Tag Archive for longmont

Longmont’s rightwing extremists damage discourse, and more

Norman RockwellFor years members of the Longmont community have discussed with me their distress at the level of discourse that they read and hear. They specifically reference the comments that appear at Times-Call Online.

Most have chosen to just stop reading the comments, if not the articles themselves. They talk to me about the lack of knowledge by so many who write comments. Some are just baffled at the unapologetic ignorance displayed.

They are perplexed as to why the Times-Call permits the personal attacks and the overall level of viciousness. “The T-C has a commenting policy but they don’t adhere to it,” they say. How do they know this? They tell me that they have reported certain commenters enough times to have those accounts disabled, yet those same commenters are still posting. They wonder if the Times-Call is selective about what they allow and what they don’t. I tell them to let the evidence guide their judgment.

They also have the similar concerns about the T-C Line.

Some wonder if most of the people who comment to Times-Call articles actually represent most of Longmont. Yet they personally know so many good, smart, intelligent people that they have a difficult time believing that these others could really be the real Longmont.

Recently, I’ve heard concerns that are much more serious than rightwing extremists “shooting off their mouths.”

I’ve had people tell me that they’ve written letters to the editor and then scrapped them because of fear of retaliation – either against themselves or their family. Others would like to speak at city council meetings but they know that attacks will follow.

I usually don’t tell them that they haven’t seen the worst of it. They don’t know about Longmont’s worst rightwing blogger. They don’t know about other attack sites, some active and some semi-dormant. Perhaps I should tell them. Perhaps it’s past time that they face the most unpleasant of political realities that have taken over the community in the last two years or so.

It has gone too far when members of our community don’t feel free to exercise their first amendment right to speak freely about issues. When they cower in fear of attacks. When they wonder if their families will be harassed. When they wonder if their jobs will be targeted. When they wonder if they will have to endure emotional abuse, if not physical abuse.

These are “ordinary” citizens of Longmont. They are not activists, some of whom have gotten used to a certain level of abuse. Most of the community’s activists recognize that some of this (though not all) is the price they pay for helping the community improve. For helping the community face its flaws. For creating a better Longmont for everyone.

It saddens me to know that this is happening. It saddens me even more to know that this is precisely the intent of the people in question. They intend that only their voices are heard. It’s called intimidation–at best, threatening–at worst.

And it will work, my fellow Longmonters. It will work unless you “screw your courage to the sticking post” and say, “No More!” “Enough!” This is your community, too. Your have both the right – and the duty – to speak, to shape your community, to cherish and protect the city you call home.

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.

Longmont Mayor Backstabs Community

Prefers Teabaggers to Council Member

Where people display questionable motives and intimidating communication to win arguments, display power and/or belittle others.

Elections are supposed to represent the will of the people.  However, if you accept this premise, then it would be necessary to conclude that the people of Longmont are suffering from a pronounced case of arrested development.  Is this the case or were the voters in Longmont hoodwinked?

Mayor Bryan Baum demonstrated today that he has not matured beyond the level of a junior high student, one with major character flaws at that.  Beyond immaturity, Baum demonstrated that he is one of the most vindictive members of the Longmont community.  The man dishonors and humiliates the City of Longmont at every opportunity.

This week the Colorado Municipal League (CML) meets in Breckenridge for its annual meeting to cover a number of areas important in the conduct of municipal governance.  As part of the agenda, each year the CML elects a certain number to its Board of Directors.  Amongst this year’s candidates was Longmont Council Member Sarah Levison.

When it came time to cast votes, Baum along with his accomplices, refused to cast votes in support of their fellow colleague.  A well-placed anonymous source revealed that when questioned about his lack of decency, Mayor Baum replied, “I’m not voting for her and you can’t make me.

“You can’t make me!” How many times have we as parents heard that from recalcitrant children who refused to behave properly?  While we all know that we can lead the proverbial horse to water but we can’t make it drink, as parents we have options.  We can call a time out.  We can deprive the child of something of value to him.  We can inflict a variety of punishment measures, especially if the behavior is egregious and persistent.

Mayor Baum and Council Members Gabe Santos and Alex Sammoury revealed the depths to which they would sink in recent city council meetings over the Resolution to endorse Council Member Levison in her bid to sit on the CML Board.  Even Council Member Katie Witt cautioned about the long-run implications of this food fight instigated by Baum and Santos and carried to its extreme by Sammoury.

This year’s CML conference began on Tuesday.  Fortuitously or serendipitously, early in the conference agenda was a session on “learning to face conflict in new and effective ways.” The material presented four environments that describe methods of conflict resolution.  It’s astonishing that the method that our current majority leadership follows precisely the “Harsh –Light” environment.

“Harsh-Light Environment”

Where people display questionable motives and intimidating communication to win arguments, display power and/or belittle others.

+ Debate +Questionable motives +Back-stabbing +Defensiveness

The CML Bylaws allow for member municipalities to cast votes in all of the three categories defined by population size.  Sources report that Mayor Baum chose to vote for every candidate that displays a “teabagger” mentality over intelligent, learned and dedicated public servants like Ms. Levison.

Evidence of collusion amongst Baum and others was in evidence up until the final votes were cast.  Apparently the deplorable behavior of our mayor even delayed the conclusion of voting for a period of time.

Mayor Baum, you do not  “play well with others” and you are in desperate need of an intervention.  Cease and desist, Mayor Baum.  You were not elected as “God”.  You were not elected as “King”.  And your dictatorial behavior has no place in a representative democracy.

The level of Voter Remorse is growing exponentially.  The community has only so much patience.  Your role as mayor is not a lifetime appointment.  Sooner or later you will be voted out of office.

Front Range Chickens Fades Out

One of the hate/attack sites that popped up during the last council election has gone dark:

Whoops. Guess someone went on a boar hunt and forgot to pay the hosting bill. Maybe they’ll be back in time for the election. Their banner art is pretty violent – and no one’s offered up any apologies or taken credit for it yet:

I also see that LongmontReport.com renewed it’s domain name registration and kept it anonymous – but the mayor’s wife has said she knows who is running it:

(click image to enlarge)

…want to bet you start seeing hate and smear coming from it soon?

When you do you can connect the dots to who’s responsible.

The right in Longmont goes to great lengths to play victim when it’s agonizingly obvious that they’re behind all the anonymous hate and smears. Look at the Times-Call article comments and you’ll see a fine selection of far-right-wing anger and ignorance. That’s our mayor’s ‘base’… and ‘base’ is exactly the right word for them.

Longmont Community Slaps Blogger Wrongmont and Times-Call

The Longmont Daily Times-Call would do well to heed the words that chastised Senator Joe McCarthy, the communist witch-hunter of the 1950s: “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

President and Editor Dean Lehman permitted an attack on Council Member Sarah Levison that far exceeded any I have yet to read in the Times-Call against a sitting council member.

The Times-Call hides behind the notion of a “public figure” exception in order to justify attacks when it suits Mr. Lehman’s fancy. I doubt very much that Mr. Lehman would permit a similar attack on his favored four. Remember, the Times-Call endorsed Baum, Santos, Witt and Sammoury in last year’s election.

The Longmont community was justifiably outraged by such an attack and has not hesitated to let both the Times-Call and Chris Rodriguez know it.

Community LTEs opposing Rodriguez OpEd

Twin Peaks Mall: Silence unlikely to be golden

Twin Peaks Mall - photo by Duane Leise

At the close of Tuesday’s city council meeting, Council Member Gabe Santos requested that City Manager Gordon Pedrow and Director of Economic Development Brad Power contact Panattoni, owner of Twin Peaks Mall, to determine the status of the Mall.

He indicated that he and other council members receive many emails and calls asking, “What’s happening with the Mall?”  Clearly, all in Longmont have concerns.  Historically, the Mall has been a primary source of city revenues through the sales taxes that it has generated.  The neglect of the mall, by the previous and the current owners, and the state of the economy have caused the mall to decline.

Almost before Santos finished his comments, Mayor Bryan Baum interrupted to explain that both he and Power had attempted to contact Panattoni on Monday and “have not had the courtesy of a return call.”  They did, however, identify the party who would be able to answer their questions.

City Manager Pedrow followed up with a phone call to Panattoni’s CEO, and he, too, has failed to return the City of Longmont’s call.   Perhaps the corporation needs to be sure that they all have the same story to tell in response to Longmont’s inquiries—and just how much of it to tell.

Santos then requested that if no word is heard within a week, a letter be written to Panattoni from Longmont’s Mayor and City council insisting that the city receive “something in writing that addresses our concerns.”

I, of course, have no tea leaves to read, but I do have corporate background in Public Relations and in human behavior.  The silence from Panattoni is very disturbing.

People and companies usually are motivated to publicize good news and reluctant to share news that reflects poorly on the organization or could impede its objectives.  This leads one to believe that they haven’t yet secured an investor to meet the terms for refinancing the debt Panattoni assumed on the mall.

The City of Longmont has a long history of giving development virtually anything it wants.   I have long wondered what unofficial promises were made in 2007 by the Pirnack administration to encourage Panattoni to purchase Twin Peaks Mall.  As they say in the gambling industry – “on the come”.

The previous majority along with Mayor Roger Lange had well-founded concerns about the nature of the Mall’s future development and the degree of financial involvement in this public-private partnership.  Their diligence served the community well, especially considering the financial meltdown that arrived in 2008.

The Mall became the political hammer used by the current council majority to win the November 2009 election.  Either these new members were extremely naive or they were fully aware of the unlikelihood of development in the near future and found this issue useful to attack their opponents regardless of the facts.

Had Longmont rushed into this partnership early, the damage to the city’s overall financial situation would have been critical.

Bond ratings are critical to municipalities.  They are important both to our ability to bond and to do so at favorable interest rates.  And reduced sales tax revenues that result from Tax Increment Financing over 20-25 years if projections are not realized may also be a gamble.  In the situation Longmont finds itself, this is almost assured.  Although there has been some up tick in retails sales, that by no means indicates that there is a market for new or redeveloped commercial retail.

The citizens of Longmont need open and honest information.  Political spin will not suffice, either from Panattoni or from the Mayor or city council members or from the city’s administration.

Will Panattoni default on its debt?  Will the mall be purchased at a fire sale?  Will a new buyer sit on the property as is until the market for redevelopment makes economic sense?  Will any future buyer prey on the community’s desire to have a healthy and prosperous mall to negotiate financial conditions for themselves at the expense of Longmont’s many obligations and needs?

Members of the Longmont community must recognize that Twin Peaks Mall is indeed private property.   Members of our community have no control over what businesses, anchors or otherwise, choose to locate in the Mall.  Potential businesses operate according to their own business models.  If the demographics and location do not follow those models and make financial sense, no forceful demands or pleadings will make any difference whatsoever.  Just because we want something doesn’t mean that we can have it.

Because of the uncertainty in commercial retail and the uncertain future over business financing, no one in Longmont should expect redevelopment anytime soon.  That’s hard to hear, but it’s the reality.

Signs of Dementia

These are signs seen primarily at Tea Party Protests. They all feature “creative” spelling or grammar. This new dialect of the English language shall be known as “Teabonics.”

See the set (be prepared to laugh out loud)

HeavenFest: A Reality Check

Union Reservoir - March 2010 - Photo by Doug Wray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related article: HeavenFest, A Briefing

Google eyes Longmont

It's time to modernize

The City of Longmont in its e-news for Friday, March 12, 2010 informs Longmont residents that Google is looking for a community to launch its experiment to bring better and faster Internet access to everyone. They want to partner with a community to test ultra-high speed (over 1 gigabit per second) fiber-to-the-home broadband networks.

Nominate Longmont. We are the best choice for Google and the benefit to our community is enormous.

You can help our community from now until Friday, March 26, 2010,

Visit www.ci.longmont.co.us/news/google_fiber and follow the process. It will take little of your time and your community will see renewed prosperity if we are successful in this public-private partnership. This map shows the location of people that have signed.

Since 1997 Longmont has been looking for a business partner to supplement our existing eighteen-mile fiber-optic ring.

Brandon Shaffer, Longmont’s state senator and president of the Colorado Senate, has written to Google on our behalf.  His letter outlines many of the reasons why Longmont should be the #1 choice for this partnership.

Adobe Acrobat PDF of Senator Shaffer’s letter

(text of letter follows)


March 11, 2010

Google Broadband Network Trial Location Selection Team
www.google.com

Dear Google:

I would like to take a moment of your time to share my support of the City of Longmont’s application to be selected as a Google Broadband network trial location. I believe that there simply is no better location for Google to build its first open access fiber to the home, ultra-high speed broadband network than my hometown of Longmont, Colorado.

I know Google is looking for a community where a fiber-based system can be deployed quickly and efficiently and Longmont certainly meets the test.
Longmont owns an 18-mile fiber-optic ring with the capability of bringing high-speed fiber optics based telecommunications into every home and business in Longmont. Google will have a head start on infrastructure if it chooses Longmont as a municipal partner.

In addition to this ring, the City also owns its electric utility, Longmont Power & Communications (LPC). LPC provides extremely reliable electrical energy at the lowest rates in Colorado and maintains the city-owned fiber optic ring that is connected to each of its electrical substations and other facilities, providing tremendous capacity for future applications including smart grid. Longmont would be a “one-stop shop” that could provide Google not only access to the electrical distribution infrastructure and the fiber optic ring, but other City infrastructure and assistance with permitting and rights of way issues – a partnership that could not be beat. As if that weren’t enough reason, Longmont already has in place a robust citywide Wi-Fi system that uses the City’s fiber optic ring as its backbone that could be a test bed for new wireless applications.

I know that Google is very focused on implementing fiber for residential use, but you should know that the City’s hospital, libraries, school district and many municipal services are currently benefitting from this fiber backbone and a partnership with Google multiplies the endless number of applications that can really tie a community together.

Longmont is fortunate to have some of the highest concentrations of high-tech employees per capita in the United States. Home to companies such as Seagate, Western Digital and DigitalGlobe, a Google business partner, we are located between two major universities (Colorado State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder). Longmont has a population of just over 80,000 – not too large that it would be unmanageable but not too small to test a robust new system.

With the incredible mountain views, high quality of life, being one of Money Magazine’s Best Places to Live and an All America City, I believe that Longmont, Colorado, is your best choice to locate and partner with to create the shared vision of providing ultra high-speed broadband to the home. I thank you for your time and consideration of Longmont, Colorado, and speak not only as a representative of my district but as an excited resident.

Sincerely,
Brandon Shaffer
President, Colorado Senate

Where’s the skin?

Ruh Roh

Bryan Baum 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But, Baum wasn’t done.  Oh, no!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mayor doesn’t want ‘scrutiny’

Some content from TimesCall.com

Our mayor point-blank says:

“…I didn’t want the scrutiny.” and “I didn’t want people picking everything apart like they seem to like to do. I wanted to stay out of that fray, and I did.”

One has to wonder about someone that put $4,000 of his own money into his campaign and yet doesn’t think the voters deserve to know what it was spent on. For all we know there were hired thugs blogging for him daily… hm.

A commenter on the story, George S. had this to say:

Bryan’s baum-shell: “I didn’t want the scrutiny.” That speaks volumes. Politicians who say that have something to hide, and whining that the Election Committee is biased against you is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Cockroaches run from a light. The Longmont Leadership folks, Wrongmont and Katie Witt didn’t want the scrutiny either. And their Chamber of Commerce, Rotary and developer pals sit there like the “see-no-evil” monkeys.

What a conundrum for the Times-Call. Baum’s buddies are your big advertisers and country-club pals. And yet you’ve editorialized forthrightly in favor of open government and sunshine laws for decades, and a statement such as “I didn’t want the scrutiny” should make your spidey senses go to DefCon 5.

So which will guide you, Times-Call editorialists? Your ad revenue or your principles? Unfortunately, I’m betting the former. Standing up for what’s right is uncomfortable, but I’m betting you’ll decide that getting the cold shoulder at Fox Hill is worse.

George S., Longmont, 1/20/2010 9:59 AM

and when the mayor’s wife attacked his assertions, he also had this to say:

Stephanie, “being scrutinized by his opposition as to who gave him what” goes by another name: openness. Wouldn’t you want to know that about your opponents in the next election? All declawing the EC does is protect candidates from scrutiny whose funding really needs to be scrutinized. If a council member votes to grant a big zoning change to the XYZ Widget Company or the First Tax-Sheltered Megachurch of Perpetual Profit, shouldn’t we as taxpayers and voters (and you as managing his opponent’s campaign) know if that council member holds stock in that company, is a member of that church, or has received contributions from those who do and are? Bryan said that HE didn’t want the scrutiny … but who else on his slate of candidates is he also protecting from scrutiny? If everything is so above-board, Stephanie Baum, I’m sure you won’t have any trouble, right here in this thread, naming for us the members of Council who are, for instance, members of LifeBridge church. For the record, so the electorate knows. If you dodge my queston, it’s yet another scrutiny-avoidance that will speak volumes.

George S., Longmont, 1/20/2010 2:59 PM

You know, I’d think the mayor’s wife would have the wits to stop trying to defend him, she’s doing more harm than good.

She’s also clearly as thin-skinned as her husband, leaving a comment about a post at my political humor blog ‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’:

Too all, please ignore my typo at the bottom of my earlier post – “t-shirts” became a mildly vulger typo. Some people think this is newsworthy enough to repost on their blogs. I would image the adults in the audience would recognize we’re all human and typos are just that. The children among us will giggle and point and make fools of themselves. Decide for yourself which group you fall in to.

Stephanie Baum, Longmont, CO, 1/20/2010 7:27 PM

That’s hilarious Ms. Baum. Your husband, the mayor, says something as childish as ‘…well I guess we should all get up and leave…’ when criticized by citizens and you call his opponents ‘children’.

Pretty obvious to the casual observer who needs to grow up.

Your hard-core partisanship during the election was obvious and hateful and your husband is clearly of the same stripe. The public is watching now and neither of you are acquitting yourselves well.