Longmont

Be Alive ad campaign funds misused? 12-20-09

Be Alive in Longmont, a contractor to the City of Longmont, received City taxpayer funds to advertise a partisan ad on December 20, 2009, in the Longmont Ledger and possibly in other media venues.

I find the fact that City taxpayer money has been used to pay for an advertisement extolling the virtues of a partisan politician, who happens to be our present Mayor, Mr. Baum, is personally offensive. In addition, I believe it is also an unethical use of taxpayer funds for political purposes, even if that was not the intention of the ad. The City has just come out of a rather ugly political campaign in which Mr. Baum was a candidate. Why is the City spending its limited funds to advertise to the public the virtues of a politician in that campaign, or any politician? It’s not an ad that says that the Mayor is doing his job as a Mayor. No, it’s an ad saying what an exceptional guy he is, a (quote) “community pillar with generations of support” and other personal superlatives. The Mayor’s campaign manager couldn’t have spun it any better, and our tax dollars should not be used to further any politician’s career. At the very least, it creates the appearance of impropriety and is unacceptable on that basis alone.

Furthermore, the ad uses our taxpayer dollars to say that Mayor Baum takes his family to two particularly named Longmont restaurants. So, now our taxpayer money is not only favoring a particular politician, it is also favoring two out of the dozens of great restaurants that exist in Longmont. Again, the misappropriation of taxpayer funds for biased purposes, unacceptably favoring certain Longmont businesses over others, is reprehensible.

I don’t believe the City could, on its own, use City funds to run such a biased and inappropriate advertisement. I certainly don’t think the City can avoid responsibility for this ethical lapse merely by running the money through a contractor. I have never heard of either the federal or the state governments running ads saying what a great person the present incumbent was, and I don’t think the City government has any greater right to do this than the other branches of government

For all the above reasons, I urge the City’s Attorney’s Office to investigate the use of taxpayer funds for this inappropriate ad. Further, I think the moral murkiness surrounding this ad provides a valuable insight into why Longmont’s Fair Campaigns Election Committee should be maintained and strengthened. As our Founding Fathers knew so well when they created our Constitution, politics – and power – brings out the worst in people, in everyone. I believe we need all the help we can get in making sure Longmont’s campaigns are fair and above-board.

Comments to Council 1-5-10

We’ve hearing in the newspaper about the proposed Heaven Fest Christian music concert which – if a City permit will be granted – will be held at the City’s Union Reservoir this July.  Unfortunately, we’ve only been given the rose-colored, glowing “good” side of the story.   As a citizen of Longmont, I am concerned about the potential negative consequences of permitting this event to go forward – or others like it – without a fair and adequate analysis being done of the actual costs and benefits to the City.

Think of it -Heaven Fest is promoting on its website that it will have room this year for more than 50,000 concert goers.  A concert of this magnitude – 50,000 concert goers – would attract to our small city for a multi-day event, a clientele whose population would almost double the population of our City.  This is no small matter – it is huge.  I am very concerned that our City is rushing into this permitting process, without having given enough thought to the potential negative consequences.

For instance, has anybody in the City contacted the City of Boulder and found out why the Kinetics Races, which had been held in Boulder and had attracted huge crowds similar to those expected by Heaven Fest – was no longer happening in Boulder?   Has anybody found out what the actual costs of the Kinetics Races were to the City of Boulder, such as the police, cleanup, or power-related expenses, as well as finding out what the quality-of-life and environmental impacts had been?  Similarly, has anybody from the City of Longmont gotten an opinion from the Division of Wildlife or other bona fide wildlife expert, concerning what the possible negative effects on wildlife and plant life might be, of placing such a huge amount of people into the environmentally-sensitive Reservoir?

These are serious questions – and I don’t think they have been adequately analyzed yet.  Even larger questions than these, I believe are not being addressed.   These are: do the citizens of our small town really want to be deluged by crowds as large as those expected at Heaven Fest, and do they really want our recreation areas to be turned over to huge commercial ventures?  I, personally, have serious reservations about these kind of ventures being held on our public lands, and I imagine others do to.  Yet such concerns are not even being mentioned, much less being addressed.

So I urge Council and the City to slow down the freight train here, and give much more adequate consideration to whether the huge Heaven Fest event is an appropriate event for our City.  I am not convinced that it is.

Remarks I shared at Longmont City Council on 1/12/10

Earlier today I attended the Martin Luther King celebration in these chambers. The City put together a beautiful and inspirational program. When I looked at the posters of MLK and President Obama together, I felt both hopeful and melancholy. Hopeful to think of how far we’ve come, and melancholy as I realized how far we still need to travel to end discrimination… As my friend Strider reminds me, “It’s a long march.”

While that’s not what I came to speak about, I was inspired. See, I too have a dream. My dream is to keep Union Reservoir Wild. This dream started in 2001, when the City of Longmont had a contract on 315 acres at Union for Open Space. Due to a glitch in the contract, the landowner was able to get out of this contract when Lifebridge Church doubled the offer the City had made.

I was on a organized bird walk at Union 10 days ago where we saw 7 bald eagles, 2 golden eagles, 2 norther harriers, 1 coyote, 2 foxes and a flock of about 100 horn larks. All this is 70 minutes. Union Reservoir and the wildlife it supports and surrounding land is precious and needs protection.

My ultimate dream is that Lifebridge has a change of heart and decides to sell this land back to the city to be kept wild as was the original plan.

My new short term dream is that the organizers of Heavens Fest realize the incredible jewel Union Reservoir is and rethink the location of their event. I was thinking Main Street would be far superior for the following reasons: 1) They know hoe to do large festivals–accommodating 20,000+ people. Extending a couple blocks might be necessary if there will be 35,000+ people.
2) There is regional and local RTD services to Main Street and from Main Street all over Longmont. 3) Downtown businesses would get an economic boost and lots of great exposure. Frankly, Union attenders would travel east, north, south in addition to those that might come west into Longmont. A more central location increases the likelihood of dollars staying here. 4) The Main Street location would not have a negative impact on Land & wildlife. 5) Shuttles could be arranged from the fairgrounds etc. to offset parking.

Heaven Fest maybe a good idea. It’s just not a good location.

Ice Rink expects profit in 2010

From the Times Call:

Longmont ice rink expects 11.5 percent profit from 2009

By Scott Rochat
© 2010 Longmont Times-Call

LONGMONT — The Longmont Ice Pavilion is becoming a moneymaker for the city.

According to preliminary 2009 numbers (which don’t become final until March), the ice rink took in $146,956 during the year while spending $131,752. That comes to $15,204 of revenue, or roughly an 11.5 percent gain.

“It was just awesome,” said city recreation manager Jeff Friesner.

“This is becoming the place to be in the wintertime,” agreed Mark Mann, who manages the ice rink.

The 2009 figures reflect the last half of the 2008-09 skating season and the first half of the 2009-10 season. The season ends March 14.

The news is a welcome turnaround for a rink that once was on the chopping block. In October 2007, the Longmont City Council cut the rink from the budget due to its operating costs; at the time, the ice pavilion was making back no more than 60 percent of its expenses.

A new council gave the rink a second chance that December. Skaters didn’t take long to make the most of it. The rink broke even in 2008 and drew an estimated 21,000 people to the ice for the 2008-09 season.

“I would comfortably say we’ll easily surpass that figure,” Friesner said of this season’s expected attendance.

Read the rest at the Times Call

Heaven Fest not popular with neighbors

Officials, neighbors talk about 2 previous Heaven Fest events

Event could bring 30,000 people to Longmont

By Rachel Carter
© 2010 Longmont Times-Call

BRIGHTON — John Jukkola is happy Heaven Fest won’t be in his back yard this summer.

And he doesn’t want to see the Christian music festival return.

“I’m glad they’re gone, and I hope they don’t come back, but Longmont needs to know what they’re in for,” Jukkola said Tuesday afternoon in his shop on his 60-acre property on Weld County Road 4, about a mile north of the field where Heaven Fest was held the past two years.

Read the rest at the Times-Call

Cognitive Dissonance Overload

One of the anonymously insane commenters at the TC blurted this out:

mfrede, sorry that you don’t get it. We have to rescue progress from the so-called progressives. We need a liberal, not a libertarian, social order with deeper values than material advances. Your idea all pre-existing traditions or values are by definition just so much unprogressive baggage is as philistine as it is laughable. Pseudo progressives pose danger of fanaticism, authoritarianism, abuse of power, exploitation or abuse of the old and the young, corruption, rigged elections and harm to minorities. In our confused discourse, some people who embody these very threats have disguised themselves as liberals. Their deep intolerance and intimidatory techniques in pursuit of license and power must be resisted in the interests of preserving a decent, fair and free society. That is why I am a progressive.

Wrangler, Longmont, 1/15/2010 12:21 AM

This is so twisted up logically it hurts to read.

The person behind this pseudonym should really seek psychiatric help immediately… obvious loss of connection to reality.

I mean, this person is so spooky they should be required to wear a yellow shirt with thick black diagonal stripes at all types to indicate ‘hazard’.

Anyone this mentally disrupted shouldn’t be allowed to drive.

laughing

Here comes the Baum Squad!

The Baum Squad

The new Longmont City Council is sworn in – and at. These are images from Flickr.com and may take up to thirty seconds to load. Please wait.

[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157622668572919″]

A few educational notes about public photography

The following is from Petapixel and is the text of a reference on photographers rights. If you’d like to submit a photo to Free Range Longmont, please be sure these rules have been observed:

  1. You can make a photograph of anything and anyone on any public property, except where a specific law prohibits it. i.e. streets, sidewalks, town squares, parks, government buildings open to the public, and public libraries.
  2. You may shoot on private property if it is open to the public, but you are obligated to stop if the owner requests it. i.e. malls, retail stores, restaurants, banks, and office building lobbies.
  3. Private property owners can prevent photography ON their property, but not photography OF their property from a public location.
  4. Anyone can be photographed without consent when they are in a public place unless there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. i.e. private homes, restrooms, dressing rooms, medical facilities, and phone booths.
  5. Despite common misconceptions, the following subjects are almost always permissible:
    • accidents, fire scenes, criminal activities
    • children, celebrities, law enforcement officers
    • bridges, infrastructure, transportation facilities
    • residential, commercial, and industrial buildings
  6. Security is rarely an acceptable reason for restricting photography. Photographing from a public place cannot infringe on trade secrets, nor is it terrorist activity.
  7. Private parties cannot detain you against your will unless a serious crime was committed in their presence. Those that do so may be subject to criminal and civil charges.
  8. It is a crime for someone to threaten injury, detention, confiscation, or arrest because you are making photographs.
  9. You are not obligated to provide your identity or reason for photographing unless questioned by a law enforcement officer and state law requires it.
  10. Private parties have no right to confiscate your equipment without a court order. Even law enforcement officers must obtain one unless making an arrest. No one can force you to delete photos you have made.

These are general guidelines regarding the right to make photos and should not be interpreted as legal advice. If you need legal help, please contact a lawyer.


Here’s a few more good references on photographer’s rights:

The Photographer’s Right by Bert P. Krages II, attorney at law. PDF Pocket Ref.

Photography & the First Amendment

Know Your Rights: Photographers

The Anti-Solar Mayor

Video from Longmont City Council Open Forum January 12th, 2010. Listen to our new mayor’s remarks to a citizen asking for reconsideration of the solar tax credit.

Unbelievable.

A Greater Vision for Longmont and America Continues

A Greater Vision for Longmont and America Continues

Progress is not made by one endeavor or one election.  It requires persistence, dedication, and commitment – no matter the obstacles, no matter the adversaries.

Longmont endured a huge setback in the November 2009 elections.  Some are still wondering how this happened.  Simply stated, progress was out-gunned and outspent.

While we can learn from the past, we should not dwell on it.  We should recommit to achieving our goals and understanding our challenges.

The Longmont Vision remains a “greater vision” of realizing the goals that will guarantee sustainability and prosperity in the 21st century.  Its content will serve as an antidote to the agenda of the Times-Call and other outlets whose interests are narrow and self-serving.

Share your insights and understandings with me as I will with you.  Together we can return Longmont to realizing the promise that it holds but will not be achieved under its current leadership.

Local developers, the religious fundamentalists represented by LifeBridge Church, and the Times-Call took aim at the council majority elected in November 2007 almost immediately upon their swearing in.  When the “other side” has the benefit of a daily mouth organ, the odds can be insurmountable.  Sometimes the effect on public perception is accomplished with subtlety and sometimes it is blatant.

Those who’ve studied journalism and politics recognize that this is accomplished by the choice of what stories are covered, by the headlines attached to them, by information left out of articles (or stripped from them), by the editorials, by local OpEd pieces sought or rejected, and by the balance of letters to the editor to name just a few mechanisms.

And the Times-Call frivolously filed a lawsuit against the city for “secrecy” that it knew was within the Colorado statute.  The lawsuit was intended to blacken the eyes of the progressive council majority in the public’s eye—and, based on the election results, it apparently helped.

It is unfortunate, but no surprise, that the newly-elected Longmont City Council majority, all of whom were endorsed by the Times-Call leading up to the election, have no doubt pressured the remaining city council members to settle that suit.  After all, 4 beats 3 in any mathematics textbook.

I wonder what the indirect payback will be to the Times-Call for their help in getting this new majority elected.  And I hope that the remaining three council members will vote “No” regardless of the settlement terms when the issue returns to council.  They may have the numbers, but “might” doesn’t make “right.”

Other Republicans from within the city, throughout the state and from out of state also engaged in the same strategy.  They succeeded in costing the city a great deal of money and gaining only limited changes to the Fair Campaign Practices Act.  Not only did the city agree to a $68,500 settlement but the group filing the suit intentionally violated the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act as it stood.  These people are not naïve; they knew their actions would provoke complaints and they knew costs would be incurred in the process.

There was no “free speech” issue – never was, isn’t now, and never will be.  The proof was in the pudding – and that pudding was rancid as soon as it was written and arrived in mailboxes across Longmont as the Longmont Leadership “newspaper.”

The money that poured into conservative Republican candidates was greater than ever seen before in Longmont.  Out of area organizations funneled nearly $25,000 to their anointed candidates.    And local contributors angered and fuming since November 2007 contributed nearly $61,500, to candidates who have no intention of representing “the citizens of Longmont,” much less ALL of the citizens of Longmont.  The evidence of this is already in and will be compounded over the months to come (24 minus 3 and counting).  Over $86,000 buys a lot of something, and it’s not just candidates.

As a great Republican bearing no resemblance to the current batch said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” (Abraham Lincoln)

2011 will be the End of an Error.

Longmont Vision and www.longmontvision.com are publications of Longmont Vision, created for the purpose of informing members of the Longmont community about issues and activities that impact their present and future wellbeing.  Editorial decisions are determined by Kaye Fissinger.