From the cluttered desk of the editor…
Again, welcome to Longmont Politics. And by the traffic numbers both on this site and the downloads of the KRCN 1060AM radio show we’ve been on, we’re off to a great start. By design, this site links to Longmont related political stories mostly from other sources. But occasionally we’ll throw in some opinion of our own. Like this. Continue reading →
The City of Longmont Historic Preservation Commission had three openings to fill, and as of last Tuesday nights City Council meeting only had two applicants. The two regular term positions were filled by those applicants who applied by the deadline and the third spot was re-opened. It will be re-advertised on the City Clerks webpage for selection from City Council at a later date. Continue reading →
The formerly simple task of picking applicants for an advisory group once again descended into anarchy at the Longmont City Council meeting of April 22nd.
The announcement for the Economic Vitality Advisory Group makes it fairly clear: “Applicants must have been registered to vote in Longmont for a period of one year”, and “Application Deadline: Monday, April 14th”. Simple enough, but apparently not for simpletons.
At least two of the applicants picked at this meeting are Boulder residents. No, that was not a typo. That announcement title again was: City of Longmont Economic Vitality Advisory Group Applications Wanted. One of the questions on the application is: “Have you been a registered voter in the City of Longmont for at least one year?”
A couple of weeks ago, some council members added names to the list after the deadline. Once again a councilmember (Karen Benker) asked for consideration of a person (from Boulder) to be added to the list. I can’t call this person an applicant because it wasn’t clear they even filled out an application for the council to mull over! And by the deadline? Of course not, but who needs those anyway?
Like last time, this late addition was allowed and then selected for the group, pushing aside applicants who were Longmont residents and knew how to fill out an application and meet the stated deadline. Of course there should be no question of pre-coordination with other councilmembers on this late addition (that’s sarcasm). How Karen Benker can bring in this late addition, just a name really since there was no application, yet her “like-minded” councilmembers go right along with her. So they’re either lapdogs or they were told ahead of time AND are lapdogs.
And finally, when Mayor Lange asks for the possibility of basically honoring deadlines, Councilmember Sean McCoy stated he wouldn’t support such a thing. This pathetic behavior explains why most people are apathetic to city issues.
Anyone happen to catch tonights Longmont City Council meeting? Once again the simple task of choosing applicants for advisory boards descending into utter nonsense. How hard is this?
For the board in question, there were 4 applicants, and 3 positions: 2 primary and 1 alternate. The deadline was somewhere around 10 days ago, as a clear answer was not given by the City Clerk of when this was. So if you, like me, looked at the City Council agenda that came out last Friday, and every Friday before each meeting, there were the applications of the nominees.
It’s been the opinion of more than a few that our new majority on council is cherry picking candidates for these appointments. One of the applicants put on his application that his neighbor, Councilmember Karen Benker, was who advised him of this spot. Hmmm, okay, we’ll let that go for now.
So, councilmembers had a few days to consider the 4 applicants. But at the council meeting, Sean McCoy lets it be known that he and Brian Hansen have submitted 2 applicants of their own, AFTER THE DEADLINE! I bet you can see where this is going.
Councilmember Mary Blue had recused herself prior to this as she had a family member in the list of applicants. Gabe Santos brought up the point that one time he had put in an application for a board after the deadline and there was no special rule change or consideration for him, and there not should be one for these two applicants. So they put it to a vote: should council suspend the rules of the application deadline for these two applicants. Here’s where I think City Attorney Clay Douglas made a mistake: while Councilmember Blue was recused from the vote involving her relative, she should NOT have been recused from her vote on this change of rules. Do you want to guess how this vote went? Yeahs: Benker, Levison, McCoy, and Hansen.
So, not only does this out of control bloc blatantly disregard the rules that have been in place for I’d guess a long time, they make it so they can vote on it, and pass this questionable procedure. And no, they didn’t vote to change an ordinance or any resolutions, you know, the stuff that makes the rules they’re supposed to follow. They just wormed their way around it. Very democratic.
Lastly, want to guess who made the cut for this board? One of the primary members was the aforementioned Benker-invited nominee, the other was one of these late and very questionable additions. Councilmembers had all of maybe a few minutes to look at their applications, if that. Note to some councilmembers: when some people say you’re doing a great job, maybe they’re not talking about YOU specifically.
Let me set the stage, as the video alone may not explain it all. Late into the meeting around 10:30pm, the council was voting for members of various boards in the city. First, there was some discussion on the nominees, a motion, and a vote by a show of hands. When it was time for the Cable Trust Board, the eligibility of one of the nominees, Charlie Fellenbaum, was discussed followed by a motion by Councilmember Santos that Stephanie Baum be appointed to this board, followed by a second, then a call for a vote. Here’s where it got interesting.
Councilmembers Blue, Santos, Hansen, and Mayor Lange raised their hands, signaling a majority of council. Turn the volume up and you then hear Councilmember Benker saying ” NO“. As the camera changes angles, she’s clearly saying that towards Mr. Hansen, hand still in the air. Mayor Lange looks exasperated as he says ” Hey Karen?!” as she’s clearly out of order. Yet she just takes over the discussion, clearly angry over what just happened. She goes on to comment about Mr. Fellenbaum, who wasn’t the subject of the vote, and even claims he has ” more interest than the other candidate“! She ends her tantrum by throwing herself back towards her chair in disgust. Mayor Lange rightly points out that there was a motion, and a vote.
Hopefully most of you see what’s wrong here, but since I know some of you will defend some of these councilmembers no matter what, I guess I have to explain it. I don’t have my Roberts Rules of Order handy, but this was so blatantly out of line it’s not even funny. How often do you see councilmembers, during a vote, telling other councilmembers how to vote? Never for me. The Mayor is the chair of this committee, Karen Benker wasn’t recognized by the chair, the chair was making it clear with his words and body language that he was not thrilled with her behavior. Didn’t stop her though, did it?
So, was Brian Hansen expected to vote a certain way? It’s not inconceivable that he misheard Fellenbaum for Stephanie Baum. But what if he really meant to vote the way he did, who is Karen Benker to tell him ” NO“? I thought each member was independent? I haven’t harped on this ” Benker 4” or ” bloc of 4” since the election, figuring I’d evaluate each one separately. And some members of council have been making noise about the general public tearing into the new members. Do you want to know why? THIS is why. The point was just proven.
In a private letter to Brian Hansen, who is my ward’s councilmember, this is what I said about this so-called ‘bloc': ” The accusation and assumption (of a bloc) is a lack of independence by individual members, and a vote-by-committee agreement or arrangement. What transpired Tuesday night only reinforces that mindset.”
So what was reinforced? The opinion that, a) certain councilmembers pre-coordinate votes as a group, b) perhaps their nominee was a plant – who on council knows him? What were the circumstances of his nomination? I’ll leave it to someone else to connect the dots, and there are dots. c) Don’t cross the group or show independence without pre-coordinating that – or face the wrath, television cameras or not, and, d) parliamentary rules be damned, there’s an agenda to be pushed.
Personally, I’m getting pretty tired of councilmembers like Sean McCoy and his weekly insults (that now include the Times-Call and its TC-Line) and whining about citizens perceptions of the new council. Those perceptions now have some base in reality, as proven above. So please, tell me, with a straight face, that you don’t discuss as a group upcoming votes. That you think it’s alright to skirt the rules plenty of other councils have abided by. That it’s okay to tell other members how to vote during a meeting. This is a disgrace.
One thing I try to keep in mind, especially with my kids, is that it’s easy to remember the truth – there’s only one version of it. But when you are scheming behind the scenes, and there are a few people involved, it’s not as easy to keep your ducks in a row, now is it?
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