Tag Archive for Longmont City Council

Free Range Longmont Endorses: Brian Hansen for Ward 1

Brian Hansen

It is hard to beat the ringing endorsement of Brian Hansen that was presented by Ruby Bowman.  Free Range Longmont fully agrees with everything Ms. Bowman wrote.

As Chair of Longmont’s Board of Environmental Affairs, I can attest to the exceptional value that Brian Hansen has provided to environmental issues by virtue of his doctorate in Analytical and Environmental Chemistry.  Hansen is a proud advocate for the environment at all policy levels.  He understands the ramifications not only to our quality of life but to our economy that will result from failures to address the environmental issues that threaten our future.

Hansen provided great insight and understanding during the Board of Environmental Affairs development of the “Commercial Green Points” program.  This program is based on the International Green Construction Code but allows builders and developers flexibility in meeting the programs requirements.  It is more than unfortunate that this program has not been brought before the current city council.  The existing make-up makes it all but certain that the program would be rejected.  The current majority led by Mayor Brian Baum is hostile to environmental concerns.

It should not go without saying that Brian Hansen is thoroughly prepared on all issues that come before the Longmont City Council.  Hansen challenges those organizations that have contracts with the city and does not hesitate to question their reports when information contained in those reports is suspect.

Brian Hansen is a strong protector of Longmont’s assets and deserves to be returned to City Council as the representative for Ward 1.

Free Range Longmont Endorses: Sarah Levison for Council at-large

Sarah Levison speaks to community at Longmont Chamber of Commerce/Times-Call Candidate Forum

The choice for this council seat is without dispute Sarah Levison.  Levison is the most well-informed candidate on the Longmont City Council on all issues that are brought before the council.  She doesn’t simply rely on information provided by city staff.  She reaches out to experts to gain their insights and knowledge and uses this information to shape the best courses of action for the city of Longmont.  Her network of resources is both broad and deep.

Levison devotes considerable time to Longmont boards and commissions as well as the Colorado Municipal Leagues (CML) and the National League of Cities (NLC).  She serves on the CML policy committee and the NLC steering committee for finance, administration and intergovernmental relations as well as the Youth, Education and Family Council and the panel for Democratic Governance

As a 14 year resident of Longmont, Levison has long been active in the community. She served on Longmont City’s Economic Vitality Taskforce and is a former neighborhood group leader for the Historic Eastside Neighborhood Association.

Levison has been a strong and tireless supporter of fair and open campaign practices against those on Longmont’s current council who sought to weaken Longmont’s campaign transparency regulations.  She also strongly resisted the destruction of Longmont’s Affordable Housing Program that resulted from the elimination of the 10% new home set-aside that provided geographic diversity and a funding source for other aspects of the Affordable Housing Program.

A vote for Sarah Levison is a vote for the betterment of Longmont.

Re-elect Brian Hansen

Brian Hansen

Re-elect Brian Hansen to the Longmont city council. He has the hands-on experience, both as a Longmont business owner and a sitting member on council, to tackle the complex issues facing our community

As CEO and president of his pharmaceutical research and development company, Brian Hansen understands the challenges Longmont businesses are experiencing during periods of economic downturn. He has had to make difficult decisions regarding the downsizing of his company in order to keep it a viable business. He knows how important it is to live within his means.

As a council member, he serves as liaison for several important city boards: the Water Board, Board of Environmental Affairs, and the Windy Gap Committee. He represents Longmont on the Boulder County Resource Conservation Advisory Board and is a member of the county’s Energy Task Force. Brian Hansen is a strong supporter of our open space program.

As a former Chair of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, I have worked with Brian on city matters. I have found him to be a remarkable individual who thoroughly analyzes problems and comes up with productive solutions. He takes the time to discuss, and, more importantly, listen to constituent concerns regarding critical city issues, such as making railroad crossings safe for children to cross in the Kiteley Neighborhood. I have seen firsthand his commitment to improving the quality of life for his constituents of Ward I.

There is no doubt Brian Hansen has the leadership qualities necessary to move Longmont toward a more caring and prosperous future. His work ethic, extensive educational background (PhD in Analytical and Environmental Chemistry) and business acumen make him the ideal person to represent the residents of Ward I on council. Re-elect Brian Hansen so he can continue his good work for the people of Longmont!

Baum’s “used car” salesmanship

Photo by M. Douglas Wray ©2011 FreeRangeLongmont.com

Longmont's getting malled

Mayor Bryan Baum came into office on a wing and a promise.   And in the black art of “used car” salesmanship, he’s hoping you won’t notice the sleight of hand.

During the 2009 campaign Baum repeatedly chastised the 2007 City Council on their progress on reviving Twin Peaks Mall and claimed that he would make it happen.  And what has been Mayor Bryan Baum’s position on the Mall since his election?  “Oh, well, there’s nothing we can do about it.  The Mall is private property and the city has no control over it.”

Mayor Baum, you knew all along that this was private property but you chose to use the state of the mall to agitate your way into public office.  Voters are getting mighty exasperated with politicians making promises that they don’t keep.  And you made a whopper.  No matter how you cut the mustard, you have done nothing.  Fool them once, shame on you.  Voters won’t be fooled twice.

Longmont Mayor Bryan Baum - Dim moment

Longmont Mayor Bryan Baum - Dim moment

During the run-up to the 2009 city election Mayor Baum totally dismissed the previous council’s action to “blight” the mall and surrounding properties.  And we all know that the qualifications for “blight” are broad enough to drive a Mack truck through them.  It would have been just as supportable to deny a blighted condition.

The 2007 Council also arranged for mall development experts to conduct a two-day charette in October 2008 to determine how the entire mall area might be designed and developed to meet the many needs of the citizens and City of Longmont.

The community might be very interested to know that when the final chapter of that event was to be presented – the financial analysis by Panattoni – their computers (all of them?) failed and there were NO numbers produced.  More than curious.

The city was negotiating with Panattoni on how Tax Increment Financing (TIF) might be used, but Panattoni wanted $15 million in bonds for Phase I only, an outrageous amount of exposure for the city.  To pay off these public bonds, Panattoni wanted to use 100% of all new property taxes and 90% of all new allowable city sales taxes collected at the mall to construct their version of Phase I.  The public benefit to the city would have been a mere 10% of new sales taxes generated.  Panattoni further disregarded not only the ideas generated in the charette, but disregarded the public’s input from numerous public meetings on Twin Peaks redevelopment.  Their “my way or the highway” negotiating position caused the negotiations to break down.

Incidentally, lost property taxes to our schools from TIF have to be backfilled by the state.  As everyone knows, budget shortfalls at the state level have resulted in repeated cuts to education.

Panattoni purchased the mall at the height of the development craze in July 2007 for $37 million.  And it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that intentions were expressed, if not promises made, to Panattoni by the sitting council at the time of the purchase.  In February the mall was valued at $17 million.

Panattoni hired NewMark Merrill, a shopping center management firm known for specializing in distressed properties, to handle the mall’s myriad of problems.  Just recently Bank of America placed Twin Peaks Mall into foreclosure.

The Baum SquadBut then I suspect that foreclosure was anticipated by those that Baum has called “connected.”  Connected, in this case means Longmont’s “Old Guard,” its oligarchy, select movers and shakers within the business community but far from all of Longmont’s business community.  It certainly does not include those council members who are not part of the Baum majority.

If/when the mall is sold, it clearly will be a short sale.  How low the fire sale price goes will depend on how big a bath Bank of America wants to take.   Panattoni put $8 million down on the property.

Should Longmont be fortunate to have a new mall owner – one that is not looking for a deal that includes the sun, moon and the stars – I hope that Longmont will have a mayor who will look out for the interests of the entire community and not one who will give out the city’s PIN on yet another wing and a promise.

Baum’s dictatorial ways are wrong for Longmont

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Housing and hosing

If you can't afford new, you're not allowed to own: Exclusionary zoning.

Well, the city of Longmont has finally rid itself of that pesky inclusionary zoning program. Unintended consequences of that decision are: the inability to leverage private capital necessary to build work-force housing; the inability to finance needed repairs such as roof replacement on a family rental property or an elevator replacement on a senior housing project; and limited ability to support the purchase of lots by Habitat for Humanity.

As a six-year member of the city’s Affordable Housing Technical Review Committee, I reviewed real projects like those above that were supported by the city’s Affordable Housing Fund financed through the inclusionary zoning program. During that period, thousands of frail elderly, handicapped and persons in low-paying jobs benefited from these publicly supported housing investments.

The next time a City Council member hears from a Longmont teacher or a police officer that they have taken a job in Johnstown or Frederick because it’s closer to “home” where the housing is cheaper, I hope they will remember the decision to eliminate the inclusionary zoning program.

The next time a local housing development project misses out on the opportunity to bring millions of dollars in outside investment, (e.g., the Hover Crossing Senior housing project) due to lack of local commitment, remember this decision.

The next time economic development advocates come to the city with reports that lack of work-force housing is a hindrance to attracting new business, remember this decision.

These will be unintended consequences of the elimination of the inclusionary zoning program.

Reconstitute the affordable housing fund through a different funding mechanism. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!

Longmont’s ALEC impersonators

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

ALEC

Big money crushing the little people

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Longmont City Council has:

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

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

“Imagine listening to your neighbor mow their lawn — for 12 hours a day!”

Fearless lawnmowers from the sky?

Mile-Hi Skydiving noise reaches far beyond the Airport Influence Zone and Teresa Foster’s neighborhood. I live in Gunbarrel, eight miles from Vance Brand Airport and several miles outside the AIZ.

According to Mile-Hi’s website, its fleet of aircraft has the capacity to “rocket” jumpers to 18,000 feet in 10 minutes and “drop 100 jumpers per hour,” resulting in more than 35,000 jumps annually. Unfortunately, this thrilling entertainment ruins the quality of life for those of us on the ground. Starting before 8 a.m. and going until sunset (including Saturday and Sunday), their fleet is in full swing. The Twin Otter with blue markings circles around Niwot and as far south as my home in Gunbarrel Estates. The constant, loud hum travels for miles and at times is deafening. We cannot enjoy time in our yard or on the extensive trail system and open space. Imagine listening to your neighbor mow their lawn — for 12 hours a day!

The noise from the Mile-Hi skydiving planes imposes an unacceptable nuisance on thousands of nearby residents. Unfortunately, pleas to the City Council for relief continue to fall on deaf ears. Moreover, they are seeking to extend the runway, which will allow larger and noisier planes — how insulting to the ordinary residents of Longmont and surrounding communities.

As the Vance Brand Airport proprietor, it is the city’s responsibility to address this urgent problem. Appropriate mitigation efforts would include installing acoustical monitoring equipment to collect air traffic data, rescinding or restricting the lease with Mile-Hi Skydiving and abandoning the runway expansion initiative. If the city continues to ignore us, we will work diligently to elect members who genuinely represent their constituents instead of well-funded special interests. You can learn more about this effort by contacting me at kimberly_gibbs@yahoo.com.

Council oversteps legal authority

Baum Squad's advice for Longmont

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gessler exceeds his authority

From Ethics Watch:

Jun 10, 2011

Common Cause and Ethics Watch File Complaint Against Secretary of State Gessler

Scott Gessler, Republican candidate for Colorado Secretary of State

Scott Gessler (R) Colorado Secretary of State - shows questionable ethics - again.

Late yesterday, Colorado Common Cause and Colorado Ethics Watch filed a complaint in Denver District Court against Secretary of State Scott Gessler that claims Gessler unlawfully weakened Colorado campaign finance laws through the Secretary of State’s rulemaking process. The Secretary of State does not have authority to change state law, and therefore Common Cause and Ethics Watch have asked the court to invalidate the Secretary of State’s rule.

 

After receiving comments in opposition to the new Campaign and Political Finance Rule 4.27, which “increases the contribution and expenditure threshold that triggers the requirement for an issue committee to register and file disclosure reports,” Secretary Gessler issued a notice of adoption of the rule on May 13.  The rule raises the threshold from $200, as defined in the Colorado Constitution, to $5000.  In addition, the rule eliminates the requirement to disclose any information about the first $5,000 of contributions and expenditures by an issue committee. The Court of Appeals has already held that the Secretary of State has no authority to promulgate rules that add, modify or conflict with constitutional provisions.

Read the rest at Ethics Watch including the complaint.


If it’s not agonizingly obvious to people by now that our SOS is a GOP SOB and intends to leave our elections AFU and the Dems SOL then you’re not paying attention.

At the Longmont City Council meeting on May 3, 2011, Mayor Baum and Council Members, Santos, Sammoury and Witt aligned themselves with Scott Gessler to set the reporting threshold for Longmont ballot issues at $5,000 – which is ridiculous.

The GOP in Colorado intends to win all of the next several elections, regardless of the cost – and why not, they have the Western Traditions Partners standing by to shovel money into any campaign they designate. They’ll be cranking out nasty mailers, godawful radio spots and very likely television ads all with the intent of taking every single elected seat they can – and then the real fun will start.

The recent vote on Longmont’s Affordable Housing program was an obvious shot-across-the-bow and is no doubt the first of many such attacks on programs to support the least of us. The far right extremists in Longmont have made their unchristian disdain for the people at the bottom of the economic scale very clear. With Gessler’s help they’ll make certain that their revenge goes as deep and as wide as possible.

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.

Heaven Fest should support local charities

As seen in Longmont Ledger, February 20, 2011

Heaven Fest, the Christian music festival that played at Union Reservoir last summer will land somewhere “North of Denver” on July 31, but that’s about all that can be determined at this writing.

How many in our Front Range communities would be surprised to learn that in the festival’s first three events (2007-2009) Heaven Fest gave not one dime to local charities. Read that again then shake your head in wonderment.

Heaven Fest is a wholly owned subsidiary of Worship and the Word Movement, a religious charity that files 990s with the IRS. Much was made of this status in support of the permit application, but the facts belie the promises. WWM grossed over $1 million from 2007 to 2009 and donated a mere 2.13 percent, every penny of which went to support two orphanages in Central America.

Instead, 100 percent of the $47,029 donation was given to the Miami based “House of Refuge,” which ran orphanages in both Venezuela and Honduras. Interestingly, the Venezuelan government seized the property and shut down that orphanage in 2008, and in 2009, the founder and operator of both orphanages fled Honduras rather than face charges of child molestation and sexual misconduct.

Last year’s event at the reservoir grossed an estimated $1 million. Heaven Fest promised various amounts to various local charities — $50,000 to one, all parking fees to another – but in an August 10 article in the Times-Call under the banner “Stoked,” the organizers announced contributions totaling $46,000 of which $1,500 (3.3 percent) would benefit local charities with the rest going to entities in foreign countries.

As for the $900,000 economic “bump” predicted by various Longmont civic executives, it never happened. Sales taxes exceed those in three other months. Compared to the same period in ’08 they were $22,000 less.

Last year I argued strongly with Longmont’s City Council that a gate fee should have been charged to this non-profit organization, just as though it were a commercial rock show. It was obvious that council wanted to duck the discussion with its unspoken tension on the line between church and state.

The permit was granted of course, and minimal fees were charged. The possibility of a gate fee anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000 was waived. A strong argument can be made that the city violated Rule 9:14 of the Municipal Code which specifically states, “(N)o expenditure shall be made for any charitable or benevolent purposes to any denominational or sectarian institution or association.”

What WWM does with its money and where they spend it is none of my business or anyone else’s. Had we in 2010 negotiated a percentage of the gate and directed to our local charities, I wouldn’t be writing this letter. But council ducked the debate, hyped the event and it won’t surprise me if it does so again.

If a city wants to make an illegal donation to a religious organization, I suggest at the very minimum it demand a public audit so citizens are fully informed.

I will provide documentation for all facts above upon request.

Heaven Fest 2007 990 filing

Heaven Fest 2008 990 filing

Heaven Fest 2009 990 filing

“nogreenie”

The anti-environment folks are full of bull(dozer)

“Longmont conservatives will fight oppressive environmentalism to the death. Just wait til we get our seven anti-enviro, common-sense capitalists on city council in 2011!”

The above comment recently appeared in response to a Longmont Ledger article on the first home in Longmont built using the city’s updated residential green built program. The city adopted the National Association of Home Builders 2008 National Green Building Standard ICC 700-2008 Code on December 22, 2009.

I’ve watched “nogreenie” pop up from time to time both on the Ledger and on the Times-Call comments streams. He appears to be a member of the builder/developer community. If so, he is clearly out of step with his own colleagues who developed, endorsed and promoted the code that was adopted by Longmont.

“nogreenie” identifies himself as a conservative. By today’s definition, I suppose he is. However, today’s so-called conservatives have embraced irresponsibility in their public policy positions. They have come from the fictional, market fundamentalist Ayn Rand school that believes in the free market as if it were a literal, infallible Bible.

Good government is a balance of beliefs and thoughts from balanced individuals. It does not seek to silence differences. The obsessed “conservative” thought of Longmont wants to eliminate differences of opinion. Apparently, in the final analysis they fear that expression of differences will overtake their agenda.

The nation is capitalist. That will not change. The only issue is what kind of capitalism – responsible or unbridled.

“nogreenie” is undoubtedly part of the financial supporters who chose to use any means at their disposal to capture a Longmont City Council majority in 2009, a majority of, by and for unrestricted development and taxpayer dollars freely disbursed to its proponents. This was accomplished not just with the financial backing of Western Tradition Partnership, who accepts confidential contributions from any and all who think in the same manner, including contributions from out of the country, but with campaign tactics that brought differences of opinion to a level of ugliness that had not been seen before in Longmont’s recent history.

“nogreenie” has signaled that Longmont will be subjected to more outside money and more dirty politics in the upcoming 2011 local elections with the objective of eliminating any view that does not endorse policies that benefit only the moneyed special interests in the community.

If the community wants a government of the extreme right that merges state and business leadership in a seamless, indistinguishable manner, they will follow the lead of “nogreenie.”

If they would prefer a marketplace of ideas, they will reject this totalitarian objective.

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.