Longmont/Firestone Dustup Pt.1

I was fortunate to have been one of only a couple people who attended both the 3/17/08 Firestone Trustee Board meeting and the 3/18/08 Longmont City Council meeting. Both were very interesting and will take a few parts to cover it all.

First up, the Firestone meeting. Mayor Mike Simone gave quite a speech, eliciting applause from most, but also outrage by others. I met Mayor Simone and told him Longmont residents should have a chance to hear his thoughts. Suspecting the Times-Call would probably not print what you are about to read, I offered to publish it, to which he happily agreed and sent me the following. This is a response to a 3/11/08 Times-Call Editorial entitled ” On leadership and land grabs“. The bold print is Mayor Simone’s responses. The underlined words were emphasized by Mayor Simone as well.
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Firestone’s move to snag 74 acres on Longmont’s eastern border is a shock. It’s not a surprise. (No, it’s not a surprise–our board has been consistent in calling for towns and cities in this area to expand their master plans so they have adjacent borders, effectively leaving urban development to the municipalities and not Weld County. It was Longmont who decided not to participate in the Weld County Partnership group–a group dedicated to dealing with the problem of uncontrolled urban development by Weld County)

After all, Firestone’s the town whose leaders held school district money for ransom last year (the money was not the school district’s but was unethically extorted from new homeowners by bullying municipalities into serving as their middle men). The town caved and coughed up $186,000 in development fees (no, unethical impact fees) to the St. Vrain Valley School District after the district threatened to sue. Then town leaders threw a tantrum and decided to no longer collect $645 per house from developers (let’s be correct-homeowners) whose homes help overfill the schools. (again, unethical and possibly illegal extortion of money from new homeowners by trying to work around the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision that school districts cannot mandate impact fees).

Now Firestone’s up to new tricks. They’re working to crash Longmont’s eastern gates, even after Longmont and Boulder County spent millions preserving land east of Longmont. (Longmont and Boulder County has and has had the ability to buy whatever land it wants for a buffer. Firestone has never annexed any property whose property owners didn’t ask to be annexed. Testimony in front of Firestone’s Planning Commission and e-mails I’ve received from current property owners appear to make a case that Longmont has held its neighboring property owners hostage by not giving them a hearing–essentially “taking” their property to maintain a “free” buffer.)

Firestone made a plan to reach down Colo. Highway 119, almost to the Boulder County line, and annex the 74-acre Fairview Estates property. (Firestone began reevaluating its current master plan well before Firestone was aware of Fairview or LifeBridge Christian Church. Our reevaluation began when Weld County approved almost 4000 homes on our northern border. Firestone never “made a plan” to annex Fairview Estates-that comment is just a bold faced lie– They came to us and asked us to annex them-I’m not aware of anyone on this board who contacted anyone from Fairview Estates). Coincidentally, the Fairview property would make a terrific stepping stone if Firestone wanted to grab (Firestone has never “grabbed” anything whose owners didn’t ask to be “grabbed”) LifeBridge Christian Church’s Union development next door. LifeBridge, you’ll recall, walked away from Longmont after the Union annexation was set to go before voters. (LifeBridge was forced to “walk away” by the election of an anti-religious faction to the Longmont City Council.)

Establishing clear boundaries around municipalities is a useful practice. It helps give each an identity and preserves land on the periphery. (The only way you can ethically “preserve land” on your periphery is to buy it) Longmont attempted to create a buffer to the east. Firestone decided it didn’t care. (Firestone also thought there was a buffer around its town but Weld County‘s current policy eliminated that possibility. Firestone understands to create a buffer it will have to buy property or property rights. Longmont is naive if it thinks it can create “free” buffers in Weld County.)

That’s typical of the Firestone leaders’ Wild West approach to intergovernmental relations. (This is an interesting comment. It seems to echo Mr. Auer and his “Longmont First” slate of candidate’s ill informed and incorrect comments about intergovernmental relations. I guess this is a continuation of the T-C’s biennial attempt to influence Firestone’s elections by now trying to prop up and give legitimacy to Mr. Auer and his “Longmont First” slate of candidates.)

Does Firestone want a reputation for being a rogue town that bends over backwards to snatch land from its neighbors? (Very misleading T-C. Nobody is “snatching” anything. Frederick and Longmont have changed their master plans and annexed property outside their growth boundaries. Firestone is considering doing the same. You can’t “snatch” property that you don’t own. Longmont may think they “own” property outside their borders but I suspect the affected property owners think differently)

That uses development fees as a bargaining chip instead of using them to improve the schools that serve its children? (the school board is a governmental agency with the power to tax its residents. Instead of trying to work around your voters by trying to impose unethical impact fees, ask your voters for a tax increase. If you can’t justify it to the voters, you don’t deserve it.)

We hope Firestone residents will consider that question when they consider who should fill four open seats on the board on April 1. (The T-C’s attempt to affect Firestone’s election continues again this year–but of course they will try to make you believe they are an “unbiased” journalistic entity. A man, who I have never met, walked into my office this morning and was concerned about the T-C’s obvious bias in favor of Mr. Auer. I explained to him they are a private company and can do what they want. I also related how the Times-Call has decided they don’t want to print any editorials “they believe” are “personal” concerning a candidate-this only applies to the “Longmont First” candidates it appears.

Well, where have they been for the past 6 years? The only editorials I can remember the T-C printing concerning me and our town board are nothing but personal attacks-including the one I just read. Let’s review their words about this town board from the editorial I just read-snag, ransom, caved and coughed up, tantrum, tricks, crash, grab, Firestone decided it didn’t care, Wild West approach, rogue town, and snatch. )

So there you have it in one editorial. A Boulder County media outlet doing what they can to convince the voters in Firestone to allow a Boulder County school board along with the newly elected Longmont City Council, to run our town.
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Up next, further comments on the above statement, more reporting on this meeting, and Longmont City Council’s reaction.

A Failure To Communicate

What we’ve got here is failure to communicatefromCool Hand Luke(1967 Warner Bros).

I don’t talk much here about my day job (not at all yet) where communicating effectively can be the difference, literally, between life and death. I’ve been on both sides of that: from being the voice heard that saved a life or lives, or the last one to hear someone else’s voice on this mortal coil. That’s all that needs to be said about that, but know I’m not exaggerating. The importance of communication cannot be understated.

Where I may slightly differ from the general public is what I consider effective communication. In my case the message must be understood (and confirmed) or communication did not take place. For the rest of society, it’s not so dire. Effective communicating can just be making a good speech, or writing a good article with little to no concern in how it’s received or understood. For the purposes of this article, I’m talking about a two-way street. ( And yes, I know what “dialogue” is, just couldn’t slip in this “Cool Hand Luke” reference with it.)

I spoke at the 3/4/08 Longmont City Council meeting about campaign finance. Councilmember Brian Hansen, in the only comment or response to anything I’ve said, mischaracterized my comments. He said ” I know one person said something to the effect that we just are looking this after our latest election and that’s not actually true. We did look at this before that, and so we’re not trying to target anybody in that regard.” Either he has a bad memory or doesn’t listen well. Earlier when I spoke, and I said this clearly and looking right at council as it wasn’t part of my prepared remarks, ” I heard about this before the January election, about campaign finance.”

The other ironic thing is that on January 11th (which would also be before the special election) I sent all the councilmembers an email about campaign rules. To her credit, Karen Benker responded quickly to this email. Unfortunately, around the same time during a council meeting, she made the campaign rules personal against then candidate Gabe Santos. She paid the price for those comments by a lambasting by residents during the January 29th council meeting, and rightly so. How Mr. Hansen could forget that episode, which clearly showed people heard Ms. Benkers campaign finance opinions before the latest election, is beyond me.

As some of you may remember, I had a problem with a recent confusing vote for a board applicant. I wrote a very fair and friendly letter to Mr. Hansen, not an “open letter”, not sent to the Times-Call, not sent to all of the other council members, about his vote, or mis-vote, whichever the case may be. Considering we heard about how these new members would be so open and listening to their constituents, and that I made it clear in this letter I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, all I got back was silence. No, worse than silence, I got my comments twisted by my wards councilmember.

My previous ward’s councilmember, Doug Brown, who I didn’t always agree with on policy, never played this game with me or anyone I know who had dealings with him. I never expect a response when I write elected officials, it’s the main reason I do my “communicating” to them through websites and letters to the editor. At least Mr. Brown had the common decency to not misrepresent my words publicly, but also went the extra effort to call, email, or want to get together to discuss the issues. Perhaps he set the bar too high for any of his successors to live up to.

This behavior is very disappointing, and elected officials shouldn’t expect to enjoy endless benefit of the doubt. It has its limits. I asked for some inkling that there wasn’t this “bloc” mentality, and while silence alone may not have been enough to convince the true believers, what he did sealed the deal for me.

There is a ” bloc“, and they aren’t all great listeners. Deal with it.

Step Right Up, Place Your Bets

It’s too bad you can’t gamble in this country on politics. What, are people worried it might make politicians cheat? HAHAHAHA. That was a good one, sorry.

So we’re on the eve of a special election here in Longmont. One thing I’m glad to see is way more people jumping in than usual, whether it’s in the Open Forum of the Times-Call or websites and blogs. Lots going on, lots being said, how will it impact the final result? Again, I don’t mind if I’m wrong on a prediction, and since I already sort of made one earlier about this election, I’ll follow up on it.

I said that Gabe Santos would lose the November election, but win the special election. This was before anyone officially entered this latest race. Now let’s go through what’s different about this race, events that may have shifted things, etc.

Turnout: This is the great unknown and any prediction is tough not knowing how this will go. In November’s election 15,086 people voted for the at-large seat. Special elections tend to not bring out as many voters, at first I figured 80% of November’s turnout. But this cycle has been different, the Times-Call did a large story about this, and maybe the turnout will be about the same after all.

Candidates: In November’s election Santos received 6,319 votes, or 41.9% of the vote. Paul Tiger received 1,758 votes and is not running this time. I can’t see why someone who voted for Santos in November would change it now. Tiger endorsed Richard Juday, not sure how many people caught that, not sure if it matters to Libertarian voters, and not sure if it helps! (Sorry Paul, people like us don’t always help with our endorsements). So I gave 60% of Tigers votes to Juday. To give 100% of Sarah Levison’s votes to Juday though is a stretch and pretty presumptuous.

The DeLay Factor: Zip, nada, zero. The people that hate Tom DeLay probably weren’t going to vote for Santos anyway. The people who already voted for Santo’s or have no problem with DeLay may have been offended by this stretch of “guilt by association”. Even if you spot a couple hundred votes for this, which is a couple hundred too many, doesn’t affect the outcome.

“Attack” Ad: Apparently, some voters (supposedly just Republicans) got a mailer that wasn’t too friendly towards Juday. I seriously thought it was a hoax or someone trying to “punk” Juday and his supporters. But apparently it really went out. Oddly enough a quote supposedly from my website was on it. I can’t remember where I saw that, but I sure didn’t write that quote and it wasn’t ever on my site. Anyway, who does this ad help/hurt? Those that were going to vote for Juday anyway – this only reinforces their feelings, and they probably didn’t receive it anyway, only heard about it. Those that would lean against Juday – this would reinforce them also, and they probably did receive it if it only went out to one party. So, stalemate? I don’t think so.

In today’s Times-Call they talked about voters by party affiliation. Increased Republican turnout (those receiving these ads) is a bad thing for Juday. These may be people that didn’t vote in November, and also probably people that were not happy with Lifebridge’s treatment, courtesy of Juday and his supporters. Many of these people probably don’t want to be Boulder Jr. either. Like this ad or hate it, I don’t remember ever seeing anything quite like it for a Longmont election, and its impact could be huge.

Final Days: Also in today’s paper were some political ads and op-eds by Santos and Juday. Juday’s ad said “Please, before responding to attack material”…visit his website for solid information. His editorial was titled ” Longmont deserves better“, not sure if he titled it or the Times-Call. I know the point was to say elections shouldn’t be so dirty, but the title implies what Longmont has now (in council or anywhere else) sucks. Yeah, voters like hearing that, being blamed for any and all ills. Juday spent much of his piece being on the defensive, not where a candidate wants to be in the final stretch. Add to that voluntarily not accepting donations and returning checks a week before the election? While it may be noble, I guess, signs and advertisements take money. If there’s a perception a candidate is throwing in the towel (not saying he is), most voters want to vote for a winner, not someone who wraps up his campaign before Election Day.

Santo’s editorial was titled ” Longmont‘s community cares” and the contrast between these two messages and these two editorials are worth some votes. Perhaps a lot of votes. I’m sure some detractor can find something to pick apart in Santo’s editorial, but it was fairly positive from start to finish. Let’s just see their last paragraphs, remember, these are sort of the closing arguments, they matter: Juday: “On my website you may see some corrections to distributed misinformation”. Santos: “I’m inspired by what I see, and I wish to give it back. I believe I am the right choice for City Council. I respectfully ask for your vote. If you have already voted for me, please accept my most sincere thank you.” Hey, it was longer, take out a sentence or two to make it even. End result is the same.

Conclusion: Based on the previous election, possible turnout, candidates actions, advertising (good and bad), signage, money, and intangibles, let me throw out this prediction: Santos 7,333 (48.6%) / Juday 6,144 (40.7%) / Baxter 1,509 (10%) / Write-in 100 (0.7%). Knowing that prediction alone could drive a few people to get their voting butts in gear, and knowing I could be all wet on those numbers and outcomes, there it is. Yep, another plurality, not a majority. And if 595 votes swap, different outcome.

I’d like to see some thoughtful prognostication(s?) (in other words, spare the wishful thinking). No one’s prediction should be held against them, unless they turn out to be clairvoyant geniuses! Can’t gamble, but can have bragging rights – until the next election.

Lazy Voters

Lazy voters. I probably don’t mean what you think when I use that term. I’m not talking about people who aren’t registered, or are and don’t bother to vote, or have no idea when there’s even an election. There’s probably a better term, and I’m not pointing towards the apathetic here either.

One type of person I’m talking about is the kind who waits by their mailbox for brochures telling them how they should vote. The other ones are the kind that read others opinions and based on them figure they should vote totally opposite to it. Intellectually lazy and taking the easy way out.

An example was a letter sent in to the Times-Call not too long ago. Only credit I’ll give this guy (can’t remember the name, wouldn’t repeat it if I did) is he was ” smart” enough to give his name. In reality, he made himself look like a dunce. He was fairly insulting as he sarcastically thanked a somewhat regular writer, Percy Conarroe, for stating his position so now this guy could know how NOT to vote.

It’s one thing to think like that or to actually vote like that, but to make assumptions on Mr. Conarroe’s knowledge and experience, as if it’s inferior to this writer’s, is just that, an assumption. And a risky one at that, as it leaves this brain surgeon hanging out in the wind, unless of course he’s right. He’s more than likely not (even if he is a brain surgeon).

I’d never met or had any contact with Mr. Conarroe, but was now curious about him after this slime job. Since then I’ve had the pleasure of having a conversation with him. Not only was he very personable, he’s also a former editor and publisher for a couple of major newspapers. For someone of that caliber to go out of their way to compliment me was truly and honor and showed what class he has, unlike the detractor above.

I asked him about this letter, he said it was nothing new and was used to it, along with far worse things including death threats back in the day. I could imagine so, once learning what he used to do. So this conversation verified what I figured; that Mr. Conarroe was not deserving of the insults, and this detractor showed himself as an uninformed buffoon. I guess we just have to say we’re supporting who we’re really NOT supporting and he’ll be totally confused. Too late.

Somebody Trying To Hide Something?

Different people in different ways make my work easier. Some people are outspoken, often offensive and abrasive. Then once in a while they screw up and try to bury it. Then other people, occasionally anonymously, do some of the footwork and get the information to me either directly or indirectly. I’m more than happy to be another outlet to get that information out to a wider audience. Nearly all of this latter group I’ve never met, emailed, or spoken to. And credit is deserved.

The people backing Richard Juday for City Council in this upcoming election are spending much of their time trying to smear opposing candidates. Yet at the same time they’re being very sneaky about hiding certain things their candidate has written in the past. The TakeBackLongmont website has been out in front defending against the smears on Gabe Santos, and has been blistering towards Mr. Juday in some of his comments conveniently removed from his website. You can find a link to a cached version of it at their website.

Another reader sent me a link to Mr. Juday’s Report of Contributions and Expenditures, click on it to read it, it’s public information. You’ll see some familiar names, including most of the often mentioned “bloc of 4″ as already reported in the Times-Call. Oddly missing is an “in kind” contribution from the person who’s maintaining his website, or is that service free, or self administered? Only reason I ask is over these pages that were so abruptly pulled down. What was on the Science Vs Creationism page? Some of your potential voters might like to know.

(Pay attention Councilmembers Benker, McCoy, Levison, and Hansen, these questions are for you also, as you either accepted Mr. Judays support in your races, or have donated to his candidacy, or both. You can either respond publicly, or get repeatedly asked and publicly embarrassed. Remember the more open and listening council idea? Here’s to see if you really meant it.)

Mr. Juday wrote of big box stores and his obvious disdain for them, which is his right. But what he removed from his website was his idea, or approval of this: ” write down license numbers and trace them to residence” in reference to finding out who’s shopping where. Or having the customer report his city, if asked. He’s toned that down to its current version of ” recorded zip codes of shoppers.” So we have a choice of ” Big Box” or ” Big Brother” thanks to Mr. Juday and friends. Also, Mr. Juday needs to respond to whether he approved or encouraged the questionable practice of secretly videotaping signers of the Lifebridge anti-annexation petition. He proudly led his group to city hall with those petitions, if he’s the leader, he needs to answer. If I hear ” no big deal” over this, I can’t imagine the people being taped unknowingly would agree.

Here’s what it boils down to. Mr. Juday and his pals in and out of council don’t like places like Walmart, BestBuy, Costco (funny they don’t mention Target, quite a big box) and want to make it hard on them to do business. Not only that, they look down on you for shopping there and want to collect information on those of you that chose to go there, whatever your reason. This is NOT Longmont, at least not the Longmont I chose to move to. This is elitist thuggery and if Mr. Juday and those on council that lean with him don’t answer these important points, they should be held accountable, severely. And no answers equal agreement with these comments and actions.

I’m not asking you to vote for a particular candidate, but I am asking you NOT to vote for this candidate, Mr. Juday. If you have a problem with the new members of council over this, take it up with them, but they were already elected.

600% Can’t Be Wrong

I hate being misquoted, so in the interest of fairness I’ll include every word of councilmember Sean McCoy’s Lifebridge comments on 1/8/08.

“Umm yeah, last lastly I’d like to point out is a uh couple things that were kind of misleading in in the press here as of recently and uh one in particular was uh uh the uh Union vote. Uh myself uh uh Councilmember Hansen, Coucilmember Levinson uh not one of us voted on that to uh uh uh much the chagrin of uh some of those that weren’t keeping track of current affairs. But uh that’s uh a real issue that I feel is uh kinda sad that uh uh people are suggesting that uh by the very fact of uh some of us getting on here in council that that drove them away. I think what drove them away is uh their own uh information that they gathered and the fact that six thousand voters got in and uh signed petitions and uh were going to send them a clear message.
If you do any statistical analysis or data collection you’ll find out if they do a thousand uh polls and they come up with six hundred uh people in support of something that’s about sixty percent on about a hundred thousand people and often times that gives you a pretty decent uh uh idea of where people are at. We technically under our last census have eighty one thousand people here in Longmont and six thousand signed that that’s six hundred percent of the people. That was the reason why they chose to go elsewhere. So I would like that to be perfectly clear and also I’d like that to be pointed out in our uh communication to the uh uh public using our public forums so that people understand that I didn’t vote on that and I don’t believe these other members did either.”

A quick tip: people are bound to remember the very issue that pretty much propelled you and your pals into office. That, and the election party pictures in the Times-Call of all of you and the leaders of the anti-annexation petition. Now, why would ANYONE think you or any new member of council was against the Lifebridge annexation? A quick Google search also brought up:

Meet city council candidate Sean McCoy
YourHub.Com Longmont
Boulder Daily Camera Q&A – Sean McCoy
The SouthwesternWeldCountyUnion, LifeBridge annexation, is another prime example of the current city council’s failure to identify good residential and commercial development that shows an exceptional benefit to the city. A change is need on council and I what to be that change. So as a future city council member I see the overturning of the Union Life Bridge annexation as a good thing and have supported the individuals working on bring transparency to Longmont’s government and their commitment to community based decision making back to council. “

Rocky Mountain News
“In the three City Council races, the three candidates on record opposing the LifeBridge annexation appeared on their way to winning seats. “

Rocky Mountain News
“Also, city council candidates Sean McCoy, Sarah Levison and Brian Richard Hansen have said publicly that they oppose the annexation.”

The Agenda
I stand by my statement that the previous CC showed disregard for the people of Longmont who wanted that land to remain open space.”

Can fool some of the people some of the time.

Hyperventilating Hypocrites

The last Longmont City Council meeting of 2007 was so chock full of nuggets just waiting to be mined. Here’s one of my favorites, an example of “it’s alright for us, but not for you!”

Days leading up to this meeting, Lifebridge Church pulled their plans for annexation into Longmont. The question for the council was whether or not to leave the question on the ballot. Was there really any question? Seemed like a “duhh” moment to me, and I know they have to go through the formality of removing it properly, that’s not the issue. The issue was that some of the people, not all, that circulated the petition against the annexation strongly requested it stay on the ballot. A message needed to be sent, doggone it!

City Attorney Clay Douglas rightly pointed out it was pretty much a moot point, but that simple point was apparently lost on some people. One of the petition supporters rightly said that the end result was the same as if the question passed (as in NO to annexation), so the goal was reached, what was the point? Still missed on some. What some petition signers may not have known or believed (even though some of us have been repeatedly saying it) was that some of the petition backer’s motives were more than simply overturning the YES council vote on annexation.

They were after the punishment and embarrassment of Lifebridge and some members of City Council. Their request to keep this on the ballot is one example. The fact some of them said they’re now moving against Weld County on the Lifebridge issue is another. They also wanted there to be some kind of act of council to make it so Lifebridge couldn’t come back later and try again to annex. There were even some members of council asking the City Attorney about this ridiculous concept – so they bought right into this anti-Lifebridge mentality. Makes them no different than the angry mob that supports them.

Some have been writing lately that the new council had nothing to do with Lifebridge pulling out. The above is yet one example. Here’s another: remember the smiling faces of the people bringing the anti-annexation petition to the city clerk on the front of the Times-Call? I’ll give you one guess ( 4 actually) of who they strongly backed for city council. Who was leading that pictured group? Their current candidate Richard Juday, who was also, I believe, the campaign manager for one of the new council members. It’s all intertwined. If there’s any doubt, just ask one of the new council members or candidates where they stood, and where they stand, on the annexation, and Lifebridge in general.

So the people who wielded their right to petition government don’t want people they disagree with to have the same right to petition, which could include a church submitting plans and permits. They can muddy it up saying that’s not really what they mean, but that’s what it amounts to. City Attorney Douglas mentioned that when an annexation is denied there is a process to reapply and there may be some time restrictions. But this annexation was approved and voluntarily pulled. There is nothing stopping Lifebridge from resubmitting it or starting where they left off. Fat chance they will, so those against it can rest easy. Or can they? More on that in a bit.

I assume some of them are steamed that they spent a bunch of their time and money on something that’s become moot and pointless, but they still got what they wanted. Apparently that’s not good enough, and I’m betting half of you that signed the petition didn’t sign up for a crusade against a church. Feel free to say as much publicly, embarrassed or not.

The rich and fragrant irony of it is this: I’m hearing rumors of other petitions and recalls. Not by corporations or churches, but just ” normal everyday people“, the kind the anti-annexation crowd claimed to be. Suffice it to say those people will not like these petitions, but who said everyone liked their petition? Who knows, maybe one of the petitions is in favor of Lifebridge, plenty of people have been writing in how they feel they were railroaded. What’s good for the goose, and all that.

But I do have one question, what if that question stayed on the ballot and people voted FOR the annexation? What then? It was baseless wishful thinking to assume it was a slam dunk, sort of like saying a ” blue tide” would sweep in Karen Benker as Mayor ( nope) and this supposed mandate from a new majority (actual votes say, again, nope).

Election’s Only The Beginning

There will be a special election in early 2008 in Longmont, we’re just not sure yet who or what will be on the ballot. If Roger Lange wins the Mayor seat, his ” at-large” seat goes up for grabs and Karen Benker remains the Ward 2 councilmember. This means more than likely the two candidates who didn’t win the “at-large” seat in November’s election will run for this seat. Not a bad deal, a second chance at winning a seat. So it’s possible that two candidates that go at each other very well could later be sitting next to each other in city council chambers.

On the other hand, if Karen Benker wins the Mayor seat, her Ward 2 seat needs to be filled by a special election. I don’t know if any of the at-large candidates actually live within Ward 2, but if they don’t, someone we don’t currently know of will have to hustle and get some signatures to run for it.

The other item is the Lifebridge Annexation question. The 10/17/07 Times-Call article may have left a few confused about what really happened in the most recent City Council meeting, hopefully as you read this or soon it will be a little more clear. They ” agreed” to put it to voters, but won’t actually ” vote” to put it on the ballot until October 23 or November 13. This may be just a small procedural issue, but if I’m reading past stories correctly about this, they may not necessarily vote YES to put it on the ballot. Then what happens?

I suspect they will vote to put it on the special election ballot, or expect pitchforks and torches at their doorstep. There always is the option of rescinding their earlier annexation vote and leaving it up the next council to handle it. On the surface this may seem a victory for the petition gatherers, as an election is not a sure winner. But in reality the new council may vote the same way, probably not 6-1, but 5-2 or 4-3 is very likely.

I’ll ask some of you to remove your rose colored glasses in your hoped-for election outcomes, and ponder this prediction. Here is the future (post special election) council: Lange (Mayor), Rawlins, Benker, Blue, Levison, and Santos. Ward 3 is too close to call, but even if McCoy wins, that’s not an anti-annexation friendly council. Of course this all changes if Benker becomes Mayor, but not by a lot. And it is just my prediction, which might not be worth the paper this is printed on.

Don’t be in a rush to cast that vote. Watch the candidate forum that is being played on Channel 3, visit the candidate’s websites and read their positions and platforms. Call or write them, see where they sit on issues important to you. Be suspicious of the ad pushing a ” block” of candidates, not saying you shouldn’t vote for them, but beware the ” package deal“. Unless you prefer someone else to do the thinking for you.

We all shine on(?)

In the August 14 Times-Call there was an article titled “Let it shine” about the recently installed solar power system at the Boulder County Courthouse. This is the photovoltaic variety that turns sunlight into electricity, not the kind used for hot water heaters that heats up a fluid that in turn heats the tank. I’ve looked into both types and found them fairly expensive and would lead to a lot of panels on my roof. Something I’m sure my homeowners association would look sideways at.

This system in Boulder cost $83,500 for 46 panels, that’s a lot of panels, but that’s not really a bad price. The article said this array could provide power for 5 2,000 square foot homes. Well, that seems like a stretch. Extrapolating what they paid, that means I could power my home for $16,700, from my own past research I can tell you that number is a little low. No, a lot low. Triple it and you’re getting warm.

The possibility of a backwards running electrical meter is enticing, but the payback usually takes several years. To make it a little more bearable, Xcel Energy provides rebates for up to half of the cost, that’s huge. Ahh, but here’s the rub: If you live in Longmont, forget about that rebate. When looking into this I spoke to both Xcel and Longmont Power, they both verified Longmont residents who get power from Longmont Power are not eligible for this great deal. Yet the City of Boulder is?

I think what Boulder did was great with a pretty sweet incentive from Xcel. I hope this, and the Times-Call article, bring attention to this policy in Longmont and the city makes this energy saving technology more attractive to its residents. Now, are these two companies who installed this (Namaste Solar and Independent Power Systems) going to match that price (extrapolated of course for home size) for us non-government entities?

Vacation Reflections

Recently the Times-Call put out a request for funny vacation stories. Doubtless like many of you, I have a mom who tells our camping escapades to anyone who’ll listen (and some who won’t) and that there’s a book or movie there somewhere. She’s sure part of the movie “Vacation” with Chevy Chase borrowed from our well spread stories. We did live not far from Hollywood after all. I figured everyone had trips like ours, complete with unintentional dog draggings behind trucks, flaming trailers full of bikes, bee attacks on kids allergic to bees, raging flashfloods, burning tents, hit-and-runs of kids by hippies, high speed steep hills without brakes, and on and on it goes.

When I started taking my own family on vacations, I told myself ours would be more relaxing, more normal. They’ve been anything but normal, and are often too hectic to really be relaxing. Usually our vacations involve a lot of exploring. Not the “park it and stay a week or two”, more like lucky to be at one place more than a couple of nights. We’ve seen a fair amount of the country (every state but Alaska at this point), usually in a “whirlwind tour” fashion. We have our favorites, but like the saying goes, “it’s all good”.

Recent vacations though, while still chock full of exploring, have been more reflective in nature. Certain realizations come to you when you have time to live without a schedule and the everyday responsibilities. Sometimes you realize things like either how good you have it, or where and how you live, good or bad. Or you see what things need to change in the overall big picture. I’m a believer in the “long term goals overcome short term frustrations” theory, and the daily grind can get that out of whack. Certain types of vacations can bring that back into focus. I guess some would call it “recharging your batteries”, that’s to much new-age fruitiness for me, but if it works for you, have at it.

These “realizations” are rarely easy or cheap, but necessary. Sometimes they are affected, or colored, by the places you go. This latest trip was to some fairly remote places with no internet, television, radio, or cell phone service. That wasn’t entirely intentional, just turned out that way. This for a family that’s fairly “plugged-in” much of the time, probably too much of the time. Technology is not the enemy, just another tool. But it wasn’t really missed. I now get the term “blessed silence”, not that we got much of it with two loud kids, but occasionally.

So my vacation story isn’t so much heavy on specifics, but the tagline “Vacations as life changing events” or something like that. Not “I climbed Everest”, or “I hunted in Africa”, not those kind of events. There’s nothing wrong with those kinds of achievements or accomplishments, but I’m thinking something more subtle, yet life changing nonetheless. I guess it all depends on how ready you are for it, where you go, and who you’re with.