Longmont: Take The Deal

OPEN LETTER TO MAYOR LANGE AND LONGMONT CITY COUNCIL

For the record, I have no stake whatsoever in the following. I am not a landowner near this property, I am not a member of Lifebridge, nor do I speak for them or have ever been asked to. The proposal by Firestone’s Mayor Chad Auer in reference to Lifebridge Christian Church’s properties should be seriously considered and accepted without delay.

We’ve all been entertained by the antics for the last few months by some of your ” surrogate agitators and aggressors“, but the time for stalling and playing games is over. You have a decision to make and you can’t procrastinate any longer. This is what you were elected to do; take input and make policy. This deal is probably the absolute best you’re going to get; to pass on it would be foolish.

Six of the current seven councilmembers were involved in the recent elections of November and January. When you consider what “majority” you think you’re representing, keep in mind only three of you actually won with a majority ( Lange, McCoy, and Santos), one of you lost by a majority ( Benker in the mayors race) and the other two got in with less than a majority ( Hansen and Levison). Your decision, one way or the other, will bring out some citizens with pitchforks, figuratively, and you need to figure out which ones you’re willing to anger. Whatever political future you think you might have hangs in the balance, because this decision will affect Longmont for decades.

Personally, I think the landowners are giving away too much in this deal. They’ve been the target of slanderous and libelous attacks by some mouthpieces of certain councilmembers. These councilmembers and their attack dogs should be nervous about the recent Open Records request. There are limits to freedom of speech, and I’m willing to bet there are some shady backroom conversations certain people and councilmembers would rather keep out of the public eye. It’s probably too late for that, and I believe that if Longmont doesn’t take this deal, this so-called ” massive” open records request will be followed by a ” massive” lawsuit that Longmont can not afford, and will ultimately lose. In that scenario, all of us taxpayers are the losers.

The anti-annexation crowd didn’t want Lifebridge annexed into Longmont, this offer addresses that, and this group gets their wish. Longmont officials wanted a buffer; this offer addresses that as well. The only hitch is that Longmont has to come up with the money to buy this land as open space. None of you thought this would come for free, did you? This is prime real estate on Hwy 119, another reason I believe the landowners are giving away too much in this deal.

Longmont isn’t and hasn’t been dealing from a position of strength. It really doesn’t hold any cards and stand to lose much. The cute game of de-annexing and re-annexing, including certain roads with the goal of cutting off access to the landowners’ property, was a dirty trick and will cost the city at the county, state, and court levels if you allow this charade to continue. As strategies go, that was a bad move, and now it’s just about checkmate.

We all know some of you ran on, and had the backing of the anti-annexation movement. It’s become clearly evident that they were never just “anti-annexation” or looking out for what was “in it” for Longmont. They’ve followed and harassed the landowners from one city to another, then on to the county level, and have included in their attacks members of a church that has been part of this community for a century. This group has made it clear this church is no longer welcomed here, and the silence by some on council on this attack is tantamount to approval of this despicable behavior. Behavior, that by and large is by only a handful of people, and a small minority who signed the petition (which less than half voted for the anti-annexation candidate in January), yet council gives them the illusion that they are an actual majority of Longmont citizens, which they don’t come close to actually being.

My guess is that your attorneys and staff will suggest you accept this offer, regardless if you can afford the land in question or not. The impending lawsuit could be much more expensive in the long run, with no open space to show for it in the end, unlike with this offer. Some of you need to publicly divorce and disassociate yourselves with the vocal minority who has brought Longmont to this sad and unfortunate position. And do it quickly, you’ve stalled enough.

Cordially,
Chris Rodriguez

More Half Truths and Untruths

I guess the anti-Lifebridge annexation crowd is of the belief if you lie enough, often enough, that the spun twisted perception will become everyone else’s reality.

The latest example is a letter that ran in the Times-Call. In it the writer made it sound as if because of the former Firestone officials move to annex Lifebridge and Fairview land they were “voted out of office.” Ever heard of term limits? They couldn’t have lost because they couldn’t have run for re-election. And the other board member retired and moved out of state. This is surely to be twisted into that she was shamed out of office and had to run for the hills.

This letter brought up the robo-calls made to some Longmont residents, but failed to mention the mass mailer done with the name of the main anti-Lifebridge group on it that was much more negative and the mass email that went out from more or less the same people. All those people who spoke at City Council who were “incited” seemed to all come from the anti-Lifebridge side. So who incited anger?

The editorial from Weld County officials was also mentioned in this letter, saying they ” pointedly urged Longmont to reconsider” the Union annexation. Let me quote the FIRST sentence of that editorial: ” It matters to Weld County not one nickel whether the Lifebridge Christian Church’s future campus on Colo. Highway 119 is sited in unincorporated Weld County or within Longmont‘s city limits.” And just to further drive the point home, the LAST sentence was: ” Again, it matters not a nickel to Weld County but appears to be a lost opportunity for Longmont.” Yes, I could see how those two quotes could be misconstrued as them urging Longmont to annex, if I were a heavy drinker or drug user.

The last great and continuing lie is the financial aspect they keep regurgitating, this unsubstantiated claim that 80-90% of the land to be annexed would be tax exempt. This one has been repeated so often I’m fairly confident they are starting to truly believe it. Problem is, by their own admission and chagrin, they were unhappy that Lifebridge wasn’t more forthcoming in these actual numbers. So what to do? Make some up! There’s no proof of this inflated tax-exempt claim of theirs.

This all leads to the obvious question: How many of these half truths or outright lies were told to get their petition signed by about 6,000 people? I heard that one of their lines was ” We just want people to have the chance to be able to vote whether or not to annex this land, we aren’t against the church“. If that was so, which of course it’s not, why are they going to great pains, including this mass-mailer to Firestone residents, to continue to block not only the Lifebridge annexation into another city, but also 4C’s other property at Fairview?

I’ve stopped counting how many stories I’ve heard first and second hand about people feeling deceived into signing that petition. To that all I can say is pay a little more attention next time and do your homework. Yeah, I know, you’d rather just be able to trust people that appear to be concerned citizens without an agenda. I know some of you, and more every day, are realizing that just wasn’t the case here.

Which “Agitators and Aggressors”?

At the 3/25/08 Longmont City Council meeting, Sean McCoy, in his recurring role as appointed insulter, took aim this time at a website. You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNslIi6DAM4


He called them ” surrogate agitators and aggressors“, and thanked the Longmont Police for showing up to the meeting, apparently for ” his and his family’s protection.” Would this be the same Longmont Police that Mr. McCoy accepted a $1,000 donation and Times-Call advertisement from, and are now pushing to make it so they can never donate to a campaign in Longmont again? Might they have been there because of reports of a regular attendee carrying a good size knife on him at council meetings? Did this genius know that? I’m betting not.

But since Mr. McCoy is accusing people exercising their Freedom Of Speech, which include phone or “robo-calls”, with terms like this, and feels the need for police protection for these robo-calls, I’d like to ask him for some consistency.

There were emails sent out that said a similar thing as these robo-calls, ” you need to come to tonight’s meeting“. These were sent by members of Progress Now Action, and while it clearly has an anti-Lifebridge tone, here’s the most hilarious part: Some were sent to current Lifebridge members! In some cases multiple emails sent to separate accounts of the same member! Talk about utter stupidity.

And here it is…
—————————————————————————————————-
Subject: FW: Your support is needed at a critical time for Longmont
Date: 3/25/2008 1:29:55 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time
From: info@progressnowaction.org
Reply To: jen@progressnowaction.org

XXXX,
Kaye Fissinger, a ProgressNow member in Longmont, asked me to forward you an urgent update on the LifeBridge/4C Development. I’ve forwarded her email below.

To: Jen Caltrider
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2008
From: Kaye Fissinger
Subject: URGENT – We need Longmont residents to attend the City Council meeting TONIGHT

Fellow Longmont Residents,

Earlier this year Longmont residents banded together to prevent a proposed annexation by the LifeBridge/4C Development Corporation. The proposed annexation would have cost Longmont residents thousands in taxpayer dollars every year.

Now, LifeBridge is at it again. This time they’re trying to get the land for their development annexed through the City of Firestone.

The Longmont City Council is poised to vote for annexation of three pieces of open space on our Weld County border for use as open space. If Longmont annexes this open space land, we will effectively prevent Firestone from annexing the LifeBridge development and protect wildlife habitat.

I want to invite other Longmont residents to join me at the LongmontCity Council meeting tonight to make sure the City Council knows that Longmont residents want this open space annexed.

The City Council meeting starts at 7:00 pm at City Hall, 350 Kimbark Street in Longmont.

Last night, Longmont residents were subjected to robo calls designed to further LifeBridge’s cause. The message urged residents to keep the City Council from annexing the property in question. So, we expect LifeBridge supporters to turn out in force and we need to make sure that Longmont City Council hears our voices as well.

Thanks again. I look forward to seeing everyone tonight at the City Council meeting.
Kaye Fissinger
Longmont Resident
————————————————————————————————–
Well, now, as the SNL Church Lady would say, isn’t that special? Of all the people who got up and spoke at this meeting, I don’t remember seeing a single Lifebridge supporter. It was a cacophony of the usual anti-Lifebridge crowd. Using Mr. McCoy’s logic and his worrying that the robo-calls would bring out people that meant him harm, in reality, it was the above email that appeared to have more impact based on who showed up and who spoke. ” Lifebridge is at it again“? “…w e will prevent Firestone from annexing the Lifebridge development“? “…make sure the City Council knows…” ? That sounds pretty accusatory, negative, aggressive, and agitating, possibly more so than the robo-calls.

Why do I get the feeling Mr. McCoy won’t chastise them in the same manner?

Mr. McCoy, who were you meaning when you said ” and others” during your accusations? Did you mean Progress Now Action? If you meant them or someone else you should say it. I’m sure you don’t want to appear to be inconsistent or partisan. Cherry picking can be a dangerous and embarrassing thing if you, a) either don’t have all the facts, or b) don’t know what you’re talking about.

Longmont/Firestone Dustup Pt.3

VIEWER WARNING: This piece is bound to really irritate some people. I’m well aware of the anger this will illicit, and your expected complaints have been considered. I try to be constructive when I criticize, but sometimes it’s nearly impossible. This is such a case. In the interest of completeness, and sharing this continuing story, I submit the following:

So far, I’ve reported on Firestone’s Trustee Board meeting, now it’s Longmont‘s turn. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot said about Firestone’s comments, but I suspect there will be as Firestone just approved the Firelight Park annexation.

But there was this…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZnG9kXAsnk

In it, Longmont City Councilmember Sean McCoy rips into Firestone’s Mayor Mike Simone over his comment ” LifeBridge was forced to “walk away” by the election of an anti-religious faction to the LongmontCity Council“. He also took offense to the ” immoral” description of Longmont made by Trustee Steve Curtis. He said he found it ” very unethical on this individuals part“, meaning Mayor Simone. He basically threatened a lawsuit for slander.

Where to begin.

I’ve been to ONE Firestone board meeting, and I’m not an elected official or anything, but even I know that they are a Board of Trustee’s, NOT a City Council. Members are called Trustee’s, NOT Councilmembers. I’m starting to agree with several people who have mentioned to me this constant habit of getting peoples names wrong (and I guess titles now) and how it shows a total lack of respect. In this case, it’s Firestone’s leaders. In other cases, well, you listen for it yourself.

Next, Mr. McCoy’s complaining of ” inflammatory” comments. Some of us about fell out of our chairs on this one. This is the same guy who called people he disagreed with (we’re talking citizens here, not elected officials) ” the lunatic fringe“. He also said in the same breath how Longmont shouldn’t talk ” smack” about Boulder, yet it’s alright for Longmont to do that to Firestone? Watch the 1/29/08 video again ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEo7ZF3eKYU ) and replace Boulder with Longmont, and Longmont with Firestone in the appropriate places and context. I know some of you hate it when I point out total hypocrisy like this, but it speaks for itself here.

Then this outrage over the ” anti-religious” comment. Here’s the problem: On 1/8/08( http://denver.yourhub.com/Longmont/Blogs/News-Politics/Commentary/Blog~412831.aspx), Mr. McCoy made the point of his detachment from the Lifebridge issue as he said he and the other new members of council didn’t vote on Lifebridge. So in essence, he’s saying the new council had nothing to do with what happened to Lifebridge. If that’s the case, then why would he take offense to Mayor Simone’s inference that an anti-religious faction was to blame when THEY HADN’T EVEN BEEN ELECTED YET AND OBVIOUSLY COULDN’T VOTE ON IT, as Mr. McCoy himself made clear as his closing point on 1/8/08?

Mr. McCoy tried to make the case that other factors caused Lifebridge to pull out (remember the ” 600% of Longmont residents” nonsense?). He must not have believed that nonsense himself, most people I know didn’t buy it, and obviously the Firestone Board of Trustee’s didn’t swallow that line either. His anger over this comment revealed that his 1/8/08 comments were a whitewash, otherwise why would this sting so much?

To be fair, is it possible Mr. McCoy was truly outraged over being called ” anti-religious? Absolutely. I assume most public officials are concerned with the image they put out. They wouldn’t want to be publicly called ” anti-religious“, true or not, for fear of alienating over half of their constituents. Then again, insulting constituents is getting to be a regular occurrence for Mr. McCoy. Let’s now add leaders from other cities and the press to the list, the same press ( Times-Call) he bought ad space from during his campaign. Very consistent and principled, not.

What’s the point of all this? I know I won’t be popular holding these officials accountable in this fashion when it needs to be done, and I find no joy in doing it. But these are our elected representatives. They should avoid embarrassing themselves, and the rest of us, and I’m hoping they might look at and listen to themselves, and learn from it in the future. And you wonder why so many people (not just in Longmont) are apathetic to the issues and these officials? I’m trying to get more people involved, this doesn’t help.

Hyperventilating Hypocrites

The last Longmont City Council meeting of 2007 was so chock full of nuggets just waiting to be mined. Here’s one of my favorites, an example of “it’s alright for us, but not for you!”

Days leading up to this meeting, Lifebridge Church pulled their plans for annexation into Longmont. The question for the council was whether or not to leave the question on the ballot. Was there really any question? Seemed like a “duhh” moment to me, and I know they have to go through the formality of removing it properly, that’s not the issue. The issue was that some of the people, not all, that circulated the petition against the annexation strongly requested it stay on the ballot. A message needed to be sent, doggone it!

City Attorney Clay Douglas rightly pointed out it was pretty much a moot point, but that simple point was apparently lost on some people. One of the petition supporters rightly said that the end result was the same as if the question passed (as in NO to annexation), so the goal was reached, what was the point? Still missed on some. What some petition signers may not have known or believed (even though some of us have been repeatedly saying it) was that some of the petition backer’s motives were more than simply overturning the YES council vote on annexation.

They were after the punishment and embarrassment of Lifebridge and some members of City Council. Their request to keep this on the ballot is one example. The fact some of them said they’re now moving against Weld County on the Lifebridge issue is another. They also wanted there to be some kind of act of council to make it so Lifebridge couldn’t come back later and try again to annex. There were even some members of council asking the City Attorney about this ridiculous concept – so they bought right into this anti-Lifebridge mentality. Makes them no different than the angry mob that supports them.

Some have been writing lately that the new council had nothing to do with Lifebridge pulling out. The above is yet one example. Here’s another: remember the smiling faces of the people bringing the anti-annexation petition to the city clerk on the front of the Times-Call? I’ll give you one guess ( 4 actually) of who they strongly backed for city council. Who was leading that pictured group? Their current candidate Richard Juday, who was also, I believe, the campaign manager for one of the new council members. It’s all intertwined. If there’s any doubt, just ask one of the new council members or candidates where they stood, and where they stand, on the annexation, and Lifebridge in general.

So the people who wielded their right to petition government don’t want people they disagree with to have the same right to petition, which could include a church submitting plans and permits. They can muddy it up saying that’s not really what they mean, but that’s what it amounts to. City Attorney Douglas mentioned that when an annexation is denied there is a process to reapply and there may be some time restrictions. But this annexation was approved and voluntarily pulled. There is nothing stopping Lifebridge from resubmitting it or starting where they left off. Fat chance they will, so those against it can rest easy. Or can they? More on that in a bit.

I assume some of them are steamed that they spent a bunch of their time and money on something that’s become moot and pointless, but they still got what they wanted. Apparently that’s not good enough, and I’m betting half of you that signed the petition didn’t sign up for a crusade against a church. Feel free to say as much publicly, embarrassed or not.

The rich and fragrant irony of it is this: I’m hearing rumors of other petitions and recalls. Not by corporations or churches, but just ” normal everyday people“, the kind the anti-annexation crowd claimed to be. Suffice it to say those people will not like these petitions, but who said everyone liked their petition? Who knows, maybe one of the petitions is in favor of Lifebridge, plenty of people have been writing in how they feel they were railroaded. What’s good for the goose, and all that.

But I do have one question, what if that question stayed on the ballot and people voted FOR the annexation? What then? It was baseless wishful thinking to assume it was a slam dunk, sort of like saying a ” blue tide” would sweep in Karen Benker as Mayor ( nope) and this supposed mandate from a new majority (actual votes say, again, nope).