Tag Archive for longmont

Come, Exploit, Leave

I’ve resided in Longmont since 1986; in the same house north of Lake McIntosh. My kids have gone to school at Hygiene and Westview; with one now at Niwot.

I’m also an avid skier, to put it mildly; my wife would tell you it is more like addicted. So, I’m am keenly aware of the situation in the central Colorado mountains (Summit county especially) in the winters.

One excellent source for information about the snow pack in Colorado is the “snotel” site maintained by the Department of Agriculture folks in Lakewood – Snowpack Summary graph. It is one ski industry standard sources of data about the status of the snowpack in the state. It is updated every federal business day.

I had the April 17th graph. It showed the average, that of last year (which was a record big snowfall,) and that of this year – which is a record small snowfall. The percentage of normal, as of that date, was 40%.

Since then, that has fallen to something in the 25% to 27% range. That situation has already triggered Denver Water to issue restrictions. Boulder might soon. I know a City of Ft Collins planner who is very concerned about the impact in Larimer county.

In considering the regulation of fracking, which consumes significant amounts of water, the availability of water is a major concern!

From year to year, now days, it seems that the variability in snow pack, and so water, has become large; frighteningly so Some years may be OK, a few great, and some, like the snow season we just didn’t really have.

It is really kind of like a flood plain risk. In the case of water, what are the odds of two or three tiny years in a row? At what point is there not enough water for the residents, and everybody the City of Longmont water servers?

Who knows, Longmont itself may well have to end up going on water restrictions before the summer out. This could, sadly, get fairly ugly quickly.

The other point I made to Council was that Longmont is home to major high tech companies; it has been since IBM moved in down The Diagonal in the 1965. If the situation with the water is adversely impacted by fracking, that is not good. If the fracking causes air pollution that ruins the quality of life, that is not good(!) Part of what makes Longmont very desirable to high tech is the quality of life here; it is both a brand, and a lived reality.

Longmont could end up trading a set of long term, high paying jobs for a set of temporary, not that high paying jobs.  (and make no mistake, the oil industry is a “come, exploit, leave” kind of deal!)

That’s would be a simply stupid choice!

An open letter to the Longmont City Council

Where's council?

Where's council? Might as well not be there.

Mayor Coombs and fellow Councillors:

Council, you (with the notable exception of Sarah Levinson) have lost my trust. I doubt that I’m alone in suggesting that you have betrayed your fellow citizens with your pusillanimous decision to follow a staff recommendation offering compromise and “Fast Track” permits to the oil and gas boys instead of approving an extended 6 month moratorium.

Week after week your Tuesday chamber was filled with your constituents pleading for time. How many from without the industry appeared before you in support of OCGCC regulations? None that I saw or heard.

Did those who appeared before you represent a majority of your constituents? Yes. Did you respond to their passions? No. You told them to go to hell, just as the COGCC told you a week ago when rejecting your proffers of appeasement.

Ex-City Manager Pedrow, once out of office, suggested you take a stand and fight. Instead you have chosen what you thought to be a compromise and have been solidly kicked in the butt.

Big Oil & Gas has threatened you with virtual bankruptcy if you choose to fight what at best was a modest proposal for modification of existing OCGCC standards. Offering such insulting defenses as “the state’s robust regulatory framework”- (a damned lie if ever there was one) their intention is obvious: Kill any and every effort of modification lest it spread to other communities.

You’ve been told to be good boys and girls or else; so exactly what do you now propose? More conciliation? More tinkering around the edges?

Will you forgive and offer a permit to that paragon of corporate citizenry TOP drilling which has been and still is “remediating” the benzene problem at Trail Ridge school whilst ignoring the robust discipline of the COGCC since 2009? Does their application for more drilling permits not concern you? Exactly what in hell does it take to persuade you that you are on the wrong track?

I have a suggestion. How about taking a step back and re-visiting the proposal to extend the moratorium for another 6 months? Much is happening at every level of government and within that time frame anything decided today may well appear foolish tomorrow.

It takes gonads to admit error and great political courage to stand for your constituents against the pressure of campaign dollars from entities such as Big Oil & Gas. The accusation that some of you have been so influenced has been made; please show us that those accusations are incorrect.

Why not begin a robust campaign to enlist all Front Range communities from Trinidad to Fort Collins in a concentrated effort to change state law? It may take one year or ten but this issue will never be decided at the municipal level, so face reality and work to undo what was undoubtedly a corrupt process.

Ask yourselves how it came to be that an entity such as the COGCC was given the right to tell a municipality that their regulations could be pre-empted and then answer the question without thinking of campaign dollars. The deal stank then and continues to stink- and you know it.

Thus far, Council, you appear weak, fragile and timid. For God’s sake step up to the plate and start batting! You were elected to lead, so start leading.

Fracking within our community is likely the biggest and most dominant issue you as council will ever face; that is until you are up for re-election. What you do in the coming weeks will be long remembered. To paraphrase JFK: “Think not what you can do for your political future but what you can do for Longmont”.

Afghanis and Americans deserve better

Pentagon Releases Photos Showing U.S. Casualties

The price of Afghanistan

Lt. Colonel Daniel L. Davis wrote an article, “Truth, lies and Afghanistan: How military leaders have let us down“, in a recent issue of the Armed Forces Journal. The article summarized some material from a longer classified report he provided to several members of Congress.

Davis’ article is incredibly important as it sets the record straight on the ongoing disaster in Afghanistan as well as pointing out the huge disinformation campaign being waged by the military, politicians and the corporate-dominated media.

According to his article, Davis interviewed or had conversations with more than 250 soldiers in the field, from the lowest-ranking 19-year-old private to division commanders and staff members at every echelon. He also said he spoke at length with Afghan security officials, Afghan civilians and a few village elders. These conversations took place over a twelve-month period, mostly in 2011, during which Davis traveled over 9000 miles throughout Afghanistan.

Davis said that what he saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground. Instead, he said he witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.

Davis concluded his article by saying:

“When it comes to deciding what matters are worth plunging our nation into war and which are not, our senior leaders owe it to the nation and to the uniformed members to be candid — graphically, if necessary — in telling them what’s at stake and how expensive potential success is likely to be. U.S. citizens and their elected representatives can decide if the risk to blood and treasure is worth it.

“Likewise when having to decide whether to continue a war, alter its aims or to close off a campaign that cannot be won at an acceptable price, our senior leaders have an obligation to tell Congress and American people the unvarnished truth and let the people decide what course of action to choose. That is the very essence of civilian control of the military. The American people deserve better than what they’ve gotten from their senior uniformed leaders over the last number of years. Simply telling the truth would be a good start.”

For another vital but seldom-heard perspective on the impacts of the failed U.S.-led occupation of Afghanistan, visit http://vcnv.org/afghan-screams-aren-t-heard. This link provides information about the impacts of war from the perspective of Afghani civilians.

Mile High Arrogance

This is what a ‘professional’ at Mile High Skydiving considers funny: sending a community activist* a large-format mailer (source has been verified**):

Large-format envelope, they paid extra for this middle finger.

containing a low-grade laserprinted color poster:

I don't find this admirable at all - it's crude and high-school childish.

COMPLIMENTS OF MILE-HI SKYDIVING CENTER HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!

and a crude, cheaply-made bumper sticker:

When will this one land on Airport Road?

I LOVE AIRPLANE NOISE

Nothing says ‘little town’ more viciously than immature thugs with money and idle time.

The thing is, they seem to spend their time and money (but not much) doing ‘pranks’*** when they really need to be working more on their safety record:

I have to say, from a personal point of view, this information does not inspire respect in me.

In fact, something like this, in my opinion, has the aspect of an upraised middle finger.

Longmont, every time you hear that loud droning remember: you “love airplane noise.

Get used to more of it.

All the time.

Every day.

And night.


*  Who’s fighting a nuisance his business is creating. Oh, and the members of the organization – all homeowners.

** Mile High’s management gleefully admitted to doing it in an article in the Longmont Times-Call.

*** That I suspect nearly no one finds funny. It’s in the same class as soaping car windows and flaming bags of poop on doorsteps.

City council, restore needed regulations


Editor’s Note: The following is an Open Letter to the Longmont City Council. On May 8, 2012, Longmont’s oil and gas regulations will appear on the council’s agenda on First Reading (Consent Agenda). Several necessary regulations were removed from the Draft Regulations prepared earlier this year.

I would like to see the following provisions become part of the city’s regulation of fracking wells and other wells.

1) RESTORE THE PROVISION REQUIRING CLOSED PITS.
Open pits are a source of contamination, both through evaporation (airborne contaminants), and through undue exposure to animals and, potentially, children on nearby playgrounds. A CLOSED SYSTEM WOULD BE BEST.

2) INCORPORATE THE NEW EPA REGULATIONS ON METHANE CONTAMINATION. The EPA has just issued new regulations regarding methane leakage in fracked wells. The city should require that any wells drilled now should be in conformity to these new regulations, since the new wells will be operating when the EPA regulations go into effect.

3) DO NOT ALLOW THE OPERATION OF WELLS DURING A DROUGHT. The state already has a mechanism for declaring a state of drought, and it should be strictly observed.

4) MONITOR SMOG POLLUTION, INCLUDING ADVANCE TESTING TO ESTABLISH A BASELINE.
The city should require testing using the new technique just published by NOAA, which is able to differentiate sources of smog pollution. There should be a baseline test of Longmont’s air quality at the present time, before the moratorium is lifted, and future tests should be measured against it. I am especially concerned about the numerous medical studies published by a variety of sources–easily found with an Internet search–that show strong links between smog and an increase in asthma, stroke, and heart attacks. The recent study in Erie that commented on 10 minutes of exposure is ridiculous. If there are wells, there is going to be chronic exposure. The studies of the effects of chronic exposure to smog need a detailed review and the city needs to fund its own monitoring of smog.

Thank you for your attention to these matters. I look forward to seeing these important elements of regulation incorporated into the City of Longmont regulations.

Sanfaçon hosting two roundtable events

Garry Sanfacon 2012

Garry Sanfacon, District 1 Boulder County Commissioner candidate

Boulder County, CO, May 2, 2012 – Garry Sanfaçon, candidate for County Commissioner (District 1), is hosting two roundtable events to bring residents together to craft our shared vision for the desirable future of Boulder County. There will be a roundtable in Boulder on May 10, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at Unity of Boulder, located at 2855 Folsom St. and another in Longmont on May 15, 6:30-8:30, at the Longmont Public Library.

“For more than 40 years, Boulder County’s leaders have boldly marched to the beat of their own drum, and today Boulder County residents rank among the healthiest and happiest in the nation,” said Sanfaçon. “But we have social, economic and environmental challenges to address,” he said, “and it’s time to renew our vision.”

As Boulder County’s leaders were faced with decisions about growth management decades ago, they bucked the trend for sprawl and launched a vision to protect the natural environment in which we live, preserving vistas, acquiring open space, funneling growth into urban areas, and keeping rural areas rural. It has come, to a large extent, to define us as a county.

We owe our special quality of life to Boulder County’s rich history of visionary thinkers. You and I are the stewards of that legacy. Today, Boulder County is under pressure to conform to the status quo, and it is incumbent upon us to continue to build on that visionary leadership, from elected officials and citizens alike, to leave a legacy of our own: a livable, resilient, inclusive and sustainable community for future generations. “Our elected officials can’t shoulder the challenges we face alone,” said Sanfaçon, “it’s going to take all of us coming together as a community to chart a bold course forward to leave a legacy of our own for future generations.”

Is fracking really safe?

On April 30, Katherin Engelhard touted the safety of fracking. From her self-proclaimed “extensive research” she quoted, “In 65 years of hydraulic fracturing of 1.2 million wells, there’s no proven case of its contaminating drinking water.”

However, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission reports that between Aug. 28, 2003, and Jan. 5, 2012, there were 427 incidences of groundwater contamination caused by oil and gas wells in Weld County alone. Groundwater contamination of this magnitude definitely poses a threat to drinking water.

A serious, more immediate safety threat Ms. Engelhard fails to mention is the air pollution documented by many new studies being released, such as the 2012 NOAA study demonstrating that, from 200 fracking wells, Erie’s air has more methane, propane and ethane than Houston, Texas. Another recent study (March 2012) by the Colorado School of Public Health at CU concludes that people living within a half-mile of fracking operations are 250 percent more likely to have chronic health impacts and 60 percent more likely to develop cancer mainly from exposure to airborne benzene, a known carcinogen associated with the more modern, “unconventional” fracking.

Fracking is astoundingly exempt from regulation by the EPA, Clean Water Act or Clean Air Act. Ms. Engelhard refers to the fracking her father did “in West Texas 40 years ago,” but this is definitely not your father’s fracking. Modern “unconventional” fracking (less than 10 years old) is considerably different and involves far more health, safety and environmental impacts due to the additional chemicals, newer technology and vastly greater allowable number of wells per pad. A quote Ms. Engelhard uses from the EPA claiming safety around this industrial activity was from 2004, when there was very little information on the impacts of the new “unconventional” fracking.

Palestine is still occupied

Recent news coming out of the Middle East has dealt with the ongoing killings in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, and the upcoming election in Egypt. There is also lots of superficial coverage about the threat of an Israeli and/or U.S. military attack on Iran, allegedly over the possibility that Iran might develop nuclear weapons sometime in the future. And then there is the continuing catastrophe in Afghanistan.

Partially as a result of all these crises, other uncomfortable situations such as the disasters in Libya and Iraq are on the media’s back burner. Results of our illegal attacks on these formerly prosperous nations include driving their people into poverty and ongoing violence and the destruction of these countries. Despite their war crimes, our leaders apparently feel no responsibility for their actions or for helping the people recover from these disasters. The U.S. corporate-dominated media downplays both these situations.

Another issue that has dropped from the media’s radar is Israel’s 45-year long occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Note that one result of the threat of an Israeli attack on Iran is that Israel essentially now has a free hand in the West Bank. President Obama is no longer putting any pressure on Israel to reach a resolution with the Palestinians. Instead Obama is focused on the Israeli threat to attack Iran.

Israel can now forge ahead with the relentless expansion of its illegal settlements without any more impotent protests from Western nations. In addition, Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes continues, the uprooting of olive trees goes on, and more Palestinian irrigation systems are destroyed. Israel’s military still invades Palestinian towns, terrorizing civilians and arresting peaceful protestors. Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks between Palestinian towns continue to hamper Palestinian commerce. Israel’s control of the aquifers means that Palestinians are deprived of adequate levels of water. Moreover, Israel still bombs and kills in Gaza with impunity.

Besides the Israeli military’s actions, Israeli settlers also attack Palestinians. For example, in November 2011, Israeli Brigadier General Nitzan Alon criticized “acts of terror” by Jewish extremists against Palestinians.

Clearly Israel is satisfied with the current situation. Therefore the U.S. must pressure Israel in order to reach a just resolution of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. A just resolution of this issue would help to defuse the Iranian situation and also improve the U.S. credibility in dealing with these other crises.

What is “Pro-Life”?

From CivilTongue:

Is EVERY one sacred? Why not?

What is a “culture of life”? How do you define it? When someone speaks of a “culture of life” or “pro-life” agenda, it is usually assumed that abortion is the topic at hand. Abortion is not the only issue that pertains to the sanctity of life. If someone wants to literally be a pro-life voter, there are a wide variety of policies that that moniker supports.

How about starting with an easy one? The death penalty. Is there anything more clearly pro-death? There is no logic in calling yourself “pro-life” when you support the death penalty. If you support the death penalty you are saying that you are morally ok with not only killing people, but letting the (fallible) state decide which people to kill with your blessing.  Perhaps someone has other moral reasons they can cite for supporting the death penalty, but they can’t still call themselves “pro-life” with any integrity.

Here’s another gimme – war. War = death, it’s kind of the modus operandi for winning a war. Aside from the direct killing of soldiers by soldiers, with war comes countless life altering tragedies and injuries. The pollution of war equals death to those living things around it. The corruption inside war equals death for those willing to take risks for money or power. The private contractors are let loose to roam lawlessly across the land, bringing violence and oppression. Living in an occupied land means living in fear; simply being alive is not the same as living. Please don’t call yourself pro-life if you support war, especially pre-emptive ones wars of aggression.

Is it part of a culture of life to allow corporations to pollute our water supplies, harm our animals, disrupt natural systems, and poison our food? Is it life giving to look away as humans are abused and exploited in the name of profit? All life relies on a certain level of purity to our air, land, and water, there is nothing – no industry, no product, no privilege – that makes it acceptable to poison us all.  If you don’t believe in protecting the sanctity of nature and those natural systems that sustain life, you are not pro-life.

Universal health care is pro-life. We can live our lives when our basic health care needs are attended to. Unchecked pain, fear of debt, and exclusive access – hallmarks of a health care system that puts profits before patients – is not pro-life (it’s pro-profit). In fact, someone in a dismal health care situation is more likely to consider numbing pain or their reality in an unhealthy way.

Humans are not born to be slaves, we each want to carry on with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When corporations turn us into slaves, or indentured servants, or take away our dignity, or abuse us, or force us to work against our morals, we are alive, yet not. When a company sucks the life out of you so you have nothing for your family, no time for community, and no living wage, they are not working on a pro-life agenda. Like stories you can read from our own history of slavery, the plantation owners were all for more babies, they couldn’t wait for those babies to become commodities. In those stories you can read the anguish of the enslaved parents at bringing another life into the world under hellish conditions, knowing that their offspring will be treated like expendable chattle. An unregulated capitalist dynamic promotes death to humanity.

Read the rest at CivilTongue.

Heroes of the GOP

From AmericaBlog:

Aging former rock star, Ted Nugent, recently endorsed Mitt Romney for president.  Two weeks agoRomney’s son Tagg had this to say about Nugent’s endorsement.

Does Tagg Romney think it was cool and great when Ted Nugent called Barack Obama a “piece of sh*t,” and when he called Hillary Clinton a “b*tch”, during the 2008 campaign – while waving two machine guns in the air?  Here’s what Nugent said at the time (video):

“I was in Chicago last week.  I said, hey Obama, you might want to suck on one of these, you punk [holds up two machine guns].  Obama, he’s a piece of sh*t, and I told him to suck on my machine gun.  Let’s hear for it.  I said Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless b*tch?

Nugent had more violent rhetoric about President Obama this week, after having endorsed Mitt Romney for President.  The Secret Service doesn’t appear amused.

Read the rest at AmericaBlog.


Charles "Russ" Russel Lyman - GOP HD 12 candidate

Charles "Russ" Russel Lyman - GOP HD 12 candidate

Wow. The campaign hasn’t even started and the wild-eyed gun rhetoric is on 11.

I suppose it’s to be expected – hard line GOP partisans know it will take a virtual miracle1 to get Romney elected and that has got to be pissing them off… badly.

They’ve had to listen to years of those DFHs bad-mouthing their ‘mission leader’ (Dubya) while a… a… (whisper) (censored) was in their White House. Even the oft-summoned spirit of Saint Ronnie the Tax-Fighter was no help, in fact he was an embarrassment to the Tea Party. The once-proud lockstepping Grand Old Party was splintering like cheap patio furniture in a hillbilly family brawl.

So it makes sense they’d turn to their (ahem) spiritual leaders… and if anyone’s consumed more spirits than ole’ Uncle Ted I don’t know who it is. One thing’s for sure though, Teddy Bare Nugent is a perfect symbol of today’s GOP electorate: clueless, hateful, crazy and armed to the teeth.

Something tells me we’re going to be seeing a lot more of folks like Teddy – on Fox ‘News,’ at rallies and GOP Assemblies… and on posters… and YouTube videos… etc, etc, etc.

Boulder County was truly lucky to see one of the very first emergences of ‘grass roots’ GOP heroes – the Colorado Statesman reported on just one such firebrand: Charles “Russ” Lyman. When I read the article I was shocked2 not to find a photograph of this charismatic powerhouse that “…brought the crowd to its feet…” so I made it my business to locate this beacon of GOP hope.

When he mounted the lectern3, suddenly I started to feel some of that magic – or it might just have been my breakfast burrito doing a rerun.

Good luck Mr. Lyman – the hopes and prayers of the Boulder County GOP clearly go with you. May the spirit of the Motor City Madman show you the way.


1. You know, like the golden plates… that were returned to an angel.

2. Shocked I tell you!!

3. It was perhaps that very turn of phrase that called forth the spirit of my burrito.

Republicans & Their Caterpillar Problem

First seen at Discomfit Magazine.

Caterpillars turn into lovely butterflies

When asked about the problem of women leaving the Republican Party in large numbers, Reinse Preiebus, the executive director of the party, said that, given enough press, the Democrats could accuse them of having a “caterpillar problem,”thus minimizing the idea that they even have a problem.  They do have a problem and he may find that he chose an appropriate simile in his comparison.

For over a century, women could rightly feel like caterpillars, living perpetually in the cocoon of a home and family without being offered any choice in their lives.  They did as they were told by a man who, they were told, has superior capacity for understanding things in business and politics.  Until after the turn of the last century, they were denied even a right to vote, much less the right to accumulate anything of worth in their own right.  They were required to sit, smiling as their husbands might nudge a neighbor as he made fun of wives and women in general.

The funniest new joke  in the thirties was to ask, “Have you heard the definition of a wife?”  The punch line was, “It’s a new appliance that you screw on the bed and it does all the house work.”  Hilarious!

But, due to the efforts of a lot of long-suffering sisters who braved beatings and forced feedings, they did earn women’s suffrage.  They could vote and they did!

In response to the interminable sufferings of poverty, they mostly and largely secretly, helped to elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  The one thing that did the most to free the “little ladies” from this literal slavery was the onset of World War II.  Every able-bodied man was needed in the war and there was a huge problem in manufacturing the arms and armaments which our nation so sorely lacked.  It was decided that, perhaps, women could learn to do the work that was once reserved for men.

Young women turned out in droves for training in the operations of welders, rivet guns, and heavy manufacturing machinery.  Children met “baby-sitter” for the first time as older women and young girls took over the child-rearing chores and none of them suffered any lasting negative effects.  Soon we had the mightiest military machine in the world, the wars were won, and the men came home.  For a time, women happily went back into the ever-more-expensive cocoons with an even-greater list of responsibilities.

Their daughters, however, had an entirely different outlook.  No cocoon for them!  They were aware of their capabilities and they wanted to fulfill them!  Offices became full of secretaries and hospitals adequately staffed with nurses; schools were staffed with teachers, and there were other challenges to conquer.

Soon, they were writing for newspapers, writing for, and even publishing their own papers and magazines.  Despite the fears of the old men, marriages still took place and the population continued to grow as women dropped out of working or took sabbaticals to rear young families.

But they had seen the world and they liked it!  They chose to limit the size of their families so they could return to their respective professions.  This, however was difficult and accidents did happen.  Then the choice was dire; to again give up their dreams or to risk being butchered by an illegal back-alley abortionist.

This gave life to the pro-choice movement which took a couple of decades to accomplish.  This movement also inspired the free-enterprise pharmaceuticals firms to develop other birth-control measures and they were a startling success.  Some two generations of women relied upon these measures, from the messy diaphragm to the pills and the hormone shots, to allow them to juggle careers and child-bearing.

This is the real problem with caterpillars which the Republicans do not appear to understand.  Caterpillars have a way of turning into butterflies!  They flutter about, spreading pollen for the flowers and making the world a more beautiful place, at the same time, creating more caterpillars to carry on their work.

These butterflies cannot and will not return to their cocoons and no sane person would expect them to do so.  You may stick pins through their heads and hang them on your walls but you can’t put them back in the cocoon once they have felt freedom and spread their wings.

Mr. Priebus was right.  When the Republicans want to destroy women’s access to reproductive care and remove the availability of controlling their own fertility, then they may find that they have a “caterpillar problem.”

Niwot High’s ‘Diversity Day’ valuable experience

Niwot High Coat of Arms

After reading some comments and opinions from those who are disappointed in Niwot High School’s Diversity Day, I would like to applaud Niwot High School for it. The program schedule looked incredible – with discussions about living with cerebral palsy, the obesity epidemic, ageism, autism, and other discussions about religious, ethnic, cultural, and all kinds of other diversity. But two workshops of the forty-seven addressed sexual orientation and sexual identity, and those were the focus of the recent opinion letter under the headline “Niwot High Lost Trust With Diversity Day”. I would like to counter the disappointment expressed in that letter with my own gratitude.

Diversity Day programs in our schools are opportunities for students to learn about people who are not like the American majority. Our country is experienced very differently by religious, ethnic and racial minorities; by those who are economically disadvantaged or homeless; by those with physical or mental disabilities; and by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. It can only benefit students to hear those perspectives, which is exactly what Niwot High School offered with its Diversity Day.

In 2010 the anonymous Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) let us know how badly we are failing our LGBT students right here in the St. Vrain district. Nearly 10% of the 3,210 high school students surveyed identified as gay or lesbian in the survey. Of the students who identified as lesbian or gay, 35% had seriously considered suicide in the past year, 29% had planned it, and 20% had attempted suicide in the past year (compared to 11%, 9% and 4%, respectively, for their straight counterparts). The survey also indicated LGBT students didn’t know where to turn for help. Clearly, avoiding the issue and pretending these students don’t exist is not working. In a climate where LGBT students need to be silent about who they are in order to simply survive school, think how amazing it must have felt to be a closeted gay student hearing their experience discussed and validated at Niwot High School’s Diversity Day.

In the “Niwot High Lost Trust” opinion letter, the academic and instructional value of the event was called into question. I’ve been a high school teacher for fourteen years. Teachers can tell you that if a student feels excluded or unsafe they will have less buy-in to the whole school experience. Lack of buy-in impacts attendance, homework completion, participation in clubs and activities, and other markers which promote academic success. Students without buy-in will drop out of school in higher rates. They will join gangs, turn to drugs and alcohol, practice unsafe sex, contract HIV/AIDS, and to become pregnant. ALL of these things affect student achievement, school success and future success, so educating our students about how to be inclusive of everyone is truly at the heart of academic performance and success in school and in life.

Niwot High is taking brave steps in educating our students and preparing them for a world that includes all kinds of people – including LGBT people. I hope the example set by Niwot High School reaches far and wide.

Snooker train a-comin’

Who was driving again??A series of public outreach meetings conducted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC and the Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is headed Longmont’s way.

I call it the Snooker Train. Contrary to the publicly described purpose, this is a dog and pony show intended to snooker communities into believing that they have a meaningful seat at the table of oil and gas drilling. There is no credibility in outcome of these so-called “outreach” gatherings anymore than there has been for Governor Hickenlooper’s Task Force on Cooperative Strategies Regarding State and Local Regulation of Oil and Gas Development.

Here’s what they tell you is the purpose:

The meetings will provide information on the respective regulatory roles of the state agencies. Information will be provided on existing regulations for oil and gas development in Colorado. Staff from each agency will be available to answer written questions about aspects of oil and gas development as well as speak individually with interested residents.

But what Hickenlooper, the COGCC and the oil and gas industry and their shills throughout the legislature and the task force have intended from the get-go is to get local government off their back.

When all is said at done, their premise of preemption will not have changed, not even a nano change. But many local governments and some in those communities will be led down the garden path of thinking that there has been change.

Reproduced directly from the COGCC website is it’s MISSION STATEMENT:

The mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is to foster the responsible development of Colorado’s oil and gas natural resources.

Responsible development results in:

The efficient exploration and production of oil and gas resources in a manner consistent with the protection of public health, safety and welfare

The prevention of waste

The protection of mineral owners’ correlative rights

The prevention and mitigation of adverse environmental impacts

The COGCC seeks to serve, solicit participation from, and maintain working relationships with all those having an interest in Colorado’s oil and gas natural resources.

Where are YOU in this? NOWHERE. That’s where. Unless you think that being a GOAL is good enough. Because a GOAL is all we are:

GOALS

  1. Promote the exploration, development and conservation of Colorado’s oil and gas natural resources
  2. Prevent and mitigate adverse impacts to public health, safety, welfare and the environment
  3. Demonstrate balanced leadership in the regulation and promotion of oil and gas development in Colorado at the local, state and federal levels

The fundamental issue that they will not address because it would provoke a monumental change that the industry will not tolerate is that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is failing to live up to its legal mandate:

§34-60-102 – Legislative Intent – “It is declared to be in the public interest to foster the responsible, balanced development, production, and utilization of the natural resources of oil and gas in the state of Colorado in a manner consistent with protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources (§34-60-102(1)(a)(I)).   [emphasis added]

Simply stated, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is in violation of the law, §34-60-102.

So the COGCC will show up in Longmont, and other localities, with the CDPHE in tow to take your written questions. Yes, that’s right. Written. This is how they will pick and chose what they wish to answer and avoid (they hope) embarrassment and confrontation.

So we’ll see you on May 7th and will see how well things go as planned.

WHEN:      Wednesday May 7, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

WHERE:    City of Longmont
Civil Center
350 Kimbark Street
Longmont, CO 80501

Drilling will harm Longmont’s businesses

Much has been said about air and water pollution, damage to roads, noise and light pollution, and in general the dangers of having fracking wells close to homes and schools.

However, there are other matters that the City Council must study and investigate that have hardly received any attention. It has been said that fracking is good for economic development. It seems to me that fracking is actually bad for business in Longmont.

Fracking is the kind of business that drives away most other businesses. Weld County is a fine example. The more wells you drill, the more wells you drill. Longmont strongly relies on retail development for significant sales tax. Business at existing stores will be seriously jeopardized, particularly on the main retail arteries of Hover and Colo. Highway 119. These areas are bordered by vacant lots that offer many opportunities to fulfill setback requirements and are likely to see fracking wells in abundance, with all the industrial traffic and pollution that goes with it.

Name one business that thinks their retail sales would improve if you drilled a fracking well in their parking lot, or put a well 350 feet from their main entrance. Businesses always worry about the impact of construction activity, even if it’s only for a few weeks and improves the roads to their business. The impact of fracking would be far greater and it would be continuous and detrimental. Will the redevelopment of Twin Peaks Mall include a fracking well in the surrounding lots? Who would shop there if it did? Will South Main be subjected to the same treatment? It isn’t just the well construction that would be harmful. As Erie’s current experience shows, the air pollution would jeopardize business throughout Longmont. The City Council needs to generate a thorough investigation of how the business of fracking would impact existing businesses and the plans for development that are in the works. That is, we need a study of the business environment as well as the natural environment, and for the same reasons: to thoroughly understand the possible adverse effects.

And speaking of regulations, how exactly will they function? Even supposing that we arrived at some agreement about suitable regulations, how will these regulations be enforced? At the present time there are only 17 inspectors in the entire state! We’d be lucky to see one in Longmont every five years, and then only for a day. At best. A passer-by and someone who was fishing downstream spotted the recent leak at Suncor that contaminated the South Platte in Denver, not inspectors or Suncor personnel. Should Longmont hire an army of fishermen and inquisitive pedestrians to patrol the anticipated 850 wells at full build-out?

The regulations are only as viable as the inspectors who have the responsibility to enforce them. The negligence that we are now seeing concerning the older wells drilled near Longmont residents is probably typical of what we can expect unless a major new plan of inspection is created and fully funded.

Fracking will be a plague in Longmont, not a means of economic growth. Think of how much time and expense have already been put into dealing with this issue. It’s just a drop in the bucket compared to what we are in for if fracking actually gets under way. It will tear this community apart, it will monopolize city staff time and city resources, and it will be an endless drain on Longmont’s budget. The city should investigate these matters fully.

Accountability up the air

Plane vs house = homeowner loses.

What? No pilot insurance?

I have long been concerned about the risks of increased air traffic that will accompany major improvements planned for the Longmont Airport.

On December 18, 2011 a pilot had an emergency landing on usually busy Hover Rd., near Rogers Grove. No investigation was made as to why this extreme stunt was necessary. Did the pilot fail to fill the fuel tank? Was required maintenance properly performed? It was most fortunate no one was injured or killed.

Then on March 23, 2012 we had a mid-air collision over Longmont resulting in two deaths. What if the tumbling aircraft had crashed into a home, school or busy retail center in this densely populated town?

The Master Plan to extend the runway at Vance Brand in Longmont projects a doubling of aircraft operations over the next few years. That plan does nothing to implement flight controls or even simple record keeping at our airport. With takeoffs and landings occurring once a minute and helicopters and skydivers filling the air, mid-air collisions will occur more frequently.

There is no flight control at Vance Brand. Even instructors based at other airports bring students to Longmont’s airport to practice touch and go maneuvers. Why? No one at Longmont’s airport watches his or her operating skill or behavior. The FAA identifies an airport’s Air Influence Zone. Longmont has seen fit to build six schools within that zone – risky. You must agree that having novices learn to fly over your home and school is unnecessarily risky.

FAA does not require private aircraft owners to carry liability insurance and many do not. Few buy insurance adequate to compensate the victims of a crash. You cannot drive your car without adequate insurance but your small aircraft need not be insured so why bother.

The Longmont Airport is not a significant moneymaker for the City. Longmont Council can boost out local economy by bringing in light industry and high tech companies. But anyone who tries to argue that this airport is key to companies considering a move to Longmont is out of touch with the real world of business.

Please recognize the risks to each of us presented by increased air traffic over Longmont.


4/24/12 Update by Diane Wood

Being in an aerospace industry, it is prudent to carry aircraft insurance. If there were a serious accident, your company could be sued and possibly put out of business.

In surfing the internet regarding insurance on private aircraft, I did not find any mention that most private aircraft owners carry insurance.

Listed below are some of my concerns.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AT LONGMONT MUNICIPAL AIRPORT

  • AIRNAV.COM reports 274 operations per day average during 2010 at LMO. With increased runway capacity and general improvement of the facility, more traffic can be expected in the future.
  • Daily observation shows those weekends with favorable weather experience at least double the daily average traffic. Those 548 operations are spread over about 10 hours. That is 55 operations per hour or about one a minute – all day. All this will happen without any traffic control.
  • At the same time there are hundreds of skydivers landing near the runway, gliders, ultralights, biplanes, prop planes, jets, the jump plane, helicopters.
  • Ultralights buzzing slowly along at low altitude and in the morning, drifting hot air balloons. All this happening over nearby homes and schools
  • With the expansion of the runway allowing more jet aircraft, the jet aircraft will require a larger Air Influence Zone. This means that more residential and school areas will be subjected to safety.
  • With a jet laden with fuel, it creates more of a hazard. It is heavier, contains more fuel, should an accident occur, it has more potential to do more damage to property and worst, injure, maim and kill people.
  • Migratory birds and aircraft can collide creating a tragedy.
  • Open space and wildlife will be affected.
  • Flights take off wee hours of the morning and late into the evening.
  • There is no monitoring of the airport.
  • Safety should never be considered way out of proportion.

By the way, I have not heard or read about any toaster deaths.