Progressive policy failures have made Longmont less affordable

It’s a good time to be selling your home in Longmont.  It’s not such a good time to be a buyer unless money is not an issue.  Thanks to progressive policies in the past, homes are less affordable for those that need affordable housing.  Even though this entry is titled “Progressive policy failures…”, it’s actually working as intended. Continue reading

Longmont Airport’s future more secure with recent developments

With the unanimous approval by Longmont City Council of the new FBO (Fixed Based Operator) at Vance Brand Airport, the future of the airport becomes that much more secure, probably to the chagrin of those that have endlessly tried to undermine the airport for the last 20 years.   Continue reading

So now the LifeBridge boogeyman is a drainage culvert?

Of all the disingenuous arguments we’ve heard against the Union project from the anti-LifeBridge hatemonger crowd, the latest ruckus over the Spring Gulch #2 drainage improvements truly takes the cake.

Despite character assassinations and charges of corruption from the likes of Jeff Thompson, Longmont City Manager Gordon Pedrow made the project justification perfectly clear a month ago at city council chambers, as seen in this YouTube video…

Pedrow underscored the facts that 1) the Spring Gulch drainage project conveys water from the northeast portion of the city of Longmont; 2) it protects Hwy 119 from potential 50-100yr flood damage; 3) it serves Longmont’s Sandstone Ranch and the St. Vrain Greenway extension, including the Hwy 119 box culvert to be used by pedestrians and bicyclists; and 4) it was approved by voters in 2007 with bonds already sold.

Anti-Union activists bring up the wayward strawman that the Spring Gulch #2 bonds when fully retired will cost every Longmont resident about $115 in taxpayer dollars, all to benefit LifeBridge and Firestone. If they want to play that game, how about the bloated $66.6 million that Boulder County will be spending on frivolous open space in 2009? That equates to over $225 for every one of Boulder County’s 294,000 residents, just for one year.

An unknown Times-Call online commenter put it succinctly last year when addressing the anti-LifeBridge faction in Longmont: “You just don’t want the Church or it’s message to grow. I have heard you all speak. I have heard those words before. The scary part is what I see in your eyes. You and your friends remind me of the hatred I saw 40 years ago. Give it a rest, the folks at LBCC are good people.”

For city, airport safety falls somewhere behind prairie dogs

I received the following letter from Longmont airport pilot Doedo Schipper and think it’s important enough to spread around. As many of you know, I have defended the airport in the past against city officials who didn’t have its best interests at heart and screwball neighbors who’d rather it close, destroy its businesses or worse.

An ongoing problem at the airport are prairie dogs. Forget about the politics of it that we hear endlessly at City Council meetings, and look at the safety aspect of it. As you’ll see in this letter, and other places in the past, the proximity of prairie dogs, or any wildlife for that matter, to runways and airplanes is a dangerous mix. Continue reading

City Council Rules! (Of Procedure)

In yet another contentious Longmont City Council meeting on October 21, there was one bit of irony I couldn’t let slip by. Councilmember Sarah Levison brought up City Council RULE 19: RECONSIDERATION in opposition to a motion Gabe Santos made which would effectively reverse a motion she made the previous week.

The rule reads: After the decision on any question, any member who voted with the prevailing side may move to reconsider the decision at the same meeting or at the next meeting at which Rule 25 permits final or official action on the subject question. Rule 25 spells out when there will be meetings, whether they’re regular or study session, and public postings of these meetings and their agendas.

At the September 23 regular session meeting, City Manager Gordon Pedrow told council they had a decision to make about a meeting on November 4 (Election Day) or November 11 (Veterans Day). Council voted to have an early and abbreviated meeting on November 4. The minutes for that meeting aren’t available yet, and Mayor Lange said it passed but didn’t say if it was unanimous or not. Ms. Levison said “I do not want to meet on Veterans Day”, so it’s assumed she voted for November 4. So she may have well voted with the “prevailing side”, as Rule 19 specifies.

But, on October 14, Ms. Levison brought this issue up again and tried to get council to reconsider having a meeting on Veterans Day, stating that she didn’t know that not having it then meant having it Thanksgiving week. Two problems with this: first, Mr. Pedrow stated during his comments on September 23 as they were considering this, that this indeed would mean a meeting during “Thanksgiving week”. Secondly, when she brought it up for reconsideration, it wasn’t during the same meeting or even the next meeting. Did she violate the very rule she was trying to use for her own purposes?

Granted, it may be debatable that a meeting date is a final or official action. But since this decision, it has been posted on subsequent agendas that the November 11 meeting has been cancelled. Either way, Ms. Levison went back on her earlier statement, and I could not find a single councilmember who spoke in favor of meeting on Veterans Day. So why bring it back up for reconsideration?

What Mr. Santos wanted reconsideration of was a questionable vote last week where two councilmembers abstained from voting. City Attorney Clay Douglas made an on-the-spot decision involving this issue, which he now seems to be reversing, which changes everything and should make that earlier vote invalid. So, in reality, this is not a reconsideration at all. It’s a clarification and correction.

This is an undecided item and might get resolved behind closed doors next week at yet another Executive Session. By Mr. Santo’s count, this should be the 21st of these types of “closed to the public” meetings.

That must be a record, and not one to be proud of. The new councilmembers promised a more open and accessible governing body when they ran for election. This staggering amount of closed door meetings proves, beyond any doubt, the contrary.

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.