On the Tuesday December 20, 2011 Longmont City Council meeting agenda, there is a request from El Comite for $6,900 from the Council Contingency Fund. This fund currently has a balance of $26,982, El Comite is asking for a quarter of it. City Council should deny this request and end the ongoing subsidies to this and all political organizations.
If you’re looking for a history of this group El Comite and what they do, go to their website where they state that they are “a grassroots organization dedicated to providing advocacy and social services for Latinos. We provide a variety of ongoing services through paid office personnel and a network of volunteers.”
Other opinions of them are that they have a political wing that gets involved in elections and candidates campaigns – especially the recent election with their President Bob Norris strongly advocating for now Mayor Dennis Coombs. I will remind readers that when Mr. Coombs announced his candidacy his main reason was because of the Dream Act – where “qualifying undocumented (or illegal, depending on your point of view) youth would be eligible for a 6 year long conditional path to citizenship that requires completion of a college degree or two years of military service.” (Source dreamact.info). Obviously, El Comite was and is strongly in favor of the Dream Act and marched numerous people to the City Council podium about this issue.
Helping out Latino/Hispanics and their support for federal programs is not the issue, whether you agree with them or not. The issue is taxpayer dollars going towards political organizations, or organizations that have political elements within them. Not only is El Comite asking for almost $7,000 for renovations, but they reside in a city building (455 Kimbark) that was donated to them and they have been paying nothing for utilities. So this isn’t just a one time request for some assistance, it’s been ongoing for several years.
If you read the letter to the city from El Comite about their requests (or demands depending on your point of view), you’ll see they’ve already used up the time of the City Manager, Code Enforcement, and other city employees to formulate this request. Here’s a list of what they want your money for: carpeting including pad, linoleum or tile, partitioning materials, paint, ceiling insulation and tiles (for sound proofing), windows, a toilet, duct cleaning, and POD rental.
Depending on an estimate of what that building would fetch on the open market (and go into the city’s coffers) and the ongoing utility expenses over the term El Comite has been in this building, it’s probably safe to estimate they’ve been the beneficiary of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Longmont taxpayer dollars. And in the City of Longmont 2012 Budget they are given another $15,000. Yet it isn’t enough and they want more?
Longmont City Council should not only say NO to this request, but have El Comite find a way through other grants to pay their utilities and look for a non-city/taxpayer funded building to provide their services from. Doing this may make some, or most, councilmembers uncomfortable, but I personally have no time for excuses when it comes to pandering. They may point out that this is a city building and should be maintained. This is correct, it is and should once again be a city maintained building – for the use of the city or sold on the open market if the city doesn’t need it anymore.
It’s your tax dollars. Hasn’t enough already been spent on this organization? The only way your council members will know is if you tell them.