Tag Archive for Environment

Silent Spring of Our Generation

His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

I read an editorial in the Denver Post today that lectured the City of Longmont on why they should not bother to protect themselves from a toxic industry.

It occurred to me that opposing fracking may well be the Silent Spring of our generation. Silent Spring, for those who are not familiar with it, was a ground-breaking 1962 book by the naturalist writer Rachel Carson, who was curious about mass bird deaths. Her search led her to the impacts of the widespread use of the toxic pesticide DDT. That awareness led to concern for public health, which led to the book, which led to a movement, which led, eventually, to the banning of DDT.

Al of which was met, of course, by vicious industry attacks, personal slanders, lobbying, and lawsuits and posturing and gnashing of teeth by the people who made money off of making DDT. The attacks and distortions, not incidentally, continue to this day.

By the way, it is worth noting now through the benefit of hindsight, that economic life, Western Civilization, and the agricultural industry did not come to a screeching halt as a result of regulating DDT, as the defenders of the toxic DDT warned ominously back at the time.

The lessons of the book, alas, were not fully learned, though, because we still are confronted by an ever-increasing and ever-more toxic and reckless array of chemicals released into our environment with little scrutiny, regulation, or accountability. One of the latest toxic threats running amok – with regulatory forbearance, government subsidy, and a personal waiver (the so-called Halliburton loophole) from the environmental rules that everyone else has to follow – is fracking.

Hydraulic fracturing as most of us now know is the practice of breaking up rock far underground by injecting millions of gallons of water down every single hole, using a process of high-pressure injection that contaminates the water with thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals.

We are told by industry that it is safe and responsible to do this, to inject all that toxic stuff into the ground. That’s hogwash. What fracking is, is insane. And idiotic. The notion that we can inject billions of gallons of toxic water into the ground, without that water someday, some way coming back to bite us on our collective butts is idiotic. The fact that the contamination occurs thousands of feet deep underground doesn’t make fracking safe; it only makes it deeply idiotic.

We were told fracking is safe by the same breed of lobbyists and executives who told us that cigarette smoking was safe – a lie they repeated over and over in the halls of Congress for years after the time that members of Congress were the only people in the nation who didn’t roll their eyes and groan at the transparency of those lies – and told long after they themselves were aware of their own evidence to the contrary. The track record of harmful industries lying to us, buying our politicians, suppressing evidence of harm, and bullying anyone who dare opposes them is overwhelming. The fact that we still grant the assurances of these self-interested polluters with even a shred of credibility is absurd.

Don’t let their smokescreens and threats cloud the issue though; the key answer is not complicated at all: Fracking is unsafe at any speed.

As the lies and myths and threats and rationalizations for allowing ourselves to be inundated by toxic water washed over me, I realized that Fracking is the DDT of this generation. And we must fight it the same way. With zero tolerance for chemical self-destruction.

So when I read the Denver Post editorial today – in which the Post opposed the Longmont fracking ban – it was painfully clear that the reasoning cited by the Post’s editorial Board was tenuous and specious, following in the footsteps of tenuous and specious rationalizations made in the past to divert public action away from reasonable civic self-defense. Don’t ban fracking they said, because it might be expensive to enforce; because it might get challenged in the courts; and because fracking has not yet caused a crisis within the City’s limits. Emphasis on that qualifier: not yet.

What a wagon-load of horse apples.

In its haste to protect Longmont residents from themselves; however, the Post did not address the most important question: is banning fracking the right thing to do? Let’s answer that question for them now: banning fracking, and banning it now, is the right thing to do. And furthermore, it is within the rights of local jurisdictions to protect themselves from toxic assault, particularly when the State and federal Governments refuse to do so.

The Post apparently prefers that the citizens of Longmont should delay dealing with fracking until after it becomes a crisis. The Post recommends that the City delays dealing with the threat until it is too late: delay until the drilling permits are pulled and the well heads are going up. That’s some lousy advice from the Post.

The Post claims also to be concerned with the inconvenience such a ban might impose on the City. Indeed, giving up smoking cigarettes isn’t easy either. Doing the right thing is not always convenient, particularly in the face of a well-financed and well-connected industry. Doing the right thing is not always convenient, or easy. The oil & gas industry, backed by the Governor and his Attorney General, have made clear their intent – they will fight for their right to tell towns that only the state can decide who can pollute in the local jurisdictions. We already know the state’s answer: anywhere they please, any time they please, and any way they please. And no uppity local jurisdiction shall stand in their way.

So let’s be very clear on what is at stake. The Governor has drawn a line in the sand – if local governments try to control toxic activities within their own boundaries, then the state, in tandem with industry, will muscle in with its full weight and will body-slam the locals without mercy. On this point I do agree with the Post. The state’s intent to enforce its monopoly on regulation is clear, and the industry’s litigious nature is also well-established. We can assume the City will be sued.

I say: bring it on. I say: make the Supreme Court reiterate their position that towns have no right to protect themselves from toxic pollution. I say: make the Supreme Court defend the polluters right to pollute over and over, until eventually the courts finally get the answer right, and fracking finally goes the way of DDT, along with child labor and every other indefensible abomination that was perpetuated on the citizens of this nation until enough people stood up and refused to sit down.

The question before the City of Longmont remains simple: is Longmont ready to do the right thing to protect itself? Is Longmont ready to stand up for itself, and stand up against the State and industry if necessary to do so? Or will the City back down in the face of threats and bullying by the Governor and industry? Not to mention some lecturing from the Denver Post.

I hope the City is ready to see this through. I hope the City is ready to tear a brick from the wall built around fracking.

I do agree with the Post on another point, banning fracking is effectively the same as banning drilling – this is because the vast majority of drilling being done uses fracking. However, the conclusion the Post draws from this is that we must therefore yield to fracking. Nonsense. On the contrary, it is industry that must stop fracking, not the citizens that must roll over and accept it. Industry must find a way to extract oil & gas without injecting millions of gallons of toxic water into the ground for every well, or they must stop drilling. We can be certain of one thing; industry will keep fracking until we make them stop. They will keep injecting toxins into the water until we make them change their techniques. In the meantime, every new well fracked is another well injected with millions of gallons of toxic contaminated water.

I believe in the genius of capitalism and the innovativeness of motivated entrepreneurs – which is precisely why we should stop shielding the oil & gas industry from the consequences of their toxic activities and force them to clean up their act, or get out of the business and make way for people who can move us forward without setting us back. This same belief is why I support incentives and rewards for entrepreneurs who develop truly clean and sustainable ways to power this country, and better yet, who pursue ways to use less energy and to be more efficient with the energy we do use.

The Denver Post blew a lot of smoke into a simple question, in the hopes perhaps of obscuring the simple truths from our vision: Fracking is a massively toxic industrial process, and towns have every right to protect themselves from it.

Longmont voters entitled to Home Rule

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

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

Is this what you want in Longmont?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Balance needed

U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 412-DA-3630

Oil Seepage in Pond (Foreground), Olin-Mathieson Plant in Background 1972

Most of us take a pretty one sided view of many issues.  A balanced view should be better.

Where is the balance with respect to hydraulic fracking.?  On the one hand we as a nation (and world) are a consumer of fossil fuels and will continue to be until alternate energy sources combined with greater efficiency meets our needs.  On the other hand there are risks associated with this process.  The risks are largely encountered by one group of people while very significant profits are realized by a much smaller group.

Drilling and production of oil and gas has increased dramatically over the last few years.  Currently we both import oil and export refined products.  There are advantages to not importing oil, especially from countries with limited stability.

What are the facts?  The oil and gas representatives that support hydraulic fracking appear to have either avoided some information or intentionally been misleading.

Claims that there has not been a single case of ground water contamination from hydraulic fracking are misleading.  There are several examples where groundwater has been contaminated from the necessary activities that are always associated with the process.  Where groundwater has been contaminated, the distinction is not important.

It is often stated that fracking chemicals are only 0.5 percent of the injected fluid.  This appears to be deliberately misleading.  The risk is a product of the inherent toxicity and concentration of the compound, and exposure (for example amount of water consumed over what period of time).   A concentration of 0.5 percent is 5,000 parts per million (ppm) or 5,000,000 parts per billions (ppb).  The maximum concentration limit (MCL) for benzene in groundwater set by the US EPA is 5 ppb.  We do not know the toxicity of many of the fracking chemicals, or even what they are and it may be that toxicity has not been determined for many of them.  Furthermore, the risk of a mixture may be even greater.

An article in the Times-Call claimed there was no problem because benzene and propane were well below the levels for a 10 hour exposure.  While propane has low toxicity it is ludicrous to talk about a 10 hour exposure rather than a longer term exposure.

Benzene, is a carcinogen as might be other compounds in the fracking fluid.  There is no threshold limit for carcinogens.

The proponents of hydraulic fracking have not in my experience acknowledged the disruption of the lives of families living close to the drilling sites – or the impact on schools for that matter.  Decreased home values are another problem.

It is difficult for most of us to believe what we are being told when so many obviously misleading statements have been made.

The argument has been made that the fracking industry would be challenged to operate under a different set of rules in each community and thus the need for state control.  Of course many housing contractors do operate in a number of communities with differences in construction code.  But if you do allow for some benefit for uniformity, that does not negate the need for communities to protect their own citizens, real-estate values, and schools when state organizations do not.

The state group controlling fracking (Colorado Oil and Gas Commission) has historically been largely controlled by oil and gas interests.  As a result, it is hard to see how that group will not focus on profits over other considerations.  It does not appear to me and many others that  the need for energy sources and profits has been fairly balanced with the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the communities being impacted.

We are now producing more refined fuels than we need and are exporting record amounts helping the balance of trade.  Concern has been raised that the US is likely to have insufficient storage capacity for natural gas by the end of the year.  Then why the need for drilling close to homes and schools?  Why not limit fracking to less hazardous locations including those with minimal potential for groundwater impact?

Why indeed!  Oil companies realized profits in the tens of millions of dollars. The “realized” pay for the CEO of Exxon/Mobile for 2011 was 24.6 million dollars or three times that in 2009 and four times that in 2006.  By how much has your pay increased over this time? By what factor is his pay greater than yours?   CEO pay should be higher than that for most people, but by how much?  Where is the balance?

Bob Norris
Longmont

Bob has lived in Longmont since 2000 and has been active in community issues including having served on the Longmont Board of Environmental Affairs.

Sanfaçon Community Forum

Garry Sanfacon 2011

Garry Sanfacon, District 1 Boulder County Commissioner candidate

Boulder, CO– Garry Sanfaçon, candidate for Boulder County Commissioner, District 1, is hosting a community forum to help inform the public about the risks to Boulder County, including the City of Boulder, from natural gas extraction, including hydraulic facturing, commonly called fracking. The forum will take place on Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 6:30 -8:30 p.m., at the Nomad Theater, located at 1410 Quince Avenue, in Boulder.

The forum will consist of a presentation by leading experts on the impacts of fracking on the environment, public health, and overall community well-being, including data specific to the City of Boulder and Boulder County. They will also present data about the failure of state regulations to prevent adverse environmental and human health impacts. The experts will answer questions from the audience following their presentation. Local youth with the environmental education and youth empowerment group, Earth Guardians, will perform their latest song about fracking and, as always, remind us that their future is in our hands.

Boulder County, including the City of Boulder, is already experiencing significant adverse impacts from natural gas extraction and fracking. With over 1800 wells that can potentially be fracked in unincorporated Boulder County (that number does not include wells in incorporated municipalities within the County), this is only the tip of the iceberg. This heavy industrial, toxic activity is occurring in neighborhoods, next to schools and on County open space.

The experts presenting will be Shane Davis, Wes Wilson and Phil Doe. Shane Davis is a research biologist and leading investigator into adverse environmental and human health impacts related to fracking in Colorado. Wes Wilson was an environmental engineer with the EPA for 30 years. He was featured in the movie Gasland as a whistleblower on the EPA’s failure to regulate fracking. Phil Doe spent his career working on water issues with the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation. He is currently the Environmental Issues Director for the grassroots advocacy group Be the Change, and an activist for protecting our most precious resource, water.

BoCo Obama nomination not unanimous

Perhaps solidly Progressive Democrats were not listening carefully to Barack Obama in 2008.  Perhaps they were just too anxious to oust the worst U.S. president since Herbert Hoover.  Perhaps the millions of dollars in contributions from Wall Street corrupted his vision for America.  Perhaps Barack Obama was “corporatist” all along.  Whatever the reasons, there are those within the Democratic Party who are not pleased with President Barack Obama’s first term record. It is not what they expected when they ardently worked on his behalf and cast their vote in November 2008.

They expected a single-payer healthcare system.  They earnestly lobbied Obama for “Medicare for All,” or at a minimum some sort of “public option.”  But Obama didn’t listen.  In fact, he came to the negotiating table having given away nearly all of his bargaining chips.  And stalwart Democrats were left to ask, “Why?”

Progressives believed that there was no acceptable moral or ethical action but to hold Wall Street responsible for its corruption.  But Obama followed the lead of George Bush and continued to bail them out.  He might have, at a minimum, held individuals responsible for the near catastrophe that they brought to the American – even world – economy by bringing criminal charges against the perpetrators.  But three and a half years later, no such actions have taken place – and they appear not likely to take place.

Obama could have held Vice President Dick Cheney and President George Bush accountable for their lies about Saddam Hussein’s involvement in the 9-11 attacks and for the non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the lies that hoodwinked the American public into accepting an unwarranted war against Iraq that cost lives and treasure.  But he insisted that the country should look forward, not back.  Perhaps Obama, too, was lustful of Middle East oil.

And then there is the environment and climate change.  For every two steps forward, our president follows with another one back while the extraction industries rape and pillage the land and threaten the atmosphere for the coming generations.

There are other areas of consternation, but however it all came about, some in Boulder County took the principled position to send a message to our Party’s president:  That far but no farther.

At Saturday’s Boulder County Democratic Party County Assembly and Convention, there were 288 delegates available for the Colorado Democratic Party Convention in Pueblo on April 14.  Of the 354 county delegates remaining for the afternoon session that nominated President Barack Obama for a second term, 55 of those delegates rose in opposition to the president’s policy choices.  Those 55 delegates amounted to 16% of the votes and “met threshold.”  As a consequence, there will be delegates in Pueblo to carry the Uncommitted message.

It is not known whether other Democrats throughout Colorado rose to send the same message to our president.  I can only hope that they did.  As one who rose, I had no idea how few or how many would do so.  There was no coordinated effort, no campaign.  It was heartwarming to see so many committed Democratic progressives stand in protest.

It has been disheartening to watch the Democratic Party drift steadily to the right, election after election, since 1980.  It is disheartening to observe how the Democratic Party has been repeatedly played by the ever-growing fascistic and totalitarian elements in the Republican Party as they accomplish a goal and then move the goal-post further and further to the right.

While the action today was small, I hope it will be a harbinger of changes to come.  I hope it will be both an indicator and a motivator for other progressive Democrats to say, “We will no longer allow our Party to be high jacked by those who would compromise our values.  We will not let our Party become a watered down version of the Republican Party of Corporate America.  We will no longer watch the future of our families and friends and our environment slip into inevitable decline, if not disaster.”

So let this be the beginning as we “take back” our Democratic Party as well as the direction of our nation.  The journey of a mile begins with one step.

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

Rep. Gardner, read up on economics 101.

Rep. Cory Gardner has stated clearly, “I want to see spending cuts.” I wish Rep. Gardner would think about where these spending cuts are coming from. Education? Do we care about the classroom size of our children? Infrastructure? Are we planning to repair our own roads and bridges? Environment? Clean water to drink anyone? The social safety net did not get us into this fiscal house of horrors. It was wars that weren’t included in the budget and unbridled greed.

Cuts come from real people and real programs that were designed to protect citizens. Plus arguments about spending cuts aren’t adding up. Historically, cutting spending during recessionary times just makes the economy worse. (See 1937). Economists in both political parties are saying that what needs to happen is job creation, which requires spending not cutting. Once our economy is more stable reasonable cuts can and should be debated. Maintaining a rigid position in the face of contrary information is not smart. Please, Rep. Gardner, read up on economics 101. Draconian cuts now will not create jobs or put our country back on track. We need a representative who will work for the good of all the citizens in the 4th Congressional District.

Cory Gardner fights against environmental protection

Cory Gardner, anti-environment

To the delight of American industrialists and their friends in the GOP, freshman U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner (CO-District 4) appears determined to erode as much of the regulatory authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as he is able.

The EPA was born during the term of Richard Nixon, based on a 1970 memorandum of the President’s Advisory Council on Executive Organization, “Federal Organization for Environmental Protection.” If the GOP was aware of the need for federal regulations on polluting industries in 1970, how much more are those regulations necessary in our resource-depleting and waste-generating consumerist culture of 2011?

The memorandum recognized that “The economic progress which we have come to expect, or even demand, has almost invariably been at some cost to the environment.” It states that “Some means must be found by which our economic and social aspirations are balanced against the finite capacity of the environment to absorb society’s wastes.”

Before Mr. Gardner goes too far in his personal tirade against the EPA, I suggest that he, and the GOP leadership, should learn what was recognized in 1970 regarding the “finite capacity of the environment to absorb society’s wastes.” His zeal against environmental regulations is not only misguided and misinformed, it is downright dangerous.

“Visions of the Artic” – in Boulder

Few places are as iconic and misunderstood as the Arctic. Spreading the word about the beauty of the Arctic and its looming threats is very important to Earthjustice. They have teamed with outdoor clothing manufacturer Patagonia and celebrated wildlife photographer Florian Schulz to create a stunning visual presentation of Arctic images.

Event: Visions of the Arctic
Date: Friday, October 8, 2010
Time: 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Location: Boulder Public Library
Canyon Theater
1001 Arapahoe Avenue
Boulder, CO
RSVP: Required.
RSVP for Boulder.

Preview the event by watching the video here. You will be at one with the beauty of nature. It will arouse your compassion. It will capture your imagination. It will reinforce your commitment to protect the Arctic and our globe from those who who would damage and destroy it.

HeavenFest: A Reality Check

Union Reservoir - March 2010 - Photo by Doug Wray

Imagine for a moment that an organization approached your city and requested use of one of its facilities to hold a rally involving up to 50,000 individuals. Imagine that the proceeds from this rally could reach over $2 million but the sponsors offered nothing but payment of a $50 permit and a promise to tidy things up after the event.

Imagine a city council which accepted this offer and instead of negotiating a piece of the gate worth (modestly) at least $100,000, buried the decision for permit approval in the bowels of its bureaucracy where various unelected officials made the decision for them. Public input fell on deaf ears and was not encouraged. Virtually no debate was held by council.

Welcome to Longmont and the HeavenFest concert where rumors of untold riches are rife, all to be generated by throngs of visitors spending wildly in restaurants, hotels and the hundreds of tee shirt and souvenir shops dotting downtown (OK – that does require some imagination).

Reality check: With 918 hotel rooms- most of which are routinely filled on weekends and every restaurant packed with locals, we are to believe that these hordes of visitors will somehow manage in one or two nights to contribute as much as $900,000 in new tax revenue.

But neither Thornton nor Brighton, the homes of HeavenFest ‘09, found any significant increase in revenues related to the event. Why? In part because the attendees stayed in their campsites, or came for one day then went home. Most importantly, with venues already filled to capacity with locals, there was nowhere to spend new money. Longmont’s council and its boys in the back knew this- or should have. It’s called due diligence and objective analysis; both were AWOL when this deal was struck.

Enough- let’s get off the road to Oz and examine the facts:

Fact: HeavenFest is an arm of non-profit Worship and the World Movement (WWM). The announced purpose of this organization is (in part) to; “Proclaim God’s Word through worship and teaching at over 70 events” and; “Support an orphanage in Venezuela”. (source: 2008 IRS Form 990 tax return).

Fact: The gross income of WWM in 2008 was in excess of $300,000. That year it donated about 4.3% of declared income, or $12,923. to Miami-based “Home of Refuge” which runs the Venezuelan orphanage. Based on figures published on their web site, it can be assumed that WWN’s 2009 revenue was well in excess of $750,000. Orphanages received $35,000 or perhaps 5% of income.

Fact: WWM is not a charity and does not claim to be one. Its mission is to grow exponentially in order to reach ever growing multitudes. Let’s be clear on this; how they make and spend their money is their business and no one else’s. I have no bone to pick with WWM and no interest whatsoever in their business model.

Fact: Had a similar request for such a rally been made by any other musical group it would have been rejected out of hand- or subjected to rigorous negotiations for a share of the gate. Even then, council would likely have met a storm of protest and one can be sure there’d have been ample public debate. How then did HeavenFest slide in and walk away with a permit?

Damned if I know, but what is clear is that Longmont is in effect making a six-figure donation to a religious organization. Were this money going to a recognized charity it might be forgivable, but again-WWN is not a charity and consequently should not have received any special consideration. But it did.

Think what $100,000. (or perhaps double that amount) could do for Longmont’s homeless, its food banks, shelters and support groups. None of these will receive a red dime from this event because Longmont’s council ducked its responsibilities. Council has shown an appalling lack of objective leadership and essentially tossed away the opportunity to share in what could be a $2 million plus gate.

HeavenFest may yet prove to be a boon to Longmont and may leave Union Reservoir in better shape than it is today. Then again it may prove to be a monumental irritation to its citizens and an environmental disaster. Regardless the outcome, what happened on the road to a $50 permit should never be allowed to again occur.

Related article: HeavenFest, A Briefing

Where’s the skin?

Ruh Roh

Bryan Baum 2010

There’s skin.  There’s thin skin.  And then there’s no skin at all. The latter appears to be the apt description of Longmont’s Mayor.  Perhaps he put it all into the quid-pro-quo game.

KCRN 1060 AM and the Best of Longmont  have created a live broadcast between 6 and 7 PM called “Mondays with the Mayor”.  It seems, however, that Mayor Baum considers this an exclusive opportunity to pepper the airways with his personal ideology.

It’s a new show and is broadcast live from Buzz Coffee.  I was present to observe Mayor Baum demonstrate his intolerance—again.  And in so very many ways!!

Today’s guest was Jonathan Singer, President of the Longmont Area Democrats.  As always, Mr. Singer’s humor is quick and witty.  Such a marvelous contrast to the dour  and humorless  Mayor Baum, a characteristic  so typical of the rabid right – whether in Longmont or across this great country.

After Mr. Singer introduced himself to the Longmont listeners, he quipped, “So we have a mayor and a president.”  I’m confident that brought a chuckle to some and some head-banging to others.

One of the first questions asked of the mayor was about tuition equity at our Colorado colleges and universities.  Many of Colorado’s immigrant students are effectively blocked from fair tuition rates because their parents, here without documentation, brought them to Colorado.  These are good, dedicated students who have demonstrated their ability.

Baum’s reply was the typical deflection used by right wing ideologues.  But before he was finished talking the truth slipped out.  (He just can’t help himself.  No matter how his handlers try, and no matter how far up the food chain they go, they won’t be able to make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear.)

Baum’s solution to high school seniors hoping to go directly into college, is to continue to live in the shadows while seeking naturalization.  Now that, of course, takes years.  Clearly Baum, cares little for the plight of the immigrant community and particularly the Latino community, a substantial part of Longmont’s population.  Baum spoke of immigrants who seek the help of attorneys for naturalization as being “victimized by their own people.”

Their own people!”  Isn’t that lovely.  And I suppose that we’re to accept HIS word for this.  Since you have no skin, Mayor Baum, perhaps you can “show us the beef”.  He spoke of gathering a “consortium of attorneys”  to assist.  I certainly hope these attorneys are not descendents  of Longmont’s presumably buried KKK history.

But, Baum wasn’t done.  Oh, no!

A young student asked Mayor Baum about Longmont’s density per population of gangs and what could be done about this.  The young man is black.  The first question out of Mayor Baum’s mouth, “Are you in a gang?”  Had the question been asked by a white student, I seriously doubt that Baum would have asked the same question.

2 + 2 = 4, Longmont.  I’m sure that those who frequently post racist comments on the Times-Call article blogs are delighted to have elected one of their own.  The rest of us are simply nauseated.

But Mayor Baum, wasn’t done picking fights with those who don’t agree with him.  Don’t forget, this program was viewed by his political allies and operatives as a way to burnish an image of Mr. Nice Guy.  Sorry, Charlie, it won’t wash.  Perhaps the losses should be cut.

This was my first experience with “Mondays with the Mayor”.  So I took the opportunity to ask about an issue that means a great deal to the Longmont community – Twin Peaks Mall.

I asked the mayor why the community hasn’t been given the complete set of facts about Panattoni’s ability to redevelop the Mall.  Since the Times-Call has failed to report the numbers that are relevant to understanding the company’s ability to proceed, I took the opportunity to provide that information.

Panattoni purchased the Mall in 2007 for $37 million.  The boom led to a bust and now the Mall is worth only $17 million. And that is likely not yet the bottom for the commercial retail market.  Panattoni put $8 million down on the property.  Bank of America, who holds the paper, now requires 50% equity in order to refinance.  Panattoni is “underwater,” meaning they owe more that the property is worth.

The Baum SquadBaum doesn’t dispute the data, he merely tries to claim that this is “old news” and “everyone knows this”.  No, Mayor Baum, “everyone” doesn’t know this.  Not the other members of the council outside the well-described “Baum Squad”.  Not the public.  But the Times-Call, who oh-so-carefully reported in generic terms so that the gravity would remain hidden, undoubtedly did know.

Mayor Baum, I read the Times-Call.  EVERY DAY.  These numbers were never published.  They first appeared in an email from Council Member Katie Witt and were revealed on www.freerangelongmont.com.    And unless you don’t read the Times-Call, your statement to the contrary about the availability of this specific information is, yes, “Disingenuous, sir.”  And that was the nice way to put it.

Again, the skinless mayor, had to have a retort (amongst his many incivilities), when he addressed me as amongst those who are not “well-connected”.   Yes, Mayor Baum, I’m not a part of the Longmont oligarchy.  And I’m proud of it.  I “speak truth to power” so that the ordinary Longmont citizen can live his or her life trusting that city business will be taken care of—to the benefit of us all.  I “speak truth to power” to expose what goes on behind all those Wizard of Ozian curtains.

When Singer asked about the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act, Baum suggested that the convoluted “in-kind” method that he used in the recent campaign is the way reporting should be done.   Does he really expect the public to swallow that dollars spent “in-kind” are any different than donated dollars or that somehow they are more open and transparent?

Come-come, Mayor Baum.  The Longmont community is not that gullible.  Keep insulting them and see where that gets you.

And let’s not forget that Baum previously explained that he didn’t want his hands dirtied by political money.  Spoken like a man with a very guilty conscience.  The opportunities to ask Mayor Baum, “What did you know and when did you know it?”, are the gift that keeps on giving.

Mr. Singer asked the mayor what other opportunities might be available to help the environment since Baum ferociously torpedoed Longmont’s opportunity to participate in the Governor’s Energy Office’s matching grant program for solar photovoltaics.  Predictably, he once again “went postal”.

This mayor has no respect for the environment.  He’s a climate-change denier.  He’s an oil-gas-and-coal man who was catapulted into office by the rabidly anti-environmental Montana organization Western Tradition Partnership.  He’ll throw a bone once in a while in a feeble attempt to obscure his attitude toward the environment and hoodwink the public.   Don’t expect the Longmont that your kids will live in to be protected by him or his supporters.  They’ll take theirs NOW, thank you.

So, Mayor Baum, you can talk to the community on Monday nights, but this is not a pass to spread your corporatist ideology or advance the agenda of the oligarchy.   Your inner sanctum  knew what they were getting when they voted for you.  The rest, victimized by the Times-Call political water torture for two years and frustrated over the economic conditions prevailing in Longmont and throughout the nation, thought they were getting a fix-it man, new blood.

In fact, they have gotten everything they were sick of in 2007 and before.  The community will figure that out – sooner or later.  Truth eventually rises to the surface.  All the lipstick you apply will not change that.