Tag Archive for longmont

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

Congratulations, Ruby and Chris

God's creatures were here first, not airplanes.

Each year Wild Earth Guardians reports on the status of Prairie Dogs. As part of this year’s “Report from the Burrow: Forecast of the Prairie Dog,” Wild Earth Guardians assessed the state of prairie dog populations by evaluating the performance of government agencies responsible for prairie dog protection.

This tool serves as a means for the public to hold state and federal government institutions accountable for the legal obligation to protect wildlife and wildlife habitat.

The Federal Aviation Administration received a failing grade. The following is the evaluation by Dr. Nicole J. Rosmarino. It cites the Longmont battle with the FAA over the prairie dogs at Vance Brand Airport. And it honors Longmont’s Ruby Bowman and her husband Chris Boardman for their efforts, however futile against the power of a federal agency, to save them.

In response to the Hudson River airplane crash in New York City, caused by a collision with migratory Canada geese (not resident wildlife), the FAA went on the offensive against prairie dogs. The agency considers prairie dog burrows, the prairie dogs themselves, and other animals – from coyotes to birds – that are attracted to prairie dog towns to be hazards. As a result of FAA’s no prairie dog edict, prairie dogs have been killed at airports in Albuquerque (NM), Santa Fe (NM), Flagstaff (AZ), Telluride (CO), Longmont (CO), and likely many other locations. In one instance in August 2010, a large thriving Gunnison’s prairie dog colony was destroyed at FAA’s command at the Sunport Airport in Albuquerque, and Wildlife Services … poisoned some 14,000 burrows. This was despite the hard work for many years by prairie dog relocators Prairie Dog Pals, Prairie Ecosystems Associates, Ruby Bowman, and Christopher Boardman to regularly assist in airport management by moving prairie dogs to safe locations. The city of Longmont also worked very hard to implement non-lethal control, only to see their efforts overturned by the FAA requirements.

Free Range Longmont and others in our community extend a heartfelt thank you to Ruby and Chris for their tireless efforts on behalf of prairie dogs and congratulate you for your mention in this critical report.

The black-tailed prairie dog is an ecological keystone species that deserves federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Several actions should be taken by federal agencies to preserve prairie dogs and their habitat, among which are:

• Granting prompt, range-wide protection of all unlisted species of prairie dogs—the
black-tailed, white-tailed, and Gunnison’s—under the Endangered Species Act;
• Banning poisoning and shooting of any prairie dogs, especially on public lands;
• Immediately banning Rozol and Kaput-D prairie dog toxicants;
• Supporting active efforts to prevent plague outbreaks;
• Prohibiting destruction of prairie dog habitat on public lands from oil and gas
drilling, off-road vehicles, and other harmful land uses;
• Eliminating subsidies that contribute to habitat destruction and prairie dog killing;

How would you “brand” Longmont?

The City of Longmont is seeking community input in how to “brand” the community. Branding Longmont to the outside world is an issue that has been winding its way through city halls and departments for a few years.

There is much so celebrate about Longmont. It is a gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. It has open space, wildlife, greenways for hiking and biking, and Union Reservoir (perhaps to soon be known as Longmont Lake).

It has a charming downtown.

It has caring and helpful people.

And it has made environmental progress in spite of the railings of some whose only interest in green is what they can take to the bank.

Without community input, it is likely that Mayor Baum’s trite slogan of “Open for Business” will carry the day. While we all want Longmont to “grow” and progress, how that happens is the bone of contention. Do we want to signal that Longmont will give those who subscribe to the Gospel of Greed anything their hearts — strike that — wallets desire? That Longmont is “for sale” to the lowest bidder? Or do we want to encourage growth by those who value the unique gifts the community has to offer?

Speak up! Or others will speak for you and the results may be disappointing. The final decisions will stick and considerable money will be spent promoting the “brand.”

A “do-over” later will not be an option.

The City and its economic development partners have been working on a community brand. Please join us at one these meetings to contribute your ideas, from mild to wild, on ways we can tell the world about Longmont: Thursday, January 27, 9 to 10 am, at the Longmont Library, Room A, 409 4th Ave.; Friday, January 28, 2 to 3 pm, at the Longmont Library, Room A, 409 4th Ave.; Wednesday, February 2, from 6 to 7 pm, at the Longmont Museum & Cultural Center, 400 Quail Rd.; Thursday, February 17, from 6 to 7 pm, at the Safety & Justice Center Community Room, 225 Kimbark St. RSVP to the City Manager’s Office at 303-651-8601 or e-mail sandra.seader@ci.longmont.co.us.

Rail Park in Longmont: $$$ LifeBridge

Address to Longmont City Council, January 11, 2011:

You have before you tonight a City Council Communication on a Rail-Served Industrial Business Park. While portions of this communication are not inaccurate, they are far from the full and true story.

City staff is promoting the use of properties south, southwest and southeast of Union Reservoir for use as a massive, several hundred acre industrial park served by a rail line. Much of the property in question was purchased by LifeBridge Church and/or its elders and high-ranking members.

The collapse of the residential and commercial markets have left LifeBridge and company with near-dead options for their land speculations on our eastern border. Apparently some members of city council and like-minded members of city staff now think that a Rail-Served Industrial Park is an excellent idea to get LifeBridge’s fat out of the fire.

Parcels identified as being owned by the Highway 119 Holdings LLC are true on their face, but they are at the very least misleading. Highway 119 Holdings LLC is an entity established by Church Development Fund to “hold” the properties it acquired from LifeBridge as deeds in lieu of foreclosure. Let me repeat that: DEEDS IN LIEU OF FORECLOSURE.

The Times-Call wrote an article almost a year ago about the LifeBridge Church and its properties both off Highway 66 and in southwest Weld County. As water carriers for LifeBridge, the Lehmans framed this as something other than deeds in lieu of foreclosure. WRONG. For those like me who have taken the time to read and analyze the Prospectus available to Church Development Fund investors, it is in black and white. These properties were taken to avoid legal foreclosure and to refinance the mortgages on the existing church and adjoining properties. The Fund will be holding them until such time as LifeBridge or others can make money and expand Dominionism.

Beyond this, Union Reservoir and its vicinity is a unique Longmont geographical and topographical feature. It is valued by the community for its environmental and wildlife character and its low impact recreational opportunities.

Please — Knock it off. I’ll be darned if I want to see this community that I now call home and expect to call home for the remainder of my life denigrate its unique resources for the sake of speculators making money.
And while we’re at it, show us the work product of the Firestone/Longmont Intergovernmental Agreement. Much of the property identified is either officially annexed into Firestone or is on target to be official. Pull back that curtain now and show the public what’s going on behind it.

If you can demonstrate that the market will support an industrial rail park in Longmont, by all means consider it. But do it for the right reasons. You have other land options. Focus on those and leave the area around the Union Reservoir alone.

Feasting on carrion

Vultures aren't good pets

In 2008 the world economy was about to go over a cliff because of the actions of the American financial industry. The irony is that the worldwide devastation was stopped because the United States bailed out the very industry that caused this. We were morally obliged to do this because the American people would have found themselves suffering a Second Great Depression.

In spite of the bailouts (and not because of them as some of the perpetrators of disaster would have you believe) millions of Americans were left without jobs and millions more were left in fear of losing theirs.

Longmont is no exception. People are hurting and are afraid. And their fears have been inflamed by corporations given the green light to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into this election season by the Supreme Court’s cynical and base decision on Citizens United. Some of this money is even foreign money that benefits from the outsourcing of jobs.

Now we have businesses feasting on the carrion that’s left behind. Hanging in the balance are 134 jobs and perhaps 46 more new ones in Longmont. But to protect and secure these jobs, you are faced with the decision to waive $252,000 in fees to keep OnCore Manufacturing Services in Longmont. This is not make-believe money. It’s money that goes to pay the salaries and wages of our employees who provide for the needs and services of our citizenry.

As reported in yesterday’s Times-Call, OnCore’s Malik, said, “If we receive a commitment that the city of Longmont is willing to provide 100 percent rebate on all city development fees, OnCore will locate this project in the city of Longmont,” Malik said that an alternative site had been identified in another northern Colorado community.

Given that the nation is barely on a trajectory to right the wrongs of decades past, and given that the livelihoods of our citizens are in jeopardy, the seven of you really have little alternative but to cave to this blackmail – yes blackmail.

Hey, some say this is just business. Yes, it is – or at least what it has become. And you wonder why so many people have no trust in business, why so many see it as a necessary evil to be tolerated, why so many employees are beginning to feel they are nothing more than servants in a feudalistic economy.

So do what you must. But in the process make it known that Longmont is not a well of taxpayer dollars to be drawn on by any business who simply wants to improve its bottom line. The taxpayer of Longmont, the American taxpayer, does not exist for the purpose of making your stockholders (or in this case, the owners of a privately held corporation) wealthy.

If we are to grant favors, we REQUIRE something in return. And that is a guarantee that ALL of the jobs in question are preserved and secured – not for a while, but for a very, very long time.

Trading one addiction for another

If you'll swallow alcohol, you'll swallow anything

I can’t remember exactly when I first heard it, or who said it, but it was so to the point that I never forgot it: “The only thing worse than a recovering alcoholic is a born again recovering alcoholic.”

My best guess is that it was a close friend who in the 80s was a 25-year recovering alcoholic. Fortunately, he was not “born again” and had the depth and insight to recognize not just the addiction that he broke and fought against each day (as he would describe the true state of a recovering alcoholic), but the fundamental nature and condition that forever drives an addict.

What brings this to mind is a column by Kathleen Parker, “Hi, my name is Glenn, and I’m messed up.”

Given that I find Glenn Beck potentially certifiably insane and waste as little time as possible on what he says and does, I was unaware of his “history.” As I read Parker’s piece, the discovery that Beck has a history of alcoholism and drug addiction provided one of those “a hah” moments where not only does the subject come into focus, but so does an entire range of others with “troubled” backgrounds who have gravitated to religion, and specifically evangelism.

Parker begins by saying that “the real meaning [of Beck’s tent-less revival] may have been hiding in plain sight.” The event had all the elements of a 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program wrapped up in one event. But as is the case with so many recovering addicts, “taking others along for the ride…is also part of the cure. The healed often cannot remain healed without helping others find their way.”

And that’s where the “born again” evangelical Christianism comes in. They are compelled to “save” the rest of humanity – whether or not humanity wants it or needs it.

With the benefit of 60+ years of life experience behind me, I could appreciate Parker’s observation that “it seems that people talk about God all the time these days.” As a transplant to Longmont, I remain stunned at the number of letters to the editor that appear in the Times-Call that are little more than a religious sermon, not to mention the amount of coverage the Times-Call devotes to religious issues in its coverage.

Parker wrote that even in the heyday of Billy Graham, “…most Americans could get through 16 or so waking hours without feeling compelled to declare where they stood on the deity.” Coming from the relatively conservative state of Indiana, I can attest that in fact this was the case during my first three decades in that state – at least by comparison to Longmont and Colorado.

Those with an addiction often trade one addiction for another. Or if they have more than one, keep the other. My friend was well aware that he was and always would be an addict, so he made a choice. He continued to smoke, even though it would eventually contribute to his death.

But some recovering addicts get carried away with this “higher power” thing. They transfer their addiction to “God.” If you delve into the backgrounds of many evangelicals, you will find a history of alcohol or drug addiction. The leaders behind the Heaven Fest event in Longmont in July readily admit their histories of addiction. Since they were saved – presumably by God – they have a compulsion to inflict their new-found addiction on all others. They even felt compelled to devote 24/7 prayer days to members of Longmont’s city council. Presumably they were praying for these council members to be instruments of God as they defined him.

So far we still have no formal religion test for holding public office, although that may soon crumble if we as a nation don’t get a grip on ourselves. And because it’s about religion, no one dare find fault with the obsessions of evangelicals. Or so it seems. But it’s no accident that freedom of religion and freedom of speech occur in combination in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. You do not need permission to challenge, criticize or analyze. It is your right.

So as you run across the Glenn Becks of the world, applaud them for the demon they have conquered, but remind them that even God can become an addiction, if not a demon, if they allow it.

Longmont power brokers launch perpetual electioneering

Same hammer, different beat(down)

Longmont has, for decades, been governed in the interest of a few select individuals and companies. This long-standing oligarchy remained successfully unchallenged and comfortable until the fall of 2007.

The first hint of trouble for these power brokers occurred when the citizens of Longmont rose up against the annexation of the LifeBridge 350-acre project south of Union Reservoir. A petition for a referendum to reverse a Longmont City Council ordinance had never before been successful, so it was not initially taken seriously. But the signature-gathering effort produced almost one-third more signatures than were required to place the matter before the voters in a special election.

On the heels of this success, the citizens of Longmont elected a council majority with a view to a different future.

When the new majority took legislative and legal action to block Firelight Park and the LifeBridge project from annexation into Firestone, all-out war was declared on what they referred to as the Benker Bloc (after former City Council member Karen Benker) or the Bloc of Four. These properties and developments were owned by members of city power brokers, chiefly developers and real estate special interests, many of whom are also members of LifeBridge Christian Church.

From that point forward there was a fierce determination to reclaim Longmont for the interests of the few, rather than the many. The rhetoric talked about “taking back Longmont.” The current mayor’s wife Stephanie Baum even had a blog with that name.

The first front in this war was the Longmont Times-Call. The conservative politics of the Times-Call has never been a secret. (See “Is there a bias? You tell me.”)

Out of hours of council discussion on a variety of topics, the Times-Call published a constant drumbeat of strategically chosen topics prominently placed above the fold with headlines chosen for their negative implications. Quotes within articles continued its derogatory objectives, and slanted coverage was given to positions that the paper opposed.

Letters to the editor were selectively placed to enhance the political position of the Times-Call and of those in the community and on council that it supported. Opinions of the community were further manipulated by the timing of OpEds solicited and printed.

The Times-Call hammered mercilessly on the “Benker” council.

After the November 2008 Democratic mandate at the national level, conservatives recognized that they could be headed for a permanent minority. At the local level, the heavy artillery appeared from both within and outside Colorado targeting the swing community of Longmont.

Operatives and their money came from D.C./Virginia, Montana, and from the Tom DeLay organization, Coalition for a Conservative Majority, who made no secret of its focus and targeting.

Scott Gessler, Republican candidate for Secretary of State, manufactured a lawsuit against the city and its Fair Campaign Practices Act. The LFCPA established sensible contribution limits and provided for greater transparency and disclosure. Only 19 words were struck from the Act because of the court’s temporary restraining order.

The Times-Call created a political improvised explosive device of its own with its court challenge of council executive sessions for legal advice on the annexation lawsuits—knowing full well that council actions were legitimate.

These strategies and tactics were very effective in agitating the public.

Rabidly anti-environmental and property rights absolutist organizations like Western Tradition Partnership (WTP) and Coloradans for Economic Growth bankrolled the attack campaigns during the 2009 election season. The winning candidates claim they had neither connection with, nor knowledge of, the activities of the WTP front organization Longmont Leadership Committee. If you believe that, then I have some beachfront property along the Gulf coast you might like to see.

Upon election, the new majority needed no other votes than their own to force settlements of these lawsuits, effectively using taxpayer dollars to reimburse campaign activities that placed them in office. The $182,000 dispersed to their endorsers to “settle” the lawsuits give a whole new meaning to publicly-funded campaigns. ($100,000 to LifeBridge/Firestone, $68,500 to the Longmont Realtors Association and Western Tradition Partnership plaintiffs and concealed donors, and $13,500 to the Times-Call.)

The incredible irony is that Mayor Baum and his troops have claimed and continue to claim that citizens’ free speech rights have been violated by the LFCPA. Given the content of the mailers that Longmont voters received from Longmont Leadership, that would be humorous if it weren’t so deplorable. The new majority has voted to dismantle the portions of the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act that provide for the most transparency, accountability and enforcement that is free from political influence.

The new council and those it represents want opposing speech squelched. They floated a balloon that popped when they sought to limit and rearrange the timing of the Public Invited to be Heard section of council meetings.

However, the best way to silence opposing voices is to remove them altogether from the council where their views receive a weekly airing. And that’s exactly the objective. The remaining three council members have been targeted for extinction. Sarah Levison received the opening shot across the election bow by blogger Wrongmont Rodriguez in the Times-Call on May 22nd.

The objectives, the strategies, the tactics are now exposed. This cat is out of the bag! The community will no longer stand for a repeat of the politically deplorable behavior from the take-back-Longmont crowd that has occurred since the 2007 election. Elections do, indeed, have consequences.

Couldn’t have said it better

Not too long ago a commentator wrote a psychological analysis of one of the nation’s most disturbed famous names. Add enormous of amounts of money to our “culture of celebrity” and you get an (almost) equal-opportunity bigot who has twisted Catholicism and Christianity beyond recognition. The writer is David Brooks and the subject is Mel Gibson.

David Brooks is not a writer with whom I would normally agree. After all, he writes for that bastion of national lunacy The Washington Times and spreads the gospel according to Banksters on the Wall Street Journal’s editorial pages. But every once in awhile he shows some good judgment, in this case for the New York Times.

As I read the first few paragraphs of his Gibson article, I could have sworn that he’d spent some time here in Longmont observing our city’s mayor and his blogger-in-chief who has a fascination with lightning.

Read for yourself the first few paragraphs below and I have no doubt that you will conclude that this nail was hit squarely on the head.

Let us enter, you and I, into the moral universe of the modern narcissist.

The narcissistic person is marked by a grandiose self-image, a constant need for admiration, and a general lack of empathy for others. He is the keeper of a sacred flame, which is the flame he holds to celebrate himself.

There used to be theories that deep down narcissists feel unworthy, but recent research doesn’t support this. Instead, it seems, the narcissist’s self-directed passion is deep and sincere.

His self-love is his most precious possession. It is the holy center of all that is sacred and right. He is hypersensitive about anybody who might splatter or disregard his greatness. If someone treats him slightingly, he perceives that as a deliberate and heinous attack. If someone threatens his reputation, he regards this as an act of blasphemy. He feels justified in punishing the attacker for this moral outrage.

And because he plays by different rules, and because so much is at stake, he can be uninhibited in response. Everyone gets angry when they feel their self-worth is threatened, but for the narcissist, revenge is a holy cause and a moral obligation, demanding overwhelming force.

City of Longmont violates First Amendment

Baum and friends have no respect for your rights

Stand up, Speak Out!

On Wednesday July 28, 2010, the City of Longmont received a letter from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. The letter indicates that a complaint has been registered with Americans United because the city “has provided a fee waiver, to ‘Worship and the Word Movement, Inc.’ for the administrative and operational costs that will be incurred by the Longmont Police Department for the group’s event ‘Heaven Fest 2010’…”

Americans United informs the City “that it is unconstitutional for the City to provide a benefit, such as a fee waiver to a religious organization when the City does not provide the same benefit to other organizations.”

An Open Records Request earlier in the year revealed that the Longmont Police Department (LPD) has a standard contract that requires special events to reimburse the LPD $50 per hour for administrative and coordination fees.

Emails between the LPD and Valeria Skitt, Longmont City Clerk, reveal that the Police Department abandoned the charges when Skitt emailed Commander Jeffrey Satur saying , “These numbers seem like a bit much given that they aren’t requesting officer assistance, we are requiring it.” The email went on to say, “This will come as a really big surprise to them at this late stage of the game.”

Commander Satur explained in a subsequent email “why we charge for our administrative costs.” He said, “These meetings are time consuming and take away from our primary duties. As such, at a time when resources were scarce, we felt it important for the event coordinators, not the tax payers, to pay for this loss.”

As of February 26, 2010, Commander Satur indicated to Ms. Skitt that the Longmont Police Department had devoted “at least 10 hours of planning.” He said that he did not “know how many planning meeting we have left, but I’m thinking 20-25 hours.” The cost for the hours devoted and the expressed estimate amounted to $1,750.00.

The License Agreement between the city and Heaven Fest was signed on March 9, 2010, and did not included charges for administrative costs. Subsequent to the execution of the Agreement, the Longmont Police Department spent considerable time between March and June developing the Traffic Plan for the event with the Weld County Sheriff’s Department and the State Patrol.

An email from the City Clerk indicated that no amendments to the original License Agreement were executed.

The letter from Americans United cites several cases in support of the complaint.
“The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ‘mandates governmental neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion.’”

Americans United asks that the City “take steps to ensure that this fee is either applied equally to all events, religious and non-religious alike, or that it is not applied to any event.” If the first option is selected, the city would need to “rescind the waiver and collect all applicable fees for ‘Heaven Fest 2010.’”

Mayor Bryan Baum and Mayor ProTem Gabe Santos are in Japan until August 3rd. At its Regular Session council meeting on Tuesday, July 27th, Council Member Sean McCoy was chosen to act on behalf of the City in the absence of Baum and Santos.

When asked about the letter, Acting Mayor McCoy responded, “The Constitution is the nation’s fundamental document. All elected officials have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution. The city takes this matter seriously and will work to resolve any issue that may exist.”

Americans United expects the City of Longmont to respond to its letter within thirty days.

According to its website, Americans United “is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans.”

The author of this article is the complainant in this matter.

Heaven Fest handling unconstitutional

The following is the text of the Guest Opinion published in the Longmont Times-Call on Thursday, July 29, 2010.

The United States legal system has a constitutional imperative that prohibits the United States government from establishing or endorsing a state religion. The shorthand for this is the phrase “separation of church and state.”

This fundamental principle and imperative applies to any government entity, federal to local. It has been litigated successfully over the centuries since the country’s founding.

However, there are segments of our society who deny the imperative. More than deny, they both ignore and manipulate it so as to effectively eliminate it.

Earlier this year, the City of Longmont issued a Use of Public Places permit to Heaven Fest to hold a festival of Christian music, or so it was presented. City departments devoted enormous numbers of hours to the planning process for this event, perhaps even weeks worth. These were financially uncompensated hours.

The Longmont Police Department’s standard contract for events states, “…there is an administrative fee for contracted events… These events typically require additional planning, coordination… The Extra Duty Employer [in this case, Heaven Fest] will pay a $50 per hour administrative fee for the Extra Duty Coordinator and $50 per hour for coordination from any support unit…”

These fees were waived for Heaven Fest when the City Clerk objected to the probable amount of the fees. This information is documented by an Open Records Request last March. The amount was projected in February to be an estimated $1,750 including time already spent and time anticipated. Given the nature of the Traffic Plan and the amount of interaction since March with Weld County and the State Patrol offices, this is undoubtedly a conservative estimate. The City Clerk reports that there were no Amendments to the original agreement with Heaven Fest subsequent to the completion of the Traffic Plan, thus the administrative and coordination fees were selectively waived for the Heaven Fest religious event.

The Heaven Fest website proclaims that the event is “at its very core…about prayer, worship, and being a catalyst for revival here in the Rocky Mountain region.”

In its Vendor Agreement, Worship and the Word, the producer of Heaven Fest, declares that the event “is a Jesus-focused, Jesus-worshipping, evangelical Christian event intent on conforming to Biblical principles and moral values.” It goes on to demand, “If WWM/Heaven Fest finds any of the items an Exhibitor is distributing to be inappropriate or incompatible to these values, Exhibitor will be asked to remove it. If an Exhibitor is found distributing an item that was not approved at the time of contract, Exhibitor may be shut down. WWM/Heaven Fest reserves the right to deny the distribution of any materials and order the cessation of any demonstrations on day of festival based on the discretion of WWM/Heaven Fest…”

The Agreement between the City and Heaven Fest abdicates the City’s vendor permitting responsibility to Heaven Fest. This abdication as well as the exception for usual and customary Longmont Police Department fees constitute an endorsement of a specific religion, a constitutional violation.

Will the City of Longmont face legal ramifications for this course of action. Highly unlikely. Longmont is a small city, off the radar for those organizations that are more likely to challenge it in court. However, the violation has occurred regardless of whether it is heard in a court of law.

But there is a court that should be concerned about the legitimacy of the city’s decision. And that is the court of public opinion.

This Guest Opinion will no doubt bring a barrage of complaints from fundamentalists who claim dominion over the ideas of Christianity and who, as described at the beginning of this article, deny the established validity of “the separation of church and state.” However, no amount of objections in response to this writing will change either the facts or the law.

Longmont is proceeding full speed ahead with its endorsement of this religious event and likely will have an official presence at Heaven Fest, further compounding the violation. It’s a shame that there are pockets within our city and throughout the country whose religious activities go beyond their private beliefs and seek to abolish a fundamental American tenet.

The ultimate objective and direction of this path will change this country from a representative democracy that respects the rights of all to a theocracy that demands allegiance to a specific religious dogma under penalty of law. It’s a path that will destroy the American system of government that has been treasured since the American idea was born and held as a beacon and example for the rest of the world to follow.

Tea Party to Tancredo: Don’t Run?

But I thought they LIKED Tancredo?

But I thought they LIKED Tancredo?

Update: Tancredo’s announced he’s going to run. Get the knife ready so that the CO GOP can cut off their nose to spite their face.

In a bizarre twist of political theatre Colorado Tea Party groups are all but begging Tom Tancredo not to run for governor.

Say WHAT? That wasn’t how the Longmont 9.12 group felt after he came to town and got them all fired up.

Could it be Tom’s terrible trials at the polling place? (I.E. that he has a tendency to lose – badly).

Lu Busse, chair of the 9.12 Project Colorado Coalition wrote an impassioned letter to Tancredo and the 9.12 members to try and wave him off from a surely-disastrous crash landing in the middle of the GOP landscape. In part she asked him how his threat to run lined up with his “principles.” Now there’s some high humor in this political circus – the teabaggers questioning someone’s principles… let alone one of their own. I confess to considerable amusement when reading that.

Tom’s always had a bit of problem with his mouth – he doesn’t seem to know when to shut it and he appears to have a constant longing for the taste of his own foot:

I can truly appreciate why the 9.12 folks are doing the math and realizing that Terrible Tommy wouldn’t just derail their crazy train, he’d send it right off the rails into the gorge, never to be seen again.

The problem is, the Tea Party is now stuck with a three-way cluster – McInnis who was caught with his metaphorical pants around his ankles in a messy and obvious plagiarism scandal, Dan Maes who’s said in so many words “he’ll walk in the door and start firing people” and Tom “Bomb Mecca” Tancredo.

If this is how the CO GOP conducts the run-up to an election, one has to wonder what their style of state governance would look like.

A Bully as an Archetypal Destructive Leader

The following Abstract is republished from the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies website. It has particular relevance to the Longmont City Council leadership.

A Bully as an Archetypal Destructive Leader

1. Michael G. Harvey,University of Mississippi Bond University, Australia
2. M. Ronald Buckley, University of Oklahoma
3. Joyce T. Heames, West Virginia University
4. Robert Zinko, East Carolina University
5. Robyn L. Brouer, Hofstra University
6. Gerald R. Ferris, Florida State University


Leaders do not necessarily have the best interests of the organization in mind when they make decisions. Many times, leaders treat their own personal goals as more important in relation to the goals of the organization and frequently adopt a short-term decision horizon. Thus, leaders become destructive and make decisions for their own good at the expense of the organization. This article examines the bully as a leader and how the bully creates a dysfunctional environment where the bullied, the observer, and the organization suffer negative impact due to the decisions made by the bully. The externalities of bullying (i.e., unintended explicit and/or implicit consequences of bullying activities on the members of the organization) are discussed to highlight the importance of examining the spillover impact of bullying activities in organizations. In addition, the authors propose a method to address the negative impact of those who engage in bullying on the organizational as a whole.


Violations of Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act

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

Report on Alleged Violation of LFCPA

Submitted by Kaye Fissinger
July 13, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following are attached:

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

Baum: Voters’ (Buyers’?) Remorse

Not what the public expected

No one's singing along

Tuesday city council meetings continue to be a challenge to the digestive system. And the reason for this is the colossal mistake the community made last November when it elected Bryan Baum as the city’s mayor.

After the cameras have been turned off and before the recorders are turned on, the true Bryan Baum surfaces.

The difficult issue before the council on Tuesday was the ordinance limiting open carry of firearms in government buildings. Despite a preponderance of speakers at Public Invited to be Heard (PITBH) who saw this ordinance as a Second Amendment issue (though Supreme Court rulings support the ordinance), discussion amongst council members made it apparent that the council was poised to pass the ordinance into law.

Dictators don’t like to lose. But since Longmont governance isn’t an on-the-books dictatorship, Baum found himself democratically challenged.

Over and over and over again he stated his positions opposing the ordinance in spite of the fact that it was clear he was not going to get his way. He even interrupted his right-hand man Council Member Gabe Santos who made a compelling argument in favor of the ordinance. His only ally was CM Katie Witt. Because Baum could not face reality, a consistent condition for him, the discussion proceeded ad nauseaum.

I’ve attended nearly every council meeting since November 2007. It is only since Bryan Baum assumed the mayor’s chair that our council meetings have been acrimonious and humiliating for the city. Former Mayor Roger Lange was a gracious man who always allowed his fellow council members to raise questions and present opinions before he offered his own. Not Baum, it’s not only his way or the highway, it’s his way first and foremost, last and only.

Tuesday’s agenda was considerable. That prompted Council Member Sean McCoy to ask for a point of order when the discussion was no longer productive. Not surprisingly, Baum threw yet another of his typical fits and insisted that he should have the floor to say anything he wants for as long as he wants and as many times as he wants. He was losing and he just couldn’t stand it.

Eventually a vote was taken passing the ordinance (5-2) and eventually the council meeting ended. But that wasn’t the end of it. Oh, no. Baum couldn’t wait to have it out with CM McCoy. McCoy was having a reasoned discussion with Santos when Baum stormed up to him, calling him a name that rhymes with the nickname for Richard that is often a synonym for the term. And if that wasn’t sufficient, McCoy was threatened with retaliation if he ever raised a point of order (“interrupted” him) again. There was more, but I didn’t hear it all.

At Final PITBH, a member of the community who attends most council meetings spoke in dismay that Baum and Witt didn’t see the merits of an ordinance that would serve as some measure of safety for the city’s employees and residents who come to city facilities to do business or to attend council meetings. Exercising his first amendment rights, this individual chastised both Baum and Witt for the likely support their votes would garner with the NRA.

Baum couldn’t have that either. So he shanghaied the speaker after council for daring to speak out against him. So that he wouldn’t be overheard, Baum pulled the man aside and read him the riot act. Now how’s that for diplomacy and treating members of the community with respect! And this was far from the first time Baum raked a member of the public over the coals. That’s a story far worse and for another time and place.

Compare this behavior with the massive dose of high fructose corn syrup that is the mayor’s dance of self-aggrandizement at the beginning of each council meeting. Do not misinterpret, those who are celebrated are deserving, but that’s not what prompts the mayor’s smiles and handshakes. Mayor Baum, most people can discern the difference between genuine praise and caring and opportunistic grandstanding.

So here’s some good advice to weather the Baumbastic storm until November 2011, stock up on Reglan and take it 30 minutes before the Council meetings convene, whether you’re watching on television or in the halls of government.

Room for all of us

Our lives are not a game

Our lives are not a game

Someone wrote a letter a few weeks ago about Longmont being “infiltrated”  by left-wingers. At first I was incensed–until I started laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of such a comment. Since I’m sure someone will give me a chance to respond to a baseless opinion like that, here’s what I’ll say:

“When my husband and I moved from Boulder to Longmont 10 years ago, we thought we were doing so because we were able to buy a home in a great Longmont neighborhood. Little did we know we, who are lifelong Democrats who have actively supported many Democratic candidates for political office, were “left-wing infiltrators.” Why, that’s just a bonus!

So let me ask this: is there an expectation that we can spend our money in Longmont, but that we should check our progressive politics at the city gates? Now that’s taxation without representation!”

Dave Larison does a fine job as the Times-Call’s weather consultant. I hope he sticks to that.

Because after reading his screed against “a noisy band of hard-left progressives,” I sure hope he doesn’t consult with the paper’s editorial committee. I recognize that conservatives won a majority in last November’s election, but I don’t take it to mean that we of the progressive bent “lost” and need to “deal with it some other place, preferably Boulder.” A majority does not a dictatorship make. The minority still has the right to oppose the policies of the majority, by speaking at council meetings, publishing opinions in the newspaper and supporting a slate of progressive candidates.

But if Mr. Larison wants to extend his win-lose argument, I’m game. By his logic, Republicans “lost” the 2008 election, and they should stop griping endlessly about President Obama’s policies and legislative triumphs and just “deal with it.”

But oh yeah–I’m a progressive. I believe in diversity of opinion and expression. There’s enough room in Longmont for all of us.