Tag Archive for witt

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”.

Untenable positions

Coombs made it clear it's NOT the city's position - Katie Witt has not.

I’ve been following this Coombs marriage equality hullabaloo since the Greeley Tribune broke the story several weeks ago (nice catch Times Call…). And, I’ve been fascinated by the arguments made by those who say he overstepped his bounds.

They act as armchair lawyers in order to hide their own prejudices. Most of those who make an argument against Coombs signing the list say that he was in violation of City Council Rule of Procedure 23. A rule which reads,

“No member of Council, employee of the City, or Council appointee shall state a position or policy of the City until said position or policy has been adopted by affirmation or resolution of Council. No restraint on individual expression is hereby intended, so long as the narrator clearly indicates that the position expressed is his or her individual opinion and not the position or policy of the City.”

Now, do me a favor. Read that again, starting where it says

“No restraint on individual expression is hereby intended.”

Go ahead…read it.

It says that as long as the member of council clearly states that the position he or she is expressing is their own position, not that of the council or the city, then it’s fine.

In Scott Rochat’s article that introduced the story to Longmont (and unleashed Rodriguez and the rest of the Baum Squad’s attack dogs) Coombs says, “This isn’t the council’s position or the city’s position.”  I don’t know how much more clearly he could have stated it. Those who say Coombs “stepped over the line” are out to push their own prejudice agenda, simple as that. They’ve seen the second half of City Council rule 23, and they choose to ignore it.

If that’s not the case, and I’m way off base here, then why haven’t they come out against Councilmember Katie Witt?

Since last year Councilmember Witt has gone around flaunting her support of Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. She’s taken an official position on the 2012 Presidential Election. However, not once have I ever heard her say, “This isn’t the council’s position or the city’s position” like Coombs did. So, are we as citizens of Longmont supposed to believe that, pursuant to City Council Rule of Procedure 23, the City Council has endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential Election? I sure as hell hope not.

Councilmember Witt is in clear violation of rule 23. One starts to wonder just why these same folks who are supposedly, “standing up for the rules” have been silent in regards to Councilmember Witt. Oh, that’s right. They voted for her. If they really do want to stand up for the rules, then it’s time for the Baum Squad to stop the hypocrisy, and call out Katie Witt.

Public invited to be silent

Mayor and Council members:

Baum's loss has taught them nothing.

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.

Thank you,

Teresa Foster

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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