About Ckonola

Retired banker, community and economic developer. Born in Deadwood, but raised in Colorado.

Reflections on Visiting a Legal Pot Shop

I wrote this in 2014. Given that it is Thanksgiving week-end again, I thought I’d share. I do love Colorado!

I LOVE Colorado. One of the things I missed while running for office was getting out of town. Today I decided to drive to Glenwood–it is a nice drive, about 180 miles round trip, and the highways are good. I crank the stereo up and enjoy the music and scenery I love.
When I got to Glenwood, I considered just continuing up the highway to Aspen, but then I remembered I had Jackson with me and he probably wouldn’t like starving, so I decided to turn around and go back home. And what was right there next door to the Auto Zone parking lot that I was aiming for? A shop called “greenworkz.” Yep, right there on the road to Aspen is a retail pot shop. Of course I stopped. First Jackson stretched his legs a little in a tour of the parking lot, where he did leave some yellow snow. And then I went into my first legal pot shop. I never imagined it would happen in my lifetime, but there I was.
Colorado is kind of quirky in many ways. If I remember correctly, we were one of the first states in the nation to legalize abortion. And now we are one of the first states in the nation to legalize pot. One of the first female bank presidents was the president of a bank for women, which was highly successful. And yet, we elect every kind of whackadoodle in the book when it comes to local, state, and national government.
So, the entrance to the pot shop is sloped like a handicapped ramp, but I’m not sure I’d want to use it in winter, unless it is always well shoveled. No handrails. There is a very charming young woman who greets you at the door, asks to see your ID (yes, even the ID of a 66 year old woman.) and directs you around the corner and into the shop, while mentioning that there is an ATM by the door and all sales are cash only. Walking up the stairs into the shop, one can’t miss the dazzling display of hookahs in a glass case.
Entering the shop space, one is immediately struck by how white and clean everything looks. The shop is brightly lit, with a frame of glass display shelves, surrounding a work space, surrounding a product storage space, which is painted an appealing grey. It reminded me of perfume counters in upscale department stores. There are drinks, inhalers, cookies, brownies, lemon drops, tinctures, pipes, eye drops, all displayed on the glass shelves. And jars of pot, with exotic names and brand new descriptive words. It was like suddenly being transported to a foreign place, where one does not know the local language.
There were two sales clerks, both young men, who were polite to everyone, but having a bit of a problem giving everyone attention. It seems there were a lot of tourists who were as interested as I in seeing what a pot shop looked and felt like. Tourists need guides and translators. Remember, Aspen is just up the road.
Eventually I decided on the deal being offered to all “locals.” There is a sign on the counter that defines “locals” by listing places they might live. Yep, Grand Junction is on the list. Right next to that sign was an offer of an Eighth for $35 for locals. After getting a translation, the decision of what to buy was made easy. I mean, what woman doesn’t like a good bargain, and nothing else was on sale.
The young man, while weighing out my purchase, explained that after all of his years of smoking pot, he just goes to hash when he smokes these days. By then I was too intimidated to ask if they sold hash too, but I did see a jar that was named LSD, so I guess anything is possible. After careful weighing, the pot found itself sealed in a black plastic container with a childproof lid, and then sealed once again in a white plastic “purse” with a childproof zipper. Evidently the “purse” is a state regulation, and one is encouraged to save it for future purchases. My purse was $35 lighter.
On the way home we passed a well that was being fracked. It was on the North side of the interstate, up gradient from the river. Lots and lots of red and blue trucks and men dressed in red jumpsuits–guess they wanted to be sure to be seen. Something was kicking up a plume of dust. It is hard to get a lot of detail when viewing from a vehicle traveling at 75 miles per hour.
After following the river through DeBeque Canyon and into Palisade, we stopped at the little Palisade grocery store where I bought some currants and apple juice. The currants are just in case I get motivated to bake some Saffron Bread. The apple juice is for my guests tomorrow–no worries it is organic.
Happy Thanksgiving from Colorful Colorado!

Coram is Not the Savior of Democracy

I’ve been following Marina Zimmerman for quite some time. I have noticed that most publications have ignored her candidacy. That is somewhat understandable, since she is a new face on the scene and has not previously run for any office. I even saw the Big Line on this Blog-Space begging for Don Coram to jump into the race for CD3.

Don Coram is not the savior of democracy. Him entering the race certainly complicates things for Zimmerman, but nobody should be thinking that he is going to be the best Representative for CD3.

He has two things against him: 1) He owns coal mines that he promised to clean up in 2013, but no clean up has been completed and they are still polluting western Colorado; and 2) He was quoted in the Montrose paper just yesterday as saying, relative to January 6, “I think it was embarrassing. It was a radical fringe group on both sides that were there, and what ended up were emotions out of the way and all hell broke loose. That’s under scrutiny right now.”

To be fair, I sit on the board of Colorado West Pride, and we honored Coram as an Ally a couple of years ago. He has a Gay son who owns coffee shops in Grand Junction. At this year’s Pride Fest, Marina Zimmerman set up a booth and was well received by the local LGBTQ community. Don Coram was not there.

Most importantly, there are NOT two sides to the story of January 6. A bunch of Trump supporters tried to overthrow the US Government. That is treason. I believe that we must use every tool in the box to protect our democracy, and one of them is using our vote to elect candidates who do not believe that there is “a radical fringe group on both sides” who showed up at the door of the House of Representatives with battering rams.

Marina Zimmerman is the only Republican candidate in CD3 saying that. In fact, on Twitter yesterday she came out swinging, highlighting Coram’s comments.

Dividing the GOP vote in the Primary is certainly problematic for democracy. In a district that already leans right, three candidates will split the vote, which in my opinion leaves the advantage to Lauren Boebert. Her supporters are true believers of the nonsense promoted by Q-Anon. They show up at rallies with Sherronna Bishop (Boebert’s former campaign chair), at County Commissioner meetings, at school board meetings repeating the same old “Stop the Steal” nonsense that Coram is validating with his “both sides” idiocy.

I’m a realist, so I know the odds are against Zimmerman because Don Coram is better known, at least in one part of CD3. I’m hoping that there will be debates of the three candidates so that the unaffiliated voter, of which I am just one, can see that we have a real choice in this race: democracy or authoritarianism.

Never Thought I’d Be Here

I’m in the middle of doing something I never thought I’d do. I’m actively supporting a Republican.

The demographics in CD3, as of November 1, per the Secretary of State’s Office are: Total Active Voters 503,742 (100%); Unaffiliated 208,141 (41.32%); Republican 156,336 (31.03%); Democrats 130,257 (25.86%). The Unaffiliated group is hardly homogeneous. When the Tea Party movement was strong, many Republicans switched their affiliation to Unaffiliated, including the current Chair of the Mesa County Republican Party. Many young people, disdainful of labels, did not affiliate with any party when registering to vote. I became unaffiliated when the local chair of the Mesa County Democrats told me to shut up and sit down because I was too liberal, something I haven’t been able to do since I first protested the VietNam war as a teen.

This district spans a geographic territory larger than some states, but includes two population centers: Pueblo and Grand Junction. Currently the Representative is Lauren Boebert, who won because of the support of people like Janet Rowland in Grand Junction. Without Grand Junction, Tipton would probably still be our Representative.

My semi-educated opinion is that Grand Junction will be the key to defeating Lauren Boebert in her bid for reelection. I have been asking my progressive friends to register as unaffiliated in order to vote in the GOP Primary. There are two compelling reasons to do so, vote for Marina Zimmerman and Bobbie Gross. (Gross is running against Tina Peters in the Primary.)

My strategy seems to be gaining some traction. There is now a group self named “Liberals for Marina” that is hosting a Meet-n-Greet for Marina Zimmerman on THURSDAY, JANUARY 13, 2022 AT 6:30 PM at The Art Center of Western CO 1803 N 7th St, Grand Junction, CO 81501. We are of the opinion that a sane Republican is a much safer bet than putting all of our eggs into the DEM Primary race, especially given the demographics of CD3.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Marina, who I first discovered on Twitter and have followed for quite some time. She is no liberal, but she is light years ahead of Lauren Boebert. Marina impressed a lot of us when she set up a booth at Grand Junction’s Pride Fest, and genuinely engaged with and listened to the issues of the LGBTQ community here. As an “Army Brat” (although I think her father was Air Force) she has lived all over the world, and has respect for cultural diversity. While working in a male dominated industry (she’s a crane operator) she advanced into management. At the same time she worked on getting an education in planning. Contrast that with Lauren Boebert, who only got a GED when she decided to run for office.

Marina had asthma as a child. She has no problem with public health. She had a Delta break-through case of Covid-19 and believes her vaccines saved her life. She is not anti-abortion, although she would prefer that no abortions happen after 17 weeks. I’m not sure what the 17 week cut-off means to her, but the gist of what she told me is that at some point it is irresponsible to keep delaying a decision. She does believe that there should be exceptions to any abortion restrictions, to include the health of the mother, an unviable fetus, incest.

My strategy: get as many people as possible to convert to unaffiliated and vote for sanity in the GOP Primary.

There are many good DEM candidates, and I understand the dilemma about which party’s primary to support. I’m willing to allow the party regulars to decide who their candidate should be. I will say that originally I had hoped for a Donovan/Zimmerman General Election. Since Donovan was written out of the district, my current choice is Donald Valdez in the DEM primary. The last DEM to hold that seat was John Salazar, a Latino farmer from the San Louis Valley. Sound like Donald Valdez!

We live in interesting times. Join me in some Good Trouble!

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The Crazy Runs Deep in Mesa County

Today Tina Peters held a press conference, which I attended. There were probably 50 people in attendance, of which a few were there to protest.

The presser was scheduled to coincide with the Board of County Commissioner’s regular meeting, on the steps of the building where the commissioners meet. (Odd time and place.) Some of us hoped she would be announcing her retirement, but alas she wanted to try her case in public. For the life of me, I cannot understand why her attorney (Scott Gessler) has not convinced her to just stay quiet.

Meeting organizers were aggressive about keeping people away from Tina. As an example when I started filming, a large man stood in front of me in order to block my view. My companion, Benita Phillips, asked a few questions loudly and a woman tried to silence her. When the woman kept grabbing Benita’s shoulder and telling her (rudely) to shut her mouth, Benita told her to keep her hands off.

The presser started with Sherronna Bishop introducing Tina. A man in the audience questioned why Ms Bishop was sowing division in Mesa County, since she lives in Garfield County. He was tall and had a large anti-Tina sign in his hands. He was immediately surrounded by the “enforcers.” As he tried to go around the men, a woman fell to the ground. She said she was pushed. He said he didn’t push her, but was just trying to get around the people blocking him.

The woman on the ground was the same woman who had been grabbing Benita’s shoulder. Since Benita is an RN, she immediately rushed to help. Her help was declined. It was Benita’s opinion that the woman was not hurt, based on her reaction to falling, things she said and looking at her eyes to see if they were clear. Benita was later interviewed by a police officer who was called to the scene to investigate an assault. Although an ambulance eventually was called, it never left with the woman.

As if all that wasn’t crazy enough, Tina then went on to accuse Charles Ashby, Lynn Bartels, Wayne Williams, and Sheila Reiner of conspiring against Tina, since the four are all “friends.” Sheila heard it all. She was standing right behind me at the event. Kudos to Sheila, she was calm and answered questions from concerned citizens after Ms Bishop identified her to the crowd.

Even better, according to Tina’s supporters, Janet Rowland, Cory Davis, and Scott McInnis are fake Republicans. I’d be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that these same supporters all voted for Rowland, Davis and McInnis.

So what do we have? A woman under investigation who continues to speak in public, making her defense problematic and a bunch of supporters who are willing to believe any conspiracy theory regardless of how nonsensical it sounds. Yep. The crazy runs deep in Mesa County.

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Unaffiliated Voters Unite

Some of my friends know that I have been supporting Marina Zimmerman who is running in a primary race against Lauren Boebert. What you may not know is that Lauren Boebert was invited to speak at Pride Fest, but her campaign declined. As soon as Marina was told about Pride Fest, she said she wanted to come. She had a booth, and came home (she was staying with me) after both days elated about what a great day it was. She expected to be somewhat shunned because she is a Republican, but found inclusion everywhere. Not real surprising because inclusion is one of her campaign themes. The Queens of a popular reality show “We’re Here” were filming at the event. They interviewed Marina, and ended with a group hug. They said they were glad to find a Republican who was intelligent and kind. There is more than one way to dump Boebert, who has already said that she will be running in CD3 regardless of where the new district boundries are. Marina lives near Durango, so every map has her in CD3. The Colorado GOP is voting on September 18 to decide if they will have a primary this year or skip it and only decide on candidates through caucuses. If they keep the Primaries, as is expected, unaffiliated voters can vote in the GOP races. There are two that should interest Mesa County voters… Bobbie Gross to replace Tina Peters and Marina Zimmerman to replace Lauren Boebert. I am an unaffiliated voter.

Let’s Dump Boebert

I met the Republican woman who is running against Lauren Boebert. In fact, I invited her to my home to meet with a local blogger and a retired nurse, who is also a “retired” Republican after 30 years of supporting the GOP.

I know it is odd for a liberal, as I am known to be, to be promoting a Republican candidate, but hear me out.

We still don’t know what the boundaries will be after redistricting. The preliminary map shows Republicans with a 10 point advantage. Any Republican running will have that advantage. The only Republican who has announced a primary run is Marina Zimmerman. Rumors are still circulating that Josh Penry will promote a Tim Foster run, but for the sake of this argument, let’s ignore that possibility.

Democracy requires choices. For those of us living in CD3, our choice for the past two election cycles has been a competent, educated female from a resort town or a Republican candidate. I’m pretty sure even Republicans were surprised when a novice candidate beat Scott Tipton in a primary. But that happened. Rural voters, who have been conditioned by oil and gas to believe the only way they will have jobs is to vote for the Republican, will continue to vote for the Republican.

The only avenue I see to Dump Boebert is for Unafilliated voters to vote against her in the primary. The demographics show that the unaffiliated voter will be the deciding vote. According to the Secretary of State’s data as of July 1, CD3 has 521,296 active voters, of which 163,914 are GOP, 136,127 are DEM, and 211,641 are not affiliated with any major political party.

For the record, I have long said that there needs to be more than one viable political party, I believe that issues are best solved when looked at from every angle. In theory we get that when there are competitors in a political race who are intelligent, educated, and thoughtful about the issues. Clearly Lauren Bobert is none of these things so how do we change the dynamic?

My dream political contest for CD3 would ulitmately be Kerry Donovan and Marina Zimmerman. They each bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table.

Donovan brings more experience and a good track record, but she’s another “competent, educated female from a resort town.” (For the record, I also had lunch with Donovan this week, and like her very much.) However, mysogyny runs strong among CD3 voters. It is my opinion that we got Boebert because the men in CD3 were thinking with their little heads instead of their big heads. There is anecdotal evidence of this. Friends who were election judges told stories of the number of men who went to actual polling places and commented that they only wanted to vote for Trump and Boebert.  Donovan is attractive but does not sexualize her campaign, nor does she walk around carrying a penis extender with lethal bullets.

Zimmerman brings connections to the working man, after years of being a heavy equipment operator working often in the oil and gas industry. She also has a degree in political science from Ft Lewis, and is working on a degree in planning. Zimmerman also brings that 10 point advantage Republicans own in the draft redistricting maps.

Since it is likely that the next Representative from CD3 will be a Republican, I’d prefer one with common sense, who is not anti-vax, who thinks Trump did more damage than good to our nation and who may also be able to bring national advertising and campaign money into her campaign.  Zimmerman has spoken with people like Bill Kristol and Michael Steele about her campaign. She believes they will help with fundraising, making the CD3 primary race one with a national focus and very expensive.

Despite Zimmerman being against abortions, one of my hot button issues, it is my plan to vote for her in the GOP primary. I hope that other unaffiliated voters will join me. She isn’t perfect, but she is head and shoulders above Boebert.

A race between Zimmerman and Donovan would be a race full of ideas. That’s what democracy should look like.

Please, help me Dump Boebert!

Colorado’s Red Flag Bill

The red flag bill has nothing to do with grabbing guns. It has to do with trying to reduce suicides and protecting people from domestic violence. I am quite familiar with both. My brother died by suicide. It upset my father so much that he absentmindedly poured acid in his shoe, while wearing it, and drove into a rock. As for domestic abuse: My sister phoned me late one night and said,”Help me, Jr is going to kill me.” I woke my sleeping husband, and told him to wake up because we were going to go get my sister. As we walked in the door, my brother-in-law punched him in the face. I yelled, “You, go sit outside. (pointing to my husband) and “You, go sit on the sofa. (pointing to my sister’s husband.) Then I grabbed my sister, and walked her out of the house. Previously, she had been hit in the face, requiring stitches in her lip. She had very bad taste in men, and kept marrying men that beat her. Two of them threatened to kill her, one with an automatic weapon, the other with a pistol. You explain to me why it wouldn’t have been better to be able to petition the court to take away the guns from any of those three men.

Dear Teachers for Kennedy Independent Expenditure Committee

I went to my mail box this afternoon and found your huge three-color mailer. It didn’t motivate me to vote for Cary Kennedy. It made me wonder why, in last night’s debate, she refused to call you out on misleading and negative ads.

The fact that Cary Kennedy, who promised a clean campaign, would not see how negative your mailer actually is, convinces me that she is NOT the right leader for Colorado. Leaders don’t profit off of lies and innuendo.

Jared Polis started a charter school. That is true. It was a school for immigrant children who needed a little help because of language and cultural barriers. Please explain to me how that “aligns him with conservatives” who want to separate mothers from their kids at the border and deport them all? Don’t bother. It doesn’t.

What bothers me most is you took things from 10 or more years ago to try to tell me that is how Jared Polis is thinking today or would govern tomorrow. I’ve read his plan for education, and honestly it makes more sense to me than anything that I’ve seen from Teachers for Kennedy.

What pissed me off the most is your comment “now he’s spending millions hoping you’ll forget it.” He is spending his own money on his campaign, that is true. But he isn’t hoping I’ll forget anything. I’ve met him on several occasions. I’ve asked him questions. He has always answered the questions candidly.

I can’t say that about Cary Kennedy, who seems to be clueless about the impacts of oil and gas development in Colorado, or the growing body of work that equates health issues in communities near that development with exposure to toxic chemicals in the air, soil and water.

I was supporting Jared Polis before I got your mailer. I always thought that Cary Kennedy would be a good second choice. Her acceptance of your support changes all of that. I will not vote for a person who accepts the support of salacious negative advertising. Yes, I know that she cannot coordinate with you. But she had the opportunity to condemn your ad in a debate and she refused to do so, just as she delayed talking to environmentalists in Longmont after she was endorsed by Anadarko Salazar. Sheesh. Even Frackenlooper said he was disappointed in that ad.

You blew it for your candidate. I do believe our actions define us. Your actions prove that you are nasty and irresponsible, and by extension that your candidate does not deserve my support. #JaredPolis4Gov#CaryKennedy4rehabilitation

This liberal Democrat Might Vote for a Republican

I attended Representative Dan Thurlow’s announcement of his run against Senator Ray Scott yesterday. For the record, I ran against Ray Scott and lost. I attended with Heidi Jeanne Hess, the former chair of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. 

The crowd at the announcement was small, but there were notable Republican leaders attending, including Kathy Hall (former County Commissioner and spokesperson for the oil and gas industry until she fell out of favor for drinking fracking fluid,) Tillie Biship (former state Senator and part of the original group that founded the Riverfront Commission, a man noted for his decency,) and Phyllis Norris (current Grand Junction City Councilwoman, and former mayor, a woman noted for her tone-deafness regarding minority members of the community.) 

In Thurlow’s speech he noted that he had attended League of Women Voters events–which shouldn’t be a big deal, but for some reason the local attitude is that the organization is only for Democrats–despite its long history of being non-partisan. He also noted that he had attended Black Lives Matter meetings in Grand Junction, which I can confirm because I was at one of those meetings. His point was that an elected official has a responsibility to represent and talk to all of his constituents. That will be a breath of fresh air for this community.

The incumbent Senator famously refused to talk to members of the LGBTQ community on their lobby day, believing that Mesa County didn’t have any Gays. I was one of three people who filed an ethics complaint against Senator Ray Scott because he has blocked us on his Facebook page, despite a recent court ruling that suggests the practice is unconstitutional. Scott argues that it is his personal page, and not part of his campaign. 

Thurlow made a big impression when he hosted a Town Hall meeting to discuss how TABOR, and other tax related constitutional amendments hamper work in Colorado’s legislature. Most Republicans won’t touch that subject. He packed the room, and people in attendance were both from his party and from mine. He brought in real experts who told the whole story, which was appreciated by the Democrats in attendance. 

There are lots of issues on which I disagree with Dan Thurlow, but unless another candidate comes along with strong name recognition and community support, he’ll get my vote in the General, if he survives the Primary vote by his party. Ray Scott is proud of the fact that he is a climate denier and unabashed supporter of everything fossil fuels. (I believe our future depends on moving away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy.) I have been a critic of Scott, since I first met him on his first run for the Colorado House. He is an arrogant misogynist and bad businessman. Mesa County should be able to do better.

Speaking With One Voice

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

What is important, in my mind, about the #metoo phenomenon is that women are finally speaking out, and as one voice. For years, we might have told our best friends about sexual harassment, but rarely told anybody else. I have many stories of harassment in the work-place, but I only shared one with the human resources department. It wasn’t until I was about 35 that I started to see policies coming from HR that indicated harassment would not be tolerated. I worked in banking, not the movie industry. I believe that harassment was everywhere, but women did not feel that they would be believed or that anything would be done to stop the harassment. It may be late, but I’m glad women are speaking out now. Maybe we can have a more equal and safe future.

Previously I told the story of working for a Canadian banks loan production office, and the way that the manager first crudely propositioned me, and then wrote a bad performance appraisal when I declined his advances. That wasn’t my first experience. I was a high school kid babysitting for a couple from my parent’s church. The couple had gone to separate events, and the husband got home first. We were waiting for the wife to get home, so that she could take me home, when he walked across the room and asked, “What would you do if I kissed you?” I told him that I would slap the snot out of him, and ran and locked myself in the bathroom until I heard the front door open. I never told the wife what happened, but I did tell my own mother.

She didn’t believe me. Since I got to decide where I would babysit, I just never accepted a job from that couple again. Think about that. My own mother did not believe me. That’s why women have been so reluctant to speak out, and that’s why I’m so encouraged that they are now speaking out.


Me Too

It has been both comforting and chilling to see so many women sharing the status “Me too” on Twitter and Facebook. Here is my story.

As a woman who climbed the corporate ladder in banking in Denver, I know a little about sexual harassment and how some men use it to gain power over people.
I was working for a Canadian loan production office during a boom time in the oil and gas industry. Our bank financed two kinds of projects, large real estate developments and oil and gas exploration. I was the low man on the totem pole when it came to professional staff. At Christmas time, there are always lots of parties that bank officers are invited to attend. Since we worked with oil and gas companies, a lot of those parties were at the Petroleum Club.
One evening my boss and I decided to grab a quick meal downtown while waiting for the party at the Petroleum Club. This was pretty common practice for bankers, and was definitely not considered a date. While waiting for our dinner to arrive, my boss leaned across the table and said, “I want to fuck you.” I told him that he had a better chance of seeing God in the next 30 seconds.
That should have been the end of it, but the next time I came up for an employee appraisal, he wrote that it would be easier to train a monkey than it was to train me. Seeing the writing on the performance appraisal, I opted to find another employer. Fortunately I had lots of references who did not agree with this one man’s assessment.
I considered suing for sexual harassment, but decided that, for me, that was not the best decision. I still wanted to climb the corporate ladder, and getting a reputation as a “trouble maker” when all the corporate offices were manned by men would doom me. (See what I mean when I say it is about power? I allowed him to take my power away from me so that I could continue to eat regularly and live indoors.)
Fast forward a couple of months, and I was contacted by the Canadian bank’s attorney requesting an interview with me. The office manager had chosen a different route, and she was suing the bank for harassment. The attorney asked me if I had ever seen her being harassed. I told them that I had not, but that I could believe it happened, and then told him my story. The office manager settled for a six-figure amount in her suit against the bank–and this was over 30 years ago.
That isn’t the only story, but it is the only one I have with a happy ending.

Hello, I’m Claudette Konola, and I’m a Democrat

I spent this evening with a lot of Democrats in a winery in Orchard Mesa. In the beginning it felt a little like an AA meeting, or how I imagine they work, “Hi, I’m Larry, and I’m a Democrat.” People coming out of the closet!
While it was fun for me to connect with a lot of old friends, people that I met during two campaigns for political office in Mesa County, the best part was all the new faces. I first noticed new faces at the County Assembly when we decided whether we should throw Mesa County’s votes to Hillary Clinton or to Bernie Sanders. And now there are even more of us. We are young and old. We are blue collar workers and professionals. We are straight and Gay and Trans. We are Black and White and Latino and … well you get the picture. We are people who value all people regardless of the labels with which they may be tagged.
We heard from five candidates for political office: one running for a state wide office, two running to replace Scott Tipton, and two school board candidates.  The people we put up for public office are intelligent, principled, love democracy, and understand that they will be representing us, not big money interests.
I’ll describe my impressions in the order that the individuals spoke:
Joe Salazar is running for Attorney General, a position currently held by a Republican who has worked against Colorado’s interests in the courts. She is happy to support the businesses of the Guns and Oil Party, but people fall pretty far down the list. Joe, on the other hand, is a street fighter. One needs only see his voting record in the Colorado House to see that. He looks out for people first, something he says he learned from his own ethnicity as Hispanic and Native American.
Joe is transparent. He tells you where he stands, and then backs it up with facts. At a picnic that I recently hosted, he had an oil and gas heckler. As the host of that event, I started to ask the heckler to leave, but Joe waved me off, saying “this is my arena.” He was polite but he demolished every argument thrown at him, gaining cheers from the people in the crowd. I want that kind of guy fighting for my civil rights and for clean air, water, and soil. With a background as a civil rights attorney, he has demonstrated his chops when it comes to fighting for people.
The second speaker was Diane Mitch Bush, a candidate for CD3. She said she is running because she wants to repeal and replace Scott Tipton. She is a very experienced legislator, with a reputation of getting things done by working hard and reaching across the aisle in Denver. She was also a County Commissioner in a county that is similar to Mesa County in its historic dependence on fossil fuels.
And then came my good friend, Chris Kennedy, who is also running for the CD3 seat. Chris is a musician, among other things, so it was fun that he began his speech with the first ever performance of his new campaign theme song, “Standing on Common ground.” A former Marine, Chris mentioned how that experience taught him that it doesn’t matter what labels are applied to team members. So long as each person knows their job, and does it they will move forward, leaving nobody behind. The unique skill that Chris brings to this race is his background in working for internet and cable providers, an issue important to rural communities all over Colorado, and even America.
Up next was Tom Parish, who is seeking a second term on the school board. Tom has been involved with kids in Mesa County for over 30 years. He is part of a team dedicated to helping kids be all that they can be, with the experience to lead. From what I’ve seen, he has earned a second term.
Finally Amy Davis, another candidate for school board is one of those new faces. My guess is that with an active career as a family physician in Grand Junction, she doesn’t spend much time at political meetings. She shared the story of moving to Grand Junction with a four year old daughter, who was not speaking well because of being hearing impaired. The community and public school supported her child’s learning, and now she wants to make sure that every child gets that chance. By the way her daughter is now studying to follow her mother’s footsteps and become a doctor.
Each and every one of these candidates spoke passionately and eloquently about their vision of a better place for everybody, while leaving nobody behind.
Mesa County would be a better place if we elected candidates like any one of these, instead of candidates like the two I ran against. These candidates are accomplished, informed, and seeking office in order to serve their fellow citizens. Seriously, Mesa County, aren’t you tired of electing people who turn out to be felons or sued because of bad business practices? To quote one of the few reasonable Republicans I know in Mesa County, shouldn’t we try something different?
Yes, Larry, tonight I was proud to call myself a Democrat, too.

Kudos to Dan Thurlow

Kudos to Dan Thurlow. This evening he hosted a Town Hall to discuss three things, TABOR, the Gallagher Amendment, and Severance taxes. He brought in a “think tank” (his words, not theirs) that specializes in analyzing and thinking about tax and fee data in the context of policies in Colorado. The presentation was excellent. Considering myself a policy wonk, even I learned a few things about Gallagher that I hadn’t previously known. I thought that one important point about severance taxes was ignored (surrounding states get way more revenue from the removal of minerals,) but nothing was sugar-coated or meant to convince people that TABOR, Gallagher, and Severance taxes are untouchable. Each policy has its unique sets of unintended consequences, and all need attention. The fact that a Republican is open to finding fixes, and is willing to stand up in a room filled with more Democrats than Republicans is pretty unique in politicians of either party these days. Thank you, Dan.

Open Letter to Senator Ray Scott

Dear Senator Scott,

You recently sent an email to a Denver scientist who asked you to protect our environment. That email has become the laughing stock of the progressive world.

You said, “I respect your ideological idea’s, but the science is clear. You have cleaner water, air and mortality rates brought to you by fossil fuels. The data is clear for 100 years that we are all better off because of fossil fuels. ”

Clearly you do not know how to use an apostrophe. On your Twitter page you are self-described as “Colorado Senator and a strong voice for Colorados energy producers.”  In your email, there should be no apostrophe in ideas–the plural of a word does not require an apostrophe. In your self-description, Colorado’s should have an apostrophe because it is the possessive form of the word.

Telling an actual scientist that you respect their “ideological idea’s” is really dumb. Science does not have an ideology, it has a method by which theories are tested and supported or not supported with research and facts.  

An inability to use proper English is just the tip of the iceberg, however. The science that is clear is that the planet is warming. The cause of that warming generally involves the burning of fossil fuels and releasing exhausts into the atmosphere. Scientists agree on this point.

I would like to see any science that proves fossil fuel use results in cleaner water or cleaner air. That is a good example of your ideology, but it has no basis in fact. As for mortality rates: are you actually saying that we have “cleaner” mortality rates? That is what your sentence implies, but I can’t imagine what a “cleaner” mortality rate might look like.

Certainly we are better off because of the industrial advances made once energy became abundant and available. Likewise, there are medical uses for products manufactured from fossil fuels. But if we got our head out of the sand, we would see that investment in technology can get us even cheaper energy sources from the sun and wind, with less harm to our water and air.

I’m sure that you are going to say this is sour grapes, since you beat me in an election. That would be more ideology, and not scientific fact.

Get someone to edit your communications so that you, at least, don’t embarrass yourself with continued awkward usage of the English language.


Claudette J Konola

Your Constituent 

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Changing the Subject

What we need to talk about is Medicare for all. Get the for-profit insurance companies out of the middle. We are the only western nation that doesn’t have some version of single-payer–and the other nations pay less than we do for health care. Their life expectancy is increasing, while ours is decreasing.

When people have insurance that they can’t access because the deductibles are too high, it IS the same as having no access to health care. I’ve heard lots of Republicans making that point, and then saying that competition across state lines is the answer.

I say be careful what you wish for. Look at what happened to banking–an industry that I’m very familiar with. They wanted across state lines competition. What we got was fewer banks, as the large ones built their national empire by gobbling up smaller banks. Trust me, across state line competition for insurance companies will have the same result–less competition, not more, and fewer companies offering health insurance.

We the people, are between a rock and a hard place because the two parties are busy playing politics instead of looking at real solutions to help ordinary Americans.

Open Letter to Cory Gardner

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Recently the Denver CBS affiliate aired a story that showed you, Cory Gardner, saying that many/most of the calls you have been getting are from paid out of staters. You also said that Coloradans should trust you. Your claim about our calls is patently false and you have not responded substantively to any of our concerns.

Although I was born in Deadwood, I have lived most of my life in Colorado. I have voted in Colorado elections since 1970. I am a graduate of Arvada High School and the University of Colorado at Denver. I am now retired, and living in Grand Junction, Colorado. Thousands and perhaps millions of Coloradans are very very concerned about what is happening to our state.

We are not paid out of staters and we do not trust you because you refuse to talk to us. We ARE friends and neighbors living in Colorado and supporting each other in the resistance. We are hosting letter writing parties and asking our friends to express our fears about any repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and we’ve been calling you to tell you about our fears. We are worried that you refuse to protect our air, water, and soil. We want you to stand up to Trump’s horrible agenda, including discrimination against the Mexican immigrants working in our orchards and vineyards. We are especially appalled at Trump’s religious test for Muslims, and we want you to know that. We want you to oppose the unqualified nominees for Cabinet positions, including Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos.


Open Letter To Speaker Ryan

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Dear Speaker Ryan,

I was dismayed to learn that you have blocked calls to your office. As Speaker of the House, and third in line to the presidency, you have a responsibility to all Americans to listen to their voices and represent them. I don’t live in your district, but I am an American.

Yes, I know that some Americans believe that abortion should be illegal. I’d like to remind you that when it was illegal, there were still abortions. What Roe V. Wade did was make abortions safe for the women who choose to have them. I believe that abortions should be rare, and safe.

Defunding Planned Parenthood is a political witch hunt, and will do nothing to stop abortions. First, it is a very small part of their business, which already cannot be paid for with taxpayer money. Second, lots of poor people use it to get tested for STDs, to get information about birth control. It is folly to deny people access to that information, especially if you want fewer abortions. The more informed citizens are about avoiding pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, the healthier our nation is. A bonus is fewer abortions because there are fewer unwanted pregnancies.

Likewise repealing the ACA is folly unless you have something with which to replace it.