Where’s the skin?

Ruh Roh

Bryan Baum 2010

There’s skin.  There’s thin skin.  And then there’s no skin at all. The latter appears to be the apt description of Longmont’s Mayor.  Perhaps he put it all into the quid-pro-quo game.

KCRN 1060 AM and the Best of Longmont  have created a live broadcast between 6 and 7 PM called “Mondays with the Mayor”.  It seems, however, that Mayor Baum considers this an exclusive opportunity to pepper the airways with his personal ideology.

It’s a new show and is broadcast live from Buzz Coffee.  I was present to observe Mayor Baum demonstrate his intolerance—again.  And in so very many ways!!

Today’s guest was Jonathan Singer, President of the Longmont Area Democrats.  As always, Mr. Singer’s humor is quick and witty.  Such a marvelous contrast to the dour  and humorless  Mayor Baum, a characteristic  so typical of the rabid right – whether in Longmont or across this great country.

After Mr. Singer introduced himself to the Longmont listeners, he quipped, “So we have a mayor and a president.”  I’m confident that brought a chuckle to some and some head-banging to others.

One of the first questions asked of the mayor was about tuition equity at our Colorado colleges and universities.  Many of Colorado’s immigrant students are effectively blocked from fair tuition rates because their parents, here without documentation, brought them to Colorado.  These are good, dedicated students who have demonstrated their ability.

Baum’s reply was the typical deflection used by right wing ideologues.  But before he was finished talking the truth slipped out.  (He just can’t help himself.  No matter how his handlers try, and no matter how far up the food chain they go, they won’t be able to make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear.)

Baum’s solution to high school seniors hoping to go directly into college, is to continue to live in the shadows while seeking naturalization.  Now that, of course, takes years.  Clearly Baum, cares little for the plight of the immigrant community and particularly the Latino community, a substantial part of Longmont’s population.  Baum spoke of immigrants who seek the help of attorneys for naturalization as being “victimized by their own people.”

Their own people!”  Isn’t that lovely.  And I suppose that we’re to accept HIS word for this.  Since you have no skin, Mayor Baum, perhaps you can “show us the beef”.  He spoke of gathering a “consortium of attorneys”  to assist.  I certainly hope these attorneys are not descendents  of Longmont’s presumably buried KKK history.

But, Baum wasn’t done.  Oh, no!

A young student asked Mayor Baum about Longmont’s density per population of gangs and what could be done about this.  The young man is black.  The first question out of Mayor Baum’s mouth, “Are you in a gang?”  Had the question been asked by a white student, I seriously doubt that Baum would have asked the same question.

2 + 2 = 4, Longmont.  I’m sure that those who frequently post racist comments on the Times-Call article blogs are delighted to have elected one of their own.  The rest of us are simply nauseated.

But Mayor Baum, wasn’t done picking fights with those who don’t agree with him.  Don’t forget, this program was viewed by his political allies and operatives as a way to burnish an image of Mr. Nice Guy.  Sorry, Charlie, it won’t wash.  Perhaps the losses should be cut.

This was my first experience with “Mondays with the Mayor”.  So I took the opportunity to ask about an issue that means a great deal to the Longmont community – Twin Peaks Mall.

I asked the mayor why the community hasn’t been given the complete set of facts about Panattoni’s ability to redevelop the Mall.  Since the Times-Call has failed to report the numbers that are relevant to understanding the company’s ability to proceed, I took the opportunity to provide that information.

Panattoni purchased the Mall in 2007 for $37 million.  The boom led to a bust and now the Mall is worth only $17 million. And that is likely not yet the bottom for the commercial retail market.  Panattoni put $8 million down on the property.  Bank of America, who holds the paper, now requires 50% equity in order to refinance.  Panattoni is “underwater,” meaning they owe more that the property is worth.

The Baum SquadBaum doesn’t dispute the data, he merely tries to claim that this is “old news” and “everyone knows this”.  No, Mayor Baum, “everyone” doesn’t know this.  Not the other members of the council outside the well-described “Baum Squad”.  Not the public.  But the Times-Call, who oh-so-carefully reported in generic terms so that the gravity would remain hidden, undoubtedly did know.

Mayor Baum, I read the Times-Call.  EVERY DAY.  These numbers were never published.  They first appeared in an email from Council Member Katie Witt and were revealed on www.freerangelongmont.com.    And unless you don’t read the Times-Call, your statement to the contrary about the availability of this specific information is, yes, “Disingenuous, sir.”  And that was the nice way to put it.

Again, the skinless mayor, had to have a retort (amongst his many incivilities), when he addressed me as amongst those who are not “well-connected”.   Yes, Mayor Baum, I’m not a part of the Longmont oligarchy.  And I’m proud of it.  I “speak truth to power” so that the ordinary Longmont citizen can live his or her life trusting that city business will be taken care of—to the benefit of us all.  I “speak truth to power” to expose what goes on behind all those Wizard of Ozian curtains.

When Singer asked about the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act, Baum suggested that the convoluted “in-kind” method that he used in the recent campaign is the way reporting should be done.   Does he really expect the public to swallow that dollars spent “in-kind” are any different than donated dollars or that somehow they are more open and transparent?

Come-come, Mayor Baum.  The Longmont community is not that gullible.  Keep insulting them and see where that gets you.

And let’s not forget that Baum previously explained that he didn’t want his hands dirtied by political money.  Spoken like a man with a very guilty conscience.  The opportunities to ask Mayor Baum, “What did you know and when did you know it?”, are the gift that keeps on giving.

Mr. Singer asked the mayor what other opportunities might be available to help the environment since Baum ferociously torpedoed Longmont’s opportunity to participate in the Governor’s Energy Office’s matching grant program for solar photovoltaics.  Predictably, he once again “went postal”.

This mayor has no respect for the environment.  He’s a climate-change denier.  He’s an oil-gas-and-coal man who was catapulted into office by the rabidly anti-environmental Montana organization Western Tradition Partnership.  He’ll throw a bone once in a while in a feeble attempt to obscure his attitude toward the environment and hoodwink the public.   Don’t expect the Longmont that your kids will live in to be protected by him or his supporters.  They’ll take theirs NOW, thank you.

So, Mayor Baum, you can talk to the community on Monday nights, but this is not a pass to spread your corporatist ideology or advance the agenda of the oligarchy.   Your inner sanctum  knew what they were getting when they voted for you.  The rest, victimized by the Times-Call political water torture for two years and frustrated over the economic conditions prevailing in Longmont and throughout the nation, thought they were getting a fix-it man, new blood.

In fact, they have gotten everything they were sick of in 2007 and before.  The community will figure that out – sooner or later.  Truth eventually rises to the surface.  All the lipstick you apply will not change that.

  10 comments for “Where’s the skin?

  1. sam
    March 10, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Right on! If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…..

  2. Wendell Wyler
    March 10, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Kudos to Ms. Fissinger. This is tough, in your face political writing that puts truth first and tact a distant second. Maybe not. Maybe I am so used to hearing truth with its legs amputated for the sake of political correctness that I don’t know what it sounds like. Mayor Baum seems to have taken the job thinking it was part time after school. Ms. Fissinger is taking him back to school. Only one question: With Panattoni (sounds like a dessert) underwater, what is happening with the redev of poor Twin Peaks Mall? Every time I see the movie marque on south Hover I want to make a donation.

  3. M. Douglas Wray
    March 10, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Wendell, thank heaven fast that you’re NOT making ‘contributions’ right NOW! If the developer-industry in Longmont had gotten its way we’d have lost millions and imagine what -that- would have done to our budget! The real question being begged is ‘who knew what and when?’ My opinion: there were numerous post-election deals being cooked up like financial meth during ‘Haiwaiian vacations’ and ‘boar hunts’ with the WTP boys nodding and smiling in the background. Time will tell.

  4. March 10, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Thanks for shining a light on this BS…not pretty to look at or smell, but will help us not to step in it. Thanks Kaye!

  5. Kathy P
    March 10, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    This article read like satire — our mayor as a political joke and a mean one at that.

    Panattonni kicked out at least two paying tenants at Twin Peaks Mall, putting Longmont residents out of work and contributing to the decline of their own “asset.” How about Mayor Baum condemn the property and convert it to community purpose? (new campus for Front Range college perhaps?)

  6. Jonathan Singer
    March 25, 2010 at 12:00 am

    I am glad that Ms. Fissinger was able to attend the broadcast of “Mondays with the Mayor.” She is an incredibly knowledgeable resource for Longmont politics and policy.

    Also, her discussion of race and politics is an important one. These issues are too often glossed over or ignored in the name of “political correctness.”

    That being said, I cannot agree with the use of following comment:

    “He (Baum) spoke of gathering a “consortium of attorneys” to assist. I certainly hope these attorneys are not descendants of Longmont’s presumably buried KKK history.”

    The KKK has left an indelibly ugly mark on Longmont and Colorado politics. It is a part of our heritage that we must be honest about if we are to move past it. And to tell you the truth, we are far from passing our ugly history. Only a year ago I personally walked in a Longmont neighborhood where neo-nazi skinheads live (the swatiskas in the driveway were a dead giveaway). There are constant racist comments on Times-Call comment sections online (most of which are thankfully removed). Even the assertion that our Mayor might be consulting with the descendants of the KKK needs some factual basis. Without this, I think the assertion should be removed.

    Comments such as the above put a roadblock to the serious dialogue that needs to happen and it cheapens the destructive image of actual fascists and KKK’ers. People on the other side of the political spectrum morphed images of our President Obama and progressive political organizations with Hitler. They threw around the words “Nazi”, “Brownshirt”, and “Fascist” without any serious historical context. I believe it is imperative to be critical of both sides when they use racially charged language out of context.

    If the Mayor knows about a group of people in the immigrant community victimizing others, he needs to come forward to protect Longmont residents. And he should not just be working with lawyers, but but law enforcement if necessary. I look forward to hearing the results of his consultations.

    If Mayor Baum is concerned about a young black man being a gang member, he needs to come forward and say why he thinks he is in a gang. Otherwise people can be left with the wrong impression. I spoke to youth after the show. He noted that people ask if he is in a gang all the time. He said that Twin Peaks mall security stopped him with a group of white friends when they were sitting on a bench waiting for a movie. The security officer directed him specifically to leave because the young man had not yet bought his ticket. The youth was left to assume that it had more to do with the color of his skin rather than an issue with loitering.

    These are touchy issues and people are quick to anger. Too often, people on political sides are quick to blame someone else rather than deal with the issues. I am sure the “Kaye Haters” out there are going to pounce of the KKK comment without reading about her legitimate concerns regarding immigration, gangs, or even the non-racially charged Twin Peaks Mall controversy.

    I sincerely hope that people take this opportunity to reflect on Longmont’s history, present and future. Electoral politics are a zero-sum game. There are winners and losers. But the truth is that if we cannot work together in good faith on issues of on policy, ethnicity, and community – with honest political disagreements – we all lose.

    -Jonathan Singer

  7. Anton Dworak
    March 25, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Thank you, Mr. Singer for your comments. A friend alerted me to some of Ms. Fissinger’s comments which implied that there are attorneys in Longmont that “are descendents of Longmont’s presumably buried KKK history”. I am, as far as I know, one of the two current attorneys in Longmont who had ancestors living and working here during the KKK’s brief and unfortunate reign. The other, Mr. John Flanders, has the honor as counting as one of his ancestors Fred W. Flanders who was elected to end the terrible reign of the KKK in Longmont. As for my family, we were Czech immigrant bakers and grocers who came here after suffering prior disaster in Ward. After some challenges, we were able to get into the real estate and insurance business. Any insinuation that my family had any involvement with the KKK at such time, besides being offensive, is silly in that our family records of the time show my Great-grandfather Anton was ridiculed for his lack of command of the English language. He responded by sending his eldest son (the first in Longmont’s history and my son’s namesake ) to Harvard for his MBA.
    Currently, my Longmont law firm employs 28 persons that have a variety of business, political, and personal opinions that are sometimes internally at odds with the views of our clients, but we in the tradition of our country’s founders (most of whom were lawyers) recognize the necessity of representing those whose beliefs might not match up with ours.
    It’s easy to advocate on the behalf of the Flanders family, because they deserve only the best of respect and thanks on behalf of the community for all they have done. Defending myself against such comments against my heritage feels uncomfortable. If it comes to “tit for tat” I am, however, more than willing to put my family’s service in support of low income housing special needs children, O & A support and policies, polio eradication, disaster relief and special transit issues against anyone else’s and see where my failings are. If I can do more, I will.

  8. March 26, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Mr. Dworak, thank you for your response to my article about the attitudes displayed by Mayor Baum in the March 8th broadcast of “Monday with the Mayor”.

    Frankly, I’m puzzled that you felt compelled to defend yourself and your family’s background since you were not identified in any manner in the article. My comments were motivated by our mayor’s comments. I was left wondering who might be included in the “consortium of attorneys” identified by Mayor Baum.

    With your history in Longmont I would expect that you are aware that Longmont is the current headquarters of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. And comments made over the last few years on Times-Call Online are further evidence that there is an undertow of racial hostility that is expressed by some of our residents. These individuals, and there are many, clearly are poster children for racism.

    Obviously and sadly, part of Longmont’s ugly history has not been eradicated, although some may prefer to have it swept under that proverbial rug.

    Having said that, some of your comments have prompted me to do additional research. Over the weekend I will respond at greater length in a free-standing ‘free range’ article.

  9. M. Douglas Wray
    March 27, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    The reason the KKK held power for as many years (yes years) as they did was because people were afraid to stand up to them. If Longmont had such a staunch moral character why did it take years for someone to challenge the Klan? That’s an awfully long time. There’s still a strong streak of hardcore racism in Longmont that can only be seen in certain well-appointed backrooms and only when ‘the right people’ are present. Or should I say ‘far right people?’ I hear barking again…

  10. Ruby Bowman
    March 29, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    The City of Longmont does indeed have a problem with racism in the community. This was very evident in the uncensored blog comments to the recent Times Call story titled, 20 Locals to March for Immigration Reform in D.C. TC did remove some of the offending remarks, but many of the racist comments remained online for many hours for all to read.

    Racism in the community is a touchy subject. And so far, it has not been seriously discussed or dealt with by our elected leaders, past and present. I hope this online discussion will be a wake up call to city officials and leaders that the racial/ethnic/cultural intolerance that exists in the community needs to be addressed and not swept under the rug any longer.

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