Longmont

Encrypted Police Radio

American police departments have used two-way radios for 85
years to great advantage, and with no adverse effects. But recently the Times-Call
reported that without prior public notification, our Longmont Police Department
has begun encrypting previously open radio communications between dispatch and
officers so that the public cannot hear a single word. They call it a
“pilot program” but it has no end date. I find this entire action
extremely disturbing.

Longmont Police notice about encryption of dispatch radio.

The argument is that sometimes sensitive information is
broadcast that has the potential to compromise victim privacy and perhaps,
officer safety. The police spokesman insists that this move will not affect transparency,
but how could it not? No secondary distribution or publication of
police-filtered accounts could possibly replace the real-time radio narrative
of police and citizen interactions in our community. Other local municipalities
are also encrypting communications, but that is no reason for Longmont to get
on some imaginary bandwagon. There is a need to balance privacy against the
public’s right to know, but this is going too far.

What is the records retention policy for all these hours,
days and weeks of regular communications? Will every second of every police
communication be recorded and backed up forever in case it’s needed? We need to
know that. Attorneys will definitely need to know to prepare for defense or
prosecution of future cases.

What’s especially difficult to understand is that it was reported
that this was not done in response to a specific issue or complaint from any
quarter, just some vague “buildup of concerns.” Clearly this is a
solution in search of a problem. I normally don’t buy into slippery slope arguments,
but will make an exception this time, and here’s one reason why.

About a month ago, it was reported that the Long Beach,
California police department has adopted the use of a cell phone messaging app called
TigerText that automatically and permanently deletes messages a short time
after they are read. There is no possibility of data recall, and these
conversations cannot be “discovered” in subsequent legal actions
involving the police, especially in complaint proceedings against the department.

“I find it odd that we have a communication system that
circumvents everything that we are supposed to be doing,” one officer said.
How novel, an automatic electronic cover-up system that obliterates
transparency when it’s needed the most.

Long
Beach PD quickly suspended TigerText after civil liberties advocates and media
outlets raised concerns that the app could be used to hide evidence useful to
the other side in criminal and civil court cases. The city said the decision to
halt the use of TigerText came “pending further review of whether the use is
consistent with the city’s record retention policy and administrative
regulations for the use of mobile devices.”

Do we know if the Longmont PD is also using the TigerText or
Signal apps in their text communications? Please ask, Times-Call.

So I fail to see much difference between encrypted radio
communications and self-deleting texts. They all lead to the same bad end, a
severe compromise of the public’s right to know what their taxpayer funded police
are doing, and how they are doing it.

The City Council should request and receive regular detailed information about this pilot-program-with-no-end, and be part of the implementation decision going forward because it doesn’t sound like they are now. And I hope they decide that this pilot program should be ejected without a parachute.

Charlie Fellenbaum

The writer is a former news reporter and photographer, and a Longmont resident for 12 years.

Coup d’état?

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), days after his swearing in (so his oath should have been fresh in his mind) – made a thinly-veiled threat that if the investigation into Trump’s crimes isn’t stopped, the United States is in danger of a “coup d’état”.

REALLY?

Mr. Gaetz, if the GOP impedes the investigation into Trump’s crimes, your entire party will be labelled as traitors for all time.

Sit down, shut up and READ YOUR DAMN OATH you oaf.

This is an open message to ALL Trump supporters – you idiots START a civil war and we’ll FINISH IT. When we’re done with  you there won’t be two bricks on top of each other in the red states. It will make Sherman’s march look like a church picnic.

Seriously. Stop the talk of insurrection. Do it now. It’s disgusting and unAmerican – which is becoming the GOPs callsign.

Racism against Native Americans persists

Note: the opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of High Country News, its board or staff. If you’d like to share an opinion piece of your own, please write Betsy Marston at betsym@hcn.org.

Evelyn Red LodgeEvelyn Red Lodge is a contributor to Writers on the Range, the opinion service of High Country News. A writer in Rapid City, South Dakota, she is a correspondent for Native Sun News Today and member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

During my 13 years in Rapid City, South Dakota, I’ve learned that racism and ignorance almost always go hand-in-hand. The West was “won,” many people learn in school, but what did westward expansion mean for the Native people who were already living on the land?

The lure of gold brought explorers, miners and then homesteaders to South Dakota during the 19th and early 20th centuries. I imagine that most of those “invaders” — from my point of view — didn’t think twice about booting the local people out of the way. But that was then. The question today is why racism persists when America prides itself on tolerance and respecting diversity.

Here are examples from my life that reveal the kind of blatant racism I’ve experienced, as well as some of the unconscious racism that is sometimes almost comical.

I go to a Rapid City council meeting where a white local suggests placing statues of Native Americans in Founders Park, rather than in the proposed First Nations Sculpture Gallery in Halley Park. As Native author Elizabeth Cook-Lynn put it, the suggestion was made “without a hint of irony.” After all, who were the original founders if not Native people?

I go to the veterans’ parade where the 7th United States Cavalry, formed in 1866 to protect homesteaders and raid Native villages, is still honored. These days, of course, more Natives serve in the military per capita than any other ethnic group, according to the director of the National Museum of the American Indian. But few Natives march with the veterans in the parade.

I find a Black Hills trail guide listing the 7th Cavalry Trail as if it’s fun for people to follow the trail of mass murderers who killed anywhere from 75 to 125 babies, children and women at Wounded Knee in 1890.

Members of the 7th Cavalry Drum and Bugle Corps perform in a parade in downtown Rapid City, S.D., Nov. 11, 2007. Rapid City hosted the parade to honor those who have served and are currently serving in the U.S. military. The 7th Cavalry Corps is a volunteer marching band that dresses in authentic 19th century costume during parades in the area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller) (Released)

I buy a Happy Meal for my daughter only to find a 7th Cavalry Custer doll inside. She gets upset when I try to explain why I think it belongs in the trash.

In a jewelry shop along Mount Rushmore Road, I look at the gold for which my grandparents’ territory was invaded and spot a wine-bottle holder depicting a Native chief chugging a bottle of wine. Old stereotypes die hard. According to a recent study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Drug Dependence, alcohol consumption by Natives is shown to be generally less than that of Caucasians in the United States.

Just walking downtown in Rapid City, the so-called City of Presidents, I spot the stores along the way that used to sport signs saying “No Indians or Dogs Allowed.” I go to He Sapa — the Black Mountains — where I look upon the faces of past U.S. presidents who helped wipe out so many Indigenous peoples. I remember that Natives were only declared to be citizens by the United States Congress less than 100 years ago.

In 2015, I feared to go to any sporting event after a drunk beer salesman poured beer on Native students at a hockey game and shouted, “Go back to the reservation!” Within days, dumping beer on Natives had become a common occurrence at other venues.

I picked up the local newspaper four days after the drunk hockey fan did his business, and the question was raised on the front page: Had the Native students who were attacked stood for the national anthem? (Not that it should make any difference, but it was reported that the students did stand.)

I feared to walk on the north side of Rapid City in 2009 and 2010, after at least two Native families with children were egged while racial slurs were hurled at them. “Go back to where you came from!” is a laughable favorite. One Native woman, who was disabled, was run off the road while driving her car. Urine in bottles was thrown on other Natives. Some Natives were shot with pellet guns.

At the same time — and I am glad to report this — many of the attackers were held accountable after much public outcry:

The jewelry store owner removed the wine holder featuring a drunken Native from her window after local media asked why she’d given it prominence.

The newspaper removed its victim-blaming story from its Internet site.

Two 21-year-old women were arrested in the incident involving the disabled woman, becoming the first in the state to be charged with its new hate-crime law, “malicious intimidation or harassment.”

As for failures in the quest for justice, the drunk hockey fan was eventually acquitted of his one and only charge of disorderly conduct. And I am unaware of any charges brought against anyone for the attacks involving egg and urine throwing and pellet guns.

Racism persists, I am sorry to report. I still feel it every day.

Full disclosure: I am a Facebook friend to Evelyn Red Lodge – FRL – Thanks to High Country News!

The GOP and the Tall Tree

From Shareblue Media:

Missouri state Rep. Warren Love said on Facebook that he hoped Confederate statue vandals are lynched.

Missouri state Rep. Warren Love

Ever since the deadly neo-Nazi riot in Charlottesville, which centered on a condemned statue of Robert E. Lee, efforts to remove Confederate monuments have intensified.

But the statues, many of which were erected by white supremacist groups explicitly to protest Black civil rights, still have defenders.

Several Republicans, including Donald Trump and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie, insist the statues are necessary to honor Southern history, even as they hypocritically allow Black heroes of the Civil War era to go unhonored and forgotten.

On Thursday, Missouri state Rep. Warren Love took his defense of Confederate statues to a violent extreme.

After a Confederate monument in Springfield National Cemetery was vandalized, Love took to Facebook to write, “This is totally against the law. I hope they are found & hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”

The idea of an elected lawmaker calling for people who defaced a statue to be lynched is horrifying. Love is explicitly invoking a terrorist act historically used by the KKK and white supremacist mobs.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, Black men were lynched for everything from trying to register to vote, to looking the wrong way at a white woman. Whites who were too outspoken in sympathy for Black rights were also targeted. People seen as a threat to the white social order were randomly made examples of, to terrify the rest into compliance.

Love’s post was met with immediate outrage. State House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty thundered that Love “invoked a form of political violence used throughout the South to keep African-Americans subjugated for generations following the fall of the Confederacy.” Missouri Democratic Party chair Stephen Webber demanded his resignation. Sen. Claire McCaskill agreed, calling his comments “unacceptable.”

Amazingly, Love is not even the first Republican lawmaker this week to threaten racial violence.

On Tuesday, Georgia state Rep. Jason Spencer warned former Black Democratic lawmaker LaDawn Jones that if she keeps criticizing Confederate statues, “I can guarantee you won’t be met with torches but something a lot more definitive. People in South Georgia are people of action, not drama.” He added that people who do not watch what they say “will go missing in the Okefenokee. Too many necks they are red around here.”

Republicans insist their support of Confederate statues has nothing to do with white supremacy. But their impulse to echo the threat of white terror betrays their motives.


Author

Freelance Political Writer

Matthew Chapman

Video game designer and science fiction author from Texas. Can be found on Twitter @fawfulfan.

Remembering LBJ

Lyndon B. Johnson – 8/27/08 – 1/22/73 – 36th President of the United States

Any of you folks from my generation remember this picture? It was taken 45 years ago today. High school teacher >> Congressman >> Senator >> Senate Majority Whip >> Senate Majority Leader >> Vice President >> President >> derelict. What a long, strange trip it was.

I remember Lady Bird took some heat for telling the hippies to “get a haircut.” Though both were diehard liberals, Lady Bird took a stand against us longhairs. Yet when LBJ retired, he grew his hair out, as if in solidarity. Or maybe as an apology. Whatever the reason, it was in defiance of his own wife’s cleanup campaign (which also included a war on billboards).

Lyndon Johnson was a complex man. He did so much good during his 5+ years in office, yet he’s the president who told us “We have to save face” in Vietnam. To which, those of us nearing draft age wore T-shirts that read “Save Lives, Not Face.” Mine was dark blue with white lettering.

He pushed through civil rights legislation (against the will of the Dixiecrats), established his landmark Great Society, and when the day came when he was challenged by “Mr. Conservative” a mere year after ascending to the White House via Lee Harvey Oswald’s marksmanship, LBJ crushed Barry Goldwater like a smoldering cigarette butt.

It’s odd to think that I’m older today than he ever lived to be. His oddball ways notwithstanding, I don’t think he was a bad man. I think he was a decent man who tried to do the right thing during tumultuous times, but those times simply swallowed him up. I don’t think he lived long enough to ever admit that the escalation of Vietnam was a colossal mistake, but I KNOW he knew it.

In fact, I believe it’s what killed him. He died from a heart attack, five months after this picture was taken. 58,000 + 1.

RIP, LBJ

Bruce Lindner, Portland, OR

Bruce Lindner is a political commentator, humorist, coffee expert and part-time mechanic.

Longmont Council Needs Prodding to Adopt Drop Zone Fees

When will the next one land on Airport Road?

For several months, the Longmont city council has been considering a signficant increase drop zone fees, which would be based on the drop zone square footage of 338,000 sf (recommended by the USPA.) The fees would go from the current $7,800 to $70,000 per year.

Longmont airport advisory board Aug agenda and June minutes – search for keyword $70,000

For many years, Mile-Hi Skydiving has been getting a free ride, while the airport enterprise fund can barely meet operating expenses. They were paying zero dollars for the 40-acre drop zone area until we made council aware of the oversight. Then they began paying the annual permit fee of $7,500 codified in the city ordinance – still a paltry sum compared to the damage they are causing. Worse yet, in 2016 Longmont tax dollars – to the tune of $40,000 – were siphoned from the General Fund to pay for airport expenses. Your tax dollars were misdirected and taken away from other worthwhile public projects and amenities.

The drop zone fee proposal has languished since the AAB began reviewing it, and has not moved forward for at least 3 months now.

At least one council member has suggested that it would be very helpful for Longmont residents to speak at their meeting (PITBH) and urge them to proceed with the fees, without further input from the AAB. Your opportunity is tonight, Tuesday 8/22 at the Longmont city council meeting, 7 pm – I hope you will be there and also send an email to council. We must have Longmont residents driving this issue – I cannot do it for you but will provide full support.

Longmont city council email address

June 20, 2017 email: Kimberly: Attached is the information you requested regarding the airport. The answer to question 4 below is as follows: In 2016 the General Fund funded $40,000 for “Development Funds for Airport Utilities and Drainage Master Plan”.

Valeria Skitt
City Clerk

Many thanks,
Kimberly Gibbs
Founder, Citizens For Quiet Skies, Boulder County, Colorado

Stop by our table at the Longmont Farmers Market – Sept 2nd and Oct 7th

Surprise! Ken Buck Shows Up for Work!

Longmont Area Democrats had their “with or without Ken Buck town hall meeting” and guess who showed up? The man himself. Think activism doesn’t have any effect – there it is. Buck started out on the defensive and got more shrill as the meeting wore on. He hacked his way through a series of questions, tossing out rhetoric, GOP talking points and some good ole fashioned bullshit – which the crowd called him out on. It got tense a few times and I think the organizers wished they had a whip and chair – but the Dems calmed down and Ken didn’t run away (as GOP candidates are wont to do when faced with any substantive resistance). It was a great meeting – the Dems were fired up and Buck scurried away with his pants still smoking, staff hustling to keep up. Thanks to Shari Malloy who asked me to shoot this meeting – and a special thanks to everyone that came and spoke!

Photos at Flickr.

My friend Kate Beier asking Ken Buck a question:

Unity in the Community 2017

From the Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce:

Unity in the Community is a Chamber premier event that welcomes business, non-profit and political leaders from the region and the state. Unity is open to the public at no charge and provides a unique opportunity to network with a vast number of representatives from the business, political and non-profit sectors.

Date and Time: Feb, 23 2017   5:00 pm – 7:30 pm
RSVP Deadline: Feb, 22 2017 at 05:00 pm (Please call 303-776-5295 if past deadline)
Location: Plaza Convention Center, 1850 Industrial Circle, Longmont, CO 80501 (Map)
Cost: Chamber Member:  $ 0
Non-Member:  $ 0
Seats: Limited Seats Remaining


Cory Gardner – photo by MDWray

I’ve been informed that Cory Gardner might very well be there.

If you’ve been trying to see him or ask him a question, this might be just the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

Please be sure to attend and take LOTS of photos and videos – FRL is happy to publish your best. Always fun to see Cory’s face when he’s being asked a hard question.

Enjoy!

Littwin: Gigantic, enormous, colossal, unpresidented women’s march drives Trump mad

From the Colorado Independent:

These are, as they say, early days. And as the nascent Trump era progresses — if that’s the right word — we will continue to see things we’ve never seen or heard before.

For starters, we’ve never heard an inaugural speech like Trump’s American carnage address.

We’ve never seen a counter-inaugural demonstration drawing an astonishing 3 million across the country, many of the protesters wearing pussy hats and many carrying signs about a president keeping his tiny hands off the First Amendment. If you think you were stunned by the turnout — the 100,ooo-marchers-strong aerial shot of Civic Center is a remarkable testament to those Coloradans trying to take their country back — imagine how Trump felt.

We’ve never seen a press secretary, on his first day, ordered by the president to read out a pack of lies about, of all things, crowd size and insist they were true – period. Or see a presidential counselor say the lies were actually “alternative facts.” Or see Orwell cited quite so accurately quite so early in a president’s tenure.

We have seen Trump embarrass himself many times, but never quite as he did, as president, at the CIA, standing in front of the wall honoring the CIA dead, using the occasion to accuse the press of willfully deflating his inauguration numbers and of falsely creating a rift between him and the intelligence agencies that he had compared to Nazis.

We’ve never seen a president, in his first days, hold a meet-and-greet with congressional leaders and tell them the already clearly debunked lie that he had lost the popular vote only because 3 to 5 million illegal immigrants voted for Clinton, who apparently was not smart enough, as several observers have pointed out, to wield these voters in, say, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

He can’t let go — of anything. He can’t move on — from anything. Getting elected isn’t enough. It has to be the greatest election. The most colossal crowds. A global movement. And still that won’t satisfy. We can only imagine what the GOP congressional leaders were thinking – that they have to pretend for four years that this is remotely normal. Remarkably, in the face of Trump’s allegation of massive voter fraud, no one called for an investigation. A better response, of course, would be to call for an intervention.

Read the rest at the Colorado Indpependent.

Fracking Forum Features Foolishness

If you’re looking for entertainment in Longmont, no one serves up better than the Longmont Republican Women. Their recent forum “The State of Fracking in Colorado – A panel discussion” was one of the best comedy performances I’ve seen so far in 2016.

Ken Buck

Ken Buck clearly enjoyed the open bar

Featuring none other than Ken Buck, Weld County’s well-lubricated supporter, the oil barons favorite semi-roughnecks Matt Lepore (Director, Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission) and Dan Haley (President, Colorado Oil & Gas Association).

Longmont Councilman Brian Bagley, Moderator

Longmont Councilman Brian Bagley, Moderator

Doing an admirable job as straight man was Longmont’s Ward 1 City Council member Brian Bagley. I have to say his material and delivery were on point, making it child’s play for the Three Spooges to work their magic on the audience.

Moderator Bagley asked the setup questions and the Spooges knocked em down – without interference from those pesky Dems who chose to sit out this comedy cavalcade.

Matt Lepore gave an outstanding theremin-like performance in which he lulled the 99% GOP audience, crooning that they had nothing to fear from fracking. Mesmerizing!

Matt Lepore, Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commision "See? It's magic and it works!"

Matt Lepore, Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission
“See? It’s magic and it works!”

Dan Haley, President, Colorado Oil & Gas Association doing his very best Stan Laurel impression

Dan Haley, President, Colorado Oil & Gas Association doing his very best Stan Laurel impression

Dan Haley was a bit lackluster compared to Lepore (no small feat that!) and routinely seemed to be thinking “I Dunno…” before looking over at Buck, clearly wishing he could be as thoroughly soused.

Bagley’s questions covered a lot of territory and included questions about citizen initiatives. The Spooges responses ranged from “pshaw” to “balderdash” and were well-received by the mostly white-haired well-heeled crowd. One especially high point was when asked about safety concerns, Ken Buck burbled on about how fracking was safer than oil tankers “…like the Exxon Valdez…” and “…pipelines…” to which the crowd responded with howls of glee. I have to say I’ve never seen a complete lack of integrity used to such good comedic effect.

The crowd included some of Longmont’s quasi-luminaries as well as some career politicians clearly hoping to garner some media exposure. Here’s the ones FRL spotted:

Paul Danish Soon-to-be contender for Boulder County Commish

Paul Danish
Soon-to-be contender for Boulder County Commish

Dale Bruns Bruns Concrete & Construction

Dale Bruns
Bruns Concrete & Construction

Sean Conway Weld County Commish at large

Sean Conway
Weld County Commish at large

Greg Brophy Melon farmer

Greg Brophy
Melon farmer

WHOOPS! Not quite incognito...

WHOOPS! Not quite incognito…

There was even a lobbyist!

John Clarke Clarkestrategies

John Clarke
Clarkestrategies

As I left the event, feeling almost light-headed from all the Ben-Gay fumes, I was politely accosted by none other than LRW’s ever-so-gracious President, Rebekah Vicknair! She oh-so-politely asked me if I would stop leaving “…things…” on their Facebook page. I apologized for exercising my First Amendment rights but reminded her gently that I still had such rights – assuming Mr. Trump didn’t win the election. I suggested that if she and her cohort would be willing to reveal the name of the person behind the slur on my dead wife, I’d give them a permanent pass. I also mentioned Longmont’s one-time GOP mouthpiece and she demurely feigned ignorance. Truly, a comedienne of soon-to-be-legendary stature! I salute you Ms. Vicknair for your unstinting commitment to comedy. It made me laugh out loud.

Comparing Collateral Damage

Bush Administration

  • 13 Embassy Attacks
  • 66 Deaths
  • 3 US diplomats killed
  • 22 Embassy employees killed
  • Investigations [ 0 ]

Reagan Administration

  • 10 Embassy Attacks
  • 318 Deaths
  • 1 US ambassador killed
  • 18 CIA officers
  • 254 Marines
  • Investigations [ 1 ]

Obama Administration

  • 2 Embassy attacks
  • 4 US deaths
  • Investigations [ 13 ]

Cost to taxpayers for partisan witch hunt: $14 Million.

This is what the GOP thinks is more important than serving the American people.

Exxon’s inconvenient truth

This Guest Opinion first appeared in the Times-Call (FRL)

Back in the day when Exxon was just a gigantic oil company, before its merger with Mobil, Exxon had its own inconvenient truth. Based on investigation by Inside Climate News (ICN) as well as research by the Los Angeles Times in conjunction with a project at Columbia University, in the late 1970s and early 1980s Exxon scientists conducted pioneering research on climate change.

The ICN article is the basis for the following. In July 1977, James Black, one of Exxon’s senior scientists, gave a sobering report. From a written version he recorded later, Black said: “In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels.”

In 1978, Black gave an updated report to a larger audience of Exxon scientists and managers. According to a written summary of his talk, Black warned: “Present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.” Among other things, Black also predicted that rainfall might get heavier in some regions, and other places might turn to desert. In the written summary of his 1978 talk Black said: “Some countries would benefit but others would have their agricultural output reduced or destroyed.”

In 1982, Exxon developed a primer on climate change and carbon dioxide. Again, from ICN: Marked “not to be distributed externally,” it contained information that “has been given wide circulation to Exxon management.” In it, the company recognized, despite the many lingering unknowns, that heading off global warming “would require major reductions in fossil fuel combustion.” The ICN article continued: Unless that happened, “there are some potentially catastrophic events that must be considered,” the primer said, citing independent experts. “Once the effects are measurable, they might not be reversible.”

Exxon continued with its climate change research, an issue that posed an existential threat to its oil business, until the late 1980s. Exxon scientists even were permitted to publish at least three peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals on their ground breaking research.

Unfortunately, in the late 1980s Exxon shifted tactics to stressing the uncertainty of research into the greenhouse effect. This change apparently was due to financial considerations and was not based on any research challenging its previous findings. Since then, Exxon and climate-change deniers have been successful in preventing effective action on this issue. We have lost 20 to 25 years when steps could have been taken, and now the window for alleviating the worse effects is much smaller. Every year we delay taking effective action means that future actions will have to be much more draconian or the effects of climate change will be far worse.

It appears as if nothing very constructive will be achieved during the current talks in Paris. The fossil fuel industry still has sufficient clout to stop effective action. Distressingly, the U.S. is pushing voluntary national reductions. There would be no requirements since each nation does what it wants when it wants. On top of that, there would be no enforcement mechanism to hold a nation to its commitment.

Talk about perversion— the worse climate change impacts will initially be experienced by those nations that had little to do with causing climate change. The U.S., a key contributor to the increase in greenhouse gases, will generally initially suffer lesser impacts. Coming generations, including the young children and grandchildren of today, who have had no role in causing climate change, will face the greatest suffering. Those generations aren’t going to think kindly towards us and our lack of action.

Ron Forthofer is a retired professor of biostatistics who lives in Longmont.

Follow the Money: Bonnie Finley = Developers

Developer funded and owned.

Developer funded and owned.

Longmont residents are fortunate that all city council candidates must report contributions at certain stages before Election Day. Some critical info came from the first reports candidates filed last week. We have eight candidates for three seats this election. Three candidates are incumbents. All have received the majority of their funding from the land development/real estate industry. A fourth new candidate has also received this same package of construction funding. We’re talking thousands of dollars…Four candidates have not received nor accepted this special interest money – these candidates are Joan Peck, Paul Rennix, Sarah Levison, and Ron Gallegos.

I’m speaking about publicly tonight because it’s important and the good people of Longmont need to know from where council candidates are getting their contributions. Very sadly, money in politics translates to influence. These developers, builders and realtors give candidates money because they want to have influence on their decisions regarding the future of our city. As constituents, we are curious about how beholden these candidates, if elected, might be to these special interests when making decisions regarding land use, development, affordable housing, the St. Vrain corridor etc.? One has to wonder what these special interests expect in return for their very large “donations”?

Do they hope it will assert influence in tonight’s discussion about Affordable Housing? For instance, the Construction Defects Law that Councilwoman Finley keeps bringing up. This state law helps to protect people whose homes and finances are hurt by poorly done construction. Like other professions, builders need to be held accountable for their work and homeowners should have some recourse when that work is poorly done. Ms. Finley’s repeated accusation regarding its negative impacts on new development ultimately aims to benefit developers at the expense of regular people. Her suspicions are unfounded and a waste of staff time to “investigate” as we can all see there is a building bonanza happening.

Similarly, we have the City’s old inclusionary zoning clause that the 2011 City Council nixed. This clause mandated developer’s make10% of new housing designated affordable housing or provide cash in lieu. Why hasn’t this council reinstated this? While Inclusionary zoning is not the whole solution, certainly it would help and be a step in the right direction—that direction being serving people & not just lining the pockets of the land development/real estate industry.

This council has been wringing your hands for far too long regarding affordable housing. People are hurting while the profiteers can’t count their money fast enough. Now we see big money being poured into certain candidates for city council. What are we to think? It certainly helps inform me, as I get ready to cast my votes for Ward 3, at large and Mayor.

For Sale: Longmont City Council – $10245

Bonnie Finley, 100% For Sale

Bonnie Finley, 100% For Sale

For Sale: Certain members of Longmont City Council. Bonnie Finley likey the most valuable coming in at @ $10,245 (or best offer). In exchange, you may get business incentives, financing totaling more than $27 million, or just a pat on the back as she claims she can’t be bought at any price.

This lays it out straight.

The Big Red Scare

Joe Stalin, nothing like Bernie Sanders.

Joe Stalin, conservative boogieman

Beware! Be very afraid is the message George Will imparts in his commentary, “When history books make history,” published in the Opinion page Aug. 9. But to me the overriding theme is the hubris— excessive pride— Will attaches to the power of writers. He singles out Robert Conquest, who, according to Will almost single-handedly brought down the Soviet Union with his honest and truthful description of the evils of communism under Joseph Stalin.

Understand there has been no communism except in theory, especially under the brutal dictatorship of Joseph Stalin. Everyone was not equal but there was a level of thugs at the top who were “more equal.” Everyone else followed orders or got sent to gulags in Siberia, or were shot. No writers brought down the Soviet system, and neither did Ronald Reagan as has been claimed for him posthumously. No, the Soviet Union collapsed in utter failure with a corrupt government, a failed economy and by investing in an arms race resulting in total disregard of its people.

By some estimates, Stalin had more than 20 million citizens murdered in order to instill his brand of communism. Stalin was guilty of “moral obtuseness,” meaning he said one thing and always did what he wanted, which usually resulted in breaking treaties and murdering anyone who got out of line. Liar and hypocrite are the most polite words we can associate with Stalin.

Yet, in his meandering punditry of 700 words, Will brands U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders with moral obtuseness. That is one writer’s hubris run amok. It is also disgustingly false.

So just what has Bernie proposed that is so threatening it receives a label the writer also chooses for the worst killer dictator in human history? Here is a sampling: healthcare for all by extending Medicare; eliminating tax evasion techniques by large corporations that offshore profits and jobs; extending Social Security to all by applying the payroll tax to income more than $250,000; raising the minimum wage to $15/hour; paying for parental leave and vacations; and foremost, getting big money out of politics.

These are major issues for the 99 percent of us who are being squeezed out of the middle class by stalled wages and benefits. Yet somehow Will and conservatives in Congress interpret our issues and Bernie’s common sense solutions as “socialist threats.”

America is a social country. Our history is marked by communities coming together to deal with tough issues. Every farming community has a cooperative that allows members to save money through bulk purchasing of goods and services at lower prices. Foremost though are the many benefits derived by all of us by combining our taxes for the common good: setting up public utilities and services, public libraries, public education, highways and roads top the list. Consider too that we have a national military, Social Security and Medicare.

Realize that many hardline conservatives like George Will consider social services undeserved entitlements. What is scandalous is the association of Bernie Sanders’ stand on providing for the people first akin to the moral obtuseness of Joseph Stalin. Rather, I believe entitled is the No. 1 characteristic of large corporations avoiding taxes and offshoring jobs. Entitled describes a Congress that votes itself better health insurance benefits and a better pension system than it allows the people it is supposed to serve.

Where Bernie would extend Social Security, conservative pundits like Will would cut it, limit benefits and raise the eligibility age.

A final thought. My friend Hermine is from Germany, a democratic socialist country. In a recent discussion she was asked about health insurance there. Her answer: Everybody has it. What about unemployment insurance? It never runs out. What about the homeless? She says there isn’t any. Parental leave and vacation pay? Yep, Germany has those too. Other studies point out the happiest people live in Scandinavia, where democratic socialism also exists with the benefits found in Germany.

In the next 15 months, pundits and politicians will try to scare you with demagoguery tactics like Will’s. “The Big Red Scare” was a farce perpetrated by radical anti-communist demagogues like Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. Don’t believe the ghosts of that era posing as pundits and candidates for the presidency.

Bill Ellis is a local author; reply to bill-ellis@comcast.net
Bill Ellis

St. Vrain Valley Voices