2013 Longmont Election Post Mortem – Final Edition

As loyal readers know, after nearly every election I write about what went down, occasionally with some behind-the-scenes info.  Since I’ve now moved out of Longmont, alas, this will be the last.  To the knuckleheads who think this or previous elections had anything to do with us moving, well, you’re a moron to think so.  But I’ll get to that in another post. Continue reading

Campaign finance complaints filed against Fissinger

I had forwarded to me two complaints (with multiple possible infractions) filed against Longmont City Council at-large candidate Kaye Fissinger.  Apparently, the City Clerk will present these to the Election Committee on Monday Oct. 26 for them to do their Preliminary Findings one way or the other.  I wrote about the first possible violation, but didn’t file a complaint as I figured the Election Committee would just find it on their own as they went through campaign reports.  They didn’t, but someone else went through the trouble of reporting it, good for them.
I guess we’ll see if there’s a sliding standard for different candidates.
The first complaint has to do with an amended report, the second has to do with the huge billboard that’s been driven around town.  It’s hard to miss, and probably scares kids.  Personally, I think Ms. Fissinger will be a footnote to a footnote in this election and propelled into 4th place (out of 5) since Ed Dloughy isn’t even campaigning.  And then it will be back to screaming at us from the podium with all kinds of conspiracy theories and anti-church rhetoric.
If you’re torn on who to vote for in this at-large race (you get 2 votes for 2 people), and don’t want to throw away a vote on Ms. Fissinger, you can pick Bill Van Dusen (but if you were thinking of voting for Ms. Fissinger you probably already voted for Mr. Van Dusen), Alex Sammoury or current City Council member Gabe Santos.  The latter two offer you the best chance at actual grown-up leadership, not the abrasive style of Ms. Fissinger or the go along with the Benker Bloc rubberstamping of Mr. Van Dusen.  We already got the “look Ma, I got elected” scenario with Brian Hansen two years ago, we don’t need to repeat it with Mr. Van Dusen, with all due respect.
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Three (3) separate loans were made to this campaign, but were not reported on the 10/13/09 campaign report SCHEDULE E, which is a violation of 2.04.204(G) (promissory note or report on a form filed with City Clerk for candidate loan to themselves).  2.04.207(A)1 states this shall be reported on the 21st day before the election.  The penalty for not filing this report 2.204.211(C)1 is $400/day, 3 days elapsed before this report was made.  The Election Committee needs to determine if this is three (3) separate reports (although they each have different dates as noted below) or one(1) report of three (3) loans.  The total fine is either $1,200 or $400.

The dates and amounts of these loans were: 8/20/09 $579.35, 9/4/09 $231, 10/9/09 $94.54 – totaling $904.89.  As stated above, these loans were later reported in an amended report on 10/16/09 (3 days later).  Under 2.04.211(C)5 the penalty is $100/day for each violation.  3 violations x 3 days = $900 fine.

The source of these funds were not disclosed and it needs to be determined if this could be a violation of 2.04.204(A) (“conduit”), whereas the candidate is trying to hide a contribution or contributor.  2.204.211(C)4 penalty for “acting as a conduit” is $400 for each violation.

2.04.207(A)1(c), separate from the 2.04.207(A)1 violation above, was also violated for 3 days as the incorrect amounts were reported for total of contributions reported (loans), expenditures made (incorrectly denoted in original campaign report as “In-Kind Contributions), and balance of funds at end of reporting period (off by $25.95).  There are no specific fines for these types of mistakes entered on campaign reports, so 2.204.211(C)13 (“Any violation of this Act not otherwise set forth herein”) may need to be applied, which is $100.  The Election Committee needs to determine how many of these “not otherwise set” kinds of violations occurred.

Supporting documentation is the 10/13/09 and 10/16/09 original and amended reports made by “Elect Kaye Fissinger” that the City Clerk and Election Committee already have copies of.

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There is no accounting for the expenditure or in-kind contribution in the 10/13, 10/16, or 10/20 Elect Kaye Fissinger campaign reports for a large billboard that has been driven around Longmont that bears Ms. Fissingers likeness, name, and electioneering information (Vote For Kaye Fissinger).  In addition, the added expense of the use of the vehicle and fuel must be accounted for.  This is not a yard sign, it’s approximately 10′ x 20′ and can only be displayed on a stationary or moving vehicle.

This has been seen around Longmont since at least 10/8/09 at the Candidate forum at Silvercreek High School, and is still in use at this date. 

2.04.211(C)5 Failing to disclose a contribution or expenditure – $100 per day for each violation, for up to 10 days.

It has been displayed for over 10 days and should be subject to the maximum $1,000 fine.
The expenditure or in-kind contribution of the use of the vehicle and fuel is a separate infraction of over 10 days equaling an additional $1,000 fine.

Campaign sign warfare: Day 1

I had heard that all of a sudden, a slew of Karen Benker campaign signs were popping up in strange places.  I called the City Clerk to verify what I heard about sign placement.  During the candidate orientation (which Karen Benker skipped), it was made pretty clear where you can and can’t place campaign signs.  She or her volunteers have decided to ignore that advice.

Signs are being placed in the right-of-way in front of businesses, clear violation.  But in a more despicable act of campaign incivility, Ms. Benker (or her volunteers) must assume because her opponent was able to put a sign in a vacant lot that a Benker sign should also be there, in front of or blocking her opponents sign.

Here’s a tip: signs placed on commercial property, even a vacant lot for sale, is still private property where permission is required before placing a sign.  A Benker volunteer was witnessed placing just such a sign, and I find it hard to believe that a landowner who approved Katie Witt‘s sign placement would also allow a Karen Benker campaign sign.  In another example a Benker sign was placed 1 foot from the shoulder in an area that the right-of-way is at least 10 feet from the shoulder.

From what witnesses saw, the “Benker Brigade” wasn’t exactly like fairies sprinkling pixie dust – more like junkyard seagulls dropping, well, you know.  Many of these misplaced signs sounds as if they ended up being dropped into a pile at the City’s garage courtesy of Code Enforcement.  Like they have nothing better to do.  I guess if I had more time on my hands I could go around and place signs hither and yon without regard to silly city codes, but I have a job, family, this hobby – basically a life.

This reminds of a similar situation during the January ’08 special election between Richard Juday and Gabe Santos.  I even wrote something about it called “(Illegal) signs of desperation“.  While you might hear from some sources that all parties are equally guilty in this first big day of sign warfare, I’m hearing from sources closer to the situation that this just isn’t the case.  Could it be history repeating?  Is someone getting worried or desperate?  I think someone may need to pool their campaign funds for a possible legal defense.  And this has nothing to do with signs.

Uh oh: Wrongmont revived for the upcoming election!

Just when you thought it was safe to surf the internet…

My much praised and maligned website Wrongmont is BACK for the upcoming 2009 Longmont municipal election!

For those unfamiliar with Wrongmont’s history:  It’s a website I started back in 2002 and was instantly noticed by the Longmont Times-Call (even made the front page).  I also was highlighted in Yellow Scene when they wrote, “By founding Wrongmont.com, Rodriguez became one of East (Boulder) County’s early independent publishers.”  I also got my share of detractors along the way, more fuel for the fire.

I retired (temporarily, it turns out) Wrongmont on April Fools Day, 2008.  Even people who agreed with the site didn’t like the name, too negative they said.  And some fools in the area thought there was shame involved with that site and its name – nothing could be further from the truth.  I still sign comments on the Times-Call website with the name Wrongmont.  I’m proud of some of the things that site accomplished and take back nothing. 

In the time since, I started a voter registration drive/get-out-the-vote project Vote! Longmont, I was the Longmont Examiner, the Denver Aviation Examiner, and had a podcast for about 8 months – all things that took a considerable amount of time, more time than I had to commit to them.  Luckily, my wife has taken over the Longmont Examiner spot and most of the responsibility for Vote! Longmont, and I’ve added contributors to Longmont Advocate to spread the workload and get different viewpoints.  Contrary to what some might think, it’s never been about me.  I like to come up with ideas, get them off the ground, get others interested and motivated to get involved, and then leave it to others who may do a better job in the long run.  Other than the Examiner spot I resigned from and the podcast which I terminated (which I can fire up again at any time) the other sites are getting better traffic than ever, in large part due to the people who have come on board.

Which gives me more time to be focused on what I like most, local Longmont politics.

So, I thought it was apropos to bring Wrongmont out of mothballs and use it as a news aggregator for all things related to the upcoming election.  The original premise of the site was “what’s wrong with Longmont?” – not that “everything was wrong with Longmont” as some fairly dim people concluded.  But what you will find on the site now is exactly what (in my always humble opinion) and more importantly who is wrong for Longmont.

There are articles that go back years about current council candidates, and more added all the time.  Many were pulled right off Longmont Advocate, some from other news sources and authors.  I want to make it as easy as possible for people to find information on these candidates, and as was always the underlying goal of Wrongmont and every other site I’ve edited/published – to get as many people interested and involved in local politics.  That goal has never changed – whether it was public speaking, a blog, a podcast, or a voter registration drive.

So, sit back and sift through the years worth of material I’ve provided.  Subscribe to the RSS feed, or check back regularly.  At the very least, learn about what’s going on and who’s involved in your local government, maybe even write your own letters to the newspaper, speak at City Council, and ask tough questions.  And of course, VOTE!  Let’s see something better than the usual lowly -50% voter turnout.

Longmont election picture comes into focus


Today at 5pm was the deadline for candidates to turn in petitions to run for municipal office. I was at the City Clerks Office at the deadline to see if there were any surprise candidates, and to see what the final list of candidates looked like. You can see the list so far of who’s on the ballot at this City Clerk link.

What was more interesting in who showed up was who didn’t show up. In the race for Mayor, former city councilmember Dan Benavidez did not turn in petitions by the deadline and will not be on the ballot. The same goes for At-Large candidate Bryan Boothby, a no-show at the deadline. Both of these candidates could still be write-in candidates, but their names will not be on the ballot, basically making their run nearly impossible.

Also in the race for Mayor, Jeff Thompson turned in his petition, but as of 5pm the required 50 signatures weren’t yet validated. At-Large candidate Jonathan Singer turned in his petitions, but needs a few more signatures as some were invalidated. And another At-large candidate showed up at the deadline (a newcomer whose name has not yet been announced in the paper) but he’s in the same boat, needs more validated signatures. These candidates have until Friday August 28 to get the required number of valid signatures. But besides these three, no other candidates can get their name on the ballot – only write-in is a possibility.

There were rumors of other candidates, but they turned out to be just that, rumors.

Here’s how the ballot looks so far (according to the City Clerk site):

Mayor
Roger Lange (incumbent)
Bryan Baum

At-Large (two highest vote getters)
Gabe Santos (incumbent)
Alex Sammoury
Bill Van Dusen
Kaye Fissinger

Ward 2
Karen Benker (incumbent)
Katie Witt

Our Vote! Longmont page will update these races as changes are made (on the Candidates page), as well as the candidates for the St. Vrain Valley School Board.

Make sure you are registered to vote in the City of Longmont, especially if you’ve recently moved. If you voted in the last election (November ’08) and haven’t moved, you should be registered. If you haven’t voted in the last 2 general elections, you may have been purged from the voter rolls. You can check your registration at this Boulder County link. October 9th is the last day to register to vote.

“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?

Examiner straw poll for Longmont, Colorado

(from Brigette, the Longmont Examiner)
Examiners from major cities across the country conducted a straw poll of voters to better understand their
habits leading up to Election Day. Respondents were randomly selected to participate and asked a series of questions listed below.

Question 1: Have you been polled before today on election issues?

» Results of the Examiner nationwide straw poll

Yes No
5 2

Question 2: On Election Day, did you vote for the same candidates that you intended to vote for prior to arriving at the polling location?

Yes No
7 0

(Out of 17 people polled, there were 10 people who had no response)

Question 3: What was the single most important issue to you in this election that affected how you voted?

Abortion. Future of the country. The honesty , integrity and transparency of the candidate. In general I would have to say it was the Economy. On a local level it was education (Mill levy and Bond ). Whether or not the candidate was supportive of a women’s right to choose. Conservative family values for people and free enterprise capitalism for business and the economy. Fear of Obama.


SUMMARY: As a participant in the election process on election day as well as one of the organizers for Vote! Longmont, I observed that the majority of people in this neighborhood district were prepared and knowledgeable of the issues. In addition to the above straw poll, I was informed that 80% of voters in my neighborhood district early voted or requested mail in ballots and wait times in at least two of the districts were minimal. There were also many first time voters, as well as their proud and encouraging mothers. Families showed up to vote together and if not, they made sure to check the poll book to see that their brothers, husbands, and wives had voted. There were also many young children observing their parents voting.

Due to the high turnout and newly registered voters, there was an increase in provisional ballots that were cast. In addition to that, the clerk and recorder’s office made an eleventh hour decision to accept mail in ballots at polling locations in an effort to assist voters. The clerks office is working diligently to get all those votes counted, read more HERE about how it’s going.

Conversations with others included reports of transportation provided to get voters to the polls and people knocking on doors on election day to remind voters that they have not voted. Frequently throughout the day the poll watchers outnumbered the voters at one polling location. Problems at two precincts I observed were minimal with election officials and voters alike who were tirelessly patient and friendly.

Too bad the nastiest of this election campaign couldn’t have gone as smoothly, but the “can-do” attitude won’t expire on election day and it still remains here in Longmont.

2008 Presidential Prediction


Here’s one of those posts I’ll either want to forget about if it’s way off, or republish over and over again. Lots of other sites are making their final predictions for the Presidential race, so here’s mine:


Barack Obama 291

John McCain 247


RealClearPolitics has it at Obama 338 / McCain 200, but there are a couple of states we disagree about: Florida and Ohio, which RCP gives to Obama.

McCain has been pushing very hard for Pennsylvania, and without Virginia, it’s his only hope. But even with Pennsylvania in my scenario he’d still end up 2 Electoral College votes short (268-270) and would need a state somewhere else. I’m not totally convinced Nevada and Colorado are lost to McCain, and some sites think Iowa and Minnesota are still in play. I don’t.

All eyes will be on the first polls to close, which include Virginia, and within an hour followed by Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. How those go will decide if it will be a long night or not.

2008 Presidential Prediction


Here’s one of those posts I’ll either want to forget about if it’s way off, or republish over and over again. Lots of other sites are making their final predictions for the Presidential race, so here’s mine:


Barack Obama 291

John McCain 247


RealClearPolitics has it at Obama 338 / McCain 200, but there are a couple of states we disagree about: Florida and Ohio, which RCP gives to Obama.

McCain has been pushing very hard for Pennsylvania, and without Virginia, it’s his only hope. But even with Pennsylvania in my scenario he’d still end up 2 Electoral College votes short (268-270) and would need a state somewhere else. I’m not totally convinced Nevada and Colorado are lost to McCain, and some sites think Iowa and Minnesota are still in play. I don’t.

All eyes will be on the first polls to close, which include Virginia, and within an hour followed by Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. How those go will decide if it will be a long night or not.

Election Night Scoresheet


Like I’ve said before, I enjoy predicting elections, and usually do fairly well at it. This one though? The variables involved and combinations of possibilities are nearly too mind boggling to nail it down one way or the other. I may tweak a few numbers here and there right up to Election Day, but for now I see more combinations of Electoral College Votes (ECV’s) for Obama to reach the magic number of 270 than for McCain. My initial guess is for Obama to end up with either worst case 273 or best case 311 ECV’s.

But how and when will we know? The networks are already saying they won’t be in any great rush to declare a winner. They are also gun-shy over relying too much on their exit polls, which in 2004 gave John Kerry false hopes during the afternoon on Election Day. The networks also don’t want people tuning out too early, so they’ll likely drag this out as long as possible. In Colorado’s case, we might not have a clear vote count until after midnight, if we’re lucky. So, again, what’s the best way to gauge what’s going on?

I put together a scoresheet of when each state’s polls close, how many ECV’s they are worth, and indicated in bold the important ones to watch. Some states straddle more than one time zone, but the times given (all Mountain Standard Time) are usually when each given state concludes the majority of its voting. So, here they are.

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5:00pm VT(3) / VA (13) / SC (8) / GA (15) / KY (8) / IN (11)

5:30pm NC (15) / WV (5) / OH (20)

6:00pm ME (4) / MA (12) / NH (4) / CT (7) / NJ (15) / PA (21) / DE (3) / MD (10) / DC (3) / FL (27) / TN (11) / AL (9) / MS (6) / IL (21) / MO (11) / OK (7) / 6:30pm AR (6)

7:00pm KS (6) / MI (17) / NY (31) / RI (4) / WI (10) / LA (9) / MN (10) / TX (34) / NE (5) / SD (3) / NM (5) / CO (9) / WY (3) / AZ (10)

8:00pm ND (3) / IA (7) / MT (3) / UT (5) / NV (5)

9:00pm CA (55) / ID (4) / WA (11) / OR (7) / HI (4) / 10:00pm AK (3)

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How crucial states go between 5pm and 6pm will pretty much decide who the winner is, that is IF the networks show the tallies in a timely manner. If Obama wins VA and OH, it’s pretty much over for McCain. If these are split or if McCain wins both, it’s going to be a long night, and the next two important states to watch will be NH and PA. Considering the idea of a split (or else why even go any further in this discussion?), if McCain were to win OH, then that might point to strength in PA, especially western and central PA. If McCain were to win NH, that would indicate weakness for Obama in some of the supposedly locked up blue states down the line. I tend to think McCain would win neither of these states.

So if it’s still a race by the time CO’s polls close, it then all comes down to three states: CO, NM, and NV. There’s little doubt that Obama will win the west coast and HI, equaling 77 Electoral votes. In just about any scenario, these will be the states that put Obama up over 270 EV’s. If Obama hasn’t reached 192 ECV’s before the west coast polls close, he won’t reach 269 (a 269-269 tie would go to Obama through the House of Representatives).

And here is where the dreaded slow counting expected for Colorado comes in, if it comes to this scenario. If either candidate is 9 shy of 270, Colorado will be under the microscope and attorneys will be flocking to our state in record numbers, a few per county, and we may not know the final results for a day or two.

So, I hope that helps you in weaving through the multimedia nightmare that might be awaiting us on Election Night. The eventual winner may not appear that way (based on ECV’s) for quite a while, but the keys to watch for above should give you a clue of how it’s going along the way.