Tag Archive for Bryan Baum

Baum & Lange: From the left and from the right

Bryan Baum, the sneering mayor

No point of order OR honor

From the left: “Longmont mayor’s actions diminish the community” by Duane Leise — Times-Call, July 5, 2010

Mayor Baum’s behavior at the recent CML election is unprecedented. Baum’s autocratic vote and dictatorial style set a new tone of intolerance and ideological rigidity that is not the Longmont I know. Longmont, if nothing else, is about community. We may differ, but we work together to benefit Longmont. We support our own, even if we differ with our local opponents. All of this is threatened by the behavior demonstrated by Mayor Baum. Community cohesion torn asunder like this will surely diminish us all. The value of life is rooted in community. Indeed, survival often depends on community.

This entire issue was initiated by Gabe Santos when he took a perfunctory consent agenda item off the consent vote and made a special issue of a fellow council member running to represent Longmont on the Colorado Municipal League. It should be noted that no one else on council was running or showed any interest. Why did Santos do this? I’ve never heard him give any specifics. I would offer the fact that the other councilperson, whom Santos singled out, is the only person to ever beat Santos in an election. Could the reason for his opposition be something as venal as that?

Let us revisit the very first council vote concerning this issue. It came down 5 to 2, with Baum and Santos dissenting.

I long for the diplomatic and statesmanship polish of Roger Lange as mayor. Here was someone who made me proud of Longmont when I saw him representing us, whether I agreed with him or not. He served the community – whether he was in 100 percent agreement or not. Roger Lange is a statesman. Baum is not.

Community does not demand 100 percent agreement; only dictatorship does.

From the right: “Lange led council by example” by Jack Dickens, Jr. — Times-Call, July 13, 2010

Responding to Mr. Leise’s letter to the editor, resident Jack Dickens, Jr. observes much of what Mr. Leise described above and more. Mr. Dickens’ letter is to editor is excerpted below:

“As mayor, [Roger] Lange conducted himself with class and grace. As a leader, he was respected by all political stripes and accomplished positive goals from a minority position. Above pettiness, partisanship, arrogance, vindictiveness, authoritarianism or narcissism, he didn’t preach or judge but led by example.”

“If Mr. Baum had not chosen to run against a member of his own party, we would still have had a Republican majority on City Council, proving that it was really all about him.”

“Now before anyone calls me a ‘hard-left progressive’ and invites me to leave town, I will affirm myself as a registered Republican whose family has lived in Longmont for many decades.”

Coincidence or Coordination?

The Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act is explicit in its definition of an “independent expenditure.” It certainly covers all the bases so that there can be no misunderstanding or wriggle room.

“Independent expenditure” means any expenditure supporting or opposing a candidate that is not made with the cooperation or with the prior consent of, or in consultation with, or in coordination with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate, candidate’s agent or candidate’s committee.

Cooperation – Consent – Consultation – Coordination – Request – Suggestion

Any or all of the above are unlikely to ever be provable in any judicial setting unless there is a whistleblower or an email that went astray.

But we humans often make our determinations with circumstantial evidence. Even the courts use this type of evidence on occasion.

Former Council Member Karen Benker was attacked week in and week out during the 2009 election season. Vying to replace her was now-Council Member Katie Witt. Forum after forum raised the issue of Witt’s knowledge and complicity in these attacks. Witt resorted to playing Monkey in this Monkey Business: Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.

Really?

Voters seldom look closely at campaign reports. But they should. They tell a lot about who, what, where, when, why and how.

So let’s play connect-the-dots. Longmont Leadership Committee (funded by Western Tradition Partnership) paid Advanced Direct Marketing Inc. (ADMI) $10,873.49 for several post card mailings attacking Benker and for a pretend newspaper “Longmont Leader” attacking Benker, Fissinger, McCoy and Lange and promoting Baum, Santos, Witt and Sammoury.

Guess who else used ADMI? Lo and behold, it was Ms. Witt! Add $2,006.60.

Citizens for a Brighter Future (funded by Coloradans for Economic Growth) also used ADMI $6,671.36 for three mailers, in support of Alex Sammoury and the other three.

So was there A WINK AND A NOD? Or was it more than that? The unprecedented dirty politics of the last campaign strongly suggest it was more. And without an independent quasi-judicial body composed of citizens from across the political spectrum, there will never be the transparency and accountability needed for truly clean campaigns.

The floodgates have been opened and the dirty water may never be dammed up again, Longmont. They’ll be back in 2011 and thereafter, unless and until the Longmont voters make it undeniably clear that they reject both outside influence and not-so-uncoordinated campaigns by attack groups.

Did Money Buy Longmont Council Elections? You Decide.

Hard Cash, Hard Facts from the last municipal election…

The November 2009 Longmont City Council elections will go down in the history books as the most unscrupulous campaign in recent memory.  (See Boulder Weekly, 4/29/10 “Best Example of Dirty Politics”.)

Compare those who spent the most and who had the most spent on their behalf with those who won the office, and the connection between money and politics becomes vividly apparent.

Candidates Who Lost
Cash In-Kind
Bill Van Dusen City Council-At-Large $3,051 $605
Kaye Fissinger City Council-At-Large $4,242 $503
Karen Benker City Council Ward 2 $7,533 $474
Roger Lange Mayor $4,838
Independent Expenditure from Deb Gardner $208

Candidates Who Won
Cash In-Kind
Gabe Santos City Council-At-Large $14,620 $605
Alex Sammoury City Council-At-Large $13,718 $503
Katie Witt City Council Ward 2 $16,557 $474
Bryan Baum Mayor $4,246 $9,137

Political Action Committees (PAC) that supported the “winners”
Longmont Leadership
(Western Tradition Partnership)
$12,800
Citizens to Elect the Baum $775
Longmont Citizens for a Brighter Future
(Coloradans for Economic Growth)
$6,700
Longmont Watch $792

Those who won the election and their supporters spent $82,519

Those that lost the election spent $21,454

~ 4 : 1

Almost all of the money spent by the above-identified PACs on the winning candidates was funneled to them through tax-exempt, non-profit 501c4 organizations who can, and do, keep the names of their contributors secret.

It wasn’t the first time that huge amounts were contributed to the winning candidate. The Longmont Realtor PAC gave Councilmember Santos $5,000 for the special election in January 2008.

Whether it’s called quid pro quo or “pay to play,” something very interesting happened when the well-funded, and secretly-funded, candidates claimed their majority. The bank account of the City of Longmont was opened wide. Three lawsuits brought with the intent of providing a false platform for the new majority candidates were settled:

Political money/muscle
Western Tradition Partnership, Longmont Leadership Committee, Longmont Area Realtors Association, et al $68,500
Times-Call, Dean Lehman $13,500
LifeBridge Church aka Town of Firestone $100,000
$182,000

$182,000 – Not a bad return on investment

Who won the November 2009 election?

Certainly not Longmont’s citizens.

Longmont Mayor Backstabs Community

Prefers Teabaggers to Council Member

Where people display questionable motives and intimidating communication to win arguments, display power and/or belittle others.

Elections are supposed to represent the will of the people.  However, if you accept this premise, then it would be necessary to conclude that the people of Longmont are suffering from a pronounced case of arrested development.  Is this the case or were the voters in Longmont hoodwinked?

Mayor Bryan Baum demonstrated today that he has not matured beyond the level of a junior high student, one with major character flaws at that.  Beyond immaturity, Baum demonstrated that he is one of the most vindictive members of the Longmont community.  The man dishonors and humiliates the City of Longmont at every opportunity.

This week the Colorado Municipal League (CML) meets in Breckenridge for its annual meeting to cover a number of areas important in the conduct of municipal governance.  As part of the agenda, each year the CML elects a certain number to its Board of Directors.  Amongst this year’s candidates was Longmont Council Member Sarah Levison.

When it came time to cast votes, Baum along with his accomplices, refused to cast votes in support of their fellow colleague.  A well-placed anonymous source revealed that when questioned about his lack of decency, Mayor Baum replied, “I’m not voting for her and you can’t make me.

“You can’t make me!” How many times have we as parents heard that from recalcitrant children who refused to behave properly?  While we all know that we can lead the proverbial horse to water but we can’t make it drink, as parents we have options.  We can call a time out.  We can deprive the child of something of value to him.  We can inflict a variety of punishment measures, especially if the behavior is egregious and persistent.

Mayor Baum and Council Members Gabe Santos and Alex Sammoury revealed the depths to which they would sink in recent city council meetings over the Resolution to endorse Council Member Levison in her bid to sit on the CML Board.  Even Council Member Katie Witt cautioned about the long-run implications of this food fight instigated by Baum and Santos and carried to its extreme by Sammoury.

This year’s CML conference began on Tuesday.  Fortuitously or serendipitously, early in the conference agenda was a session on “learning to face conflict in new and effective ways.” The material presented four environments that describe methods of conflict resolution.  It’s astonishing that the method that our current majority leadership follows precisely the “Harsh –Light” environment.

“Harsh-Light Environment”

Where people display questionable motives and intimidating communication to win arguments, display power and/or belittle others.

+ Debate +Questionable motives +Back-stabbing +Defensiveness

The CML Bylaws allow for member municipalities to cast votes in all of the three categories defined by population size.  Sources report that Mayor Baum chose to vote for every candidate that displays a “teabagger” mentality over intelligent, learned and dedicated public servants like Ms. Levison.

Evidence of collusion amongst Baum and others was in evidence up until the final votes were cast.  Apparently the deplorable behavior of our mayor even delayed the conclusion of voting for a period of time.

Mayor Baum, you do not  “play well with others” and you are in desperate need of an intervention.  Cease and desist, Mayor Baum.  You were not elected as “God”.  You were not elected as “King”.  And your dictatorial behavior has no place in a representative democracy.

The level of Voter Remorse is growing exponentially.  The community has only so much patience.  Your role as mayor is not a lifetime appointment.  Sooner or later you will be voted out of office.

Open, transparent, fair and just Elections?

Open, transparent, fair and just Elections?(Note:  After the paragraph wherein Mayor Baum was quoted in the Times-Call and the topic turned to Western Tradition Partnership, Council Member Witt sought to interfere with the speaker’s address.   The Speaker responded, “I am exercising my freedom of speech, Council Member Witt.”  She then proceeded with her prepared remarks.)

Address to Mayor Baum and Longmont City Council:  May 4, 2010

On your agenda this evening is one of the most important pieces of legislation that City of Longmont can consider.  You are to decide whether Longmont will have open, transparent, fair and just elections or whether the interests of those who would control our local government will be able to exercise their privileged positions and do so even more under the radar of full disclosure.

Today’s article in the Times-Call left me incredulous. That justification to abandon Longmont’s efforts to provide transparency to our local representative democracy defies moral foundation, is unprincipled and plays into the hands of those who believe they have a birthright to control government to their own personal, corporate and ideological gain.

Mayor Baum, you are quoted as saying that, “We are a target (to sue); we have been identified as such.  We’re labeled now, and we have to be really careful because we’re on everybody’s radar screen.”

And who is this “everybody” to which you refer?

The lawsuit brought against the city last year by Western Tradition Partnership was an unscrupulous and cynical strategic attempt to gain control of the Longmont City Council by radically conservative forces both out-of-state, within the state and indeed by local powerful political interests and their toadies.

Organized as a 501c4, Western Tradition Partnership can simply create an entity and have the sources of their funding unknown to anyone without a federal case and court order.  Its money can come from out of the country, around the nation, and locally by cowards who want to keep their public image as untarnished as possible.

Republican Scott Gessler was the attorney for this lawsuit debacle.  He drools at the possibility of using his attacks on Longmont as a platform for election to Colorado Secretary of State, a position that would allow him to influence our state elections in the manner of Katherine Harris in Florida in 2000 and Ken Blackwell in Ohio in 2004.

Previous mayors of Longmont, Republicans Julia Pirnack and Bob Askey, joined this suit as well as the Longmont Area Realtors Association, and  unsavory blogger Republican Chris Rodriguez.

Four city council members benefited by the support of Western Tradition Partnership who funded Longmont Leadership who viciously attacked your opponents; the Realtors Association who endorsed the current council majority; and the aforementioned individuals who either endorsed or executed the dirty work.

The settlement you authorized used city taxpayer funds to reimburse the very organizations and people who provided most of the impetus for your election to office.

The people of Longmont must be made aware of the decadent undercurrent operating behind the scenes of Longmont and Colorado politics.  With the foregoing, now they are.

Twin Peaks Mall: Silence unlikely to be golden

Twin Peaks Mall - photo by Duane Leise

At the close of Tuesday’s city council meeting, Council Member Gabe Santos requested that City Manager Gordon Pedrow and Director of Economic Development Brad Power contact Panattoni, owner of Twin Peaks Mall, to determine the status of the Mall.

He indicated that he and other council members receive many emails and calls asking, “What’s happening with the Mall?”  Clearly, all in Longmont have concerns.  Historically, the Mall has been a primary source of city revenues through the sales taxes that it has generated.  The neglect of the mall, by the previous and the current owners, and the state of the economy have caused the mall to decline.

Almost before Santos finished his comments, Mayor Bryan Baum interrupted to explain that both he and Power had attempted to contact Panattoni on Monday and “have not had the courtesy of a return call.”  They did, however, identify the party who would be able to answer their questions.

City Manager Pedrow followed up with a phone call to Panattoni’s CEO, and he, too, has failed to return the City of Longmont’s call.   Perhaps the corporation needs to be sure that they all have the same story to tell in response to Longmont’s inquiries—and just how much of it to tell.

Santos then requested that if no word is heard within a week, a letter be written to Panattoni from Longmont’s Mayor and City council insisting that the city receive “something in writing that addresses our concerns.”

I, of course, have no tea leaves to read, but I do have corporate background in Public Relations and in human behavior.  The silence from Panattoni is very disturbing.

People and companies usually are motivated to publicize good news and reluctant to share news that reflects poorly on the organization or could impede its objectives.  This leads one to believe that they haven’t yet secured an investor to meet the terms for refinancing the debt Panattoni assumed on the mall.

The City of Longmont has a long history of giving development virtually anything it wants.   I have long wondered what unofficial promises were made in 2007 by the Pirnack administration to encourage Panattoni to purchase Twin Peaks Mall.  As they say in the gambling industry – “on the come”.

The previous majority along with Mayor Roger Lange had well-founded concerns about the nature of the Mall’s future development and the degree of financial involvement in this public-private partnership.  Their diligence served the community well, especially considering the financial meltdown that arrived in 2008.

The Mall became the political hammer used by the current council majority to win the November 2009 election.  Either these new members were extremely naive or they were fully aware of the unlikelihood of development in the near future and found this issue useful to attack their opponents regardless of the facts.

Had Longmont rushed into this partnership early, the damage to the city’s overall financial situation would have been critical.

Bond ratings are critical to municipalities.  They are important both to our ability to bond and to do so at favorable interest rates.  And reduced sales tax revenues that result from Tax Increment Financing over 20-25 years if projections are not realized may also be a gamble.  In the situation Longmont finds itself, this is almost assured.  Although there has been some up tick in retails sales, that by no means indicates that there is a market for new or redeveloped commercial retail.

The citizens of Longmont need open and honest information.  Political spin will not suffice, either from Panattoni or from the Mayor or city council members or from the city’s administration.

Will Panattoni default on its debt?  Will the mall be purchased at a fire sale?  Will a new buyer sit on the property as is until the market for redevelopment makes economic sense?  Will any future buyer prey on the community’s desire to have a healthy and prosperous mall to negotiate financial conditions for themselves at the expense of Longmont’s many obligations and needs?

Members of the Longmont community must recognize that Twin Peaks Mall is indeed private property.   Members of our community have no control over what businesses, anchors or otherwise, choose to locate in the Mall.  Potential businesses operate according to their own business models.  If the demographics and location do not follow those models and make financial sense, no forceful demands or pleadings will make any difference whatsoever.  Just because we want something doesn’t mean that we can have it.

Because of the uncertainty in commercial retail and the uncertain future over business financing, no one in Longmont should expect redevelopment anytime soon.  That’s hard to hear, but it’s the reality.

CAN YOU HEAR US NOW?

Can You Hear Us NOW?

Listen up Mr. Mayor

This is a second update to an earlier article.

This poll question at the TimesCall:

The Longmont City Council offers two “public invited to heard” sessions during each regular meeting — one near the beginning of the meeting and one at the end. Mayor Bryan Baum would like to see the first public-invited segment to be limited to no more than 30 minutes. Speakers already are limited to three minutes each. Should the first public-invited session be limited, and if so, how much time should be allotted?

Looks like the Times-Call finally closed the Limits to Public Invited To Be Heard poll.

Here’s the final results:

(click to enlarge images)

Final tally: 500 votes (not bad based on other polls)

Ratio of ‘No Limits’ to the (obviously hoped-for) 30-minute limit?

3:1 – ouch

I do believe that’s a very, Very, VERY clear statement that the public disagrees with the Mayor about limiting free speech. (and his effort to ‘walk it back’ fooled no one)

So maybe our glorious new mayor should think before he voices his inner thoughts about the public’s right to free speech and ‘stewardship’ since it’s pretty clear he doesn’t have much of a clue about either of them.


Here’s the previous poll results:

Here’s how the voting looked two days ago:

Times call poll as of Jan 29, 2010 at 1:00 AM MDT

Click images to enlarge


Now it’s late in the day sunday Jan 31 and more folks have expressed their opinion:

The number of total votes has gone up from

262 to 376 (over 40% more votes)

114 more citizens spoke up (which is great to see)

click images to enlarge

The opposition to limiting Public Invited To Be Heard to a 30 minute limit compared to no limit has grown from 3:1 to 3.2:1 (look at the charts and you can see the jump:

Samples from 1/29 and 1/31 – note the increase in scale on the charts (click images to enlarge)

I think it’s pretty obvious, even from this admittedly-nonscientific poll, that the people who are paying attention really don’t agree with the idea of limiting Public Invited To Be Heard and suggestions to that effect are not welcome by the public. Any ‘good steward’ of government should be able to see this. I hope this analysis has helped provide more clarity.

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

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

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

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

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

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