Coombs’ agenda not in Longmont’s best interests

Mayor Coombs, who proclaims himself the “Mayor for everybody” on his website, apparently doesn’t think too highly of a fairly substantial segment of Longmont residents.

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Times-Call endorses Jeff Ilseman for RTD District I

Today (October 29, 2012) the Longmont Times-Call endorsed Jeff Ilseman for RTD District I.

Of a field of what appears to be four capable candidates for the District I director’s position, our recommendation to voters is Jeff Ilseman of Longmont, who has served on the Longmont Transportation Advisory Board, the Public Policy Committee of the Longmont Area Chamber of Commence and the Judicial Performance Commission of the 20th Judicial District.

Read more at Times-Call

Jeff Ilseman: RTD: Who Needs It?

(The following was submitted from RTD Board of Directors, District I candidate Jeff Ilseman.)

In 2004 a proponent of FasTracks rang our doorbell and talked with my wife. After listening to the cordial conversation, my right brain, which allegedly focuses on creativity and feeling, thought how great it would be to have a train that my transit-dependent son, then 22 years old, could use to access opportunities that he may not otherwise be able to access. Continue reading

Jeff Ilseman: An Inconvenient Train

(The following is a guest submission by RTD District I candidate Jeff Ilseman)

I love a good train ride, especially if it is also fast and cheap. I grew up near the end of the BNSF line coming out of Chicago’s Union Station. It was built in the 1860s, during the Civil War, when Lincoln was president, and decades before automobiles were invented. How ironic it is that I retired near the end of a “planned” BNSF line coming out of Denver’s Union Station, to be completed in the 2040s. Continue reading

A better rail alternative for Longmont?

Could the emerging northern Colorado rail transit initiative known as Front Range on Track be the answer to Longmont’s ever-growing RTD FasTracks dilemma ?

From a Loveland Reporter-Herald article reprinted in the Times-Call this morning…

“Advocates of a plan to use railroad lines in Northern Colorado for passenger service will meet Sunday to raise both awareness and money to push their transit proposal forward. Front Range On Track, a group that has assumed a low profile since its formation three years ago, is leveraging some of the attention paid recently to similar rail plans in Boulder County and north metro-Denver to draw some to its own efforts.” Continue reading

Paying for imaginary railroad

As the ever-growing RTD FasTracks boondoggle exasperates Longmont (we’ve commented on this debacle before), former Longmont Mayor Fred Wilson tells it like it is with a letter printed in the Sunday Times-Call, Dec. 19…

To the Editor:
As I read the latest chapter in the long and winding tale of FasTracks, many quotes suitable for describing the situation pop into my mind. Like “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”. Or “Go ahead, Charlie Brown, I won’t pull the football away this time”. Or “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. Continue reading

A FasTracks supporter no more

How I regret voting FOR FasTracks in 2004–I even helped circulate petitions to get the issue on the ballot. Silly me, being a longtime sales tax watchdog. Did I really want to pay a full 1.0% sales tax for getting RTD table scraps on the northern fringe of the district? And now they’re going to ask for another 0.4%? Heaven sakes, before we know it, our total sales tax will be 10% just like liberal infested Chicago!

In Longmont we’ve always been destined for a lousy deal with the FasTracks plan, yet we pay the same hefty RTD sales tax as someone living in central Denver who has been enjoying the use of light rail for nearly 10 years.

Like many voters, I fell for the propaganda and “cute little trains” that I had sampled at the beginnings of light rail in the Denver Platte Valley. Having many family members who live in the south Denver metro area, I eagerly accompanied them on light rail several times to downtown sports events in the early 2000s. Pretty cool ride, I thought at the time.

Of course, the proposed Northwest Corridor with its heavy rail on restricted BNSF tracks is a far cry from what’s been done in Denver–especially the Longmont spur. What northern Colorado commuter is going to want to come into Longmont and park (with fee), take a train to the Boulder transit village, then get on another train back to Denver? I figure the whole convoluted process could take up to two hours with all the stops and exchanges. I’d hate to guess what the parking and fares would total, just for one way.

I’m not a commuter, but when I have to go to downtown Denver I’d much rather hop in my car and drive down there in 50 minutes or so, depending on traffic. I-25 driving is not as bad as FasTracks advocates claim, and the highway will soon be three-lane from Longmont southward (eventually from Ft. Collins) with a new interchange at Hwy 66. We’ve already got the new interchange at Hwy 119, completed several years ago.

Former Colorado Governor Bill Owens points out that a full build of the FasTracks plan will only reduce metro vehicle-miles traveled by less than 1.0%. Owens favors a T-Rex type model to meet the metro area transit needs. It would translate to roughly half of transportation tax monies going toward highway improvements and dedicated bus lanes, and the other half for key light rail corridors. It’s an efficient and much less costly strategy indeed.

Another thing that’s troubling with the FasTracks push is its growing connotation with the progressive far left in Colorado. You know these folks (like the Bloc of 4 on Longmont Council) by their over-the-top environmentalism, big spending, taxes, and debt; and basic desire of government control of our lives. Buzzwords like “smart growth” and “new urbanism” are often heard with FasTracks advocacy. It’s the mantra that cars are bad, suburbs and development are very bad, and people are to be crammed into high-density cities so they can walk and bike and use mass transit.

Count me as a Longmonter and American who does not want to be told how to live, what light bulbs to use, how big my house size is, or how my personal property is used. I certainly do not want to be forced to pay for a transportation method that doesn’t make practical sense for my community.

Press Release: FasTracks: Lipstick On A Pig


Anyone who’s read my stuff over the years knows I’m no great fan of State Senator Brandon Shaffer. I’ve disagreed with him on his voting record, specifically the games he tried to play with the Electoral College, and how he basically became Ken Gordon‘s extra vote. We need someone to represent Longmont and District 17, not a puppet who pretty much tows the party line, right down the line.

The following press release was sent directly to me from candidate Katie Witt who is challenging Brandon Shaffer for this seat. – Chris

Lipstick on a Pig: Fastracks in Boulder County in Peril

August 18, 2008: Longmont, CO – Katie Witt, Republican candidate for State Senate District 17, today announced her position regarding the growing controversy surrounding the RTD FasTracks project.

“The prospect of FasTracks getting to Longmont and eastern Boulder County, on budget and on schedule, now appears to be absolutely zero,” Witt stated. “What makes the situation outrageous is that Longmont citizens have been paying for this project—one that my opponent Brandon Shaffer campaigned for in 2004— with little to show for it to date. Where has Brandon been the last four years while RTD heads straight toward fiscal implosion: the answer I fear is, “he’s been asleep at the wheel.”

“While my support of the FasTracks concept remains strong, it’s clear that this is one public works project that has spun out of control. Elected leaders and administrators need to revisit and seriously re-think the viability of the original plan.

“I fear that the worst news is yet to come. When FasTracks reaches full build-out, the operational losses from this poorly conceived project will implode the fiscal foundations of RTD, with taxpayers left holding the bag. It is time to stop the denial about the extra-ordinary fiscal risks involved with “staying the course” through keeping with the current plan. It’s time to stop trying to put lipstick on a pig.

“Fastracks to Longmont, an extension of the North Metro line tied into the Highway 287 corridor, is essential. Because of the growth along the I-25 corridor and number of people working in Denver Metro area, a line to eastern Boulder County would have the greatest impact on our transportation problems.

“If we subtract the politicians from the equation, this is the plan that makes sense for Boulder County. It will do what it was designed to do: reduce cars on the road.

“Obviously, the FasTracks proposal was driven by political considerations, not good mass transit policy. That’s why the FasTracks project is in such deep trouble financially.

“I praise RTD board member Lee Kemp and Longmont’s mayor Roger Lange, who’ve been on top of this worsening situation. What we need now is a task force led by RTD to re-examine alternatives, and legislative hearings at the Capitol to ensure far greater accountability going forward. Our current state senator is asleep at the switch on this crucial project.

“We need strong leadership and clear thinking on this crucial economic development project. Eastern Boulder County needs a FasTracks designed to support job growth and a vibrant east-county economic development effort. We need to see if we can get FasTracks to Longmont and eastern Boulder County.”

Longmont ballot issues

Here are some anonymous opinions sent to my site about three ballot issues in the upcoming Longmont election.

AGAINST Longmont Issue 2C: Open Space Sales Tax Extension
Extending this tax until 2034 would be the height of fiscal irresponsibility in view of the tight city budget. Longmonters are already heavily burdened with three open space sales taxes from Boulder County. The last thing the city needs is to go into $31 million more debt with repayment costs of $59.5 million to buy bonds for additional open space. There are far greater spending priorities. This tax was narrowly passed by voters in 2000 with a term of 20 years. The issue should be brought back to the taxpayers when it expires in 2020, not now.

AGAINST Boulder County Issue 1A: Open Space Sales Tax Extension
After 89,000 acres purchased, three sales taxes and nearly $200 million debt, it’s time to put the brakes on Boulder County‘s runaway open space program. The commissioners have devoted far too many resources toward open space, resulting in money being siphoned away from vital county services such as infrastructure, public safety and social services. Excessive open space in Boulder County has proved to have many unintended consequences, most notably unaffordable housing in Boulder. The average sale price of a 3-bedroom home in Boulder is more than $525,000. Boulder also has a weak business climate due to high sales taxes and stifling environmental restrictions. The new Twenty Ninth Street retail center performed poorly in its first year. Broomfield formed its own county several years ago to allow dynamic projects like FlatIrons Crossing and the Broomfield Event Center to flourish. Defeat of Issue 1A would allow this portion of open space sales taxes to expire at the end of 2009 and help to reduce the stranglehold that open space madness has on the county economy.

AGAINST Boulder County Issue 1B: Transportation Sales Tax Extension
Issue 1B is an unneeded extension of a redundant transportation tax. A hefty 1.0% Regional Transportation District (RTD) sales tax is already assessed in Boulder County for transit needs. Road projects are also funded from state and federal sources. In the 2007 Boulder County budget, the commissioners granted a disproportionate $46.2 million for Open Space Funds compared to only $15.2 million for the Road Fund. County voters soundly defeated a similar “transit and trails” sales tax a year ago. The same should be done for this unnecessary sales tax extension.