Tag Archive for Brian Bagley

Longmont voters entitled to Home Rule

Editor’s Note: Gordon Pedrow served as Longmont City Manger for 18 years prior to his retirement in March of 2012.

Nov. 6 is Election Day. Be sure to cast your ballot for the sake of your city, county, state and nation. Tucked in amongst the myriad partisan races is Longmont Ballot Question 300. This question is worthy of your careful scrutiny because it is a proposed charter amendment.

Is this what you want in Longmont?

Ballot Question 300 deserves careful attention for several reasons: It will amend the city charter, it is an important public health and quality-of-life issue, and it was initiated by thousands of your friends and neighbors. Usually, we look to the City Council to appropriately act to protect citizens from negative impacts of heavy industrial activity. However, when a majority of our elected representatives fail to carry out their responsibilities, the city charter and state constitution provide means by which the citizens can initiate actions they believe necessary to protect their community.

Beginning last November, the City Council studied how best to regulate the negative impacts of oil and gas operations within Longmont. This is an industry that is poorly regulated and coddled by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), the state agency charged with regulating its operations in order to protect public health and the environment. Until June, when it came time for the City Council to adopt its comprehensive regulations, it appeared that most council members were in favor of acting to protect the community from oil and gas operations. However, at the last moment, under extreme pressure from the industry’s big-money lobbyists and state politicians, a majority of the City Council capitulated to the industry and refused to support comprehensive regulations. When it really counted, only Mayor Coombs and council members Levison and Bagley were willing to adopt adequate comprehensive regulations to protect Longmont residents. Most citizens would agree that an appropriately regulated oil and gas industry can be a win for everyone.

After it became obvious that the City Council majority would approve only a weak, watered-down set of regulations, a group of citizens opted to circulate petitions to amend the charter as proposed in Ballot Question 300. More than 8,000 citizens signed the petitions. All registered voters can now have a direct say in the outcome of the proposed amendment.

This issue deserves your careful attention now for a couple of reasons. First, you need to understand what it says so that you can assess whether or not it reflects what is best for our community. Second, you should examine the merits of the amendment prior to the misinformation tsunami that will soon be launched by the oil and gas industry, along with affiliated special interests, as they try to persuade you to vote no on 300. (Do you remember the hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of propaganda our community received from the cable industry when Longmont voters were considering home-rule control of telecommunication matters?) I encourage all residents to study the issues early so that you can adequately assess the veracity of information provided by both sides. Because the citizens who initiated the proposed amendment will have meager resources, it will no doubt be a very lopsided campaign.

It is easy to anticipate a few attack lines you can expect to hear from the well-funded opposition. These include: The industry will sue; Longmont has a representative form of government, so it is a City Council matter; the COGCC adequately regulates the oil and gas industry; and finally, Colorado has the most stringent oil and gas regulations in the nation.

As the attack ads appear, consider the following questions: Do you want to capitulate just because a multi-billion-dollar industry wants to resist adequate regulation and threatens to sue if it fails to get its way? If a majority of our elected representatives fail to protect our health, safety and the environment, doesn’t the city charter and state constitution provide a means for citizens to act? If the COGCC regulations are adequate, why did the governor on Aug. 15 tell the industry that new regulations are necessary for the industry’s “integrity and trust” and that citizens’ concerns about fracking must be addressed? Finally, do we care how stringent Colorado regulations are if they do not adequately protect public health, safety and the environment? Just last month, the governor admitted the state’s regulations are not adequate.

Voters, the issue belongs to you. Do your homework and cast your ballot.

Longmont, you’re fracked. OK by Council

The following address was presented to the Longmont City Council on April 17, 2012 in response to the the “draft” dilling/fracking regulations. The Longmont City Council ignored the testimony and pleas of the community, the advice of four of its boards and commissions and advanced on a 6-1 vote a gutted version of the regulations to ordinance. Sarah Levison provided the protest vote.

Fracked behind closed doors

Fracked behind closed doors

This document of Longmont’s proposed oil and gas regulations shames this city.  And it should shame you.  But I suspect it won’t.  It is nothing more than a capitulation to the oil and gas industry and a betrayal of the citizens of Longmont.

As a home rule city, you have the legal opportunity to do much more.  You met in executive session on March 27 and April 3 to discuss draft oil and gas regulations and to receive legal advice and obtain instructions regarding the same.  It does not take a Philadelphia lawyer or a rocket scientist to determine when and where your decisions took place.  Tonight’s discussion is likely to be nothing more than a dog and pony show to once again pretend to the Longmont public that you are listening to their testimony, the evidence of the dangers of drilling within the city and the threats to human health, safety and welfare from fracking.

Our health, safety and welfare are constitutionally (both United States and Colorado) and statutorily guaranteed.  Yet our Democratic governor, our Republican attorney general and the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission, the oil and gas industry sock puppet, prefers to thumb their collective noses at the people and smile all the way to the bank to deposit campaign contributions from their benefactors.  The same holds true of most members of the Longmont city council who occupy their seats by virtue of the financial assistance and dirty campaign tactics of Western/American Tradition Partnership and its local sympathizers who do not know enough or care enough to even protect themselves and their families.

It was no accident that American Tradition Partnership first showed its rabidly anti-people face in Longmont in 2009.  This organization, funded by the extraction industries and the Koch Brothers, knew the oil and gas industry was moving its way to the western end of the Wattenberg Field and the Niobrara Play and needed a Longmont city council that would “play” ball with them – pun intendedThey got it and they got more of it last year.  And now the people of Longmont are getting fricking fracked.

So you’ll sacrifice your personal integrity, the well-being of your community and the health and safety of your families on the altar of oil and gas profits and I suspect you’ll even use the nauseatingly familiar buzzwords of your political party to justify the decisions you made weeks, if not months, ago.

But don’t expect respect or support for your choices and don’t expect that the community will take your actions lying down – or bending over.

This is not over until the proverbial fat lady sings – and you can be sure that she is just warming up.

Santos storms out of council meeting

Gabe Santos, Longmont City Council 2012

Bullying his fellow council members isn't working.

Council Member Gabe Santos stormed out of the February 21 council meeting when things didn’t go his way.  I could say “like a bully in a china shop,” but council is far from that delicate status, though certainly the moniker of bully is apropos Santos.  After all, someone had to fill ex-Mayor Bryan Baum’s shoes.  Longmont can’t have a city council absent at least one right-wing bully.

So what got his knickers is such a tight twist.  Senate Bill 12-015, the ASSET bill, which provides for standard-rate tuition for undocumented foreign students who have spent at least three years in a Colorado high school and have applied for admission within one year of graduation or completing the GED.  In addition to the in-state tuition, the student would be required to pay the opportunity fund stipend that is offered to in-state students. How dare the city help it’s young people pull themselves up by their bootstraps!

In order for the Longmont City Council to vote on endorsing SB-015 during a study session, it was necessary to suspend Council’s Rule of Procedure 17.5. Mayor Dennis Coombs made the motion, seconded by Sarah Levison, and that prompted Santos to go ballistic.

He put his ever-so-oppressive foot down and said, “I’m not going to vote for this. If we’re going to bring up potentially contentious items before council at the state or federal level, then I got a whole slew that we can bring up.”  He ranted and raved about precedent, about future votes on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico or saving the trees in Afghanistan.

In response, Mayor Coombs explained that the bill is largely bi-partisan and that Longmont has a number of Hispanic students.  That triggered even more raving by Santos who accused the mayor of making it a race issue.  Mr. Santos, do you have a problem with being Latino/Hispanic?  Or do you have to prove to the right-wing racists in the community that you’re one of the acceptable ones?  If you’re paying attention you will know that there are many racists in Longmont who consistently spew their racist venom in comments to Times-Call articles whenever the opportunity presents itself, or even in Letters to the Editor.

Santos didn’t get any help from Council Member Brian Bagley either.  Bagley pointed out that council gives direction to staff about which state bills to support or oppose and once or twice a month offers proclamations on issues that are often beyond the scope of the city’s direct business.

The hilarious portion of Santos tirade was his statement about the Council being a non-partisan board.  Technically, he’s correct.  But most Longmont voters know what party their council members belong to.  And if they don’t know it by a candidate’s admission, history or information supplied by their friends and family, they know it by the platforms the candidate adopts and by who are the visible endorsers.  So once more, of the countless upon countless times, Council Member Santos is – how shall I say this politely – DISINGENUOUS.

Disingenuous?  Aw, let’s forget that one.  Council member Santos repeatedly (let me say that again – repeatedly) couches his arguments fer or agin a matter with supposedly acceptable or righteous reasons.  He does this to avoid a record that could cause damage downstream in his political pursuits. Hell, even Tom DeLay wasn’t slick enough for that.  But then he was a Republican partisan with a major position in the Republican-led House of Representatives at the time.  While in the employ of Representatives Tom DeLay and Roy Blunt, I’m sure Santos had ample opportunity to learn how to be slicker than the supposed “Slick Willie,” whom they tried so desperately to throw out of office. They’re using other tactics this time around with Obama, but that’s subject for a different article.

A vote was taken on the motion to suspend Procedure 17.5 and the result was 6-1;  Santos was the LONE dissenter.  Following that Mayor Coombs moved and it was seconded that the Council instruct Sandi Seader, the city’s lobbyist, to convey the City of Longmont’s endorsement of SB-015 to the Colorado Senate and House.  Again, the vote was 6-1 with Santos as the LONE dissenter.  While Santos may have strengthened his right-wing, anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic credentials with Longmont voters when he tries to climb the ladder out of Longmont into state office, he’s left one helluva stench elsewhere.

Immediately following both votes and before the routine comments from council members, the city manager and city attorney, Santos stormed from the council chambers.  He didn’t get his way.  He didn’t have the support of other council members whom he “whips” (bullies) into shape lest they stray from the fold.  He was left hanging out to dry all by his LONEsome.

What is council member Santos going to do next week for a second act?  We’ll just have to stay tuned, won’t we?

Coombs/Levison support drilling moratorium

I want to applaud Mayor Dennis Coombs for suggesting a 6-month moratorium on Hydraulic Fracking before the City Council. However, it is truly sad that only Sarah Levison voted along with the Mayor. Are these five dissenting Councilmembers not concerned about the health, safety and wellbeing of the citizens of Longmont?

At the Nov. 15 Longmont City Council meeting, a Firestone resident shared about 24/7 drilling operations behind her home – with lights, noise, and strong petroleum and rotten egg odors that occurred during and after the drilling of the well. She stated that her house vibrated all night long and there were 50 water trailers parked behind her home. The traffic from semi-trucks delivering water for fracking the well occurred all hours of the day/night. Would you call this a friendly industry?

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) escaping during and after drilling operations have been implicated as being carcinogenic, endocrine disrupters and nerve agents. Dr. Theo Colborn of the Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX), addresses the dangers from natural gas drilling in this video.

In Wyoming, the EPA has found a link between fracking operations and groundwater contamination.

I encourage you to watch the movies “Gasland” or “Split Estate.” These are both available at the Longmont library. What you’ll find is that fracking is not a benign method of drilling as the industry touts.

Is Longmont going to become a ‘Drilling’ sacrifice zone? I urge you to contact the council members that objected to a moratorium – Santos, Sammoury, Witt, Bagley and Finley – and tell them that it is not in our best interest to allow fracking in and around the City of Longmont.