Tag Archive for Bryan Baum

Baum’s dictatorial ways are wrong for Longmont

During the City Council meeting of August 2nd, City Manager Gordon Pedrow found it necessary to chastise Longmont’s current (and hopefully former) mayor Bryan Baum with the following words, “We take direction from a majority of the council in public meetings, not from individual members in a private office.”

The comment was prompted by the mayor’s insistence that he had given Pedrow instructions about city employee insurance. This incident demonstrates that Baum fails to understand that governments are organized as a collaborative effort.

Some cities (Los Angeles is an example.) are run by a mayor who functions as the city’s manager. Others, like Longmont, have a city manager who takes direction from a council majority.

Unfortunately Bryan Baum refuses to comprehend the limits of his role. In Longmont, the mayor is only one of seven votes. He does not get to “call the shots” as Baum seems to think so. And he sets the agenda only to the extent that he can garner four votes.

Bryan Baum sees his role as dictatorial in both style and content. Longmont will never have a civil government, in every sense of the word, until Baum is removed from office. He bullies city staff. He twists the arms of council members with similar ideologies when they stray from the fold. And he only stopped insulting other council members and the public when he was warned about being caught on camera in an unfavorable light. He’s delegated that role to those who are not up for re-election this year.

Longmont is a charming city. It needs a mayor that reflects the best of Longmont, not its worst. It needs a mayor who can give Longmont a fresh start towards progress, cohesiveness and congeniality.

Bryan Baum is not that person. He is not that mayor.

Expect outside influence with negative mailers in 2011 election

They did it before, they'll do it again

The slate of candidates for Longmont’s 2011 election is now determined. Technically, the races for mayor and city council are non-partisan races. That simply means that political parties and their registered voters do not determine candidates in a primary for a general election against candidates from competing political parties. It does not eliminate alignment with political parties or political philosophies. Nor does it mean that campaign tactics that we see in state and national elections will not occur.

The divisions that are so obvious at the national level exist in Longmont as well. They exist on our city council because they reflect the divisions in the Longmont community.

In the Longmont 2009 election, very large sums of money were funneled in support of the rightwing four-person majority of the current city council (Baum, Santos, Witt and Sammoury) by an organization known as Western Tradition Partnership (WTP). Such campaigns are not supposed to be “coordinated” but analysis of campaign reports from 2009 cast doubts.

WTP is rabidly anti-environment and is absolutist on the issue of property rights. They go well beyond belief in a free market into an orthodoxy that believes that if you must have government, its purpose should be of, by and for business interests to the exclusion of all else.

Western Tradition Partnership has surfaced around the nation, but mostly in the West, to target candidates with a “D” after their name or who are known or perceived be to a Democrat in any way, shape or form. The Montana Political Practices Commission stopped just short of accusing the organization of corruption and there was testimony to indicate that some of their money likely came from out of the country and found its way into American elections.

Western Tradition Partnership funded the Longmont Leadership Committee who waged a viciously negative campaign against Karen Benker and Kaye Fissinger. It went so far as to include Sean McCoy in their Longmont Leader “newspaper,” even though he wasn’t running in 2009. McCoy does not back down from deeply held convictions against Crony Capitalism. He is committed to clean, open and honest government. That is enough to put him on the radar of people and organizations that believe they have a birthright to power and government control.

WTP now goes by the name American Tradition Partnership. It is an IRS 501c4 tax-exempt, non-profit organization restricted by law from engaging in predominantly political purposes. But that hasn’t stopped it in the past and it won’t stop it going forward. IRS enforcement is virtually nil and when investigations are launched, they are well after the damage has been done.

Expect much more backdoor negative politics in Longmont’s 2011 election. The names may not be the same because past publicity has exposed them locally, statewide and nationally.

You will receive slick mailers that will slant truth and reality, if not invent outright lies. They did it before and they will do it again. They will target the three incumbents that have been on their radar since 2007 – Sean McCoy, Sarah Levison, and Brian Hansen. They will probably target Dennis Coombs as well – for no reason other than that he is challenging Bryan Baum, whom they adore because he embraces their orthodoxy and is a climate-change denier. Denying the realities and evidence of climate change is the first and foremost mission of WTP/ATP or whatever name it will be this time.

And don’t be surprised if independent mailers even seek to divide Longmont’s Democrats. These political committees know what political party you belong to if you’ve declared. There will be almost no limit to their strategies and tactics.

Money bought the 2009 elections and it will be used again to attempt to buy the 2011 elections. And they are counting on Longmont voters to be paying attention to anything or everything else and to rely on negative mailers to make their decisions about who should establish policies for their city. You will know which candidates they support by who is negatively targeted. By cui bono. Who benefits?

It’s not Longmont and its citizenry that they care about. It’s power for extreme and irrational causes and support for some very, very special interests, local and beyond.

Longmont’s ALEC impersonators

The following address was presented to the Longmont City Council at its July 26, 2011 meeting.

ALEC

Big money crushing the little people

ALEC. No, not Alex with an X; ALEC with a C

It’s a acronym. It stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council – a secretive front group of hundreds of corporations that are investing millions of dollars a year to write business-friendly legislation at the expense of the middle class, the working class and those in poverty.

ALEC develops and distributes model bills to state elected officials, with the intent those bills be passed in as many state legislatures as possible. ALEC has drafted more than 800 model bills for state legislators, including efforts to privatize everything from schools to prisons, to weaken workers’ rights, and to make it more difficult for citizens to vote,

ALEC develops model bills in task forces where only private business interests and legislators participate. Sound familiar?

ALEC is lobbying in state capitals across the country, all while claiming to the Internal Revenue Service that they are a charitable organization. By claiming to be a charity and calling participating legislators “members,” ALEC attempts to evade disclosure of its lobbying, allows corporate members to deduct their payments as charitable contributions rather than non-deductible lobbying expenses, and does an end-run around state ethics laws.

Longmont, a local home rule municipality, doesn’t have this level of sophistication. Nonetheless, the corporate business interests in this community and in surrounding communities are engaging in very similar practices. They only need to place a phone call to a like-mined council member, schmooze at the Chamber or the Rotary, and contact sympathetic staff members. And the results are fundamental ordinance changes that remove policies that benefit the environment and the community in general and replace them with ordinances that benefit a corrupt ideology and the bank accounts of developers, realtors and all of the businesses aligned accordingly.

The Longmont City Council has:

  • Eliminated Inclusionary Zoning and, as a consequence, has damaged irreparably the city’s Affordable Housing Program and the interest of not only future participants but those of current participants.
  • Eliminated storm water provisions knowing full well, and taking pride in the fact, that the State of Colorado lacks the resources to assure compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency requirements. In some cases, these permits have been reduced from $2000 to $50. Staff and certain council members are at risk of breaking their arms as they pat themselves on the back over this one.
  • And then there are the lawsuit settlements that have transferred nearly $200,000 of taxpayer dollars into the coffers of their ideological allies – Scott Gessler, LifeBridge Church, and Dean Lehman’s Times- Call.

There are other ethical affronts, but three minutes is insufficient to name them all. It’s a crying shame that Longmont has stooped so low and joined in principle with the likes of ALEC.

Gabe Santos: “I am not a liar”

Crooks of a feather...

Gabe Santos is channelling Richard Nixon

That statement by Council Member Gabe Santos at the City Council meeting of June 14th reminds me of President Richard Nixon’s televised statement, “I am not a crook.”

I don’t know if Gabe Santos is a crook, but I do know that he is a liar — no matter how much he protests to the contrary.

During the discussion of the amendment to the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act that now allows for the first $5,000 in contributions and/or expenditures to issue committees to remain hidden, Santos decided to reference an earlier ballot issue. He had the gall to make the pronouncement that there was some doubt whether those signatures were gathered truthfully.

Santos was referencing the highly unpopular and undesirable annexation in 2007 of the LifeBridge development. Liars should not be allowed to have their lies stand unchallenged.

The following are my remarks at final Public Invited to be Heard.

Let me make something perfectly clear, especially to Mr. Santos and his friends and associates who leave comments to articles on the Times-Call or who otherwise write.

The referendum to overturn the annexation of the LifeBridge development garnered more signatures than needed — over 6,000 signatures. LifeBridge did a telephone poll to test the community waters and as a result pulled its application for annexation.

Your people, and they are your people, have taken to saying the signers of that petition were lied to.

The only people who are lying are those who make that statement.

It was that statement that prompted Santos to proclaim that he was not a LIAR. Sorry, Mr. Santos, you are not to be believed — on this and on any number of other matters.

Bag of Hammers

Your Tom DeLay tactics have been on display from the dais from the day you were sworn in. Most in the community won’t recognize them because you are slick, not to mention devious. The list could be longer, but here’s a start. You manipulate discussions and city staff with select questions that are intended to elicit only the responses that you want. And whenever possible, you attribute your motives to something the community would not likely reject, while concealing your true motives and intentions.

I’ve watched you and other council members for almost four years. I know mendacity when I see it. Mr. Santos, you and the rest of your cabal, reek of it.

You do Tom DeLay proud, Gabe Santos. Keep it up and you might end up a felon just like your former boss. He became overly cocky and now he’s facing a prison sentence.

Council oversteps legal authority

Baum Squad's advice for Longmont

The radical and extremist Longmont City Council majority of Mayor Bryan Baum, Gabe Santos, Katie Witt and Alex Sammoury have not simply overreached politically but have shamelessly overstepped their legal authority in their decisions to eliminate Inclusionary Zoning from the city’s Affordable Housing Program.

They have not simply eliminated the program from this point forward. They have gone back and nullified annexation agreements and homeowner contracts to satisfy the developers, builders and the Longmont Realtors Association.

Their actions have enormous consequences, the worst of which is to homeowners who purchased under the program. It is their intention to immediately remove ALL homeowners from their deed restrictions (whether for the 10-year period of for the permanently affordable homes). By removing these homes from the Affordable Program, they will become subject to tens of thousands of dollars in increased property tax assessments and as a consequence increased property taxes.

Each home’s circumstance is different, but according to Kathy Fedler, CDBG and Affordable Housing Programs Coordinator, the average increase in assessment is $26,000. That’s an average. Some homes will increase by as much as $60,000 raising their taxes by one-third.

Adding insult to injury, The Baum Squad is claiming that their actions are meant to “help” the people that participated. (It’s unfortunate that I have to use this term Baum Squad to describe these people, but they are all that the name suggests.) To support this ludicrous proposition there is one person — one person — who has groused because she can’t sell her home except to someone who is able to participate in the program, and she hasn’t been able to find one in the current housing market. This woman is young and should have anticipated that she might marry and move elsewhere within the 10-year period. Now she’s complaining because she doesn’t like the contract she signed.

Council Members Sean McCoy, Brian Hansen and Sarah Levison were not in support of any of this majority’s actions or intentions. Council Members McCoy, Hansen, and Levison, you do the community proud. Thank you.

This council majority is likely corrupt — at least insofar as their belief system is concerned. They are fundamentalists. Market fundamentalists. It’s a bible to them. They would make Ayn Rand proud. And every thinking person knows that woman was the epitome of moral vacuity, if not purely evil.

Chances are that there are only two people who participated in this program who have any idea what is about to befall them. The rest are going about their lives not paying any attention to what their city council is up to. They are assuming the best about their council, when they should be assuming the worst. Elections have consequences. And in the case of 2009, the consequences have been horrendous.

Those who have participated in the program will find out the hard way when this council codifies into ordinance what they have given to staff as direction. and they either receive some sort of after-the-fact notice from the city or the county assessor’s office.

Who will tell the people? I hope it will be more than Free Range Longmont.

Bryan Baum has announced that he intends to run for re-election as Mayor of Longmont. I hope that the Longmont community will realize by November that this man is the most unsuitable candidate for this office since Longmont’s 1920s.

The following are my remarks to council during the Public Hearing on Second Reading. The remarks were made before council took their most devastating actions that constitute an abuse of their legal authority.

The termination of the Inclusionary Zoning provision of Longmont’s Affordable Housing Program is driven by political ideology and by the “wish list” of certain favored members of Longmont’s developer and real estate community.

Because of the “Great Recession,” which was triggered by abuses within the financial industry, there is little to no need for new housing in Longmont. The new housing market may be suffering from a market with a large number of “affordable” homes; but these homes became “affordable” from the housing crisis that resulted from the financial industry meltdown, not from Longmont’s Affordable Housing Program or it’s Inclusionary Zoning provision.

Inclusionary Zoning is based on the concept that clustering lower income homes in a geographical area is unwise and potentially leads to social problems. The intermingling of low and moderate incomes in all new subdivisions is the more desirable approach to community outcomes, indeed it is “best practices.” This approach was endorsed by previous city councils, councils that most in the community would consider conservative The current council majority has moved the goal post past conservatism to radicalism.

Builders of extremely high-end homes have always had the option to provide cash-in-lieu-of the 10% set-aside that could be used to further the programs goals elsewhere in the community. Rainbow Ridge is the perfect example.

The move to terminate the Inclusionary Zoning at this time, and might I add before this year’s elections, is intended to clear the requirement for a time when new-home construction resumes and in the event that the then-sitting council is not amenable to the idea. The arguments about securing construction financing are nothing more than a smokescreen to justify the change. The inability of local builders to secure financing has nothing to do with Inclusionary Zoning. With or without Inclusionary Zoning, financing and credit are tight. Bankers and investors know there is no real new residential market at this time.

With the termination of Inclusionary Zoning future home purchasers will face difficulties, perhaps insurmountable difficulties, to purchasing the home of their needs. A buyer’s purchasing decision is driven by a number of factors. Disabled purchasers may have requirements that demand certain design features. Older homes typically place a greater financial burden on buyers because of the need for repairs, either initially or more likely during the early years of home ownership before an individual or family is able to accumulate the resources to support the repairs. The assertion at an earlier council meeting that $20,000 is required to make a new home complete was ludicrous. My personal experience with a new home under the program proves that.

The decision is done – for now. But there will be other councils at other times. And eventually resentment by the few will be dismissed and good judgment will prevail.

Council majority acts to hide campaign contributions

Scott Gessler

 

The Longmont City Council majority of Mayor Bryan Baum and Council Members Gabe Santos, Katie Witt, and Alex Sammoury adopted an amendment to the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act that shields the first $5,000 in contributions to issue committees from disclosure to the public. These members of Longmont’s governing body accepted the rule adopted by Scott Gessler, Colorado Secretary of State, despite the fact that Gessler has been sued for exceeding his authority in rule-making and violating the Colorado Constitution.

Council Members Sean McCoy, Brian Hansen and Sarah Levison refused to support the amendment.

Baum, Santos, Witt and Sammoury leave no doubt about their collusion with Gessler, a collusion that began when Gessler and local Republican operatives sued the City of Longmont over Longmont’s Fair Campaign Practices Act. That suit resulted in the elimination of 19 words that had existed since 2001. The suit was brought as part of a strategic plan to remove Karen Benker from office and to insert radicalism into the governing of the City of Longmont.

To settle that suit, the council majority that was elected in 2009 paid $68,000 to Gessler. This decision, described as a “settlement,” had the consequence of enriching Gessler ahead of his run for political office.

Gessler sought the office of Secretary of State in order to manipulate elections in Colorado and he began his quest in Longmont. He has, since taking office, attempted to join the cabal of states governed solely by Republicans who are in the process of enacting legislation that suppresses voter turnout and disenfranchises those voters who are most likely to vote for Democrats.

The following is the speech I gave to the council during the Public Hearing on Second Reading of that ordinance.

On May 3rd I addressed this council on the subject of Longmont’s Fair Campaign Practices Act amendment regarding issue reporting and Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s rule-making on the subject.

I stated, “It is extremely suspect whether he even has the authority to do this. Law is made by legislatures and signed by governors. Secretaries of State are simply and only charged with carrying out law. Certainly they are free to offer opinions. But that is as far as they can go. They are not a legislature of ONE.”

On May 13th Gessler’s decision to set the threshold for issue committee reporting at $5,000 and to shield the first $5,000 of contributions and expenditures from disclosure became official.

The rule raises the threshold from $200, as defined in the Colorado Constitution. The Court of Appeals has already held that the Secretary of State has no authority to promulgate rules that add, modify or conflict with constitutional provisions.

On June 9th Colorado Common Cause and Colorado Ethics Watch filed suit against Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

The suit asserts that “The Secretary has exceeded his authority to administer and enforce campaign finance laws by dramatically increasing the constitutional threshold for regulation of issue committees. Purportedly in response to a decision of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on an as-applied challenge to campaign finance disclosure provisions of article XXVIII [28]of the Colorado Constitution, the Secretary adopted a rule that nullifies provisions of the Colorado Constitution and duly enacted statutes and replaces them with weaker disclosure rules enacted by the Secretary.”

Colorado statutes provide that “Any agency action that is arbitrary or capricious, contrary to a constitutional right, in excess of statutory authority, an abuse of discretion, unsupported by the record or otherwise contrary to law shall be held unlawful and set aside.” The plaintiffs ask the Court to set aside the Secretary’s unlawful action.

Luis Toro, Executive Director of Colorado Ethics Watch said, “The Secretary is under the mistaken impression that he has authority to rewrite campaign finance laws, not merely make rules to enforce those laws. Disclosure thresholds are clearly not within the authority of the Secretary of State to change.”

Jenny Flanagan, Executive Director of Colorado Common Cause concluded that “If allowed to be enforced, this rule would make it even easier for issue committees to get a measure on the ballot while never disclosing who is behind this measure and how they are spending money to influence voters.”

This city council is prepared to adopt the very provisions that are now being challenged in court. It would be prudent of this council to abandon this amendment until the matter is resolved in the courts.

Religious Right, growing political bully

Church should be separate from state.

Who would Jesus dominate?

A recent Americans United for Separation of Church and State survey of the top Religious Right ministries and groups in America revealed a tax-exempt fundamentalist [Dominionist] empire with an annual income approaching one billion dollars.

The Pat Robertson Empire

Christian Broadcasting Network
Budget: $295,140,001
Location: Virginia Beach, Va.

Regent University
Budget: $60,093,298
Location: Virginia Beach, Va.

American Center for Law and Justice:
Budget: $13,375,429
Location: Virginia Beach, Va.

Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism
Budget: $43,872,322
Location: Atlanta, Ga.

Regent University was originally founded to offer graduate degrees in areas Pat Robertson most wants to dominate: government, education, law, communications, psychology and ministry.

Regent University has a strong Colorado connection with a satellite campus in Colorado Spring.

More important is the Longmont connection. Regent University educated Greg Burt has been, and likely still is, a behind-the-scenes political operative for rightwing Republicans (Bryan Baum, Katie Witt, Alex Sammoury, Gabe Santos) who are now Longmont City Council members.

According to Americans United, “The Religious Right in America is lavishly funded and politically well connected. While the men who lead the fundamentalist Christian political movement hold different opinions about theology, they share a deep and abiding hostility to the separation of church and state. They seek to inject religion into public schools, obtain taxpayer funding for religious schools and other ministries, roll back reproductive choice and deny civil rights to gay people. And they enjoy extraordinary influence in Washington, D.C., and in many state legislatures.”

An array of presidential hopefuls and major congressional leaders is scheduled to appear at Ralph Reed’s “Faith & Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing” June 3 and 4 in Washington, D.C.

“I don’t think Ralph Reed has anyone fooled,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “He wants to forge fundamentalist churches and church members into a disciplined voting bloc and force political candidates to kneel before it.

Baum annouces. Is Santos next for mayor?

Santos challenging Baum?

Bryan Baum has announced that he is running for a second term of Mayor of Longmont. He made his announcement last Wednesday night in the very friendly setting of “Pints and Politics” sponsored by the Longmont Chamber of Commerce. It’s not enough that Baum is taking his marching orders from the long-standing power brokers of Longmont, but he has chosen to rub the community’s face in it with his relationship with those same individuals.

The announcement has removed some of the questions about the intentions of the far right extremists of Longmont. Although two years ago Katie Witt announced her intentions in March, it’s still a little early to announce.

One has to wonder if Baum made his early announcement to “clear the field.” Although Mayor Pro-Tem Gabe Santos and Baum vote the same on almost every issue, I can’t help but wonder if the announcement was made early in order to dissuade a challenge from Santos. Some tell me that there is tension between the two and that some of the Republicans in our community would prefer that Santos was the city’s mayor.

Almost no one has done more damage to the city of Longmont than Bryan Baum. And the worst of it is that he’s not done even for this term — much less a second term should he win. His mouthpieces, who also wreak considerable damage, claim that he’s undoing the two years of a progressive majority for Longmont. In fact, he’s undoing decades of progress. And all of this is coming from a political ideology that is absent any moral foundation.

If the city council retains an extremist majority, Longmont will be a place that causes much shame and even more distress to our residents’ future in Longmont.

What the hell is goin’ on with city council?!

It is often said that people get the government they deserve. I sincerely hope that this is not the case for Longmont. I hope it’s merely a matter of Longmont’s citizenry being asleep at the political switch, either out of habit or because the current state of the rightwing, corporate-induced economic meltdown has left them no time to consider events on the local stage more broadly.

The alarm clock has been ringing and there is no time left to continue to hit the snooze button. You do not own your government. A coup has occurred right under your noses.

It began in the 2009 election when the corrupt Western Tradition Partnership bought the council seats for The Baum Squad (Mayor Bryan Baum, Council Members Gabe Santos, Alex Sammoury and Katie Witt) with confidence that these four council members would do the bidding of the most radical elements of our society. Make no mistake that the money invested in the Longmont Leadership Committee for their trash campaign ran the gamut from locals who wanted to hide their political involvement to state, national and even evidence of international donations to Western Tradition Partnership.

If you didn’t see it coming, last night’s Baum Squad vote to abolish the Inclusionary Zoning Affordable Housing Program should make it impossible for you to roll over a go back to sleep. It’s time to take your community back from the robber barons who endorse the premise that “open for business” translates into “Longmont for sale to the lowest bidder.” Longmont belongs to YOU. Communities nationwide are losing their towns, cities and school districts by all manner of methods. Don’t let Longmont be one of the casualties to this regime change.

As a participant in the Affordable Housing Program and one who is extremely grateful for the opportunity that Longmont provided to me, I have been very outspoken on this latest issue. I spoke to council on April 5th and then twice last night (April 26th).

I defend this program not for myself because I have already used the program. I defend it for the many others who will need the program going forward.

Below is a transcript of what I said at Final Public Invited to be Heard. It’s time to tell it the way it really is, folks. Stand up and be counted.

I’ve been coming to these council meetings, almost every one of them, for nearly four years, and I cannot remember a time when I heard more B.S., buzzwords, spin doctoring, Tea Party/Republican talk and outright lies than I heard during the discussion of affordable housing tonight.

If the industry, the builders and developers are suffering, it’s not because of anything that we have done. It’s because of the financial industry. They played games. They came up with derivatives. Then they bet against themselves and came back with credit default swaps. Then they came crying to the taxpayers, “Oh my God, the sky is falling, the sky is falling.” And we bailed them out — with taxpayer money, so that they could get right back in the game and do it all one more time when the next bubble comes around.

What really happened here is that we have four members of city council who got together with their business buddies. Got the wish list from those same buddies. And they came back and started to redefine Longmont with principles that are to the right of Attila the Hun.

So I hope the four of you are very, very proud of yourselves tonight. Because I am very confident that there are a whole lot of people in this community who are saying, “What the hell is goin’ on with city council?!”

Thank you.

Decoding Mayor Baum

He's sending signals and they're easy to decode

Have you looked in your utility bill? Did you read Cityline? It would appear that Mayor Baum believes the Republican takeover of the Colorado and the U.S. House of Representatives has given him some sort of conservative “mandate” – or, at least, an excuse to justify radical changes in Longmont’s policies. Watch your step, Mr. Mayor, watch your step.

We know that the national Republicans have a policy to “starve the beast.” That’s the radical conservative Club for Growth code meaning to bankrupt the treasury so that all social programs can either be eliminated or privatized. It’s been the driving policy for at least 30 years. That’s what thy mean when they talk about “smaller government.” Since Longmont must balance its budget by law, our elected officials don’t have the same tools at their disposal. But they can radically change priorities.

Baum speaks of “hard infrastructure choices.” We know that the issue of an additional tax is planned to finish FasTracks. What we don’t know is whether it will be on the 2011 or 2012 ballot and what fraction of a percent it will be. But Longmont officials only have input and will not unilaterally decide the issue. We know that a Master Plan is in the offing for the former Flour Mill area that will eventually be the station for the Longmont Northwest Corridor connection, and a “bus station” in the interim.

But what other “hard infrastructure choices” is he thinking about? Dollars to donuts he has realtors and developers whispering in his ear requesting drastic changes to Longmont’s affordable housing program. As one who rarely misses a city council meeting, I’ve seen the signs – particularly from the mayor and Councilmember Katie Witt. The three new members have been taking a page out of the Gabe Santos/Tom DeLay playbook. How does that work, you say? It means you find a reason for your decision/vote that “everybody” can buy into and that conceals your true intent. Santos is a master at this. Gives a whole new perspective on “transparency,” doesn’t it?

Longmont government exists to benefit the people, the commonweal as it were. I’ll grant you that realtors and developers are part of the community, but they are a limited and small part. Give them a seat at the table, but not the entire table.

And it looks like the mayor is gearing up for some fighting. Out of the blue he cautions about “disagreeing without being disagreeable.” That’s lingo that Longmont’s ideologically conservative majority is employing to hamstring dissent – whether from other council members or from the community. Over the last year, the only elected officials “making a scene” publicly have been The Baum Squad, all the while chastising others to play nice.

So, Mayor Baum, if you want activity to be “agreeable,” be sure you don’t “overreach” and presume that you are entitled to follow in the God-awful footsteps of what the Republicans are planning in Washington, D.C. It won’t fly. And if you try to make it fly, it will crash and burn.

Homeland Security staff troll caught using IP tracking

Longmont's trolls never give up

From the blog ‘We Won’t Fly‘ comes yet another tale of IP tracking exposing the ignorance and hatred of the far right.

I was about to delete an offensive comment on this blog – one of the very few we get – and thought, hmm, I wonder where this guy is posting from? Because, really, it is quite unusual for us to get nasty comments. Lo and behold, the troll posted to our website from an IP address controlled by the federal government’s Department of Homeland Security!

Unbelievable? There’s much more. Go read the entire article.

I wanted to highlight this article because Free Range Longmont routinely gets anonymous hate comments (which are not published due to our comment policy) but we keep records to cross-index them with identified commenters.

Here’s some of the IP addresses and the reported locations:

192.168.1.88 Longmont
67.165.238.122 Longmont
67.190.51.241 Longmont
72.19.153.160 Longmont
72.19.186.81 Boulder
75.53.194.237 Longmont
75.71.66.38 Longmont
75.71.70.224 Loveland
75.71.87.194 Loveland

Mayor Baum’s wife has claimed that IP tracking is not reliable.

Just an FYI – I in fact did not write the comments on FRL last night and your assertions* on the website that I did are libel.  As someone who works in the computer industry, you should understand how internet providers dole out dynamic IP addresses.  They own a range of addresses and all users of that provider are given an IP address in that range, that changes periodically.  So the fact that the user who posted that comment had an IP address in the same range as addresses I’ve had in the past only proves that they are a Comcast subscriber like me.  So really, your assertion only makes you look uninformed and is probably more of an embarrassment to you than anything else.  Furthermore, the fact that you are blocking IP addresses that Comcast dynamically assigns will only in the future lock out your fellow Progressives who might happen to use Comcast too as they don’t get to pick their IP, they’re just given one in Comcast’s range, which you are slowly shutting down.  Which doesn’t keep me from reading your site via proxy, and lends to my assertion that you don’t really understand how internet access works and why blocking IP addresses doesn’t work.
_________________________________________________
Stephanie Baum

(* no such assertions were made, merely the observation that her IP address was in the same range. -FRL)

I’m wondering if perhaps this DHS article makes it clear enough to the public that oh yes, it is reliable. Quite reliable – when people aren’t ‘spoofing’ their address and purposely hiding their identity; which became the norm for the Longmont trolls after I publicized this. Odd, the volume of hate comments has decreased to a trickle – except at the Times-Call (despite repeated complaints). However, I don’t have access to the IP records there so the public is invited to draw their own conclusions.

As for her comment about Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP), yes, Comcast does assign IP addresses dynamically, however they are persistent (as anyone familiar with networking knows) and a typical user will often have the same IP address for very long periods, months usually. So her remarks are, in my opinion, a carefully-worded distraction.

My opinion is that the angry, tooth-gritted far right in Longmont is using every possible means to attack any dissenting voice – with the explicit endorsement of the mayor and his deep-pocket supporters.

The citizens of Longmont are encouraged to consider this and question the ethics of any leadership willing to stoop to such tactics to surpress free speech – and also consider the people aiding and abetting them, in some cases with the possible use of government resources to accomplish it.

Couldn’t have said it better

Not too long ago a commentator wrote a psychological analysis of one of the nation’s most disturbed famous names. Add enormous of amounts of money to our “culture of celebrity” and you get an (almost) equal-opportunity bigot who has twisted Catholicism and Christianity beyond recognition. The writer is David Brooks and the subject is Mel Gibson.

David Brooks is not a writer with whom I would normally agree. After all, he writes for that bastion of national lunacy The Washington Times and spreads the gospel according to Banksters on the Wall Street Journal’s editorial pages. But every once in awhile he shows some good judgment, in this case for the New York Times.

As I read the first few paragraphs of his Gibson article, I could have sworn that he’d spent some time here in Longmont observing our city’s mayor and his blogger-in-chief who has a fascination with lightning.

Read for yourself the first few paragraphs below and I have no doubt that you will conclude that this nail was hit squarely on the head.

Let us enter, you and I, into the moral universe of the modern narcissist.

The narcissistic person is marked by a grandiose self-image, a constant need for admiration, and a general lack of empathy for others. He is the keeper of a sacred flame, which is the flame he holds to celebrate himself.

There used to be theories that deep down narcissists feel unworthy, but recent research doesn’t support this. Instead, it seems, the narcissist’s self-directed passion is deep and sincere.

His self-love is his most precious possession. It is the holy center of all that is sacred and right. He is hypersensitive about anybody who might splatter or disregard his greatness. If someone treats him slightingly, he perceives that as a deliberate and heinous attack. If someone threatens his reputation, he regards this as an act of blasphemy. He feels justified in punishing the attacker for this moral outrage.

And because he plays by different rules, and because so much is at stake, he can be uninhibited in response. Everyone gets angry when they feel their self-worth is threatened, but for the narcissist, revenge is a holy cause and a moral obligation, demanding overwhelming force.

Mayor Baum, you are a liar.

Longmont Mayor Bryan Baum, lying to the public

Factually challenged or just morally bankrupt?

It’s unfortunate that this has to be said so forcefully and without equivocation, but Mayor Bryan Baum, your statements to the press on Friday, July 23, 2010 leave no other reasonable choice.

Next weekend the Heaven Fest Christian revival and music festival is scheduled at Union Reservoir. This organization and its producer Worship and the Word filed an application for a Use of Public Places permit in November 2009 nearly immediately after the results of the Longmont city council and mayor’s races were known.

In the ensuing months many members of the community appeared before the Longmont City Council and at several different meetings and spoke during Public Invited to be Heard against allowing this event to take place. Still others sent emails to members of the council and city staff objecting to this event being held at Union Reservoir, a sensitive ecosystem for many wildlife species. Concerns came from a broad cross section of the community as well as members of a church and members of the Audubon Society.

Members of the community almost begged the Mayor and Council to take this major policy decision from the hands of Longmont’s City Clerk (and city staff) and deal with it openly and directly. You, Mayor Baum, along with Council Members Gabe Santos, Alex Sammoury and Katie Witt, insisted that the matter could and would be adequately addressed by staff and there was no reason for the Council to make a statement or take a vote on this matter.

On one occasion a 30-minute formal presentation was made to you and council in three-minute consecutive segments by ten members of the community. The presentation covered all aspects of the issue from economic benefits, to quality of life issues including traffic and noise, to the environmental and wildlife impact.

The effort and presentation was roundly ignored. But it certainly was not minimal and, yes, it certainly was vocal.

Yet you, Mayor Baum, are quoted as follows in the Times-Call in Saturday’s article, ludicrously titled “City is closer to heaven.”

Here is what you said:

He [Baum] added that a “vocal minority” has voiced concerns about the festival but “nobody [emphasis added] brought those concerns to any council members to bring up at council meetings.”

“If there was a great dislike or disdain for what was going on, we wouldn’t be doing it,” he said.

These were not misquotes, nor misunderstandings, as The Denver Post reported the same content in a more abbreviated article.

Mayor Baum, you intentionally lied about what is a matter of public record. It is in council minutes, on the video recordings of council meetings on DVDs at the library and the council meetings were broadcast several times by Comcast on then-Channel 3. There is a record “everywhere” of what took place.

Why you would think lies of this magnitude and so easily verifiable would go unnoticed and be accepted defies comprehension. Are you a pathological liar or are you psychologically challenged in some other way? Or are you simply a man with no moral compass and no comprehension of ethics?

You have a demonstrated history of insulting members of the public and fellow-members of this city council, sometimes openly and sometimes in private. You have a demonstrated history of throwing a tantrum when votes do not go your way. You have a demonstrated history of retaliating against same.

You, Mayor Baum, lack the honesty and integrity necessary to serve this city. Resign, and let us begin to repair the damage you continue to cause.

A Bully as an Archetypal Destructive Leader

The following Abstract is republished from the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies website. It has particular relevance to the Longmont City Council leadership.

A Bully as an Archetypal Destructive Leader

1. Michael G. Harvey,University of Mississippi Bond University, Australia
2. M. Ronald Buckley, University of Oklahoma
3. Joyce T. Heames, West Virginia University
4. Robert Zinko, East Carolina University
5. Robyn L. Brouer, Hofstra University
6. Gerald R. Ferris, Florida State University

ABSTRACT

Leaders do not necessarily have the best interests of the organization in mind when they make decisions. Many times, leaders treat their own personal goals as more important in relation to the goals of the organization and frequently adopt a short-term decision horizon. Thus, leaders become destructive and make decisions for their own good at the expense of the organization. This article examines the bully as a leader and how the bully creates a dysfunctional environment where the bullied, the observer, and the organization suffer negative impact due to the decisions made by the bully. The externalities of bullying (i.e., unintended explicit and/or implicit consequences of bullying activities on the members of the organization) are discussed to highlight the importance of examining the spillover impact of bullying activities in organizations. In addition, the authors propose a method to address the negative impact of those who engage in bullying on the organizational as a whole.

http://jlo.sagepub.com/content/14/2/117.abstract

Baum: Voters’ (Buyers’?) Remorse

Not what the public expected

No one's singing along

Tuesday city council meetings continue to be a challenge to the digestive system. And the reason for this is the colossal mistake the community made last November when it elected Bryan Baum as the city’s mayor.

After the cameras have been turned off and before the recorders are turned on, the true Bryan Baum surfaces.

The difficult issue before the council on Tuesday was the ordinance limiting open carry of firearms in government buildings. Despite a preponderance of speakers at Public Invited to be Heard (PITBH) who saw this ordinance as a Second Amendment issue (though Supreme Court rulings support the ordinance), discussion amongst council members made it apparent that the council was poised to pass the ordinance into law.

Dictators don’t like to lose. But since Longmont governance isn’t an on-the-books dictatorship, Baum found himself democratically challenged.

Over and over and over again he stated his positions opposing the ordinance in spite of the fact that it was clear he was not going to get his way. He even interrupted his right-hand man Council Member Gabe Santos who made a compelling argument in favor of the ordinance. His only ally was CM Katie Witt. Because Baum could not face reality, a consistent condition for him, the discussion proceeded ad nauseaum.

I’ve attended nearly every council meeting since November 2007. It is only since Bryan Baum assumed the mayor’s chair that our council meetings have been acrimonious and humiliating for the city. Former Mayor Roger Lange was a gracious man who always allowed his fellow council members to raise questions and present opinions before he offered his own. Not Baum, it’s not only his way or the highway, it’s his way first and foremost, last and only.

Tuesday’s agenda was considerable. That prompted Council Member Sean McCoy to ask for a point of order when the discussion was no longer productive. Not surprisingly, Baum threw yet another of his typical fits and insisted that he should have the floor to say anything he wants for as long as he wants and as many times as he wants. He was losing and he just couldn’t stand it.

Eventually a vote was taken passing the ordinance (5-2) and eventually the council meeting ended. But that wasn’t the end of it. Oh, no. Baum couldn’t wait to have it out with CM McCoy. McCoy was having a reasoned discussion with Santos when Baum stormed up to him, calling him a name that rhymes with the nickname for Richard that is often a synonym for the term. And if that wasn’t sufficient, McCoy was threatened with retaliation if he ever raised a point of order (“interrupted” him) again. There was more, but I didn’t hear it all.

At Final PITBH, a member of the community who attends most council meetings spoke in dismay that Baum and Witt didn’t see the merits of an ordinance that would serve as some measure of safety for the city’s employees and residents who come to city facilities to do business or to attend council meetings. Exercising his first amendment rights, this individual chastised both Baum and Witt for the likely support their votes would garner with the NRA.

Baum couldn’t have that either. So he shanghaied the speaker after council for daring to speak out against him. So that he wouldn’t be overheard, Baum pulled the man aside and read him the riot act. Now how’s that for diplomacy and treating members of the community with respect! And this was far from the first time Baum raked a member of the public over the coals. That’s a story far worse and for another time and place.

Compare this behavior with the massive dose of high fructose corn syrup that is the mayor’s dance of self-aggrandizement at the beginning of each council meeting. Do not misinterpret, those who are celebrated are deserving, but that’s not what prompts the mayor’s smiles and handshakes. Mayor Baum, most people can discern the difference between genuine praise and caring and opportunistic grandstanding.

So here’s some good advice to weather the Baumbastic storm until November 2011, stock up on Reglan and take it 30 minutes before the Council meetings convene, whether you’re watching on television or in the halls of government.