Tag Archive for Gabe Santos

Longmont’s current council majority are radicals

We are learning that the majority of our City Council members differ from the leaders of the recent past. Leona Stoecker, Julia Pirnack and Roger Lange were conservatives in the traditional meaning of the word. They were moderate, prudent stewards of our community. They also were well informed. I did not always agree with them, but I respected them.

In contrast, our current majority is radical and does not appear to be well-informed. For example, the majority voted to end the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance, despite the fact a task force had recommended a moratorium to study possible reforms and the minority on the council urged that the ordinance be revised, not summarily ended. The mayor implied the ordinance had never been effective and said it isn’t fair to developers. Councilwoman Witt compared the ordinance to a failed recipe that should be scrapped. Councilman Sammoury suggested a new committee composed of bankers, developers, two council representatives and staff members to figure out what should replace the ordinance. The discussion revealed large gaps in basic information, but the majority, which included Councilman Santos, charged ahead to vote.

The ordinance was adopted more than 15 years ago under Mayor Stoecker and revised under succeeding mayors. It was one part of a housing policy designed to encourage a housing stock that meets the needs of the people who live and work here. The Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance was intended to ensure that people such as firefighters and teachers who work in Longmont could buy a home here and that these homes not be segregated in one part of the city.

It is truly radical to scrap one part of a housing program that has contributed so much to the quality of life in our city. Conservatives reform. Radicals tear things up by the roots.

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.

Tom DeLay sentenced to prison time

Breaking News

Image via firedoglake.com

Earlier today (Monday, January 10, 2011), Texas Judge Pat Priest ordered former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to serve three years in prison for his role in a scheme to illegally funnel corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002. He also sentenced him to five years in prison on the money laundering charge but allowed DeLay to accept 10 years of probation instead of more prison time.

After a month-long trial in November, a jury determined that DeLay conspired with two associates to use his Texas-based political action committee to send $190,000 in corporate money to an arm of the Washington-based Republican National Committee.

The money helped Republicans take control of the Texas House. That enabled the Republican majority to push through a Delay-engineered congressional redistricting plan that sent more Texas Republicans to Congress in 2004, strengthening DeLay’s political power.

DeLay will be allowed to post a $10,000 bond pending appeal.

Most amusing was the testimony of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who testified that DeLay was not motivated by power but for a need to help others and about DeLay’s conservative and religious values.

Showing no remorse whatsoever, DeLay continued to insist that the charges were politically motivated.

Will the appellate courts agree with the jury and the judge’s sentencing? Will DeLay serve the prison time? We can only hope. After all, this IS Texas.

Longmont Councilmember Gabe Santos worked for Tom DeLay during a portion of his stint as Republican House Majority Whip.

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.

A whole lotta lyin’ goin’ on

It's a sucker's game

Longmont is due for an Airport Master Plan update. These occur every five to seven years and the last time Longmont’s plan was updated occurred in 2004. Having an update is not the source of the most recent Longmont controversy that has all the makings of the next LifeBridge-style dust-up. The argument has been threefold:

  • What should be covered in the updated Master Plan or in supplemental analyses?
  • Who gets a seat at the table and will opponents have a voice equal to supporters?
  • Is this study nothing more than cover for a decision to extend the runway that has already been made?

I don’t especially have a dog in this fight. I like airplanes and I’ve flown in several types of aircraft. I’ve flown in large commercial jets of varying sizes and I’ve flown in 10-seater business commercial jets, of the type that are imagined if the Longmont runway is extended. I’ve flown in four-seater prop planes. And I’ve even flown in a glider and a World War II plane used to lift the glider to the wind current. I thoroughly enjoy takeoffs and landings.

Two of the homes that I lived in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles were under the flight path to Burbank Airport. The home in the West Valley was no problem. I didn’t even notice – except when a jet was coming in heavy with the tell-tale whine that always made me wonder if the plane was in trouble. Living in the home in the East Valley which was closer to Burbank Airport, however, posed persistent noise issues – whether inside or out. It strained nerves and made it hard to hear. Fortunately, I’m a sound sleeper, but my mother wasn’t.

So I have empathy for those in Longmont who have huge issues with the skydivers, dread the addition of jets, albeit small ones, and even more are livid that Mile-Hi Skydiving has plans for yet another sky diving craft. On any number of scales, it’s a quality of life issue that impacts many over an economic issue that is has all the trappings of a pipe dream.

Beyond the merits of the issue itself is something that should bother all Longmont residents whether or not they live in an area that will be most affected by any expansion.

The City of Longmont is playing something of a shell game on this issue. To put it another way: A whole lotta lyin’ is goin’ on over the Airport Master Plan and the ultimate outcome.

In spite of what certain council members are saying on camera at council meetings, there is a majority that has already made up its individual minds. That majority is Mayor Bryan Baum and Council Members Katie Witt, Gabe Santos, and Alex Sammoury. They deny it, but an Open Records Request by CARE (Citizens Against Runway Extension) revealed otherwise – not to mention a number of meetings earlier this year where a runway extension was promoted to groups in the vicinity of the airport by none other than the Mayor Baum and Ms. Witt. Baum doesn’t like being cornered so he’ll try to bully his way out of this, as he’s done before.

Mayor Baum and Council Member Witt undoubtedly thought they were getting out ahead of any problems and planned to grease the skids in favor of an extension in hopes of clear sailing. Flawed strategy and flawed judgment call.

And as far as city staff, here’s how that works. Index fingers get raised in the wind to determine its direction and the weather report is given accordingly. What is not welcome is either omitted or spun towards favorability. After all, there are jobs to be protected, especially in today’s market. It wouldn’t be prudent to offend Power. Firings and instructions to fire can hurt.

The FAA, already charged with facilitating expansion of airports, will be giving “cover” to a council who has already boarded this flight.

Until and unless Mayor Baum releases a list of businesses who (A) did not come to Longmont because its airport runway was too short, and (B) will come to Longmont when it has a longer runway, it’s all just wind and the turbulence is justified. Numbers have been thrown around, but they never have names attached to them. It begs the question, do they even exist.

Presumably John Cody of the Longmont Area Economic Council would know who these companies are – if they exist. I challenge him to name names – all of them. It’s time for him to put up or shut up and cease pretending that this information is confidential.

Whether council, staff or LAEC, this issue is too important to too many residents for them to accept “Trust me” as an answer.

This new council, whose majority I refer to as The Baum Squad, has an agenda. They will carry it out and only pretend to be concerned about public sentiment. They like to say that they want to make Longmont “business friendly” or “open for business.” That’s a euphemism for saying that Longmont is For Sale – at foreclosure prices – for whatever business wants, business will get.

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.

Violations of Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act

The following is the complete text of the complaints filed with Longmont City Clerk Valeria Skitt. Exhibits are available from the Longmont City Clerk’s office.

Report on Alleged Violation of LFCPA

Submitted by Kaye Fissinger
July 13, 2010

The LFCPA defines an “issue committee” as follows: (2.04.203)

“Issue committee” means two or more persons who are elected, appointed, or chosen, or have associated themselves for the purpose of accepting contributions and making expenditures to support or oppose any ballot issue or ballot question. “Issue committee” does not include political committees or candidate committees. A married couple shall not be considered an “issue committee.”

The LFCPA defines a “political committee” as follows: (2.04.203)

“Political committee” means two or more persons who are elected, appointed, or chosen, or have associated themselves for the purpose of making contributions to candidate committees, issue committees, or other political committees, or for the purpose of making independent expenditures. “Political committee” does not include issue committees, candidate committees, or married couples.

I hereby allege that the issue committee known as Longmont Watch has violated the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act (LFCPA). Longmont Watch came into existence to oppose collective bargaining for Longmont’s fire and police employees, an issue on the November 2008 ballot, and is, therefore, an issue committee. At the time of its formation, there were no local candidates running for office. Further, Longmont Watch, made no contribution to any candidate that was running for any office during the 2008 election cycle, as evidenced by their expenditure reports. (Exhibit A)

Longmont Watch had a balance of $791.85 in its report December 3, 2008 and the balanced remained until it was dispersed in three equal portions to three candidates for Longmont City Council on September 24, 2009. (Exhibit B)

Section 2.04.205 Section C of LFCPA states: “Unexpended contribution to an issue committee may be donated to any charitable organization recognized by the Internal Revenue Service or returned to the contributor.

Longmont Watch dispersed the remaining balance in their account to each of three candidate committees divided equally ($263.95) to Katie Witt, Alex Sammoury and Gabe Santos. The LFPCA does not permit an issue committee to disperse unexpended funds to a candidate committee.

The LFCPA defines “conduit” as follows: (2.04.203)

“Conduit” means a person who transmits any contribution from another person directly to a candidate, candidate committee or issue committee with the intent of hiding the identity of the contributor.

By dispersing funds to the three candidate committees, the registered agent acted as a conduit for contributions made by individuals to the issue committee. Further, an examination of the names of contributors to Longmont Watch certain names were also contributors to these candidates.

Section 2.04.104 Section F parts 1 and 2 of the LFCPA set contribution limits as follows:

1. A natural person shall not contribute more than $200.00 to any one candidate committee for an election or special election, except that this limit shall not apply to contributions by a candidate to the candidate’s own committee.
2. Persons, other than natural persons, shall not contribute more than $500.00 to any one candidate
committee for an election or special election.

Three contributors to Longmont Watch made maximum contributions to a candidate(s) committee:

Chris Treharne: $200 to Alex Sammoury
Stephen Strong : $200 to Katie Witt
Steve Strong: $200 to Gabe Santos
Frontier Companies: $500 to Gabe Santos

Inasmuch as contributions accepted by Longmont Watch were not segregated by contributor, subsequent contributions made to the afore-mentioned candidates resulted in excess contributions received by said candidates from the named individuals and company. Gabe Santos, Katie Witt and Alex Sammoury failed to return the illegal contributions either within the designated 72-hour time period or as disallowed by LFCPA 2.04.205 Section C.

The LFCPA provides for penalties for violations in 2.04.211 Section C as follows:

• Use of unexpended campaign funds in violation of this Act – $400.
• Acting as a conduit in violation of this Act – $400 for each violation.
• Accepting contributions in excess of the amounts allowed by this Act – $400, except that it shall not be considered a violation if the candidate or issue committee returns the contribution within 72 hours of its receipt. Each such contribution accepted in excess of the amounts allowed by this Act shall be a separate violation.

No legal or formal changes to the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act have yet been made. Therefore, the outlined violations must be pursued and prosecuted under the LFCPA as it currently exists.

The following are attached:

Exhibit A: Expenditure Reports for Longmont Watch
Exhibit B: Expenditure Report for Longmont Watch documenting contributions to Alex Sammoury, Katie Witt and Gabe Santos
Exhibit C: Summary of Longmont Watch contributors with highlighted names who also contributed to the candidates named above.
Exhibit D: Evidence of maximum contributions by Frontier Companies, Steven Strong, and Chris Treharne to candidates Sammoury, Witt and/or Santos

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.

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
CashIn-Kind
Bill Van DusenCity Council-At-Large$3,051$605
Kaye FissingerCity Council-At-Large$4,242$503
Karen BenkerCity Council Ward 2$7,533$474
Roger LangeMayor$4,838
Independent Expenditure from Deb Gardner$208

Candidates Who Won
CashIn-Kind
Gabe SantosCity Council-At-Large$14,620$605
Alex SammouryCity Council-At-Large$13,718$503
Katie WittCity Council Ward 2$16,557$474
Bryan BaumMayor$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.

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.