The Longmont Years: 2009-2011 Breaking the Bloc

In this installment, we pick up in early 2009 after apparent local political burnout – or so I thought.  The previous two years were hectic, to say the least.  Output increased in quantity and quality, both in the written and spoken word.  By the end of ’08 I had gone back to one of my first loves: aviation.  But staying away from local politics was apparently not in the cards. Continue reading

The Longmont Years: 2000-2006 Coming to Longmont, and Wrongmont

It’s not with a heavy heart, but actually a quite light and airy one, that we bid adieu to the city we’ve called home for the last 13+ years; Longmont, Colorado.  But fear not, I still have to work there for a few more years, live close enough to be affected by it, and may once in a while throw some tax dollars its way.  Happily I’ll be throwing less toward Boulder County. Continue reading

2009: What a year!

2009 was quite an eventful year for the City of Longmont, regardless of where you stand on the issues.  Obviously, it was better for some than others.  Personally, it was pretty busy but overall pretty satisfying, too.

So lets go through it, month by month: Continue reading

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, Wrongmont signs off

With the recent 2009 Longmont election season coming to an end, so too will Wrongmont.  The point of the site as I said back in late August when I resuscitated it was to be a news and opinion aggregator for all things related to the election.  It served its purpose, and then some.
While the Wrongmont name had been around since 2002 (and basically just morphed into Longmont Advocate in 2008), I had no idea of its impact when I was considering reviving the brand name.  While people made a big fuss about chicken sites with graphic images, and pretenders and copiers made feeble attempts to mirror what I was doing, Wrongmont chugged along putting out on average a story a day.  And unlike typical blog sites, these weren’t just hyperlinks to other articles with a sentence or two of comment.  These were full blown, 700+ word commentaries on candidates and the race.
The attention the site got in this short 2.5 month run was more than all the previous years combined, being commented about on blog sites, newspaper articles and websites, and even mentioned in the Federal lawsuit against the City of Longmont and its Fair Campaign Practices Act.  The traffic numbers, especially in the days before and after Election Day were all time highs.  People were doing searches to find out the issues, and many of them ended up either at Wrongmont, Longmont Advocate, or our voter registration drive site Vote Longmont.  The candidates I went after LOST.  The candidates Vote Longmont endorsed WON.  Doesn’t get much better than that, and as I said, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Of course the outcry and attack on Wrongmont was also at all time highs.  Some people just hate the name and everything they think it stands for.  It was singled out in Open Forum letters in the Times-Call, I was referred to as “Mr. Wrongmont” on a defeated councilmembers campaign website, people made fun of the name.  But what they never got was that I wasn’t running for anything, and they wasted their time on me accordingly.  All they proved was their intolerance for differing opinions, and it sunk them.


Not all the goals of the site were met though:  I wanted voter turnout to go up, it didn’t.  While Longmont did have a higher turnout than Boulder – and that is worth bragging about – it was still only around 40%, some races varied.  It seemed like more people got involved and interested, there were new voices being heard from, not all of them pleasant, but what can you do.


So, Wrongmont again cruises into the sunset.  And like I said when I revived it, never assume I’m ever ashamed of the name or the content.  It has a role, it filled it quite effectively, and I never apologize for being effective.


…until next election, or recall………

It’s Showtime!

I guess I should thank Longmont City Councilman Sean McCoy for directing all of you to my various websites.  Since you’re probably here based on his tirade of September 1, 2009, here is the video and a transcript:

“I want to throw my sincere support towards Richard Judays civility movement.  I’m concerned with the actions of radical, negative bloggers that write on YourHub and call in to the TC Line, fringe groups like LIFT and websites like Wrongmont, and Longmont Advocate, and the Longmont Report.  My concerns are that we’ll never know how these groups and individuals have hurt businesses and financial opportunities for Longmont and her citizens.  We’ll never know the millions of dollars in commercial real estate rentals that must have been lost.  We’ll never know the job growth for Longmont citizens and the home sales that could have happened if these people hadn’t been so negative in their actions.  I urge all of you out there to be productive and civil in this next election cycle and to ignore these radical fringe elements that run down the city council and the city.  Thank you.”

Last year, this same city councilman wondered about the “threshold” to take legal action against a city official, in that case former Firestone Mayor Mike Simone.

I guess we’re about to find out.

Candidates Forum: 3rd Parties

On October 1st, the Times-Call sponsored a Candidate Forum at Longmont High School, it was a fairly interesting night. I assume the televised version won’t quite capture some of the more interesting moments inside and outside of the auditorium, and the sound quality was abysmal throughout.

There’s plenty to talk about when it comes to this event, but the Times-Call has already had some reporting on it, so I’ll shed a different light on it.

Our city’s non-partisan nature when it comes to City Council is a favorite subject of mine, I’ve written about it plenty of times and is a system I agree with. As I was watching and listening to the candidates, I wondered what it would be like to have all politics non-partisan in nature. To take the candidates at face value with no party attached to them and the baggage that includes. If you watch the TV replay of the various debates that occurred that night, think about it how you’d react if either there were no political parties, or if you had no idea which party any of the speakers were members of.

Quite often at these events, the most colorful and entertaining speakers are the third party candidates. This event was no different. Whether I agreed with their platforms or not, I made a point of trying to meet these speakers and tell them good luck and good job on their performance and passion. Names that come to mind from past events like this are Ralph Shnelvar and our own Paul Tiger. This time, speakers of interest were J.A. Calhoun, Bob Kinsey, and Douglas “Dayhorse” Campbell. Their party affiliation? If you need to know, look it up.

I’m no Pollyanna and know parties are probably here to stay, for better or worse. But it was nice to see old time politics, if only in my own mind, probably the way our founding fathers meant it to be, with candidates making their case, sometimes with great emotion and occasionally with humor. In that regard, they were all winners.

So, read up on your candidates and issues, and get out and vote. Like one of the slogans on the back of my old Wrongmont golf shirts said: “A Vote Is a Terrible Thing to Waste.”

Next up, how partisanship shapes our local government.

Disrespect From The Podium

At the July 29th Longmont City Council meeting, the issue of putting Police and Firefighter unionization on the ballot was the hot issue. There’s lots to talk about (and lots of audio to pull from this meeting for my next podcast), but I’ll just hit a couple initially.

I watched the entire thing, there were lots of speakers, from both sides. Before I go much further, I’ll remind people I was one of the PD/FD’s biggest supporters for their 2004 drive. My old Wrongmont link is still on their website to this day. I’ve been a union member in open and closed shops for over 27 years, so save the history lesson and emotional speeches. Now, as they say, with all that being said…

I thought each side made very good points, some spoke better than others. I could almost say I feel strongly both ways on this issue, not something I normally say, and probably won’t advocate either way. Make up your own minds.

But I will say the most compelling and convincing presentation was by Police Chief Mike Butler. It was mostly for nothing as it appeared those that voted in favor of the union had made up their minds long before he made his statements. But there was one speaker for the union side who got my attention the most, FOP President Stephen Shulz. He spoke fairly eloquently and had a good command of his organizations positions. But he blew it at one point, to me anyway, with his obvious lack of respect for an elected official, Councilmember Gabe Santos.

The question was asked why now, why again, after the union vote defeat in 2004. Mr. Shulz brought up Mr. Santos’ defeat in the November election, why did/should he run again? There are so many differences in these two scenarios, not to mention the total unprofessional behavior of a city employee towards a city policy maker. First off, Mr. Santos lost by a 46% to 41% margin, not a majority win by Sarah Levison. The unionization vote of 2004 lost by a 55% to 44% margin, much to my chagrin. Not a landslide, but a fairly clear majority.

Secondly, what did Mr. Santos’ two campaigns cost the city? Candidates self fund their campaigns, either from their own accounts or from contributors. In both elections, the city had to fill vacant positions, it wasn’t optional. In the union’s case, they will be the only Longmont related issue on the ballot (said at the City Council meeting), it is optional, and will cost the city about $75,000. I don’t recall Mr. Santos’, or any candidate, demanding not only to be put on the ballot, but also have the city pick up the tab. But that’s what the FOP is asking for. I probably wouldn’t have brought that up, except for this unnecessary cheap shot during the council meeting.

It showed an arrogance, and an impression that the needed four votes were in the bag. Along those same lines, some councilmembers felt outraged that the opinion was floated that they were “bought off” for this vote, but I’ll save that for another time.

For now, someone needs to explain that if the FOP is willing to show that kind of attitude BEFORE there even is a bargaining contract, BEFORE the voters even have a say, why would any reasonable person believe that they won’t be even worse in negotiations IF/WHEN they achieve collective bargaining? I don’t like painting the FOP with this broad brush, and think they have some valid points, but Mr. Shulz repeatedly said he spoke for the FOP. Regardless if they won tonight, this behavior won’t score well with the voters.

Vote! Longmont


I’ve been a follower of politics since I was a teenager subscribing to Time Magazine. I was usually pretty good at picking winners of elections; I’d just follow trends, do a lot of reading, and follow my gut. Over the years I’ve made a hobby of picking presidential elections, getting better each time with 2004 topping out at correctly picking every state except one, Wisconsin, which was pretty close.

Apparently my interest in this stuff is not the norm based on low voter registration rates and turnouts come election time. Ever since starting up my Wrongmont rantings, an ongoing theme has been to hold elected officials accountable, and one great way is to vote them IN to office, or vote them OUT.

At times it appears interest is on the rise based on more people showing up at City Council meetings, petition drives, and activist groups. But the steady decline in voter activity has continued. I figured talk with calls to action wasn’t enough, so I took the next step and got certified as a Voter Registration Drive by the Colorado Secretary of State. You need this certification to collect voter registration forms, try it without this, it’s all bad.

I also built a website with links and phone numbers to make it as easy as possible for people to find out their registration status and fix it if need be. My wife Brigette has also gotten us a choice location at Longmont’s Rhythm On The River event this summer. We’re looking at other venues to set up a table and get people registered.

Within a day of making the front page with our smiling faces on the Times-Call, we started getting emails and phone calls. My wife helped get info to an 18 year old working a McDonalds drive-thru window who was registering for the first time in his life. I spoke to a 90 year old gentleman who called our home. He had just moved and was unsure of his registration status, so my wife mailed him a form, some instructions, and a self-addressed stamped envelope with the Boulder County Clerks address on the front.

Since then we’ve received emails and calls from people who may think WE are the Boulder County Clerk, not this self-funded little operation. One in particular saw our story but had no internet capabilities, so I just gave her the direct number to the county clerk. It’s been fun so far and we’ve only just begun which we hope will turn in to more voter registrations, and come election time it’ll turn into higher voter interest, and more importantly, TURNOUT.

Farewell To Wrongmont

4/1/08 – As of today, I’m ending Wrongmont.

It’s far from an end though, in many ways it’s a beginning, and quite a beginning on the horizon.

As some of you may have seen, I recently started a Voter Registration Drive effort called Vote Longmont. It came from my years of trying to get people to pay more attention to their local community and government. So it was one offshoot of Wrongmont, and I think an important one. It will take up a fair amount of my time and money, but hopefully it will be worth it in higher registrations and turnout.

I’ve also been invited to join a fairly large media operation to write on subjects having to do with Longmont. It pays, not enough to be a second job, but I’m flattered to be considered. Prior to this offer, I had already been working on a much larger project than Wrongmont in scope and reach. The timing of this is total coincidence, but you know what they say about coincidences.

I’m well aware of the perceived connotations to the name “Wrongmont”, and that is partly the reason for the change, but not totally. After people read my stuff or got to know me, both online and personally, they got to see that I was actually a Longmont supporter and booster. Even friends who would agree with what I was saying, still after all these years, didn’t really care for the name. And those that didn’t know me, it maybe left a bad first impression. I thought it was snappy, a little sarcastic and witty (like myself), and easy to remember and type into a browser.

But I also knew there were limitations with the name, and what people thought it meant. I don’t like limitations, especially self inflicted ones.

Without giving too much away, I’m hoping my new project will interest people in wanting to participate. I will cover a wide variety of issues and topics and welcome outside submissions, as long as its Longmont related as much as possible. One example is I will showcase local talent, and I already have at least one band interested in taking part.

Local politics will still remain a large part of what is covered, but will be done in a much more interesting and entertaining way, at least that’s the goal. The rest, you’ll just have to wait. But whatever it is, and to whomever wants to take part, it will reach a larger audience than any other avenue I’ve used prior – combined. A hint: The Yellow Scene once said of me ” By founding Wrongmont.com, Rodriguez became one of EastCounty‘s early independent publishers.” The plan is to eclipse that. I’m not interested in standing still, no matter how comfortable it may be.

What’s ahead is daunting and challenging, mainly because I’m not willing to do things half-a, well you know. And if it just doesn’t work out, well, I guess you could consider this an April Fools joke.

While the name may change, the promise I made to myself and to my friend, the late Jeff Sands, remains.

(Illegal) signs of desperation?

A couple of weeks ago I was going to write a piece about the lack of candidate signs around town. Since then I’ve seen some sprouting up. Anyone else notice these signs in places you don’t normally see these placed? Like in railroad track right-of-ways, landscaped areas not in front of homes, or greenways in front of businesses. In other words, places you wouldn’t or couldn’t ask the property owners permission. You can read the ordinance yourself at http://www.ci.longmont.co.us/code_enf/ord/political_signs.htm. Longmont’s Code Enforcement Division is supposed to enforce this. It appears either they are choosing not to, or they are making a half-hearted attempt to remove some signs, only to have other improperly placed signs replace them.

I can only report what I see with my own eyes, and all of these signs so far are Richard Juday signs. Knowing this statement will elicit cries from his supporters of ” attack” or ” partisanship” (in a non-partisan election), let me educate some of them with a little flash from the past.

Excerpts from the October 2004 edition of The Yellow Scene (used with permission) “…Longmont’s city council are bending rules of their own to sway votes on November’s municipal ballot issue…we agree with Chris Rodriguez, webmaster of www.wrongmont.com who noted that Pirnack’s letter in the September (2004) issue of CityLine crosses the line… CityLine is the city’s monthly newsletter included with residents’ utility bills…However, Mayor Pirnack used it to urge citizens to vote for FastTracks and against Ballot Question 2A, the proposed police and fire collective bargaining agreement. Rodriguez claims this letter breaks the Fair Campaign Practices Act which is part of our state constitution. That law states: No…council of the state or any political subdivision thereof shall…expend any public moneys from any source, or make any contributions, to urge electors to vote in favor of or against any: (A) State-wide ballot issue.. (B) Local ballot issue…The point is that if city council wants to campaign, they can do so on their own time and money. For public officials, spending taxpayer dollars to advocate a political position is against the law – even if they think it shouldn’t be.”

Pretty strong charges against our then Mayor and council, you know, the ones Mr. Juday’s supporters demanded had to go? So allow me to be ” equal opportunity” in calling bullflop on questionable campaign practices: Whoever is placing these Juday signs are knowingly or unknowingly placing them against city ordinance. I’m going with the former, as some are so blatantly displayed in places anyone used to seeing these signs can figure out they’re placed questionably.

Many have been up for over a week, and more keep getting erected. Are we to believe Mr. Juday or his supporters haven’t seen these (we’re talking major streets here) or aren’t aware of them? They are either aware of them, don’t live in Longmont, or are not very observant people. Let this get your attention: Each one is a separate violation for each day it stands. And the results of the election, win or lose, don’t change that.

Others have pointed out questionable financial disclosures in Mr. Juday’s filed campaign reports (not responded to), and his broken pledge not to accept monetary contributions (not responded to). Add these signs to the list. If someone can’t win honestly, not only do they deserve to lose, they don’t deserve to run.