Citizens getting involved and speaking out - only tyrants discourage it.
Recently there was a Letter to the Editor in the Times Call talking about limiting City Council’s Public Invited to Be Heard which is provided for at city council meetings on Tuesday nights. Public Invited To Be Heard allows every Longmont citizen up to 3 minutes to talk to their locally elected representatives to tell them what they think about an issue.
As a former city council member for 5 years, there was no doubt that there were times that I wished folks would “hurry up” or “summarize their thoughts. However, I always reminded myself about what America stands for. Here, in this country, we are allowed free speech and we are given the right to talk to our elected council members. While this might be inconvenient for elected officials, I feel strongly that citizens need to speak out and let their representatives know what is on the minds of the people they work for. Remember, the voters are the ultimate decision makers. City council members work for us. How can they govern if they do not know how citizens feel about an issue?
We all have a right to speak out. When someone decides they want to run for public office, this is the job that they agreed to perform. Ducking out on this public duty is not the kind of person we want representing us. Elected officials need to listen.
Mayor and Council members:
Longmont city council member Katie Witt
When I was interrupted tonight by Council Member Witt (who said I had disrespected and verbally attacked Council Member Santos), I did not get my full three minutes. I should have been compensated for that time so I could finish my speech. What I shared tonight was not an attack, but a fact — and as a citizen of Longmont, I’m allowed to question the behavior of my public servants. Being shut down like this sets a dangerous precedent. I hope that council will not continue to muzzle its constituents from speaking the facts. The fact is, Mr. Santos gave me back the TEDX DVD that I had given him. Not wanting to learn about the dangers of fracking chemicals makes me feel concerned whether or not he can make good decisions on my behalf and on behalf of all Longmont residents for whom he represents. Furthermore, I am also concerned that Council member Finley brought forth a motion to keep the initial PITBH to 30 minutes at the beginning of the meeting. This is further evidence that the priorities of certain Council members are skewed. Council members are public servants and are elected to serve the public as well as conducting City business.
I am submitting my speech here for the public record.
Dear Mayor and Council Members,
It has been 3 weeks since I had given you a copy of the DVD titled “What You Need to Know About Natural Gas Production”, narrated by scientist and environmental analyst, Dr. Theo Colborn.” Have you had a chance to watch it? Would you be concerned about the fact one member of the Council refused his copy of the DVD and handed it back to me after the December 20, 2011, Council meeting? How can he make informed decisions without first considering all sides of an issue? Does he have the health, well being, and safety of his constituents in mind? My guess is his constituents would want him to be extremely well versed on this topic.
I’d like to ask Council more questions:
- Considering the toxicity of the chemicals and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that result from drilling for natural gas (which includes drilling, fracking, processing, waste handling, and ongoing gas collection), how comfortable are you having these chemicals and VOCs released into your neighborhood? Would you consider the COGCC mandate of 350 feet to be a safe setback distance? If you allow natural gas drilling in Longmont, would you be willing to move next to a drilling site to show the citizens it is safe? Would you allow your children or grandchildren to go to school next to a drilling site?
- Had you ever heard about the health effects that occur from exposure to fracking chemicals and volatile organic compounds produced from natural gas drilling before watching the video? COGA and COGCC claim this technology is safe, but let me assure you it isn’t. Here are some of the effects from exposure: Burning skin, nausea, headaches, sensitization, fatigue, dizziness, tingling in the extremities that can lead to permanent nerve damage, gastrointestinal problems, endocrine disorders, cancer, death. Dr. Colburn states that 43% of the ‘known’ chemicals disrupt the endocrine system (and, by the way, we aren’t privy to this information until April 2012 here in CO). Exposure during pregnancy can interfere with the development of the fetus, causing irreversible lifetime changes in their health and how they function later in life. Further, Dr. Colburn mentions that health issues may not show up until months and/or years after exposure that can never directly be traced to industrial exposure. So that means once the drillers are gone, and months later you get really sick, then you’re out of luck? Who pays the price for the industry’s folly? Why, the citizens of Longmont.
- Based on what you now know after viewing the DVD, are you willing to go to any lengths to protect the residents of Longmont according to the oath you signed when you came into office? That would mean you pass regulations that are far stricter than the COGCC rules.
Bringing this kind of industrial activity into the city is far too risky. I ask you to support an actual ban under our Home Rule provision, where our rights as citizens supersede those of the State of Colorado.