Longmont: Take The Deal

OPEN LETTER TO MAYOR LANGE AND LONGMONT CITY COUNCIL

For the record, I have no stake whatsoever in the following. I am not a landowner near this property, I am not a member of Lifebridge, nor do I speak for them or have ever been asked to. The proposal by Firestone’s Mayor Chad Auer in reference to Lifebridge Christian Church’s properties should be seriously considered and accepted without delay.

We’ve all been entertained by the antics for the last few months by some of your ” surrogate agitators and aggressors“, but the time for stalling and playing games is over. You have a decision to make and you can’t procrastinate any longer. This is what you were elected to do; take input and make policy. This deal is probably the absolute best you’re going to get; to pass on it would be foolish.

Six of the current seven councilmembers were involved in the recent elections of November and January. When you consider what “majority” you think you’re representing, keep in mind only three of you actually won with a majority ( Lange, McCoy, and Santos), one of you lost by a majority ( Benker in the mayors race) and the other two got in with less than a majority ( Hansen and Levison). Your decision, one way or the other, will bring out some citizens with pitchforks, figuratively, and you need to figure out which ones you’re willing to anger. Whatever political future you think you might have hangs in the balance, because this decision will affect Longmont for decades.

Personally, I think the landowners are giving away too much in this deal. They’ve been the target of slanderous and libelous attacks by some mouthpieces of certain councilmembers. These councilmembers and their attack dogs should be nervous about the recent Open Records request. There are limits to freedom of speech, and I’m willing to bet there are some shady backroom conversations certain people and councilmembers would rather keep out of the public eye. It’s probably too late for that, and I believe that if Longmont doesn’t take this deal, this so-called ” massive” open records request will be followed by a ” massive” lawsuit that Longmont can not afford, and will ultimately lose. In that scenario, all of us taxpayers are the losers.

The anti-annexation crowd didn’t want Lifebridge annexed into Longmont, this offer addresses that, and this group gets their wish. Longmont officials wanted a buffer; this offer addresses that as well. The only hitch is that Longmont has to come up with the money to buy this land as open space. None of you thought this would come for free, did you? This is prime real estate on Hwy 119, another reason I believe the landowners are giving away too much in this deal.

Longmont isn’t and hasn’t been dealing from a position of strength. It really doesn’t hold any cards and stand to lose much. The cute game of de-annexing and re-annexing, including certain roads with the goal of cutting off access to the landowners’ property, was a dirty trick and will cost the city at the county, state, and court levels if you allow this charade to continue. As strategies go, that was a bad move, and now it’s just about checkmate.

We all know some of you ran on, and had the backing of the anti-annexation movement. It’s become clearly evident that they were never just “anti-annexation” or looking out for what was “in it” for Longmont. They’ve followed and harassed the landowners from one city to another, then on to the county level, and have included in their attacks members of a church that has been part of this community for a century. This group has made it clear this church is no longer welcomed here, and the silence by some on council on this attack is tantamount to approval of this despicable behavior. Behavior, that by and large is by only a handful of people, and a small minority who signed the petition (which less than half voted for the anti-annexation candidate in January), yet council gives them the illusion that they are an actual majority of Longmont citizens, which they don’t come close to actually being.

My guess is that your attorneys and staff will suggest you accept this offer, regardless if you can afford the land in question or not. The impending lawsuit could be much more expensive in the long run, with no open space to show for it in the end, unlike with this offer. Some of you need to publicly divorce and disassociate yourselves with the vocal minority who has brought Longmont to this sad and unfortunate position. And do it quickly, you’ve stalled enough.

Cordially,
Chris Rodriguez

Can of Worms

At the April 29, 2008 Longmont City Council meeting, at the late, nearly eleven o’clock hour, something interesting happened. Quite often, the most interesting things happen during “Council Comments” at the end of every meeting, it’s worth Tivo’ing.

In the Times-Call of the same date, there was a story about Lifebridge Church. It, according to the paper, ” submitted amassive open records request to the city, asking for public documents spanning 20 years.” So it sounds as if the attorneys of Lifebridge delivered a mountain of paper (massive) for this request! Oh, the tree’s who paid with their lives, er, leaves. I’m sure it was meant that the result of this request will be ” massive“.

At the City Council meeting, Councilmember Karen Benker asked City Attorney Clay Douglas about this and it turned into a fairly long discussion covering emails, phone calls, and the recording and reporting of these. Some of you may not have been aware, but every correspondence you send to city council, and presumably city staff, is of the open record variety. And, when councilmembers receive these, they are to forward them on to city staff for retention.

I got the strong impression this hasn’t been followed by some on council. And there seemed to be concern about “personal” emails, and when items are confidential and when they aren’t. It sounds like very little is private when it comes to just about any correspondence between constituents and their city council members. If the constituent states that it is confidential, there could be some coverage there. But it doesn’t go the other way, that is, from the councilmember to the constituent, according to Mr. Douglas.

Apparently, the proper way for a councilmember to respond to an email is for them to CC the reply to the appropriate city staff email address so they get a copy of the original email and the response. I guess if they don’t reply, they should just forward the email on, but that wasn’t made clear. And it was also implied that if the councilmember replies and forwards the reply on, it must include the original email from the constituent or the Open Records Act was not properly followed.

I email councilmembers from time to time, and not to “fish” for a violation of this act, but for valid questions. I’m sure some of you do as well. Just for fun, in your replies from council, check the “From” area to see if anyone is in the CC list. It’s possible it was a blind CC, but why would a councilmember want to hide the fact they followed procedure, and the law for that matter?

The question of recording telephone conversations came up, and Mr. Douglas said ” any communication“, which might be construed as including telephone calls. But something else he said here got my attention: ” A telephone conversation among councilmembers if it involves the requisite three members or majority can become an open meeting, and affording the public access to that can pose its own challenges.” Catch that?

To me, that says if there is a conference call between 3 or more members, that we the public can and should have access to that conversation. My question is does that apply to emails sent between councilmembers to more than one other councilmember? And, how about get-togethers outside of council meetings that include 3 or more councilmembers? Especially if they discuss city business?

This could get interesting, and I doubt Lifebridge was aware of what that request has and could evolve in to. I’ve done requests of city records before, usually airport related issues, and have always found the City Clerks Office more than helpful in this area. I hope they aren’t about to get swamped.

LA003: ReCreate ’68, Lunatic Fringe, and Firestone’s Union annexations

April 27, 2008 Show
1st segment
Intro music Fuzz by Lords of Fuzz
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Tragedy and Comedy


The formerly simple task of picking applicants for an advisory group once again descended into anarchy at the Longmont City Council meeting of April 22nd.

The announcement for the Economic Vitality Advisory Group makes it fairly clear: “Applicants must have been registered to vote in Longmont for a period of one year”, and “Application Deadline: Monday, April 14th”. Simple enough, but apparently not for simpletons.

At least two of the applicants picked at this meeting are Boulder residents. No, that was not a typo. That announcement title again was: City of Longmont Economic Vitality Advisory Group Applications Wanted. One of the questions on the application is: “Have you been a registered voter in the City of Longmont for at least one year?”

A couple of weeks ago, some council members added names to the list after the deadline. Once again a councilmember (Karen Benker) asked for consideration of a person (from Boulder) to be added to the list. I can’t call this person an applicant because it wasn’t clear they even filled out an application for the council to mull over! And by the deadline? Of course not, but who needs those anyway?

Like last time, this late addition was allowed and then selected for the group, pushing aside applicants who were Longmont residents and knew how to fill out an application and meet the stated deadline.
Of course there should be no question of pre-coordination with other councilmembers on this late addition (that’s sarcasm). How Karen Benker can bring in this late addition, just a name really since there was no application, yet her “like-minded” councilmembers go right along with her. So they’re either lapdogs or they were told ahead of time AND are lapdogs.

And finally, when Mayor Lange asks for the possibility of basically honoring deadlines, Councilmember Sean McCoy stated he wouldn’t support such a thing. This pathetic behavior explains why most people are apathetic to city issues.

LA002: Windshield bugs, Vote Longmont, and City Council Watch

April 20, 2008 Show
1st segment
Intro music Fuzz by Lords of Fuzz

More on the bands Lords of Fuzz and The Unknown
Newly designed Longmont Advocate website up and running
Podcast launch stats and information

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More Half Truths and Untruths

I guess the anti-Lifebridge annexation crowd is of the belief if you lie enough, often enough, that the spun twisted perception will become everyone else’s reality.

The latest example is a letter that ran in the Times-Call. In it the writer made it sound as if because of the former Firestone officials move to annex Lifebridge and Fairview land they were “voted out of office.” Ever heard of term limits? They couldn’t have lost because they couldn’t have run for re-election. And the other board member retired and moved out of state. This is surely to be twisted into that she was shamed out of office and had to run for the hills.

This letter brought up the robo-calls made to some Longmont residents, but failed to mention the mass mailer done with the name of the main anti-Lifebridge group on it that was much more negative and the mass email that went out from more or less the same people. All those people who spoke at City Council who were “incited” seemed to all come from the anti-Lifebridge side. So who incited anger?

The editorial from Weld County officials was also mentioned in this letter, saying they ” pointedly urged Longmont to reconsider” the Union annexation. Let me quote the FIRST sentence of that editorial: ” It matters to Weld County not one nickel whether the Lifebridge Christian Church’s future campus on Colo. Highway 119 is sited in unincorporated Weld County or within Longmont‘s city limits.” And just to further drive the point home, the LAST sentence was: ” Again, it matters not a nickel to Weld County but appears to be a lost opportunity for Longmont.” Yes, I could see how those two quotes could be misconstrued as them urging Longmont to annex, if I were a heavy drinker or drug user.

The last great and continuing lie is the financial aspect they keep regurgitating, this unsubstantiated claim that 80-90% of the land to be annexed would be tax exempt. This one has been repeated so often I’m fairly confident they are starting to truly believe it. Problem is, by their own admission and chagrin, they were unhappy that Lifebridge wasn’t more forthcoming in these actual numbers. So what to do? Make some up! There’s no proof of this inflated tax-exempt claim of theirs.

This all leads to the obvious question: How many of these half truths or outright lies were told to get their petition signed by about 6,000 people? I heard that one of their lines was ” We just want people to have the chance to be able to vote whether or not to annex this land, we aren’t against the church“. If that was so, which of course it’s not, why are they going to great pains, including this mass-mailer to Firestone residents, to continue to block not only the Lifebridge annexation into another city, but also 4C’s other property at Fairview?

I’ve stopped counting how many stories I’ve heard first and second hand about people feeling deceived into signing that petition. To that all I can say is pay a little more attention next time and do your homework. Yeah, I know, you’d rather just be able to trust people that appear to be concerned citizens without an agenda. I know some of you, and more every day, are realizing that just wasn’t the case here.

LA001: Inaugural show

April 13 is the official launch date for the Longmont Advocate Podcast!

It can now be found on the iTunes Store (search for Longmont, and look in Podcasts), which is the best way to subscribe. iTunes, the iTunes Store, and subscribing is all FREE.

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More City Council Buffoonery

Anyone happen to catch tonights Longmont City Council meeting? Once again the simple task of choosing applicants for advisory boards descending into utter nonsense. How hard is this?

For the board in question, there were 4 applicants, and 3 positions: 2 primary and 1 alternate. The deadline was somewhere around 10 days ago, as a clear answer was not given by the City Clerk of when this was. So if you, like me, looked at the City Council agenda that came out last Friday, and every Friday before each meeting, there were the applications of the nominees.

It’s been the opinion of more than a few that our new majority on council is cherry picking candidates for these appointments. One of the applicants put on his application that his neighbor, Councilmember Karen Benker, was who advised him of this spot. Hmmm, okay, we’ll let that go for now.

So, councilmembers had a few days to consider the 4 applicants. But at the council meeting, Sean McCoy lets it be known that he and Brian Hansen have submitted 2 applicants of their own, AFTER THE DEADLINE! I bet you can see where this is going.

Councilmember Mary Blue had recused herself prior to this as she had a family member in the list of applicants. Gabe Santos brought up the point that one time he had put in an application for a board after the deadline and there was no special rule change or consideration for him, and there not should be one for these two applicants. So they put it to a vote: should council suspend the rules of the application deadline for these two applicants. Here’s where I think City Attorney Clay Douglas made a mistake: while Councilmember Blue was recused from the vote involving her relative, she should NOT have been recused from her vote on this change of rules. Do you want to guess how this vote went? Yeahs: Benker, Levison, McCoy, and Hansen.

So, not only does this out of control bloc blatantly disregard the rules that have been in place for I’d guess a long time, they make it so they can vote on it, and pass this questionable procedure. And no, they didn’t vote to change an ordinance or any resolutions, you know, the stuff that makes the rules they’re supposed to follow. They just wormed their way around it. Very democratic.

Lastly, want to guess who made the cut for this board? One of the primary members was the aforementioned Benker-invited nominee, the other was one of these late and very questionable additions. Councilmembers had all of maybe a few minutes to look at their applications, if that. Note to some councilmembers: when some people say you’re doing a great job, maybe they’re not talking about YOU specifically.

Why Read When You Can Listen?

I’m diving headfirst into a new project, Podcasting.

Just a primer of what I have in mind, and I hope you subscribe and find it interesting, whether you live around Longmont or not.

First off, this show will be done “on-the-fly” nearly 100% of the time. What does that mean in the realm of podcasting? Many, I’d venture to say most, podcasts rely heavily on “post production” where they record their voice and add all the noises, music, and edits later on, fixing whatever faux pas they made during the recording. It’s possible, and probable, that the sound quality may be higher with all the work that is put into the final product.

I’ve written, produced, and recorded music in the past. The post production was always a drag on creativity, at least for me anyway. I like the spontaneity of live performance, warts and all. I don’t mind a little pre-production and preparation, and working like a madman during recording to get the best possible product. But I don’t like working after recording for an amount of time in multiples of the original recording. Saps out all of the fun.

In podcasts that rely heavily on post-production they can record in a nice little intimate, and most importantly, a totally quiet space. Just a quiet laptop and a microphone in a closet. They say that a closet full of clothes is great for noise suppression. I on the other hand am using 2 computers, an 8 channel Alesis mixer, a Boss digital multi-track recorder and a professional mic (Shure SM58 or Fender P51) with a pop filter in an office that bounces sounds off the walls! The worst is the computer fans, but I’m using electronic noise suppression that does a decent job of taking it all out and I haven’t picked up yelling kids (or wife!) yet.

All the music and sounds during the show, and it is quite a multimedia extravaganza, are done on the spot, so I hear them as you hear them. This is good because I’ll be playing audio clips of Longmont City Council meetings, and instead of inserting the sounds later and basically commenting on something I’m not even listening to, this way it feels more like a real radio or TV show.

This by no means is the easy way. It takes a lot of prep, practice, and coordination. There is some help out there on the net, but not a lot for this “on-the-fly” technique. For example, one thing I really wanted and needed was the ability to hear myself and the audio AS I’m recording. I guess to a lot of people this is not an issue or they just don’t care. Like my bio says, I’m an Air Traffic Controller and Pilot, I’m used to hearing myself in my ear when I talk (known as “sidetone” in the biz), and I think hearing myself helps me sound better. Just look at all the musicians spending a bunch of money on those ear monitors.

So part of my blog will be this new and exciting venture into podcasting, nay, broadcasting, as I’m shooting higher than just the internet. Subscribe and join me in this learning journey. I may still be green at this, but I have time to perfect it and I think the live and lively feel the show will be worth the effort.

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.