Longmont

2013 Longmont election big win for Progressives

Dennis Coombs, Mayor of Longmont

Dennis Coombs, Mayor of Longmont

Monday November 11th the City Council members for Longmont were sworn in – among them returning mayor Dennis Coombs. Here’s our photos.

Two new members were also sworn in –

Polly Christensen

Polly Christensen

Polly Christensen replaced Alex Sammoury and Jeff Moore replaced Katie Witt, both winning handily – no recounts this year.

Coombs sailed to victory with a 16% (Correction – 17.84%) margin over his opponent Bryan Baum, breaking out early with a large lead that Baum never managed to match, despite running scandal-free this time around. A push poll of unknown origin may actually have hurt the right-wing candidate by attempting to spread scurrilous rumors and deeply offending voters.

Jeff Moore

Jeff Moore

Sammoury and Witt were pleasant and appeared to be relieved at leaving City Council. Alex said he’d ‘…try and miss them…’ on Tuesday evenings, clearly being ironic. Witt pronounced ‘…you haven’t seen the last of me…’ and was greeting by laughter from the audience.

Well, I suppose we can hope

StephBaumTweets_111213Despite pronouncements from the right that Longmont is a ‘conservative’ town, the ‘left’ ran off two conservative candidates and defeated a tea party ex-mayor decisively. An obviously-planned kerfuffle over a months-old crabby note from Polly Christensen was clearly the Baum’s payback for being ‘pooched‘ in the last election. Super-classy for Abbondanza owner Bob Goff to not only save the note, but put it in the hands of Longmont’s First ‘Lady’ of muck-raking, who cackled gleefully about it. Love how she’s eager to see a fellow Longmonter in the ‘poor house’ – kinda clashes with her sweet, fundraiser persona…

Polly had this to say about her note to Goff:

“Usually Abondanza is my son’s and my favorite place for pizza, wine, and Parchesi. I was exhaused and was feeling a bit accosted by politics at a place where I was hoping to relax and NOT think about politics. I overreacted to the signs in the window and the political stickers on my leftover box. I wrote this cranky note on a scrap of paper. It was ill-considered, harsh, and unnecessary. I regret not just walking away and getting some sleep.”

Longmont's self-proclaimed 'First Lady'

Longmont’s self-proclaimed ‘First Lady’

Interesting tweet about the ‘Old Guard’… and the Pro-Tem vote was planned…? Really?

So, all in all a very interesting night and terrifically revealing of how deep the wounds of the last election were and how badly the right wanted revenge – any revenge.

Eyes of the Nation on Colorado Towns’ Fracking Fight

Published on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 by Common Dreams

‘Industry across the nation is looking to see what Colorado voters are going to do.’

– Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Coloradoans picket frack-friendly Governor John Hickenlooper in Longmont, Colorado. (Photo: FreeRangeLongmont.com/ cc/ Flickr)

Coloradoans picket frack-friendly Governor John Hickenlooper in Longmont, Colorado. (Photo: FreeRangeLongmont.com/ cc/ Flickr)

In what many are calling the new “ground zero” in the national fight against fracking, the toxic gas and oil extracting process is on the ballot in four Colorado towns where citizens are taking on the heavyweights of the fossil fuel industry.

Following the example of Longmont, which last year became the first Colorado city to ban fracking, next Wednesday, voters in Boulder, Broomfield, Lafayette and Fort Collins will have the opportunity to choose whether or not they support the controversial extraction method of shale oil and gas in their communities.

The Denver Business Journal provides this rundown of the four ballot measures:

  • Broomfield: Question 300 would impose a five-year prohibition on all fracking.
  • Fort Collins: Its measure would create a five-year moratorium on fracking and storage of waste products related to the oil and gas industry in town.
  • City of Boulder: 2H proposes a five-year moratorium on oil and gas exploration.
  • Lafayette: Question No. 300 would ban new oil and gas wells in town. [As well as] prohibit “depositing, storing or transporting within city limits any water, brine, chemical or by-products used in or that result from extraction of oil and gas.”

Though local ballot initiatives, these are no small-town battles. According to reports, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) has poured over $600,000 into campaigns against the moratoriums.

“The oil and gas industry is trying to intimidate voters by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy this election,” Laura Fronckiewicz, campaign manager for the pro-moratorium group Our Broomfield, told Denver Westword.

Among those industry insiders who are concerned that the success of these local initiatives could spell trouble for the future of fracking in the west, Tim Wigley, president of oil and gas trade group Western Energy Alliance, said, “I’ve really beat the drum with our members […] across the West about how dangerous a precedent these could be if they become law.”

“The whole country is looking at Colorado as ground zero.” The state, he added, “has been traditionally a big-time [energy] producer, and the industry across the nation is looking to see what Colorado voters are going to do.”

Three of the four initiatives propose a temporary ban on the process which, according to Fronckiewicz, will allow researchers more time to determine fracking’s “true effects” on residents’ health and the environment.

Colorado’s history as an energy-producing state where landowners’ mineral rights are often owned by commercial entities compound the challenges faced by these grassroots initiatives.

The City of Longmont—where last November nearly 60 percent of voters approved an amendment that prohibited fracking and the disposal of fracking waste products within city limits—is currently facing suits by both the COGA and the state.

Those suits, however, have not succeeded in deterring others from taking up their own fight against Big Oil and Gas.

“People on Colorado’s Front Range enjoy their quality of life and this industry represents an immediate threat to public health and that quality of life,” Cliff Willmeng of the activist group East Boulder County United told the Denver Post. “People see that the question of the environment is not an abstraction—it’s something we’re living through now.”

Citizens For Quiet Skies – Lawsuit Is Imminent

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

Mi-Hile Skydiving’s Twin Otter skydiving plane.

Boulder County, CO – Citizens For Quiet Skies announced today that a lawsuit is imminent regarding their efforts to address the community noise impact from Mile-Hi Skydiving jump planes.  For more than two years Quiet Skies has made efforts to work toward a cooperative solution with the skydiving operator and the city of Longmont.  These efforts have failed.  As a result, Quiet Skies has retained the law offices of Randall Weiner, a Boulder environmental law firm, to seek a remedy via the courts.

Thousands of north Boulder County residents who live under the Mile-Hi Skydiving “flight box” are affected by the noise.  The flight box extends from the Longmont airport northwest to Lyons and south to Gunbarrel, including Niwot, Hygiene.  On weekends, Mile-Hi Skydiving operates multiple aircraft concurrently, for more than 12 hours per day.  In particular, the white and purple DeHavilland Twin Otter creates the most objectionable noise, which is described as a low-frequency reverberating drone.

The city of Longmont, as the airport proprietor has the authority to regulate operations to address community noise concerns.  However, the city has continually refused to adopt reasonable regulations that would offer some measure of relief to the community.

Further details will be provided at a brief public announcement:
WHAT:   Announcement of lawsuit
WHEN:  Tuesday, October 29th at 6:30 pm
WHERE: Longmont Public Library, 409 4th Ave. Meeting room A, Longmont, main level

To find out more about Citizens For Quiet Skies:

Web:  CitizensForQuietSkies.org
Facebook:  Citizens For Quiet Skies
Primary organizer:  Kimberly Gibbs
303-530-6918
kimberly_gibbs@yahoo.com

COGA turns to Boulder Weekly with latest spin

The industry feebly attempts to remove egg on its collective face from flood coverage.

Editor’s Note:  The following appeared in the Boulder Weekly in response to a letter to the editor by Doug Flanders of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association  Flanders is the Director of Policy and External Affairs for COGA.  In layman’s lingo, he’s the go-to guy when COGA needs someone to trash those in Colorado who seek to protect their communities from the known dangers of fracking for oil and gas to health and the environment .


Flared gasOh, Mr. Flanders! I can’t figure out whether you’re wringing your hands in distress and bewilderment or in delight at being able, yet again, to take pot shots at the environment.  Yes, I wrote environment. I did not mean “environmentalists.”

I know a thing or two about the oil and gas industry. Once upon a time I had an insider’s look at it. So before you drip away in self-praise at your community-assistance motives, let me point out that your industry has a 40-plus-year history of spending millions upon millions upon millions of dollars to repair a badly bruised and battered public image. (Remember the 1970s?)

While those who are benefiting from the “assistance” that your mega-billion-dollar companies have contributed towards relief, auditors will find those write-offs buried in your accounting under a derivative of public relations.

You know that your alleged compassion and generosity goes well beyond helping your fellow man and his environment. If there were such genuine caring, your industry wouldn’t be creating the environmental chaos that you inflict each and every day.

Methane released into the air that is damaging to human health as ozone and to the climate even more than carbon dioxide. Chemicals thrust into the ground and brought back up that are causing serious illness to children and adults alike. Total disregard of communities’ rights to self-determination. Perhaps we should do an amputation of your industry’s collective middle finger. Would that it were just that easy.

Your partner-in-crime Tisha Schuller looked to be agonizing when interviewed during television reporting on oil spills, tanks tipped and overturned, berms that allegedly contain contamination washed into farmland and waterways in the aftermath of the flooding. While Ms. Schuller was telling the viewing audience “Don’t worry, be happy,” the cut-aways were showing such images. Now really, Mr. Flanders, do you expect us to believe her — and you?

So as a reaction to your public relations disaster from the flood, you pulled out your Rapid Response Team to come up with an approach to remedy the bruises from falling on your faces. Those dastardly ordinary citizens — moms, dads, grandpas, grandmas, doctors, nurses, neighbors, friends — all those people who dare to point out the obvious and according to you and your mouthpieces are using a disaster to drive home a reality that you don’t want in public consciousness. Your industry causes damage — to people’s health and safety, to the environment, to the climate, to the air we breathe and water we drink and use to grow our food. And you will continue to cause that damage until you are stopped. We plan to do just that. And we will do it with truth, justice and the truly American way — not with lie on top of lie on top of lie, not by calling in chits with elected officials, not with lawsuits where the only intent is to deprive people and communities of their rights and well-being. You are on the wrong side of history, Mr. Flanders of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the wrong side.

 

Elect candidates who stand against fracking

Cast your ballot for those who will best protect Longmont's right to local control.

Vote, checked with red pencilAs we approach municipal elections Nov. 5, I believe it is critical that voters understand where each candidate stands regarding two lawsuits the city is currently defending. Although each lawsuit pertains to the community’s ability to regulate oil and gas operations within its corporate boundaries, each resulted from a separate approach to address foundational principles of local government in Colorado.

Home rule, citizen initiative and local control are key concepts found in the Colorado Constitution, the Longmont city charter and in years of practical application. The reason these basic principles of government are so critical is simple. When properly applied, they put key decisions about local communities in the hands of the people most heavily impacted, local residents. Under our charter, the citizens elect the City Council, which has the obligation to adopt appropriate policies to protect our health, environment and quality of life. This includes appropriate regulations for all land uses.

If and when residents do not believe the elected city council members are appropriately protecting the community, citizens have the right to initiate appropriate actions. This is what happened in 2012 regarding oil and gas operations. The ability to adopt appropriate land use regulations is a basic right of home rule cities in Colorado and a fundamental expectation of citizens. As you will see below, the primary opponents of local oil and gas land use regulations in Longmont are Gov. John Hickenlooper and the multi-billion dollar oil and gas industry. That is why city council elections this year are absolutely critical.

The first lawsuit is an attempt to thwart the city council’s right to reasonably regulate land uses in Longmont. It was filed by Gov. Hickenlooper via his industry-dominated Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). The oil and gas industry quickly joined the governor’s legal action so that it could throw its deep pockets of cash into the fight to have the state, not the city council, regulate oil and gas operations within Longmont.

The governor felt compelled to take legal action against our community because a majority of the Longmont City Council dared to enact land use regulations that prohibit oil/gas operations, including hydraulic fracturing, within residential neighborhoods and requires these operations to be at least 750 feet from schools, hospitals and day care centers. Since the governor finds these rather timid Longmont regulations to be too restrictive of the heavy oil and gas industry, it verifies how little protection he believes our citizens deserve.

As of today, the city is vigorously defending its home rule rights to reasonably regulate the heavy industrial activities associated with oil and gas operations. However, a future city council could stop defending this lawsuit and capitulate to the governor and the industry. At least one candidate, mayoral challenger Bryan Baum, has publicly stated that he is in favor of settling this lawsuit. If you believe in local control, you need to know where the other candidates stand.

The second lawsuit stems from 2012, when a group of Longmont residents became convinced that a majority of the elected city council was not adequately protecting the community from the impacts of oil and gas operations. The citizens initiated a city charter amendment that prohibits fracking operations within the city boundaries. Approximately 60 percent of the voters agreed with the amendment last November and it is now a part of the city charter. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) promptly filed legal action challenging Longmont’s city charter. The governor quickly joined forces with the industry.

I hope you see the pattern of state government and industry joining forces to attack local control. The opponents of local control hope that the combination of the power of state government and the deep pockets of a politically connected industry will intimidate small communities and citizens. They think bullying local government serves their interests. It will not work in Longmont if we elect the right city council members.

Both of these lawsuits address important local control issues; therefore, they must both be vigorously defended. The one addresses the powers of a home rule city as provided for in the Colorado constitution. The other defends the right of citizens to initiate charter amendments or legislation when their elected representatives fail to act appropriately. These rights and powers of our local community are in the hands of the next city council. I encourage each voter to understand the candidates’ position and cast your ballot for the ones who will best protect our community.

Former Longmont City Manager, Gordon Pedrow

Former Longmont City Manager, Gordon Pedrow

 

Shale Boom or Shale Bubble?

Come to a public discussion of fracking's false economic promise

Deborah Rogers, internationally renowned fracking economics expert,

to present and take questions

Deborah RogersDeborah will speak in three communities: Boulder, Broomfield & Fort Collins

As Front Range communities wrestle with hydraulic fracturing-enabled oil and gas development, residents should know the fracking boom may provide only a short period of oil and gas abundance before collapsing in an economic bust.

Analysis of more than 60,000 oil and gas wells shows:

  • Shale well production declines more rapidly than predicted.
  • The rate of drilling must increase to maintain current production.
  • Shale gas production has become uneconomical in many areas at current prices.
  • Wall Street has played a key behind-the-scenes role in hyping the fracking boom.
  • Industry is largely unwilling to invest in future shale development.

WHO:

Deborah Rogers, co-author of Shale Bubble reports, member of the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, advisor to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, former member of the Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and Earthworks board member.

WHAT:

An opportunity for the public to learn about and discuss the financial underpinnings of fracking-enabled shale development.

WHERE & WHEN:

Tuesday, October 22nd at 6:30 p.m.
Fort CollinsCouncil Tree Library, 2733 Council Tree Ave.

Wednesday, October 23rd at 6:30pm
BoulderColorado School of Law, Wolf Law Bldg, Rm 204, 2450 Kittredge Loop Rd

Thursday, October 24th at 7pm
BroomfieldLakeshore Room of the Broomfield Community Center, 280 Lamar St.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Contacts:

·         All events – Josh Joswick, Earthworks, at 970-903-0876, jjoswick@earthworksaction.org

·         Fort Collins – Kelly Giddens-Unuigbey, Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins at 503-866-5962, kellygiddens@mac.com

·         Boulder – Kate Johnson, Boulder County Citizens for Community Rights at 303-579-9537, katej2555@msn.com

·         Broomfield – Laura Fronckiewicz, Our Broomfield at 312-533-0525, ourbroomfield@gmail.com

Read the research at www.shalebubble.org

HOSTING ORGANIZATIONS:

Earthworks, Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins, Boulder County Citizens for Community Rights, and Our Broomfield with East Boulder County United, Erie Rising, Food & Water Watch, Frack Files of Weld County, Frack Free Colorado, Our Broomfield, Our Longmont, Plains Alliance for Clean Air & Water, Protect Our Colorado, Protect Our Loveland, Weld Air and Water, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Greeley Chapter, YES on 2H.

THE ORGANIZATIONS BEHIND THE SHALE BUBBLE RESEARCH:

The Energy Policy Forum addresses the serious long-term implications for U.S. energy consumers as America chooses course at the crossroads of potential energy futures.

The Post Carbon Institute provides individuals, communities, businesses, and governments with the resources needed to understand and respond to the interrelated economic, energy, environmental, and equity crises that define the 21st century. We envision a world of resilient communities and re-localized economies that thrive within ecological bounds.

“Our Longmont” to celebrate Global Frackdown 2

Vigil to be held Saturday, October 19, near Trail Ridge Middle School at 5:00 PM

No-fracking-logoOn Saturday, October 19, thousands of people concerned about the threat that drilling and fracking for oil and gas poses to the environment, communities and their shared resources will unite through over 200 actions on six continents for the second annual Global Frackdown. A coordinated international day of action against fracking, the Global Frackdown will gather concerned citizens in over 20 countries and in the US in 25 states who will send a message to elected officials around the world that they want a future powered by clean, renewable energy, not polluting fossil fuels.

Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont will be holding a vigil as its contribution to Global Frackdown 2.  The gathering is on Harlequin Drive, just north of the Trail Ridge Middle School.  The event will take place between 5:00 PM and 6: 00 PM this Saturday, October 19, 2013.

“Join us for a few moments of music, introspection, inspiration and hope,” said Our Longmont’s Michael Bellmont.

The process of fracking for oil and gas is fraught with dangers.  It threatens the air we breathe, the water we drink, the communities we love and the climate on which we depend.

“Some of those dangers became apparent during the disastrous flooding, particularly in Weld County, home of nearly 20,000 oil and gas wells: oil spills, tanks tipped and overturned, berms that contain contamination washed onto farmland and into waterways in the aftermath of the flooding,” said Kaye Fissinger of Our Longmont.

The vigil will also celebrate the commitment of other communities along the Front Range who have ballot measures calling for either a five-year moratorium or a ban on fracking:  Fort Collins, Broomfield, Boulder and Lafayette.

Leaders we can trust

Our ballots arrived today and will likely be back in the mailbox tomorrow; it’s election time again and here in lovely Longmont the contest between incumbent mayor Dennis Coombs and ex mayor Brian Baum is heating up. Mr. Baum is placing a lot of stock in the settling of several lawsuits during his tenure, while Mayor Coombs is running on his record which is exemplary, especially during our unforgettable flood.

It occurred to me that just about every politician in America would have you believe he or she was a “Proven Leader” which in some cases means they led their constituency down the road to hell and despair as we’ve seen in Detroit. Other proven leaders have never proven much of anything but I guess if you were elected mayor at some point you get bragging rights. “Proven Leader” ranks right up there with “Lowest Prices” and an offer to sell a bridge.

Real leadership shows up when a crisis never before experienced strikes. That’s when someone steps up, takes charge, stays calm and, well- leads. Rather like Mayor Coombs during the flood, come to think of it.

Mark Udall and Dennis Coombs, Longmont 2013

Mark Udall and Dennis Coombs, Longmont 2013

While Mayor Coombs quietly went about his business in the face of our recent disaster, he had little time for grandstanding and media posturing. I  suspect most citizens have little time to watch reassuring TV clips while undergoing evacuation as their homes are being destroyed; nonetheless I did read a criticism from a blog supporter of Mr. Baum, who felt our mayor should have had a larger profile during the crisis.

Perhaps had he been seen on TV desperately hanging on to a lamp post in the midst of debris and downpour this critic might have been satisfied. Mayor Coombs however is not a reporter for a local TV station, and thank God for that.

Meanwhile, I’ve been recalling certain events from  last October. A petition to ban fracking had been handily approved with over 7500 signatures. Question 300 was on the November ballot and would be approved by over 60% of voters- and more Yes votes than the total cast for both Coombs and Baum. Longmont had spoken.

How many recall last October 2 when a full color ad sponsored by the Colorado Oil & Gas Association  appeared featuring seven ex-mayors including Brian Baum? This was followed by a mailer echoing the ad. The only thing these ex’s had in common was that six of them were one-term mayors. So much for the rewards of proven leadership.

Remember this mailing? Check out the bottom left corner - see anyone you know?

Remember this mailing? Check out the bottom left corner – see anyone you know?

No one in Longmont had ever heard so much as a syllable about fracking pass their lips while they were in office, but now, on a sunny day in October, they’ve become experts. They assured us our water was safe, the environment pure (except around places like Trail Ridge Middle School) and that a ban on fracking within city limits was just plain foolish.

Were these seven paid for their appearances? One presumes so. Are they still in the warm embrace of the Oil & Gas Association? I don’t know, but some cynics might assume they are. However, nothing on that issue but deep silence comes from Mr. Baum’s camp. Not a peep unless you happen upon the end of an interview on his web site in which Mr. Baum states that he would defend the ban “As such” – whatever that means- but settle- and drop the part of the case which challenges present state regulations.

If this makes you comfortable, cast your vote for Mr. Baum, who may well be joined with incumbents Santos, Sammoury and Finley. That’s all Longmont needs- another 4-3 split council promising weak- if any- defense of last November’s vote.

On the other hand, Mayor Coombs will push the will of his citizens and the voices raised last November against fracking, will vigorously defend Longmont’s best interests and will continue the calm leadership which marked his first term.

Longmont spoke last November. This time around let’s give Mayor Coombs an overwhelming victory- one which tells Colorado we have not only spoken but are now shouting; I urge you to support and re-elect Mayor Coombs.

Coombs. Accountius, Christensen. Three we can trust.

Doing The Math

 

Seven council members. Seven votes. 4-3 splits mean the oil companies have a majority.

Two letters in support of Polly Christensen (T-C, Oct. 11), candidate for Councilor-At-Large, fired up a few neurons on the left side of my brain. I started doing a little math and came up with a total which is upsetting if not downright scary.

If elected, Brian Baum, Gabe Santos, Alex Sammoury along with incumbent Bonnie Finley (who voted consistently with the oil and gas interests) would form a 4-3 majority in a new and presumedly squabbling council, a la 2010-2012. We know where Mr. Baum stands on the issue of fracking (see below); the positions of Mr. Santos and Mr. Sammoury are less clear but still troublesome.

For the 60% of us who voted in support of Question 300 and want no part of fracking in or around Longmont, this quartet could pose a formidable threat to that which we fought so hard to achieve last year.

Each of these three candidates have web sites but you’ll find precious little comment or opinion on where they stand on the fracking issue.

Out of sight, out of mind I guess, for you’ll not find the words “Energy”, “Fracking”, “Oil” or “Gas” on the web sites of either Gabe Santos or Alex Sammoury. The absence of any reference to one of the most vital issues- and one very much still alive in the courts-  is troubling indeed. Granted they did vote for the ban in a 5-2 decision, but I recall no great enthusiasm or passion on their parts in the discussion leading up to the vote. Where they stand today is an open question.

Mr. Baum’s site mentions the issue once only in response to a T-C interview in which he states; (re. Q.300) “… was the will of the voters and must be vigorously defended as such”. Note the qualification; “as such”.  Regarding that part of the lawsuit dealing with regulations, he then states; “The regulations can be re-addressed by the council to fit with the state regulations and allow the suit to be dropped”.

Heaven help the children  attending Trail Ridge Middle School, situated just inside city boundaries. Help from above might also be needed for the many residents living just beyond as they watch a state-friendly well rising into the sky 750 feet away and the value of their properties plummeting.

Anti-300 (Longmont Fracking Ban) Mailer

Click for full size

Anti-300 (Longmont Fracking Ban) Mailer

Click for full size

 

Mr. Baum threw his hat into the oil & gas ring last year when he showed up in a full color ad paid for by the Colorado Oil & Gas Association. For his appearance in that ad- reprinted at least twice,  Mr. Baum presumably received remuneration or benefit for his support. Today, I heartily question Mr. Baum’s definition of “vigorous defense”. Heading up a 4-3 majority, I also question the will of council to defend any portion of the lawsuits looming in court.

So what to do? Because of his open support of oil & gas interests, I believe that Brian  Baum should be rejected and the incumbent, Dennis Coombs re-elected. A resounding victory for Mayor Coombs would temper the enthusiasm of others on council who might otherwise support  Mr. Baum. Under Mayor Coombs leadership we can be assured of a council dedicated to protecting Longmont and defending against the oil and gas industry.

Which brings me back to Polly Christensen, the only challenger to incumbents Santos and Sammoury who openly and enthusiastically supports Q. 300 and the ban on fracking. Her election would not only bring in a breath  of fresh air to council but a guaranteed (and vigorous) defense against fracking interests.

I suggest all who support Mayor Coombs and Q.300 take a long look at the field, do the math and support Polly Christensen. Longmont voters spoke last November; let’s speak again.

Baum’s Bullying Back Again

faces-of-baumBoorish bullying is back again, this time in Longmont’s election campaign, and the sordid tactics are compliments of Bryan Baum and his cohorts.

This week Longmont voters are receiving calls from an outfit called Public Appeal (206-397-1100) which apparently has been authorized by Baum et al to do a “push poll” on local races. You may try to call their number if you wish, but I’ve never gotten an answer.

I got their call on Monday, October, 14. When the computer-generated voice found out I was supporting the reelection of Mayor Dennis Coombs, the next question was “would it matter to you if you knew that he votes on city issues to benefit his own business?” The next question was “would it matter to you if you knew his actions could cost every Longmont household $10,000 because of lawsuits?” That’s when I hung up. They offered no data to support the misrepresentations in their questions, which simply contain scandalous innuendoes designed to sully the reputation of a good man. It’s a time-honored technique of desperate, and despicable, campaigners.

It is disheartening to see this kind of squalid campaigning brought to Longmont elections, especially against a decent man who has done a fine job as Mayor, and who is running a positive campaign for reelection. He has brought the City Council, and the city, together with his expertise, competence, and congeniality, and he deserves to be reelected.

Mayor Coombs has returned civility to public discourse. The city’s professional staff members do not have to fear being bullied or harassed by the Mayor as they did back in the Baum days. Residents who wish to appear before the Council to share their opinions on issues don’t have to worry about it either. That’s a welcome change and one I want to see continued.

Mayor Coombs has brought back inclusiveness, conciliation, and an open mind to civic discussions. Hang up on the pushing pollsters, and join me in voting to keep Mayor Coombs working for all of us in Longmont.

Re-elect Dennis Coombs as Longmont’s mayor

Dennis Coombs, Mayor of Longmont

Dennis Coombs, Mayor of Longmont

With elections only a few weeks away, I would like to share a few reasons why I believe our city has been well served by Dennis Coombs and why we should re-elect him for a second term. During his first term, Dennis has provided inclusive, competent leadership for the City Council. Consequently, the council has mostly conducted the public’s business in the amicable fashion our community deserves. This is in sharp contrast to how the council operated prior to Dennis’ election.

Mayor Coombs did a superb job of leading the City Council’s deliberations regarding Longmont’s regulation of oil and gas operations within the city’s corporate boundaries. All voices were heard, but Dennis kept the focus on our city’s role as a home-rule city. The final regulations approved by the City Council were reasonable and appropriate to preserve Longmont’s land-use authority and to protect residential neighborhoods. Dennis has appropriately fought for our city’s homerule authority and is now leading the fight against the governor and the oil and gas lobbyists’ attempts to bully our community via lawsuits. Do not let the rhetoric of Dennis’ mayoral opponent distract us from this very critical legal battle.

The flood of 2013 is the final reason I support Mayor Coombs for a second term. The flooding of the past weeks has been devastating for our community. In times of crisis, calm leadership makes the difference. Mayor Coombs has displayed superior leadership throughout this tragic event. He has performed his role quietly and competently, all the time allowing the trained, professional emergency managers to do their jobs unimpeded. This is real leadership.

The above items are just a few of the reasons I encourage all eligible voters to help re-elect Mayor Dennis Coombs.

Gordon Pedrow is the former City Manager of Longmont – FRL

Finding homes is the next difficult task

Photo by M. Douglas Wray

The emergency’s over, now comes the really hard part.

It has been inspiring that so many nonprofits, churches, individuals and city/county staff and departments stepped up to help flood victims. The real challenges come ahead of us when funds run low and most residents return to normal life.

Normal life is not possible in the immediate future for many, and the solutions to their problems are not going to be easy. Housing has been a challenging issue before the flood and is now a huge problem. Finding a home to rent is proving difficult for those who have the financial resources. For low-income families, it is an almost unimaginable challenge — a challenge made worse by the continuing disparity in income and wealth and widespread underpayment of wages.

Maybe not a great solution, but what about the infamous FEMA trailers that we heard about after Katrina?

The city is looking at buying the property where the Royal Trailer Park was located. We certainly do not want to place low-income or any families in harm’s way. Trailer parks have been an option that has worked for many. Might the city consider trading some open space property for the Royal Trailer Park property?

Are the large chain hotels/motels willing to provide some free rooms for several months?

Adding to the problem is the shutdown of the government, which will reduce incomes and purchasing power of some of our residents and reduce sales tax collections as well as business at most stores. The various types of help that Congressional and Senate offices provide will not be available. It appears that much-needed work on roads conducted by National Guard members might not paid for by the federal government.

One lesson from the flood is that we do need to support the housing and human services nonprofits.

Bending vs Defending

brianbaum.jpg Brian BaumOn October 02, 2012, ex-mayor Bryan Baum appeared in a full color, full page ad extolling the honesty and integrity of the oil and gas industry. He was a “concerned citizen” and a supposedly credible spokesman for the frackers who stood at the city gates, salivating as they waited for permits which would allow them to stuff drills into Longmont.

Mr. Baum’s previous lack of demonstrated knowledge or understanding of the fracking industry might lead a cynic to presume that he received some benefit for his prescience, but I doubt we’ll ever know. On the presumption however that some fee or honorarium was paid, he now faces a much larger question – that of conflict of interest.

Citizen Baum aligned himself with the same energy interests that are suing the city. Nothing wrong with that, but mayoral candidate Baum, if successful, might well have placed himself in a very difficult position. There will be Council debates and votes on issues arising from the affirmative vote on Question 300 and the lawsuit now under way. Because of his support from the energy interests, would a Mayor Baum recuse himself from these debates and if he did, who would lead, support and defend the majority which voted against the energy industry?

It’s interesting to note that on Mr. Baum’s election web site, you will find no reference to fracking, drilling, petition drive, vote or pending law suits. It’s as though the most contentious and important issue in recent Longmont history had never happened. “Poof!” . What petition? What vote?

Beyond this of course is the future of the city as determined by a court. Sixty percent of us voted to deny fracking yet still we find ourselves on trial. The court’s decision will likely be appealed and possibly even moved to the US Supreme Court. Whomever sits in the mayor’s chair will make a considerable difference; this election bears mightily on where we go from here to life after the final decision. This election is far more than a personality contest between a bristle and a smile- it’s a battle between one who might have to bend and one who will defend.

The issues of exactly where Mr. Baum stands on the matter of fracking and the vote we cast last November are prime. Thus far we are left with many questions, no answers, a full page ad and the possibility of conflict of interest.

On the other hand, Dennis Coombs holds an MS in Engineering and understands both the technicalities and the politics of fracking. He has demonstrated a quiet leadership which has brought collegiality and positive results to Council, all invaluable attributes which will serve him well as he guides Longmont in the difficult coming years.

Dennis Coombs

Dennis Coombs

I believe Mayor Coombs has earned the trust and the votes of this community. Regardless of where we find ourselves once the lawyers and courts have spoken, this city will still need a wise and determined hand. The oil and gas folks are unlikely to quietly fold their tents and disappear; we need leadership that understands the issues, the wishes of the majority and a mayor who will step up to defend our city with energy and determination.

I urge you to vote. Last November a mere 33% of registered voters cast a ballot which, although not unusual for a municipal vote is frankly rather shameful. Call me a scold or the pejorative of your choosing, then mark your ballot and get it into the mail.

Give ‘im hell, Grandma, Grandpa!

Colorado Grandparents Tell Governor Not to Frack Their Grandchildren’s Future

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, Sept. 9, 2013

Contact: Russell Mendell, 802-318-1135

Sam Schabacker, 720-295-1036

Colorado Grandparents Tell Governor Not to Frack
Their Grandchildren’s Future

Broomfield, Colo.—Today, concerned grandparents from across Colorado will deliver a letter to tell Governor Hickenlooper and other governors from across the country to say no to fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and yes to a renewable energy future in celebration of National Grandparents’ Day. The delivery is taking place before Governor Hickenlooper’s keynote address to the Western Governor’s Association Policy Forum on Shale Energy Development in Broomfield.

These grandparents will be voicing their concerns over the risks fracking, drilling and related activities pose to all Coloradans health, air, water, land, property values and their special concerns for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  They are also demanding that Governor Hickenlooper end his continued use of lawsuits to bully the people of Colorado to accept fracking next to their homes and schools.

“Yesterday I celebrated National Grandparents’ Day with my two grandchildren in Lafayette,” said Merrily Mazza, a retired corporate executive and current member of East Boulder County United. “Today, I’m here to tell Governor Hickenlooper to stop trying to force fracking next to our homes and schools with lawsuits.  My grandchildren deserve a safe, healthy future in Colorado.”

Grandparents representing the five communities (Broomfield, Fort Collins, Loveland, Lafayette and Boulder) who will be voting to protect themselves from fracking this November will be participating in the letter delivery, as well as grandparents from Longmont, who’s community is currently facing two lawsuits from Governor Hickenlooper in order to force fracking next to homes and schools in their city.  Despite gathering thousands of signatures to exercise their right to vote in each of these communities, Governor Hickenlooper has stated he will sue any community that protects themselves from fracking and has not spoken out against the attempts of the oil and gas industry to undermine Coloradans right to vote on fracking in these communities.

“Endangering the health of our grandchildren by contaminating air and water is unacceptable.  We want to work to protect our communities from this dangerous practice.  We are appalled by the lack of leadership in our state government,” said Joan Stern a grandmother with Our Broomfield.

The Western Governor’s Association Policy Forum on Shale Energy Development does not include one voice from residents who have been directly impacted by fracking or have been sued by either Governor Hickenlooper or the industry for exercising their democratic right to vote.  Instead, the Forum appears designed to coach governors and their staffs on how to deflect community concern effectively and use industry messaging to shut out any voices critical of fracking, drilling, wastewater disposal and its associated activities.

“This forum provides yet another disturbing example of how Governor Hickenlooper is the oil and gas industry’s leading cheerleader for fracking while he ignores the people who voted him into office in the first place,” said Kaye Fissinger, a great-grandparent, leading member of Our Longmont and a representative of Protect Our Colorado, the state coalition.

The organizations participating in today’s delivery are: Our Broomfield, Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins, East Boulder County United, Protect Our Loveland, Frack Free Colorado, Our Longmont and Food & Water Watch.

Open Letter to American Business

It's no longer 'whatever floats your boat' but whether or not your boat FLOATS at all.

It’s no longer ‘whatever floats your boat’ but whether or not your boat FLOATS at all.

Dear American business sector:

Here’s how it is. We, the consumers who keep this country viable (at least we once did), are NOT going to buy your crap until and unless you –

  1. Reduce your incessant, blatant, mind-numbing ads everywhere. That means the ‘web, television, everything. Enough is enough.
  2. Stop calling us if we don’t want you to. The simple rule is, if we didn’t ask you to call, don’t. We usually have “Caller ID” these days, and if we’ve never heard of you, don’t be expecting anyone to pick up. This goes for your scammer friends, too. Especially them.
  3. Lower your prices. How unequivocal can THAT be? Since when is a 30% return really necessary?
  4. This one is critical, because without it, we are all headed for the dumper. HIRE MORE, much more, AND PAY BETTER. Provide benefits (you remember those; the execs have them), and you will gain a more loyal, dedicated, secure (and, therefore, STABLE) work force. Or is that what you really want? Oh, it’s a growing return for the shareholders (usually that includes management) that turns your head?

Well, unless you’ve forgotten BA 104 and Econ 102, if the common folk (the “rabble?”) don’t have the money, they won’t buy, because they CAN’T! What’s that you say? Foreigners will take up the slack? Did you just climb out from beneath a rock? Most of them don’t have much money, either. How about that 1% group? Just how many lunches can one man eat, anyway? Can anyone drive TWO Porsche’s at the same time? Try it.

Otherwise, just keep punishing and laying off your CUSTOMERS, and see where that gets you. A rising tide lifts all boats. All we ask is that you stop punching holes in them.