Tag Archive for Bryan Baum

2013 Longmont election big win for Progressives

Dennis Coombs, Mayor of Longmont

Dennis Coombs, Mayor of Longmont

Monday November 11th the City Council members for Longmont were sworn in – among them returning mayor Dennis Coombs. Here’s our photos.

Two new members were also sworn in –

Polly Christensen

Polly Christensen

Polly Christensen replaced Alex Sammoury and Jeff Moore replaced Katie Witt, both winning handily – no recounts this year.

Coombs sailed to victory with a 16% (Correction – 17.84%) margin over his opponent Bryan Baum, breaking out early with a large lead that Baum never managed to match, despite running scandal-free this time around. A push poll of unknown origin may actually have hurt the right-wing candidate by attempting to spread scurrilous rumors and deeply offending voters.

Jeff Moore

Jeff Moore

Sammoury and Witt were pleasant and appeared to be relieved at leaving City Council. Alex said he’d ‘…try and miss them…’ on Tuesday evenings, clearly being ironic. Witt pronounced ‘…you haven’t seen the last of me…’ and was greeting by laughter from the audience.

Well, I suppose we can hope

StephBaumTweets_111213Despite pronouncements from the right that Longmont is a ‘conservative’ town, the ‘left’ ran off two conservative candidates and defeated a tea party ex-mayor decisively. An obviously-planned kerfuffle over a months-old crabby note from Polly Christensen was clearly the Baum’s payback for being ‘pooched‘ in the last election. Super-classy for Abbondanza owner Bob Goff to not only save the note, but put it in the hands of Longmont’s First ‘Lady’ of muck-raking, who cackled gleefully about it. Love how she’s eager to see a fellow Longmonter in the ‘poor house’ – kinda clashes with her sweet, fundraiser persona…

Polly had this to say about her note to Goff:

“Usually Abondanza is my son’s and my favorite place for pizza, wine, and Parchesi. I was exhaused and was feeling a bit accosted by politics at a place where I was hoping to relax and NOT think about politics. I overreacted to the signs in the window and the political stickers on my leftover box. I wrote this cranky note on a scrap of paper. It was ill-considered, harsh, and unnecessary. I regret not just walking away and getting some sleep.”

Longmont's self-proclaimed 'First Lady'

Longmont’s self-proclaimed ‘First Lady’

Interesting tweet about the ‘Old Guard’… and the Pro-Tem vote was planned…? Really?

So, all in all a very interesting night and terrifically revealing of how deep the wounds of the last election were and how badly the right wanted revenge – any revenge.

City misses the mark on public notification

There is a confluence of issues that city council needs to address.  The first is the city’s neighborhood notification policy.  The second is the trail around Union Reservoir.  And the third is the train wreck of oil and gas drilling and fracking coming into Longmont and specifically at Union Reservoir.

Residents on the northern shore of the reservoir by County Road 28 insisted that they did not receive notification.  Believe them.  While they may have, in fact, received some sort of communication from the city, it was clearly inadequate to define the scope of the issue.

This isn’t the first time that the city has inadequately notified neighborhoods.  And unless the policy is changed, it will not be the last.

The issue of drilling for oil and gas at Union Reservoir was on staff’s table as early as June of 2011.  Ex-mayor Baum recently said in a radio broadcast that “drilling was nothing new,” that “it had been in the works for a year and a half.”

Really!  But the public was not made aware of this until October.  And the plan was to ram the issue through for a hearing by the Planning and Zoning Commission on November 18th.  The P&Z was intended to be the final word on the matter.

Had citizens not been alert, those living outside the immediate Union Reservoir area would not have been present at the “neighborhood meeting” to learn that drilling was intended to be imminent.  Most of the residents in the area did not grasp the city’s intentions and had to be separately notified of the threat.

While the Union Reservoir Master Plan was modified and vetted, it is essential to note that this vetting was without any knowledge whatsoever by the public that the area was going to be invaded by the oil and gas industry.

Union Reservoir is unique.  Drilling has no business anywhere near it.  And it should be stopped by any and all measures available.

Council needs to direct staff to revise the notification process so that full implications are apparent.  The notifications need to go beyond small neighborhood geographical areas when the impact is broad and/or citywide.  And the council should table the $750,000 expense of the trail until there is a full understanding of the impact of drilling at Union Reservoir.

The last recommendation I make with reluctance as I am strongly supportive of such a trail.  However, the impact on wildlife, whether from the trail or from drilling, needs careful assessment before, not after, the financial cost is incurred.

 

 

 

When Longmont went dirty

Ms Baum, you brought dirty politics to Longmont. I received in the mail dirty political attack campaign mailers from the Steve Monger of the Longmont Leadership aka Western Tradition partnership and from you Ms. Baum. You go after citizens who don’t agree with you. It’s not right what you do. It’s shameful what you do.
— blog post by “Onion” on the article BoCo Dems get first look at HD 11 contenders – Times-Call.com

Some people can lose an election and move on (no pun intended).  Some people can’t.  One has to wonder who in the dangerous duo from November’s election is having the most difficulty, ex-mayor Bryan Baum or the ex “First Lady”.  It’s a toss-up.

Bryan seems to have great difficulty letting go.  Would you be surprised to know that he’s still doing the “Monday with the Mayor” radio broadcast, but under a nominally different banner?  Oh, yes, not making that one up.  News flash, “has-been-mayor” Baum, your term is over.  And in spite of a retained conservative majority, at least you cannot continue to damage Longmont.  No matter how much you stroke yourself, you did cause much damage.  It was delineated in the Moving Longmont Forward mailer.  Could it be that you actually do not recognize the harm you’ve caused?  Naw, not likely.  That you have to protest so often and so publicly suggests that even you worry about having been exposed.  Don’t worry.  Those who agree with you won’t hold your skullduggery against you; they applaud it.

As to Bryan Baum’s other half…  I know the usual expression is “better half” …but it this case there is no “better.”  Stephanie seems to have as much difficulty with truth as her husband does.  She led the way in 2008 with the notorious “pink letter” (reproduced below).

A recent Times-Call article gave her the opportunity to get back in the game.  Likely she chafed at having to keep her mouth shut for two years lest she damage her husband’s re-election chances.  She needn’t have worried.  Baum did that quite well all by himself.   First out of the gate, in the article about the first forum for Democratic HD 11 contenders, Stephanie Baum demands that no one support Jonathan Singer in his House District 11 race because he supported Moving Longmont Forward.  Another news flash, this one for the ex-First Lady., Mr. Singer does not endorse lies and that is why he was able to support the mailer exposing your husband’s record and behavior.  Mr. Singer has personal experience with your husband’s bullying.  He chose not to expose him, a kindness that others would not have been so inclined to offer.  Had the contents of that telephone conversation been revealed to the public, your husband would have lost by a landslide.

In Stephanie Baum’s tit-for-tat on the Times-Call website, back and forth, she effectively dared “Onion” to produce a copy of the “pink letter” and demonstrate the attacks that were leveled.  Free Range Longmont is happy to oblige on their behalf.

The irony of all of the protestations by the Baums is their selective memories not only of the launching of negative campaigning in the 2008 campaign, but ready acceptance of the most vile of political campaigning that Longmont has ever experienced, namely the “The Longmont Leader.”

For those who may have preferred to forget, this was a newspaper-style**, 11” x 17” 8-pager that spent most of its ink in inarguable attack.  Ink, by the way, that was paid for by Western Tradition Partnership, an organization that never was, never will be a local voice (except perhaps to hide contributions by those who do not have the courage to display their agenda publicly).

I am not so naïve as to believe that this will be the last word on political lies and political attacks.  Pandora’s Box was opened by Gabe Santos and Stephanie Baum was more than happy to wield an ax.  In the process, they changed Longmont’s politics for the indefinite future and invited the the likes of Scott Shires (responsible for the first attack piece in the 2008 election and connected to political hit sites) and Western (now American) Tradition Partnership.  I’m certain Longmont hasn’t heard the last of them – they have a lot of money and an agenda.


Transcription of the “Pink Letter” sent to Longmont voters during the 2008 Special Election. Underlining is preserved from original. Color-highlighted text is FRL emphasis. Spelling errors in the original have been marked ‘sic’ to indicate they have been left unchanged.


Stephanie Baum

January 18, 2008

Dear Friend,

I am writing you today as a mother and a neighbor – please forgive me for my informality – as I have never felt called to send a letter like this.

Normally, I am satisfied to take my son to karate practice, plan play dates with other moms and their kids, and spend my free time keeping up with friends through email.

But I have become gravely concerned about our community of Longmont and the sudden change in direction it has taken.

I have lived in Longmont for nine years and have come to love this community and have developed many deep friendships here. Longmont has grown precisely because it is a beautiful, safe place with strong values, where a family can thrive.

That’s why I care deeply about the kind of leadership my son and daughter, Chase and Brooklynn, and I see in Longmont and across our great state of Colorado.

The future of Longmont is important enough that I wanted to personally write to you about Gabe Santos, who is the common-sense Republican running to bring balance back to Longmont City Council.

I first met Gabe over 7 years ago, at a welcome reception in the home of his in-laws, Van and Diane Stow, whom I’ve known for years.

When I met Gabe, I remember thinking “oh great, another Big City guy moving to our little town,” but as soon as I spoke to him I realized he was anything but a “Big City guy.” His engaging personality is obviously one of the many reasons why his wife Vicki fell in love with him.

Now, if you’re like me, you’re recently seen an organized assault on Longmont by a radical element attempting to distort Gabe’s record and hide their harmful agenda, in an effort to take over city council.

I have believed for some time that this sort of negative campaigning is degrading the way we act and feel towards each other.

In response to the distasteful broadsides being directed at my friend Gabe and at some people of faith in our community, I have some nice – and true – things to say.

I know Gabe Santos is a good and decent man. He has spent his entire adult life serving others.

My husband coordinates the Salvation Army bell-ringing for the Longmont Rotary Club, and Gabe rang the bell more than any other Rotarian this year. Gabe and Vicki chaired Longmont’s Relay for Life, taking over for us in that capacity.

My husband Bryan and I have been very active with local non-profits here in Longmont, and Gabe and Vicki have the same passion that we do in those endeavors. Gabe so often puts the needs of others before his own.

He has served his family by providing for them and being a “hands on” dad with his involvement and support – we can’t go to Art Walk, the Halloween Parade, the Festival on Main, Oktoberfest or any other of a number of community events without running into Gabe, Vicki and their daughter Sylvia.

He worked with city government through Focus on Longmont to ensure our community is a great place to live both now and in the future, and Gabe helps meet the needs of others by volunteering with the Longmont Ending Violence White Ribbon Campaign and working with the Education Summit to improve our childrens school experience.

When Gabe told my husband and I that he was going to run for City Council, we knew right away that Gabe’s integrity and wisdom would make him a great city representative.

That feeling hasn’t changed.

As far as his leadership, I would definately(sic) feel safer with Gabe’s kind of policy on public safety, reasonable growth, restraining taxes and spending, and respecting citizens’ private lives than someone who would choose to divide the city further.

And unlike his opponent, Gabe doesn’t plan to spend his entire life on the government payroll – he knows what a challenge life is for families and businesses, which is why today he’s working as an accountant and studying to become a CPA.

Now, honestly, I wasn’t sure what his opponent stood for, because he seems to change or obscure his views on some of the most important issues our city faces today.

In fact, his opponent, Richard Juday has even gone so far as to delete at least four pages from his website – pages that contain very troubling comments about being “more like Boulder;” attacking the beliefs of people of faith; and the most significant one…his promise not to take campaign contributions.

That’s why, when I looked online at the City Clerk’s campaign finance report, I tell you, I was in for a surprise!

The first that jumped out at them was the number of radical left-wing Democrat activists who were supporting Mr. Juday. Many of the same donors are on record supporting cadidates who push a tax-and-spend, anti-family agenda.

Forgive me, but those groups and individuals – which include many of the same Boulder radicals who recently ran a smear campaign against our neighbors at LifeBridge church – do not share my vision for a strong future for Longmont families.

I looked for names of people whom would show some balance, but truthfully, Juday seems only to be supported by the Boulder County Democrat(sic *) Party, MoveOn.org types (whom I’ve never seen active in our community), and out-of-state donors.

Now, I know it takes money to buy yard signs and run a campaign, but when I saw the list of “zero-growth” Boulder Democrats backing Mr. Juday, I decided to look up his vision for the future, and it’s apparent from his own campaign materials he wants to turn Longmont into “Boulder-lite.”

I know Boulder – I grew up there, and my parents still live there. Businesses and families are fleeing “the People’s Republic of Boulder” because of it’s city government’s radical anti-growth policies and dangerous social engineering projects and experiments.

Longmont’s realtors and small businesses are obviously very concerned – because the last thing our local economy needs is repressive taxation and regulation on our housing. That’s why the Longmont Association of Realtors endorsed Gabe Santos.

Now I, like everyone, want to enjoy our surrounding and be a good steward of our environment – but I also know that Longmont’s long-held policies of smart and well-planned growth are the biggest reason our taxes have not skyrocketed like we’ve seen in Boulder.

That’s why I also agree with Gabe about cutting waste in City government to maintain our open space, in a way that doesn’t increase the tax burden on middle class families.

His opponent believes tax increases are the way to go, and several of Richard Juday’s tax-and-spend city council members have already voted to reverse existing, sensible cost-cutting measures in the interest of buying support from government bureaucrats.

Gabe’s belief in fiscal restraint will translate into stronger parks, library, and recreation for all our children over the long term – without creating a heavy-handed bureaucracy that micromanages our every move.

That’s how I know that Gabe is definately(sic) against Mr. Juday’s proposed scheme to institute an “inner-governmental agreement” to “track individual shoppers by their license plate numbers,” while we are inside browsing supermarket aisles.

I know that’s hard to believe – that’s why I posted his deleted pages on my blog, www.takebacklongmont.blogspot.com (and yes, those are my cute kids in the blog’s photo!!)

So, it’s now clear to me why Gabe’s opponent has done everything to hide his own views – candidates with such Big Brother schemes have to cloak themselves – because they don’t stand for anything I believe most Longmont families would agree with.

So it turns out the Boulder radicals are actually the ones propping up Gabe’s opponent.

Our community has several important issue facing us, including public safety and gangs, infrastructure, and responsible growth. I am gravely concerned about the kind of future a city councilman like Richard Juday would give us.

In the end, it comes down to money – lots of it given to Juday from outside our district, and the rest from partisan operatives willing to deceive voters in their attempt to turn Longmont into another “Boulder-utopia.”

I am asking you to find your mail-in ballot, and cast your vote for a family-friendly vision for Longmont’s future that I hope you and I share.

With the underhanded campaign against our community and on Gabe Santos – a truly good man – coming from Richard Juday’s campaign and the radical special interests that support him – I’m not sure I can stomach his vision for Colorado’s future.

So, in the end, I just thought I’d let you know what’s been on my mind.

If you’d like to talk, please give me a call at 303-946-9507.

Sincerely,

(signed) Stephanie Baum

P.S. It has been a blessing to know Gabe Santos and to work with him in our community.

I guarantee, if you will cast your vote for Gabe on the mail-in ballot you recently received, you will love him as a city councilman, as much as his family and those in Longmont already do!

Please remember to vote for Gabe Santos before January 29th.


Scans of original mailer pages used for transcription.

Stephanie Baum

Councilman Gabe Santos

* It’s not the ‘Democrat’ Party of Boulder County, it’s ‘Democratic’ – this is a common and oft-repeated extremist-right slur/purposeful ‘mistake’/hyper-partisan rhetoric.

** Gee… golly… it looked so real. I believe on purpose. Some people believe anything “the newspaper” tells them.

Response to Rodriguez

Richard Juday, Longmont, CO

Richard Juday

Ordinarily I don’t bother responding to the blogging and Opinion Page pieces Chris Rodriguez writes, but some elements of his recent article should be clarified with input from the other side.  He leans heavily on a putative denunciation made by Mayor Coombs regarding certain campaign activity; viz., an informative mailing Rodriquez describes as a political attack ad, and a story on the Baum family dogs.  I appreciate that Rodriguez is not tarring Coombs, since he is correct that Coombs had nothing to do with the two actions he objects to.  So let’s concentrate on bloggers, dogs, and mailers, all relevant to the recent election and Rodriguez’s Opinion piece.

My difficulty with Rodriguez’s blogging is that his activity comes up when outsiders Google “Longmont”.  In searching for a place to move your business or residence, you will find this activity and have an undeservedly poor impression of the community.  I have received comments from non-residents that confirm this statement.  But I must say I was wryly amused by Wray’s frank distinction between blogging and the legitimate reportage the Times-Call gave to the dog story.

As for the dog attack, it runs deeper than the Times-Call story. Let’s consider some critical elements as they relate to the attitudes and behavior of the former Mayor.  Per the facts available to me, the larger story illuminates several points.  The base story (there’s not room for all the details) is that dogs escaped from the Baums’ yard, attacked a passing dog whose owner, too, was injured in the melee, and that after promising to pay the expenses the Baums were taken to court, lost, but did as the court required.  A week before the election the Times-Call asked Baum about the case and I refer you to the resulting story in which Baum breaks bad all over the reporter.

First we see evasion of responsibility as Baum attempts to blame his HOA (for watering the fence behind his house), the chewed-up owner of the attacked dog herself (declaring it a provocation for her to try to wrest her dog from the fray), and then the judge (for misinterpreting the law).  When it came to court, the Baums were insistent that the dog was only Stephanie’s, and Bryan incurred no misdemeanor conviction.  But by the time Baum wrote his “vote for me” piece in the Times-Call, the dog had become “my dog”.  Had the Baums covered the victim’s expenses without the coercion of the legal system, this would never have been a story.  My insurance agent informs me that homeowners insurance covers public liability of this sort, in full with no deductible.  But to file an insurance claim would have been an admission of responsibility.

Second comes Bryan’s volatility.  Two examples (of many available) will serve.  After loss of the court case, the former mayor shouted at the plaintiff in the hallway and was consequently asked by court security to depart.  And when the Times-Call reporter, P.J. Shields, asked him about the facts, he exploded with a threat.  Had he told Shields “This is a settled case, we lost, we paid, we’re sorry, it won’t happen again,” I think it would have rated a one-paragraph entry on page 5.  Instead, it’s a front page item plus half an inside page.  This is no one’s fault but Baum’s.

As for the recent mailer, please note that most contributors made themselves known whereas at least two of them (Benker, Juday) had been the object of anonymously-funded attacks.  (Rodriguez approved of those anonymous mailings.)  The mailer that Rodriguez objects to this year contains honest opinions – strongly worded to be sure, but backed by facts, not lies, slander, or anonymity.

As for Coombs’ disavowal of the bloggers, mailers, and dog-story tellers, it is accurate that they functioned entirely outside of his campaign.  However, I think our actions made a final difference in his election and helped bring to Longmont a very civil, responsible, and balanced leader.  We may well be pleased with ourselves and the result.  I hope Rodriquez has shot his final bolt at the mayoral election and along with the rest of the community will now relax and enjoy Coombs’ leadership.  It’ll be a breath of fresh air.

Kudos to Moving Longmont Forward

Let the record show that FRL completely supported the political action group “Moving Longmont Forward.” Any statements to the contrary are cynical lies and nothing more than last gasps from a failed conservative takeover effort.

Mayor Bryan Baum was without question one of the worst mayors in Longmont history and the public needed to know just how bad – Moving Longmont Forward did that decisively and are deserving of our profound and sincere thanks.

The Baum campaign (and their cabal of anonymous attack dogs/sock puppets) tried to refute the facts on the mailer that was sent – and failed spectacularly. The Baum campaign continued to show their disconnect with actual events and the consequences of Baum’s actions. Enough of the public realized the truth that it was time for someone that had the character to be a real mayor, not some egotistic dilettante with a crowd of faceless thugs and shadowy moneychangers backing him. Major kudos to the voters of Longmont who said ‘no more’ to the politics of personal destruction that Gabe Santos’ initiated during his run for council in 2008.

Unlike far-right action groups, Moving Longmont Forward’s members proclaimed themselves publicly – not hiding behind anonymity or using out-of-state money from organizations like Western/American Tradition Partnership. The public is encouraged to note which detractors of the last two council actually wrote under their own names and ask how many of the ‘unique’ voices were actually one or two hard-core partisans wearing several masks and dead set on winning by any means.

Also, consider the staggering amounts of money being thrown at city council elections during the last two cycles and ask why. Maybe even consider asking why not invest that money in the community they endlessly claim to support. Don’t hold your breath waiting for an answer.

Here’s to seeing more of Moving Longmont Forward’s willingness to make the facts known and its commitment to move our community forward in spite of outside interference and the efforts of plutocratic forces within Longmont . Honest people coming together to inform the public and make sure we elect public servants that are worthy leaders.

Thanks again Moving Longmont Forward, job well done!

All over but the shouting?

American Tradition Institute

American Tradition Partnership

I'm entitled to be mayor!

I had thought that I would wait until the dust had settled before weighing in with commentary on yesterday’s election.  But it seems our never-illustrious current mayor Bryan Baum is saying that “It’s not over yet.”

Baum is refusing to concede the election to mayor-elect Dennis Coombs.  While the difference in votes is small in number (164), it does not fall under the threshold for an automatic recount.

If this recalcitrance were demonstrated by any other candidate, I could understand a “wait and see” attitude.  But this is Bryan Baum, a man who is firmly convinced of his own entitlement, his own rightness, and his own righteousness.  He does not recognize or acknowledge any disgrace at being a pawn or a willing participant in the city takeover by American Tradition Partnership and its “silent” and/or secretive partners and supporters.

Twice ATP inserted itself into Longmont elections (2009 and 2011) to claim ownership of the city.  It succeeded astonishingly in 2009 and somewhat less so in 2011.  Perhaps those more rational elements of Longmont society are beginning to “get it.”  Time will tell.

I can’t imagine that American Tradition Partnership will take their defeat in losing Baum lightly.  I would imagine that phone calls are zipping through lines or the ether as I write this.  Not to give any strategic ideas, for this group never ceases to amaze as to its lies and manipulations, but I also wonder if there aren’t phone calls to Hackstaff Law Group (former law firm of Scott Gessler), if not straight to the Secretary of State’s office, to create some sort of electoral dust-up.

You see, these people don’t play fair.  They never have.  They never will.  Not when money and power are at stake.  The sad aspect of this is that most people in Longmont still cling to the idea that “It can’t happen here.”  It has happened here.  It will continue to happen here because Longmont is pivotal to a radical agenda that knows no bounds and has no moral compass.

In a best case scenario as a result of last night’s election, perhaps all seven (new and old) members of Longmont’s City Council will find their OWN voice.  With Bryan Baum out of the mix, it would be expected that a great deal of bullying and arm twisting and screaming at fellow council members will cease.  Is there someone in waiting to take over this function?  I hope not.  Again, time will tell.

They’re baaaccckkk. With vengeance.

Previously I predicted that Western/American Tradition Partnership would insert itself into Longmont’s election as it did in 2009.  I can unequivocally report that they’re back.

Is the public actually as blind, deaf and dumb as organizations like American Tradition Partnership think?  I guess we’ll soon find out.  ATP began its visible campaign with a telephone poll, part standard, and part push (when it came to issues of the environment).

It’s likely that ATP’s $10,000 will grow substantially.  After all, you can’t get a telephone poll, a candidate survey, at least three mailers, and big newspaper ads for only $10,000.  Conservatives, Republicans (and radicals) charge and pay for everything. They don’t count on the talent and hard work of volunteers.

Longmont voters can find the questions asked of the candidates in the article title “ATP siege on Longmont”.

100% WRONG for Longmont

The celebrated 100% score that Bryan Baum, Heath Carroll and Bonnie Finley received should send voters heading for the nearest electoral exit.  That is, unless the community wants to buy in to an organization that considers environmental concerns “gangrene.”  They spell it somewhat differently, but that’s their message.  ATP’s reputation under the “Western” name required some Clorox Cleaner.  No amount of bleach, however, will remove the stains that this organization leaves wherever it shows up.

ATP also claims that regulation causes premature death.  No kidding.  There’s more lunacy like that on their website.

Their absolutism on property rights puts them in the camp of No Regulations, reminiscent of Bonnie Finley’s entire campaign and the regular rants of a few Times-Call bloggers over the city’s Land Use (Title 15) Code.

Longmont has a choice.  It can move forward.  Or it can continue the retreat of 2009.  The world has changed since 1950, 1970, 1990, 2000.  Longmont can face that, or it can be left behind.

Fracking — coming to a location near you

Plans are being prepared by city staff and others to allow drilling for gas and oil on Longmont properties.  The mineral rights involved are substantially owned by others with Longmont owning only surface land, although the city itself does own some mineral rights.

TOP Operating, a drilling firm, has already held a neighborhood meeting in conjunction with the city for those in the vicinity of Union Reservoir, Sandstone Ranch and the Sherwood property at County Road 20-1/2.  The company’s representative, Dale Bruns (of the LifeBridge/West Union development infamy) also appeared at the October Water Board meeting and Bruns and the owners of TOP Operating appeared at the Board of Environmental Affairs October meeting.

Cougar Land Services, a seismic survey firm that has requested a permit to conduct surveys on Longmont property, is expected to appear before the two boards in November.  The purpose of the seismic surveys is to locate additional oil and gas under Longmont properties.

The TOP Operating plan is to access 80 to 100 wells through five drilling pads located on the Bogott and Adrian water and open space properties west of Union Reservoir that are owned by Longmont, at Sandstone Ranch, on the Sherwood open space property and one additional site.  These plans include directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

Drilling preparations could begin in as little as two to three months.

Frack You Longmont

Frack near Longmont? It's no fairy tale.

Mineral rights issues are complex. Those of you who have seen “Gasland” and/or “Split Estates” will understand that there can be surface land rights and mineral rights for the same piece of property.  Most landowners only own surface rights.  Federal and Colorado law actually permits owners of mineral rights to locate on surface-owned lands of others to drill for the oil and gas (mineral rights) that they own.  In most cases, property owners have acquiesced and leased to them — in some cases for revenue, in some cases for some control over location and/or the number of drills.  If these companies so choose, the can erect a vertical drill for every well.  Outrageous, but true!

While there can be many wells of oil and gas near each other, today’s technology allows for drilling directionally or horizontally to access several of these wells through single drilling sites.  Fracking now makes many of these sources economical for the oil and gas industry.  Fracking uses a combination of water, sand and a chemical cocktail to break apart shale rock and release trapped oil and gas.  Fracking is a serious threat to water supplies regardless of industry propaganda to the contrary.  There are also other environmental hazards with fracking.

About three weeks ago, Longmont voters received a telephone poll conducted by American Tradition Partnership (ATP), formerly known as Western Tradition Partnership (WTP).  Among their many questions was, and I paraphrase, “Would you be OK with oil and gas drilling on Longmont’s open space?”

American Tradition Partnership is rabidly anti-environmental.  They are funded by the oil, gas and coal industries.  Even more significant, the organization is amongst the nation’s best liars who have never had a relationship with shame, and likely never will.

ATP/WTP fully funded Longmont Leadership Committee in the 2009 Longmont election that conducted the ugliest political campaign in Longmont’s recent memories. That election ushered in a majority on city council that espouses a radical ideology. In this year’s election, American Tradition Partnership has openly endorsed Bryan Baum and Health Carroll and opposed Sarah Levison and Sean McCoy in Longmont’s upcoming election.

Mayor Baum raised the issue of Longmont’s mineral rights at the 2010 council retreat.  The subject was not openly resurrected after that time and most of us who are concerned about potential drilling wrongly assumed that the subject was going nowhere.  It is my belief that American Tradition Partnership has acted with the mayor and his block on council since the 2009 election, if not before.  The dots connect.  In essence ATP/WTP is receiving payback for the support provided to elect Baum, Santos, Witt and Sammoury.

This latest turn of events is appalling and our options are limited.  We are losing control of our city and our environment.  Let your voice be heard in whatever forum you have available or feel comfortable in using.

Baum – unfit to serve

This is about civility, decency and the democratic process. As a member of the now-defunct Longmont Election Committee, I have encountered a consistent political agenda from certain members of City Council, and especially from the mayor, Bryan Baum. The Election Committee was empaneled under the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act of 1998, to provide transparency and to limit the unfair influence of big money, outside money and secret money in our home-rule city.

The Election Committee came under immediate and relentless attack, including a suit in District Court against the city, which the new majority on council forfeited, granting $68,500 to the plaintiffs, who were represented by Scott Gessler, now Colorado Secretary of State. Gessler has now refused to mail ballots to registered voters who did not vote, for whatever reason, in the 2010 election.

Last year when a solar tech company owner spoke at council, supporting a local solar initiative that would draw him to move his company to Longmont, the mayor sharply put him down and told him that our city did not need what he had to offer.

This summer, when the city employees’ health care plan came before council after a year of study of competitive bids, Mayor Baum berated Human Resources director Bobby King, city manager Gordon Pedrow and council member Katie Witt for approving of the choice of city employees to go with the Kaiser plan, thus saving the city more than $600,000. He told Mr. Pedrow, “Didn’t I discuss my alternative with you in my office last spring?” Mr. Pedrow replied that his job is to take instruction from a majority of City Council in public session, not the private preference of one member.

These actions represent a pattern and attitude that is detrimental to civil discourse.

ATP siege on Longmont

Cover Letter of ATP Candidate Survey

(ATP logo and organization name at top of page)

October 3, 2011

{Redacted}
{Redacted}
Longmont, CO 80501

Dear {Redacted}:

How encouraging it is that, across the nation, citizens are becoming involved in the issues affecting their communities like never before. No matter the political party or persuasion, I’m sure you’ll agree that everyone benefits with increased awareness of the effects of government policies.

Longmont is no different. American Tradition Partnership’s membership has grown by leaps and bounds since 2009. In fact, we are proud to say that for 2011, all of ATP’s issue education program is supported by local contributions! [ATP reported contributions of $665,725 on its IRS 990 Form in 2008, the latest available. Longmont’s radicals are committed, but not to the tune of six digits.]

We have enclosed your American Tradition Partnership (ATP) Candidate Issue Survey for the 2011 Municipal Election, as part of our nationwide program.

This survey features a brief series of questions regarding property, development, tax, and environmental issues. We do not assume that it addresses every aspect of the matters at hand; it will, though, provide citizens in your district – and the public – with important information regarding local issues.

ATP contributes to the social welfare by educating the public on candidates’ positions, and through grassroots lobbying. Our mission, to promote economically sustainable land, water, and environmental policy is characterized by our motto, “Rediscovering America’s Treasures.” [From the ATP website: “Dozens of radical eco-organizations … have set their sights on robbing Americans of the right to exist, achieve and produce.” With an assertion like this, who’s the “radical.”]

Surveys must be returned postmarked on/before October 10th.

Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at donald.f@americantradition.org, or you can reach me locally at 720-443-2870.

Thank you, and good luck!

Regards,

Donald E. Ferguson
Executive Director

American Tradition Partnership is recognized as an IRS Section 501(c)4 Non-Profit Organization, and does not support or oppose any candidate for public office.

[Here are the mailers that have been sent by ATP thus far.

And the report filed with Longmont’s City Clerk clearly indicates that their Independent Expenditure/Electioneering Communications activity was both to “support” and “oppose” candidates.]


Text of ATP Candidate Survey      [Emphasis added by FRL]

(ATP logo and organization name at top of page)

2011 Issue Survey for
{Redacted}, Candidate for Longmont City Council {Redacted}

    1. Will you oppose any effort to enter Longmont into a “revenue sharing” agreement with Boulder County, which would transfer control of Longmont development decisions and Longmont taxpayers’ money to Boulder? [ ] Yes [ ] No
    2. Would you support the City of Longmont spending taxpayer money for energy efficiency or so-called “green” projects, even if the project will never achieve the promised cost savings, or a measurable financial “break-even” point? [ ] Yes [ ] No
    3. Will you oppose any attempt to increase taxes, taxpayer-funded subsidies or by any means raise consumer costs of energy for the advancement of so-called “alternative” energy sources? [ ] Yes [ ] No
    4. In 2010, Mayor Brian Baum and a majority on City Council blocked an attempt to give away $150,000 of Longmont utility customers’ funds to help provide $4,500 “stimulus” checks to a handful of residents. The funds were to be used to buy solar panels for private homes whose owners could afford the additional $25,000 cost. Councilmembers Sarah Levison, Sean McCoy and Brian Hansen supported the program. Do you support the Mayor’s and Council majority’s decision to oppose such publicly funded “bailout” money for “green” projects? [ ] Yes [ ] No
    5. Proposition 103 raises income and sales taxes for the claimed purpose of increasing funding for schools. Do you support or oppose Proposition 103? [ ] Oppose [ ] Support
    6. Twin Peaks Mall has become a front-burner issue in Longmont, and the loss of tax revenue from shoppers traveling to other communities is burdening the city. Do you support tax incentives and other proactive measures being offered by the city to induce developer Harvest Junction to redevelop the Twin Peaks Mall, so long as the measure is revenue-neutral or revenue-positive in in its early stages? [ ] Yes [ ] No
    7. Do you support anti-growth policies or maintaining high regulations and fees for homebuilding in Longmont, similar to policies in Boulder? [ ] Support [ ] Oppose
    8. The Audubon Society allows natural resource exploration in its wildlife refuges if such development is done in a safe and clean manner, in part because it means large amounts of revenue for the wildlife charity. Will you support resource exploration in any and all eligible areas if all aesthetic, safety and environmental standards were met, and if it benefit the city’s revenues? [ ] Yes [ ] No  [The national office of the Audubon Society had denied this assertion.]
  1. A detailed EPA report (available on our website) ties burdensome regulation to premature death due to destruction of economic opportunity – particularly for poor and middle-class communities. Do you agree that radical environmentalism and excessive regulation poses a threat to Americans’ health, rights, property and prosperity? [ ] Yes [ ] No  [More preposterous assertions of this kind can be found on ATP’s website.]
  2. One Longmont City Council member has advocated a homebuilding moratorium. Do you believe this type of policy would be detrimental to the city of Longmont? [ ] Yes [ ] No
  3. *Do you support or oppose the expansion of Longmont Municipal Airport? [ ] Support [ ] Oppose

– CANDIDATE AUTHORIZATION –

My signature affirms the answers given in this survey accurately represent my position on these issues as a candidate in the city of Longmont.

Signed:

{Redacted}

Date:

Thank you for your participation. You may fax your survey to us at 202-204-6051 (or scan and email to info@americantradition.org); however, for results to be official, a signed hard copy must be returned as well. Please return completed, signed survey POSTMARKED BY OCTOBER 8, 2011 to:

American Tradition Partnership
Attn: Candidate Survey Program
P.O. Box 88
Denver, CO 80201

American Tradition Partnership again targets Longmont

With now-Secretary of State Scott Gessler as lead attorney, in 2009 Western Tradition Partnership filed suit against Longmont’s Fair Campaign Practices Act.  Western Tradition Partnership also funded the Longmont Leadership Committee who conducted a political campaign that unabashedly lied in order to oust certain council members in 2009 and replace them with members who would promote their radical agenda and who would consistently vote their rabid anti-environmentalism and their absolutism on property rights.

After Bryan Baum, mayor, and his majority won the 2009 election, they directed that the Campaign Practices Act lawsuit be settled, and Gessler was paid $68,500.  Following that the Campaign Practices Act had much, if not most, of its transparency removed.  Only 19 words were changed because of the lawsuit.  The rest of the changes were instituted because the Baum majority wanted those changes.  They were dutifully following the Republican playbook which opposes campaign contribution restrictions and transparency.

Western Tradition Partnership renamed itself American Tradition Partnership.  Even though they are a 501c4 and can’t officially endorse candidates, they have thus far sent out two mailers — one that essentially endorses Bryan Baum and Heath Carroll (at-large) and the other against Sean McCoy and Sarah Levison.

Contrary to the assertion in the mailer, American Tradition Partnership is NOT a local organization.  They were organized first in the state of Montana by two Republican state legislators.  They later registered in Colorado.  However, I have no doubt that there are members of our community, who have had and likely will have business before the city, who have chosen this avenue to contribute sums in excess of the $200/per person candidate campaign limit and to keep those contributions secret.

Under their previous name, Western (now American) Tradition Partnership was taken before the Montana Political Practices Commission for their campaign practices and attacks against Democratic candidates in Montana for the same practices that WTP used in Longmont in 2009 through the Longmont Leadership Committee.

The Montana Political Practices Commission in its ruling effectively called the organization “corrupt.”  The Commission heard testimony from a former employee of Western Tradition Partnership that indicated that the organization promotes itself by telling contributors that their identities will never be known and that some of WTP’s contributions had origins in foreign countries, a violation of U.S. law.

Why all the interest in Longmont from an organization such as American Tradition Partnership?

In Western Tradition Partnership’s 2008  IRS “990” filing , Western Tradition Partnership had $665,725 in contributions.  That was their first year in existence and the only documentation located to date.  These contributions clearly come from the oil, gas and coal industries whose interests are the first priorities of Western/American Tradition Partnership and ultimately motivate other political activities.

During the first decade of the 21st century, Colorado’s state government shifted Democratic after a long history of being Republican.  This change did not facilitate the interests of American Tradition Partnership.  Longmont, a community that Republicans had consistently counted on as a Republican stronghold, was moving Democratic as well.  In order for Republicans to retake control of state government, Longmont needed to be recaptured.

TOP Operating Oil/Gas Drill Sites

Because of advancements in oil and gas extraction technology, it is now possible to retrieve oil and gas that was previously uneconomical to recover.  These techniques include directional and horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.  Colorado is among those states that have many of these deposits.  The Wattenberg field is the 10th largest gas field and 13th largest oil field in the nation.  It may come as a surprise that some of these deposits are under property owned by the City of Longmont.  At least 54 of the identified wells are at the edge of or under Union Reservoir itself!

There is a confluence of interest between the supporters of American Tradition Partnership and the developers, builders and real estate interests in Longmont.  And, of course, the Baum majority has an unequivocal ideological alliance with both the anti-environmental and property rights positions of this radical organization.

Citizens and voters of Longmont are losing control of their community.  It has become a pawn in the political games, games by those with large sums of money at their disposal and who will stop at nothing to accomplish their goals.  Ignore what is happening in Longmont at your peril.

Longmont’s October Surprise

Photo by M. Douglas Wray ©2011 FreeRangeLongmont.com

Shell game?

Well, well, well, it looks like hizzoner Bryan Baum has pulled a fast one just in time for the election.  Or maybe, just maybe, the real fast one was pulled by NewMark Merrill.

NewMark Merrill (NMM) was hired by Panattoni to salvage Twin Peaks Mall.  NMM specializes in distressed properties and the mall has certainly been distressed.  NMM was supposed to pull Panattoni’s fat out of the fire.  It appears that NMM let the fat sizzle until there was nothing left to sizzle and then “signed a contract” to pick up the property at a fire sale price.

Panattoni, good shopping center free marketer that it was, bought high and had to sell low.  Actually, it would be interesting to know just who the seller is and who the buyer is in this latest iteration.  Chances are that Panattoni may be toasting champagne.  They put $8 million dollars down and likely took in sufficient revenue since July of 2007 to justify an $8 million dollar investment, at least to break even.

As to the $37 million dollar purchase price (according to insider Council Member Witt), it’s likely that Bank of America is holding the bag on this one.  And there’s likely not much money in that bag.  $8 million from Panattoni.  Perhaps another $8 million from NewMark Merrill, if the sale eventually materializes.  Golly gee.   Poor B of A.  It will have lost somewhere in the vicinity of $20 million.

If this “high finance” wasn’t pathetic, it might actually be funny.  We the American taxpayer likely subsidized that loss at least in part.  Bank of America was a big bank bailout beneficiary.  And it’s been leading the way in foreclosure fraud since the crash of 2008 by hiring paper pushes to sign off on foreclosures without reading the documents or verifying who actually held the papers to what.  There might actually be some sort of divine justice in the B of A episode – if you believe in Karma.

We’ve all heard about the fox guarding the hen house.  It seems that NewMark Merrill positioned itself to take advantage of a potential purchase just at the right time.  Barely more than two months away from formal foreclosure, NMM steps up to the plate and makes an offer – an offer that at least somebody couldn’t refuse.  NewMark Merrill came aboard the Twin Peaks Mall freight train in July 2010 and in the ensuing 15 months learned all it needed to know.  Wouldn’t you like to be in on insider trading, insider trading in commercial real estate that is.

But that’s bidness for ya.  One man’s meat is another man’s carrion.

Baum is making all kinds of back room promises to be sure.  Make no mistake about that.  It’s in his bloodstream.  Former Mayor Julia Pirnack likely did something similar in the spring and early summer of 2007.  She couldn’t keep her promises because the makeup of Longmont City Council changed.  The 2007 council took its fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of Longmont seriously.  They refused to put the city on the hook for $15 million in bonding and forfeit all property taxes and 90% of sales taxes for the blighted area for 25-30 years.

If the deal actually is a deal and not just a campaign stunt as suggested by one of Baum’s backers in his/her Times-Call blog comment, I heartily recommend that the community not let its desire to see something good happen with the mall cloud its collective judgment when somebody, somehow comes knocking at city hall’s door with a hand out.

Longmont can benefit from a productive mall in a prime location, but only if it doesn’t buy a pig in a poke when it comes to a public-private partnership.  Remember, NewMark Merrill is getting the property at the cheapest possible price.  They should not need financial assistance of any kind from Longmont.

Don’t defile Longmont’s Open Space

In a recent Guest Opinion, I wrote about Western Tradition Partnership.  WTP funded a Longmont political committee that waged an ugly political campaign to elect Mayor Bryan Baum and council members Gabe Santos, Katie Witt and Alex Sammoury.

Western Tradition Partnership is primarily funded by the oil, gas and coal industries.  WTP is now known as American Tradition Partnership.

Last week ATP polled a substantial number of Longmont voters.  It was an extensive poll.  The poll clearly promoted Baum for mayor and at-large candidate Heath Carroll.

American Tradition Partnership is rabidly anti-environmental.   Halfway through the poll, a second agenda became evident.  Their questions about renewable energy were designed to push respondents to respond negatively to green energy.

But the question that should alarm all of Longmonters was this, and I paraphrase, “Would you be OK with gas and oil drilling on Longmont’s open space?”

American Tradition Partnership is calling in its chits.  It spent money to elect the above-mentioned candidates and now its secret contributors want something in return.

Over the next four weeks Cougar Land Services, already operating in Weld County, will seek permission to perform seismic surveys on our open space.   Make no mistake, this is a precursor to drilling with the belief that it will pass the next council.

Our open space belongs to the people of Longmont and must not be disturbed, defiled and degraded.

If you want to end this threat to Longmont’s open space, you have no alternative but to vote against Bryan Baum and those on his preferred slate.   Protect our environmental, recreational, agricultural and water assets from drilling and likely some hydraulic fracking.  Vote in Dennis Coombs as Mayor and return incumbents Sarah Levison, Brian Hansen and Sean McCoy to council.

This land is our land.

Another view of the mayor

Photo by Free Range Longmont

Bryan Baum: "I'm a capitalist pig"

“Since his election two years ago, Mayor Bryan Baum has worked tirelessly on behalf of the city and its residents.” This is stated in the Times-Call’s editorial on Wednesday, “Baum merits second term as mayor.”

Well, actually, something seems a bit wrong about that observation. In a recent Times-Call article, “Backers don’t want outsiders in debate” (Sept. 24), Mayor Baum publicly described himself as a “capitalist pig.” The exact quote as printed is, “I’m a free-market guy. I’m a capitalist pig.”

What that means is that the mayor has represented, tirelessly, in the past two years, only those folks in Longmont who think of themselves as capitalist pigs. That could hardly refer to the majority of residents here, nor would it seem to represent the best interests of the city.

Yes, there is an elite club in town that is delighted with the policies, remarks and voting record of the current mayor, no doubt about that. The local coalition of business and financial interests, developers, pro-growth advocates and various anti-government sectors will certainly do all they can to keep Baum in the mayor’s seat.

The rest of us may have a different view on Election Day.

Baum’s “used car” salesmanship

Photo by M. Douglas Wray ©2011 FreeRangeLongmont.com

Longmont's getting malled

Mayor Bryan Baum came into office on a wing and a promise.   And in the black art of “used car” salesmanship, he’s hoping you won’t notice the sleight of hand.

During the 2009 campaign Baum repeatedly chastised the 2007 City Council on their progress on reviving Twin Peaks Mall and claimed that he would make it happen.  And what has been Mayor Bryan Baum’s position on the Mall since his election?  “Oh, well, there’s nothing we can do about it.  The Mall is private property and the city has no control over it.”

Mayor Baum, you knew all along that this was private property but you chose to use the state of the mall to agitate your way into public office.  Voters are getting mighty exasperated with politicians making promises that they don’t keep.  And you made a whopper.  No matter how you cut the mustard, you have done nothing.  Fool them once, shame on you.  Voters won’t be fooled twice.

Longmont Mayor Bryan Baum - Dim moment

Longmont Mayor Bryan Baum - Dim moment

During the run-up to the 2009 city election Mayor Baum totally dismissed the previous council’s action to “blight” the mall and surrounding properties.  And we all know that the qualifications for “blight” are broad enough to drive a Mack truck through them.  It would have been just as supportable to deny a blighted condition.

The 2007 Council also arranged for mall development experts to conduct a two-day charette in October 2008 to determine how the entire mall area might be designed and developed to meet the many needs of the citizens and City of Longmont.

The community might be very interested to know that when the final chapter of that event was to be presented – the financial analysis by Panattoni – their computers (all of them?) failed and there were NO numbers produced.  More than curious.

The city was negotiating with Panattoni on how Tax Increment Financing (TIF) might be used, but Panattoni wanted $15 million in bonds for Phase I only, an outrageous amount of exposure for the city.  To pay off these public bonds, Panattoni wanted to use 100% of all new property taxes and 90% of all new allowable city sales taxes collected at the mall to construct their version of Phase I.  The public benefit to the city would have been a mere 10% of new sales taxes generated.  Panattoni further disregarded not only the ideas generated in the charette, but disregarded the public’s input from numerous public meetings on Twin Peaks redevelopment.  Their “my way or the highway” negotiating position caused the negotiations to break down.

Incidentally, lost property taxes to our schools from TIF have to be backfilled by the state.  As everyone knows, budget shortfalls at the state level have resulted in repeated cuts to education.

Panattoni purchased the mall at the height of the development craze in July 2007 for $37 million.  And it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that intentions were expressed, if not promises made, to Panattoni by the sitting council at the time of the purchase.  In February the mall was valued at $17 million.

Panattoni hired NewMark Merrill, a shopping center management firm known for specializing in distressed properties, to handle the mall’s myriad of problems.  Just recently Bank of America placed Twin Peaks Mall into foreclosure.

The Baum SquadBut then I suspect that foreclosure was anticipated by those that Baum has called “connected.”  Connected, in this case means Longmont’s “Old Guard,” its oligarchy, select movers and shakers within the business community but far from all of Longmont’s business community.  It certainly does not include those council members who are not part of the Baum majority.

If/when the mall is sold, it clearly will be a short sale.  How low the fire sale price goes will depend on how big a bath Bank of America wants to take.   Panattoni put $8 million down on the property.

Should Longmont be fortunate to have a new mall owner – one that is not looking for a deal that includes the sun, moon and the stars – I hope that Longmont will have a mayor who will look out for the interests of the entire community and not one who will give out the city’s PIN on yet another wing and a promise.