Longmont

Money runs wild

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

A Correction: Mayor Baum and his contributors and contributing factors

The Baum SquadLast 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:

  • Your husband is bought and paid for by realtors and developers
    (your husband makes that very clear on his website, Longmont is after all, now “open for business” developers to do whatever they want)
  • Your husband is bought and paid for by investment brokers and insurance agents
    (your husband makes that very clear on his website, Longmont is after all, now “open for business” developers to do whatever they want)
  • Oil and gas special interests groups found that Mr. Baum’s candidacy was aligned with their own interests
    (These folks we will call Western Tradition Partnership, an anti-environment organization from Montana, set on using dirty Marilyn Musgrave politics to ensure that individuals friendly to oil and gas interests—such as Platte River Power Authority—are elected to office. They filtered money through their cover group Longmont Leadership for these campaigns.)
  • Far right anti-government extremist special interest groups found that Mr. Baum’s candidacy was aligned with their own interests
    (We will instead call them Coloradans for Economic Growth—a “drown government in a bath tub” group of extremists aligned with nice people like Doug Bruce, who think it’s ok to kick people in public chambers during legislative sessions. They filtered money through their cover group Longmont Citizens for a Brighter Future. On a personal note, I think your husband’s politics and behavior bare a striking resemblance to Mr. Bruce.)

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:

  • Your husband and the new council are openly and unappologetically hostile to the environment and the New Energy Economy.
  • I agree, our city needs sales tax, so why did they allow Walmart to renege on a promise to build a Sam’s Club
  • Your husband’s hostility toward Longmont Citizens, free speech and anyone who says anything contrary to his ideologies and special interests in council chambers is appalling and undemocratic—again, it is no different than former Representative Bruce, who in State Legislative chambers saw fit to kick a photographer.

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!

Stephanie Baum
Baum4Mayor Campaign Manager

Letter to the editor by Don Boyer

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.

Don Boyer
Longmont, CO

How we chose our name

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.

Mayor doesn’t want ‘scrutiny’

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.

Comments to Council – Jan 19, 2010

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.

Comments to Council – Jan 19, 2010

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.

City Council Retreat, January 22-23, 2010

http://www.ci.longmont.co.us/city_council/retreat/2010/documents/overview.pdf

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

Xilinx Corporation

3100 Logic Drive
Longmont, Colorado

(Map and General Information pdf, 201kb)

AGENDA

Friday, January 22

  1. Arrive/Continental Breakfast (8:00 a.m.)
  2. Welcome and Overview of Retreat 179kb (8:00 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.)
  3. Legacy Building Exercise (8:15 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.)
  4. Break (approximately 9:15 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.)
  5. Envision a connected City – Telecommunications 74kb (9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.) Attachments 1.1mb
  6. Lunch on site (11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)
  7. Prosperity to End Poverty 224kb (12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.)
    Attachment 1
    109kb / Attachments 2-4 858kb
  8. Break/Snacks (3:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.)
  9. Economic/Fiscal Sustainability 69kb (3:45 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.)
    Attachments A-I
    4.8mb / Attachment J 340kb / Attachments K-M 129kb
  10. Public invited to be heard and adjourn (upon break from last topic)
  11. Retreat Dinner at the Callahan House (6:00 p.m.)

Saturday, January 23

  1. Arrive/Continental Breakfast (8:00 a.m.)
  2. Economic/Fiscal Sustainability (8:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.) (see links above)
  3. Break, Teambuilding and Photos (11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.)
  4. Lunch on site (12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.)
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. Review of Retreat/Input Regarding Future Retreats
  8. Public invited to be heard immediately following last item
  9. Adjourn

Additional Information:

2009 City Council Workplan Update pdf, 94 kb

2009 City of Longmont Accomplishments pdf, 95 kb

2010 Major Work Items pdf, 69 kb

Comments to City Council January 19, 2010

My name is Judy Lubow, and I live at 106 Granada Court in Longmont. I’d like to comment on 3 topics so forgive me for speaking very quickly.

I am very concerned about the fate of Longmont’s Election Committee and the entire Fair Campaign Practices Act. Recent 4 to 3 votes of Council gutted the City’s defense of the Act in the lawsuit brought against it, and also raised the possibility of alternative roles – or no roles – for the Election Committee. It seems to me these votes indicate an objection on the part of the conservative Council majority to the very concept and goals of the Fair Campaign Act and the Election Committee. These goals are to fairly regulate the amount of money spent on political campaigns, and to make sure the campaigns are run according to fair and transparent reporting rules.

Personally, I believe the great majority of American people are heartily sick of the huge, wasteful and corrupting sums that are presently being spent on political campaigns. I believe our citizens want campaign finance limits such as those found in Longmont’s Act. I urge all members of Council to respect this longing for real reform, and support both the Campaign Act and the Election Committee.

The next comment concerns the proposed permit for Heaven Fest to hold a mega-festival, drawing tens of thousands of people to the Union Reservoir. It is my understanding that the City will only be charging the promoters a paltry $50 for the right to hold what amounts to be a 2 week event at the Reservoir – if you include the proposed set up and tear down time. I wonder: do any of you have any idea how much a commercial venue would charge for such an event? I have been finding out. So far, I have only been able to talk with the Red Rocks Amphitheater staff. Red Rocks would charge 11% of the entire gross, and would do that for merely a single concert of less than 10,000 people, and only for a one day rental. In other words, our city is giving away our Reservoir to the Heaven Fest operators for basically nothing, while commercial venues would be charging tens of thousands of dollars more – if not hundreds of thousands, for an equivalent mega event. That means, our city taxpayers are essentially subsidizing this event for a huge amount of money. I don’t think that’s right.

Lastly, I was distressed when, at last week’s council meeting, our Mayor castigated a member of the public who had a different opinion than the Mayor about solar energy rebates. Certainly, people can have differing opinions. But the mayor – a public official in his official capacity – should not be browbeating a citizen for having different views, and certainly should not be advising a commenter to move out of the City. In my opinion, such treatment was beneath the dignity required of the office and, hopefully, will never be repeated.

Fair Campaign Practices Act

ARTICLE 45

ELECTION CAMPAIGN REGULATIONS

Legislative declaration. The people of the state of Colorado hereby find and declare that large campaign contributions to political candidates allow wealthy contributors and special interest groups to exercise a disproportionate level of influence over the political process; that large campaign contributions create the potential for corruption and the appearance of corruption; that the rising costs of campaigning for political office prevent qualified citizens from running for political office; and that the interests of the public are best served by limiting campaign contributions, encouraging voluntary campaign spending limits, full and timely disclosure of campaign contributions, and strong enforcement of campaign laws.”

With that as a foundation, it would seem that Longmont might just piggyback on what our state has done in regulating our municipal elections. But there’s a BIG, BIG problem with that. Our state statute does not extend to municipalities and local elections in any of the ways identified in the legislative declaration. I used the very useful “find” feature for this pdf document and I’ll be darned if it found only one reference to “municipal elections” and one more for “local elections”” So if Longmont chose to use the state statute, guess what – There would be NO regulation of our municipal elections.

I also recently read another very interesting statement:

“The rights of citizenship do not stop at the ballot box. They include the free-speech right to devote one’s resources to whatever cause or candidate one supports. We oppose any restrictions or conditions upon those activities that would discourage Americans from exercising their constitutional right to enter the political fray or limit their commitment to their ideals.”

“…right to devote one’s resources…”: How much of one’s resources. All of them? Any amount one wants?

“We oppose any restrictions or conditions…”: That sure sounds like a political free-for-all to me and I submit to most people, including most people in Longmont.

Mayor Baum, at a recent council meeting you strongly promoted that Longmont scrap it’s Fair Campaign Practices Act in favor of state statute. So I guess you subscribe to the second quotation. That quotation comes from the Republican Party platform.

Much has been said about keeping Longmont’s election non-partisan. Let’s hope that the new council majority will not adopt the Republican Party’s ideology in our non-partisan municipal elections.

Time’s Up – NEXT

Wow. Mayor Baum simply does not like being criticized. Ever. At all.

Here’s the full remarks of the citizen who was so brusquely cut off:

My name is Judy Lubow, and I live at 106 Granada Court in Longmont. I’d like to comment on 3 topics so forgive me for speaking very quickly.

I am very concerned about the fate of Longmont’s Election Committee and the entire Fair Campaign Practices Act. Recent 4 to 3 votes of Council gutted the City’s defense of the Act in the lawsuit brought against it, and also raised the possibility of alternative roles – or no roles – for the Election Committee. It seems to me these votes indicate an objection on the part of the conservative Council majority to the very concept and goals of the Fair Campaign Act and the Election Committee. These goals are to fairly regulate the amount of money spent on political campaigns, and to make sure the campaigns are run according to fair and transparent reporting rules.

Personally, I believe the great majority of American people are heartily sick of the huge, wasteful and corrupting sums that are presently being spent on political campaigns. I believe our citizens want campaign finance limits such as those found in Longmont’s Act. I urge all members of Council to respect this longing for real reform, and support both the Campaign Act and the Election Committee.

The next comment concerns the proposed permit for Heaven Fest to hold a mega-festival, drawing tens of thousands of people to the Union Reservoir. It is my understanding that the City will only be charging the promoters a paltry $50 for the right to hold what amounts to be a 2 week event at the Reservoir – if you include the proposed set up and tear down time. I wonder: do any of you have any idea how much a commercial venue would charge for such an event? I have been finding out. So far, I have only been able to talk with the Red Rocks Amphitheater staff. Red Rocks would charge 11% of the entire gross, and would do that for merely a single concert of less than 10,000 people, and only for a one day rental. In other words, our city is giving away our Reservoir to the Heaven Fest operators for basically nothing, while commercial venues would be charging tens of thousands of dollars more – if not hundreds of thousands, for an equivalent mega event. That means, our city taxpayers are essentially subsidizing this event for a huge amount of money. I don’t think that’s right.

Lastly, I was distressed when, at last week’s council meeting, our Mayor castigated a member of the public who had a different opinion than the Mayor about solar energy rebates. Certainly, people can have differing opinions. But the mayor – a public official in his official capacity – should not be browbeating a citizen for having different views, and certainly should not be advising a commenter to move out of the City. In my opinion, such treatment was beneath the dignity required of the office and, hopefully, will never be repeated.

Long Ol’ Row to Hoe

It’s been a long row ta’ Hoe, Now,

From Ducktown to Longmont

& I pray there’s still More yet to come.

I been pushin’ this Plow over hard, stony Ground

Tryin’ ta plant Y’all some Trees an’ some Flowers

‘n’ I’ve seen many cold Dawns

and strode mostly Alone

While I worshipped the Sun an’ the Snow

‘n’ I’ve carried the Story of All I’ve encountered,

& I’m tryin’ ta make sense of it All.

SomeOne gave me a Mission

I been tryin’ ta be True to

As I Plowed every step of the Way –

Yet, my Guides have been scattered

Wearin’ many Disguises

While I’d listen to what they might Say.

SOME spoke Backwards — Some Frontwards

Some Screamed and then Cursed

First at Me then at That which I Love

But I’ve searched for the Meaning

In Whatall I’ve Encountered

As an oft-Cryptic Sign

From Above.

Now, Confusions ha’ plagued me

Many Dangers waylaid me

As I ran up this crooked ol’ Trail

I keep getting’ back Up

From th’ Swamp an’ th’ Muck

Prayin’ Someone might Stand for my Bail.

But the Night has been Long

Stifled many a Song

That my Heart has been longing to hear –

‘n’ I try even now, though I still ain’t learned how

to dispel that Ol’ Demon — my FEAR.

And He keeps right on Lurking —

Crushing all of my Working

For Love Beauty Justice

And Truth.

So my Path kep’ on Windin’

To Escape the Confining

Prison Walls which have Stolen my Youth.

& I Run up the Mountain

shout my NAME to the Stars

then return to my hovel a l o n e

Knowing NOTHING is Promised

but to DO What I Came For

and to Stand up an’ Sing You

My SONG.

Strider © 1/17/2008

Why I am Opposed to the Heaven fest Music Festival at Union Reservoir

I’m a resident who appreciates Longmont’s small town, quiet atmosphere. I don’t relish my town becoming the site of an annual, multi-day, large scale rock concert, with all the noise, congestion, environmental degradation, traffic jams and inconvenience that it would entail.

I don’t think this event should be a “done deal”, in spite of the gushing enthusiasm expressed for it on the part of one of the local newspapers, some local business groups,  and many of the conservative members of the City Council.   I’m worried that the City hasn’t even asked the threshold question about such an event: do Longmont citizens really want our town – and sensitive public lands – being taken over by 50,000 people for a huge, loud, multi-day event?  This isn’t being touted as a one time event.  The promoters openly say they are looking for a permanent home, to have the event come back year after year, hopefully gaining in size each year.  On their website, the Heaven Fest promoters say that the event has basically doubled in attendance each year.  So what does that mean: next year’s attendance will be 100,000 concert goers?  Our town is only approximately 88,000 people-strong.  We’ll be swamped by such huge numbers of people.  I say the initial 50,000 applied for is too much.  I’d prefer to stop it before it starts, before it becomes entrenched.  Personally, I wouldn’t be happy to see other huge events come here either – such as the Kinetics Conveyance Race which apparently is no longer welcome in Boulder.  In my opinion such huge events belong in stadiums, not small town scenic reservoirs.

The Heaven Fest promoters have been talking to City staff for several months about using the Union Reservoir as their concert venue, even though the Reservoir is a sensitive wildlife area.  It doesn’t appear that City staff as of yet have raised a peep of an objection to the Reservoir usage.  The Reservoir is a wetlands area that provides foraging, nesting, migration or general habitat usage for bald eagles, great blue herons, ducks, geese, pelicans, pheasants, white-tailed deer, raptors, songbirds, shorebirds, coyote, fox, raccoons, etc.  In spite of this sensitive ecosystem, the Heaven Fest promoters want to use this or adjoining open space land for campers, RVs, massive parking, 7 stages, multiple events, and numerous vendors.   And they want this ecosystem to be subjected to a deluge of 50,000 people in a two day period, with build-up and tear-down for the event expected to last an additional ten days.  Our Reservoir was never intended to be subjected to such an onslaught.

It doesn’t appear that the City is taking its own permit ordinances into account, in its haste to get its hands on hoped for – but unsubstantiated – claims of revenues.  The Longmont Municipal Code sets very high standards before a public use permit involving the public lands can be issued.  Chapter 13.37 says that the City Clerk shall not issue a special use permit if any of a variety of problematic conditions would be found to occur.  These supposedly deal-breaking conditions include a finding that the event would unreasonably obstruct public access; or would generate unreasonable noise; or would bring a crowd so large as to threaten the public peace; or would be likely to result in excessive damage to the property in light of that property’s prior usage or current condition; or would conflict with the scheduled use of the property.

In my opinion, a fair analysis of Heaven Fest’s request for a two day loud noise permit, to accommodate 50,000 concert goers, parking for 15,000 vehicles, the use of 7 stages, several nights of mass overnight camping, plus an extended ten day preparation/dismantling process, would show that all of the above conditions would be violated at the Reservoir.  If reasonably obeyed, our City Code would not tolerate the issuance of a permit for this event.

I support the spirit and intent of the City Code, and say: “Keep Union Reservoir Wild.”  Just say no to huge events like the proposed Heaven Fest concert.

Letter to the Editor – Firestone Lawsuit

The Longmont City Council recently voted to initiate settlement discussions in its lawsuit against the Town of Firestone. The Firestone lawsuit was and is a hot-button political issue for many people in Longmont.  It concerns Longmont’s willingness to contest the proposed development plans of the Life Bridge Church on property annexed by Firestone, which is so near to the Union Reservoir.

Many folks are disappointed by Council’s settlement decision because we continue to be worried about the impacts of the proposed LifeBridge development on quality of life in Longmont.  For example:

  • The planned Life Bridge development is putting Longmont’s eastern boundary  at risk of being swallowed up into undifferentiated urban sprawl.
  • The planned Life Bridge development would put the equivalent of a new town right on the edge of Longmont’s eastern border.
  • Longmont has a very substantial financial investment in the Union Reservoir and surrounding properties – almost $75 million dollars.  This huge public investment would be negatively impacted by the Life Bridge development and by Longmont’s loss of control over what happens around its properties.
  • The sensitive environmental ecosystem in and around Union Reservoir would be seriously compromised by a development the size of Life Bridge.  This at-risk ecosystem includes bald eagle plus migratory bird habitat.

I am not surprised that the newly elected City council – which now is controlled by a majority of four conservative members who are very pro-development – would vote to settle the Firestone lawsuit rather than proceed with it.  That doesn’t mean that we folks who were concerned with the Life Bridge mega-development are any happier with it.  We will be following the settlement negotiations and continue to make our opinions heard.  The issue isn’t over – it is too important to forget.