The Longmont Years: 2009-2011 Breaking the Bloc

In this installment, we pick up in early 2009 after apparent local political burnout – or so I thought.  The previous two years were hectic, to say the least.  Output increased in quantity and quality, both in the written and spoken word.  By the end of ’08 I had gone back to one of my first loves: aviation.  But staying away from local politics was apparently not in the cards.

2009 started with my wife Brigette writing fairly regularly for Examiner.Com as the Longmont Examiner, and me writing just as regularly as the Denver Aviation Examiner.  But still lurking were the occasional posts on Longmont Advocate from myself and fellow contributor Dave Larison.  It didn’t take long for us to go after the liberal/progressive element on council as they stepped up their ridiculous assault on the sensibilities of the Longmont citizens – thinking (incorrectly) after the election of Barack Obama that they were even more emboldened to do so.

It also didn’t take long for us to see that the new president was a recipe for disaster, as many things we warned about in the first few months of his presidency have all pretty much come to pass.  It was easy to attach his failures to the Bloc of 4 as they made the mistake of attaching themselves to him.  The prospects of getting rid of their leader, Karen Benker, looked good, regardless of how people said beating her with Katie Witt was a long shot at best.  Dave, Brigette, Percy Connaroe, myself and others stepped up our activity on the site, at council meetings, and in the newspaper.

One article which got a lot of attention, including on the front page of the Times-Call, was the story about Thistle Community Housing, one of Karen Benkers darlings, and something I was going to hang around her neck – and did to great effect.  This was a financial disaster in the making for Longmont, but there was some sweetheart deal going on behind the scenes that we exposed – and put an end to.  Problems with Thistle would only get worse and more publicized, making it nuclear for any politician to touch.

Tied into Thistle was the ongoing problem with foreclosures in Longmont, so I started a new website, Longmont Foreclosures, which basically was an updated Google Map with all the current and new foreclosures in the city – which were too many to ignore.  This could easily be tied to the Benker Bloc and their demands on builders and developers, who eventually pulled out of Longmont altogether.  Next was the ongoing problems with the Twin Peaks Mall, a situation that only got worse over the years – and easily tied to the Bloc of 4.  Their ideas and plans were a joke, and regardless of all the warnings, it turned into the eyesore and embarrassment we all warned it would.

Then the lawsuits began, starting with the Times-Call suing the city over open records, then Firestone over the border war to the east, then a few citizens (including myself) over the Fair Campaign Practices Act.  The Benker Bloc was collapsing in on itself at this point, and the rhetoric from each of them only got more abrasive – something we were more than willing to share with the viewing and voting public.  It was not long after that Wrongmont.Com was revived for the upcoming election.  By mid-year I was now too busy for the Denver Aviation Examiner job, so I resigned from that and it was politics full time.

Another area the Bloc of 4 got into trouble was their penchant for secret meetings.  Not only were they taken to task about this from us, but also from the Times-Call, who recently had their advertising threatened by Sean McCoy and other bloc members.  The old USSR Politburo had nothing on these people, but since they hadn’t lost the election (yet) they thought the public was with them.  They soon found out they were wrong.

2009 Election
While many people were surprised by the victory of Katie Witt over Karen Benker, I wasn’t one of them.  When the money started flowing in, nearly all from small donors, the messages people would include in those fundraising letters spelled doom for Ms. Benker.  She realized it probably too late that she was in deep trouble and just about nobody, except for her sycophants, liked anything about her or her despicable bloc on council.  The final numbers weren’t even close, although Ms. Benker initially laughed off the candidacy of Ms. Witt.  The results wiped that condescending smirk off her face.

We also helped turn the majority on council away from the liberal/progressive type that sat on council for 2 years.  Following the ’09 election, I was appointed to the Airport Advisory Board for a 3 year term.  Of course this appointment wasn’t without it’s controversy as Bloc holdover councilmember Sarah Levison tried repeatedly to get me unseated from the board as well as a couple citizen loudmouths.

In 2011 we aimed to remove a couple more holdovers of the Bloc of 4 and succeeded in unseating Brian Hansen and Sean McCoy, leaving only Levison from that motley group.  Unfortunately, we also lost the mayorship in Bryan Baum, but actually increased the more conservative majority.  We didn’t participate as much in the ’11 election as previous ones, as we had decided that we were going to slowly taper off our political activity.

Up next, the final installation…

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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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