The Longmont Years: 2007-2008 YourHub, LifeBridge, The Bloc, Longmont Advocate, Vote!Longmont, and podcasting

In the previous post, I talked about how we came to end up in Longmont and the beginnings of my (and our, including my wife) various activities there, specifically in the political arena.  This next section only covers 2 years, but insanely busy and active years they were, read on… Continue reading

Percy Allen Conarroe, March 3, 1927 – June 15, 2013

percyIt was an honor and privilege to call Percy Conarroe a friend and confidant.  If you’ve read this website or its earlier versions you saw that he was a contributor of great value.  He passed away recently at the age of 86.  In true Percy fashion, he didn’t want flowers but instead requested that you write a letter to the editor about something you care about.  I’ve tired of the local paper turning down my opinion pieces while they let far worse through, so being the editor of this website I’ll write here about something I care about – or in this case someone I cared about, Percy Conarroe. Continue reading

Community comes before party in local elections

(As printed in the 10/13/11 Times Call Opinion Section)

Re-elect Mayor Baum; challenger not ready to lead

I usually don’t pay attention to local political party affiliation. Until Election Eve 2009, when a former Longmont Area Democrat president created a blog titled Common Ground. In it, he wrote that regardless of his own partisan bias that “community comes before party affiliation.” Continue reading

Trio of Longmont councilmembers don’t deserve re-election

(An edited version of the below was printed in the Times Call “Voices of St. Vrain” Opinion section on 10/7/11)

Our election is less than a month away and there are three council members up for re-election who no longer deserve to represent us because they have made their personal and partisan politics too much of how they govern Longmont. Continue reading

Reveal lawsuits’ cost (Times Call letter to the editor – published 9/8/09)

It’s time for the City of Longmont to tell it’s residents the running total for costs involved in the ongoing lawsuits and appeals with the town of Firestone over the LifeBridge Union annexation, including the monthly cost for the attorneys in this particular case. We’ve heard a lot about the open space involved and how we need to keep Longmont a “free-standing” community. But, this is an election issue.

City council members who are up for re-election have taken public positions on this as have candidates who are running. Councilmembers Karen Benker and Roger Lange, as well as candidate Kaye Fissinger have stated publicly that they support the city continuing the lawsuits. Councilmember Gabe Santos has asked during a council meeting that it be dropped, and candidate Katie Witt has stated publicly that it also be dropped. Because the legal aspects of this issue have been discussed behind closed doors, the voting public deserves to know the amount that this is costing the taxpayers of Longmont in order to make an informed decision this November and properly weigh whether a candidates postion is valid based on the pros and cons of this important campaign issue.

Promote transparency and allow the voters to make an informed decision, including what voting for a candidate and his/her position on this means and the cost or benefit to them. Anything less is a disservice to the voters of Longmont and they deserve to know the facts.

Brigette Rodriguez
Coordinator, Vote! Longmont

Related:

Longmont Citizens against throwing our money down the toilet: Longmont residents begin online petition regarding Lawsuit against Firestone annexations

Times Call online poll results regarding the lawsuit against the Firestone annexations

Primer for upcoming Longmont elections

I get asked all the time things like “how do we get rid of these losers“? and “I want to recall councilmember X“, and “when’s the next chance to vote them all out“? So, in an ongoing series I’ll try to break down the current makeup of Longmont City Council and who’s up for re-election and who’s not. The recall issue, that’s a little more complicated, but I’ll get to that later.

First off, Longmont has 7 councilmembers including a Mayor. 4 are “at-large“, including the Mayor, which means everyone in the city gets to vote for those seats. 3 seats are for the 3 particular wards in Longmont. Only people who live in each ward can vote for that wards candidates. Here’s a map of the wards:

If that image is a little blurry, check out this link from the city’s website.

The current races that will be on this November’s ballot are for Mayor, Ward 2, and 2 At-Large seats. Here are the candidates, listed in order of their announcements (from our Vote! Longmont page)

Mayor
Roger Lange (incumbent) (Times-Call announcement)
Dan Benavidez (Times-Call announcement)

Ward 2
Katie Witt (Times-Call announcement)
Karen Benker (incumbent) (Times-Call announcement)

At-Large (2 positions)
Gabe Santos (incumbent) (Times-Call announcement)
Alex Sammoury (Times-Call announcement)
Kaye Fissinger (Times-Call announcement)
Jonathan Singer (Times-Call announcement)
Bryan Boothby (Times-Call announcement)
Bill Van Dusen (Times-Call announcement)

As you can see, 3 of the current councilmembers are not up for re-election, that will occur in 2 years. They are:
Ward 1 – Brian Hansen
Ward 3 – Sean McCoy
At-Large – Sarah Levison
But recall is always an option. Personally the way I feel about recalls is this: if people are stupid enough to vote these people in, well, they get what they deserve. Also, recalls are expensive. I’ve been told that to get something like this on the ballot it would cost around $75,000. That could turn out to be double that if the recall is successful and another special election is needed to fill the seat.

With all that being said, sometimes it’s cheaper on the city as a whole to get rid of a problem than to leave it in place. A good example is the ongoing very expensive litigation with Firestone, which is being allowed to continue and progress by Lange, Benker, McCoy, Levison, and Hansen. Lange and Benker will have their fate decided by the voters in November, but the other three will still be around. Might be cheaper in the long run to get rid of 1, 2, or all 3 of them to change the course of this sinking ship.

Of course it would be insane to consider putting into office any candidate who favors the continued wasting of money. Kaye Fissinger has made it more than clear she intends to continue down this road. I’d like to hear the other candidates stance on this, and will post it here. Obviously, based on his motion to end the Firestone litigation, Gabe Santos wants this all to end. Ward 2 candidate Katie Witt has expressed her disapproval of these endless lawsuits and appeals in the Times-Call and her blog. And unless Mayor Lange changes course soon (like yesterday) this issue could doom his candidacy and continuation of his role as Mayor.

Endorsements? Like I said before, an endorsement from me might be the kiss of death for some candidates, but after we get the final list of candidates (around August 24th) I might make some suggestions, and maybe even predictions later on.

Longmont City Council: Vote! Longmont at public invited to be heard

(Public invited to be heard 3/24/09)
-Edited for print version appeared in Times Call opinion section on 3/31/09

Mayor Lange and members of council, I’m here on behalf of our non-partisan organization Vote Longmont, to voice concern over the upcoming local elections this November.

While it may be only March, ordinances and committee selections are being made that could affect this election. An Election Task Force was formed in response to the election of Councilmember Santos due to a large group contribution to his campaign. Other groups and organizations have shown similiar support for current and past council members, so this was not unique to Councilmember Santos. Considering that, I appreciate his cooperation and participation in the task force.

Attempts have been made to limit the rights of citizens in this community both by some members of this council as well as public speakers who frequently show up to speak of or post online insidious statements that the upcoming election will be bought by groups backed by big money.

Now that the campaign finance reform ordinance was passed, albeit with some last minute amendments, the upcoming selections of the Election Committee is something all concerned citizens should be watching closely. Council members and applicants need to follow the rules of the application process. The application process is open and the requirements and dates are posted on the city website. There should be no last minute rush of post deadline applicants, like that of previous board selections…some of which were for boards that had already received qualified applicants.

I encourage the general public to watch the selection process very closely as a little over half of this council up for re-election. Citizens should keep an eye on cronyism, voting blocs, and possible conflicts of interest. If this process is not done correctly, this Election Committee could become a kangaroo court with subpoena power targeting its political enemies.
Please remember that this election is supposed to be non-partisan, and for the sake of transparency, council should be reminded of that when selecting members for the commission that fairness be given to all applicants.

October Surprises


With the increasing popularity of mail-in and early voting, the prospects of “October surprises”, or at least the effectiveness of them, decreases. George Will wrote about this recently http://www.newsweek.com/id/161202 and his apparent problem with early voting. I disagree.

Everyone should vote, of course the problem of every vote being legitimate is a problem with organizations like ACORN around, and the people who support them, like Barack Obama and the congressmen who put in the recent bailout language a provision to divvy up profits towards groups like, and possibly including, ACORN. Gladly, that language has been removed, but who inserted it? And who demanded it be stripped out? Possible Surprise #1.

But back to the point, no one wants to be standing in a long line for hours on Election Day, watching the magic hour of 7pm creeping closer and closer and voters left wondering if they’ll be able to vote at all. With way too many amendments here in Colorado, the wait could be long unless people do some serious studying ahead of time. Or, people will just not even bother to vote on these amendments. What a waste of time and effort for the people who brought these issues to the ballot.

So with incentives galore, many people will probably opt for early voting (info at our Vote! Longmont site), so those October “surprisers” need to get to work early. What could be looming on the very short horizon? A few possibilities, and surprises usually work against the guy people know the least about, in this case Obama. John McCain’s been around a while, a fact his detractors chortle with glee about as they point out his age. But with that comes familiarity, not a whole lot of surprises are possible or probable when it comes to this candidate.

But with Obama, the questions just don’t go away, regardless of his “Fight The Smears” campaign. First, there’s the ACORN and bailout connection above, then the story about his convicted felon buddy Tony Rezko apparently tiring of prison and may want to sing like jailbirds often do to cut a deal. Next up, Obama’s “truth squad” in Missouri being called out for what they are by Governor Matt Blunt. If you missed it, here it is:

“St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouri campaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.

“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.

“This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson’s thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights. The only conceivable purpose of Messrs. McCulloch, Obama and the others is to frighten people away from expressing themselves, to chill free and open debate, to suppress support and donations to conservative organizations targeted by this anti-civil rights, to strangle criticism of Mr. Obama, to suppress ads about his support of higher taxes, and to choke out criticism on television, radio, the Internet, blogs, e-mail and daily conversation about the election.

“Barack Obama needs to grow up. Leftist blogs and others in the press constantly say false things about me and my family. Usually, we ignore false and scurrilous accusations because the purveyors have no credibility. When necessary, we refute them. Enlisting Missouri law enforcement to intimidate people and kill free debate is reminiscent of the Sedition Acts – not a free society.”

Pretty harsh, and not from a commentator, pundit, or partisan blogger. Next up is a story circulating about the Jopek family asking Obama to no longer wear the bracelet he mentioned at the recent debate. They made this request last March! First he made a smarmy glance towards McCain after saying “I got one, too”, and then couldn’t remember the Sergeants name.

Lastly, I cant believe we’ve heard the last of his ties to unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, and Obama’s connection to the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debacle, you know, the underlying reason we find ourselves in the mess we’re in requiring this bailout?

These are all very serious issues and not likely to go away after the election, regardless of its outcome. By all rights, Obama should be 20+ points ahead of McCain in an election year that should heavily favor the Democrats, especially facing a party that’s been in office for 8 years. It’s fairly normal over our course of elections to have this pendulum swing in such situations. The only recent example when it didn’t happen was 1988, when Bush Sr. took over for Reagan – but it was just delayed 4 years. Then again, look who the Democrats put up against Bush, Dukakis for crying out loud. Even Dan Quayle couldn’t lose that election for Bush.

So why isn’t Obama way ahead when he should be? All of those questions above, and the general questions “Who is this guy? Why should I just take it on faith he’ll do alright while he’s receiving on-the-job training?” Wasn’t that Hillary Clinton who asked that second question?

For Obama to win, he needs to hit it out of the park repeatedly over the next couple of weeks, make no mistakes, and pray not a single one of the above issues get any legs in the press for any amount of time. In other words, hide, lie, and cover up your true self, or else people wont elect you, no matter how many hundreds of millions you raise and spend. What a great campaign strategy!

I Love A Parade


Our Vote! Longmont organization was in the August 2nd Boulder County Fair Parade. We also received a trophy for 2nd Place in the “Organizational” category! (8/5/08 Times-Call Pg A-3)

Was it the theme? The parade theme was “Back to our Roots”. As we passed the judges desk, the announcer introduced us: “Vote! Longmont encourages Longmont residents to register and vote in all elections, especially at the local level. VOTING IS THE ROOT OF DEMOCRACY. Be informed..get involved..VOTE! LONGMONT

Was it the music? We had a medley of songs playing, pumping out of my PA system. We started it off at a fairly low volume, but people kept yelling to turn it up. We HATE quiet parades. We were wedged between a couple trucks with big engines, so the high volume was a good counterbalance. We had people along the route dancing and singing along. At a couple points the PA system tripped a circuit breaker. Yep, it was loud.

Was it the mascot? We had our basset hound as our official Vote! LongmontAm-basset-doorbarking and howling out the passenger window.

Was it the float design? We had our banner on the front. We had our voting booth in the back. We had red, white, and blue “fringes” along the sides – considering the (supposedly) Lunatic, Disconnected, and Fanatical Fringe were there as part of our entry.

Was it the free stuff? The entire route, Brigette was handing out hundreds of pieces of candy (red/white/blue saltwater taffy), bookmarks (also known as “garbage” to Longmont Councilmember Sean McCoy), and election and registration information. She also gave these to the judges, couldn’t hurt. Keep in mind this was a hot day on blacktop.


A funny side note: in the staging area we were right next to the Boulder County Democratic Party entry (see picture of the Obama Boat). More than once we were confused as being the lead for their procession, by citizens, elected officials, and candidates alike. Everyone that came up to us were friendly, even after they figured out who we were, or weren’t. One in particular was U.S. Congressional candidate Jared Polis. We had a friendly chat, talked about his ads on our Vote! Longmont site, which he was aware of and thanked us for. He was also aware we probably wouldn’t be voting for him (most of Longmont isn’t in the district he’s running for).

So, it was a fun time, a nice surprise to actually win a trophy, and best of all, the organizers already called us hoping we’ll return next year!

“Phony Patriotism”

Just when you thought it couldn’t get much more pathetic, Longmont politics hit an all time low recently. And who would be leading that charge, Councilman Sean McCoy, of course. You weren’t expecting anyone else, were you?

At the July 15th Longmont City Council Meeting, my wife got up to speak at Public Invited To Be Heard. She spoke about our organization Vote! Longmont and all the work she put into setting up for Rhythm on the River. It was substantial, trust me. She created a voting booth out of a recycled refrigerator box obtained from a local business. She coordinated our location at the event. She arranged my John Adams costume. She worked long hours making hundreds of bookmarks with our site name on one side, and fun election links for kids on the other. She made up copies of literature about election and registration deadlines, current school board issues, info on local businesses to encourage local shopping, and the “meet your council member” fliers. There was NO partisan literature, unless you consider a book by the League of Women Voters and a copy of the U.S.Constitution by the Cato Institute overtly partisan.

I could care less what a classless buffoon says or thinks about me. I deal with them all the time, no sweat off my back. But Mr. McCoy took it beyond just me with the following: He came up to our booth, and as I saw him formulating his zinger, I put out a hand and offered him one of our Vote! Longmont bookmarks. He said ” I wouldn’t take any of your garbage” and quickly walked away. My 12 year old son was sitting right next to me, actually closer to where Mr. McCoy was when he said this. He insulted all the work my wife put in to this project (we are a team) and showed no respect for the fact that my minor son was right there.

I mostly laughed it off, but my family was furious. As much as I tried to talk my wife out of it, she dealt it out to Mr. McCoy to the point where he responded immediately, something you don’t often see at council meetings. Here were his pearls of wisdom:

Well, I’m just gonna address that real quickly and the issue was is that it wasn’t just all that, so folks out there the public understand. It was also a blog from a cons..uhh cards from her husbands conservative blog that was uh being handed out there too. And uh a lot of other things. And what we don’t know is uh what was actually said to every one of those parents about what uh each of us as councilmembers stand for in her husband’s perspective. So, I would just like that to go on the record as well.”

Some people just don’t know when to stop when they’re way behind. Notice he didn’t deny saying it, again, in front of our son? But let’s go through the myths and lies one at a time:

MYTH/LIE #1: My cards weren’t being handed out. My cards were off to the side and were only handed out or even mentioned if someone asked. It wasn’t our main focus. He wasn’t standing in front of those cards anyway.

MYTH/LIE #2:Conservative” blog. I cover Longmont issues. Last I checked city council is supposed to be non-partisan, we shouldn’t even know their party affiliation. Apparently, Mr. McCoy showed his poorly played hand here with his obvious disdain for ” conservatives“. I’ll remind people that this very issue is being taken on by the Election Reform Committee. I don’t care how people label me as I’ve been called a right and left wing whack job. But recently, I’ve been told I wasn’t a conservative, by a couple of non-conservatives! Nice try.

Also, our Vote Longmont website rotates ads from both parties. Quite often, a Jared Polis ad appears, is he a conservative? (Answer: no)

MYTH/LIE #3:And a lot of other things“, yes, those other things were the above mentioned not even close to partisan literature, including info on Mr. McCoy’s current council.

MYTH/LIE #4:Speculation and assumptions of what we were telling parents who came up to us. You know, I’m called a lot of things, stupid isn’t usually one of them. It would be public suicide for me to show a lick of partisanship in a large visibility venue like this with this voter registration drive. I would be taken to task for time immemorial. Not to mention we were told by the organizers that we couldn’t be partisan anyway. So is Mr. McCoy alleging we broke the rules of Rhythm On The River based on a guess? A totally unfounded accusation.

Hate to burst any councilmembers egos, but people don’t know who you are for the most part. What some know, they hear or read from the Times-Call (if they receive it) and bloggers like me. Mr. McCoy intimated I slandered him or others on council. Again, a guess. And an untrue one. Like I’m going to have THEIR “meet your councilmembers” literature and rip on them IN FRONT OF KIDS! Who would do such a thing in front of kids? Oops, well, I wouldn’t.

We’ve been on the front page of the Times-Call with this voter registration drive saying we would register anyone, party doesn’t matter. So he’s calling us liars there, too. When kids asked how they should vote, we never steered them in any direction. We had no partisan literature. I was in costume as a President whose party was neither Republican nor Democratic.

Here’s the best part and further proof of his complete lack of any foundation for his ridiculous comments: Yes, we registered several voters – NONE REGISTERED REPUBLICAN! Woops, there goes that partisan idea. And that mock election we had? We had 172 votes, OBAMA WON BY A 2-1 MARGIN!Woops, there goes another preconceived notion. We even posted the results on our website that night! If my ” perspective” was on display that day, I must not very convincing and his anti-conservative (apparently) leanings have nothing to worry about.

Later on, Mr. McCoy hinted our organization was not ” legitimate“.This borders on slander. I’ll remind him we were certified by the Colorado Secretary of State. We could, by the way, be as partisan as we like, many voter registration drives are, we chose not to be. But how are we any less legitimate than any other group in attendance at this event?

He then, as an ” educator“, asked the City Manager to look into not allowing groups like ours to ever return to a city sponsored event. But since he brought this up, there was a group that was roaming the event with clipboards trying to register voters, and they were overtly partisan. They had no booth and probably were not registered with the event organizers. Were they a “legitimate” voter registration drive? I’m sure Mr. McCoy will dig deep into this.

At this point I’d like to thank the City of Longmont for sponsoring this event and assigning us a great location, too! We were asked to be located there and provide an activity for the area.

Then as if right on cue the near weekly name-calling commenced, this time he accused us of ” phony patriotism“. Very nice. People in Ward 3 should really be proud.

One of his fawning apologists said to Mr. McCoy that the ” politics of personal destruction” are here in Longmont, or some laughable nonsense. But in a way she was right, for once, perhaps it is. In the person of Mr. McCoy and his ilk in this city.

Lastly, Mr. McCoy tried to deflect the blame for the mere mention of the poor returns of the City Survey. Take a look at your words and actions, Mr. McCoy, and you’ll find part of the reason. We respect the members of council and the time they put in. I’ve even complimented Mr. McCoy from time to time on my podcast. But I will call officials out and hold them accountable as I always have. Mr. McCoy words and actions disgrace the office he was elected to.