Cooling off a solar flare-up

Longmont had an Open Forum in council chambers back on January 12, 2010.  One of the more interesting moments came when a heated exchange occurred between Mayor Baum and Steve King, a solar installer.  Since that time, the usual merry band of screwballs that often parade in front of council with some of the most hair brained statements decided they were going to take Mayor Baum to task for how he treated Mr. King.  They’ve also made similar statements in the TC Line and on some websites.

At the January 19th meeting during a Study Session it was a packed house and as expected they demanded Mayor Baum apologize to Mr. King and the residents of the city.  At one point, Mayor Pro-Tem Gabe Santos had to tell one of them to basically put a much needed sock in it.  You can see the others on the video at the city’s website and witness their feigned outrage.  Oh, the humanity!

I took a different tack and said Mr. King should be the one apologizing.  As much as I often disagree with some council members, I never showed the disrespect that the crowd in attendance that night showed city council.  These are sore losers and classless loudmouths, and as their platform goes down in flames here locally and nationally they only get more abrasive.

But that aside, before I spoke to council on the 19th (and before I witnessed this groups behavior that night) I attempted to make contact with Mr. King and try to douse the flames on the situation.  Like I said on the 12th and at other times, I’m in favor of solar, as are all of the city council members – just not this grant at this time, it doesn’t make sense fiscally for us right now.  Mr. King responded immediately and also wanted to put this situation behind him, and we had a good dialogue on the best way to accomplish this and make it a win-win situation for the city, Mr. King, his company, and future solar possibilities.

While I was rough on him in my comments (which he is aware of) and others were not happy with his interaction with the mayor, I believe the following letter that he is sending the mayor and city council shows good faith and we should put this whole mess behind us and move on.

The sad part is that many in that group I referenced earlier will not be happy about this turn of events.  They really wanted this as a political football to toss around amongst each other for the next 2 years.  Sorry to pee in your Kool-Aid.  See, this is how adults act.  We see a problem, come up with constructive ways to solve it, actually solve it, and then shake hands and get on with life.  It’s alright to admit it – you all were childish and wrong.  You don’t do Mr. King, his company, or the city any good with your behavior – so go ahead and stop.

As always, glad to be of service.


Here is Mr. King’s letter (emphasis his)

Greetings Mayor Baum and Longmont City Council Members,

I am writing in regards to my participation in the open forum on January 12th.  I believe that the solar industry deserved a better spokesperson that night. Unfortunately for both of us, not many of my constituents showed up to speak, and so I considered it my duty to give it a try.  So you got stuck with me. I come from a working class background, and haven’t had many chances to cultivate poise or study diplomatic nuance. While I don’t retract my opinions, I do feel the need to apologize for any comments I made that should have been better articulated and less argumentative, particularly towards the Mayor. My intention was not to draw a line in the sand. It may seem laughable now, but I had actually hoped to speak with City Council Members personally and offer free site assessments for their homes!

As you can tell, I have a lot of passion for solar, and believe it to be a valuable component in the promising new energy economythat serves to strengthen America. This can only happen if America can continue to be a leader in energy technology. I was glad to hear that none of the city council members are anti-solar, and agree that the rebate program, as proposed, is exclusive in that the budget only allows a small portion of the town’s population to go solar with incentives, while others are left out. I think we all agree that it would be nice for the residents of Longmont to be able to afford some of the technology that is being produced here by several companies already.

An unfortunate case of timing that I’d like to point out is that the ClimateSmart Program is having three more rounds coming up this spring and summer, one round for commercial properties and two for residential. This program has helped Longmont already and is just getting it’s feet off the ground. This program would have worked well in harmony with the Longmont Solar Rebate. ClimateSmart is a program that is drawing worldwide attention to Boulder County, and I believe that its success is something not only our county but our country can be proud of, so we should support it in any way that we can. Customers looking to install small projects in Longmont still have a reasonable financial incentive with the combo of ClimateSmart, the 30% federal tax credit and a $4,500 rebate from the state, but the combination of all these with the Longmont Solar Rebate could really boost business here and make Longmont an even more attractive place to live.  I would encourage you to work out a program that is agreeable to you soon, so that the Longmont Solar Rebate can share in the success of the ClimateSmart Program.

I have not paid attention to the bloggers or negative comments towards me on the internet because I am very focused on my job selling systems so that my friends can feed their families. But I have read some of the emails sent to me and my company. I ask for your help in moving on from the divisiveness and bickering that has risen from  my comments. In no way do I condone my comments being attached to any cause other than to promote green business in Longmont!!

In the future, if I get stuck with the task of having to speak in public again, I will be sure to deliver my point with professionalism. I regret the fact that the lesson I learned here comes at the price of polarizing peoples opinions on this issue, when my intention is always to draw people together for productive discussion.

I assure you that I am much better at designing and installing systems than at public speaking. Independent Power Systems is an incredible company that does the highest quality work in the industry. We recently completed several installations for our boys (and women) in Afghanistan and are currently working on a way to help in Haiti. We have approached our work with the utmost integrity since 1996 and have had the honor of providing energy independenceand incredible investment opportunities to many Americans since then. We have a good reputation everywhere that we work, and we would love to do more work in Longmont. I would like to offer all of the City Council Members free site assessments for their homes!

Please accept my apology for my role in the way things transpired at last week’s meeting. I promise to learn to present my point of view with more tact. I wish the best for you and hold a lot of respect for the job that you do.

Best Regards,
Steve King

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About Chris Rodriguez

Chris is the editor/publisher of LightningRod Blog - as well as founder/editor of Wrongmont, Longmont Advocate, Vote!Longmont, Longmont Politics, the LightningRod Radio Network, as well as being the original Longmont Examiner. Chris is a writer and talker - whether it be blogs, podcasts, music, or public speaking. When he's not heard on Air Traffic radio, he can be heard on his podcasts or seen in the local paper causing trouble.

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