The Longmont Years: 2012-2013 Airport Master Plan success, and plans to move

This is the final installation of the long and winding road of our activities while residing in Longmont, Colorado.  We pick up in early 2012 where we’d already talked about and even came close to moving 6 years prior, but I had one last piece of unfinished business before we left:  coming full circle back to the Vance Brand Airport, where it all began.

The election of 2011 help finish off 3/4’s of the Benker Bloc, so we knew much of our work was completed.  Even if other liberal/progressives got elected later (as they would) they would probably know better than to play it like that motley crew had – if they had any hopes of being reelected.  So, it was on to bigger and better things.

By early 2012 I had been on the Vance Brand Airport Advisory Board for 2 years and was entering my last year as I had no plans to sign up for another 3 years.  That thought was twofold: first off I didn’t think I’d be a Longmont resident over the following 3 years, and secondly I knew my appointment would put friends on council in a tough position.  So, pushing through the Master Plan was a top priority.

I became chairman of the airport board in early 2012, and within a few months we not only passed the Master Plan but got council to vote for it unanimously.  That was no small accomplishment as the previous attempts over the years that included a runway extension never could get past city council.  We had the combination of a committed airport board and airport manager, a great consultant (JViation), an airport-friendly council (at least not an airport/business-hostile council like previously), and a group of citizens that hated the airport and made themselves look terrible to the public.  Groups like C.A.R.E” and “Citizens For Quiet Skies” – made up mostly of non-Longmont residents and/or low aviation-information voters.

What many people may not know is that while I was the chairman of the board when this runway extension was passed, the previous airport board chair that presided over the last runway extension was a friend of mine and contributor to my sites: Rich Yale.  It was pretty cool that we were bookends like that.  The rest of 2012 on the airport board was mostly uneventful, lots of cancelled meetings, most of the heavy lifting was over.

Late 2011 and early 2012 also saw me returning to audio as I was asked to be an occasional guest on a local radio show with (now former mayor) Bryan Baum.  It didn’t take me long to get frustrated with the audio quality and equipment issues.  Then the show got cancelled (or transferred or something) to BlogTalk Radio – an awful service if quality is important at all to someone.

This pushed me towards starting my own radio network: the LightningRod Radio Network.  The idea initially was just to help my son, who wanted to become a sportscaster, start and run his own radio show.  But after setting up the website, a server that played our audio 24/7, a podcast, and a live show with chat room – I decided to try a show of my own.  First it was a “Crossfire” kind of show with someone politically opposite to me (Friendly Fire), then I did my own show (LightningRod Radio) but morphed into Longmont Politics after one show.  An afterthought for a camping show soon eclipsed all of the others, getting thousands of downloads a month.

Friendly Fire lasted until mid-June with a live show at a soon to be closed down venue (Bit o’ Billiards), SportsTalk pretty much ended in the fall when my son started doing the real thing at a university in Denver, and the Longmont Politics podcast wound down by Halloween, although I had been making a few radio appearances around this time as the Longmont radio show had returned to AM.

As another sign of pulling away from Longmont, the Longmont Politics website was shut down and forwarded to LightningRod Blog, a spinoff of LightningRod Radio Network and a sign that things weren’t going to be Longmont-based anymore.  This was a complete 180 as before I had said (in Longmont Advocate podcasts) in 2008 that I wanted to be a big fish in a little pond, whereas now I wanted to go more regional and national.  At the same time, the Longmont-related domain names were all redirected to LRB, and by late 2012 my tenure on the airport advisory board had ended.

Sadly, we lost one of our contributors, Percy Connaroe, mid-2013.  Anyone who read his posts or knew of his life and career knew there was a lot to this man.  I wrote about him in detail in this post.  We conversed via phone and email many times, but I had only actually met him once.  The last I heard, he was surprised that I had removed myself from the local political scene.  But it was all part of the plan, there’s very little that I do on accident.

We had been talking about retirement and the steps towards it.  But I had also promised to stay in our Longmont house until our kids were through with high school.  While we enjoyed our time in Longmont and our home there, it would not work in the long term plans – which at one point included moving to South Dakota!  So we met in the middle and looked for homes that our youngest could still finish out his senior year in Longmont (something he wanted to do surprisingly) that would still work with what we want long term.

We got lucky as the real estate market was red-hot in the summer of 2013 and we found the perfect house in the perfect area that works both short term (our sons schooling and my work in Longmont) and long term (out of Boulder County, more rural, etc).  Like I’ve said in previous posts, we’ve made a lot more friends than enemies while in Longmont.  And we got to find out who our friends really were and who had no business ever being part of our lives.

Of course I leave in my dust the haters of Longmont, who still can’t get enough of us.  These are the dregs of society that I wouldn’t had normally ever interacted with if I’d never gotten involved in politics.  These were the forces I always fought against; those that wanted to turn Longmont into Boulder, more or less.  Among them I found a pack of vile people who often turn to bigotry and sexism when they were getting their asses kicked.

They often rant about Longmont’s past associations with the K.K.K., while they are the new face of the same kind of hatred and racism for this century.  Did we leave because of them or any change in the political winds?  Of course not, they had nothing to do with it, besides I can make lemonade out of lemons every day of the week.  My most prolific and prosperous years (in writing and ad revenue) were the years they thought they were in charge.  In a weird way I can thank them for that, as well as their anti-developer attitudes as it drove up the price of my house due to low supply and high demand.

That all being said, I don’t see us getting as involved in politics in the future.  Then again, the last couple of times I said that the complete opposite occurred.  Either way, thanks for reading/listening over the years to these ramblings and brain droppings.  It’s been fun, wouldn’t have changed a thing, and always looking forward to what’s next.

Chris Rodriguez
January 2014

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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