Tag Archive for Santos

FSSW Stand Up For BO&G

The laugh's on US

The laugh's on US

It’s hard to see how the City Council acted to ensure the safety and health of Longmont’s residents from fracking threats as described in last Saturday’s editorial, “Drilling rules show city puts residents first.” Big Oil & Gas finally showed its cards and in no time Councilors Finley, Sammoury, Santos and Witt (FSSW) folded, abandoning the new regulations which at their request had been painstakingly produced by city staff. Now why on earth, I wondered, would they do that?

A few months ago, the vote to craft new regulations was 7-0. All hands were gung-ho to beef up the old 2000 regulations in order to protect the well-being, health and safety of Longmont and its beloved residents. Go, team, go!

But slowly, things became weird.

Councilor Katie Witt, in a convoluted mush of logic turned upside down, having earlier announced she was balancing her duty to protect Longmont against her political future (shouldn’t these be one and the same?), proceeded to vote against the new regulations. So much for protecting Longmont; so much (one hopes) for her political future.

Declaring great optimism, hope and faith that TOP Drilling along with BO&G would negotiate, moderate, mediate and in general do a host of nice things they heretofore had never before done anywhere or for anyone, Ms. Witt demonstrated a novel approach to negotiations: cede everything first, then expect one’s opponents to hand back over whatever is requested.

Councilwoman Finley : limit public's time to thirty minutes

Councilwoman Finley : Frack my constituents!

Councilor Bonnie Finley’s approach was more rational, at least on the surface. She objected to the new regulations because they might bring a lawsuit, despite being told by the legal suits that the regulations were defensible, until finally faulting the preamble as a cover for her “no” vote. Councilor Bagley advised her on at least two occasions that the preamble had no effect in law, offering at one point to shorten it to a brief paragraph, but to no avail. Ms. Finley had her talking points and stuck to them, absurd as they were.

Alex Sammoury, on the team

Councilors Santos and Sammoury, to this point having supported the regulations, had remained quiet as the debate raged around the chamber, until Councilor Sammoury gently opined that an extension to the existing moratorium would give them a chance to try again for cooperation from the quaintly named Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. Despite being reminded that earlier efforts to negotiate had been rebuffed and then rewarded with threats of lawsuits from the state attorney general’s office, the motion passed. These, by the way, are the nice folks who Ms. Witt is confident will bend and bestow great favors if only asked politely.

Gabe Santos, big money's inside man

So where are we? It’s ugly. The revised regulations are tabled. A vote at the next council meeting approving the new 45-day moratorium will be held under “emergency rules,” which requires at least six “aye” votes to pass. If it does, we have more than 45 days to negotiate with TOP and the COGCC (but still under the old regulations). If two councilors — say, Finley and Witt— vote “no,” the moratorium passes but won’t go into effect until three days after the current moratorium ends.

That would leave a gap for TOP to apply for permits to drill under the old regulations — and you can bet they will not be negotiating.

In the end, the stench of BO&G permeates the chamber; in the next election, we may or may not remember this disgraceful chapter in council’s history, but by then, most or all of the players will have moved on — far and away from the drilling rigs, methane gas and gutted property values. There will be no shortage of alibis and excuses, none of which will matter a damn.

Mayor Coombs and Councilors Bagley and Levison held their heads above the stench and may yet prevail in seeing the new regulations passed into law. FSSW (remember them?) have done everything possible to ensure that the safety and health of Longmont and its residents are left in the hands of BO&G. Shame on them.

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”.

Disgust at Council members behavior

Councilman Gabe Santos

During the December 20, 2011 City Council meeting, I presented the Mayor and Council members with an informational DVD titled, “What You Need to Know About Natural Gas Production,” produced by Dr. Theo Colborn of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange. With Fracking being such a hot issue facing the City, this movie contains pertinent information that will help Council members understand the consequences of exposure to chemicals resulting from natural gas drilling.

However, I was shocked when Councilman Santos handed the DVD back to me at the end of the meeting. His unwillingness to understand all sides of an important issue is a very bad sign. When I complained to him about his refusal, he accused me of threatening him.

Well, let’s take a look at this from the other side.

By forcing me to take back the DVD, Santos bullied me. Bullying is defined as: “Using superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants. This behavior is not indicative of a public servant I want to serve my community. It is a disgrace to the City for a Mayor Pro Tem to use these tactics.

I also want to address the disrespect showed to our independent experts who were there at the request of Longmont citizens. They brought forth crucial information about the dangers of fracking and its waste of our precious water. But not one Councilmember could muster a single question for them – and then Phil Doe and Wes Wilson were ridiculed for not showing proper decorum. COGA representative Schuller’s comment about purported ‘misinformation’ in Wes and Phil’s presentations comes from the arrogant stance of an Industry Insider.

Real time transparency

Anyone that comes to Free Range Longmont is reaping the benefits of Open Source Software. We run our site using WordPress, a team-built program. The source for WordPress is freely available on the web – the catch is that you contribute to the project if you can, either in money or services (like writing plugins). One of the great things about WordPress is that when a bug or a vulnerability is found, in a matter of days a fix can be written by any of the team – or any member of the public. That’s the beauty of real-time transparency.

The open source model includes the concept of concurrent yet different agendas and differing approaches in production, in contrast with more centralized models of development such as those typically used in commercial software companies. A main principle and practice of open source software development is peer production by bartering and collaboration, with the end-product, source-material, “blueprints” and documentation available at no cost to the public. This is increasingly being applied in other fields of endeavor, such as biotechnology.

A problem comes up, everyone sees it, it gets fixed. Wouldn’t it be great if government ran that well? You could still have your differences but they’d be honest differences, not secret schemes.

So the agendas could still be there – but now we’d know who was behind them.

We need real-time reporting now!

Real time donation tracking just makes sense.

Fundraising While Voting Should Be Disclosed in Real Time

From the Sunlight Foundation:
By Lisa Rosenberg on 07/16/10 @ 11:37 am

The New York Times reported yesterday about a bold and far-reaching investigation underway by the Office of Congressional Ethics that looks into what most consider business as usual in Washington—lawmakers asking for and receiving contributions from the industries they are regulating at the time they are voting on laws that impact those industries. In this case, the OCE’s focus is on congressional fundraisers hosted by Wall Street lobbyists and executives immediately prior to crucial votes on the financial reform bill.

Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, to make it easier for future investigators as well as average citizens to establish whether there any links between campaign funding and legislative action, contributions by lobbyists should be electronically reported online, in real time.

Current law requires contributions by lobbyists be reported semi-annually. But a six-month lag time for reporting not only is unnecessary in the digital age, it delays until well after it is meaningful information about money and access and influence in Washington. As Nancy Watzman posted yesterday—and our Party Time database demonstrates—fundraisers often coincide with votes on issues important to the hosts. But current reporting requirements mean that voters often have to wait months for confirmation that campaign contributions and votes coincide.

Read the rest at Sunlight Foundation

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.