GUEST EDITORIAL: Mark Alexander on Transparency

Transparency preferred, but not required. That ought to be the job posting for our council member openings. It would seem that the definition of transparency has been obscured in the last election cycle. The growing dependence on executive sessions is more than disheartening. It is shameful. Have our elected council members forgotten they are servants to a city? Can you imagine owning a business with a dozen employees who meet to discuss how they will work for you but not allow you to have knowledge of it? Even unions have to divulge on the table when negotiations are happening. Not so for our Council.

Longmont, take note that you are on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars you did not authorize to be spent. You were not asked if you wanted an appeal after losing this frivolous lawsuit. We have no idea if 4 or 7 members pressed forward for the appeal of the Union annexation loss. The executive session shields that information from the citizen, the voter, and the employers of this council.

To Gabe Santos, At-Large Council Member and candidate, I say THANK YOU for motioning to end this waste of money and resources. Rise up Longmont! Be heard by this Council lest they assume your silence is approval for their will imposed upon you.

To the sitting Council members, what is kept in darkness will be brought to the light. Are you so frightened to have your discussions, intentions, and agendas exposed? As your employer you are all on notice, embrace transparency, drop the lawsuit, or be fired beginning this November.

Citizens speak out over Firestone legal actions

At the August 4, 2009 Longmont City Council meeting, several speakers came to the podium during Public Invited To Be Heard to voice their opinion about the ongoing legal battle with the Town of Firestone. It was something to behold, and most of these people should be proud of themselves. A couple of others should hang their head in shame, along with some councilmembers.

What was impressive was the diverse group of speakers and how they put across their feelings on the subject. I didn’t know or have ever seen a good lot of them, which made it even better. I heard in the lobby that it was about 10-3 against the lawsuits/appeals and secret meetings this council has been holding. The couple who actually spoke in favor of throwing more of our tax money down the rat hole and to hell with relations with our neighboring city were no big surprise, but were vastly outnumbered and outmatched by some of the other speakers.

My wife and I spoke, but there were 3 others in particular who really dealt the best blows, and totally caught me by surprise. One didn’t hold back, stating odds of Longmont actually winning an appeal (not good), and actually uttering “bloc of 4” and then directed his ire towards Sean McCoy when he started grinning and rocking back and forth in his chair, obviously ticked off. One was a realtor who said “really it’s a bloc of 5” and let them have it. And one was a young guy who chastised councilmembers for their lack of order, specifically (but not by name) Sarah Levison for speaking over Gabe Santos. Tough acts to follow.

The overwhelming message being sent was support for Gabe Santos’ motion to end the lawsuit and appeals against Firestone, and to end all the secret Executive Sessions and release the tapes of those meetings. They were reminded of their campaign promise of open, transparent government, to which I added “but like other politicians from the top down, that promise apparently had an expiration date.”

What will council do with this? I’d guess nothing, completely ignore it, it doesn’t fit the agenda of a majority on council, so it will go nowhere. Sorry speakers, better luck next time.

I reminded council this will be a campaign issue this year and in 2 years when Levison, McCoy, and Hansen are up for re-election. We already know how one candidate feels about this as At-Large candidate Kaye Fissinger is ecstatic that the lawsuits will continue. How about you other candidates, including Karen Benker? We obviously know how Gabe Santos feels, as well as Mary Blue (she seconded the motion, but is not running for re-election), and Mayor Lange (he killed the motion).

I have a challenge for every council candidate: you submit to me in the comments section where you stand on this issue (and stay on topic, don’t ramble or make a speech) and I’ll publish it. If not here, make your voice heard on this somewhere, don’t even try to duck this important issue. I’ll make sure to point it out if you do.

Death and taxes in Longmont

You’ve worked your whole life, you die, your family tries to sell off some stuff for whatever reason (pay off debts, pay for your funeral, etc) and the taxman, or taxwoman in this case (Longmont City Councilmember Sarah Levison) follows you to and beyond the grave to collect.

Apparently someone in town was holding an “estate sale” and Ms. Levison wants the city to get its fair share of sales tax revenue from this sale. She “had an occasion to stop by” this sale, said she didn’t buy any of the $500+ items, and has now turned snitch on the people holding it. I’m sure it will greatly help in the grieving process.

She said she “noticed they were not collecting taxes for the City of Longmont”. She’s either clairvoyant or actually asked them, but she didn’t elude to that in her comments. How does she know they weren’t collecting sales tax for Longmont or the State of Colorado? That’s right, she doesn’t. Don’t you love those kind of people who show up at places (usually uninvited as anyone who knows them would just assume not invite them to anything) and start throwing their weight and opinion around? In this case a city councilmember making assumptions (correct or not) about a possibly criminal activity, in her opinion.

She didn’t say she didn’t buy anything. So if she did, was she a known accessory to tax evasion? We’ll leave that alone, for now…
Here’s the video

Once again, with some people their instincts and principles just come natural in social settings – in this case a nosey, overtaxing nanny-state type. It’s not enough that they want to bring back the “Death Tax” (“Estate tax” is just too nice) and tax you your whole life and into the afterlife spreading their misery to those you leave behind. But tax them again when they try to sell your stuff, probably just to keep the house you lived in and paid a mortgage on for years.

But that’s not all! She also wants to find out if maybe the state could go after these people, she’d “hate to think that we might have lost several hundred dollars worth of tax income that day“. She ended with “we need every dime we can get these days“. First off, “we” being the government, is supposed to be us, the people. It’s amazing how quickly elected officials forget that and find as many ways as possible to siphon off money from citizens.

Second, if this city didn’t squander money away so frivolously in the last 18 months (about the same time as this weak majority has been on council – no, precisely the time this weak majority has been in charge) this wouldn’t be so much of an issue. It was Ms. Levison in particular who led the charge with last minute adjustments to the recent budget, things dreamed up on the fly with no public notice.

You must know where this is leading, get ready for….

GARAGE SALES TAX.

…and here’s your future garage sale monitor and elected busybody, Sarah Levison, At-Large Longmont City Councilmember.

Longmont foreclosures skyrocket, McCoy parties in Vail

Another bad week for foreclosures in Longmont (getting tired of saying that), with 14 new foreclosures reported, an average of 2 per day! What made this week odd was that Ward 1, which has the most and usually gets the most new foreclosures, actually had the fewest new foreclosures (3). Even odder was Ward 3, which has the fewest but had the largest increase this week, which was 5. A large number all by itself. Ward 2 sat right in the middle with 4. (You math geniuses will notice that doesn’t add up to 14, 2 had Longmont addresses but weren’t in the city limits.

So, lets look at Ward 3, the northwesternmost ward in the city. The councilmember representing that ward is Sean McCoy. You may have noticed he wasn’t at the recent City Council meeting. While normally that would be a welcomed respite for the senses, turns out he wasn’t there because he was at the Colorado Municipal League (CML) Conference in Vail, Colorado. I heard Mayor Roger Lange attended this as well, but I also know he spent a late night at the City Council meeting Tuesday, as did I.

Here’s what you may not have heard about that CML “conference”, courtesy of joint investigation between the Denver Post and 9News: (read the whole article at the link below, I’ll just paste a few relevant sentences)

Official Colorado confab puts scrutiny of work into play
At a time of layoffs, furloughs and budget cuts in Colorado municipal governments, about 600 officials from towns large and small have convened at a Vail resort for three days of taxpayer-funded networking and seminars interspersed with parties and golf.

“It’s a little extravagant, don’t you think?” asked Ed Bagwell, director of the public-services division for Teamsters Local 17 in Denver. “We’ve heard complaints from our members. Why are they spending this much in a down economy?”

…But a reporter, producer and photographer from 9News who visited the conference Thursday found plenty of municipal officials who had decided to forgo the panel on “Maintaining Your Infrastructure in a Tight Economy” and instead hang out in the halls and lobby.

Unaware she was speaking to a reporter and being taped, Glendale City Council member LuVerne Davenport said the city brought six people to the conference so they could rotate through the panels and no one would have to go to all of them.

So what do they do when they are not in the seminars? “We goof off,” Davenport said.
Municipalities paid about $190,000 in registration fees and for meals.
Central City Mayor Ron Slinger said he planned to attend every session — and still make a 4 p.m. tee time.
“I look forward to Breckenridge next year,” Slinger said. “It’s even better.”
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While you vomit over that, and wonder how Mr. McCoy spent his time there, here is this weeks map and numbers. Afterwards, a relevant article about housing and unemployment.


View Longmont Foreclosures in a larger map

KEY
Blue= 4/11/09 16 new entries (41 total)
Red= 4/18/09 20 new entries (55 total)
Green= 4/25/09 8 new entries (47 total)
Yellow= 5/2/09 9 new entries (48 total)
Purple-5/9/09 13 new entries (62 total)
Magenta-5/16/09 9 new entries (56 total)
Blue(pin)-5/23/09 16 new entries (52 total)
Red(pin)-5/30/09 15 new entries (62 total)
Green(pin)-6/6/09 9 new entries (63 total)
Yellow(pin)-6/13/09 9 new entries (57 total)
Purple(pin)-6/20/09 14 new entries (62 total)

Breakdown by Ward since I started keeping track (4/11/09)
Ward 1=63 (Councilmember: Brian Hansen, most foreclosures-least responsive)
Ward 2=52 (Councilmember: Karen Benker, up for re-election Nov ’09)
Ward 3=36 (Councilmember: Sean McCoy, rumored Mayoral candidate Nov ’09)
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Keeping the above info in mind, there was an article on US News & World Report by Rick Newman entitled Why the Economic Recovery Won’t Feel Like One. Again, here are some excerpts from it: (emphasis added)

Everybody’s tired of doomsayers pointing out how much worse the economy could get, so let’s just focus on two factors: housing and jobs. Most people agree that plunging home values need to stabilize before there’s any kind of economic recovery. And jobs have to return. Until they do, mortgage and other loan defaults will continue to rise as millions of unemployed borrowers come up short paying their bills. Consumers who are still employed but are worried about their jobs will continue to hoard money, depressing the market for homes, cars, and many other products.

Home prices have fallen about 30 percent nationwide since they peaked in 2006. Isn’t that enough? Surely they have to stop falling soon, right? Maybe not. The Federal Reserve has projected a total home price decline of somewhere between 41 and 48 percent, with a bottom in 2010.

Housing matters for several reasons. When the economy is healthy, housing and everything associated with it accounts for about 20 percent of economic activity. If the housing market is in the dumps, odds are that the economy will be, too.

Most economists predict that the unemployment rate will keep rising through 2009 and into 2010, topping out somewhere between 10 and 12 percent. It will be genuine good news once the unemployment rate starts to fall, but we’ll still be trudging through a few years of scarce jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, for instance, predicts that the unemployment rate will drift down slowly and won’t return to “normal” levels of 5 percent or less until 2016.
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Glad I could make your day. I was asked in the radio interview with Amy Oliver why I’m mapping these, why I’m talking about it. Just read the above articles, look at the map and numbers, watch our city council in action (both 1 and 2 word versions applicable) and see what they talk about (chickens, prairie dogs, suing neighbor cities, hiring consultants, overpaying staff heads and attorneys, no mosquito spraying) while Rome is burning around them.

But what a grand time in Vail, eh?

Longmont foreclosures – the hits keep on coming

The hits (to the local housing market) just keep coming. This week there were 9 new entries into the list of foreclosures, more than one every day. There were actually more new foreclosures, but they were in Boulder, Lafayette, and Louisville. In case you were wondering how they broke down by Ward, with an election coming up this November, here it is:

Ward 1=39 (Councilmember: Brian Hansen)
Ward 2=34 (Councilmember: Karen Benker, up for re-election Nov ’09)
Ward 3=23 (Councilmember: Sean McCoy)
(look below map for a note to city council)


View Longmont Foreclosures in a larger map

KEY
Blue= 4/11/09 16 new entries (41 total)
Red= 4/18/09 20 new entries (55 total)
Green= 4/25/09 8 new entries (47 total)
Yellow= 5/2/09 9 new entries (48 total)
Purple-5/9/09 13 new entries (62 total)
Magenta-5/16/09 9 new entries (56 total)
——————————————-
This council has pretty much become a laughing stock due to the issues they spend a lot of time on, and the precious little they spend on important, grown-up things, like foreclosures.

Here’s a little note I sent them recently, didn’t expect a response from some of them, and I wasn’t disappointed. It was sent over the city’s server, so I know they all got it. So, if you are one of the ones struggling here in the city, know that your city leaders are fully aware of what’s going on, but find other things more pressing.
—————-
Greetings,
I know some of you on council won’t read beyond the FROM: portion of this communication, and fewer will actually respond, but just want to make sure you’re on record of being aware of a couple of things.

Foreclosures: While more and more time is being wasted on affordable housing programs and getting more borderline borrowers in homes they can’t afford, I’ve gone through the effort of mapping out current foreclosures in Longmont – based on information in the Legal ads in the Times-Call (more on that paper later). I invite you to look at it in case you haven’t yet.

In case you were wondering how those broke down by wards, Ward 1=35, Ward 2= 30, and Ward 3=22 (now higher). On average, in the last 5 weeks, Longmont is adding 2 new foreclosures every day. So while you’re having fun with chickens, prairie dogs, cat leashes, cutting mosquito spraying, suing churches and neighboring cities, watching the mall go down the toilet, rewriting election code and tinkering with the budget on the fly, and considering adding more affordable housing – lots of your constituents probably aren’t paying a lot of attention to these often silly escapades of yours as they try to stay afloat financially. And many are failing.

Yet I hardly ever recall any of you who advocated for the above issues mentioning this issue proportionally to its importance. But how you went to bat for 50 chicken permits, bravo. No, I’m not about to become an advocate for victims of foreclosure. Many probably knew what they were signing, knew they couldn’t afford it, and by the looks of some of these records some hardly made any payments at all.

But what struck me was how absent this council has been on this. No excuses now. Many of your constituents are suffering and would be appalled (if they knew) at what you’re spending your time on.

Times-Call inquiry: By some comments on council, it appears there is some animosity with our local paper. I don’t work for them, they even call me the competition, so I’m not speaking on their behalf by any means. But I noticed this in the latest agenda: “Council member McCoy requested information regarding the amount of money the City spends annually with the Times Call…” I don’t expect an honest answer here, and people around the city are claiming there is a concerted effort against the paper by some in this city (and council), would this be another step in that direction?

If not, what is the reason for this inquiry? How much time did the City Clerks Office have to spend on the reply? Looked like a lot of information, I assume it was for a good reason?

Consider this my “Public Invited To Be Heard” (are all truly “invited”?) as I can’t attend tonight’s meeting.
Thanks, Chris

Longmont’s Mall theater solution: Netflix!


Contrary to what some, or even many, people may think, I don’t go out of my way to try to make some members of Longmont City Council look bad. They usually do it all by themselves. Problem is, most people in this city have no idea what kinds of things come out of their mouths, and if they did they would occasionally be appalled – or at least entertained.

On Saturday May 2nd, three councilmembers (Karen Benker, Sarah Levison, and Brian Hansen) hosted a town meeting along with members of city staff. The hottest topic that took up most of the meeting was the Twin Peaks Mall. Whenever the mall is a topic in the Times-Call, the comments from citizens are many, long, and heated. For the most part, people want something done with this failing piece of property. And yesterday.

Who needs theaters when you have Netflix?
Many of the comments by the above councilmembers were quite revealing. The most ridiculous has to go to Mr. Hansen. Most people in the city seem to be in favor of a new theater, the old one has lousy seating, along with sub-par picture and sound quality. It’s ugly and people go elsewhere, plain and simple. When asked about this theater situation, Mr. Hansen said that no one is going to theaters anymore, and a viable alternative is to stay at home and rent from Netflix.

Now, I love Netflix, use it constantly, both streaming and by mail. But how many of you relish the idea of sitting around the glow of your TV (and the warmth of your mercury-laden CFL bulbs) and staying home to watch movies? Keep in mind Netflix doesn’t have movies when they first come out, so you have to wait a bit for that new picture you want to see. Mr. Hansen also used the excuse of getting the flu or cold in theaters, which is possible anywhere you have actual interaction with live human beings. Who needs that, right?

It’s tough being green
Then the point of driving to the theater came up and how he can just walk down to the mailbox and drop off his DVD. This is not very eco-friendly when you take into account everything involved with multiple vehicles in the US Postal system getting that DVD to and from your mailbox. It’s a much smaller carbon footprint to drive a mile, or even several miles, to a theater. Or walk, or ride your bike, or take a bus – just about anything.

Then there’s the “benefit to the city” issue: What sales/use tax does Netflix bring to the City of Longmont? I’d guess ZERO. And Mr. Hansen is endorsing a service that competes directly with companies around town that rent or sell DVD’s who actually do bring revenues into the city.

His excuse was the improvements in flat panels and home theaters, and that the sound they offer is about as good as you’re going to get at a theater. How many of you would agree with that? It may be better than what Twin Peaks Mall theater has NOW, but not in a new stadium seating, Dolby Digital theater, which is about the bare minimum now in new theaters surrounding, but not in, Longmont.

How do you really feel?
But it wasn’t just the theater with Mr. Hansen. He said more than once he isn’t against the mall redevelopment, yet he has consistently spoken and voted against it. There is a contingent here in Longmont, and they always side with Mr. Hansen and the “Benker-wing” of city council, who have made it clear it’s just fine with them if the land where the mall now sits became one big Open Space with prairie dogs as far as the eye can see. It’s my opinion that Mr. Hansen’s above comments reveal his true feelings about the mall: let it fail, let it be bulldozed, let it be “returned to its natural state” (my term).

What was really infuriating was his comments that now is not the time to do this with the economy in the shape that it’s in, and that the city was in a “much better position to do something” prior to the downturn. I’ve been writing about this situation for well over a year, (see for yourself at this link) and the stalling game this council has played with the mall. There have been public meetings (which Mr. Hansen never attended), studies, a “charrette” – you name it, it’s been done ad nuaseam with this mall. And long before these “hard economic times”.

The most accurate thing he said was “they (Panattoni) are in the mall business, and I’m not. They’re probably more experts than we are.” You wouldn’t know that watching City Council meetings on this subject for the last year and a half. Karen Benker noted that “people are voting with their feet”, which is true, right into other malls and theaters in Boulder, Erie, and Loveland.

Council’s Mall hostility
Sarah Levisons continued apparent hostility towards Panattoni continued with her comments about “strip mall stuff like Harvest Junction”, and how inexperienced the company is. She also kept saying they could build any time they want – although there is the little issue of getting it through Planning and Zoning and a vote of council – which is a consistent NO vote from Ms. Levison.

Like I said prior, drive by Harvest Junction, is that (and the now planned hotel) the small, meaningless potatoes that some on this council pretend it to be? The question was asked, and Ms. Benker didn’t quite get it, so I’ll rephrase it: The pro-mall comments at this meeting notwithstanding, about a year ago you were more positive on the mall situation, something changed and as your support went south, the project stalled. Without using the excuse of the economy (your support fell prior to that), why did your support wane? Was it a shifting interest and prioritization towards Downtown? What has Panattoni done wrong, or differently, to warrant this negative treatment?

These things have consequences
Whatever the reason, all of the citizens of Longmont suffer over this council’s inaction, stalling, and stonewalling of this issue. If nothing happens with Twin Peaks Mall before November, regardless of your newfound and returned support, the stalling by you and the consistent non-support by your fellow councilmembers (Levison, Hansen, and McCoy) will be a major election issue. Count on it.

(Additional resources for this report provided by the Longmont Examiner)

Illegal immigrant tuition and fumbling councilmembers


Did ya catch the Feb 24th Longmont City Council meeting? Some of the more interesting and entertaining parts you might not read about in the local paper. Somebody out there is making YouTube videos (nope, it’s not me) of some of the stranger occurrences, which you are free to check out some of them at my YouTube Channel.

Check this one out, I saw some comments on the Times-Call website about this, now I know what they were talking about…

There was more, like several times asking to clarify what a YES or NO vote meant. Now, I’ve been known to join in the post-council meeting get-togethers at O’shays for a drink or two (I don’t think I’ve paid for one of my own yet though). But there was something else Councilmember Sean McCoy referred to at this meeting that got my attention:
Senate Bill 170, which you can read in its entirety at this link.

The first sentence sends off alarms for me: “Requires that a person, regardless of immigration status, who attends a Colorado high school for at least 3 years and enrolls in a Colorado institute of higher education within 5 years after either graduating from a Colorado high school or earning a general education diploma in Colorado shall be charged the same tuition rate and shall be eligible for tuition assistance under the same criteria as a person who establishes domicile in Colorado.”

So not only is that paragraph admitting that you are indeed paying (through mill levies, bond issues, property tax, etc) for the high school education of someone here illegally, you should also kick in to make their college education financially on par with a resident of the state! What a bunch of suckers.

I don’t care who endorsed it, who backs it, or what political party they’re from. I’ve got a problem with “regardless of immigration status” for what should be obvious reasons. I’m definitely all for residents of Colorado to have some advantage over out-of-state applicants, but out-of-country? Illegally at that? I don’t think so.

Lets say you have a cousin who wants to move here and go to CU or CSU, hey, that would be cool, they would at least have some family nearby. But their tuition is exorbitant being out-of-state, but not for someone here illegally. Does that seem the least bit fair? Basically we’d be subsidizing someone here illegally at the expense of U.S. citizens.

Here’s an idea: go ahead and get all of those illegal immigrants applications who want to come to these schools we help fund in one way or another. Dump them on some new school run by “educators” like Mr. McCoy who want this subsidizing (on your dime) of said illegal immigrants, and they can have a new college just for them. It won’t be CU or CSU caliber (in this case especially), but what do you want for half off while you don’t pay in to the system that’s helping to fund you?

In the meantime, their immigration status can be verified – one way or the other.

What is with this attitude of getting something for nothing? Why would Mr. McCoy (among others) want this? Without the “immigration status” part, I can understand, but with it? It’s pandering, pure and simple. It’s not about human rights or fair treatment – unless you’re here illegally of course. Remember back to one of my podcasts where I said “White guilt does not equal racial tolerance“? This is about getting votes, nothing more, nothing less. And looky here, there’s a Longmont City Council election coming up in November.

That’s alright, you may forget. I’ll make sure to remind you.

A progressive assault on Longmont-area churches

News is out that the city of Longmont has spent $68,073 in legal fees to thwart the Firestone annexations that would facilitate the LifeBridge Union development. This spiteful expense of taxpayer dollars–pushed by left-wing Progressives Sean McCoy and Karen Benker on city council–is even more outrageous considering the current skintight city budget situation.

The Boulder County commissioners have been just as vengeful in their notorious dealings with Rocky Mountain Christian Church. Recently it was revealed that Boulder County has spent a staggering $1.1 million in legal efforts to prevent RMCC from expanding its church facilities on its own property in Niwot.

What’s going on here is clearly a violation of religious freedom as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. One could argue that our local churches worship the Creator as defended by our nation’s founders, while the new wave of Progressives in Longmont and Boulder County worship the environment (i.e., the Holy Grail of Open Space).

Regarding the Union project in relation to Longmont and Firestone, we repeatedly hear from the green-extreme crowd, “We need to protect Longmont’s eastern borders!” Take a look at the images shown below…

2002

Source: Project LifeBridge Master Plan

2007

Photo: Jill P. Mott Longmont Times-Call

As I have pointed out many times, large housing developments already exist to the immediate east and west of the LifeBridge/Union site; commercial development stands to the south, and there is plenty of city-owned open space to the north in the reservoir surroundings. How in the world would a build-out of the Union plot break up Longmont’s eastern borders?

The only possible point of contention would be the Fairlight (FairView) property areas that are truly on Longmont’s eastern border, but this too was addressed in a spirit of compromise by Firestone and the 4C Corporation. It was described by Firestone Mayor Chad Auer in a Times-Call commentary last December…

“When I took office, I promptly appeared face-to-face with Longmont’s City Council and told your leaders that I was committed to investigating common ground on this regrettably decisive issue (Union). Because open space and a community buffer were central desires of Longmont, I presented a written proposal in which the Fairlight property (hundreds of acres between Union and Longmont) would be available to Longmont for use as both an open space corridor in the flood plain of Union Reservoir and a common sense community buffer. Unfortunately, the offer was soundly rejected by Longmont officials.”

So Longmont had its chance. If it couldn’t afford to buy the immediate eastern border properties as open space, tough luck. Let us hope that the foundations of free enterprise and religious freedom will not be lost if we are truly to progress in the 21st century.

Hopenchange™, Longmont style

Just when you thought you’d had enough to lose your lunch on, Longmont has it’s own helping of Hopenchange™. Granted, it’s not nearly as eloquent as the real thing, but witness the gushing (and reading with the hands) of our city’s version of President Obama’s inaugural speech, courtesy of councilmember (and rumored Mayoral candidate) Sean McCoy.

Were you moved? Or was that just part of your digested food shifting around? But Mr. McCoy is right in some respects; some change is needed here closer to home. He asked, via Obama’s speech, whether our government works. The local version doesn’t seem to be working so well. He also mentioned “does it help people find jobs”? This coming from one of the most anti-business, anti-growth councils, where open fields (aka “green fields”) don’t pay building permit fees or much in the way of property taxes. All things to keep in mind as services are cut, wages are frozen, and city workers laid off.

And those of us who manage the public dollars…(pause)…will be held to account”, you got that right. I would’ve paused too at that point given this council’s propensity for procrastination when it comes to making serious decisions, chicken’s not withstanding. If this council wants to “put people at ease”, as Mr. McCoy put it, how about putting their political career where their mouth is and make some kind of pledge of self term limiting or stepping down for their performance, or lack thereof? I know, not likely.

The other form of Hopenchange™ that’s getting a little old is the weekly gloating about “service”. Doing things for charity or good causes loses some of its luster when you go around bragging about it. Most people I know who donate food, clothes, money, and time do it because they want to, and don’t have to be forced or reminded to by a group of people. They also don’t wear it like a tiara in public, “hey, look what I did, did you?” I’m not sure what the mindset is here, do they think it’s a small minority of people who give, in whatever form that is? Do they think because they maybe don’t give year-round as much as they should, the rest of us are like that, or feel some guilt?

Ironically, these are the same types who relentlessly tear into organizations that donate on a level that dwarfs their own once in a decade events – oh, like Lifebridge. The only time I heard someone from Lifebridge go through the long list of community services they provide was when one of these other people asked, in their usual snotty way. Otherwise, Lifebridge, like the majority of people, don’t need a “call to service” to serve. They just do it, and they don’t constantly remind everyone about it.

“Complete Waste Of Time”

At the December 2 Longmont City Council Meeting, the topic that took up most of the night was the recommendations from the Election Task Force. What none of you saw on television, and many attending possibly missed was the anger, and rightly so, from some on the task force at the councils vote. The comments “complete waste of time” and “six months for nothing” were heard.

When I talked to some of them after the meeting, I told them they must’ve seen this coming. In my comments to council I was concerned that the minority opinion of the task force would become the majority vote on council. And it did.

Forget for a minute your opinion on contribution limits, which was the main issue at the council meeting. This group was formed to do a job. There were diverse opinions and they worked hard since May. They met every other week through July, then once a week after that. I could only attend one of the earlier meetings, but it was obvious they had their work cut out for them.

Lots of people said negative things about this task force at Public Invited To Be Heard, but how many of them showed up at any of these meetings? My problem isn’t so much the dollar amounts, it’s the discarding of the well studied and organized majority opinion and all the work this task force did over the last several months.

Task force members Doug Brown and Chris Colelli made some of the best arguments and comments of how the group came to the conclusions it did, and I’ll probably pull some of their audio for my next podcast. The warnings were that if you mess with one part of their work, it will have ramifications on other parts. And that lower amounts could lead to legal challenges. These pleas were ignored.

Also ignored were some of the numbers from the city’s satisfaction survey. While people did vote in favor of the idea of contribution limits, what was more interesting were the limits they voted for. Combining all limits (individual, group, and in-kind) 48.6% of those surveyed voted for between $500 to No Limit on campaign contributions.

So where is council getting this idea that contributions should be $100 or $200 like many of them said? Not from the task force, not from the survey, so where?

I’m guessing from some of their unelected vocal supporters. Ironically, these same people (and councilmembers for that matter) complain about past councils being owned and ran from some shady influences in town. How is this any different? Just because you now agree with it, does that make it alright?