Longmont

No Ceiling for Noise

photo by D Wray

Working for or against the community?

The recent editorial touting the positive economic benefits of the Vance Brand Airport (VBA) was aimed at rallying support for efforts to increase airport operations (Lewis/Slayter opinion 7/26/2015).  The authors claim that further benefits will result from “implementation of the Airport Master Plan,” a veiled reference to the airport expansion, and particularly the runway extension that city council unanimously approved in 2012.

While you ponder the economic benefits provided as justification, consider the undeniable consequences of airport expansion:  more aircraft, more flights, more touch-and-goes, more nighttime flights, more noise and more pollution.

In exchange for your tacit approval for airport expansion, the authors, on behalf of the city, promise to “continue working to address noise concerns.”  Their efforts will include 1.) encouraging commercial instead of residential development near the airport, 2.) encouraging compliance with the voluntary noise abatement procedures (VNAP) and 3.)  asking the FAA to enlarge or modify the skydiving “flight box.”

These promises are distractions, not solutions. What steps have been taken so far?  None.  In fact, noise from skydiving operations has increased since the recent lawsuit ruling in Mile-Hi’s favor.  How would future commercial development help the people who are already subjected to the constant droning of the jump planes?  Regarding the VNAP, there is no enforcement, no fines and no accountability for pilots who choose not to follow them.  Consider that Mile-Hi Skydiving owner, Frank Casares, testified under oath that Mile-Hi pilots consistently follow the noise abatement procedures.  Finally, expanding the flight box will only subject more people to the noise and allow more jump planes to operate concurrently.

So, what can be done to address noise concerns?  Aviation attorney John Putnam presented a lecture in Longmont recently on this topic.  The airport receives Airport Improvement Program (AIP) federal grants in exchange for assurances to keep the airport open to all aeronautical users on reasonable terms.  The grant assurances limit the operator’s ability to adopt regulations to reduce noise.

Mr. Putnam stated that “[Grant assurance 22a] does acknowledge that airports can make reasonable rules governing the access to that airport.  However, the key piece is that it has to be reasonable.”  He also noted that a Part 150 noise study is voluntary and not required as a prerequisite for imposing local noise or access restrictions.  Mr. Putnam further explained that, in practice, the FAA deems all restrictions to be unreasonable, so it is difficult to justify regulations aimed at reducing noise.

Can airports survive without the federal grants?  Yes, according to Mr. Putnam, and real-world examples include East Hampton, NY and Santa Monica, CA.   Since 1982, the city has accepted about $4.7million in AIP grants. That’s an average of $204,347 per year – a modest sum that could be collected through airport user fees.

One of Mi-Hile Skydiving's Twin Otter skydiving planes.

Mi-Hile Skydiving – 70% of Longmont’s noise pollution. Photo by M. Douglas Wray (free to use if attributed)

Who is really benefitting from the airport?  On summer weekends, Mile-Hi Skydiving accounts for nearly 70% of operations. Pilot training and touch-and-goes account for another sizeable chunk of traffic.  Clearly, the airport users are the ones benefitting from the airport and they should pay their fair share for its maintenance, instead of relying on federal taxpayer subsidies that prohibit local control.

You are being asked to surrender your rights to accommodate aviation interests – don’t allow the soothing promises to lull you into complacency.  Remind city officials that the people who live here – both city and county residents who spend their hard-earned dollars in Longmont – are the lifeblood of the community and a high quality of life is worth taking a stand.  Would you allow a Longmont business to poison the water or foul the air? No, you would demand regulations to protect the health and well being of its citizens.

The time has come for the city to adopt sensible and mandatory regulations to address community noise concerns.  Otherwise, the solution will be to disentangle the airport from the onerous demands of the FAA grant assurances in order to restore local control over airport operations.

Lost Teaching Moment

bad_idea_sign_crossbonesAs a recently retired teacher of 33 years, I am disappointed to observe how Twin Peaks Charter Academy handled the teaching moment Evan Young’s graduation speech presented. When they could have taught tolerance and freedom of speech/expression, instead they taught intolerance and suppression of free speech.

Evan Young is a shy, witty and very intelligent young man. He happens to be gay and wanted to weave this fact into his valedictory graduation address where he spoke about the importance of respecting others — whether or not you agree with them. It’s ironic Evan was not given the very respect his speech was about.

Outing Evan to his father was wholly inappropriate. Informing Evan minutes before the ceremony began that he would not be allowed to speak added insult to injury. Not acknowledging Evan as valedictorian was punitive. Throwing him under the bus in their public statement was a cheap shot. Four missed opportunities to afford Evan, a 4.5 GPA student with a scholarship to Rutgers, basic respect and dignity. Evan deserves better, and so do taxpayers.

Because Twin Peaks Charter receives public monies to operate, the SVVSD superintendent and school board have an obligation to pursue this matter. While charter schools are exempt from direct oversight by the school district, this does not mean they get a waiver to discriminate. At the very least, Twin Peaks Charter Academy owes Evan and his parents a formal apology. They also need to provide assurances to taxpayers that measures are being taken to ensure they will not discriminate in the future.

If Twin Peaks is not able to meet these reasonable criteria, their charter should be revoked. Hopefully, Twin Peaks will take this opportunity to rectify their lost teaching moment into a lesson involving self-reflection, reconciliation and improvement.

My Message to Twin Peaks Charter School

This was first published at outboulder.org.

Evan 1

“My name is Evan Young. I was the valedictorian of Twin Peaks High School’s 2015 graduating class, but was not allowed to deliver my prepared speech at the graduation ceremony on May 16th.

The school’s administration maintains that I was prevented from speaking “to preserve and protect the mission of the school.” However, my school’s mission is one of promoting tolerance and respect, and it is these values I sought to promote in my graduation speech. The central message of my speech was that you must learn to respect people even if you disagree with them, a lesson which I learned during my four years as a student at Twin Peaks High School, and I thought briefly disclosing my sexual orientation in my speech would be the perfect catalyst for this discussion.

I understand such a revelation might be difficult for some people, but my main point was precisely that even if they don’t agree with me we can respect each other’s opinions. My friends and I disagreed about many things over the years, but we learned to overlook our differences and respect one another. In my speech, I merely asked the audience to do the same to me.

Lastly, I’d like to make clear my reasons for bringing this to the press. I’m not angry or bitter, and my frustration at being prevented from speaking at my graduation has largely subsided.

I love my school, and I want nothing to happen to it save that which will improve it in the long run. Nor am I doing this for publicity, or to seem like a hero. I’m not a hero, and the overwhelming support I’ve received from friends, family, and even people who I’ve never met show that I had nothing to fear to begin with.

Rather, I’m bringing my story forward so that it may serve as an inspiration, not only to other LGBT students, but to any student who is in some way different. I want them to know they should not be ashamed of who they are. They can celebrate their uniqueness, no matter what people in authority tell them. They can achieve academic success, if they let nothing hold them back. They can become virtuous and compassionate; their differences don’t make them morally inferior. That’s what my school is all about.”

-Evan Young, Twin Peaks Charter School Valedictorian 2015

You Bet Our Lives

Enstrom 280FX Shark (G-ZZWW), built 1990, photographed at the Heli-Day, Kemble Airfield, England. Taken by Adrian Pingstone in August 2003 and released to the public domain.

Enstrom 280FX Shark (G-ZZWW), 1990
‘Useful load’ 930lbs, 225HP, 7′ x 28.7′, 2,600 lbs
Photo by Adrian Pingstone Aug 2003

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive for owners and operators of the Enstrom Helicopter Corporation.

It issued the EAD because they had “…evaluated all the relevant information and determined the unsafe condition … is likely to exist or develop in other products of these same type designs.” i.e. this brand and model of helicopter. So, spontaneously, a part can break off, a rotor blade detach, causing the aircraft to immediately plummet from the sky, crash and burn furiously. The swath of destruction from the Engstrom 280FX crash in Erie very easily could have been in the middle of a neighborhood – instead it was a training flight and over an open field.

A witness, still obviously shaken from the experience, relates that she “…thought it was coming down on our house.” I can’t imagine the carnage that might have occurred that Monday afternoon if it had been over the homes when the culprit part ‘separated.’ Must be a lot of force involved – the witness said they saw “…an explosion happen at the top of the helicopter.” The FAA EAD indicated the crack that likely caused the crash had “…existed, undetected, for a significant amount of time before the separation.”

Literally a 2,600 lb flying time bomb.

Makes me wonder what could have happened if this part had failed during a reckless stunt while buzzing a residential neighborhood at 100 MPH while at only 200′ altitude. That no doubt window-rattling* maneuver could very easily have turned into one of the darkest chapters in Longmont’s history involving millions of dollars of property damage as well as injuries/deaths.

Thankfully it did not, but based on the crash in Erie it may well have been only a hairs-breadth chance.

Or if this had happened anywhere but an empty road:

Luckily, the owner of that company is respectful of his neighbors and surely is taking great care not to have another incident.


* saber-rattling?

Quiet Skies: Speaking at Longmont city council

Vance Brand airport - Now a liability for Longmont?

Vance Brand airport – Now a liability for Longmont?

On behalf of Citizens For Quiet Skies, I would like to speak about the airport in the context of avigation easements.

At the Airport Advisory Board (AAB) meeting in February 2013, the airport manager Tim Barth and Don Burchett with the planning department gave a presentation regarding the proposed West Grange Subdivision. This proposed subdivision was located at the southeast corner of Nelson Road and 75th Street, which is within the Airport Influence Zone.

In the meeting packet memo, Mr. Barth explained that since the early 1990’s the has used an airport disclosure statement to inform home buyers of their proximity to the airport.  Mr. Barth recommends that the city transition away from the airport disclosure and instead engage in the use of legally binding avigation easements.

So, what is an Avigation Easement? An avigation easement is a conveyance of airspace over another property for use by the airport. The propery owner has restricted use of their property subject to the easement.  The acquired easement rights typically include the right-of-flight of aircraft; the right to cause noise, dust, vibrations, to name a few. The avigation easement on the property “runs with the land”, meaning that future owners are also restricted.

To summarize in plain English, the airport disclosure does not protect the city from being sued for damages from excessive noise.  The avigation easement does – it is a legally binding document.

So, what does the home buyer receive in exchange for signing the avigation easement?  Example 1 shows 1 dollar in consideration. Example 2 shows ten dollars. For ten dollars, the home buyer signs away their rights to peaceful enjoyment of their land.

At the board meeting, Tim Barth and several board members commented on the proposal.

Mr. Barth said that with the avigation easement, the city has some protection, it doesn’t stop complaints but it protects the city.

Who is “the city.” The dictionary defines a city as “ the people who live in a city.” Was
Tim Barth aiming to protect the people of the city?

Board Member Morgan commented that, because of the numerous complaints, the disclosure was not working well and a stronger document or avigation easement would be in order.  Board Member Yates stated that the airport needs to be able to have airplanes come in and out without distractions or disturbances. And finally, board Member DaHarb said it is imperative to support the avigation easement project and move forward … for the city’s protection.

At that meeting, the airport advisory board unanimously passed a motion to support avigation easements.  However, it is my understanding that council did not move forward in considering this ill-conceived and nefarious plot to subvert the rights of citizens and homeowners.  I hope that Tim Barth’s successor will have a better sense of his role as a public servant.

In my experience talking with a lot of people, residents who live near the airport expect to see and hear some airplanes.  But they also have an expectation that there will be reasonable regulations in place to minimize the impact to the community.  What we are living with now appears to be a lawless free-for-all where anything goes.

I believe the City has two viable choices for managing the future of the airport.

  1. Adopt a comprehensive noise abatement plan that includes mandatory limits on skydiving operations and addresses other local concerns, for example touch-and-goes and helicopters.  These limits may include reducing access to airport property for use as a parachute landing area – land which is currently being given away for free.
    or
  2. Close the airport.
    Those are the choices.  The current path is completely unacceptable and we cannot continue along the current path.  We can either adopt reasonable regulations and manage the airport responsibly or close it.

Thank you.

The Great Giveaway Program

News Flash: The Longmont Airport is costing you a bundle.

News Flash: The Longmont Airport is costing you a bundle.

The Colorado Division of Aeronautics is taking some well-deserved heat for grossly overestimating next year’s tax revenue from aviation fuel sales. This revenue is used to fund the Colorado Discretionary Aviation Grant Program (DAGP), which supports runway maintenance and other improvement projects for Colorado’s 74 public-use airports. The grants for 2015 were initially projected at $15 million, but they were recently revised downward to $3 million – a $12 million shortfall.

Vance Brand airport - a public resource or a giant money-pit?

Vance Brand airport – a public resource or a giant money-pit?

Colorado airport managers harshly criticized the division’s wild miscalculation. And Longmont airport manager Tim Barth stated that the funding cutbacks will hamper airport and economic growth down the line (“Colorado airport officials admit errors, vow to save grant program” (11/19). But there is more to this story than meets the eye.

For those of us who have analyzed the airport budget it is obvious, at least in Longmont’s case, that the funding crisis has been years in the making and largely self-inflicted. Longmont officials have fully embraced a budget model that relies too heavily on federal and state subsidies, and not enough on revenue from airport users – a tiny fraction of residents who actually benefit from the airport. City officials are responsible for charging reasonable fees to use airport property. Yet for many years Longmont has elected to leave money on the table, as the following examples show.

Mile-Hi not paying fees? Why??

Getting a free ride – at your expense.

The airport has designated a Parachute Landing Area, also known as a skydive drop zone, covering about 40 acres. Assuming for a moment that the best use for this prime real estate is a drop zone, shouldn’t the city earn revenue from its use?

  1. The Longmont Municipal Code (section 4.64.040) clearly specifies a $7,500 annual fee for the use of airport property and further states that no one may use this area without first obtaining an applicable permit. Yet curiously, the city is not assessing this fee. In fact, there have been no drop zone fees assessed since June 1999.
  2. In 2007 the city leased about 180,000 square feet of airport property to a skydive operator. The initial annual lease amount was $41,566 (roughly 23 cents per square foot.) The skydiving company currently enjoys the use of that land. However, that lease is still considered “inactive” and no fees have ever been assessed nor collected – ever.
  3. In 2004 and 2007 the city considered a modest $1 per jump fee, which would generate more than $30,000 in airport revenue annually. Both times, this funding option was rejected. Again in February 2012, the Airport Advisory Board (AAB) revisited the proposed fee. A brief discussion followed in which a city employee described the airport budget as “bare bones.” Still the AAB voted unanimously to strike all information regarding the skydiving jump fee from the Airport Business Plan, thus hampering any further consideration by the city council. The result: zero revenue. Longmont officials have the fiduciary duty to manage the airport finances ethically and in the best interests of the community. The first step toward solving the airport budget crisis is ending the great giveaway program. Airport users should pay a fair market rate for use of airport property – especially private businesses that are reaping enormous profits and enjoying a free ride at taxpayer expense.

Kimberly Gibbs is a Boulder County resident and the organizer of Citizens For Quiet Skies.

Times-Call Owners Must Have the Mindset of Feudal Lords

It should be of concern to Longmont residents that the Longmont Daily Times-Call newspaper apparently is being run by people who have the mindset of feudal lords of the thirteenth century. Given that there were no newspapers back then, they certainly would have fit right in.

The most recent evidence of their inability to provide any meaningful service to Longmont voters during this election year is the Oct. 24th editorial endorsement of Ken Buck, another fine example of thirteenth century mentality, for election to the U. S. House of Representatives from Colorado’s 4th Congressional District.

We can only assume they took the time to talk with him about his plans if he gets to Congress. We do not have to assume anything about whether they talked to his main opponent, Vic Meyers of Trinidad. They definitely did not talk to Mr. Meyers. In fact, when he called and said he would like to meet with the editorial board, he was told they would not meet with him, nor any other candidates for Congress from the 4th CD because the newspaper would not be making any endorsements in that race. Clearly, that was a falsehood.

That wasn’t the only time Mr. Meyers tried to meet with a representative of the so-called newspaper. All his efforts were rebuffed.

Back when I was a reporter, my job was always to seek out candidates for public office, interview them, and write stories that were then published. We believed we were doing our readers a service. The Times-Call does not want to provide any such service. The Times-Call owners just want to tell us who we should elect.

I, for one, am rejecting their advice. I’m voting for Vic Meyers for Congress. He’s an honest, hard-working Coloradan who’s running for Congress because he’s fed up with partisan gridlock and the worst do-nothing Congress in the history of our country.

Vic Meyers deserves the support of Coloradans who value public service and want the best people possible to represent them in Washington, D. C. And who don’t care what the feudal lords who own the Times-Call have to say about it.

Vic Meyers

Vic Meyers

Let’s Send Vic Meyers to Washington

Vic Meyers

Vic Meyers

This year the residents of Colorado’s 4th Congressional District can send a strong message to our nation’s capital.

The message is that we are fed up with the failure of Congress to do its job, and we’re sending back a man to help fix it.

That man is Vic Meyers. He’s running because he shares our frustration and wants to do something about it. Vic will represent us, not the wealthy individuals and corporations who believe that their money makes their opinions more important and valuable than ours.

Send a message this year. Vote for Vic Meyers for Congress. He’ll do us proud.

TC Sale Delicious Irony

From TimesCall.com

NEW YORK — Digital First Media, the operator of The Denver Post, Daily Camera, Longmont Times-Call, Colorado Daily, Broomfield Enterprise and Colorado Hometown Weekly, announced Friday that it will “evaluate and consider strategic alternatives” that could lead to the sale of some or all of the company.

CEO John Paton said the company has retained UBS Securities to review a full range of alternatives — including selling the entire company, selling regional clusters or doing nothing.

“We believe we have many options available to us to maximize the value of our businesses for our stockholders and the board of directors has therefore decided to assess the full range of these opportunities,” Paton said.


The Times-Call, despite FRL’s continuing calls to moderate comments and require identification of commenters has stayed the course and now the newspaper finds itself again on the chopping block.

This comment in particular stands out:

AsokAsus

More deckchair rearranging. The death of print media is inevitable, and shifting to digital publication means nothing but competition with billions of other well-established websites which are already far better organized than the virtually unreadable digital newspaper sites, but even worse for the print publishers, ad revenue per ad is at least one ten thousandth less for a digital ad vs a print ad.

Bottom line is that printed newspapers are dead and their brands are worth zero. And quite frankly, it couldn’t happen to a better bunch considering that the bulk of newspapers have been unrelenting in blatantly pushing a s0cia!istic, “Progressive” agenda for decades instead of engaging in objective news reporting. So, basically, good riddance to bad rubbish.


Yes, the Times Call, that bastion of ‘Progressive’ thought. *COUGH*

No more bully pulpit for this bully.

No more bully pulpit for this bully.

To the extreme right of Longmont – your house organ has imploded and your pet hate-blogger has moved on. My advice is to clean up your act and start working to help Longmont. FRL is willing to publish your articles but you’ll need to stop trying to blame all your ills on the left.

Free Range Longmont is still here despite years of smears and lies aided and abetted by the Lehman family via the Times-Call. Now we get to see them hoist on their own petard.

The irony is truly delicious.

Here’s wishing the legions1 of anonymous hate posters a not-so-fond farewell and hoping the Times-Call gets the wire-brush cleaning2 its needed desperately for decades.


1.

Longmont's self-proclaimed 'First Lady'

Longmont’s self-proclaimed ‘First Lady’

Maybe not legions, perhaps just one or two very dispepsic hate-mongers?

2. As in all the Lehmans gone (waving merrily) Bye!!

A Call for More Balance at Vance Brand

One of Mi-Hile Skydiving's Twin Otter skydiving planes.

Mi-Hile Skydiving’s Twin Otter skydiving plane.

I write to express a moderate opinion regarding the current conflict between many county residents and Mile High Skydiving. We live a few miles west of the Vance Brand Airport and plainly hear the excessive and rather continuous noise from the jump planes as they climb at maximum rate, then descends under 75 percent power to expedite their subsequent loads to altitude, often within minutes of each other. It is onerous and unfortunate.

Mile-Hi Skydiving is operating within the limits of a federal law which doesn’t restrict aircraft noise or frequency of operation. The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) reserves the exclusive control of the skies throughout the U.S., and restricts local control of the airway system so that free, unimpeded air traffic can be unencumbered by a myriad of local regulation. This concept makes sense for air transportation of people and goods between airports.

The logic of this system breaks down, in my opinion, when those FAA regulations are used to allow a very noisy operation such as Mile-Hi Skydiving, to operate from, and back to, the same airport on a continuous basis, climbing and descending over the same areas of the county at full power settings. That doesn’t seem to me to be the intent of the FAA purpose for exclusive control of the airspace.

Tim Barth, the airport manager, has correctly used this argument in the past, stating that he has little control over activities that are regulated by the FAA. However, there have been several instances where local municipalities have successfully enacted noise control regulations at their airports. I believe that the City of Longmont does have the authority, if it so chooses, to control operations at its airport, including limiting excessive noise from planes, their hours and frequency of operation, hangar activities, etc.

The pressures to enact such control seem to come from a small part of the populous, many of whom are not city residents. So, from legislators’ “re-election perspective”, there’s little incentive to respond to complaints. Like me, there are probably many who are offended by the noise, but see little benefit of complaining to the deaf ears of the airport. Although Mile-Hi Skydiving provides little to the city in the way of taxes (it even purchases its own wholesale fuel rather than supporting the newly christened Elite Aviation) its activity does increase the utilization of the airport which probably aids in justifying federal funding.

However, the life of a small airport is fragile. Each year many across the country close due to inactivity, citizen mandate, or development pressures. Vance Brand has, so far, been relatively successful in maintaining a good support base of both the aircraft owners and the citizenry. But most of the airport tenants and pilots (I’m one) do not appreciate Mile-Hi Skydiving’s hazard to flying and their noisy activities. And more and more local citizens don’t either, resulting in deteriorated relations between the airport and the voters. Eventually there may be enough pressure from such sources to encourage a decision from legislators to move or close the airport.

Those feelings are progressing now. Many will tell you how beneficial the skydiving operation is to the airport. But many more will tell you that it is having a far more deleterious effect.

Gary Rubin lives in Longmont.

Neutralization vs Annihilation

The frustration and futility of Israel ever finding a lasting peace with their Palestinian neighbors is once again on display. Eleven cease-fires, eleven failures. Just why intelligent Palestinians would support Hamas- a militant group with but one strategy – blindly firing rockets into (mostly) Israel dung piles and fields, is a wonderment indeed. Regardless, Hamas fires rockets, Israel’s “Dome” brings the majority down and gives Israel an excuse to once again  bomb and blow up that sorry place called The Gaza Strip.

Given that Hamas appears to be led by a collection of intellectual anvils and given that Israel PM Netanyahu‘s approach to diplomacy is hardball writ large, there should be no argument that this war is a loss-loss for all parties. If the loss of Palestinian children is not sufficient reason to wonder at Israel’s strategy, add to the carnage the generations of hatred now seeded in the souls of the survivors.

One answer to this mess might lie in an effort to neutralize Hamas – not by force but by their abandonment by Palestinians who see a better way – one which offers opportunity, security  and room to once again dream. I have been pushing a concept for at least 20 years without success, mainly because I’ve never managed to reach anyone with the clout to bring the concept to anyone with political clout. So here it is- one more time; hold onto your seat and before you say “It will never work”, at least read to the end.

If you want to step outside the box you might start thinking about the reality of Gaza – too many people, too little land and zero hope for a better life. There’s a Nobel Peace Prize just waiting to be shared by PM Netanyahu and Egyptian President Sisi if they are willing to break through generations of hatred and begin to think outside the boxes they are in. Here’s the idea: Egypt cedes Sinai land south of the existing Gaza border (say- 200 kilometers) with an eastern border continuing Gaza’s present border.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia-The Free Encyclopedia

Occupied Palestinian Territories

Imagine;  the desert would bloom along a coastline of resorts and commercial development, seaports and desalination facilities. Thousands of jobs would be created, the economies of the region (particularly Egypt’s) would take off and a “New Gaza” would be born. A declaration of a Swiss-style neutrality would further geld Hamas and with time and demographic shifts it would become a bad memory.

What would it take to bring this about? Guts and dreams. Political courage. The recognition that neither side will ever prevail and live in peaceful harmony. Egypt’s President  Sisi would see the disintegration of the despised Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza and  just possibly stand beside Mr. Netanyahu in Oslo.

Crazy? Got a better idea? Please pass this along to anyone who might have some clout. Give hope a chance.

Longmont’s home rule charter is under assault

Where's council?

Where’s council?

Longmont’s Home Rule City Charter is the foundational document for the city government of Longmont. The charter can be amended only when a majority of Longmont voters approve a change. Section 3.7 of the charter states, “Each councilman shall take an oath or affirmation before entering upon the duties of his office, that he will support the Constitution of the United States and the state of Colorado, and the charter and ordinances of the city of Longmont, and faithfully perform the duties of his office”.

We are rapidly approaching a time when current members of the city council will be tested regarding their sworn oath to support the city charter. On July 24, a Boulder County District Judge issued an adverse ruling against the citizens initiated charter change banning the use of hydraulic fracturing within the city limits. The judge stayed her ruling pending an appeal to a higher court. Council members who vote to defend our home rule charter by appealing this lower court decision will fulfill their oath. Those who oppose appealing the decision will be voting to capitulate to the oil and gas industry, hardly an act that supports the city charter.

The city charter provision under assault is the one initiated by citizens in 2012 when they became convinced the city council was not adequately protecting the residents’ health, safety and quality of life, all of which were threatened by the toxic industrial operations of the oil and gas industry. Ballot question 300 was approved by 60 percent of the voters. At the time, several members of the city council actively campaigned against passage of the amendment.

Longmont citizens should be aware that their city charter is under assault by the oil and gas industry, by Gov. Hickenlooper and by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). The assault began immediately after Longmont residents approved ballot question 300. Gov. Hickenlooper’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission immediately joined the oil and gas industry in a lawsuit to overturn the citizens’ vote. The same duo of players initiated a lawsuit against the city council for adopting an ordinance in June 2012 imposing additional safety regulations on the industry.

These powerful and well funded players are  determined to smash any ordinance or charter provision that attempts to reasonably regulate the oil and gas industry within Longmont’s corporate limits.
It is up to Longmont residents to clearly communicate to their elected council members that the city charter belongs to the people, not to the council. Residents need to remind their elected representatives that they, not the council, initiated and supported this charter amendment while overcoming nearly $500,000 in oil and gas industry propaganda opposing the initiative.

I encourage any city council member who has not had an up close exposure to the devastating impacts of toxic oil and gas operations on residential neighborhoods to travel to Greeley, Erie, Firestone or Frederick. For those who believe Gov. Hickenlooper’s propaganda about Colorado’s “toughest regulations in the nation” protects everyone, check out the neighborhood in Greeley where the COGCC recently approved permits for 67 wells within 350 feet of Frontier Elementary School.

Fortunately, the Mineral Corporation reconsidered drilling on the permitted site after neighborhood residents expressed outrage. However, Hickenlooper’s COGCC did nothing to protect the neighborhood or school children.

Longmont’s Home Rule Charter can be amended only when residents vote to amend it. Until that happens, each member of the Longmont City Council is expected to faithfully perform the duties of their office. Longmont residents expect council members to uphold their oath to support the charter and they will be held accountable at the ballot box if they fail. Any elected official hoping to use “it is too expensive to keep appealing” as an excuse to abandon the defense of the city charter needs to check with the city attorney regarding how much of the work has already been done for appealing this issue all of the way to the Supreme Court. Of course, if the district court’s decision is overturned, it will be expensive to prepare for trial to defend the fracking ban. However, if council members do not believe in fighting to defend the voter- approved city charter, why did they run for city council and swear to support it?

Gordon Pedrow is a former Longmont city manager.

Air War on Longmont

20140618_Longmont Noise Poll Results

N125PM-otter

N125PM – the “Twin Otter” – one of Mile Hi Skydiving’s jump planes – one of the sources of excessive noise.

I’d like Longmont Airport to be the good neighbor it once was in our community, and that it could be once again. All it takes is enforcement of reasonable controls on the number of noisy Mile-Hi Skydiving flights that 37 per cent of T-C survey respondents said is by far the most irritating source of noise in Longmont.

The tragedy is that this noise isn’t coming from a public good like farming or transportation; it’s made by the pursuit of pleasure by skydivers creating large profits for a single private business – Mile-Hi Skydiving.

I live 7 miles away from the airport and I’m not under the approach or landing flyways. Now that its summer, 4 – 6 skydive planes/hour are grinding their way over my house for up to 12 hours each weekend day. They force their noise on me for 20 minutes of every hour by blasting out their penetrating brand of grinding racket that can’t be blocked from consciousness, while they rasp and claw at the sky for altitude to drop their 35,000 jumpers/year.

Here’s an example of the Mile-Hi Skydiving noise nuisance – imagine this racket coming over your house 4 – 6 times every hour, 12 hours a day, on every summer weekend day that weather permits

I’ve lived in my current home since 1990. That’s 5 years before Mile-Hi existed, and many years before they started ramping up operations with noisier aircraft and increased numbers of noisy flights that rob me of the peace and quiet I bought with my property. No, I’m not “Next to” the airport – I’m 7 milesaway and out of the regular flyways. No, I didn’t sign an airport easement – I live outside of the official “airport impact zone.” No, I’m not going to move somewhere else – I was here first, and Mile-Hi did not ask my consent to destroy the peacefulness of my neighborhood. It’s time for Mile-Hi to stop its noise bullying. The reasonable limit on the frequency of noisy skydiving flights has been exceeded.

N66GS-MileHi-LowResWeb

N66GS – another Mile Hi skydiving jump plane – one of the sources of excessive noise.

NRA Cynicism Leads to Murders

It always hits a little harder when tragedy strikes a familiar place, and so it is as we learn of the latest massacre, this time in Isla Vista where our son lived for several years before graduating from UC Santa Barbara. Three stabbed to death, three shot and killed, six wounded and unfortunately a seventh dead- the killer.

Unfortunate because had he lived we might have learned much more beyond his suicide video; much more of what in God’s name could drive a young man to exact such punishment on so many, most of whom were unknown to him.

The NRA will of course be blamed and they will of course place the blame squarely on the barren field of mental health in America, and they are correct. Had this boy received better treatment, had authorities been empowered to vigorously intervene; well yes, this might not have happened.  Instead, sheriff’s deputies were sent to interview him to determine if he posed a threat to society.  Since when were deputies trained in psychology and the nuances of mental health? These actions do  not suggest a broken system; they suggest there is no functional system to repair.

All of which avoids introspection, any sniff of analysis and no scintilla of NRA guilt. Because of watered-down  background checks and the lack of a meaningful data base to track weapon sales- all fostered by and paid for by the NRA, the boy had no difficulty in purchasing three high powered handguns, and off he went on his rampage.

It makes little difference how the guns were obtained, for if not legally purchased, guns are never far away.  A closet, a deal on a corner, a mail order unknown or a  gun show- it hardly matters. What does matter is that anyone in this country can somehow manage to get his (mostly “his”) hands on a weapon. Rifle, shotgun, pistol, military  caliber weapons- it matters not, and the NRA is almost solely responsible for this accessibility. “Almost” because without the assistance of a corrupt Congress they would have never achieved  their perverted goal of arming America.

Fear and slick TV commercials are the driving forces in today’s culture. Despite years of statistical evidence that a gun in the home is far more dangerous to the family than any intruder, the NRA continues to preach the lie that we are all threatened. Despite the utter stupidity of imagining a citizenry armed with handguns and AK-47’s defending against the US military, the NRA wraps itself in the flag and calls for even greater access to weapons. The rationale for  this philosophy beggars the imagination and can only be understood by understanding the NRA.

I have written before, and state it again: The NRA is a lobbying group put together and funded by arms manufacturers. The folks who make guns wanted access to our elected representatives and poured money into the trough to which so many of our honorable members of congress find nourishment. As time went by, the evidence of fear as a factor in successful campaigns became more evident and the NRA jumped in.

Suddenly fear, God, flag and country became synonymous with the NRA and today we see the result of their efforts. Three more beautiful innocents dead and several injured by bullets fired from an NRA approved weapon.

It’s difficult to imagine what might someday break our culture of guns. Yes, the state of mental health facilities in the US is shameful. So too is the acceptance of the NRA into our daily lives. Answers are not far away.

  1. Get  the gun(s) out of your home. Don’t sell it – hand it over to the police to dispose of and forget how much it cost you. Check the stats and you’ll discover the odds are you’ve saved at least one life which is far more valuable than any weapon.
  2. Let your reps at every level of elected office know that if they support the NRA in any way, they’ll lose your vote.
  3. Demand the improvement and quality of personnel in the mental health field and be prepared to pay a little more in taxes. Ask yourself if the NRA should not be required to help pay the bill- after all, they are singularly responsible for the continuing carnage of gun violence in America which now demands greater social services. If the NRA gave a damn for America it would by now have started funding mental health care. But it hasn’t of course and probably never will. Hope burns eternal  which I pray the grand kids will someday appreciate.
  4. Understand the cynicism of the NRA and the way in which the American public has been manipulated by these puppets of the gun industry. I’ll continue to write; let’s all quietly tell the NRA to go to hell.

In both the public and private sector, power is the power to hide

From SunlightFoundation

by Emily Shaw

In academic definitions of power, power is equated with influence over others. In Max Weber’s frequently-cited formulation, power is “the chance of a man or a number of men to realize their own will in a social action even against the resistance of others.”  Harold Lasswell similarly describes politics as the art of determining “who gets what, when and how” and examines how individuals influence others to achieve those outcomes.

In the 21st century, the power to influence runs up against the internet-enabled equality of informational arms. When regular people can see how influence is being exercised, that influence can be highlighted and discussed — and is counterbalanced by public recognition of its antidemocratic effects.

In order for power to preserve itself, it now uses its influence to hide.

Read the rest at SunlightFoundation.com


I’ve watched this exact phenomenon happening in Longmont, starting with the 2009 city council election; powerful forces were set in motion and secret deals were very obviously made.

The numbers are clear, the election was bought and paid for.

Gabe Santos

Longmont City Council member Gabe Santos

Under no circumstances should Gabe Santos be left on council – he’s tied directly to corruption and his own supporters admitted being in on the hidden attacks waged in his campaign’s name.

Funny how it all spins down and around to oil.

Watch Santos fight tooth and nail for fracking at all costs – that’s what his masters paid for years ago, likely when he was working for Tom Delay.