Longmont

Local Pastors, Boulder Church Choose Love Over Church Law

Rev. Frank Schaefer - 2013

Rev. Frank Schaefer – 2013

Between us we have over 70 years of ordained ministry within the United Methodist Church. We have faced our share of challenges but have known still more joys within our congregations and communities. Our social justice involvements have been as near as sleeping outdoors in support of homeless youth next door, as far away as fighting apartheid in South Africa, and in many, many struggles for justice and liberation in places in between. During the recent floods in Colorado, we personally felt the concrete blessing of being part of a connectional church that reaches out to support one another and the community. We treasure the power of compassion when 12 million United Methodists worldwide unite to carry the love of God into the world.

At the same time nothing has saddened, embarrassed and angered us more than witnessing United Methodist institutional leaders fall horribly short of implementing Jesus’ call to radical inclusion and love when it comes to our LGBTQ sisters and the brothers. A story recently printed in the Daily Camera (“Church defrocks Methodist pastor for officiating gay son’s wedding” December 19, 2013) provided an accurate account of the painful decades long internal struggle that deeply divides our international church. We are on the side that affirms God loves us all and that we love God best by loving others. Along with hundreds of other clergy and congregations in the United States, we have worked in many ways to help our denomination recognize and correct the sin of its institutional bigotry. We will continue that internal denominational campaign to move from excluding some on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identification to cherishing each and every one of us as beloved children of God. This is the work of reconciliation. It is important.

To us, and the members and friends of First United Methodist Church of Boulder, what is even more important than the internal institutional struggles of our denomination, is our commitment to continue living in faithful obedience to the Biblical story of God’s unconditional love for all. Together with our congregation we will do this within the Boulder community and beyond.

This means, first and foremost, that we will continue declaring God’s acceptance of and delight in all of God’s children. It means we hope and expect that the most recent commitment service between two loving women that our congregation blessed this fall will continue in the line of many such celebrations. It means we will continue to open our doors and arms, our hearts and communion table to LGBTQ individuals in just the same way we do to all others. You can count on it.

Undeniably, this is a challenging time for the United Methodist institution. But for First United Methodist Church of Boulder, and for hundreds of clergy and congregations across the United States, we feel anchored in following the path of Jesus, which informs and dictates our actions. Our commitment to living out God’s love in the world blazes as strong as ever.

Rev. Pat Bruns and Rev. Joe Agne
First United Methodist Church of Boulder

Last Refuge

One year ago, incensed and insulted by the culture of guns in this nation which found every possible excuse to rationalize the murders in Newtown, I wrote of the obscenity of the NRA and what it has wrought on behalf of its benefactors, the gun industry. Today, little  if anything has changed as once again the NRA manages to muzzle its opponents.

At one point I considered the option of ceding  the battle to the NRA and opting for a far greater emphasis on intervention from mental health experts. I still believe in this approach, but now as I watch the developing story of yet another schoolboy shoot-up – (Arrapahoe HS in Colorado), my outrage returns again to the culture; the how and why this nation finds itself -alone in the world of developed countries, gripped in the steel hands of a lobbying group, and how fear-mongering, money, lies and outright propaganda have brought us to this shameful state.

The 2nd Amendment has been argued in courts and town meetings, bars and kitchens  for decades. The definition of “Militia” is battered about but finds resolution in the minds of those already decided. Missing in most of these debates are the qualifiers; “Well regulated”. The NRA is MIA in this forum, for what sane person would ever believe that the 300 million or so firearms wandering around are in the hands of any entity reasonably considered “Well regulated”?

It’s time I believe to challenge the NRA. Remembering the words of Samuel Johnson; “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”,  I would argue that by wrapping itself in Old Glory the NRA- along with millions of dollars from the gun industry, has shaped the debate. If any evidence to this claim is needed, recall the words of a mother whose child recently killed himself with a family revolver; “We are proud  gun owners”.  To which I add; “Of a dead child”- a cruel addition which needs to be said, for I am beyond euphemisms.

That many in this country can be easily persuaded (if not brain washed) through the medium of TV is a known fact to those whose task it is to manipulate public opinion. The hundreds of millions spent on TV ads during political campaigns provides ample proof that money can change minds.

The NRA is nothing more and nothing less than a lobbying group. If guns in  America suddenly disappeared, they could as easily turn to supporting the ketchup industry. Their tugs at the heart-strings of those who believe that freedom is protected by a Bushmaster in the hands of a little old lady are obscene lies. If any sober citizen believes that he or she can protect against “Them” coming to take away their weapon, or that their weapon can defend the nation, they should go visit a military base to determine just how much protection that Bushmaster might provide.

One hundred and ninety seven children have been shot and killed since Newtown, most of them with weapons inside the houses of proud gun owners. Perhaps had they been slaughtered en masse a point might have been made and just possibly the NRA might have been gelded. But such was not the case and as the months go by more innocent blood will drip as proud gun owners mourn.

At what point – and how high the count – do proud gun owners realize they are victims of what is probably the most successful scam in this nation’s history? In a Stars and Stripes bedecked NRA convention in 2000, Charlton (Moses) Heston’s famous cry resounded; “They would have to pry it from my cold dead hands”. All very stirring – and equally ludicrous, but a culture shaped by a lobbying group bought it, echoed it, and proclaimed a new mantra. By the way, “They” were never identified,

It’s time for responsible citizens to take back their own security and the safety of their children. Reign in the NRA, demand stiff background checks, limit magazine size and ban assault weapons.

Reflect on Sam Johnson’s words, look into your heart and begin to realize what’s happening to this country we all so dearly love.

Give Peace a Chance


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The U.S. has often resorted to military means as a way of settling disputes with far weaker nations during the last fifty years. Frequently these attacks have been unwarranted as well as violations of international law. U.S. attacks on Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Serbia and Iraq (2003) are a few examples of these illegal conflicts.

We are currently fighting in Afghanistan and illegally using drones to kill in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. After long years of fighting and losing wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. public is fed up with senseless conflicts. This point was made clear recently by the huge public outcry against illegally bombing Syria.

Besides the millions it killed and the incredible destruction it wreaked on far weaker nations, the U.S. has incurred costs as well. Tens of thousands of U.S, soldiers were killed and hundreds of thousands more were wounded. The families of these physically and/or mentally/emotionally wounded veterans continue to pay an enormous and incalculable  price. These unnecessary campaigns cost trillions of dollars, money that could have been far better used domestically to improve the real security of our people. The bottom line is that these wars have been counterproductive, increasing the hatred towards the U.S. and decreasing ours and the world’s security.

Thus it is not surprising at all that there was tremendous public relief here at home and worldwide about the interim agreement negotiated in Geneva and signed on November 24th between Iran and the P5+1 nations (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany). This agreement essentially calls for a short-term freeze on some of Iran’s nuclear enrichment programs in exchange for some very limited relief from economic sanctions, including allowing Iran access to a pittance of its own money held in other countries. The goal is a permanent agreement that will greatly reduce the threat to world peace.

Despite widespread relief and praise for the deal, unsurprisingly, there are some hardliners in Iran, the U.S. and Israel who expressed opposition. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was particularly vociferous in his condemnation of the deal, and Israeli officials did not rule out an illegal Israeli attack on Iran during the next six months. Interestingly, Israeli President Peres had a somewhat different reaction. According to a CNN article, Peres said: “This is an interim deal. The success or failure of the deal will be judged by results, not by words.”

Netanyahu and his U.S. Congressional supporters continue to hammer on the disputed idea of an existential threat to Israel of an Iranian nuclear weapon. They somehow manage to ignore assessments by U.S., Israeli and British intelligence agencies that Iran currently does not have a nuclear weapons program. This has been the conclusion of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate since 2007 and was reiterated in testimony to Congress in 2011 and 2012. The Estimate said that Iran stopped it nuclear weapons program in 2003.

The assessment added that Iran has the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon eventually, making the central issue the political will to do so. Regarding the political will, the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a fatwa saying the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons was forbidden under Islam.

Numerous U.S. and Israeli military and political leaders think that a military attack on Iran would be unsuccessful and would drive Iran to build nuclear weapons to defend itself. The Friends Committee on National Legislation has compiled many quotes on this point and the insanity of an attack at http://fcnl.org.

One quote from the above site by Meir Dagan, former head of Israel’s Mossad, captures the sense of these officials. In a 2011 article he said: “[Attacking Iran is] ‘the stupidest thing I have ever heard…It will be followed by a war with Iran. It is the kind of thing where we know how it starts, but not how it will end.”

If we want to stop another insane, counterproductive, illegal, unwarranted and costly conflict, tell Congress that it must not enact more sanctions on Iran, sanctions that would suggest the U.S. is not negotiating in good faith. Continuing Congressional support of Netanyahu harms U.S. interests.

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

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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.