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Photo courtesy of Black and WTF.
It looked like we were going to get through the Council Retreat without a Baum being dropped, but at the close of the retreat a political atomic warhead was launched.
Longmont’s anything-but-illustrious Mayor Baum “brought it up for discussion” that he wants to limit the entire Pubic Invited to be Heard (PITBH) to only 30 minutes after which each council member would have three minutes “to dispel public untruths”. If he doesn’t get agreement for this arrangement, he plans to move PITBH to the END of the evening. He claims that the “business of the city and council is more important” than listening to the public’s concerns, their love for their community and their passion for government in the interest of ALL of the citizens of Longmont. He thinks “it is ridiculous to have to listen for an hour and a half.”
Now, of course, these “public untruths” that he wishes to dispel are not untruths at all. In Baum’s eyes and in the eyes of his acolytes and foot soldiers, any difference of opinion is an “untruth.”
But there’s more to this story than differences of opinion. We have a mayor who intends to strangle other voices. He never intended to listen to all of Longmont. He came to office with an agenda, an agenda to undo as much of the progress made during the last two years as he can. He campaigned on a platform denying the legitimacy of past actions and denying the current economic realities that impact our city’s opportunities for economic development.
As I’ve done for over two years, I’ve continued to attend the council meetings, pre-sessions, and retreats (with few exceptions). While I really shouldn’t be, I’m blown away to find these newly elected officials claiming credit for the actions of the past council for whom they have only contempt. I’m blown away to hear them now claim that the national macroeconomic conditions are impeding further progress on redeveloping the mall when this message was loud and clear from the previous majority.
Cynicism in the extreme. A lack of integrity off the charts.
Periodically over the last two years, Times-Call bloggers have thrown out the possibility of recalling Sean McCoy, Sarah Levison and Brian Hansen. It continues even though the balance of power has decidedly shifted. Why would it matter to them, you ask? As long as there are alternative voices on Longmont’s city council, the new majority’s agenda, their thinking (or lack thereof) and their decisions will be questioned and disputed.
Baum also wants to limit questions from council members to staff or other presenters to ONE. Astonishing! That might work with Katie Witt, who has a demonstrated inability to string more than one thought together at a time. However, I doubt sincerely that he would apply such restrictions uniformly—especially to himself. And I doubt sincerely that the new majority even needs to “ask questions” since they come to council with their decisions already made.
All of this maneuvering is about establishing the Republican “permanent majority” which was planned some 40 years ago and that Republicans have been executing ever since. And make no mistake, these local Uber Republicans were elected with the money and assistance of the machine in place to accomplish just that objective. Silencing opposition, whether it comes from the public or from the council dais, is the intent.
McCoy, Hansen and Levison were polite in responding to this unexpected turn of events. And it must have been very difficult. McCoy stood up strongly for the preservation of free speech, democracy and transparency. He had to repeat this message several times. And it undeniably fell on very deaf ears.
Hansen insisted that this change be brought to council for a public discussion. (City Manager Gordon Pedrow said it would be on February 16th study session agenda.)
Levison stated that the public typically comments at first reading. By second reading , she said, it’s too late to have influence. She also pointed out that if PITBH is moved to the end of the evening, the council business and the subjects that the public wants to address have already been discussed and decided.
Baum closed with: “I’m the Mayor and it’s up to me. I can set this up any way I want.”
These totalitarian tactics must not and will not stand. On the heels of the Supreme Court decision of, by and for the corporation, our republic and our democracy is in genuine jeopardy. Longmont is a microcosm and meant to be a beachhead. Let the battle be joined.
… you’ll make him mad…
Those wascally wabbits over at ColoradoPols.com must have heard one of our mayor’s explosions.
I sat in total amazement last night at the City Council Meeting and heard Mayor Baum give us his unsolicited insight into his campaign financing. He stated that he “didn’t trust the Election Committee” and “didn’t want to face the scrutiny”. He seemed to be saying that avoiding the rules is OK if you don’t agree as a whole with the City Council appointed Election Committee.
It appeared to me that he was proclaiming that transparency in election financing is an undemocratic process, and that his approach is some kind of badge of honor. Apparently Mayor Baum believes that his election financing is his business and has nothing to do with the public.
He also seems very proud of the fact he spent over $4000 of his own money to get elected. I would assume he feels if you are wealthy enough to buy your election, then it is perfectly acceptable. Either Mayor Baum is politically naïve or extremely arrogant, neither of which instills confidence in his image as a public servant.
I believe he is a great poster-boy for exactly why we need publicly financed elections at the City, State, and Federal level. It will be interesting to see what other statements he makes in his pompous and overbearing pursuit to destroy democratic rule.
1716 Gifford Dr.
From the Boulder Daily Camera:
We can write the obituary for our American Democracy. It died January 21st, 2010, with the Supreme Court ruling for Citizens United v. FEC. From this day forward, there are no limits on the money that large or even multi-national corporations may use to control elections. However much money a candidate can raise, corporations will be able to overwhelm that campaign with legal media buys. In less than a decade, all elected officials will be vassals of corporations. Instead of Democracy we will have Fascism: The marriage of government and business under authoritarian rule.
Of course we will not notice much of a change at first. The elections will seem much the same. A few of your favorite shows will go away but there will be plenty of interactive, sports, and reality shows. There won’t be much media chatter about the bad economy except to blame it on some radicals. Where you had a house, your kids will only be lucky to afford an apartment. Many of your friends and relatives will fall on hard times but it will not be reflected in the news, which will talk instead about the patriotic necessity to sacrifice for the war.
There will really be only one party, with the two wings called the Democrats and Republicans. Only corporate-vetted candidates will be on ballots and elections will be electronic and privatized. Government positions will be patronage for loyal corporatists. Corporations will be able to write or change any law to suit their purposes. All facets of government will be repurposed for corporate use. Public safety nets such as Social Security and Medicare will be quietly eliminated. Constitutional rights will disappear because no one will defend them.
You think this is fiction? It is already happening. Who is going to stop it?
Leave a comment at the Daily Camera
Note: It was this address by a citizen that caused the mayor to make a very snide remark. Watch that video here.
I’m seeing a very concerning pattern from the new majority consistently voting in partisan lock step. This includes the mayor, Councilwoman Witt, and Councilmen Santos & Sammoury.
Specifically, in the 2 months since you’ve been elected the four of you have:
Finally, 3 of you appear to have violated the Colorado Sunshine Law. This statute prohibits any governmental body of 3 or more from meeting to discuss public business in private. These meetings must be publicized & open to citizens. On Dec. 11, Mayor Baum, and councilmen Santos & Sammoury met in the back of these chambers after attending the Election Committee and were accompanied by the City Attorney. Someone overheard one of you say “So do we have enough for a meeting?”
While I also saw the 4 of you talking, I did not intend to make an issue of it. However, it’s sadly ironic that tonight you’re intending to gut our Fair Campaigns Practices Act which addresses transparency, integrity and accountability in government. Therefore, I am compelled to come forward about what appears to be a violation of our Sunshine Law and ask that the minutes from the December 11 private meeting be made available to the people of Longmont.
My hope is that the very partisan, lock-step voting pattern, as well as the mindless rejection of energy and environmental conservation programs is not a harbinger of more poor judgment to come.
Colorado GOP to sue to lift campaign money limits – The Denver Post
Colorado Republicans will sue to overturn voter-approved state limits on some campaign contributions after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday that tossed out restrictions on corporate involvement in federal races. “Our firm will be bringing a challenge to this law in the coming days,” said Ryan Call, an attorney with Hale-Friesen. Call said the firm will represent the Colorado Republican Party in the suit and is trying to put together a cross section of plaintiffs. “It will be a broad coalition,” he said. “It will be partisan groups. It will be trade associations, individual companies and corporations.”
Read the rest at The Denver Post
Last week I left a comment, expressing my disappointment in our mayor for his seeming hostility toward our environment and his conduct at city council meetings toward Longmont citizens. Not ten minutes after my comment was posted, the “First Lady of Longmont” stalked me down on Facebook, and she asked that I correct myself regarding campaign contributions to our mayor. In my comments I referenced that our mayor was paid for by oil and gas—Mrs. Baum took exceptional issue with that and reminded me that our good mayor “took no money from ANY contributor,” and that he “did have many, many friends who had in-kind donations to his campaign.” So as you asked, Mrs. Baum, I did take a look at your husband’s campaign “in-kinds.” And to all of the other pieces that were—shall we call them—”contributing factors” to your husband’s campaign.
Here is what I found:
Now, those things said, Mr. and Mrs. Baum, I suppose I need to qualify those statements. Mr. and Mrs. Baum I am growing weary—as a Longmont voter and tax payer—of your repeatedly telling the paper, you took “no monetary contributions, but rather in-kind donations.” It’s disingenuous. In fact, you took at least $9,000 in “in-kind donations,” which is fine, but I’m not a big fan of people who only like to tell pieces of the truth and conveniently leave out the rest of the story. And, when I say bought and paid for by realtors and developers, they contributed 60% of the money… I’m sorry “in-kind donations”… to the Baum for Mayor campaign. I have no problem with individuals donating to a campaign, but it is disingenuous to tell the public you took “no money from any contributor.” (Fine, you sent them to Rabbit Hill Graphics with their checks for your mailers and signs instead.) I hope in the future he will be a little more honest about his contributions.
So second, when I mentioned that I felt that the mayor was also bought and paid for by oil and gas and right-wing extremists in my comment, I should have been more like the mayor and said the following,”Oil and gas special interests and right-wing extremists who hate that government looks out for our open spaces and tax payers find Mr. Baum, Ms. Witt, Mr. Santos, and Mr. Sammoury so appealing and in line with their interests that they would come in from Montana and Denver to spend over $20,000 to influence our city council election.”
So let’s simply call them a “contributing factor” who found our Bought and Paid Four so ideologically aligned, that they spent large quantities of money to mercilessly beat up on Councilwoman Benker and to a lesser extent Mayor Lange in addition to promoting, although they never said the words “vote for” (that would be illegal), Bryan Baum, Katie Witt, Gabe Santos and Alex Sammoury. So Mrs. Baum, I stand corrected, from this day forward, I will call the oil and gas special interest money a “contributing factor” in your husband’s election to the position of Longmont mayor.
Finally, I think you miss the real points Mrs. Baum—of my prior comment. My biggest issues with your husband are these:
But then again, your husband never said he was in this for the people of Longmont.
Mrs. Baum, I appreciate your asking me to look further into your donors and who your husband is exactly; and please know that I, in no way, meant to slander your husband. Rather, my purpose was to express my genuine frustration with your husband’s behavior and policies. My comments regarding oil and gas special interest money, were assumptions—perhaps made to quickly—as to why oil and gas special interests would want to spend that much money on electing your husband.
Note the Letter from Mrs. Baum:
Sara, I saw your story on Freerangelongmont.com in which you make repeated assertions that Bryan took money from “big oil and gas” but in fact Bryan took no money from ANY contributor (other than himself as he put over $4,000 of our own money in to his campaign). He did have many, many friends who had in-kind donations to the campaign in the form of buying t-shirts, stickers, signs and the like, but again, no cash was accepted, and infact none of the in-kind donars were from big, small or otherwise gas and or oil so I’m curious as to exactly what you mean when you say he received all these donations when the fact is he had none. Feel free to check all of his campaign records at the city clerk (or I’d be more than happy to email the PDF’s to you) and additionally feel free to contact any of our donars directly if you have any questions. You might then choose to correct your post as I’m certain you wouldn’t want to knowingly slander someone online, especially when you have been given on the facts right here. Thanks!
Baum4Mayor Campaign Manager
Occasionally the misperception presented by our local candidates force me to respond. The latest is the assertion that Mayor Baum only spent $4000 of his own money to get elected. He wants us to believe that, that’s why he said it. In truth, he spent $13,380 to get elected (“Winners raised, spent more money in November election” Rachel Carter, Longmont Times-Call, December 4, 2009), but $4000, he says, was his own cash.
In fact, the four winners outspent the losers by an average of 4 to 1. The four winners (Baum, Witt, Santos and Sammoury) officially spent $57,400 according to the article cited above. While the losers (Benker, Van Dusen, Fissinger and Lange) officially spent $20,736. This is a ratio of 4:1.
Baum outspent Lange ($13,380 vs. $4,838) by spending $4 for every $1 that Lange spent. This is roughly true for all four candidates with Santos spending the most at $14,535.
This does not address all the funding that was not officially attributed to any candidate such as the push-poll that was performed against Benker.
Politicians count on us having short memories. They count on us to go along with the winners who are in power no matter how they won. They want us to believe that having an oversight committee for election funding practices is not necessary because they were able to circumvent the committee’s purpose so easily.
So the baby gets thrown out with the bath water. That is what they want.
We have a city council that is bought and paid for by special interests. We need to recognize that. We need to examine the agenda of the new city council. What are they doing for us? What are they doing to us? In the very least, we need not accept their version of the facts without severe scrutiny.
In response to a comment at the Times-Call blarg…er.. blog:
Wray – cute name for your new blog – are we to assume that based on the name, the writers are all just a bunch of chickens? Is this new venture a co-op…or a…wait for it…a coop?
Longmonter, Longmont, CO, 1/21/2010 9:43 AM
Now, normally I don’t talk to non-entities since I like to know who it is I’m talking to, but this is a pretty basic question and I’ll entertain the Lunatic Fringe on this occasion.
Free Range Longmont’s name came about during a discussion of all the right-wing websites that have popped (pooped?) up over the past couple of years (LongmontReport, PercyReport, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseum). In particular we noticed FrontRangeChickens.com:
and we felt that the idea of chickens fighting back was actually pretty funny and the idea of ‘free range’ anything was generally pretty good, so it stuck. (side note: Mr. Rodriguez recently chided FRL for it’s use of ‘violent imagery’ – sorry sir, your Lunatic Fringe pals beat us to it long ago.)
Are we a co-op? Hell yah! We have over a dozen writers now and plan to have many more as time goes on. Don’t forget, the 28% turnout in this last election means that only 14% of the voters in Longmont approve of this council – something tells me we can get a substantial fraction of the other 86% activated and durn-right pissed off before the next election. If we can get the turnout back up into the 40% range, something tells me the Lunatic Fringe’s reign of terror will be over as quick as it started.
Are we a coop? Welllll… there are a number of ‘spring chickens’ as well as ‘seasoned hens’ and no shortage of young and old ‘roosters’ so I suppose you could call us a coop… if you’re simply looking for an insult (and it’s obvious you are).
Lastly, in response to ‘Keith H.’ (again, who the hell is this?) who claims I ‘waste the public’s time…’ you make me laugh. You’re another anonymous nobody bloviating endlessly and for all the ‘public’ knows you’re yet another avatar of Chris Rodriguez, Stephanie Baum, Richard Yale or one of the other Lunatic Fringers ‘catapulting the rhetoric’. Go fantasize while listening to Rush, it’s as close as you’ll ever get to your ideal world.
Some content from TimesCall.com
Our mayor point-blank says:
“…I didn’t want the scrutiny.” and “I didn’t want people picking everything apart like they seem to like to do. I wanted to stay out of that fray, and I did.”
One has to wonder about someone that put $4,000 of his own money into his campaign and yet doesn’t think the voters deserve to know what it was spent on. For all we know there were hired thugs blogging for him daily… hm.
A commenter on the story, George S. had this to say:
Bryan’s baum-shell: “I didn’t want the scrutiny.” That speaks volumes. Politicians who say that have something to hide, and whining that the Election Committee is biased against you is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Cockroaches run from a light. The Longmont Leadership folks, Wrongmont and Katie Witt didn’t want the scrutiny either. And their Chamber of Commerce, Rotary and developer pals sit there like the “see-no-evil” monkeys.
What a conundrum for the Times-Call. Baum’s buddies are your big advertisers and country-club pals. And yet you’ve editorialized forthrightly in favor of open government and sunshine laws for decades, and a statement such as “I didn’t want the scrutiny” should make your spidey senses go to DefCon 5.
So which will guide you, Times-Call editorialists? Your ad revenue or your principles? Unfortunately, I’m betting the former. Standing up for what’s right is uncomfortable, but I’m betting you’ll decide that getting the cold shoulder at Fox Hill is worse.
George S., Longmont, 1/20/2010 9:59 AM
and when the mayor’s wife attacked his assertions, he also had this to say:
Stephanie, “being scrutinized by his opposition as to who gave him what” goes by another name: openness. Wouldn’t you want to know that about your opponents in the next election? All declawing the EC does is protect candidates from scrutiny whose funding really needs to be scrutinized. If a council member votes to grant a big zoning change to the XYZ Widget Company or the First Tax-Sheltered Megachurch of Perpetual Profit, shouldn’t we as taxpayers and voters (and you as managing his opponent’s campaign) know if that council member holds stock in that company, is a member of that church, or has received contributions from those who do and are? Bryan said that HE didn’t want the scrutiny … but who else on his slate of candidates is he also protecting from scrutiny? If everything is so above-board, Stephanie Baum, I’m sure you won’t have any trouble, right here in this thread, naming for us the members of Council who are, for instance, members of LifeBridge church. For the record, so the electorate knows. If you dodge my queston, it’s yet another scrutiny-avoidance that will speak volumes.
George S., Longmont, 1/20/2010 2:59 PM
You know, I’d think the mayor’s wife would have the wits to stop trying to defend him, she’s doing more harm than good.
She’s also clearly as thin-skinned as her husband, leaving a comment about a post at my political humor blog ‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’:
Too all, please ignore my typo at the bottom of my earlier post – “t-shirts” became a mildly vulger typo. Some people think this is newsworthy enough to repost on their blogs. I would image the adults in the audience would recognize we’re all human and typos are just that. The children among us will giggle and point and make fools of themselves. Decide for yourself which group you fall in to.
Stephanie Baum, Longmont, CO, 1/20/2010 7:27 PM
That’s hilarious Ms. Baum. Your husband, the mayor, says something as childish as ‘…well I guess we should all get up and leave…’ when criticized by citizens and you call his opponents ‘children’.
Pretty obvious to the casual observer who needs to grow up.
Your hard-core partisanship during the election was obvious and hateful and your husband is clearly of the same stripe. The public is watching now and neither of you are acquitting yourselves well.
As I was paying my City of Longmont bill this weekend I read the newsletter inserted inside including the “Message from the Mayor”. In this message, Mayor Baum you stated, “ I hope to promote civil debate with all opinions being heard from council members and members of the public.“
This is not what I saw last week at the open forum meeting. Instead, what I saw was a mayor who told a local business man he could move someplace else if he didn’t like the way council voted. A mayor who accused the businessman of being irresponsible for bringing up his concerns at a public meeting. A mayor who thanked people in the audience who clapped for him and threatened to expel those who disagreed. There was nothing civil about the exchange. You may not agree with what people say but it is your responsibility as the mayor of Longmont to do so in a respectful manner.
In a few moments the Council will discuss the future of Longmont’s Fair Campaign Practices Act. One suggestion put forward in the executive summary is to completely repeal this act and revert to the State’s Fair Campaign Practices Act. At first glance this might seem reasonable – except for one small problem. The State’s Act says nothing about city elections. If the council votes to revert to the state act they will be voting for no limits on spending, no reporting of donors, no way for the people of Longmont to track the money coming into our local elections. In other words, no accountability. If these rules had been in affect during the last election we would have never known that Comcast spent $150,000 to defeat Prop C. Why would the council want to keep this valuable information from the people of Longmont?
Why would the council vote for no accountability when the latest polls show that 80% of residences support campaign finance regulations? The current act needs some revisions, but throwing it out altogether would be irresponsible and would clearly go against the wishes of a majority of Longmont’s citizens.
To view the documents, just click on the links below to view the PDF files for the Council Retreat. IMPORTANT: You MUST have the Adobe Acrobat Reader on your system prior to selecting an item on the agenda in order to be able to view these files.
City of Longmont
2010 City Council Retreat
January 22-23, 2010
3100 Logic Drive
Friday, January 22
- Arrive/Continental Breakfast (8:00 a.m.)
- Welcome and Overview of Retreat 179kb (8:00 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.)
- Legacy Building Exercise (8:15 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.)
- Break (approximately 9:15 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.)
- Envision a connected City – Telecommunications 74kb (9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.) Attachments 1.1mb
- Lunch on site (11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)
- Prosperity to End Poverty 224kb (12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.)
Attachment 1 109kb / Attachments 2-4 858kb
- Break/Snacks (3:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.)
- Economic/Fiscal Sustainability 69kb (3:45 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.)
Attachments A-I 4.8mb / Attachment J 340kb / Attachments K-M 129kb
- Public invited to be heard and adjourn (upon break from last topic)
- Retreat Dinner at the Callahan House (6:00 p.m.)
Saturday, January 23
- Arrive/Continental Breakfast (8:00 a.m.)
- Economic/Fiscal Sustainability (8:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.) (see links above)
- Break, Teambuilding and Photos (11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.)
- Lunch on site (12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.)
- Open Space 37kb (1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.)
Attachment A 8.4mb / Attachment B 56kb / Attachment C 4.1mb / Attachment D 13kb
- Develop Work Plan (3:30 p.m.)
A. Discuss with Staff Regarding Workload Impact and Resources Needed
B. Finalize Action Items and Timelines on Work Plan
- Review of Retreat/Input Regarding Future Retreats
- Public invited to be heard immediately following last item
2009 City Council Workplan Update pdf, 94 kb
2009 City of Longmont Accomplishments pdf, 95 kb
2010 Major Work Items pdf, 69 kb
After Shari Malloy points out the partisan behavior of the new majority on Longmont city council, Mayor Baum wisecracks: “…we should all just get up and leave…” and the joke falls completely flat since that’s exactly what most of the audience wants. The mayor needs to learn to bite his tongue lest his wisecracks come back to bite him in the ass. You can read the entire text of Shari’s remarks here.