In The Pocket?

Something I’ve put off commenting about is brewing under the surface and hinted at in various places in the Times-Call and the internet. Were four councilmembers (Benker, Hansen, McCoy, and Levison) bought and paid for by special interests?

Much was made of candidate, now councilmember, Gabe Santos receiving a contribution of $5,000 by the Longmont Association of Realtors in January, 2008. As far as I can tell, I haven’t seen any proposed ordinances or resolutions brought forward in the name of this organization, so obviously there’s not been a vote. Nevermind, it takes more than a lone vote on council to pass such a thing.

On the other hand, there has been a major issue brought forward that could change our city charter and at the very least will cost the city thousands of dollars in a special election: collective bargaining for certain police and fire employees. I advocated for this group in 2004, and am leaning towards voting their way once again this year, so this has nothing to do with pro or anti-union positions. As hard as it may be, put that aside for the sake of this discussion.

Let’s look at the hard numbers: Karen Benker received a $1,500 cash donation and a $266.75 endorsement advertisement from the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). Brian Hansen received a $500 cash donation and the same $266.75 ad buy. Sean McCoy received a $1,000 cash donation and the same $266.75 ad buy from the Longmont Police Officers Assocation (LPOA). Sarah Levison received a $1,000 cash donation from the LPOA, but I can’t find an ad buy. No other candidates received these donations, and I’ve been told all were interviewed. This is a grand total of $4,800.25.

Since this is not a partisan group (some would argue that point), like one of the political parties (we’re supposed to have a non-partisan electoral structure in Longmont), I don’t have too many issues with these donations. But when these same four councilmembers went after Gabe Santos for his contribution based on what might occur, perhaps they were thinking of what they might do with such a contribution, and now have done precisely that. They’ve proven their own case that money could corrupt city politics.

When the unionization concept was brought to council on first reading, these four didn’t much question the language, all four voted for it with little hesitation. The other three members of council (Lange, Blue, and Santos) had specific concerns and questions, and the players (FD/FD, city staff, attorneys) had meetings and hammered out something more palatable and something with a higher likelihood of voter approval. But Benker, McCoy, Hansen, and Levison had nothing to do with that, they liked it just the way it was. In a twisted way, the collective bargaining team just upped their odds by working on what the three dissenting votes had to say. Not the four they contributed to.

A big concern that’s been conveyed to me, and I agree, is that this vote may become a referendum on city council, these four members in particular. It’s not fair to our police and fire employees to be saddled with that. If that’s truly a concern amongst voters, especially those in favor of this collective bargaining, how about separating it out and just have a flat out recall of these four members?

Yeah, I know, fat chance and a little extreme. But I do have an easier alternative: each of these four councilmembers make $1,000 a month for the service they provide, and don’t get me wrong, as much as I tear into them (and previous councils as well, for those that have forgotten), they do put in a lot of their own time in their elected positions. I suggest, to avoid any suggestion of impropriety, and to truly help the police and fire employees they claim to support, that these four councilmembers forego enough of their stipend equal to these contributions and put it back into the General Fund.

This isn’t a pledge I expect them to take, but what a message it would send if they did. What political harm could it do? And if they’re adamantly opposed to this idea, you should ask why. It could help our fine police and fire employees, our hurting budget, and send a clear message that council is not for sale.

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.

“Phony Patriotism”

Just when you thought it couldn’t get much more pathetic, Longmont politics hit an all time low recently. And who would be leading that charge, Councilman Sean McCoy, of course. You weren’t expecting anyone else, were you?

At the July 15th Longmont City Council Meeting, my wife got up to speak at Public Invited To Be Heard. She spoke about our organization Vote! Longmont and all the work she put into setting up for Rhythm on the River. It was substantial, trust me. She created a voting booth out of a recycled refrigerator box obtained from a local business. She coordinated our location at the event. She arranged my John Adams costume. She worked long hours making hundreds of bookmarks with our site name on one side, and fun election links for kids on the other. She made up copies of literature about election and registration deadlines, current school board issues, info on local businesses to encourage local shopping, and the “meet your council member” fliers. There was NO partisan literature, unless you consider a book by the League of Women Voters and a copy of the U.S.Constitution by the Cato Institute overtly partisan.

I could care less what a classless buffoon says or thinks about me. I deal with them all the time, no sweat off my back. But Mr. McCoy took it beyond just me with the following: He came up to our booth, and as I saw him formulating his zinger, I put out a hand and offered him one of our Vote! Longmont bookmarks. He said ” I wouldn’t take any of your garbage” and quickly walked away. My 12 year old son was sitting right next to me, actually closer to where Mr. McCoy was when he said this. He insulted all the work my wife put in to this project (we are a team) and showed no respect for the fact that my minor son was right there.

I mostly laughed it off, but my family was furious. As much as I tried to talk my wife out of it, she dealt it out to Mr. McCoy to the point where he responded immediately, something you don’t often see at council meetings. Here were his pearls of wisdom:

Well, I’m just gonna address that real quickly and the issue was is that it wasn’t just all that, so folks out there the public understand. It was also a blog from a cons..uhh cards from her husbands conservative blog that was uh being handed out there too. And uh a lot of other things. And what we don’t know is uh what was actually said to every one of those parents about what uh each of us as councilmembers stand for in her husband’s perspective. So, I would just like that to go on the record as well.”

Some people just don’t know when to stop when they’re way behind. Notice he didn’t deny saying it, again, in front of our son? But let’s go through the myths and lies one at a time:

MYTH/LIE #1: My cards weren’t being handed out. My cards were off to the side and were only handed out or even mentioned if someone asked. It wasn’t our main focus. He wasn’t standing in front of those cards anyway.

MYTH/LIE #2:Conservative” blog. I cover Longmont issues. Last I checked city council is supposed to be non-partisan, we shouldn’t even know their party affiliation. Apparently, Mr. McCoy showed his poorly played hand here with his obvious disdain for ” conservatives“. I’ll remind people that this very issue is being taken on by the Election Reform Committee. I don’t care how people label me as I’ve been called a right and left wing whack job. But recently, I’ve been told I wasn’t a conservative, by a couple of non-conservatives! Nice try.

Also, our Vote Longmont website rotates ads from both parties. Quite often, a Jared Polis ad appears, is he a conservative? (Answer: no)

MYTH/LIE #3:And a lot of other things“, yes, those other things were the above mentioned not even close to partisan literature, including info on Mr. McCoy’s current council.

MYTH/LIE #4:Speculation and assumptions of what we were telling parents who came up to us. You know, I’m called a lot of things, stupid isn’t usually one of them. It would be public suicide for me to show a lick of partisanship in a large visibility venue like this with this voter registration drive. I would be taken to task for time immemorial. Not to mention we were told by the organizers that we couldn’t be partisan anyway. So is Mr. McCoy alleging we broke the rules of Rhythm On The River based on a guess? A totally unfounded accusation.

Hate to burst any councilmembers egos, but people don’t know who you are for the most part. What some know, they hear or read from the Times-Call (if they receive it) and bloggers like me. Mr. McCoy intimated I slandered him or others on council. Again, a guess. And an untrue one. Like I’m going to have THEIR “meet your councilmembers” literature and rip on them IN FRONT OF KIDS! Who would do such a thing in front of kids? Oops, well, I wouldn’t.

We’ve been on the front page of the Times-Call with this voter registration drive saying we would register anyone, party doesn’t matter. So he’s calling us liars there, too. When kids asked how they should vote, we never steered them in any direction. We had no partisan literature. I was in costume as a President whose party was neither Republican nor Democratic.

Here’s the best part and further proof of his complete lack of any foundation for his ridiculous comments: Yes, we registered several voters – NONE REGISTERED REPUBLICAN! Woops, there goes that partisan idea. And that mock election we had? We had 172 votes, OBAMA WON BY A 2-1 MARGIN!Woops, there goes another preconceived notion. We even posted the results on our website that night! If my ” perspective” was on display that day, I must not very convincing and his anti-conservative (apparently) leanings have nothing to worry about.

Later on, Mr. McCoy hinted our organization was not ” legitimate“.This borders on slander. I’ll remind him we were certified by the Colorado Secretary of State. We could, by the way, be as partisan as we like, many voter registration drives are, we chose not to be. But how are we any less legitimate than any other group in attendance at this event?

He then, as an ” educator“, asked the City Manager to look into not allowing groups like ours to ever return to a city sponsored event. But since he brought this up, there was a group that was roaming the event with clipboards trying to register voters, and they were overtly partisan. They had no booth and probably were not registered with the event organizers. Were they a “legitimate” voter registration drive? I’m sure Mr. McCoy will dig deep into this.

At this point I’d like to thank the City of Longmont for sponsoring this event and assigning us a great location, too! We were asked to be located there and provide an activity for the area.

Then as if right on cue the near weekly name-calling commenced, this time he accused us of ” phony patriotism“. Very nice. People in Ward 3 should really be proud.

One of his fawning apologists said to Mr. McCoy that the ” politics of personal destruction” are here in Longmont, or some laughable nonsense. But in a way she was right, for once, perhaps it is. In the person of Mr. McCoy and his ilk in this city.

Lastly, Mr. McCoy tried to deflect the blame for the mere mention of the poor returns of the City Survey. Take a look at your words and actions, Mr. McCoy, and you’ll find part of the reason. We respect the members of council and the time they put in. I’ve even complimented Mr. McCoy from time to time on my podcast. But I will call officials out and hold them accountable as I always have. Mr. McCoy words and actions disgrace the office he was elected to.

Let Confusion Reign

There was a proposed agreement to simplify the Hwy 119 corridor with adequate access points and signal spacing. It had nothing to do with urban sprawl, or as Longmont City Councilman Sean McCoy calls it “green field sprawl”. Watch the video below and see how it’s twisted and convoluted, if you can follow.

If you can make it through the stammering, you’re probably asking how does signal spacing and access points encourage “green field sprawl” exactly? And the Weld County Commissioners are in the business of growing a city (Longmont) beyond what Mr. McCoy believes it can handle? He threw out the “exceptional benefit” a couple of times, taking lessons from Ms. Levison? Again though, this isn’t a land grab, so what’s the point with this term? Then he brings up the never incorporated town of Freedom “in some peoples understanding” as he put it, what some people, like two?
And mentioning Freedom, an idea hatched to put the brakes on the Union Lifebridge development, he gives yet another indirect backhand to this church and its members.

Then he said we need to spend more time on urban renewal. What’s the largest urban renewal project that’s been in the news for the last few months? Twin Peaks Mall, a project he has continually voted against. So there’s some talking out of both sides of the mouth there.

But he’s not alone on this city council when it comes to applying a double standard when it comes to Lifebridge and the Mall.
…to be continued.

You’re Building What Where?

There was a front page article in the Daily Times-Call on Sunday June 29, 2008 entitled ” Landowners in Limbo” which tells the story about land and business owners around the area where the FasTracks station is supposed to be built.

I watched with interest the June 3, 2008 Longmont City Council when they talked about this subject. When I saw the map on the screen, it sure looked like the station’s parking lot was located where Budget Home Center currently sits. If you were like me, as you watched this, you probably assumed that some deal had already been discussed and that the land owners were aware of this plan.

Apparently, according to this article, they weren’t.

At about the 55 minute mark of the June 3rd meeting video, you can see the concepts for this area. This information was in a council packet at the time of this meeting, but is no longer part of the PDF on the city’s site. The agenda itself can be found at http://www.ci.longmont.co.us/city_council/agendas/2008/060308.htm

Councilman Brian Hansen did ask about the smaller property owners, to which the answer was that they could pool together and be part of the larger development, but ” they haven’t explored in any detail” this idea – and it sounds like they may not have shared this idea with the land owners either.

I’ve frequented Budget Home Center quite a bit over the years, and figured that the competition from Home Depot, Lowes, and Ace Hardware was just too much for them, and they might fade away for the purposes of this light rail station. According to Budget’s owner Butch Vernon, that is not the case. Besides not hearing anything from RTD, he’s hoping they will relocate his business or compensate him so he can relocate it himself.

Unfortunately, a spokesperson for RTD said they do use eminent domain and will resort to condemnation if no agreement can be made with the land owner. In other words, they’ll just take it if they want it.

Is that what the voters in Longmont really voted for? Light rail at any cost, regardless of the human and business debris it leaves behind? All you anti-big box store (like Home Depot) types who defend smaller local businesses (like Budget Home Center), where are you on this one? (I hear crickets, and hypocrites)

What is with this trend of trampling all over property owners rights in Longmont? Some examples: the attempt to take Emery Street to the detriment of surrounding property owners. The fiasco with Lifebridge and other property owners near Union Reservoir, stalling into oblivion plans to work their own property. George Marxmiller and the city’s virtual taking of some of his property and denial of release of his liability, making him risk everything. The property owners of the Twin Peaks Mall area, and the hoops they’re being required to jump through. And now this.

And who’s making all this noise and doing all this meddling? Little tyrants running around with probably little to not much property of their own, since they probably can’t afford to live in their own little nirvana to the southwest? So if they’re going to be miserable settling for Longmont, the rest of us have to share in their misery? The same types who want to mold Longmont into something other than what it is, and not something better. Some were even elected!

This is what you get when you just let bureaucrats, and their fawning citizen apologists, run roughshod unchecked and not held accountable. Not to worry, what are the odds of this happening to, or affecting, you? Probably higher than you think.

Mall-itics Pt. 3

Next up in the antics of some members of the Longmont City Council at the June 10th meeting is some of Sarah Levisons comments. This was some fairly agenda driven questioning of Panattoni’s Will Damrath.

It’s easy to spot agenda driven games like this when the answer is more or less ignored, and when an answer is given the questioner quickly moves on to another subject. I noticed much of this wasn’t covered in the Times-Call, but as usual you can see the video on the city’s website.

First, Ms. Levison compared the mall to Target in her “extraordinary cost” line of questioning. Mr. Damrath rightly pointed out that her analogy was flawed, that Target owned its own property, as in just one tenant, they are a large public company and Panattoni builds for tenants, where Target builds for itself. That being said, Mr. Damrath said Target could’ve applied and been eligible for a special metro district.

Next was the question of rent going up on tenants due to the Tax Increment Financing, or TIF. The answer was NO, that those taxes are paid in sales taxes by people who shop there. Shouldn’t Ms. Levison already know this?

Ms. Levison made the claim Panattoni only owns 24% of the 41 acres in question, based on some conversation with a Boulder County Assessor. Mr. Damrath said 5 separate LLC’s own that, which are made up of Panattoni employee’s or investors, in other words they control 100% of that land. Again, homework not done.

Ms. Levison asked how the racetrack configuration of the ring road helps the blight conditions. Mr. Damrath said there are legal agreements with the other land owners when it comes to that road and their access. On this subject, Sean McCoy asked why the traffic pattern is the same as it is now. I saw this map in the packet, anyone can tell the map he was looking at was the current configuration, which Mr. Damrath had to point out the obvious. How embarrassing.

This next part seems a little, well, dishonest, and City Manager Gordon Pedrow stepped in on this one. Ms. Levison was asking how much city staff time and resources this whole mall thing taking up. She should’ve stopped there, but went on and said the owners at the flour mill want to get moving on their project and want to have a ” shovel in the ground in November“, and asked if there is enough staff for two projects like this at once. Mr. Pedrow answered more or less that staff wouldn’t commit to something they couldn’t handle, but more to the point of the flour mill, that her comments were contrary to what the city is aware of. He said the city hasn’t had discussions that those owners are moving that rapidly. Ms. Levison didn’t linger on this topic long, as Mr. Pedrow basically questioned the “truthiness” of her claims. Since these so-called conversations between Ms. Levison and the flour mill owners are open record, I’m sure she can provide that information.

Then Ms. Levison called someone up to the podium about a “private conversation” they had about the malls “underlying financial viability” (sorry, didn’t catch the name). I got the distinct feeling he didn’t exactly answer the way she wanted. She was trying to make the point how risky this is, to which he answered that “there is business risk in every project. Metro districts to a large extent mitigate some of the developer risk, but can’t eliminate it, that is embedded with risk.” Sounds like she had some agenda driven questions for him before the council meeting, shouldn’t that be public record, too?

Are you getting the picture of this council’s habit of time wasting? This went on for almost 30 minutes. It’s fine to ask questions, but most of this should’ve already been known by Ms. Levison, and this was just a witch hunt anyway. The only honest statement I heard was ” at this point I don’t feel that I have full confidence that I have understanding of the complete process. It’s pretty complicated actually.”

On the “extraordinary need” question, Mary Blue made the point that people are leaving Longmont to shop and go to theatres. That Longmont is viewed as a “honkey tonk” town that can’t support a theater. This got some laughter, but the sad part is that it’s true and it was nice to see Ms. Blue sift through the others feeble attempts to cloud something that is so simple.

Mall-itics Pt. 2

I’m sure the final paragraph of Pt. 1 got the attention, and ire, of some. So why not use it as a starting pointfor Pt. 2.

During the June 10th Longmont City Council meeting, and this goes to the previous “truly ignorant comments” reference I made, Councilmember Sean McCoy said about Twin Peaks Mall owner and redeveloper Panattoniwe have a willing owner, but we have a very inexperienced owner.” Sorry if that was one long sentence, but the inclusion of “ignorant”, “inexperienced”, and Sean McCoy was key. I know I’ve been hard on this guy with his style of speech, but this was a prepared and thought out slam against this corporation. And it was a fairly misinformed comment, as I’ll show below.

Regardless of how ignorant this comment makes one of our representatives appear, the bigger problem is that he’s willing to throw up against the wall this misinformation hoping it might stick. Of course, there will be those that will lap up this nonsense as the red meat they occasionally require, free thinkers that they are, NOT. But it just lowers the bar even further of what is acceptable behavior in and out of council meetings. Whatever helps the cause, right?

Perhaps this new thing called the Internet is still unknown in some councilmembers households, but a quick check of www.panattoni.com shows that they’ve done a little more than just Harvest Junction here in Longmont, a project in itself that isn’t all that small. And a fairly recent project at that, or did Mr. McCoy miss that? I could see how Lowes and Best Buy on our newest boulevard could be overlooked.

But here are some other Retail projects of Panattoni: Piemonte at Ontario Center, Ontario, CA – Oak Valley Shopping Center, Beaumont, CA – and Raley’s Shopping Center, Elk Grove, CA. They did these Office projects too: Gold Pointe Corporate Center, Sacramento, CA – Cedar Ridge Business Park, Southlake, TX – Beltway 8 Corporate Center, Houston, TX – and the CalSTRS (that’s California State Teachers Retirement System) Headquarters. Flex projects include: Cornelius Pass Corporate Center, Hillsboro, OR – Broomfield Corporate Center, Broomfield, CO – and Laguna West Business Center, Elk Grove, CA. And there’s Industrial projects, too: Plainfield Business Park, Indianapolis, IN – iPort 12, Carteret, NJ – and Rainier Park of Industry, Sumner, WA.

I could see how they could be viewed as “inexperienced”.

On their partial client list, here are some names Mr. McCoy probably has never heard of: Ace Hardware, ADT, Allstate Insurance, Amazon.Com, American Red Cross, AutoZone, Ball Aerospace, Bank of America, Blue Shield, DeVry University, ETrade, Fidelity Title, Hartford Insurance, ITT Technical Institute, MITRE Corporation, Raytheon, Snap-On Tools, Wachovia Bank, and the list goes on and on.

So how does Mr. McCoy’s experience and clients compare? Normally I wouldn’t ask this, but he opened this door with his ridiculous comment. It took all of a few minutes of internet surfing to find that information. If Mr. McCoy can’t put much serious thought and effort into this elected position, maybe he should just stick to pointless pontificating and abstain from all serious discussions or voting.

City Council Cheap Shots

At the May 27, 2008 Longmont City Council Meeting, Councilmember Sean McCoy took a couple of swipes at Lifebridge Christian Church (without saying their name). Here is the YouTube video, which can also be found at the Longmont Advocate YouTube Channel:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffiExb7rzYk

He mentions a ” 40 year vesting“. The previous City Council approved 3/5/15 year vesting for residential, commercial, and civic/religious respectively. Or are new councilmembers not only throwing away past decisions, but ignorant of them as well?

He mentioned ” height restrictions” requests from a different church requesting to be annexed into Longmont. Lifebridge didn’t ask for height restrictions, but height exemptions, slight difference. And guess what they just got from Firestone? An exemption higher than what Longmont had approved during those negotiations. This is but the first example of what many of us were warning would happen if Longmont didn’t move forward with the annexation – looser standards, and of course less permit fee’s, and property and sales taxes.

The issue of height restrictions was something the anti-annexers were saying, but Mr. McCoy reminded us this current council had nothing to do with Lifebridge pulling out, yet he’s echoing these people, and of course his pre-election unfavorable comments about this annexation.

He mentioned ” low income housing exemptions” and ” million dollar homes“. The master plan calls for three housing districts; one primarily for seniors consisting of detached and attached homes, plus duplexes and triplexes; another area of general single-family residential homes, and a third district (on the north side of site) of custom homes. It is conceivable some of the custom homes could cost $1 million or more, but this is a very small percentage of available housing planned for Union. By contrast, Lifebridge will fully comply with the city standard of 10% low income affordable housing with no special exemption. So his “million dollar homes” is an obvious intentional exaggeration to anyone who looks at the actual plan.

He mentioned ” huge retail complex“,another gross exaggeration. He makes it sound as if it’ll be Harvest Junction East when there’s clearly no room for such an endeavor. Of course there will be some shops, but not this big-box haven he makes it out to be.

He wanted to make sure ” we were all onboard“, well, yeah, some people are, on a ship of fools.

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.

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.