M. Douglas Wray

Campaign finance: The end of Democracy

From the Boulder Daily Camera:

Dan Frazier: Campaign finance: The end of Democracy

We can write the obituary for our American Democracy.  It died January 21st, 2010, with the Supreme Court ruling for Citizens United v. FEC.  From this day forward, there are no limits on the money that large or even multi-national corporations may use to control elections.  However much money a candidate can raise, corporations will be able to overwhelm that campaign with legal media buys.   In less than a decade, all elected officials will be vassals of corporations.  Instead of Democracy we will have Fascism: The marriage of government and business under authoritarian rule.

Of course we will not notice much of a change at first.  The elections will seem much the same.  A few of your favorite shows will go away but there will be plenty of interactive, sports, and reality shows.  There won’t be much media chatter about the bad economy except to blame it on some radicals.  Where you had a house, your kids will only be lucky to afford an apartment.  Many of your friends and relatives will fall on hard times but it will not be reflected in the news, which will talk instead about the patriotic necessity to sacrifice for the war.

There will really be only one party, with the two wings called the Democrats and Republicans.  Only corporate-vetted candidates will be on ballots and elections will be electronic and privatized.  Government positions will be patronage for loyal corporatists.  Corporations will be able to write or change any law to suit their purposes.  All facets of government will be repurposed for corporate use.  Public safety nets such as Social Security and Medicare will be quietly eliminated.   Constitutional rights will disappear because no one will defend them.

You think this is fiction?  It is already happening.  Who is going to stop it?

Dan Frazier
Boulder
Leave a comment at the Daily Camera

Money runs wild

Colorado GOP to sue to lift campaign money limits – The Denver Post

Colorado Republicans will sue to overturn voter-approved state limits on some campaign contributions after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday that tossed out restrictions on corporate involvement in federal races. “Our firm will be bringing a challenge to this law in the coming days,” said Ryan Call, an attorney with Hale-Friesen. Call said the firm will represent the Colorado Republican Party in the suit and is trying to put together a cross section of plaintiffs. “It will be a broad coalition,” he said. “It will be partisan groups. It will be trade associations, individual companies and corporations.”

Read the rest at The Denver Post

Letter to the editor by Don Boyer

Occasionally the misperception presented by our local candidates force me to respond.  The latest is the assertion that Mayor Baum only spent $4000 of his own money to get elected.  He wants us to believe that, that’s why he said it.  In truth, he spent $13,380 to get elected (“Winners raised, spent more money in November election” Rachel Carter, Longmont Times-Call, December 4, 2009), but $4000, he says, was his own cash.

In fact, the four winners outspent the losers by an average of 4 to 1.  The four winners (Baum, Witt, Santos and Sammoury) officially spent $57,400 according to the article cited above.  While the losers (Benker, Van Dusen, Fissinger and Lange) officially spent $20,736.  This is a ratio of 4:1.

Baum outspent Lange ($13,380 vs. $4,838) by spending $4 for every $1 that Lange spent.  This is roughly true for all four candidates with Santos spending the most at $14,535.

This does not address all the funding that was not officially attributed to any candidate such as the push-poll that was performed against Benker.

Politicians count on us having short memories.  They count on us to go along with the winners who are in power no matter how they won.  They want us to believe that having an oversight committee for election funding practices is not necessary because they were able to circumvent the committee’s purpose so easily.

So the baby gets thrown out with the bath water.  That is what they want.

We have a city council that is bought and paid for by special interests.  We need to recognize that.  We need to examine the agenda of the new city council.  What are they doing for us?  What are they doing to us?  In the very least, we need not accept their version of the facts without severe scrutiny.

Don Boyer
Longmont, CO

How we chose our name

In response to a comment at the Times-Call blarg…er.. blog:

Wray – cute name for your new blog – are we to assume that based on the name, the writers are all just a bunch of chickens? Is this new venture a co-op…or a…wait for it…a coop?
Longmonter, Longmont, CO, 1/21/2010 9:43 AM

Now, normally I don’t talk to non-entities since I like to know who it is I’m talking to, but this is a pretty basic question and I’ll entertain the Lunatic Fringe on this occasion.

Free Range Longmont’s name came about during a discussion of all the right-wing websites that have popped (pooped?) up over the past couple of years (LongmontReport, PercyReport, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseum). In particular we noticed FrontRangeChickens.com:

and we felt that the idea of chickens fighting back was actually pretty funny and the idea of ‘free range’ anything was generally pretty good, so it stuck. (side note: Mr. Rodriguez recently chided FRL for it’s use of ‘violent imagery’ – sorry sir, your Lunatic Fringe pals beat us to it long ago.)

Are we a co-op? Hell yah! We have over a dozen writers now and plan to have many more as time goes on. Don’t forget, the 28% turnout in this last election means that only 14% of the voters in Longmont approve of this council – something tells me we can get a substantial fraction of the other 86% activated and durn-right pissed off before the next election. If we can get the turnout back up into the 40% range, something tells me the Lunatic Fringe’s reign of terror will be over as quick as it started.

Are we a coop? Welllll… there are a number of ‘spring chickens’ as well as ‘seasoned hens’ and no shortage of young and old ‘roosters’ so I suppose you could call us a coop… if you’re simply looking for an insult (and it’s obvious you are).

Lastly, in response to ‘Keith H.’ (again, who the hell is this?) who claims I ‘waste the public’s time…’ you make me laugh. You’re another anonymous nobody bloviating endlessly and for all the ‘public’ knows you’re yet another avatar of Chris Rodriguez, Stephanie Baum, Richard Yale or one of the other Lunatic Fringers ‘catapulting the rhetoric’. Go fantasize while listening to Rush, it’s as close as you’ll ever get to your ideal world.

Mayor doesn’t want ‘scrutiny’

Some content from TimesCall.com

Our mayor point-blank says:

“…I didn’t want the scrutiny.” and “I didn’t want people picking everything apart like they seem to like to do. I wanted to stay out of that fray, and I did.”

One has to wonder about someone that put $4,000 of his own money into his campaign and yet doesn’t think the voters deserve to know what it was spent on. For all we know there were hired thugs blogging for him daily… hm.

A commenter on the story, George S. had this to say:

Bryan’s baum-shell: “I didn’t want the scrutiny.” That speaks volumes. Politicians who say that have something to hide, and whining that the Election Committee is biased against you is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Cockroaches run from a light. The Longmont Leadership folks, Wrongmont and Katie Witt didn’t want the scrutiny either. And their Chamber of Commerce, Rotary and developer pals sit there like the “see-no-evil” monkeys.

What a conundrum for the Times-Call. Baum’s buddies are your big advertisers and country-club pals. And yet you’ve editorialized forthrightly in favor of open government and sunshine laws for decades, and a statement such as “I didn’t want the scrutiny” should make your spidey senses go to DefCon 5.

So which will guide you, Times-Call editorialists? Your ad revenue or your principles? Unfortunately, I’m betting the former. Standing up for what’s right is uncomfortable, but I’m betting you’ll decide that getting the cold shoulder at Fox Hill is worse.

George S., Longmont, 1/20/2010 9:59 AM

and when the mayor’s wife attacked his assertions, he also had this to say:

Stephanie, “being scrutinized by his opposition as to who gave him what” goes by another name: openness. Wouldn’t you want to know that about your opponents in the next election? All declawing the EC does is protect candidates from scrutiny whose funding really needs to be scrutinized. If a council member votes to grant a big zoning change to the XYZ Widget Company or the First Tax-Sheltered Megachurch of Perpetual Profit, shouldn’t we as taxpayers and voters (and you as managing his opponent’s campaign) know if that council member holds stock in that company, is a member of that church, or has received contributions from those who do and are? Bryan said that HE didn’t want the scrutiny … but who else on his slate of candidates is he also protecting from scrutiny? If everything is so above-board, Stephanie Baum, I’m sure you won’t have any trouble, right here in this thread, naming for us the members of Council who are, for instance, members of LifeBridge church. For the record, so the electorate knows. If you dodge my queston, it’s yet another scrutiny-avoidance that will speak volumes.

George S., Longmont, 1/20/2010 2:59 PM

You know, I’d think the mayor’s wife would have the wits to stop trying to defend him, she’s doing more harm than good.

She’s also clearly as thin-skinned as her husband, leaving a comment about a post at my political humor blog ‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’:

Too all, please ignore my typo at the bottom of my earlier post – “t-shirts” became a mildly vulger typo. Some people think this is newsworthy enough to repost on their blogs. I would image the adults in the audience would recognize we’re all human and typos are just that. The children among us will giggle and point and make fools of themselves. Decide for yourself which group you fall in to.

Stephanie Baum, Longmont, CO, 1/20/2010 7:27 PM

That’s hilarious Ms. Baum. Your husband, the mayor, says something as childish as ‘…well I guess we should all get up and leave…’ when criticized by citizens and you call his opponents ‘children’.

Pretty obvious to the casual observer who needs to grow up.

Your hard-core partisanship during the election was obvious and hateful and your husband is clearly of the same stripe. The public is watching now and neither of you are acquitting yourselves well.

City Council Retreat, January 22-23, 2010

http://www.ci.longmont.co.us/city_council/retreat/2010/documents/overview.pdf

To view the documents, just click on the links below to view the PDF files for the Council Retreat. IMPORTANT: You MUST have the Adobe Acrobat Reader on your system prior to selecting an item on the agenda in order to be able to view these files.

City of Longmont
2010 City Council Retreat
January 22-23, 2010

Xilinx Corporation

3100 Logic Drive
Longmont, Colorado

(Map and General Information pdf, 201kb)

AGENDA

Friday, January 22

  1. Arrive/Continental Breakfast (8:00 a.m.)
  2. Welcome and Overview of Retreat 179kb (8:00 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.)
  3. Legacy Building Exercise (8:15 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.)
  4. Break (approximately 9:15 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.)
  5. Envision a connected City – Telecommunications 74kb (9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.) Attachments 1.1mb
  6. Lunch on site (11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)
  7. Prosperity to End Poverty 224kb (12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.)
    Attachment 1
    109kb / Attachments 2-4 858kb
  8. Break/Snacks (3:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.)
  9. Economic/Fiscal Sustainability 69kb (3:45 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.)
    Attachments A-I
    4.8mb / Attachment J 340kb / Attachments K-M 129kb
  10. Public invited to be heard and adjourn (upon break from last topic)
  11. Retreat Dinner at the Callahan House (6:00 p.m.)

Saturday, January 23

  1. Arrive/Continental Breakfast (8:00 a.m.)
  2. Economic/Fiscal Sustainability (8:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.) (see links above)
  3. Break, Teambuilding and Photos (11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.)
  4. Lunch on site (12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.)
  5. Open Space 37kb (1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.)
    Attachment A
    8.4mb / Attachment B 56kb / Attachment C 4.1mb / Attachment D 13kb
  6. Develop Work Plan (3:30 p.m.)
    A. Discuss with Staff Regarding Workload Impact and Resources Needed
    B. Finalize Action Items and Timelines on Work Plan
  7. Review of Retreat/Input Regarding Future Retreats
  8. Public invited to be heard immediately following last item
  9. Adjourn

Additional Information:

2009 City Council Workplan Update pdf, 94 kb

2009 City of Longmont Accomplishments pdf, 95 kb

2010 Major Work Items pdf, 69 kb

Time’s Up – NEXT

Wow. Mayor Baum simply does not like being criticized. Ever. At all.

Here’s the full remarks of the citizen who was so brusquely cut off:

My name is Judy Lubow, and I live at 106 Granada Court in Longmont. I’d like to comment on 3 topics so forgive me for speaking very quickly.

I am very concerned about the fate of Longmont’s Election Committee and the entire Fair Campaign Practices Act. Recent 4 to 3 votes of Council gutted the City’s defense of the Act in the lawsuit brought against it, and also raised the possibility of alternative roles – or no roles – for the Election Committee. It seems to me these votes indicate an objection on the part of the conservative Council majority to the very concept and goals of the Fair Campaign Act and the Election Committee. These goals are to fairly regulate the amount of money spent on political campaigns, and to make sure the campaigns are run according to fair and transparent reporting rules.

Personally, I believe the great majority of American people are heartily sick of the huge, wasteful and corrupting sums that are presently being spent on political campaigns. I believe our citizens want campaign finance limits such as those found in Longmont’s Act. I urge all members of Council to respect this longing for real reform, and support both the Campaign Act and the Election Committee.

The next comment concerns the proposed permit for Heaven Fest to hold a mega-festival, drawing tens of thousands of people to the Union Reservoir. It is my understanding that the City will only be charging the promoters a paltry $50 for the right to hold what amounts to be a 2 week event at the Reservoir – if you include the proposed set up and tear down time. I wonder: do any of you have any idea how much a commercial venue would charge for such an event? I have been finding out. So far, I have only been able to talk with the Red Rocks Amphitheater staff. Red Rocks would charge 11% of the entire gross, and would do that for merely a single concert of less than 10,000 people, and only for a one day rental. In other words, our city is giving away our Reservoir to the Heaven Fest operators for basically nothing, while commercial venues would be charging tens of thousands of dollars more – if not hundreds of thousands, for an equivalent mega event. That means, our city taxpayers are essentially subsidizing this event for a huge amount of money. I don’t think that’s right.

Lastly, I was distressed when, at last week’s council meeting, our Mayor castigated a member of the public who had a different opinion than the Mayor about solar energy rebates. Certainly, people can have differing opinions. But the mayor – a public official in his official capacity – should not be browbeating a citizen for having different views, and certainly should not be advising a commenter to move out of the City. In my opinion, such treatment was beneath the dignity required of the office and, hopefully, will never be repeated.

Left Hand Hosts Haiti Fundraiser

Longmont’s Left Hand Brewing Company will host a fundraiser to raise money for the victims in Haiti.

“Left Hand for Haiti” will take place on Jan. 21, 5-8pm, at the Left Hand Tasting Room. The event will include a live band, food, a silent auction, a representative from local nonprofit “Colorado Haiti Project” and, of course, beer.

All donations, funds from the silent auction, tips for the band and $1-per-pint sold will go directly to the Louisville-based Colorado Haiti Project, which has given aid in Haiti for more than 20 years.

For information on Left Hand, visit lefthandbrewing.com or call 303.772.0258. For info on the Colorado Haiti Project, visit coloradohaitiproject.org.

January 2010 Yellow Scene

Ice Rink expects profit in 2010

From the Times Call:

Longmont ice rink expects 11.5 percent profit from 2009

By Scott Rochat
© 2010 Longmont Times-Call

LONGMONT — The Longmont Ice Pavilion is becoming a moneymaker for the city.

According to preliminary 2009 numbers (which don’t become final until March), the ice rink took in $146,956 during the year while spending $131,752. That comes to $15,204 of revenue, or roughly an 11.5 percent gain.

“It was just awesome,” said city recreation manager Jeff Friesner.

“This is becoming the place to be in the wintertime,” agreed Mark Mann, who manages the ice rink.

The 2009 figures reflect the last half of the 2008-09 skating season and the first half of the 2009-10 season. The season ends March 14.

The news is a welcome turnaround for a rink that once was on the chopping block. In October 2007, the Longmont City Council cut the rink from the budget due to its operating costs; at the time, the ice pavilion was making back no more than 60 percent of its expenses.

A new council gave the rink a second chance that December. Skaters didn’t take long to make the most of it. The rink broke even in 2008 and drew an estimated 21,000 people to the ice for the 2008-09 season.

“I would comfortably say we’ll easily surpass that figure,” Friesner said of this season’s expected attendance.

Read the rest at the Times Call