Out Of Order

Something happened at the February 26, 2008 Longmont City Council meeting that so far has gone unreported, and is very troubling. A video of it can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeTDvIyK6WM

Let me set the stage, as the video alone may not explain it all. Late into the meeting around 10:30pm, the council was voting for members of various boards in the city. First, there was some discussion on the nominees, a motion, and a vote by a show of hands. When it was time for the Cable Trust Board, the eligibility of one of the nominees, Charlie Fellenbaum, was discussed followed by a motion by Councilmember Santos that Stephanie Baum be appointed to this board, followed by a second, then a call for a vote. Here’s where it got interesting.

Councilmembers Blue, Santos, Hansen, and Mayor Lange raised their hands, signaling a majority of council. Turn the volume up and you then hear Councilmember Benker saying ” NO“. As the camera changes angles, she’s clearly saying that towards Mr. Hansen, hand still in the air. Mayor Lange looks exasperated as he says ” Hey Karen?!” as she’s clearly out of order. Yet she just takes over the discussion, clearly angry over what just happened. She goes on to comment about Mr. Fellenbaum, who wasn’t the subject of the vote, and even claims he has ” more interest than the other candidate“! She ends her tantrum by throwing herself back towards her chair in disgust. Mayor Lange rightly points out that there was a motion, and a vote.

Hopefully most of you see what’s wrong here, but since I know some of you will defend some of these councilmembers no matter what, I guess I have to explain it. I don’t have my Roberts Rules of Order handy, but this was so blatantly out of line it’s not even funny. How often do you see councilmembers, during a vote, telling other councilmembers how to vote? Never for me. The Mayor is the chair of this committee, Karen Benker wasn’t recognized by the chair, the chair was making it clear with his words and body language that he was not thrilled with her behavior. Didn’t stop her though, did it?

So, was Brian Hansen expected to vote a certain way? It’s not inconceivable that he misheard Fellenbaum for Stephanie Baum. But what if he really meant to vote the way he did, who is Karen Benker to tell himNO“? I thought each member was independent? I haven’t harped on this ” Benker 4” or ” bloc of 4” since the election, figuring I’d evaluate each one separately. And some members of council have been making noise about the general public tearing into the new members. Do you want to know why? THIS is why. The point was just proven.

In a private letter to Brian Hansen, who is my ward’s councilmember, this is what I said about this so-called ‘bloc’: ” The accusation and assumption (of a bloc) is a lack of independence by individual members, and a vote-by-committee agreement or arrangement. What transpired Tuesday night only reinforces that mindset.”

So what was reinforced? The opinion that, a) certain councilmembers pre-coordinate votes as a group, b) perhaps their nominee was a plant – who on council knows him? What were the circumstances of his nomination? I’ll leave it to someone else to connect the dots, and there are dots. c) Don’t cross the group or show independence without pre-coordinating that – or face the wrath, television cameras or not, and, d) parliamentary rules be damned, there’s an agenda to be pushed.

Personally, I’m getting pretty tired of councilmembers like Sean McCoy and his weekly insults (that now include the Times-Call and its TC-Line) and whining about citizens perceptions of the new council. Those perceptions now have some base in reality, as proven above. So please, tell me, with a straight face, that you don’t discuss as a group upcoming votes. That you think it’s alright to skirt the rules plenty of other councils have abided by. That it’s okay to tell other members how to vote during a meeting. This is a disgrace.

One thing I try to keep in mind, especially with my kids, is that it’s easy to remember the truth – there’s only one version of it. But when you are scheming behind the scenes, and there are a few people involved, it’s not as easy to keep your ducks in a row, now is it?

Meet The Bobbleheads!

Now for the lighter side of recent and upcoming events: As a former councilmember recently put it, there’s this ” new generation” of Longmonters. They really aren’t that new, or fresh (another word used by said writer), and some are downright frightening. Some aren’t even from or in Longmont – as pointed out by Councilmember Mary Blue in a recent meeting.

After getting the last council meeting of 2007 on DVD from the library, I have a better nickname for them: The Bobbleheads! Why, you may ask? Quite simple really, and pretty funny, too. On accident I had the disc running at fast speed, it was a riot!

You see, there’s this self-appointed group of complainers who feel empowered as they think they got a mandate on the last election. Nevermind, as previously proven, that their candidates actually did not get a majority of the vote, not even 47%. But that’s not a valid point, I guess. Anyway, they were out in force at a recent council meeting and figured they’d sit in front, that means being on camera. When one of them would say something, they’d all nod in agreement, and then look around to their new friends on council for validation. The cumulative result was something I rarely see at council meetings: COMEDY!

Of course, what was actually coming out of their mouths was anything but nice or respectful – unless of course they were addressing their new friends on council. The topper was at the end, four and half hours into the meeting, when one of them had the gall to rip into Mayor Lange for volunteering to be on some committee, basically saying that he couldn’t be trusted. Sometimes you just have to point out the obvious to some people, and he did, that no one else would volunteer for it! And that includes these clowns’ four friends on council. They were asked repeatedly, none would step up. So you get what you get.

I suspect that first meeting was the high point (or low point depending on your point of view) of their attendance, and since they didn’t get their way on leaving the Lifebridge Annexation on the ballot, the slow feeding-on-their-own frenzy I spoke of before should begin soon. Here’s a bonus: one of their own is running for council, Richard Juday. Just thought you’d like to know, that is if you planned on voting.

So if you Bobbleheads are thinking of utilizing this nickname, and I bet you wish you came up with it yourself, remember where you got it. Maybe if you spent less time running from action to action being ” over-reactionaries” (go ahead and use that, too), you could escape the groupthink and dream up something original. Yeah, I know, not likely. Enjoy.

Election Autopsy Pt. 2

This next part about the recent election has to do with who voted, and more importantly, who didn’t.

Roughly, half of the residents of Longmont are registered to vote, and roughly half of those actually did vote. About 17,000 people bothered to vote, that’s pretty sad. With a turnout that low, no one on either side can claim any mandate, message, or claim “the people spoke”. Barely anyone actually won by a majority (50.1% or higher). But, of those that did win in city council, the new majority comprises a different direction.

Which candidates won solely because they were part of a ” bloc” of candidates? Or how many got in because of an anti-incumbent or anti-good old boy network attitude with the voters? In other words, who didn’t get in based on their own merits? 1? 2? 3? You’ll have to decide that for yourself. If you say none, you’re fooling yourself.

LIFEBRIDGE ANNEXATION IMPACT
More than likely because of who got elected, and the comments they and their “supporters” are making, Lifebridge Church has decided against trying to annex into Longmont. So the special election in January will not include a question about this item.

Lifebridge says they’ll still build at the Union location, and even though Mayor Lange said that the perception that they are not welcome isn’t true, you can’t blame them for having that concern. This prediction is worthless now, but I believe a majority of the people in Longmont are not against this annexation or the church, but a majority of possible voters in a special election might have been. Again, you have to look at who voted and how they voted in November. Odds are only the truly committed (and many need to be) would have come out for a special election on this, and a lower number than the half that voted before.

So for now this issue isn’t one. Or is it? My claim all along is that these anti-annexation people weren’t just against this, and I’m either going to be proven right or wrong in the not too distant future. Based on some of their comments, many of them are outright anti-religion, anti-churches, anti-Lifebridge, you name it. They’re anti-a lot and not pro-much, except hearing themselves rant. Their next move: stop the entire project, period.

The way I see it for Lifebridge, this isn’t such a bad thing. Pull up stakes in Longmont, go to friendlier environs in Weld County, build as you like (probably cheaper with less regulations) and watch Longmont come begging in a few years for you to annex. Cooler heads usually prevail, and when these flat-earth no-growthers are through scorching Longmont with their great ideas, they’ll be replaced or be forced to adapt. Question is, when will their moonbat supporters turn on them – these types always do. Even when they win, they get angrier and start eating their own. It’s entertaining to watch actually.

JANUARY SPECIAL ELECTION
Well, now that the main event is off, there is an empty city council seat to be decided. You have a choice between Gabe Santos and Richard Juday. Mr. Santos lost the at-large seat in November, but pulled in 6,000 votes, no small amount. Mr. Juday didn’t run in ’07 but did in ’05 where he got about 900 votes. Does that point to a lopsided victory? Afraid not. Mr. Juday was part of the anti-annexation drive and helped get in this “bloc” of candidates.

You’ve seen my comments about the supporters of this, if you were against the annexation and liked that “bloc”, than Mr. Juday is your candidate. If on the other hand you were one of the many who slept through the last election only to cringe at what we ended up with, or if you are unhappy with the treatment Lifebridge has received – and now is about to leave Longmont for good – than Mr. Juday is definitely NOT your candidate. Mr. Santos was previously endorsed by the previous Mayor ( Pirnack) and the Times-Call, you have to decide if that sways you one way or the other.

Just make the effort to actually vote, it’s the only way to get a proper reading on what the citizenry is really thinking, not just some of them.

2007 Election Autopsy Pt. 1


The election numbers are all in, and there’s enough fodder for several stories, so let’s get started with Part 1. 

Let’s get this out of the way first, as I know you’re all dying to know how the great prognosticator (me) did, being I’ve written about predicting elections. The Nintendo Wii has this cool polling feature called the “Everybody Votes Channel”. What I like about it is not only do you vote, but you also get to predict how the vote will go. Quite often my predictions do not correlate to my votes; this local election was no different. In the 11 votes I was able to cast (Mayor, council, school district, and ballot issues) I scored 82%, or 9-2. That doesn’t mean that’s how I voted, just how I predicted. Ever the finger on the pulse…etc.

The two I got wrong? SVVSD District G between Schiers and Bohaning, which I picked the latter, and was the last race to be called, and by a razor thin margin. So I can accept that. The other one was, ironically, my own Ward, the race between Rawlins and Hansen. The Times-Call, and Hansen himself, mentioned what a surprise it was. I had noticed more Hansen signs around this ward, but in the end I think it was a couple things. First, Rawlins youth, which I didn’t see as a disadvantage, could’ve been a factor to some voters. Second, the implication Rawlins was “hand picked” by some “good ol’ boy network“, which I never bought, probably didn’t help. The Times-Call endorsement may have turned voters away as well. Lastly, the gamble of this “gang of four” to run as a block of candidates may have been enough to put Hansen over the top.

Surprises to me? The margin Roger Lange won the mayors seat by. I figured he’d win, but not by the largest margin of any of the council races. Karen Benker, more than any other candidate, ran on the anti-Lifebridge annexation and her sole “no” vote on it. Lange voted for the annexation and I don’t remember seeing him apologize for it. More people voted on this race than any other, and Benker was soundly defeated. Is this an indicator of how the Lifebridge vote will go in January? Hard to say, I think Lange had name recognition and more council experience on his side.


I can’t say for sure, only by what I hear and read, but I never got the impression that people disliked Lange. I can’t say the same for Benker. I think it may, may, have played into peoples minds that no matter who won, the other would still be there on council. The only difference being whose seat would sit vacant for almost 3 months, and from what pool would the next councilmember come from. Turns out it will be Lange’s “at-large” seat, so anyone in the city can run and vote on it. With Gabe Santos getting over 6,000 votes for the at-large race he lost, it makes sense to put him at the top of the list of potential candidates in January.

But I could be all wrong about the above, but a 9-2 chance I’m not.  (Gabe Santos did run in the special election, and won handily)

Election Autopsy Pt. 1

The election numbers are all in, and there’s enough fodder for several stories, so let’s get started with Part 1.

Let’s get this out of the way first, as I know you’re all dying to know how the great prognosticator (me) did, being I’ve written about predicting elections. The Nintendo Wii has this cool polling feature called the “Everybody Votes Channel”. What I like about it is not only do you vote, but you also get to predict how the vote will go. Quite often my predictions do not correlate to my votes; this local election was no different. In the 11 votes I was able to cast (Mayor, council, school district, and ballot issues) I scored 82%, or 9-2. That doesn’t mean that’s how I voted, just how I predicted. Ever the finger on the pulse…etc.

The two I got wrong? SVVSD District G between Schiers and Bohaning, which I picked the latter, and was the last race to be called, and by a razor thin margin. So I can accept that. The other one was, ironically, my own Ward, the race between Rawlins and Hansen. The Times-Call, and Hansen himself, mentioned what a surprise it was. I had noticed more Hansen signs around this ward, but in the end I think it was a couple things. First, Rawlins youth, which I didn’t see as a disadvantage, could’ve been a factor to some voters. Second, the implication Rawlins was ” hand picked” by some ” good ol’ boy network“, which I never bought, probably didn’t help. The Times-Call endorsement may have turned voters away as well. Lastly, the gamble of this ” gang of four” to run as a block of candidates may have been enough to put Hansen over the top.

Surprises to me? The margin Roger Lange won the mayors seat by. I figured he’d win, but not by the largest margin of any of the council races. Karen Benker, more than any other candidate, ran on the anti-Lifebridge annexation and her sole ” no” vote on it. Lange voted for the annexation and I don’t remember seeing him apologize for it. More people voted on this race than any other, and Benker was soundly defeated. Is this an indicator of how the Lifebridge vote will go in January? Hard to say, I think Lange had name recognition and more council experience on his side.

I can’t say for sure, only by what I hear and read, but I never got the impression that people disliked Lange. I can’t say the same for Benker. I think it may, may, have played into peoples minds that no matter who won, the other would still be there on council. The only difference being whose seat would sit vacant for almost 3 months, and from what pool would the next councilmember come from. Turns out it will be Lange’s “at-large” seat, so anyone in the city can run and vote on it. With Gabe Santos getting over 6,000 votes for the at-large race he lost, it makes sense to put him at the top of the list of potential candidates in January.

But I could be all wrong about the above, but a 9-2 chance I’m not.