Hemp Producers

Someone posted a meme at Facebook recently that showed a Henry Ford car made entirely of hemp. I’ve known for a long time that our constitution was printed on paper made of hemp, but it never occurred to me that it was strong enough to manufacture things like cars. Since then I’ve seen all kinds of memes promoting the value of hemp, which is not legally grown in the U.S., but legally grown in every other first world country.  Just as Colorado is blazing a new trail by being one of the first states in the nation to legalize marijuana, it is also now legal to grow hemp in the state.

But nothing about growing hemp is easy. First it is illegal to import any of that hemp seed into the US, or to transport it across state lines. So hemp farmers such as Adam have to find seed suppliers within the state in order to grow their product.

I first met Adam at what looks like a farmer’s market booth, but is not on Main Street with the rest of the booths. Instead it is at a coffee shop popular with young, trendy adults. He was selling ice cream sandwiches, where the cookie’s ingredients included hemp. They are pretty tasty. Adam gets excited when he talks about the possibilities for hemp. “Imagine a landfill where everything, all the plastics, are biodegradable” he gushes, as his blue eyes sparkle.

I asked Adam what kinds of hassles he had with getting in on the ground floor of an industry that is as yet only quasi-legal, and he immediately mentions getting set up as an LLC, not the regulatory burdens that I expected. He is growing hemp on a 3 acre plot of land where he plans a three year crop rotation, with alfalfa growing on two acres and hemp growing on one. He has a license to plant one acre in hemp. The problem is that he really doesn’t have a market for anything but the seeds. The fiber, the stuff out of which Henry Ford made plastic for his car, has no market because there are no commercial processing facilities in the U.S. Adam can’t transport it across state lines without it being fabricated into something, and there are no local manufacturers needing his product. He’s experimenting with fodder and paper, but for now he’s a commercial seed grower hoping that lots of farmers will join him in growing the renewable and biodegradable products of the future.

He also proudly tells me that the labs that have tested his product have detected zero THC, the component in marijuana that is psychoactive. However, his plants have 3% CBD, which is the component in medical marijuana that has the most medicinal applications.

Certainly there needs to be a future for a product that can replace fossil fuel based plastics with hemp based plastics that are biodegradable and don’t involve chemicals any more toxic than fertilizers. I applaud risk takers like Adam and his partners. They are blazing a way for a greener future for all of us.

Now, if only we could get rid of the regulatory restrictions that Adam shrugs off.   


Images of Henry Ford's Hemp Car

Canadian hemp trade

Colorado's Regulations

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About TCH

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About CBD


The Importance of the Colorado Water Plan

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Most politicians from the Western Slope run on a platform of “not one more drop.” That’s because 80% of Colorado’s water falls on the western slope, yet 87% of the population lives on the other side of the Continental Divide. To solve the problem and get more water to the Front Range of Colorado, in the 1930’s Colorado began building tunnels and water storage facilities that divert water from the Colorado River Basin to the Front Range. Over time Western Slope water users became concerned that too much water was being diverted, hence the mantra about not one more drop.

Today there are 30 completed water diversion projects in the State, most of which take water from the Colorado River Basin and deliver it to the other side of the mountains, although a few just move it from one river basin to another without the inter-mountain transfer. The 24 diversions that do change the flow of water from west to east currently deliver approximately 500,000 acre feet of water to farmers and municipalities on the Front Range annually.

In 2005, Colorado passed House Bill 1177, which created River Basin Round Tables. This was a bi-partisan attempt to get water policy out of the world of partisan politics. The bill was supported by two names you will recognize from here:  Josh Penry and Bernie Beuscher. Abel Tapia, running to unseat Scott Tipton, was in the Colorado legislature at the time and was also a sponsor of this bill. The short name of the bill was “Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act.”



Taking a Break

If I have any ColoradoPols readers, this note is to let you know that I will not be posting for the next year at least. I have decided to run against Ray Scott for the Senate District 7 seat. Formal announcement tomorrow at Eagle Rim Park in Grand Junction.

For those of you who know I battled cancer last year, I am feeling fine and my Doctor pronounced me "healthy" at my last physical exam. If I'm tough enough to survive cancer, I'm tough enough to battle Ray Scott in a campaign.


A Wild Week on the Wild and Wooly Western Slope

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

What a wild week this has been.

First there was the Charles Ashby story in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel exposing the Chamber of Commerce for the political hacks that they are. Then there was the resignation of Rick Brainard, including his announcement that he and his victim are an item again. Brainard pleaded guilty to domestic violence charges shortly after being elected, and has been the subject of countless protests. Then there was the City Council thumbing their collective nose at the idea that anybody other than the Chamber has any right to any say in who runs this city. And then there was the announcement that the future leaders have been chosen by the elite.

Some time ago I heard a rumor that Sheriff Stan Hilkey would be resigning before his term is up to go to work in Colorado Springs in some job somehow related to the FBI. Steve King would be appointed to fill out Hilkey’s term; Ray Scott would be appointed to fill out King’s term, and Barbara Brewer would be appointed to fill out Scott’s term. But Barbara Brewer would prefer to be appointed to Steve Aquafresca’s seat. This week King announced he’s running for Sheriff, and Scott announced he’s running for the Senate seat. Things are falling into place.



Brainard Recall Effort Underway

Just a brief note for those who have been following the Brainard story in Grand Junction: Organizers have officially filed papers to form a committee to recall the City Council member.

The following was posted to a Facebook Page titled, Demand Rick Brainard's Resignation Grand Junction today:

"I'm pleased to announce No Brainard Recall Committee is accepting monetary donations at our local Rio Grande FCU, just across the street from the 749 Rood #B petition office location.

Please include name/phone/address with all donations. Donations larger than $100 need to have employer/occupation as well.

Checks can also be mailed to No Brainard Recall Committee at 749 Rood #B 81501 OR
PO BOX 824 81502"


The Nexus of Paranoia and Gun Fanaticism

Last Sunday morning the headline in The Daily Sentinel was, “Fruita Cops Shoot Man Dead.” That story, written by one of my favorite Sentinel reporters, Charles Ashby, was carefully crafted, with lots of quotes from officials, because the details were still sketchy. Unfortunately the reader was led to believe that the man “ran” from the scene, which led to all kinds of rumors.

As the week unfolded, we learned that there was a traffic stop. The man left the scene in his pickup and evidently went home. He didn’t “run” away, he drove away. When it was reported that he “ran” away, people who knew him pointed out that he couldn’t “run” which, in turn, started a rumor that it was a “hit.” Yes, there are people in this valley who actually believe that the Fruita police department is capable of executing a man because a “hit” has been ordered.

This presumed “hit” was related to his membership in a fringe group that believes the U.S. Government is illegal. Evidently they have formed a shadow government in Colorado, of which the dead man was an “elected district judge.”

Even more disturbing was an interview with the man’s daughter which aired on local TV. She said that her father was simply following family policy when he answered the door with a gun in his hand. Her family has been taught to answer the door with a gun in their hand.

For some reason that triggered a memory of an event at my South Dakota home last summer. My friend and I were in the basement watching episodes of the HBO series Deadwood, when my dog started barking his head off. He is prone to doing that when a cat gets into the yard, or if a car drives by, so we didn’t pay much attention. But Jackson didn’t stop barking, so eventually I went upstairs to see what all the fuss was about. Standing at the back door were two young men, one white and one black. The young black man said, “Don’t shoot mam, we are students selling magazines.”

He was clearly frightened, but not so frightened that he was going to run away and miss out on a commission. My 20 pound dog is not much of a threat, and I don’t own a gun, so I thought that comment was really unusual. Although there is a black family that lives right down the street, there aren’t many blacks in the little town in which I grew-up. Given the hidden racism everywhere in America, I understand his nervousness. Of course, my appearance at the time may have been alarming, since at the time I was a bald woman.

That is, I thought the “Don’t shoot” comment was unusual until I learned that there actually are people who answer the door with a gun in their hand because they are so paranoid about the changing world around them.

I learned about the “hit” rumor from the facebook page of Mesa County Patriots. To be fair, they reported on the “hit” rumor, but also posted a disclaimer that they had not confirmed anything in the post. Subsequent posts, however, point out how paranoid these guys are.

This is particularly disturbing since they are the same group that plans things like open carry rallies and the upcoming “magazine” rally.  On the 4th of July, Mesa County Patriots are planning a magazine exchange on the steps of the county courthouse. They are encouraging people to bring cartridges that are banned by Colorado’s new gun laws and “temporarily” exchange them with other protestors. Temporary is an important word in this exchange, as a loophole in the new law allows people to loan magazines that can hold as many as 100 rounds of ammunition to others on a temporary basis. Mesa County Patriots is skating just this side of the law.

I am very concerned that this unfortunate incident, where a man ignored police authority in a traffic stop, and then reacted by answering the door with a gun in his hand, will ignite a wildfire of paranoia that results in many more similar incidents. I wish these paranoid men had as much passion for the health of the planet. We could use some of their passion fighting things like the XL Pipeline. But, please, leave your guns at home.


Colorado Republic Website


It Is Never Dull in Whack-a-Doodle-Landia

(Indeed not – promoted by Colorado Pols)

The controversy swirling around the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce and their continued support of a City Councilman who pled guilty to domestic abuse has reached new audiences. There is a man in Grand Junction who calls himself a Tea Party of One because he has gotten cross-wise with both GJResult/Tea Party and the nameless group formerly known as Western Slope Conservative Alliance, of Saturday Night Live fame. Yesterday he sent out a commentary that ended with a request for at least six recall petitions for Rick Brainard.

The path that got this self-described Tea Partier to support the efforts of feminists who are protesting domestic violence is quite circuitous. He supported the candidates put forth by the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce because he was assured by one of them that they would not spend any money on the Avalon Theatre, the anchor to one end of Grand Junction’s historic Main Street. 



All Tea Parties Are Not Created Equal

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Recently Kevin McCarney was quoted, first in the Denver Post and later in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, in stories about how the IRS went after conservative groups and how Western Slope Conservative Alliance (WSCA) was hassled by the IRS and still does not have its not-for-profit status. These days WSCA is calling themselves Freedom ! Colorado.

There is a long and quite sordid story behind this story, and it is about the Republican Party being scared to death of the Tea Party. The Tea Party, truly a grass roots movement, grew out of discontent with government spending. But locally it got hijacked by Western Slope Conservative Alliance, an invention of the Republican Party. Kevin McCarney, recently transplanted from Chicago, eventually joined the hijackers. However one of the first hijackers was Janet Rowland, Mesa County Commissioner at the time, previous candidate for Lt. Governor, and current Director of the Center for Local Government at Colorado Mesa University, another Tim Foster Republican hire.



Screwed by Citizens United, Slapped by Rick Brainard

The law that gave personhood to corporations can be directly blamed for the current division within the city of Grand Junction.  Normally city council elections are ho-hum affairs, and not many people pay attention. I started paying attention when I realized that the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce was stacking the deck.

Western Colorado Business Alliance was organized as a 501(c)(4) in August of 2012—just in time to start raising money and planning for the next election. The Registered Agent on the Secretary of State filing is Diane Schwenke, long standing President of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce. The stated purpose of the entity is “to take measures to strengthen the business community in Grand Junction, Colorado and the surrounding area.” It is organized “exclusively for the promotion of social

welfare pursuant to section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.”

It was no coincidence that Referred Item A (Brady) in the city election and the four hand-picked candidates had really slick campaign signs and ads. Anonymous money can buy a lot of things that don’t have to be reported to the Secretary of State under campaign finance laws.

The Chamber didn’t ever pretend that they were doing anything other than stacking the deck. They announced that they were picking the issues and candidates they wanted, and that there was no reason for them to not do so. When asked by Grand Junction Sentinel’s Reporter Amy Hamilton why they had not filed any campaign finance reports, Diane Schwenke replied, “Why should we? The  Alliance and Brady have done everything that’s required by the law.”

If ordinary citizens give money to candidates or organize issue campaigns, we are governed by Colorado’s Campaign Finance laws, which requires that all donors be listed and reported to the Secretary of State. There are limits on the amount of money that any one individual can contribute. In the shady world of 501(C)(4)’s, there is no required reporting and no limits. The Chamber hasn’t stacked the deck for this one election. They will continue stacking it until we citizens wake up and demand full accountability.

Today the City Council was taken over by the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce. Three out of four councilors sworn in today were hand-picked and supported by Western Colorado Business Alliance. Sam Susuras, the husband of Lois Dunn Susuras, chair of the Mesa County Republican Party, and former City Council Board Member, is the new Mayor of Grand Junction. Susuras was elected in a special session of the newly sworn-in City Council about 30 minutes after being sworn-in. Notably absent was Bennett Beschenstein, the Councilmember who called for Rick Brainard to step down.

Also absent were the many individuals who have been demonstrating against Brainard since his arrest. The swearing-in was done in alphabetical order. Brainard was first. As soon as he began his oath of office the “uninformed lynch mob” (his words) stood and turned their back on him. As soon as his oath was completed, they marched from the auditorium into, the microphones of waiting press. By my count about half of the people in the room were there to protest, the other half were there to celebrate the accomplishment of their loved ones or friends.

The clock starts ticking now. Instead of just Brainard being in the cross-hairs of the demonstrators, who mostly came out of a group called Women Helping Others Resist Exploitation and Sexism, he has company. The idea that a Mayor could be elected without any discussion immediately post swearing-in, with no official agenda posted, smacks of back room deals. No doubt the first of many designed to line the pockets of certain people in the real estate business while endangering the public, since regulations will be ignored or recinded.

Grow up Grand Junction, you can’t stay a sleepy back water forever.


Quick Note about Rick Brainard and Grand Junction

The young women who have been protesting Brainard because of his behavior after his arrest on alleged domestic abuse, are planning one more demonstration for Monday's swearing in ceremony. Brainard will have a busy day being sworn in and going before the judge in his hearing.


Will Parachute Creek Become Off Limits for Picnics and Fishing?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

There was another briefing in Parachute about the Williams Midstream disaster at Parachute Creek. You know it is serious when very senior people from COGCC, CDPHE, and EPA show up to face concerned citizens. Dave Keylor, Williams Midstream's vice president of Piceance Basin operations was in the room, but not part of the official panel.

The first week in April, at a meeting in Rifle, Keylor was one of the primary spokespeople. At that meeting we were told for the first time that there had been a previously unreported spill at the location where high concentrations of contaminants had been found. A spill that began in late December, or early January was not reported because it was less than 25 gallons. Bob Arrington, a resident of Battlement Mesa, retired engineer, and head of Western Colorado Congress’s Oil and Gas Committee estimated last night that the 25 gallons was more like 1,200 gallons based on his scientifically based calculations.

At the Rifle meeting, we were told that the source of the contaminants was unknown. By the end of April the source is known to be a gauge with a hole in it which controlled a 4 inch pipeline coming from a natural gas plant owned by Williams. Back when the source was unknown, Keylor said that about 6,000 gallons of hydrocarbons and about 252,000 gallons of contaminated groundwater had been pumped from the plume of contamination. Sometimes the information in these sessions is presented in gallons and sometimes it is presented in barrels. I’m not sure if this is a deliberate attempt to confuse the public, but for the record an oil barrel is 42 gallons. 



Kudos to Christy Dimond, Shame on Rick Brainard

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Yesterday, Christy Dimond, a young reporter at KKCO in Grand Junction scored an exclusive interview with Rick Brainard. For those of you who may have been camping in an ice cave and not aware of the story, Rick Brainerd was elected to Grand Junction’s City Council in the last election. But before he could be sworn in, he was arrested and charged with an incident involving domestic violence.

Since that arrest, people in Grand Junction have staged protests and started petitions asking him to step down. Brainard will not step down. The women organizing the protests have sworn to go for a recall of Brainard, which cannot happen until he has held office for 90 days. 



Clean Up Colorado’s “Legacy” Uranium Mines

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Western Slope of Colorado is home to over a thousand, mostly abandoned, uranium mines. Some of them were the real deal, with infrastructure traditional to mining operations. Others are small indentations in the land. These uranium mines were abandoned because there was no real market for their product, usually because the ore was not rich enough to return the investment required to recover it.

All of them have the potential to pollute water supplies. Water seeks the lowest point, and rarely stays put. Abandoned mines fill with water. Water in abandoned mines pick up the elements that are in the soil. Abandoned uranium mines have water polluted with uranium. 



Enjoying Petro Flavored Water Wine and Peaches

Last night there was a meeting in Rifle, where the spill along Parachute creek was discussed. The meeting room at the Rifle Library was filled with media, regulators, and lots of concerned citizens. Presenting updates to the Energy Advisory Board of Garfield County were Matt Lapore, Director of the COGCC (Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission) and the VP and General manager of Piceance Basin for Williams Mid-stream.

The short version is that both soil and water near the site have been contaminated with petro carbons. The source of the seep has not been located. Testing wells have been drilled along the banks of Parachute Creek, and no contamination of the stream has been detected. However in the plume of contamination one well tested as much as 18,000 ppb of benzene, with EPA safe levels pegged at 5 ppb. Benzene is a known carcinogen, which was a fact stated by the Williams VP, much to my surprise.

COGCC listed their priorities as: 1) keep contaminants out of the creek; 2) identify the source of contamination; 3) detail what has been impacted; 4) implement a remediation phase. Trenches have been dug to facilitate removal of 140 bbls of liquid hydrocarbons and 5,000 bbls of water so far. The amount of hydrocarbons being recovered has decreased drastically during the current operation.

There are two pipelines that are being tested and monitored. A 30” pipeline collects product from producing wells and delivers it to a natural gas plant. A 4” pipeline carries natural gas liquids to market from the plant. Both pipelines have been tested at high pressure, and no leaks have been detected. The stream is being sampled every day, and patrolled every 30 minutes looking for the tell-tale sheen of hydrocarbons sitting on water. Since March 19, there have been daily conference calls between COGCC and Williams to discuss current data and developments.

The most contamination has been detected around a valve box. The area around the valve box has been excavated for about 100 feet, with contaminated dirt contained on site. The plume of contamination is parallel to the creek and running in the same direction.

They are beginning to monitor the point in Parachute Creek where the town of Parachute has an intake valve for the city's water. Most residents use irrigation water from the creek on their lawns and gardens, and are concerned that it may become unsafe to do so.

Get out your maps, kids. Parachute Creek flows ultimately into the Colorado River, which is the source of water for millions of people in seven western states and Mexico. Clifton, where I get my water, gets its water from the Colorado River, about 40 miles downstream from the town of Parachute. Between here and there is some of Colorado's finest wine country where wineries are producing award winning wines from grapes irrigated with water from the Colorado River. Colorado's famous peaches come from this river valley also.

This is a very troubling seep, and neither the regulators nor the industry seems to know what they are dealing with. I have very little confidence that this plume of contamination will not eventually make its way into the drinking water of Palisade and Clifton, and ultimately flavor the wines and peaches of western Colorado.


The Wild and Wooly West is Alive and Well

This morning the Mesa County Commissioners considered a resolution, drafted by Commissioner and attorney Pugliese, which resolved to protect the Second Amendment in Mesa County. After much discussion, the resolution was unanimously passed.

This was a raucous meeting. Most of the people in the room were there to offer their enthusiastic support for the resolution, although they seemed to be a bit misinformed about the role that County Commissioners play in setting up gun regulations nationally and statewide. They also seem to believe that the second amendment, despite having the phrase “well regulated militia,” does not allow for any regulation of fire arms, although a good friend of mine suggested that the county set up a militia and regulate it.

The first person to speak out against the resolution was Benita Phillips, after announcing that she had a conceal-and-carry permit. Her objection was to the waste of taxpayer’s money. Her expectation is that county commissioners will limit their actions to things that impact the county, including water.

The second person to speak out against the resolution was Robyn Parker. She detailed how women are most frequently the victims of gun violence, often at the hands of their own partners. She then invited the commissioners to CMU at noon on Wednesday for one of the many Billion Women events scheduled for that day.  She suggested that the commissioners spend some time talking to the rest of their constituents.

I was the third person to speak out against the resolution, which contains language suggesting that the second amendment drives economic development in Mesa County. I spent many years in the field of economic development, and I can’t think of any retail development that would thrive if shoppers knew that there was a likelihood of being surrounded by people with pistols strapped to their hip, as I recently was in a BLM meeting at the Clarian Hotel.  In Colorado, one is permitted to openly carry a gun anywhere that is not posted with a prohibition. Sadly, my doctor, who has an office on the Community Hospital campus, has recently added a new sign at the front door announcing that guns are not allowed on the campus.

The last person to speak was a retired LAPD officer who spoke eloquently about his experiences with guns. He said he could count on one hand the number of times that he had seen someone actually protect their property or person with a gun. But it would take all the fingers and toes of all the people in the room to begin to count the number of times he had seen tragedy at the end of a gun. He also spoke about armor piercing bullets, and his distaste for being the probable target for those bullets.

This meeting had its own attendees openly carrying, including my favorite pretty-bad-boy, David Cox. His gun prompted someone to ask an officer to show up and stand at the back of the room just as I was leaving the meeting. Given the direction of the current county commissioners, we can expect to see people packing all over the county. One can only hope that the City Council thinks a bit about what actually drives economic development. Reinventing the Wild and Wooly West is not an economic driver, unless it is being done by a film company.


Oh my! I’m Making Big Enemies

My most recent Free Press column covered a lot of ground making the point that industry is using Ray Scott to rob Colorado of severance taxes, and that you can’t believe much of what they say. The article generated a response from Ed Baltzer, President of Avant Environmental Services, Inc.

According to their website, “Avant Environmental Services, Inc. safely provides high-quality environmental services on time to industry, governments, and individuals. Services include Phase I Environmental Site Assessments as defined by ASTM, Phase II site assessments, regulatory compliance, voluntary cleanup plans, asbestos inspections and abatement management, environmental health and safety, air monitoring, and related services. Avant provides careful attention to each client’s particular situation.  Avant endeavors to provide the correct level of service and to work with each client to ensure that they are in compliance with relevant regulations.”

This website appears to be new, several pages are still under construction. My Baltzer is the only listed employee. He was previously with Walsh Environmental Scientists and Engineers, LLC, which has offices worldwide, including in Grand Junction. Walsh helps clients get drilling permits, among other things.

So… the first Email I received from him was directed to my editor at the Free Press. It is pretty long, so he followed up with a second letter to my editor, which included a cc to Representative Ray Scott. What follows is first my response to the second E-mail, then his second letter to the editor, then the first letter to the editor. Your comments are welcome. As usual, there are lots of supporting links in the Homework Section, which you can scroll down to access.

Response from me to second E-mail:

Ed, who is your employer? (http://www.avantenvironmental.com/company.html)

I almost wrote you a thank you note for giving me some ideas for follow up columns, but you are way too determined to discredit me for me to extend that courtesy. The fact that you have now included Ray Scott (Hi, Ray!) in this exchange leads me to believe that you are not simply an interested citizen invested in newspapers printing the truth, but rather are an industry shill.

It does seem that you are confusing me with a reporter, which I am not. I am an opinion columnist. Certainly facts are important when trying to motivate one to support one’s point of view, and my facts are just that. One of your examples in your dismissive letter was that I “lied” (my term, not yours) about the head of the institute in TX losing his job. He is no longer the head of that institute. He may still be a professor, but he is no longer the head of the institute. He lost his job as head of the institute. That is a fact.

What you did was throw up some straw arguments that have nothing to do with my point, which was that the scientific “evidence” promoted by industry is losing credibility in part because of the money influencing the outcomes. The bill that Ray Scott is sponsoring that would allow new wells to avoid severance tax is a give-away to the industry, and he needs to be called on it. I doubt that most of my readers know, but surely you do, that most production in wells occurs during the first couple of years of production. Hence, the bill Scott is proposing robs the people of Colorado of just compensation for the privilege of harvesting the resource that is owned by the people. If the industry weren’t already the most profitable on the planet, I might have some sympathy for the costs they incur, but that isn’t the case, and I have no reason to want severance taxes to be waived. I can only conclude that you and Scott want that result because of personal financial reasons.

Climate change has to do with humans burning fossil fuels, so it is not the stretch that you make it out to be to conflate the production of natural gas with climate change—especially if one has 700 words in which to make a point. Fracking has to do with the production of natural gas. Natural gas is a fossil fuel. We are fracking in order to continue burning fossil fuels. There is a relationship between climate change and burning fossil fuels, whether you recognize it or not, and there are plenty of scientific studies that point to that relationship. Here’s a story about just one of the scientific reports: http://www.geotimes.org/feb07/WebExtra020207.html

Second Letter to the editor

From: Ed Baltzer (E-mail redacted)
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 7:24 PM
To: Tracy Dvorak
Cc: Ray Scott; Claudette Konola

Subject: shortened article

Dear Ms. Dvorak:  here's a shortened version.  I also attached a list of common logical fallacies for your reading enjoyment.  Thanks again for a great newspaper.  EMB

 Dear Editor:
Claudette Konola's opinion of January 25, 2013 (Climate Change is Real, and Ray Scott is Clueless) begs for editing.  In it she introduces her strong opinion about climate change, and states "despite all of the money flowing into universities to produce studies that deny climate change has…human causes, reality is finally rearing its head…".    She then presents evidence of bias in hydraulic fracturing research.  Climate change and hydraulic fracturing are unrelated.  She presents a thesis not supported by the evidence, which is the writing error of a non-sequitur, or the logical Fallacy of Irrelevant Thesis.  
So, I guess her thesis actually is how big oil money is biasing hydraulic fracturing research, not climate change research.  She states such bias resulted in "professors and department heads resign[ing] from American universities for agreeing to publish biased information", implying multiple resignations from multiple universities.    In support of her thesis, she states that one professor retired and one academic head (Raymond Orbach) "lost his job".  However, according to the University of Texas, Mr. Orbach resigned from his post as director of The Energy Institute at UT, but remains a professor, so he did not lose his job. What she wrote misrepresented the facts.  In fact, one department head resigned his post at one university, which had nothing to do with climate change research. 

Ms Konola then discusses a drilling bill proposed by our Representative Ray Scott.  The bill, HB-1122, is silent on hydraulic fracturing, global warming, AND scientific research.  This is another non-sequitur.   

Ms Konola uses language such as "hyped as being true to science",  "fantasy world of pro-oil and gas operatives", "flagrant disregard for truth and science", and "his pockets get filled".  This is using biased or emotional language to coerce the reader to accept a position, rather than using logic or evidence.  It is known as the Question-Begging Epithet, another logical fallacy.  I have other comments but am out of space.

Such errors are not unique to Ms Konola or Progressives.  All of us need to think clearly and write carefully.  Present a clear thesis and logically support it with undistorted facts.   This is hard work, but is required for intelligent discussion, which is vital to the preservation of our Republic.
Thank you for your time.
Edward Baltzer

And now the original letter to the editor:

From: Ed Baltzer (E-mail redacted)
Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 9:10 PM
To: editor@gjfreepress.com
Cc: Claudette Konola; Ray Scott
Subject: Conoloa editorial (Konola note, for someone so picky about writing, he manages to mangle my name.)

Dear Editor:

Thank you for presenting a wide range of viewpoints in your paper – I really appreciate it. 

However, Claudette Konola's opinion of January 25, 2013 (Climate Change is Real, and Ray Scott is Clueless) begs for editing.  In it she introduces her strong opinion about climate change, and states "despite all of the money flowing into universities to produce studies that deny climate change has…human causes, reality is finally rearing its head…".    She then presents evidence of bias in hydraulic fracturing research.  Climate change and hydraulic fracturing are two unrelated topics.  She presents a thesis not supported by the evidence, which is the writing error of a non-sequitur.   A non-sequitur would have earned me an F in high-school English.  In logic, this is known as the Fallacy of Irrelevant Thesis. 

So, at this point, I assume that her thesis actually is how big oil money is biasing hydraulic fracturing research, not climate change research.  She states such bias resulted in "professors and department heads resign[ing] from American universities for agreeing to publish biased information", implying multiple resignations from multiple universities.    In support of her thesis,she states that one professor retired and one academic head (Raymond Orbach) "lost his job".  However, according to the University of Texas, Mr. Orbach resigned from his post as director of The Energy Institute at UT, but remains a professor, so he did not lose his job.  So a correct rendering would have been, "At the University of Texas, coincident with criticism of the study, a professor retired,  and another resigned from his directorship, but remained a professor".  What she wrote misrepresented the facts.  A reasonable interpretation, assuming the resignation and retirement are the result of criticism of flawed research, is that academia is routing out non-scientific research.  This is a good thing.

Ms Konola then describes a State University of New York (now Buffalo University) research report that was "hyped as being true to science" and resulted in a research institute being shut down.  I checked BU's web page and learned that the report presents robust data on environmental violations recorded in Pennsylvania between 2008 and 2011.   It was peer reviewed by two professors, a retired US DOT employee, and an environmental consultant.  It is exactly this type of research that is needed to understand the role of regulations and regulators in mitigating environmental impacts of hydrocarbon production.  In their decision to close the institute, UB stated that they are pursuing "a comprehensive program of scholarship and education with appropriate breadth and complexity".  Once again, assuming the criticism of the report was justified, BU corrected errant scientific research, which is good.  By the way, her use of biased and emotive language such as "hyped" in her statement above and "fantasy world of pro-oil and gas operatives" earlier in the article is known in logic as the Question-Begging Epithet, and is a logical fallacy.

After criticizing Range Resources for "bull[ing] EPA" (another Question-Begging Epithet fallacy) by legally protesting EPA's "scientifically baseless action" (hey, maybe it IS scientifically baseless, did she check?), Ms Konola discusses a drilling bill proposed by our Representative Ray Scott.  The bill, HB-1122, is silent on hydraulic fracturing.  This is another non-sequitur

I could go on, but it's late. 

Ms Konola and other progressives are not alone in their use of logical fallacies, flawed reasoning, misrepresentation, and writing errors.  We all make these and similar errors.  I encourage all people, especially writers, to think clearly and write carefully.  Present a clear thesis (is it climate change? fracturing pollutes? drilling is bad? Representative Scott is greedy?  No one can determine Ms. Konola's thesis from her article).  Then support your thesis with undistorted facts and logic that is free of fallacies.   This is hard work, but is a requirement for intelligent discussion, which is vital to the preservation of our republic.

Thank you for your time.


Edward Baltzer

Certified Hazardous Materials Manager

Certified Professional Geologist


Free Press Article

Avant Environmental Services Website

Baltzer's Linkedin Page

Walsh website

Good Story About Scott's Proposed Bill



Kevin McCarney Can’t Be Taught

My last post about the group formerly known as Western Slope Conservative Alliance, of which Kevin McCarney is the current President, was written before they changed the name, once again of the organization. The last name prompted the following exchange:

“From: Claudette Konola

Sent: Monday, January 21, 2013 9:07 AM

To: (Name redacted)

Subject: Gun Appreciation Day

The Grand Junction pro-gun rally was sponsored by a group formerly known as Western Slope Conservative Alliance. This group failed to register its name with the Secretary of State, and someone stole it out from under them. When they first announced their pro-gun rally, they used one name, which was also registered by another group. By the time the rally actually happened they were calling themselves the Colorado Freedom Alliance, a name that is registered to you. Was this done with your knowledge and permission?”


“From: (Name Redacted)

Sent: Monday, January 21, 2013 9:23 AM

To: ‘Claudette Konola’

Subject: RE: Gun Appreciation Day



Back in the Saddle Again

Most of my readers know that I’ve been fighting cancer for most of the last year. I had my last radiation treatment on Tuesday of this past week. So, here’s the update: I’m feeling fine. My hair is growing back. I’m ready to get back in the saddle again.

On Wednesday I will stand for election as Treasurer at the annual meeting of Western Colorado Congress of Mesa County. In February I will stand for election as Treasurer of the Mesa DEMS. I’m already involved in helping some candidates for Grand Junction City Council get elected in April. And last night I attended a fundraiser for Mark Udall, who will be running for reelection in 2014.

Had I planned better, I would be at the Gun Appreciation Day in front of the Old Mesa County Courthouse today, taking pictures. As usual, there is more going on behind the scenes than most people know.

Western Colorado Conservative Alliance changed its name when local Tea Party members got upset with them for calling themselves THE Tea party. If you recall, the Tea Party went so far as to register the name with the Secretary of State, thus effectively stealing the name Western Colorado Conservative Alliance out from under them. The surviving organization’s new president is Kevin McCarney, who doesn’t seem to have learned a thing. A little birdie told me that the new name has been registered with the Secretary of State, but not by McCarney etal. It seems someone registered it before he got around to doing so.

I also learned that members the local Tea party, including the Tea Party of One, decided to forgo today’s pro-gun demonstration because they thought showing up on the steps of the Old County Court House with guns was a bird-brained idea. The idea came from David Cox. If you remember, David Cox once ran for the House District 54 seat until he was arrested for a DUI while in the possession of a handgun. He was also involved in the fight to legalize marijuana in Colorado. Rumor has it that if he didn’t spend so much of his time stoned, he might be able to think better than birds, which have prehistoric birdbrains.

I look forward to seeing the news coverage of this event later today. One thing for sure, politics in Mesa County is never dull.


Announcement of G Jct Pro Gun Demonstration

David Cox Tries to Explain His Alcohol and Gun Arrest


Is Mesa County’s Clerk and Recorder a Criminal?

Lawsuits and investigations have been in process since before the 2012 election. On December 14, a local attorney delivered to the local AG, a complaint alleging that Mesa County’s Clerk and Recorder should be investigated for criminal activity. What follows after the break is the letter that was hand delivered to the AG, and forwarded to me by the attorney. I removed the letter writer’s address and phone number, but his E-mail contact information is included. There is a citizen’s group mentioned in the complaint–I was present at that meeting.


December 14, 2012

21st Judicial District Attorney Office

ATTN:  Pete Hautzinger, District Attorney

125 North Spruce Street

P.O. Box 20,000

Grand Junction, CO  81502-5031

RE: Affidavit Alleging “Election Offenses” under C.R.S. Title I, and     Request for Criminal Indictment and/or Grand Jury Investigation

           of Sheila Reiner, Mesa County Clerk and Recorder, regarding the

Conduct of State and Federal Elections in Mesa County, CO.

Dear Pete:

Pursuant to C.R.S. § 1-13-101(1), I hereby file this sworn affidavit with you “stating the name of any person who has violated any of the provisions of this code and stating the facts which constitute the alleged offense”.  As mandated by that Colorado statute, upon the filing of this affidavit, the District Attorney’s office “shall forthwith investigate, and, if reasonable grounds appear therefor, [it] shall prosecute the violator”.  

Specifically, Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Sheila Reiner appears to have deliberately and thus “willfully” violated both C.R.S. § CRS 1-7-802, “Preservation of election records”,  and 42 U.S.C. § 1974, “Retention and preservation of records and papers by officers of elections; deposit with custodian; penalty for violation” .

In addition, by failing to preserve electronic election records in violation of C.R.S. § 1-7-802, Reiner also seems to have violated C.R.S. § 1-13-107, “Violation of duty” , for which the penalty is specified in C.R.S. § 1-13-111, “Penalties for election offenses”.

Moreover, to the extent that retention of election records is addressed by rules promulgated by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, Reiner may also have violated C.R.S. §  1-13-114, “Failure to comply with requirements of secretary of state”.  

Therefore, and pursuant to your authority under C.R.S. § 20-1-102, I hereby also request that you initiate a criminal investigation of Sheila Reiner, Mesa County Clerk and Recorder, regarding various violations of both state and federal election laws, derelictions of her sworn duties, violation of her oath of office, fraud, breach of trust, and de facto misappropriation of public monies for her personal gain.  See, also, People ex rel. Jerome v. Regents of Univ. of Colo., 24 Colo. 175, 49 P. 286 (1897).

In addition, and/or in the alternative, pursuant to your authority under C.R.S. §§  16-5-205 and 20-1-106, I hereby also request that you convene a grand jury to investigate the conduct of state and federal elections in Mesa County by the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s office, under the current direction of Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner.

The factual predicates for these requests are as follows:

1. In 2003, then Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Monika Todd initiated litigation under the Colorado Open Records Act (“CORA”) to deny a lawful request by Thomas Bjorklund for election records (unsigned signature cards maintained in “poll books”).

2. Reportedly, Todd initially insisted that the election records sought by Bjorklund could not be disclosed under CORA because their release would enable the linkage of voted ballots to their respective voters’ identities, but later admitted under oath in open court that those records had in fact been destroyed in violation of Colorado law.

3. By letter of  October 2003 (Exhibit “1”) in response to another complainant, then District Attorney Frank Daniels conceded that election records may have been unlawfully destroyed under Todd’s purported stewardship (reportedly, at Friendly Rod’s Recycling – a records destruction firm then owned by now President of Colorado Mesa University, Tim Foster, and at the request of then County Clerk employee Sheila Reiner), but did not find “reasonable grounds to establish violation of the statute in question”.

4. Thereafter — Bjorklund recalls — to avoid further litigation, newly elected Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Janice (Ward) Rich informed Bjorklund by letter that she would cease and desist the unlawful destruction of election records (Exhibit “2”).

5. Subsequently, and as reported in the Grand Junction Free Press (Exhibit “3”), Bjorklund purportedly discovered that dozens of Mesa County voters, who averred that they had voted in the August 2002 Republican primary election, were listed on Mesa County election rolls as not voting, suggesting that their cast ballots were never counted.

6. Fast forward to the Fall of 2010, when Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Sheila Reiner made a presentation to Grand Junction Daily Sentinel Publisher Jay Seaton and members of his editorial and/or reporting staff, in which she demonstrated that her local discretionary procedures enabled the linkage of voted paper ballots to voters’ identities.

7. On November 25, 2011, Reiner made a similar presentation to a group of local citizens (including the undersigned) in which she demonstrated how non-randomized “batching” of incoming paper ballots permitted the linkage of ballots to voters’ identities using reports generated from Colorado’s Registration and Election (“SCORE”) system.

8. On December 16, 2011, Marilyn Marks, a voting rights advocate from Aspen, Colorado, made a presentation to that same group of local citizens in which she reported that Reiner had recently denied Marks’ CORA request for anonymous electronic ballots on grounds that they could conceivably be linked to individual voters’ identities.

9. Marks also reported that Reiner had thereafter initiated litigation under CORA seeking a judicial ruling that the anonymous electronic ballots sought by Marks (and thus presumably all voted ballots) could be lawfully withheld under CORA — because those  voted ballots were not in fact “anonymous” and could be linked to their individual voter.

10. Marks further advised that she had counterclaimed against Reiner under CORA (which Bjorklund had not done in 2003), seeking the electronic ballots and mandatory statutory attorney fees for Reiner’s unlawful refusal to disclose public election records.

11. On January 17, 2012, Karl Castleton, co-chair of the Mesa County Democratic Party, Rick Baer, that Democratic Party’s appointed representative to the Mesa County Canvass Board, and the undersigned, met with Clerk Reiner and Mesa County Elections Director Catherine Lenhart to gain a better understanding of how purportedly anonymous ballots could be linked to voters’ identities using other election-related SCORE reports  – in apparent violation of Articles VII, Section 8, of the Colorado Constitution.

12. At that meeting, Reiner confirmed that – at some time in the past – the Mesa County Clerk’s office had ceased randomizing opened ballots (in order to retain the integrity of the original batches in case of a counting discrepancy), and conceded that — merely by randomizing opened ballots after the human ballot count was machine-verified – the linkage through the “batch reports” generated from the SCORE system back to voters’ identities could be properly, effectively, and irretrievably broken.

13. The undersigned subsequently concluded that — at that meeting — Reiner was  doubly duplicitous:  first, by insisting that her discretionary procedures were required by and in full compliance with both federal and/or state laws, and/or with rules, regulations, and/or “best practices” promulgated by the Colorado Secretary of State; and, second, by failing to disclose that the voters’ electronic ballot images sought by Marks had been entirely expurgated from voting machine memory cards and thus permanently destroyed.

14. In response to the undersigned’s own CORA requests, Reiner failed to identify any federal or state laws and/or any rules, regulations, or “best practices” promulgated by the Secretary of State requiring her local discretionary “batching” practices – which gratuitously created traceable ballots — and the Secretary of State’s office confirmed that it had promulgated no “best practices” pertaining to the “batching” of voted paper ballots.

15. The combination of Reiner’s blatant dishonesty and subsequent events prompted the undersigned to conclude that Reiner’s linkage demonstration was part of a concerted effort by the Colorado County Clerks Association (“CCCA”) to entirely exempt voted ballots from CORA’s definition of “public records” – thereby rendering those ballots inaccessible to the public and/or press during an election and thereby eliminating the very transparency upon which the integrity of free and fair democratic elections depends.

16. At that time, the CCCA and Reiner were lobbying for the passage of SB12-155 in the Colorado Senate – which would have entirely exempted voted ballots from CORA, but which was then amended to preclude public access to voted ballots under CORA only until after the election was certified, enacted as HB12-1036, and signed into law.

17. Ostensibly, the CCCA’s legislative lobbying effort was a response to a ruling by the Colorado Court of Appeals in Marks v. Koch, Colo.App. No. 10CA1111 (2011), in  which the court reaffirmed that voted ballots were and had long had been election records subject to CORA – despite the CCCA’s disingenuous claim that this was “new law”.

18. Because Mesa County Clerk Reiner was and remains an officer (Vice President) of the CCCA, her active involvement on behalf of the CCCA’s legislative agenda raises issues of potential and/or actual “conflict of interest” — to the extent that the CCCA’s legislative initiative conflicted with the best interests of the taxpayers of Mesa County.

19.   The CCCA is partially funded by public monies – through $1000 in annual dues paid by each of Colorado’s 64 member counties and by event registration fees – but is purportedly not subject to statutory financial disclosure requirements and has refused to disclose any information as to its outside sources of income and resultant expenditures.

20. According to former State Representative Kathleen Curry, the CCCA’s lobbying effort on behalf of HB12-1036 was funded by electronic voting machine vendors.

21. Because the accuracy and reliability of electronic voting equipment can best be verified (or not) by comparing the results reported thereby to the actual intent of the voter as captured on voted paper ballots and/or on retained electronic records of voted ballots, the electronic voting machine industry has an obvious vested interest in insulating their equipment from such scrutiny – particularly while an election is still subject to challenge.

22. Meanwhile, both Mesa County and Jefferson County – both of which utilized electronic voting equipment acquired from Election Systems & Software (“ES&S”), a voting machine vendor with a dubious record – had summarily denied Marks’ CORA requests for anonymous electronic voting records (on grounds that those records could conceivably be linked to the identities of voters) and then both belatedly sought judicial justification for their unlawful action (contrary to CORA’s provision requiring that such judicial justification be sought and obtained before denying a CORA request).

23. On both February 13 and 27, 2012 (and in letters to the Daily Sentinel, copied to Reiner and Mesa County Attorney Lyle Dechant), the undersigned publicly informed the Board of Mesa County Commissioners that Reiner’s legal claims against Marks were baseless, that Marks would be awarded mandatory statutory attorney fees under CORA, that Reiner could readily remedy her dubious local discretionary procedures at no cost to Mesa County taxpayers (as had already been done elsewhere in Colorado), and thus that Reiner was wasting county resources and needlessly exposing Mesa County to liability for Marks’ attorney fees by pursuing litigation (which the undersigned characterized to the Commissioners as a “cat fight” being waged by Reiner against Marks in furtherance of the CCCA’s agenda, and contrary to the best interests of Mesa County taxpayers).

24. Nevertheless, in concert with Jefferson County, Reiner – through Dechant – filed pleadings in her CORA cases against Marks within ten minutes of the pleadings filed by Jefferson County in its cases, in which both asserted virtually identical legal arguments.

25. On April 23, 2012, following a three-day bench trial in Jefferson County (which Reiner, Dechant, and other Mesa County employees attended at taxpayer expense), Judge Randall C. Arp issued a comprehensive and authoritative decision in Case No. 2011-CV-3576 (Exhibit “4”), in which he decisively rejected virtually all of Jefferson County’s (and thus Reiner’s) dubious legal arguments and awarded Marks yet-to-be-determined but statutorily mandatory attorney fees (a ruling which Jefferson County is appealing).

26. Meanwhile, having encountered stubborn resistance from several County Clerks (including Reiner) to any changes in local discretionary procedures which would mitigate their compromise of the “secret ballot” via linkage of voted ballots to voters’ identities,

Marks filed suit in federal court in Denver — naming Reiner as a co-defendant (along with the Secretary of State and five other county clerks) – arguing that defendants were violating both the Colorado and U.S. Constitutions by denying a “secret ballot”.  While that case was dismissed on “standing” grounds, it remains on appeal at the 10th Circuit.

27. Following the Jefferson County decision, the undersigned again publicly urged the Mesa County Commissioners, Reiner, and Dechant to promptly settle both ongoing litigations – because Reiner was needlessly exposing taxpayers to substantial attorney fees in the CORA cases and because the federal case would proceed even without Reiner as a named defendant (and thus at no further expense to Mesa County taxpayers).

28. On June 12, 2012, the undersigned publicly apprised the press and all announced County Commissioner candidates of the true facts of the matter (Exhibit “5”).

29. On December 11, 2012, Reiner settled both the CORA cases and the federal case for $15,000 each (Exhibits “6” and “7”) – having already expended at least $60,000 of taxpayers’ resources and County Attorney staff time “in battling Marks”, according to Reiner’s own estimate, as reported in the Daily Sentinel on that date (Exhibit “8”).

30. Thus, Reiner has expended at least $90,000 of public monies for reasons contrary to her sworn duties and thus in violation of her oath of office as Mesa County Clerk.

Consequently, you – exercising your prosecutorial discretion – and/or a grand jury of local citizens could reasonably and properly conclude that Reiner’s primary purpose in pursuing legally frivolous CORA litigation at taxpayer expense was to purposely conceal and/or avoid disclosing the fact that she had violated both state and federal election laws by having previously destroyed the very electronic ballots later sought by Marks.

While neither settlement agreement contains a clear admission of that obvious fact, you and/or a grand jury can readily infer Reiner’s motivation from the November 28 and 30, 2012, e-mails between Marks’ attorney and Dechant on that point (Exhibit “9”).

Therefore, at a minimum, Reiner appears to have abused her office by committing either first- or second-degree “official misconduct” under C.R.S. § 18-8-404  or -405 .  

Moreover, Reiner also effectively defrauded the public by using our resources to cover-up the fact that she had violated both state and federal election laws by failing to retain electronic ballots (at the cost of a “thumb drive”).  Thus, I also ask that you seek restitution from Reiner for all public expenses incurred in concealment of her personal misconduct – so as to send a clear message to any like-minded public “servants”.  

In evaluating the statutes under which Reiner (and perhaps others) can be properly charged, I also ask you to consider C.R.S. § 1-13-716, “Destroying, removing, or delayed delivery of election records” , and/or C.R.S. § 1-13-716, “Penalty for neglect of duty – destruction of ballots – breaking seal” .

Furthermore, I urge you to also consider the evidence of “pattern” emerging from the conduct of successive Mesa County Clerks and their subordinates.  When Monika Todd sought judicial license to deny Bjrokland’s legitimate CORA request for election records which had already been destroyed, Reiner was Todd’s subordinate in the Mesa County Clerk’s office and may have supervised the destruction of those election records.

Thus, Reiner knew that election records were to be retained – and was familiar with the tactic of seeking judicial license to deny a CORA request in order to conceal the fact that the requested records had been destroyed.  Moreover, both Todd and Reiner argued that disclosure of the requested records could compromise voter anonymity.

Apparently, Todd sought judicial intervention before denying Bjorklund’s CORA request, while Reiner first denied Marks” request, then disingenuously sought judicial intervention after-the fact in disregard of CORA’s plain language.  While Bjorklund did not seek CORA attorney fees (because he did not know that the records requested had been destroyed until the trial of Todd’s own action), Marks did.  However, in both cases, the elected and sworn county officials – Todd and Reiner – both knew that the lawfully requested election records were unavailable because they had already been destroyed, but chose to conceal that fact as long as possible.  Reiner’s deceit cost Mesa County $90,000.

I also suggest that – should you refer these matters to a grand jury – you expand its inquiry to include the 2012 general election.  As widely reported in the press, Reiner first mailed out an unknown number of duplicate ballots – and then bragged that Mesa County had achieved a 95%+ turnout rate of “active” voters.  Those two facts alone are sufficient to justify an inquiry as to the possibility of deliberate election fraud.

Because I have no doubt that you will handle this complaint both responsibly and appropriately, I have not yet effected the wider distribution contemplated below.  Thus, I await your instructions.

In the meantime, thanks in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.


William C. Hugenberg Jr., J.D.

(Street Address Redacted by Konola) Grand Junction, CO  81507

(Phone Number Redacted by Konola) bhugenberg@bresnan.net

Sworn before me this ___ day of December, 2012.


Notary Public


“1” Letter from Frank Daniels, Mesa County DA (October 8, 2003)

“2” Letter from Janice Ward to Thomas Bjorklund (yet-to-be retrieved)

“3” Undated Report by Paul Shockley, Grand Junction Free Press (March ?, 2003)

“4” Judicial decision in Jefferson County CORA cases (April 23, 2012)

“5” E-mailed letter to Free Press, BOCC, and BOCC candidates (June 12, 2012)

“6” Settlement Agreement in Cases 11CV4530 and 11CV4575 (December 11, 2012)

“7” Settlement Agreement in 10th Circuit Case No:  12-1414 (December 11, 2012)

“8” Report by Charles Ashby in Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (December 11, 2012)

“9” E-mail exchange between Mesa County Attorney and Marks’ Attorney (November 28 and 30, 2012)

cc (by e-mail, w/o exhibits):

Lyle Dechant, Esquire

Jay Seaton, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Tracy Dvorak, Grand Junction Free Press

Marilyn Marks, Citizen Center

Thomas Bjorklund

Suzanne Staiert, Colorado Secretary of State’s Office


Everything You Never Wanted to Know about the Colorado River Basin

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Bureau of Reclamation released a new report on water usage in the Colorado River Basin. Short version, water is currently over-allocated and providing water to 40 million people. Projections are that by 2060 it will need to supply water to almost 71 million people-the basin will be 3.2 million acre feet of water short of meeting that demand.

It took two years to complete this study, and involved projections from seven states. Critics are suggesting that the anticipated population growth in the study amounted to little more than padding on the part of states so that their pet water projects would be funded. Likewise, climate deniers pooh-pooh the fact that the words climate change are in the report.

The final report runs to 1,000 pages, so I have not read the whole report. However, there was a fact sheet produced by the authors, which , along with the Executive Summary, is the basis of my comments.

The importance of this river system to the west cannot be overstated. From the Executive Summary:

“The Colorado River and its tributaries provide water to nearly 40 million people for municipal use, supply water used to irrigate nearly 5.5 million acres of land, and is also the lifeblood for at least 22 federally recognized tribes (tribes),7 National Wildlife Refuges, 4 National Recreation Areas, and 11 National Parks. Hydropower facilities along the Colorado River provide more than 4,200 megawatts of generating capacity, helping to meet the power needs of the West and offset the use of fossil fuels. The Colorado River is also vital to the United Mexican States (Mexico) to meet both agricultural and municipal water needs.”

Today there is already a shortage of water in the basin as measured by demand vs. supply. That shortage is projected to increase over time, the consequence of increased population and more frequent drought years.

“Studies have postulated that by mid-century the average yield of the Colorado River could be reduced by 10-20 percent due to climate change.” (Konola: There’s that phrase! Heads must be exploding at Fox News.)

When water is allocated, there are two types of usage: consumptive and non-consumptive. One example of non-consumptive is water that is used in hydroelectric plants because it eventually returns to the river. Consumptive water defines usage by manufacturing and households. The study projects increases in consumptive usage over the next 50 years.

This report is not all gloom and doom, although the solutions discussed in the report will be difficult to implement. During an open comment period, over 150 potential solutions were presented to the agency.  The report categorizes the potential solutions into four categories: increase supply, reduce demand, modify operations, and governance and implementation. As in study, the authors claim there was not enough money to adequately measure the usefulness of each of the proposed solutions. However, they did take a closer look at 30 of the 150 proposals.

Proposals that might increase supply include desalination of ocean water, reusing municipal and industrial waste water, treating coal-bed methane produced water, and harvesting rain water. Another sub-category in the increase supply proposals included things like forest management and tamarisk control. There were even proposals to modify the weather. And, of course there were proposals to take water from somewhere else: from the Missouri or Mississippi Rivers, from the Bear, Snake, or Yellowstone Rivers, from the Columbia River, or the best-importing ice-bergs.

Proposals that might decrease demand include conservation of manufacturing and industrial and agricultural water and converting power plants from water cooling to air cooling.

Proposals to modify operations include covering canals to reduce evaporation, covering reservoirs, using chemical covers to reduce evaporation. (Gee, that sounds good to me. How about we put a layer of oil on top of all canals and reservoirs to preserve the water and pollute it at the same time.) Some proposals included modifying the current operations of reservoirs and/or building new ones. Finally there is the concept of water banking.

The cumulative increase in water supply from all of the proposals was about 11 million cubic feet per year. None of the proposals had a price-tag attached, but study authors point out that not all of the proposals have the same feasibility. Discounting for feasibility, the 11 million cubic feet per year is reduced to 7 million. One of the options deemed unfeasible was hauling icebergs to California.

The Executive Summary concludes:

“The Study confirms that the Colorado River Basin faces a range of potential future imbalances between supply and demand. Addressing such imbalances will require diligent planning and cannot be resolved through any single approach or option. Instead, an approach that applies a wide variety of ideas at local, state, regional, and Basin-wide levels is needed. The Study’s

portfolio exploration demonstrated implementation of a broad range of options can reduce Basin

resource vulnerability and improve the system’s resiliency to dry hydrologic conditions while

meeting increasing demands in the Basin and adjacent areas receiving Colorado River water.”

Homework (Link to actual report):



On Aging and Chemo Brain

Last night on NBC News there was a story about Chemo Brain.  It explained a lot. During Chemo I noticed that I couldn’t always get the name of a person out of my brain. Sometimes I couldn’t think of the word I needed to describe something. In part that was why I didn’t blog much-my brain just wasn’t clear enough to express my observations. I suspected that it was because of all the chemicals rolling around in my brain, and that was confirmed in the story last night.

Now I’m wondering if aging does something similar to one’s brain. The two examples that come to mind as I ask that question are John McCain and Alan Simpson.

John McCain is having trouble thinking about Susan Rice becoming our Secretary of State. His elderly, addled brain has made him say some really dumb things. The most recent was in reference to comments made by Rice on Sunday shows:

“Under what circumstances? Why was reference to al Qaeda left out? There are so many things that have happened. The interesting things finally, we knew in hours of all the details when we got Bin Laden, they making a movie out of it and we are ten weeks later and finally our ambassador to the united nations who appeared on every national Sunday show is now saying that she gave false information concerning how this tragedy happened as far as the spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video.”

So, an elderly, addled brain can’t figure out that 1) we planned the raid on Bin Laden’s compound, so we knew a lot about it from the very beginning; 2) the attack on our embassy was planned by someone else, it happened in the dark, so we needed to investigate before we knew what actually happened.  Of course, Rachel Maddow has an alternative theory about McCain. Her theory is that the GOP wants one more seat in the Senate, and if John Kerry were appointed Secretary of State, his Senate seat would be open and filled by the governor until an election was held. The Democratic governor would presumably appoint another Democrat, but recently defeated Scott Brown could run in the mandated special election and win that seat back for the GOP. I don’t believe that Maddow has had chemo-therapy recently, nor is she old enough to have an elderly, addled brain, although she is fond of cocktails.

Alan Simpson’s elderly, addled brain has taken a more sinister approach to governing. In the days following the recent election, many GOP legislators have broken up with Grover Norquist by saying that they will violate their pledge to not raise taxes. Simpson went further:

“So how do you deal with someone who comes to stop government? … Grover wandering the earth in his white robe saying he wants to drown government in the bathtub. I hope he slips in there with it.”

Simpson went on to say that the reason it is called the Simpson Bowles plan is because the acronym if it were reversed is a bit racy.

Of course there may be another explanation for an elderly, addled brain. With age comes a new found freedom to say what one actually thinks without concern for how the comments may be received. Alan Simpson created quite a stir when he spoke at CMU in February of this year. Quotes from a Gary Harmon Story at the Sentinel from that time:

“We legalized alcohol and now we have 12 million alcoholics.” “These young people will be sucking canal water when they’re 65.” “[Abortion is] an intimate and deeply personal decision. I don’t think men legislators should even vote on it.” “You’re on the cover of Time one week and six months later you’re doing it.”  Refering to Rachel Maddow and Rush Limbaugh: “They’re entertainers and you just swallow that stuff. They just bitch, bitch, bitch.” “I know Newt and Santorum. Those guys creep me out,” “[The media] initiates conflict, confusion and controversy, but not clarity.” “Everything I’ve done is called lightning hitting the outhouse.” “We should treat ourselves with a lighter touch. We should speak well of a pretty damn fine experiment which is called “America.” “God bless you and go forth and multiply.”


Ray Scott, Absentee Representative

I’m sure nobody is surprised that I’ll be voting for Dan Robinson when I mail back my ballot. After all, I did work on his campaign before I was diagnosed with cancer and had to curtail some of my activities in order to beat that curmudgeon. But I’m not going to blog about what a great representative Dan will make, I’m going to tell you why I wouldn’t vote for Ray Scott, even if he were running unopposed.

I always found it curious that he was running for a second term. I heard him say, in a room full of people at a WSCA candidates forum, that he wanted one term. I think I’ve finally figured out why he decided a second term would be a good thing, and it has nothing to do with wanting to do a good job in Colorado’s House. It has everything to do with ego and greed.

I “liked” Ray Scott’s public page on Facebook because I’m a political junkie and I do things like that just so that I know what is going on. He posted pictures talking to crowds in Steamboat. He posted pictures talking to crowds in north eastern Colorado. He posted pictures of him at the race track in Aurora. There was a shortage of pictures of him anywhere near Grand Junction. He doesn’t live in Grand Junction anymore. He lives in that expensive apartment in Denver, where he also moved his business.

Everybody knows that for a business to succeed, the owner needs to be hands on, 24/7. Of course Ray Scott is spending more time in Denver than he is in Grand Junction. It is only natural. His business there is booming, while businesses here are floundering. Besides, that not-a-rat-hole apartment is a pretty nice place to be.

Ray Scott thinks he doesn’t need to be in Grand Junction for things like candidate debates. When I ran for office, I debated Steve King seven times. Ray Scott and Dan Robinson debated twice-at all of the other opportunities to speak to his actual constituents, Ray Scott was a no-show. Dan Robinson got to talk to an empty chair. Ray Scott is so arrogant that he thinks his popularity as a football jock in high school, which by the way wasn’t a Grand Junction high school, is an important factor in his electability. Seriously! I haven’t looked at his webpage lately, but it used to be one of the things he wanted you to know about him. That’s akin to a woman putting her attempts at being a beauty queen on a resume seeking the presidency of a company.

Ray Scott thinks it is enough to have people like Kevin McCarney and Marjorie Haun shilling for him in local newspapers. I’ve heard rumors about both McCarney and Marjorie Haun that would make your hair curl. Neither of them is a pillar of the community. Both are obnoxious loud mouths who have no problem with ignoring facts if it helps them advance their personal quests for power. They even attack fellow Republicans when it is useful personally to do so. Ask Garry and Barbara Brewer about that. In case you’ve forgotten, Barbara Brewer has been elected on more than one occasion to be our county assessor. From what I’ve seen she does her job well, and I had to opportunity to ask her a lot of questions when I met with her as a candidate. She really helped me understand how Mesa County’s property taxes work.

What I found particularly disgusting was Marjorie Haun’s attack on Dan Robinson for representing a family after their daughter was injured. The fact that there was an undocumented worker in the mix shouldn’t change the way that justice is served. If a kid is injured, the individual responsible for the injury needs to accept responsibility, and sometimes that means taking the individual and/or their insurance company to court. That is a right that all HUMANS should enjoy regardless of manmade borders. I’m sure Mitt Romney used lawyers in France after someone was killed in an accident where Mitt was one of the drivers. Would Marjorie Haun be so critical of Mitt in France?

But while I’m on the subject of undocumented workers, there is another rumor that I heard. I haven’t tried confirming this rumor, but my source has delivered good information to me in the past, and in this case he claims to have video evidence. Rumor has it that Ray Scott’s construction company regularly employed undocumented workers in order to keep his costs down and put more money into his pocket. I don’t know how a video could show anything other than people who look Latino, so I don’t think that is much evidence, but I think there is a reasonable probability that Scott did, in fact, hire undocumented workers for his construction projects. Which is worse? Getting justice for a kid or hiring undocumented workers instead of a Grand Junction resident?


Marjorie Haun Smearing Dan Robinson in a Free Press Letter:



When Did Conservative Morph to Bat Crap Crazy?

There is an old saying, credited to British historian Lord Acton. In an April 3, 1887, letter written to Bishop Mandell Creighton, Acton wrote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” He went on to say that great men are almost always bad men. I’ve been pondering this quote over the past few months as I’ve been watching the local Republican Party implode.

I first heard this quote from Carlton Nadelhoffer, a cousin of my ex-husband. At the time Carlton was the Chairman of the DuPage County, Illinois, Republican Party, and the local spokesperson for the Nixon presidential campaign. I honestly don’t remember the context of the discussion when Carlton made that comment, but it stuck in my mind, and I’ve heard it many times since.

Carlton was a Republican I could respect. I didn’t always agree with him politically, but then neither did his own brother. He was on the first Advisory Committee of the DuPage Community Foundation. Their work was centered on raising the quality of life in DuPage County by “fostering philanthropy, connecting donors to area needs and building community partnerships.”  This organization supports grants to further education, health and human services, arts and culture, and the environment.

Fast forward to 2012 in Mesa County:  We have three county commissioners who rarely utter the words that guide the DuPage Community Foundation.  Absent Janet Rowland, who truly is devoted to health and human services, especially when it comes to preventing domestic violence impacting children, the commissioners are focused on their own self serving interests.  I’ll step back from that extreme statement and comment that I do trust Steve Aquafresca to look out for western slope water.

Craig Meis, however has reached the point of absolute corruption.  He attended a meeting in Vernal, Utah that skirted the intent of Colorado’s Sunshine Laws.  Meis didn’t get Mesa County involved in the lawsuit brought by environmental groups against Garfield County because the two other commissioners stayed home, making him in compliance with the letter of the law.  Meis has demonstrated his corruption in multiple ways over his term as commissioner.  The events range from trying to get a boating ticket fixed, to trying to get out of a speeding ticket, to ignoring a fire ban when the entire western slope was a tinder-box.  He is famous for refusing to allow constituents to place their concerns into the public record.  The most recent example was when he first snickered, and then gaveled to a close, comments by Benita Phillips, President of Western Colorado Congress of Mesa County, a Registered Nurse,  and fellow Republican, because she mentioned an internationally renowned scientist in the context of health care concerns about the unfettered development of oil shale.

While easy to point at the in-office foibles of elected officials, that does not tell the whole story of the seedy underbelly of the current “movers and shakers” in the local party.  Western Slope Conservative Alliance, closely aligned with the Republican Party, has slipped into madness. Their primary spokespersons are GOP Vice-Chair Kevin McCarney and Marjorie Haun, who have gone out of their way to smear and stop any individual who disagrees with them.  They have fallen for every whack-a-doodle conspiracy theory, spouted lies, and involved law enforcement officials in order to further their paranoid delusions.

They truly believe that the UN, and the environmental agreement known as Agenda 21, is a plot to take over the government of the United States.  They truly believe that Democrats are out to take their guns, despite the local Democratic Party sponsoring gun safety courses for underprivileged kids who might not otherwise have the resources to attend these training sessions.  They slandered Dan Robinson and waged an on-line war against Barbara and Garry Brewer.  You may recognize Barbara Brewer as the Republican elected Mesa County Assessor.  WSCA members have filed bogus charges against members of GJResult/TeaParty, most noticeably the activist known as American Patriot, because of his demands that WSCA be accountable to their membership by holding elections for officers.

When you cast your vote this fall, think about how nuts all of this sounds and remember that these are the people choosing the GOP candidates on that ballot.  


Obama vs Ryan

Back in March I wrote a column comparing the Obama and Ryan budgets. Because Romney named Ryan as his running mate today, I’m re-posting the opinion piece.

Both President Obama and Representative Paul Ryan have recently submitted budget proposals to congress for consideration in the budget debate for 2013. One can clearly see two separate visions for America by observing the values stressed in the two documents.

The Democratic budget is about solving problems:  reducing government by consolidating departments that have similar missions, staying within the guidelines for program cuts set forth by legislation kicking in with the failure of the debt Super Committee, and investing in a future that includes good roads and bridges, schools with good teachers, and an environment that promotes the health and well being of all citizens.

According to Robert Greenstein, President of the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,

“The new Ryan budget is a remarkable document – one that, for most of the past half-century, would have been outside the bounds of mainstream discussion due to its extreme nature. In essence, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse – on steroids.  It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history).  It also would stand a core principle of the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission’s report on its head – that policymakers should reduce the deficit in a way that does not increase poverty or widen inequality.”

The starkest difference in the two budgets is in what is prioritized. Ryan continues to promote tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, excessive investment in the military/industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about, and cuts to programs that effectively changed the expected life-span of Americans by taking senior citizens out of poverty and giving them access to quality and affordable health care.

The Obama budget proposes changes to Medicare that would preserve the program, but improve its long-term financial viability. The Ryan budget changes Medicare so dramatically that current users would not recognize the program. Ryan seems to have forgotten the protest signs that said, “Keep Government’s Hands off My Medicare.”

Obama assumes that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known by its opponents as Obama Care, will be upheld as constitutional. His budget provides financing to implement ACA, including “helping States establish Affordable Insurance Exchanges and developing the infrastructure to provide cost sharing and premium assistance to make coverage affordable. ” Colorado has already begun to design the Affordable Insurance Exchanges required under ACA. Colorado law recognizes that there needs to be a vehicle to help uninsured low-income families shop for and afford health insurance.

Obama’s changes to Medicare include more robust fraud controls. Fraud drains money that could be used to satisfy the health care needs of patients. Fraud lines the pockets of unscrupulous doctors and clinics, while robbing taxpayers.

The stated intent of the Obama budget is to

“extend Medicare’s solvency while encouraging provider efficiencies and improved patient care.”

The proposals to achieve efficiency include changing how providers are compensated, changing co-payments by users, and implementing the best practices of Medicaid into Medicare-presumably that means allowing Medicare to negotiate for prescription drug prices, just as Medicaid already does.

The Ryan budget proposes to make Medicaid a block grant to the states and to slash its funding, which is adamantly opposed by Obama. However, the Obama plan does recommend changing the funding formulas for all federally funded health care programs, streamlining administration of the programs, and the accompanying administrative expenses. All together the Obama proposals to change Medicaid would save $51 billion over the next 10 years.

Greenstein reports

“a new Congressional Budget Office analysis that Chairman Ryan himself requested shows that, after several decades, the Ryan budget would shrink the federal government so dramatically that most of what it does outside of Social Security, health care, and defense would essentially disappear.  …That includes everything from veterans’ programs to medical and scientific research, highways, education, nearly all programs for low-income families and individuals other than Medicaid, national parks, border patrols, protection of food safety and the water supply, law enforcement…”

Both budget proposals are available on line. Before you jump on either the Republican or Democratic bandwagon this election season, take the time to read them.


Rose Pugliese, Mesa County Commissioner Candidate, Came to Bagels

There is a group that meets every Friday morning in a back room at Main Street Bagels to discuss current affairs. Although the group has members from both major political parties, they tend to be progressive in their thinking about issues. They also tend to express themselves frequently in letters to the editor. Because of their visibility in the community, most politicians and city and county department heads eventually show up to present their point of view.

This group is extremely well informed and well educated. I always feel as though the group IQ goes down when I enter the room. I am one of the few people in the group without an advanced degree in my profession. The members of the group include nuclear physicists, chemical engineers, marketing gurus, college math professors, small business owners, newspaper columnists…

The group tends to take no prisoners when a position is presented that is based in ideology instead of fact. They delight in telling how State Senator Steve King walked out when he was grilled about health care. They scorn at the ineptitude of Kelly Sloan, a Canadian, when it comes to describing economic issues.

Yesterday, Rose Pugliese came to Main Street Bagels. She knew about the group’s reputation before she came. Kudos to Rose–for being willing to walk into a room full of progressives and answer their questions, which she did for a full two hours. At the end of the two hours a member, who is an ex-pharmaceutical company executive and a naturalized citizen originally from England, informed Rose that he was reserving his vote because she had not convinced him that she knew enough to be a county commissioner. Later, in a facebook post, a chemical engineer made this comment, “She came across to me as an uninformed, empty vessel, who will probably be filled by Janet Rowland, and her main advisor, Rick Wagner.”

Rose is a very nice young woman. I met her when I was running against Steve King and she was working on his campaign. He and I had multiple debates, and she was always in attendance. We usually have friendly greetings when we see each other. She gave me a hug when she entered the room, and knowing that I’m about to go into chemo-therapy, mentioned that she makes an awesome baked ziti.

Rose is an attorney, who worked hard to get that degree. She understands that keeping her license to practice law is dependent upon the highest ethical standards. She speaks the Republican mantra of fewer regulations and no new taxes. When pushed on the question of which county regulations she would eliminate, she mentioned the county land use code.

She wanted our group to know that she had never endorsed the teaching of evolution in our schools, despite the community’s perception that she had. She also said she believes in climate change, but questions the element that blames it on humans.

I think Rose’s biggest surprise came when she learned that the oil and gas industry has been subsidized for decades, and that there has not been one drop of oil produced from oil shale that wasn’t done with the benefit of huge government subsidies. It was especially poignant watching her realize that the people telling her that there is no commercially viable technology to produce oil shale are people who have actually worked in the industry as chemical engineers, both here and in Saudi Arabia. One strongly delivered comment from a former industry scientist was that we’d be mining vanadium on the back side of the moon before we’d be producing oil from oil shale on the Roan Plateau.

It was suggested that after decades of subsidy, and after becoming the most profitable industry on the planet, it was time to cut the oil and gas industry off from the spigot of government money. It was further suggested that if the US truly wants energy security we should be providing those subsidies to emerging technologies, so that we can lead the world in technologies that will replace our dependence on oil imports with renewable energy. Rose honestly said that she had never thought about it from that perspective. I’m sure that’s true, current county commissioners have sold their soul to the company store, and that’s the company she keeps.

Bottom line, Rose is a very nice and well intentioned young woman. She really wants her child to be raised in an environment where it is possible to spend a family-Sunday picking apples on a neighboring farm. Her head, unfortunately, has been filled with Republican talking points and very little scientific based fact. To her credit, she indicated she would like to do some research on the topics discussed over her two hours with us, and come back again in three-weeks.

County demographics are such that Rose will probably win the seat she is seeking. I am supporting the Democratic candidate, Dave Edwards, who is running in the same race, but it would be a real upset if Dave won. Rose walked away with the nomination at the Republican County Assembly. She appears to have the support of “reasonable” Republicans, the local Tea Party and even the emotional and out-of control Marjorie Haun, aka Reagan Girl. She is eager to please and even willing to listen to a bunch of curmudgeons hanging out in a bagel shop.

It is my personal opinion that she is not seasoned enough to be a county commissioner.

For the record, Dave Edwards also came to Bagels one Friday morning.