booked in town, if only we had an events center. That’s not the case.

If you’ve eaten out lately, you may have seen table tents displayed at downtown restaurants promoting Measure 2A on the city ballot this coming April. The measure asks city residents to approve increasing the City’s sales tax by a quarter cent to fund a $60 million downtown events center.

But beware, these promos strive to deceive.

What is the Mesa County Federal Mineral Lease District, and Why Should We Care About it?

A guest post by Janet Johnson

Mesa County’s Federal Mineral Lease District is a huge slush fund that’s supposed to go towards helping areas of the county negatively affected by the oil and gas industry. But instead, most of the money has been getting funneled to Colorado Mesa University and projects that benefit the oil and gas industry itself.

On February 6, Colorado House Representative Yeulin Willett introduced HB-1152 in the Colorado legislature, a bill titled “Federal Mineral Lease District (FMLD) Investment Authority.” The bill certainly does “open an important conversation,” as the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel suggested in its February 2, 2017 op-ed on the subject.

Willett’s bill seeks to give counties “investment authority,” which would allow them to withhold some of the money the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) gives to Federal Mineral Lease Districts and invest it in a permanent fund. This request for and composition of the bill originated with the Mesa County FMLD. The other counties in Colorado that have Federal Mineral Lease Districts are Garfield and Weld County.

Putting Grand Junction’s Costco Rumors to Rest

Costco Warehouse Store – Sam’s Club is the major obstacle to Grand Junction getting a Costco

For years western slope residents have been hoping and wishing that a Costco warehouse store would open in Grand Junction.

Around 2010, rumors started circulating that Costco was considering locating a new store in Grand Junction. People even started proposing possible locations for the new store in the Daily Sentinel’s letters-to-the-editor column.

But Costco never came to Grand Junction, and to this day rumors continue to abound about why the area was passed up.

People blamed the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce for chasing Costco away, saying the Chamber wanted to keep the wage scale low here, and Costco would upend our area’s low-wage apple cart. Costco is known for it’s generous wage and benefits packages, paying a starting salary of around $17/hour, or $45,000/year, and offering employees medical insurance, retirement and more.

Others claim Costco rejected Grand Junction because of our notoriously underfunded District 51 schools. 

None of these are true.

Cattle Left to Fend for Themselves on Public Lands

Desperately thirsty cattle on BLM land clamber down into the Grand Valley Canal and break the ice on the few remaining puddles to get water.

Western cattle ranchers often rail against federal government control of public lands, but aren’t averse to taking taxpayer-funded handouts whenever they can get them. Indeed, even famously insurgent Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy took help from a taxpayer-funded public defender after being arrested on 16 charges of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States.

Survey: G.J. Chamber Members Don’t Support the Chamber’s Political Meddling

The G.J. Chamber gets unfavorable reviews from members on its political involvement

The G.J. Chamber gets unfavorable reviews from members on its political involvement

The website of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce says “We take the lead in shaping laws that affect business on the western slope,” but according to a new chamber survey, only a tiny fraction of its members seem to think the chamber should be meddling in government affairs at all.

On October 12, the chamber sent out a survey to its approximately 1,500 member businesses. Only 15 percent of its members responded to it.

One question on the survey asked whether “being the voice of business with government” should be a priority for the chamber. Only 39 percent of the small percentage of business owners who responded said “yes,” showing very few chamber members think the chamber should meddle in government at all. What’s more, fewer than half the respondents (48%) thought the chamber’s Government Affairs committee was even beneficial. According to the survey, only 67 of the chamber’s estimated total 1,500 member businesses said they joined the chamber “to have a stronger voice with government.” When asked about the most important issue business owners face today, not even 5 percent answered that the political environment was important to them.

Focus on the Bright Spots in the Election

sunrise-sunset-sun-calculatorHalf the country woke up this morning despondent, demoralized and in utter dread of what a Trump presidency will mean to this country. We’ve never had a president before who confessed on video to sexually assaulting women and who is endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. We’re about to find out what that’s like, but everyone — including conservatives — might end up being surprised by what Trump will actually do while he’s in office, since he earned a 76 to a 91% lie rate for everything he said while on the campaign trail. The New York Times even dubbed him “Lord of the Lies.” If it was the right wing’s goal to throw a molotov cocktail into the government of the country they supposedly love so much, then they succeeded.

Want to See Marijuana Commerce Back in Grand Junction? Sign the Petition for a Ballot Measure

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-7-47-02-pmWant to see retail marijuana back in Grand Junction?

Well, so do a lot of other people.

The nonprofit group GJCAN (for “Cannabis Access Now”) is circulating an official petition to get retail marijuana back in the City of Grand Junction. GJCAN is comprised of people who owned the former medical marijuana shops that the City shut down in 2011, as well as caregivers, agriculture suppliers, agricultural students and others who just want to see some much-needed economic growth finally come to Grand Junction.

GJCAN hired an attorney to help them draft the proposed ordinance and the group met with the City Attorney and City Clerk when  formulating the ordinance to assure they were doing everything correctly. GJCAN currently has about 50 people circulating petitions city wide.

G. J. Chamber “Hasn’t Even Considered” Marijuana as a Way to Boost the Local Economy

CLUELESS - Diane Schwenke attending a meeting at Main Street Bagels this morning

Diane Schwenke attending a meeting at Main Street Bagels this morning

Diane Schwenke, the CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said at a meeting at Main Street Bagels this morning that the chamber’s board hasn’t even discussed or considered the possibility of bringing retail marijuana commerce to Grand Junction as a way to boost the local economy.

Schwenke made the statement after being asked about the chamber’s position on retail marijuana, which over the last two years has proven to be one of the biggest economic drivers in elsewhere in the state.

What’s Really Going On Inside Mesa County Government? Here’s a Hint: It’s Pretty Bad.

Rose Pugliese, one of the sitting county commissioners responsible for ongoing discontent among County employees

Rose Pugliese, one of the sitting county commissioners responsible for a high level of discontent among Mesa County employees

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.

Hundreds of Business Owners Go Public with Support for Amendment 70, the Minimum Wage Increase

illegal_petes

The owner of Illegal Pete’s, a Colorado-based restaurant chain with 8 stores, reports that after raising wages, employee turnover dropped markedly. The owner credits his employees with making his business one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the country.

Business owners across the state are lining up to support Amendment 70, which would raise Colorado’s minimum wage to $12.00 and hour by 2020. Many of these owners voluntarily raised their own employees’ wages and are telling the public about the impacts it has had on their businesses.

They report positive economic results that directly contradict the predictions advanced by groups opposing the measure, like the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

Grand Junction Chamber Drops its Longstanding Support for Scott Tipton

House Rep. Scott Tipton (R), formerly a favorite of the tea-party leaning Grand Junction Area Chamber, has failed to win the chamber's endorsement for re-election this year

House Rep. Scott Tipton (R), formerly a favorite of the tea-party leaning Grand Junction Area Chamber, has failed to win the chamber’s endorsement for re-election this year

In a subtle but stunning rebuke, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce has quietly declined to endorse Scott Tipton (R) in his bid this year to win re-election as Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District’s House Representative. In its 2016 Voter Guide (PDF), the chamber endorses candidates in other races, but for the first time it does not endorse Tipton.

The chamber has endorsed Tipton ever since he first ran for Congress in 2010, and maintained its support of the tea party favorite throughout the years, until now.

This year, no endorsement. Zero. Zip.

Why We Need to Question the Chamber’s “Experts”

Diane Schwenke of the Grand Junction Chamber quotes a statistic by Erc Fruits, a freelance, pay-for-play economic consultant who works out of his home in Portland, Oregon, producing reports that meet the needs of his paymasters

Diane Schwenke of the Grand Junction Chamber quotes a statistic by Eric Fruits, a freelance, pay-for-play economic consultant who works out of his home in Portland, Oregon, producing reports that meet the needs of his paymasters

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce is working hard to defeat Amendment 70, which would raise Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 and hour by 2020. Part of its opposition involves chamber president Diane Schwenke running TV ads against the measure in which the chamber claims “90,000 Colorado jobs” would be lost if the measure passes.

Who is “Dr. Fruits”?

The chamber’s “90,000-jobs-lost” figure comes from “Eric Fruits,” of “Economics International Corps.” Fruits is a part time economic consultant who works out of his home and also works part time as an adjunct professor at Portland State University (PSU).

Adjunct professors, also called “contingent professors,” are not tenured. They are typically low-paid, part-time contract workers who rank below “assistant” and “associate” professors. Adjuncts typically don’t receive any health insurance or other benefits through their workplace and are often paid less than pet sitters.

Western Slope Workers’ Public Enemy #1: The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Department of Labor says that in 2014, the Wall Street bonus pool was roughly twice as much as all minimum wage workers' pay

The U.S. Department of Labor says that in 2014, the Wall Street bonus pool was roughly twice as much as all U.S. minimum wage workers’ pay combined

On August 1, 2016 the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce announced its opposition to a ballot initiative to raise Colorado’s minimum wage to $12/hour. The main reason the chamber gives for opposing the higher wage is a claim by Economics International Corporation — a company located in Portland, Oregon — that raising the minimum wage in Colorado will put 90,000 Coloradans out of work, mostly younger people.

Consider the Source

So who is “Economics International Corporation”?

It is a one person consultancy run by a man named Eric Fruits, who hires himself out as an expert witness in economics and statistics. The official registered business location of Economics International Corporation is “4318 NE Royal Court, Portland, Oregon 97213,” a four bedroom, three bathroom home. Fruits is the sole registered officer, agent, president and secretary of the corporation.

Economics International Corp headquarters

The official registered headquarters of the Chamber’s expert on Colorado economic issues, is this 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house in Portland, Oregon

Fruits specializes in “litigation support” for businesses, meaning he hires himself out to say whatever his paymasters need him to say, much like independent scientists did for the tobacco industry in the 1970s-1990s.

WCAF to Award $4,325 to Student Who Exposed Christian Proselytizing in Delta Public Schools

Cidney Fisk of Delta, Colorado

Cidney Fisk of Delta, Colorado

On Monday, August 15, 2016 Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) will award a $4,325 college scholarship to Cidney Fisk, the newly-graduated Delta High School student who exposed the pervasive Christian proselytizing in Delta County’s public schools. WCAF will hand over the check to Cidney at noon in front of Delta High School in Delta, Colorado.

Cidney is an award-winning, A+ student who excelled in speech and debate, but was punished for her opinions about the school.

The scholarship is WCAF’s largest to date. The group gave a $1,000 gift to the Mesa County Public Library Foundation in July of 2013 to help with construction of the new downtown Central Library, and in spring, 2016 donated $100 to Delta Middle School to help with minor repairs in the girls’ and boys’ restrooms in the school’s cafeteria.

Cidney graduated from Delta High School last May and was outspoken about the school bringing in Christian-based speaker Shelly Donahue, who gave an abstinence-only-before-marriage talk to students. This talk was nominally secular, but contained crucifixes in all the slides and Donahue told the students that having premarital sex “puts

A slide from Shelly Donahue's "WAIT" program shown at Delta High School in October, 2015, containing Christian crosses (crucifixes)

A slide from Shelly Donahue’s “WAIT” program shown at Delta High School in October, 2015, containing Christian crosses (crucifixes)

them further from God.” This talk the only “sex ed” most DHS students ever received from the school district, but it contained none of the state-required information about contraceptives, sexually-transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS or other information the state says public schools must give students if districts choose to teach sex education.

Looking to Spend Your Cash on Legal Weed? Don’t Stop in G.J.!

Billboard on I-70 at the 22 Road entrance to Grand Junction. Got cash for pot? Then drive on through to Parachute!

Billboard on I-70 at the 22 Road entrance to Grand Junction. Got cash for pot? Then stay in the car and keep driving on through to Parachute!

Travelers on I-70 coming into Colorado and looking to spend their cash on legal marijuana see this billboard at the entrance to Grand Junction, urging them to bypass our town and go spend their money in Parachute instead.

And rightly so.

Why Western Slope Republicans are Useless Anachronisms

Colorado House Rep. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) continues to promote drilling for methane gas -- the most potent greenhouse gas -- as an "incredibly clean fossil fuel" that "reduces emissions."

Colorado House Rep. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) continues to promote drilling for methane gas — the most potent greenhouse gas — as an “incredibly clean fossil fuel” that “reduces emissions.”

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.

New Group Offers Businesses a Less Costly Networking Alternative

NetworkNowLocal business owners no longer have to pay the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce’s high membership fees if all they really want is a convenient and inexpensive way to network regularly with other businesses.  Network Now is a new Grand Junction business networking group not affiliated with the troubled G.J. Chamber that meets every other Wednesday from 8:30-9:30 a.m. in the ReMax 4000 meeting room at 120 W. Park Drive, Grand Junction, at Patterson Road and First Street. The next meeting is next Wednesday, April 20, 2016. For more info call Jill at 970. 270.7958