Tag Archive for Longmont elections

Elect candidates who stand against fracking

Cast your ballot for those who will best protect Longmont's right to local control.

Vote, checked with red pencilAs we approach municipal elections Nov. 5, I believe it is critical that voters understand where each candidate stands regarding two lawsuits the city is currently defending. Although each lawsuit pertains to the community’s ability to regulate oil and gas operations within its corporate boundaries, each resulted from a separate approach to address foundational principles of local government in Colorado.

Home rule, citizen initiative and local control are key concepts found in the Colorado Constitution, the Longmont city charter and in years of practical application. The reason these basic principles of government are so critical is simple. When properly applied, they put key decisions about local communities in the hands of the people most heavily impacted, local residents. Under our charter, the citizens elect the City Council, which has the obligation to adopt appropriate policies to protect our health, environment and quality of life. This includes appropriate regulations for all land uses.

If and when residents do not believe the elected city council members are appropriately protecting the community, citizens have the right to initiate appropriate actions. This is what happened in 2012 regarding oil and gas operations. The ability to adopt appropriate land use regulations is a basic right of home rule cities in Colorado and a fundamental expectation of citizens. As you will see below, the primary opponents of local oil and gas land use regulations in Longmont are Gov. John Hickenlooper and the multi-billion dollar oil and gas industry. That is why city council elections this year are absolutely critical.

The first lawsuit is an attempt to thwart the city council’s right to reasonably regulate land uses in Longmont. It was filed by Gov. Hickenlooper via his industry-dominated Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). The oil and gas industry quickly joined the governor’s legal action so that it could throw its deep pockets of cash into the fight to have the state, not the city council, regulate oil and gas operations within Longmont.

The governor felt compelled to take legal action against our community because a majority of the Longmont City Council dared to enact land use regulations that prohibit oil/gas operations, including hydraulic fracturing, within residential neighborhoods and requires these operations to be at least 750 feet from schools, hospitals and day care centers. Since the governor finds these rather timid Longmont regulations to be too restrictive of the heavy oil and gas industry, it verifies how little protection he believes our citizens deserve.

As of today, the city is vigorously defending its home rule rights to reasonably regulate the heavy industrial activities associated with oil and gas operations. However, a future city council could stop defending this lawsuit and capitulate to the governor and the industry. At least one candidate, mayoral challenger Bryan Baum, has publicly stated that he is in favor of settling this lawsuit. If you believe in local control, you need to know where the other candidates stand.

The second lawsuit stems from 2012, when a group of Longmont residents became convinced that a majority of the elected city council was not adequately protecting the community from the impacts of oil and gas operations. The citizens initiated a city charter amendment that prohibits fracking operations within the city boundaries. Approximately 60 percent of the voters agreed with the amendment last November and it is now a part of the city charter. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) promptly filed legal action challenging Longmont’s city charter. The governor quickly joined forces with the industry.

I hope you see the pattern of state government and industry joining forces to attack local control. The opponents of local control hope that the combination of the power of state government and the deep pockets of a politically connected industry will intimidate small communities and citizens. They think bullying local government serves their interests. It will not work in Longmont if we elect the right city council members.

Both of these lawsuits address important local control issues; therefore, they must both be vigorously defended. The one addresses the powers of a home rule city as provided for in the Colorado constitution. The other defends the right of citizens to initiate charter amendments or legislation when their elected representatives fail to act appropriately. These rights and powers of our local community are in the hands of the next city council. I encourage each voter to understand the candidates’ position and cast your ballot for the ones who will best protect our community.

Former Longmont City Manager, Gordon Pedrow

Former Longmont City Manager, Gordon Pedrow

 

WTP: “…as slippery an organization as one finds in modern politics.”

Everything has a price - but should it?In a ruling on Friday, December 30th, the Montana Supreme Court issued a rebuke against Citizens United that leaves most “human persons” loudly cheering.  Citizens United refers to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2010  wherein the activist Roberts’ Court decreed corporations had constitutional rights to directly spend money on ‘independent expenditures’ in campaigns.  That ruling effectively codified a doctrine of “corporate personhood.”

The 80-page Montana ruling against a suit brought by Western Tradition Partnership attacked the thinking behind the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, the impact of big money in political culture, and the premise that corporations deserve the same political speech rights as citizens.

The Montana Court’s ruling asserted that the Citizens United decision did not remove all bans on corporate speech. “The Supreme Court held that laws that burden political speech are subject to strict scrutiny, which requires the government to prove that the law furthers a compelling state interest and is narrowly tailored to that interest,” the court said.  The ruling details the history of 1912 state law banning direct corporate spending on electoral campaigns and provides explanations of sufficiently compelling state interests to merit sustaining the century-old law.

“Organizations like WTP that act as a conduit for anonymously spending by others represent a threat to the political marketplace,” wrote Mike McGrath, Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court, for the majority. “Clearly the impact of unlimited corporate donations creates a dominating impact on the political process and inevitably minimizes the impact of individual citizens.”

Steven Rosenfeld, in reporting on the ruling, stated “the lead group that sued to overturn the Montana ban on direct corporate spending in campaigns followed a very deliberate course of clashing with virtually every aspect of Montana campaign finance law. The lawyers behind the litigation believe that they should face no limits or accountability for any political fund-raising or spending.”

The court noted that Western Tradition Partnership’s lawyers claimed that it should be allowed to spend freely because the group would have to disclose that activity under Montana law when the same group, using another name, actually had sued the state to overturn those very disclosure laws.  WTP is also involved in a third suit challenging the state’s campaign spending disclosure law.

Rosenfeld’s description of Western Tradition Partnership (now known as American Tradition Partnership) as a political organization that  is “as slippery an organization as one finds in modern politics” leaves no doubt about its ethics and modus operandi and is solidly supported by its history, practices and assertions.

Western Tradition Partnership sued to overturn the 1912 Montana Corrupt Practices Act, an irony not lost on those who have experienced the corrupt political practices of the organization up close and personal.  WTP first surfaced in Longmont, Colorado, when it frivolously sued the city over its Fair Campaign Practices Act, represented by Scott Gessler, now Colorado’s Secretary of State.  In Longmont’s 2009 election, WTP was responsible for abhorrent political practices that it had debuted in Montana and for which it was held responsible by the Montana Political Practices Commission.  WTP returned again in the 2011 election to once again elect council members who would advance their agenda.

The Montana Supreme Court’s ruling quoted a fund-raising brochure that said, “If you decide to support this program, no politician, no bureaucrat, and no radical environmentalist will ever know you made this program possible.”  A visit to its website will reveal the hatred for all things environmental (“Gang Green”) and the absolutism in the advancement of extraction industry property rights.  The organization’s Executive Director and website writer Donald aka Donny Ferguson has never met a lie he didn’t love.  If the only information you had available was that which is presented on www.americantradition.org, you would have perceptions that have no bearing whatsoever on reality.

“We take note that Western Tradition appears to be engaged in a multi-front attack on both contribution restrictions and the transparency that accompanies campaign disclosure requirements,” the Court said.  Its previous attorney of record, Gessler, is now engaged in a multi-front attack on contribution restrictions and transparency from his position as Colorado’s Secretary of State.

The court added in a footnote that the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices called the group a “sham” because it failed to register with the state, and refused to disclose the sources of its funds or its spending—as required by law.

Even the dissenting opinion lambasted the Citizens United ruling notwithstanding its contention that the Montana Court was bound by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.

Justice James C. Nelson wrote, “And, to be absolutely clear, I do not agree with it [Citizens United]. For starters, the notion that corporations are disadvantaged in the political realm is unbelievable. Indeed, it has astounded most Americans. The truth is that corporations wield enormous power in Congress and in state legislatures. It is hard to tell where government ends and corporate America begins: the transition is seamless and overlapping.”

“In the real world of politics,” he wrote, “the “quid pro quo” of both direct contributions to candidates and independent expenditures on their behalf is loyalty. And, in practical effect, experience teaches us that money corrupts, and enough of it corrupts absolutely.”

In assaulting the very notion of corporate personhood, Nelson stated, “I find the concept entirely offensive. Corporations are artificial creatures of law. As such, they should enjoy only those powers—not constitutional rights, but legislatively-conferred powers—that are concomitant with their legitimate function, that being limited liability investment vehicles for business. Corporations are not persons. Human beings are persons, and it is an affront to the inviolable dignity of our species that courts have created a legal fiction which forces people—human beings—to share fundamental natural rights with soulless creations of government. Worse still, while corporations and human beings share many of the same rights under the law, they clearly are not bound equally to the same codes of good conduct, decency, and morality, and they are not held equally accountable for their sins. Indeed, it is truly ironic that the death penalty and hell are reserved only to natural persons.”

American Tradition Partnership says that it is a “no-compromise” organization.  And for once it has told the truth.  It is likely to appeal this ruling all the way back to the U.S. Supreme Court.  We can only hope that if that happens, the Supreme Court will have second thoughts about their disastrous ruling in Citizens United.

When Longmont went dirty

Ms Baum, you brought dirty politics to Longmont. I received in the mail dirty political attack campaign mailers from the Steve Monger of the Longmont Leadership aka Western Tradition partnership and from you Ms. Baum. You go after citizens who don’t agree with you. It’s not right what you do. It’s shameful what you do.
— blog post by “Onion” on the article BoCo Dems get first look at HD 11 contenders – Times-Call.com

Some people can lose an election and move on (no pun intended).  Some people can’t.  One has to wonder who in the dangerous duo from November’s election is having the most difficulty, ex-mayor Bryan Baum or the ex “First Lady”.  It’s a toss-up.

Bryan seems to have great difficulty letting go.  Would you be surprised to know that he’s still doing the “Monday with the Mayor” radio broadcast, but under a nominally different banner?  Oh, yes, not making that one up.  News flash, “has-been-mayor” Baum, your term is over.  And in spite of a retained conservative majority, at least you cannot continue to damage Longmont.  No matter how much you stroke yourself, you did cause much damage.  It was delineated in the Moving Longmont Forward mailer.  Could it be that you actually do not recognize the harm you’ve caused?  Naw, not likely.  That you have to protest so often and so publicly suggests that even you worry about having been exposed.  Don’t worry.  Those who agree with you won’t hold your skullduggery against you; they applaud it.

As to Bryan Baum’s other half…  I know the usual expression is “better half” …but it this case there is no “better.”  Stephanie seems to have as much difficulty with truth as her husband does.  She led the way in 2008 with the notorious “pink letter” (reproduced below).

A recent Times-Call article gave her the opportunity to get back in the game.  Likely she chafed at having to keep her mouth shut for two years lest she damage her husband’s re-election chances.  She needn’t have worried.  Baum did that quite well all by himself.   First out of the gate, in the article about the first forum for Democratic HD 11 contenders, Stephanie Baum demands that no one support Jonathan Singer in his House District 11 race because he supported Moving Longmont Forward.  Another news flash, this one for the ex-First Lady., Mr. Singer does not endorse lies and that is why he was able to support the mailer exposing your husband’s record and behavior.  Mr. Singer has personal experience with your husband’s bullying.  He chose not to expose him, a kindness that others would not have been so inclined to offer.  Had the contents of that telephone conversation been revealed to the public, your husband would have lost by a landslide.

In Stephanie Baum’s tit-for-tat on the Times-Call website, back and forth, she effectively dared “Onion” to produce a copy of the “pink letter” and demonstrate the attacks that were leveled.  Free Range Longmont is happy to oblige on their behalf.

The irony of all of the protestations by the Baums is their selective memories not only of the launching of negative campaigning in the 2008 campaign, but ready acceptance of the most vile of political campaigning that Longmont has ever experienced, namely the “The Longmont Leader.”

For those who may have preferred to forget, this was a newspaper-style**, 11” x 17” 8-pager that spent most of its ink in inarguable attack.  Ink, by the way, that was paid for by Western Tradition Partnership, an organization that never was, never will be a local voice (except perhaps to hide contributions by those who do not have the courage to display their agenda publicly).

I am not so naïve as to believe that this will be the last word on political lies and political attacks.  Pandora’s Box was opened by Gabe Santos and Stephanie Baum was more than happy to wield an ax.  In the process, they changed Longmont’s politics for the indefinite future and invited the the likes of Scott Shires (responsible for the first attack piece in the 2008 election and connected to political hit sites) and Western (now American) Tradition Partnership.  I’m certain Longmont hasn’t heard the last of them – they have a lot of money and an agenda.


Transcription of the “Pink Letter” sent to Longmont voters during the 2008 Special Election. Underlining is preserved from original. Color-highlighted text is FRL emphasis. Spelling errors in the original have been marked ‘sic’ to indicate they have been left unchanged.


Stephanie Baum

January 18, 2008

Dear Friend,

I am writing you today as a mother and a neighbor – please forgive me for my informality – as I have never felt called to send a letter like this.

Normally, I am satisfied to take my son to karate practice, plan play dates with other moms and their kids, and spend my free time keeping up with friends through email.

But I have become gravely concerned about our community of Longmont and the sudden change in direction it has taken.

I have lived in Longmont for nine years and have come to love this community and have developed many deep friendships here. Longmont has grown precisely because it is a beautiful, safe place with strong values, where a family can thrive.

That’s why I care deeply about the kind of leadership my son and daughter, Chase and Brooklynn, and I see in Longmont and across our great state of Colorado.

The future of Longmont is important enough that I wanted to personally write to you about Gabe Santos, who is the common-sense Republican running to bring balance back to Longmont City Council.

I first met Gabe over 7 years ago, at a welcome reception in the home of his in-laws, Van and Diane Stow, whom I’ve known for years.

When I met Gabe, I remember thinking “oh great, another Big City guy moving to our little town,” but as soon as I spoke to him I realized he was anything but a “Big City guy.” His engaging personality is obviously one of the many reasons why his wife Vicki fell in love with him.

Now, if you’re like me, you’re recently seen an organized assault on Longmont by a radical element attempting to distort Gabe’s record and hide their harmful agenda, in an effort to take over city council.

I have believed for some time that this sort of negative campaigning is degrading the way we act and feel towards each other.

In response to the distasteful broadsides being directed at my friend Gabe and at some people of faith in our community, I have some nice – and true – things to say.

I know Gabe Santos is a good and decent man. He has spent his entire adult life serving others.

My husband coordinates the Salvation Army bell-ringing for the Longmont Rotary Club, and Gabe rang the bell more than any other Rotarian this year. Gabe and Vicki chaired Longmont’s Relay for Life, taking over for us in that capacity.

My husband Bryan and I have been very active with local non-profits here in Longmont, and Gabe and Vicki have the same passion that we do in those endeavors. Gabe so often puts the needs of others before his own.

He has served his family by providing for them and being a “hands on” dad with his involvement and support – we can’t go to Art Walk, the Halloween Parade, the Festival on Main, Oktoberfest or any other of a number of community events without running into Gabe, Vicki and their daughter Sylvia.

He worked with city government through Focus on Longmont to ensure our community is a great place to live both now and in the future, and Gabe helps meet the needs of others by volunteering with the Longmont Ending Violence White Ribbon Campaign and working with the Education Summit to improve our childrens school experience.

When Gabe told my husband and I that he was going to run for City Council, we knew right away that Gabe’s integrity and wisdom would make him a great city representative.

That feeling hasn’t changed.

As far as his leadership, I would definately(sic) feel safer with Gabe’s kind of policy on public safety, reasonable growth, restraining taxes and spending, and respecting citizens’ private lives than someone who would choose to divide the city further.

And unlike his opponent, Gabe doesn’t plan to spend his entire life on the government payroll – he knows what a challenge life is for families and businesses, which is why today he’s working as an accountant and studying to become a CPA.

Now, honestly, I wasn’t sure what his opponent stood for, because he seems to change or obscure his views on some of the most important issues our city faces today.

In fact, his opponent, Richard Juday has even gone so far as to delete at least four pages from his website – pages that contain very troubling comments about being “more like Boulder;” attacking the beliefs of people of faith; and the most significant one…his promise not to take campaign contributions.

That’s why, when I looked online at the City Clerk’s campaign finance report, I tell you, I was in for a surprise!

The first that jumped out at them was the number of radical left-wing Democrat activists who were supporting Mr. Juday. Many of the same donors are on record supporting cadidates who push a tax-and-spend, anti-family agenda.

Forgive me, but those groups and individuals – which include many of the same Boulder radicals who recently ran a smear campaign against our neighbors at LifeBridge church – do not share my vision for a strong future for Longmont families.

I looked for names of people whom would show some balance, but truthfully, Juday seems only to be supported by the Boulder County Democrat(sic *) Party, MoveOn.org types (whom I’ve never seen active in our community), and out-of-state donors.

Now, I know it takes money to buy yard signs and run a campaign, but when I saw the list of “zero-growth” Boulder Democrats backing Mr. Juday, I decided to look up his vision for the future, and it’s apparent from his own campaign materials he wants to turn Longmont into “Boulder-lite.”

I know Boulder – I grew up there, and my parents still live there. Businesses and families are fleeing “the People’s Republic of Boulder” because of it’s city government’s radical anti-growth policies and dangerous social engineering projects and experiments.

Longmont’s realtors and small businesses are obviously very concerned – because the last thing our local economy needs is repressive taxation and regulation on our housing. That’s why the Longmont Association of Realtors endorsed Gabe Santos.

Now I, like everyone, want to enjoy our surrounding and be a good steward of our environment – but I also know that Longmont’s long-held policies of smart and well-planned growth are the biggest reason our taxes have not skyrocketed like we’ve seen in Boulder.

That’s why I also agree with Gabe about cutting waste in City government to maintain our open space, in a way that doesn’t increase the tax burden on middle class families.

His opponent believes tax increases are the way to go, and several of Richard Juday’s tax-and-spend city council members have already voted to reverse existing, sensible cost-cutting measures in the interest of buying support from government bureaucrats.

Gabe’s belief in fiscal restraint will translate into stronger parks, library, and recreation for all our children over the long term – without creating a heavy-handed bureaucracy that micromanages our every move.

That’s how I know that Gabe is definately(sic) against Mr. Juday’s proposed scheme to institute an “inner-governmental agreement” to “track individual shoppers by their license plate numbers,” while we are inside browsing supermarket aisles.

I know that’s hard to believe – that’s why I posted his deleted pages on my blog, www.takebacklongmont.blogspot.com (and yes, those are my cute kids in the blog’s photo!!)

So, it’s now clear to me why Gabe’s opponent has done everything to hide his own views – candidates with such Big Brother schemes have to cloak themselves – because they don’t stand for anything I believe most Longmont families would agree with.

So it turns out the Boulder radicals are actually the ones propping up Gabe’s opponent.

Our community has several important issue facing us, including public safety and gangs, infrastructure, and responsible growth. I am gravely concerned about the kind of future a city councilman like Richard Juday would give us.

In the end, it comes down to money – lots of it given to Juday from outside our district, and the rest from partisan operatives willing to deceive voters in their attempt to turn Longmont into another “Boulder-utopia.”

I am asking you to find your mail-in ballot, and cast your vote for a family-friendly vision for Longmont’s future that I hope you and I share.

With the underhanded campaign against our community and on Gabe Santos – a truly good man – coming from Richard Juday’s campaign and the radical special interests that support him – I’m not sure I can stomach his vision for Colorado’s future.

So, in the end, I just thought I’d let you know what’s been on my mind.

If you’d like to talk, please give me a call at 303-946-9507.

Sincerely,

(signed) Stephanie Baum

P.S. It has been a blessing to know Gabe Santos and to work with him in our community.

I guarantee, if you will cast your vote for Gabe on the mail-in ballot you recently received, you will love him as a city councilman, as much as his family and those in Longmont already do!

Please remember to vote for Gabe Santos before January 29th.


Scans of original mailer pages used for transcription.

Stephanie Baum

Councilman Gabe Santos

* It’s not the ‘Democrat’ Party of Boulder County, it’s ‘Democratic’ – this is a common and oft-repeated extremist-right slur/purposeful ‘mistake’/hyper-partisan rhetoric.

** Gee… golly… it looked so real. I believe on purpose. Some people believe anything “the newspaper” tells them.

They’re baaaccckkk. With vengeance.

Previously I predicted that Western/American Tradition Partnership would insert itself into Longmont’s election as it did in 2009.  I can unequivocally report that they’re back.

Is the public actually as blind, deaf and dumb as organizations like American Tradition Partnership think?  I guess we’ll soon find out.  ATP began its visible campaign with a telephone poll, part standard, and part push (when it came to issues of the environment).

It’s likely that ATP’s $10,000 will grow substantially.  After all, you can’t get a telephone poll, a candidate survey, at least three mailers, and big newspaper ads for only $10,000.  Conservatives, Republicans (and radicals) charge and pay for everything. They don’t count on the talent and hard work of volunteers.

Longmont voters can find the questions asked of the candidates in the article title “ATP siege on Longmont”.

100% WRONG for Longmont

The celebrated 100% score that Bryan Baum, Heath Carroll and Bonnie Finley received should send voters heading for the nearest electoral exit.  That is, unless the community wants to buy in to an organization that considers environmental concerns “gangrene.”  They spell it somewhat differently, but that’s their message.  ATP’s reputation under the “Western” name required some Clorox Cleaner.  No amount of bleach, however, will remove the stains that this organization leaves wherever it shows up.

ATP also claims that regulation causes premature death.  No kidding.  There’s more lunacy like that on their website.

Their absolutism on property rights puts them in the camp of No Regulations, reminiscent of Bonnie Finley’s entire campaign and the regular rants of a few Times-Call bloggers over the city’s Land Use (Title 15) Code.

Longmont has a choice.  It can move forward.  Or it can continue the retreat of 2009.  The world has changed since 1950, 1970, 1990, 2000.  Longmont can face that, or it can be left behind.

Your VOTE matters

For those of you who have already voted by mail, it is imperative that you check to see that your ballot has been received.  Go here.  Do it NOW.

I just checked my status and was STUNNED.  This is what I found:

BALLOT SENT:   10/11/2011

BALLOT RECEIVED:  10/21/2011

 TEN DAYS from sent to received!

If you have mailed your ballot and you think it should have been received and accepted, yet it hasn’t, call the Clerk’s office at 303-413-7740.

 

Ballots must be received by the Boulder County Clerk by 7:00 PM on November 1st.

 

It is way too late to mail in your ballot.

 

Drive through and drop off ballots in the 500 block of Terry Street

 Monday, October 31, 8 am to 6 pm

   Tuesday, November 1, 7 am to 7 pm

It's democratic and it matters

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.

Expect outside influence with negative mailers in 2011 election

They did it before, they'll do it again

The slate of candidates for Longmont’s 2011 election is now determined. Technically, the races for mayor and city council are non-partisan races. That simply means that political parties and their registered voters do not determine candidates in a primary for a general election against candidates from competing political parties. It does not eliminate alignment with political parties or political philosophies. Nor does it mean that campaign tactics that we see in state and national elections will not occur.

The divisions that are so obvious at the national level exist in Longmont as well. They exist on our city council because they reflect the divisions in the Longmont community.

In the Longmont 2009 election, very large sums of money were funneled in support of the rightwing four-person majority of the current city council (Baum, Santos, Witt and Sammoury) by an organization known as Western Tradition Partnership (WTP). Such campaigns are not supposed to be “coordinated” but analysis of campaign reports from 2009 cast doubts.

WTP is rabidly anti-environment and is absolutist on the issue of property rights. They go well beyond belief in a free market into an orthodoxy that believes that if you must have government, its purpose should be of, by and for business interests to the exclusion of all else.

Western Tradition Partnership has surfaced around the nation, but mostly in the West, to target candidates with a “D” after their name or who are known or perceived be to a Democrat in any way, shape or form. The Montana Political Practices Commission stopped just short of accusing the organization of corruption and there was testimony to indicate that some of their money likely came from out of the country and found its way into American elections.

Western Tradition Partnership funded the Longmont Leadership Committee who waged a viciously negative campaign against Karen Benker and Kaye Fissinger. It went so far as to include Sean McCoy in their Longmont Leader “newspaper,” even though he wasn’t running in 2009. McCoy does not back down from deeply held convictions against Crony Capitalism. He is committed to clean, open and honest government. That is enough to put him on the radar of people and organizations that believe they have a birthright to power and government control.

WTP now goes by the name American Tradition Partnership. It is an IRS 501c4 tax-exempt, non-profit organization restricted by law from engaging in predominantly political purposes. But that hasn’t stopped it in the past and it won’t stop it going forward. IRS enforcement is virtually nil and when investigations are launched, they are well after the damage has been done.

Expect much more backdoor negative politics in Longmont’s 2011 election. The names may not be the same because past publicity has exposed them locally, statewide and nationally.

You will receive slick mailers that will slant truth and reality, if not invent outright lies. They did it before and they will do it again. They will target the three incumbents that have been on their radar since 2007 – Sean McCoy, Sarah Levison, and Brian Hansen. They will probably target Dennis Coombs as well – for no reason other than that he is challenging Bryan Baum, whom they adore because he embraces their orthodoxy and is a climate-change denier. Denying the realities and evidence of climate change is the first and foremost mission of WTP/ATP or whatever name it will be this time.

And don’t be surprised if independent mailers even seek to divide Longmont’s Democrats. These political committees know what political party you belong to if you’ve declared. There will be almost no limit to their strategies and tactics.

Money bought the 2009 elections and it will be used again to attempt to buy the 2011 elections. And they are counting on Longmont voters to be paying attention to anything or everything else and to rely on negative mailers to make their decisions about who should establish policies for their city. You will know which candidates they support by who is negatively targeted. By cui bono. Who benefits?

It’s not Longmont and its citizenry that they care about. It’s power for extreme and irrational causes and support for some very, very special interests, local and beyond.

Mayor Baum’s hostile ideology

As published in the Longmont Times-Call on August 11, 2011:

Mayor Bryan Baum is a kidney cancer survivor. I am a lung cancer survivor. We have cancer in common. We also are passionate about healthcare. But we differ sharply on how and who should insure that care. Baum’s comments at the August 2nd council meeting suggested that his insurer was a PPO. He stressed the immediacy of his treatments and advocated for this type of program. I agree with him that insurance company “gatekeepers” should not be deciding when, where, who or how treatment is delivered. It costs lives. And it becomes very personal when that life is yours. I also understand why many choose HMOs. Often they are cheaper, although not always. Restrictive healthcare is preferable to no healthcare.

However, it was disturbing to hear Mayor Baum and his acolyte at Public Invited to be Heard “advocate” for consumerism in healthcare. Stunningly, Baum suggested that higher deductibles and larger co-pays would motivate people, and City of Longmont employees in particular, to be more “responsible” users of healthcare. Healthcare is not furniture or clothing and is not driven by the same “market” forces. Maximizing profit has no place in healthcare delivery. It inevitably leads to healthcare delay, and even worse healthcare denial.

Mayor Baum ‘s thinking – or more precisely, his political ideology – is one of the primary reasons why he should not be re-elected as Longmont’s mayor. Repeatedly his ideology has driven his votes. It’s a religion to him. It’s faith-based. Not fact-based. The Tea Party Republican ideology that drives him is fundamentally hostile toward human needs and human rights. Baum talks a good game when it comes to serving people. And he may mean it. However, his actions belie his rhetoric. And as all of us were taught, correctly, as children, actions speak much louder than words.

Levison announces re-election bid

Sarah LevisonSarah Levison has announced that she is seeking election to the city council at large seat. She has served on the Longmont City Council since 2007.

Levison will focus on three issues: Jobs, Transportation and Community Development.

“Longmont is a community with all the components in place to propel our local economy forward to create jobs, new investments by the private sector and new transportation choices. Now is the time to work harder and smarter to highlight our community’s assets to capitalize on every opportunity to attract and retain jobs.”

“Transportation choices and good infrastructure will be a key to furthering job growth in Longmont. I support keeping our local streets, bike lanes, side walks and trails in top notch condition. I have worked consistently to hold RTD accountable to the needs of our city for better regional and local bus service and to invest in local infrastructure. Finally, it appears that RTD is listening, having dedicated $17 million dollars to begin the work on the Station area for Fastracks. I have dedicated my time and energy to working with the Station Area Master Plan (STAMP) group to insure that Longmont gets what will best serve our community in design and investment.”

“Our community is one of the best in the Front Range and the country. This is a city that respects and values all its residents. My business card says, ‘Let’s work together toward a better Longmont.’ I remind myself everyday of the importance of a positive attitude to work with every group and every person in the city.”

As a 14 year resident of Longmont, Levison has long been active in the community in many roles. She served on Longmont City’s Economic Vitality Taskforce and the Longmont Museum Board. Sarah is a former neighborhood group leader for the Historic Eastside Neighborhood Association. Sarah has volunteered at Central Elementary and Heritage Middle Schools. She was the founder and director of the “Art in Collyer Park” program.

“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.

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

Coincidence or Coordination?

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

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

Cooperation – Consent – Consultation – Coordination – Request – Suggestion

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

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

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

Really?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did Money Buy Longmont Council Elections? You Decide.

Hard Cash, Hard Facts from the last municipal election…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those that lost the election spent $21,454

~ 4 : 1

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

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

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

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

$182,000 – Not a bad return on investment

Who won the November 2009 election?

Certainly not Longmont’s citizens.