Tag: Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce linked to racist comments at City Council meeting

 

Michael P. Anton, Chamber member and owner of Emtech, Inc.

Grand Junction citizens who attended the August 5, 2020 City Council meeting to promote racial justice and propose solutions were met with openly racist comments from Michael Anton, a local business owner and representative of the Western Colorado Business Alliance (WCBA), a subgroup the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber formed WCBA in 2012 to serve as the Chamber’s lobbying and political arm. WCBA is a 501-c-4 “dark money” group, so-called because it does not disclose its donors, but according to 2012 article in the Business Times, WCBA is funded by local business owners. In 2013, an anonymous former Grand Junction mayor told AnneLandmanBlog that WCBA was initially financed with a $50,000 donation from Doug Simons, owner of Enstrom Candies.

The social justice groups Right and Wrong (RAW) Grand Junction and Black Lives Matter (BLM) Grand Junction invited citizens who have felt discrimination locally to join them in an “Oppressed People’s March” to the Grand Junction City Council meeting at City Hall Wednesday evening to propose policies for Council to consider that would benefit minorities, like incentives for minority business owners and funding for the Latino Chamber of Commerce.

But in response to the groups’ presence at the meeting, WCBA member and local business owner Michael Anton made it clear that in his view, racial minorities were unwelcome in Grand Junction, stating in his public comments to Council:

“This RAW. This BLM. They need to go away. They’re not Grand Junction and you need to send them down the road because, believe me, there’s a lot more of me here in this valley than there is of you. I guarantee it and it will not be a pretty day if that comes forth.”

Shadowy Chamber “social welfare” group funds billboard thanking racially tone-deaf members of G.J. City Council “for their service”

The Chamber and WCBA’s billboard thanking the most tone-deaf city council members when it comes to racism in Grand Junction

The little-known, seedy political arm of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, the Western Colorado Business Alliance (WCBA), has appeared again in Grand Junction, this time funding a billboard praising four sitting Grand Junction City Council members who recently earned the reputation for being the most tone-deaf when it comes to racism: Philip Pe’a, Duke Wortmann, Phyllis Norris and Kraig Andrews.

Pe’a was the councilman who was so threatened by what he claimed was the presence of G.J. Police Department’s “swat team” at the June 3 Council meeting that he proclaimed he thought he might need to bring his Glock handgun into the meeting. That was the meeting that was attended by a crowd of City residents who showed up to protest pervasive racism they had seen or experienced in Grand Junction, or to support friends who had experienced it.

Grand Junction’s Police Chief later confirmed there were no SWAT team members at the meeting that day.

Oil and gas front group “Protect Colorado” pumps out frightening hype about Proposition 112

Firestone, CO home explosion from oil and gas lines, April, 2017, which killed two people who were in the house. Proposition 112 seeks to prevent against hazards like this posed by oil and gas operations being too close to homes, schools, playgrounds, hospitals, etc.. (Photo: CBS)

At election time we’re always told the same old thing from wealthy business interests: “Ballot measure X is going to wreck our state! Ballot measure X will crush our businesses and cost hard working Coloradans thousands of jobs! Vote NO on Ballot Measure X!”

Now they’re doing the same thing with Proposition 112.

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.

G.J. Chamber Ignores the Single Biggest Business Issue Around: the Government Shutdown

MIAlogoThe Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce took the time to endorse school board candidates in a what is supposed to be a nonpartisan race, but hasn’t publicly advocated against the single biggest issue hurting businesses large and small in western Colorado right now: the government shutdown. The Colorado National Monument is closed, negatively impacting tourism and hospitality businesses. Major events scheduled to be held on BLM land have been canceled. The shutdown is hurting the local real estate industry, federal employees are furloughed, disabled veterans are preparing to lose their benefits, women on the WIC program are facing a loss of funding to feed their infants and news story after local news story has been covering the pain the shutdown is causing local businesses. But where is the Chamber on this issue? Have they contacted their House Representative to demand an end to the shutdown? They haven’t said. Have they issued a position statement on it? Not that anyone has heard. Their October newsletter doesn’t even mention the shutdown. No press releases, no news alerts, no advocacy to stop it. Why is the Chamber MIA on the government shutdown? Could it be another indicator that the Chamber is, in fact, a partisan political group rather than a pro-business group?