Times-Call Guest Opinion, printed Oct. 6, 2009: Deeds are Nothing for Council to Toot Horn About

Forgive me for shedding my rose-colored glasses. Somewhere between having children and paying a mortgage I seem to have misplaced them. You can call me what you will. “Old Guard”, pessimistic, a glass-half-empty sort. I’m actually a pragmatic realist who calls it like she sees it. I’m sorry if that isn’t civil to admit.

I’m afraid the recent guest opinion “Focus on what council has accomplished” has some glaring omissions and some gross misrepresentations of fact. First, I’ll address the majority of council’s (aka The Bloc’s) “accomplishments” as touted by the recent piece and then delve into some “accomplishments” that seem to have been forgotten.

  • Heralding a balanced budget as an accomplishment seems hollow as a balanced budget is required by law. If anyone deserves credit it is our City Staff, which has worked tirelessly trying to balance this budget as the bloc goes back and forth, hemming and hawing over making cuts or inventing fees (which is to say, levying taxes, but in such a manner that skirts a public vote). And frankly, furloughing city workers is probably not a selling-point to those workers. It certainly isn’t to me.
  • Taking credit for Circle Capital’s GE deal is either a gross misrepresentation of truth or a wholly naive understanding of business deals. Did the city offer tax breaks to GE that I am unaware of? I don’t think so, but if they did it was after they signed a lease with Circle Capital. I’m wondering what part of that deal they cut, or are they just taking credit for one of the few bright news items lately?
  • Attempting to take credit for an unfinished agreement with RTD on a deal that increasingly looks to be dying (Longmont’s FasTracks) isn’t exactly a fait accompli. And I think the whole town is pretty well-aware of the roadblocks erected by the bloc for Pannatoni’s mall redevelopment the past couple years.
  • The Shop Local Longmont campaign appears to be a dusted off version of a Chamber campaign from the 80’s. The real problem lies with claiming there are incentives involved. There are no incentives, it is an ad campaign that encourages local shopping. Which would be easier for all of us to do if they’d actually aided a mall redevelopment.
  • Dissolution of the Clover Basin Fire District Tax has not been finalized. Plus, it spreads the cost of the district to the whole city versus the homebuyers in the district who benefit from it and agreed to fund it when they chose to purchase there.

I will grant that some of the accomplishments listed have been attained. More parking spaces on Main. Undeniable. Increased recycling? Yep, good! Coffee with the public? Indeed! (Although whether they are actually considering input from attendees is open to interpretation. But hey, they are helping out local coffee shops on Saturdays, so that’s good.)

And now I am afraid it would be irresponsible not to mention some of the other verifiable “accomplishments” that are oft overlooked by their supporters:

  • Set a record for lawsuits accumulated. Three! Count ‘em, three, folks! Including one that is now a FEDERAL First Amendment case! It’s a hat trick, and I defy any other community’s council around here to boast such a feat.
  • An unprecedented raid of our streets and water funds to acquire open space that the open space fund can’t afford (maintenance fees to be worried about later, evidently).
  • $150k committed to study train noise. Here’s a tip: trains are noisy because they have government mandated safety horns. Saving that $150k on the study could have kept those furloughed workers working (a touted savings of $145k) with five grand to spare! Plus, I will not even charge a dime for that information: more savings!
  • Wasted around $14k on a rodent fence at the airport that was an immediate failure in protecting both aircraft and the federal grant money at stake for maintenance. Added bonus accomplishment? The new fence has increased danger to both aircraft and wildlife by acting as perches for large birds of prey!
  • Refused to fund LAVA in the way voters approved, instead deciding 25% of the money LAVA earned would be better spent in their general fund.
  • Ok’d some chickens in backyards.
  • Studied some traffic.

I respectfully submit the above clarifications to the citizens of Longmont to decide for themselves what the majority of council has accomplished.

About Chris Rodriguez

Chris is the editor/publisher of LightningRod Blog - as well as founder/editor of Wrongmont, Longmont Advocate, Vote!Longmont, Longmont Politics, the LightningRod Radio Network, as well as being the original Longmont Examiner. Chris is a writer and talker - whether it be blogs, podcasts, music, or public speaking. When he's not heard on Air Traffic radio, he can be heard on his podcasts or seen in the local paper causing trouble.
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