The unsurprising failure of Denver’s ‘affordable housing’ ordinance

Randal O’Toole of the Independence Institute confirms what we’ve known all along–that forced affordable housing programs don’t work and amount to government engineering of local real estate markets.

Fortunately, Longmont City Council under Mayor Bryan Baum repealed its Inclusionary Zoning ordinance in 2011.  But in true far-left fashion, the city of Boulder continues its affordable housing program at an outlandish 20% mandate to builders.

The unsurprising failure of Denver’s ‘affordable housing’ ordinance

The unsurprising failure of Denver’s ‘affordable housing’ ordinance

By Randal O’Toole

Denver’s urban-growth boundary has made housing expensive. More than a decade ago, the city blamed “failure by the private market to produce enough affordable housing” (see p. 5). To fix this “failure,” the city required developers to build “affordable housing.” Now, the city admits that this ordinance is a failure. Continue reading

Percy Allen Conarroe, March 3, 1927 – June 15, 2013

percyIt was an honor and privilege to call Percy Conarroe a friend and confidant.  If you’ve read this website or its earlier versions you saw that he was a contributor of great value.  He passed away recently at the age of 86.  In true Percy fashion, he didn’t want flowers but instead requested that you write a letter to the editor about something you care about.  I’ve tired of the local paper turning down my opinion pieces while they let far worse through, so being the editor of this website I’ll write here about something I care about – or in this case someone I cared about, Percy Conarroe. Continue reading

Enviros shoot themselves in the foot

Wednesday, Oct. 31 was a perfect fall day for a walk around Longmont’s scenic Lake MacIntosh trail.

But what did I encounter on the far east end of the trail near the Harvard St. power station?

A 40-foot stretch of anti-fracking graffiti drawn on the path with the words… “Wake up and smell the…benze”, plus a ban fracking symbol. Continue reading

Longmont in talks to leave Boulder County?

(This is obviously an April Fools joke.  But that doesn’t make it a bad idea)
LONGMONT – An idea that many in Longmont say is long overdue.  A City and County of Longmont?  Not exactly.

Longmont’s Mayor Bryan Baum and Firestone’s Mayor Chad Auer, along with administrators from Mead, Dacono, Lyons, and Frederick are in talks of creating a new county – with the working name “St. Vrain County”.

It would encompass those cities plus extend westward to the Grand County line to include the Eldora Ski Area, which has complained for decades of living under the “iron fist of Boulder County”. Continue reading

Garbage From A Councilman

The following is a speech made to Longmont City Council by Brigette Rodriguez of Vote! Longmont on Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mayor Lange and members of Council,

Most of you are used to seeing my husband Chris up here. I’m here tonite to talk about our non-partisan organization called Vote Longmont. I have the primary responsibilities of our organization. We started it as we felt that not enough residents are either registered voters nor are they showing up to actually vote. We are certified by the Colorado Secretary of States office to help people register to vote and in addition our website provides Longmont residents with current local initiative links and information. We have been very busy this year for obvious reasons with the national election coming up.

Last weekend we had the opportunity to have a booth at our first large event, Rhythm on the River. In addition to working with the Boulder County Clerk who was at a different location at the event, we were in an area sponsored by the Longmont Museum called the Discovery District. This area is a family oriented area and we offered an activity called “Discover Voting”. We had 172 children cast their ballots for President in a voting booth I had created for our mock election. Many parents as well as the museum director thought this would inspire them to one day become more civically involved. My husband was even dressed up as 2nd President John Adams. Our booth also offered a convenience to parents who themselves wished to register or update their voter registrations while their children were doing activities in that area. One six year old who voted in our booth even cutely asked me “who would you vote for if you were a kid?”

We had many people visit us, including teachers and council members. We received lots of positive feedback and one councilmembers child even voted in our voting booth. But I’m disappointed about the behavior of Councilman McCoy who came into our area. I had stepped away to pick up more flyers from the Longmont City Council booth and found that he had visited our area when my husband and son were staffing the table. When my husband offered him one of the hundreds of bookmarks we had handed out, he replied “I wouldn’t take any of your garbage.”

That “garbage” consisted of flyers about deadlines for voting, how to verify your voter registration, links to contacts for the current school district bond and mill levy override issue, information on local businesses to encourage shopping local, and interesting enough…the flyer for “meet your council members.” I spent weeks preparing for this event. I would have expected better behavior from a councilmember and a school teacher at that, especially because my 12 yr old son was witness to this.

Our project wants to encourage people to be involved in their community and what their city council is discussing. Actions like this make me also not surprised to read in the paper today about the low percentage of city surveys that have been turned in. I am not a member of the lunatic fringe as Councilmember McCoy likes to put it, but a member of your community.

Mall-itics Pt. 3

Next up in the antics of some members of the Longmont City Council at the June 10th meeting is some of Sarah Levisons comments. This was some fairly agenda driven questioning of Panattoni’s Will Damrath.

It’s easy to spot agenda driven games like this when the answer is more or less ignored, and when an answer is given the questioner quickly moves on to another subject. I noticed much of this wasn’t covered in the Times-Call, but as usual you can see the video on the city’s website.

First, Ms. Levison compared the mall to Target in her “extraordinary cost” line of questioning. Mr. Damrath rightly pointed out that her analogy was flawed, that Target owned its own property, as in just one tenant, they are a large public company and Panattoni builds for tenants, where Target builds for itself. That being said, Mr. Damrath said Target could’ve applied and been eligible for a special metro district.

Next was the question of rent going up on tenants due to the Tax Increment Financing, or TIF. The answer was NO, that those taxes are paid in sales taxes by people who shop there. Shouldn’t Ms. Levison already know this?

Ms. Levison made the claim Panattoni only owns 24% of the 41 acres in question, based on some conversation with a Boulder County Assessor. Mr. Damrath said 5 separate LLC’s own that, which are made up of Panattoni employee’s or investors, in other words they control 100% of that land. Again, homework not done.

Ms. Levison asked how the racetrack configuration of the ring road helps the blight conditions. Mr. Damrath said there are legal agreements with the other land owners when it comes to that road and their access. On this subject, Sean McCoy asked why the traffic pattern is the same as it is now. I saw this map in the packet, anyone can tell the map he was looking at was the current configuration, which Mr. Damrath had to point out the obvious. How embarrassing.

This next part seems a little, well, dishonest, and City Manager Gordon Pedrow stepped in on this one. Ms. Levison was asking how much city staff time and resources this whole mall thing taking up. She should’ve stopped there, but went on and said the owners at the flour mill want to get moving on their project and want to have a ” shovel in the ground in November“, and asked if there is enough staff for two projects like this at once. Mr. Pedrow answered more or less that staff wouldn’t commit to something they couldn’t handle, but more to the point of the flour mill, that her comments were contrary to what the city is aware of. He said the city hasn’t had discussions that those owners are moving that rapidly. Ms. Levison didn’t linger on this topic long, as Mr. Pedrow basically questioned the “truthiness” of her claims. Since these so-called conversations between Ms. Levison and the flour mill owners are open record, I’m sure she can provide that information.

Then Ms. Levison called someone up to the podium about a “private conversation” they had about the malls “underlying financial viability” (sorry, didn’t catch the name). I got the distinct feeling he didn’t exactly answer the way she wanted. She was trying to make the point how risky this is, to which he answered that “there is business risk in every project. Metro districts to a large extent mitigate some of the developer risk, but can’t eliminate it, that is embedded with risk.” Sounds like she had some agenda driven questions for him before the council meeting, shouldn’t that be public record, too?

Are you getting the picture of this council’s habit of time wasting? This went on for almost 30 minutes. It’s fine to ask questions, but most of this should’ve already been known by Ms. Levison, and this was just a witch hunt anyway. The only honest statement I heard was ” at this point I don’t feel that I have full confidence that I have understanding of the complete process. It’s pretty complicated actually.”

On the “extraordinary need” question, Mary Blue made the point that people are leaving Longmont to shop and go to theatres. That Longmont is viewed as a “honkey tonk” town that can’t support a theater. This got some laughter, but the sad part is that it’s true and it was nice to see Ms. Blue sift through the others feeble attempts to cloud something that is so simple.

Tragedy and Comedy


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.

Vote! Longmont


I’ve been a follower of politics since I was a teenager subscribing to Time Magazine. I was usually pretty good at picking winners of elections; I’d just follow trends, do a lot of reading, and follow my gut. Over the years I’ve made a hobby of picking presidential elections, getting better each time with 2004 topping out at correctly picking every state except one, Wisconsin, which was pretty close.

Apparently my interest in this stuff is not the norm based on low voter registration rates and turnouts come election time. Ever since starting up my Wrongmont rantings, an ongoing theme has been to hold elected officials accountable, and one great way is to vote them IN to office, or vote them OUT.

At times it appears interest is on the rise based on more people showing up at City Council meetings, petition drives, and activist groups. But the steady decline in voter activity has continued. I figured talk with calls to action wasn’t enough, so I took the next step and got certified as a Voter Registration Drive by the Colorado Secretary of State. You need this certification to collect voter registration forms, try it without this, it’s all bad.

I also built a website with links and phone numbers to make it as easy as possible for people to find out their registration status and fix it if need be. My wife Brigette has also gotten us a choice location at Longmont’s Rhythm On The River event this summer. We’re looking at other venues to set up a table and get people registered.

Within a day of making the front page with our smiling faces on the Times-Call, we started getting emails and phone calls. My wife helped get info to an 18 year old working a McDonalds drive-thru window who was registering for the first time in his life. I spoke to a 90 year old gentleman who called our home. He had just moved and was unsure of his registration status, so my wife mailed him a form, some instructions, and a self-addressed stamped envelope with the Boulder County Clerks address on the front.

Since then we’ve received emails and calls from people who may think WE are the Boulder County Clerk, not this self-funded little operation. One in particular saw our story but had no internet capabilities, so I just gave her the direct number to the county clerk. It’s been fun so far and we’ve only just begun which we hope will turn in to more voter registrations, and come election time it’ll turn into higher voter interest, and more importantly, TURNOUT.

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.