Most people in Longmont probably don’t watch city council meetings. The minority that might be interested probably refer to the Times-Call to find out what occurred. I watched the 9/21/10 Longmont City Council meeting live on TV, and the “Fireworks fly as council appropriates 2011 funds” article in the 9/22/10 Times-Call was a little misleading. Specifically what was referred to as a “brief wrangle” at the beginning of the story morphed into a “shouting match” a few paragraphs later.
There was no shouting, but an interesting turn of events and sharp words. It all started with the continuing harassment some members of council engage in toward the Longmont Area Economic Council (LAEC). It’s clear that council members Sean McCoy and Sarah Levison dislike this group and its president, John Cody, and by extension LAEC’s mission of bringing primary employers to this city. Recall Sean McCoy fumbling through President Obama’s inauguration speech, and also recall how well President Obama’s Stimulus has brought about millions of new jobs nationwide, and primary employers right here to Longmont. Sarcasm aside, Sarah Levison said it herself that “things aren’t getting better in Boulder County, no matter how much money we throw at (these anti-poverty programs)“. Better not let El Presidente hear that!
Every year the same council members try to cut LAEC’s funding. Sadly, Councilmember Alex Sammoury may have assumed too much when he said “we all want” primary jobs and retail brought to Longmont. I’m not so sure the “Temporary Three” (McCoy, Levison, and Hansen are up for reelection next year) exactly feel that way. They consistently voted against Twin Peaks Mall, Ms. Levison hasn’t found a garage sale or estate sale (read: death) tax she doesn’t like, they put prairie dogs above humans and businesses, and subscribe to schemes like this “Transition” idea that would just assume we all ride bikes, live in mud huts, and defecate in a hole in the ground. That mentality conflicts with increasing primary jobs and retail growth, so excuse me if I don’t believe they really care about those two items.
But when it comes to suggesting making cuts to any of their favored programs, that’s a different story. That was the setup to the supposed “shouting match”. Councilmember Levison said, in one of her usual long and repetitive diatribes, “There may be people in the community that believe that these funds that we’re setting aside…would be taking something away from human service agencies” and that there was “some negativity in the Mayors comment“. What was Mayor Bryan Baum’s comment? It was a question actually: “So are we taking money from other agencies that we’ve been giving in the community to fund this (anti-poverty program)?” The response was “that’s correct”, to which he responded “okay”. That’s it!
After Ms. Levison “attacked” (your term may vary) that question and response, Mayor Baum questioned the funding of a program that helps a relatively small group of citizens at the cost of several programs benefiting many more citizens. Sounds pretty logical; formulate budget priorities to help more people – not fewer.
In what appeared as staged and preplanned, Sean McCoy went on the attack after Mayor Baum dared to respond to Councilmember Levison. It appeared Sean McCoy wasn’t paying attention to what was going on and Mayor Baum was correct in saying to him that “You need to listen to the conversation” – which brought on Sean McCoy’s schoolyard tactic response of “If you want to go down that path, you and I are going to go down that path.”
In a comical turn, Sean McCoy said “I’m not going to hear you make accusations that are not acceptable to me.” So does that mean he will hear accusations that are acceptable to him? Coherent English might be a second language here, and he’s a teacher?
Is there a civility problem within our local government? Yes, probably, but so what. Those that can’t handle our political process – and I’m sure it was even nastier with our Founding Fathers – should maybe just avoid politics. Contrary to what Councilmember Katie Witt tried to get across, sometimes we can’t “all just get along”. Not when we have elected representatives like Sean McCoy who embody all of the worst aspects of our local angry mob and display it weekly in council meetings. That is, when he’s not stammering over his words and tripping over his obvious hatred for targeted organizations, council members, or citizens.
But there is always hope for more civility on city council. The quickest and most effective way would be for Sean McCoy to resign immediately, unlikely with such a stubborn ideologue. Better yet, Ward 3 voters can solve this in November 2011 and fire him, ending his nightmarish and embarrassing reign on council.