Paula Burr

Longmont’s mayor opposes free speech

Longmont mayor Bryan Baum

Longmont mayor Bryan Baum. Photo by MDWray. ©2010 all rights reserved.

It seems Mayor Baum has decided he doesn’t like to hear from the public – at least not when they don’t agree with him. At the end of the City Council retreat on Saturday he announced he wants to change the way “Public Invited to be Heard” is handled at the weekly City Council meetings. He wants to limit the entire process to 30 minutes because he thinks “it’s ridiculous to have to listen for an hour and a half.” Does this tell you something about the attitude of our new mayor? I guess he thinks Democracy is only worth 30 minutes. And if the other council members don’t agree with him? He’s threatening to move it to the end of the council meeting with the closing phrase

“I’m the mayor and it’s up to me. I can set this up any way I want.” Very chilling.

I find the timing of this decision very interesting as it falls right on the heels of a council meeting in which many people directed criticism toward Baum for a variety of things. (The other half were there to speak for or against the red light cameras). I guess Baum has decided that the best way to keep the criticism down is to shut down free speech at public meetings. That’s one way to do it. The other would be to govern with integrity and honesty and accountability.

Comments to Council – Jan 19, 2010

As I was paying my City of Longmont bill this weekend I read the newsletter inserted inside including the “Message from the Mayor”. In this message, Mayor Baum you stated, “ I hope to promote civil debate with all opinions being heard from council members and members of the public.“

This is not what I saw last week at the open forum meeting. Instead, what I saw was a mayor who told a local business man he could move someplace else if he didn’t like the way council voted. A mayor who accused the businessman of being irresponsible for bringing up his concerns at a public meeting. A mayor who thanked people in the audience who clapped for him and threatened to expel those who disagreed. There was nothing civil about the exchange. You may not agree with what people say but it is your responsibility as the mayor of Longmont to do so in a respectful manner.