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.