Richard Juday

Government’s wake-up call: Yes on 300

OF the oil companies, BY the oil companies, FOR the oil companies

OF the oil companies, BY the oil companies, FOR the oil companies

I shall vote in favor for several reasons, but principally because it draws a bright line expressing legitimate fears of citizens who are not comfortable that the State is protecting their interests. A friend of mine says the law is the law, and we must abide by it. And she thinks we would lose the suit, so why even set up for that defeat? Well, our elected representatives can change the law. And even if we should lose the suit, the entire governmental environment will have been changed in our favor.

Both the Governor and the COGCC present as being under the sway of commercial extraction interests to the minimization of looking after the public interests. The matter will play out in the courts, but I am proud that Longmont is likely in this election to make a strong statement favoring its own health and environmental interests — a statement that will serve as a wakeup call to all three branches of State government.

Legislative: Changes to COGCC laws should be rebalanced toward public interests, including enabling local government inspection and control, and oversight by field inspectors should be adequately funded. Executive: Protective regulations based on those changes to law should be written and vigorously enforced. Judicial: In the upcoming suit, so strong an expression of municipal self-interest will certainly influence the courts’ attitudes and likely decisions. Judges read newspapers.

And, almost without saying, City Council will necessarily prosecute the suit with full enthusiasm, despite the very puzzling slick-paper statement contrary to Question 300 by previous Mayors, paid for and distributed by unnamed sources. I am pleased that all the candidates in this election cycle are paying close attention.

Averaged over the Longmont populace, a Ballot Question suit might cost me two or four bucks. I think that’s a rare bargain.

The real vote fraud potential

Blackbox voting = SUCKER BET

We need to know what goes on INSIDE that box.

Nothing is more fundamental and valuable than a citizen’s right to vote and for that vote to be securely and accurately counted. It is an absolute duty of government to preserve the vote, and it strongly behooves government to show transparency in doing so.

Recent events point up the sensitivity of the issue of voting fraud, not only ineligible persons voting, but also counting of the vote.

When buying or renting vote-counting machines, the state should know exactly what happens inside them. Any IT specialist will tell you that unexamined computer code operating a complicated system can pass routine public tests while unobtrusively being manipulated toward private goals. (Ask the Iranians about Stuxnet!) I am extremely leery of proprietary claims regarding information or code used to process votes.

It is clear, especially since Citizens United, that interested parties will spend essentially unlimited amounts to affect elections. It is potentially less expensive, and more effective, to modify a vote count than to buy votes with electioneering.

From my experience with NASA, I know that proprietary information can be given legal protection while handled by civil servants. In a local example, Colorado is requiring companies that intend to do fracking to disclose to career civil servants the chemicals in their proprietary mixtures before the fluid may be injected into the ground.

I propose a bill stating that all source code used in voting machines in Colorado shall be fully examined by career state employees (specifically, not elected or politically appointed), and then compiled, assembled and installed by no one except career government employees. To protect suppliers’ legitimate interests, those employees would be subject to civil and criminal penalties for inappropriately disclosing confidential details supplied by the manufacturers of voting machines used in the state.

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.