Tag Archive for civility

Public invited to be silent

Mayor and Council members:

Baum's loss has taught them nothing.

Longmont city council member Katie Witt

When I was interrupted tonight by Council Member Witt (who said I had disrespected and verbally attacked Council Member Santos), I did not get my full three minutes. I should have been compensated for that time so I could finish my speech. What I shared tonight was not an attack, but a fact — and as a citizen of Longmont, I’m allowed to question the behavior of my public servants. Being shut down like this sets a dangerous precedent. I hope that council will not continue to muzzle its constituents from speaking the facts. The fact is, Mr. Santos gave me back the TEDX DVD that I had given him. Not wanting to learn about the dangers of fracking chemicals makes me feel concerned whether or not he can make good decisions on my behalf and on behalf of all Longmont residents for whom he represents. Furthermore, I am also concerned that Council member Finley brought forth a motion to keep the initial PITBH to 30 minutes at the beginning of the meeting. This is further evidence that the priorities of certain Council members are skewed. Council members are public servants and are elected to serve the public as well as conducting City business.

Thank you,

Teresa Foster

I am submitting my speech here for the public record.

Dear Mayor and Council Members,

It has been 3 weeks since I had given you a copy of the DVD titled “What You Need to Know About Natural Gas Production”, narrated by scientist and environmental analyst, Dr. Theo Colborn.” Have you had a chance to watch it? Would you be concerned about the fact one member of the Council refused his copy of the DVD and handed it back to me after the December 20, 2011, Council meeting? How can he make informed decisions without first considering all sides of an issue? Does he have the health, well being, and safety of his constituents in mind? My guess is his constituents would want him to be extremely well versed on this topic.

I’d like to ask Council more questions:

  1. Considering the toxicity of the chemicals and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that result from drilling for natural gas (which includes drilling, fracking, processing, waste handling, and ongoing gas collection), how comfortable are you having these chemicals and VOCs released into your neighborhood? Would you consider the COGCC mandate of 350 feet to be a safe setback distance? If you allow natural gas drilling in Longmont, would you be willing to move next to a drilling site to show the citizens it is safe? Would you allow your children or grandchildren to go to school next to a drilling site?
  2. Had you ever heard about the health effects that occur from exposure to fracking chemicals and volatile organic compounds produced from natural gas drilling before watching the video? COGA and COGCC claim this technology is safe, but let me assure you it isn’t. Here are some of the effects from exposure: Burning skin, nausea, headaches, sensitization, fatigue, dizziness, tingling in the extremities that can lead to permanent nerve damage, gastrointestinal problems, endocrine disorders, cancer, death. Dr. Colburn states that 43% of the ‘known’ chemicals disrupt the endocrine system (and, by the way, we aren’t privy to this information until April 2012 here in CO). Exposure during pregnancy can interfere with the development of the fetus, causing irreversible lifetime changes in their health and how they function later in life. Further, Dr. Colburn mentions that health issues may not show up until months and/or years after exposure that can never directly be traced to industrial exposure. So that means once the drillers are gone, and months later you get really sick, then you’re out of luck? Who pays the price for the industry’s folly? Why, the citizens of Longmont.
  3. Based on what you now know after viewing the DVD, are you willing to go to any lengths to protect the residents of Longmont according to the oath you signed when you came into office? That would mean you pass regulations that are far stricter than the COGCC rules.

Bringing this kind of industrial activity into the city is far too risky. I ask you to support an actual ban under our Home Rule provision, where our rights as citizens supersede those of the State of Colorado.

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.