Response to Rodriguez

Richard Juday, Longmont, CO

Richard Juday

Ordinarily I don’t bother responding to the blogging and Opinion Page pieces Chris Rodriguez writes, but some elements of his recent article should be clarified with input from the other side.  He leans heavily on a putative denunciation made by Mayor Coombs regarding certain campaign activity; viz., an informative mailing Rodriquez describes as a political attack ad, and a story on the Baum family dogs.  I appreciate that Rodriguez is not tarring Coombs, since he is correct that Coombs had nothing to do with the two actions he objects to.  So let’s concentrate on bloggers, dogs, and mailers, all relevant to the recent election and Rodriguez’s Opinion piece.

My difficulty with Rodriguez’s blogging is that his activity comes up when outsiders Google “Longmont”.  In searching for a place to move your business or residence, you will find this activity and have an undeservedly poor impression of the community.  I have received comments from non-residents that confirm this statement.  But I must say I was wryly amused by Wray’s frank distinction between blogging and the legitimate reportage the Times-Call gave to the dog story.

As for the dog attack, it runs deeper than the Times-Call story. Let’s consider some critical elements as they relate to the attitudes and behavior of the former Mayor.  Per the facts available to me, the larger story illuminates several points.  The base story (there’s not room for all the details) is that dogs escaped from the Baums’ yard, attacked a passing dog whose owner, too, was injured in the melee, and that after promising to pay the expenses the Baums were taken to court, lost, but did as the court required.  A week before the election the Times-Call asked Baum about the case and I refer you to the resulting story in which Baum breaks bad all over the reporter.

First we see evasion of responsibility as Baum attempts to blame his HOA (for watering the fence behind his house), the chewed-up owner of the attacked dog herself (declaring it a provocation for her to try to wrest her dog from the fray), and then the judge (for misinterpreting the law).  When it came to court, the Baums were insistent that the dog was only Stephanie’s, and Bryan incurred no misdemeanor conviction.  But by the time Baum wrote his “vote for me” piece in the Times-Call, the dog had become “my dog”.  Had the Baums covered the victim’s expenses without the coercion of the legal system, this would never have been a story.  My insurance agent informs me that homeowners insurance covers public liability of this sort, in full with no deductible.  But to file an insurance claim would have been an admission of responsibility.

Second comes Bryan’s volatility.  Two examples (of many available) will serve.  After loss of the court case, the former mayor shouted at the plaintiff in the hallway and was consequently asked by court security to depart.  And when the Times-Call reporter, P.J. Shields, asked him about the facts, he exploded with a threat.  Had he told Shields “This is a settled case, we lost, we paid, we’re sorry, it won’t happen again,” I think it would have rated a one-paragraph entry on page 5.  Instead, it’s a front page item plus half an inside page.  This is no one’s fault but Baum’s.

As for the recent mailer, please note that most contributors made themselves known whereas at least two of them (Benker, Juday) had been the object of anonymously-funded attacks.  (Rodriguez approved of those anonymous mailings.)  The mailer that Rodriguez objects to this year contains honest opinions – strongly worded to be sure, but backed by facts, not lies, slander, or anonymity.

As for Coombs’ disavowal of the bloggers, mailers, and dog-story tellers, it is accurate that they functioned entirely outside of his campaign.  However, I think our actions made a final difference in his election and helped bring to Longmont a very civil, responsible, and balanced leader.  We may well be pleased with ourselves and the result.  I hope Rodriquez has shot his final bolt at the mayoral election and along with the rest of the community will now relax and enjoy Coombs’ leadership.  It’ll be a breath of fresh air.

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