Here is my Guest editorial that ran in the Tuesday October 27, 2009 Times-Call. I didn’t title this piece, but they did:
Vote Out The Progressives
The “2007 Progressive Experiment” in Longmont has failed. At least it’s been entertaining to watch and write about, but to the detriment of the city as a whole. We can’t say we didn’t give it a try, but this regressive Progressive majority on city council has proven to be a real loser of an idea and voters need to undo the mistake of 2007.To refresh memories, in 2007 Longmont had a block of candidates take over the majority of city council. This majority includes Sean McCoy, Brian Hansen, Sarah Levison, and Karen Benker – who actually was soundly defeated in her quest for Mayor, but unfortunately remained in office. Mr. Hansen and Ms. Levison squeaked in with less than a majority and mostly due to third candidates who split the vote. Mr. McCoy won by a majority, but Ms. Benker lost by a majority.Even to the bloc’s most strident supporters, they must agree these have been two very divisive and controversial years. They have also been two very unproductive years rife with costly lawsuits, dwindling tax revenues, and furloughed city employees. Our council meetings are often 4 hour marathons that end with bickering and indecision. Procrastination is their credo.
Therefore, a clean sweep and removal of all council members in office prior to 2008 needs to occur. Mary Blue is retiring, which is a shame as she’s been an exception and an exemplary representative. Gabe Santo’s joined the council in January 2008 and has often been the sole dissenting vote on some of the bloc’s more ridiculous maneuvers – and deserves to be retained in his at-large seat.
Unfortunately, Council members McCoy, Hansen, and Levison are not up for re-election. But they can be dealt with in 2 years, or sooner via recall. Candidates Fissinger, Benker, and Van Dusen are more of the same of the failed regressive Progressive majority we now find ourselves saddled with. Voters should learn from past mistakes and not repeat them with these candidates.
Mayor Lange, who I respect, admire, and have always supported and voted for in every race he’s even run, has tilted one too many times in favor of this failed bloc. The denied motion and second (from Santos and Blue, respectively) to end the losing battle with Firestone and LifeBridge was the straw that broke the camels back for me and many other citizens. When Firestone came to Longmont with an offer of the land that would meet Longmont’s request for this so-called buffer, which in reality is a red herring that doesn’t now nor will ever exist, Mayor Lange and this council turned them away, proving to me this was nothing more than an expensive turf war and an attempt to financially bleed Firestone and LifeBridge. I’m not a member of that church or a resident of Firestone, but this act was appalling.
Unlike other council members who have been downright rude to me in the presence of my children, Mayor Lange has indelibly left a positive impression on one of my sons to which we are eternally grateful. While I can’t support him in this race for the other reasons above, I will also not engage in mudslinging or negative attacks that might benefit his opponent, Bryan Baum, who I support.
The same cannot be said for Karen Benker. Some cities have elected donkeys, dogs, or hoboes to city council. I would back such a candidate in opposition to Ms. Benker. Alright, my tongue is slightly planted “in cheek” with that comment, but the actual sentiment is not too far off. Ms. Benker is basically the leader of the bloc, and as such, sets the tone for the bitter divisiveness the bloc embodies. A vote for her is a vote for the failed last two years. About the only thing Ms. Benker has on Katie Witt is her so-called experience. But this experience has not resulted in a better outcome for the citizens of Longmont.
I would also argue Ms. Benker’s “experience” when she was Ms. Witt’s age was probably similar to Ms. Witt’s now. Everybody has to start somewhere. Incumbency and a self-inflated resume shouldn’t be the main deciding factor in who’s more fit to serve. Sometimes a fresh outlook and differing life experiences breathe new life into an otherwise stale and stagnant situation. Unfortunately, this current council majority is worse than stagnation, it’s actually regressing.
So consider the past and the future when you cast your vote, and not some selfish allegiance of what you think a candidate is or isn’t. And there’s really no good reason not to vote, please exercise this right.
Councilmember Karen Benker, based on her actions at the Longmont City Council meeting of July 21, 2009, is no friend to the citizens of Clover Basin. But you wouldn’t think that if you saw this on her campaign brochure and website:
FACT: As of September 15, 2009 the Longmont City Council has not even been presented a Resolution to vote on to dissolve the Clover Basin Fire District Tax (CBFDT). This will have to be done at a City Council Regular Session, the next one is scheduled for September 22. But after an inquiry to the City about this issue, I was told (on September 15th) that they don’t know how long it will take to have the documents ready. The next Regular Session is not until October 13th! While this probably will be accomplished someday, it is not a done deal yet. Councilmember Benker’s claim is completely false and misleading.
But even if this Resolution was already approved by Council, consider this: at that council meeting of July 21, and the video is available at the city’s website to see for yourself, Councilmember Benker argued at least 3 times to put this issue on the ballot. This surely would have meant defeat and guaranteed continuation of paying this tax until 2015!
Councilmember Sarah Levison correctly stated “…a huge amount of money that was taken up of private resources to pass these things (LAVA, Public Safety Tax, Lodgers Tax) – a city initiative. We all know how much money it costs. It will take an enormous amount of effort for all the red shirts in the room and all those red shirts sitting at home watching, to educate an electorate who is having a very tough year with taxes. RTD is not going to go to the ballot. If you fail in the ballot issue, it will really close the door for allowing us to make any case in the future” (emphasis added)
Even after a clear and concise explanation of the consequences in going to all of the voters of Longmont, and how it was the absolutely worst option, Councilmember Benker still wanted to press forward with her ballot motion and wouldn’t even consider withdrawing her motion!
On Councilmember Benker’s website she asks: “Please call me if you hear of something that may not be true and want to verify it’s accuracy. Email: KarenBenkerlg@earthlink.net Phone: 303.774.7745.
Maybe you should take her up on her request and ask: • Why is she taking credit for something that is still not a done deal? • Why did she make a motion for a course of action that would have meant defeat at the ballot box, and a continuation of the tax? • Why would she ask to take an estimated $75,000 from the city’s General Fund to put this on the ballot or Special Election? • Why would she put the people of Clover Basin, her Ward 2 constituents, in a nearly impossible electoral position, forcing them to spend endless hours and personal expenses on: formation of an issue committee, phone calls, brochures, door-to-door activity, signs, contributions, campaign finance reports, newspaper editorials, website, etc – for ALL of Longmont, not just Clover Basin?
It’s obvious Ms. Benker is using this as a campaign issue and as some sort of feather in her cap. But regardless of how she may have appeared to be an advocate for Clover Basin constituents during the Task Force meetings, her own words and actions paint a completely different picture.
Anyone in this neighborhood who is thinking of supporting or voting for Ms. Benker needs to seriously consider the above information, which is a matter of record, not opinion. If she had succeeded in her concept and motion, Clover Basin citizens would have been dealt a serious blow. Explain again how she’s an advocate for them? I don’t see it.
It was with great amusement as I watched Longmont City Councilman Sean McCoy go on the attack at the September 1, 2009 Longmont City Council meeting. I will only speak for my part of his tirade, LIFT and Longmont Report can speak on their own behalf. I will point out that LIFT’s blog hasn’t had any entries on it for over a year, and Longmont Report hasn’t had any activity since last February. He also mentioned YourHub, which the Longmont hub has slowed to a trickle of activity in the last year. Most of the Longmont specific articles and nearly all politically related articles are written by myself. So it’s obvious who he’s talking about.
So, lets go through his tirade one point at a time:
He endorsed Richard Juday’s Civil Campaigns concept. Ironically, earlier in the day I had had some communications back and forth with Richard about this, sharing my ideas and concerns. I thought it was pretty productive and constructive. But what Mr. McCoy did following this endorsement reinforced my main concern with this group, and of course stuck a shank in the back of those trying to get this group going. Why do I doubt that this group, headed by his father Tom McCoy will “denounce” Sean McCoy for what he just did? This will show what this group is made of, or if it’s just a sham protecting like-minded council members and candidates.
He used the terms “radical” “negative” “fringe groups” and “radical fringe elements” to go after people he disagrees with. All I can say about that: deluded paranoia. And this guy is a teacher!
His laundry list of placing blame goes beyond the point of ridiculous. I would like one shred of proof to the following. According to him, I/we have:
“hurt businesses and financial opportunities for Longmont and her citizens”
are responsible for “the millions of dollars in commercial real estate rentals that must have been lost”
negatively effected “job growth for Longmont citizens”
and if we hadn’t been “so negative in their actions” more “home sales”could have ocurred.
Now, even if you disagree with everything I’ve ever written, if you think 1 person out of a population of nearly 90,000 people on a blog like this that cost ZERO could do all that – you are either a) a mental patient where “incredibly stupid” doesn’t even begin to cover the diagnosis, b) so blind (or fearful) in your allegiance to this ideology that you’re beyond reason and help, or c) giving me/us way too much credit – but thanks for the thought! I am a bit flattered that he and his ilk think I have that kind of influence, as misguided and delusional as those claims are, but I just don’t find it remotely possible.
Thankfully, I know most normal people (the vast majority) see this exactly for what it is: a political hatchet job and the attempt to silence detractors. This is not new for me, but this is now being done at a governmental level with Mr. McCoy speaking as an elected representative of the City of Longmont.
I’m sure I don’t have to point out to any rational thinking person that all Mr. McCoy is attempting here is shifting the blame that rightly belongs with himself and his fellow “bloc of 4” members (Karen Benker, Sarah Levison, and Brian Hansen) who have dragged this city and its image to gutter levels. Their anti-business, anti-growth, and anti-religious policies speak for themselves inside and outside of this city.
The simple fact is they don’t like anyone to actually point out any of the above, and this is one extreme they will go to to try to silence and turn the public against their critics. Another method is the Civil Campaign Committee Mr. McCoy endorsed. Another method is the onerous and convoluted “Fair” Campaign Practices Act. People like Mr. McCoy either assume you aren’t paying attention, or are too stupid to understand and are easily manipulated.
Me? I don’t care one way or another if you read or follow what I write. Take it or leave it, buy my arguments or not. I’m not into treating adults like children (except for those who act like children) and figure you don’t need to be told how to think by some nebulous committee or an elected loudmouth.
I know, because I’m told, that many of you will not get into this ring out of fear of retribution – either as a city employee, or a business that fears for their leases with the city, or the city making life or continuing to stay in business extremely difficult. But some of us out here say the things you think but are afraid to say out loud. We get all kinds of nastiness thrown our way for doing it – like vandalism to our house; insults to our wives, family, and even our dog; racial epithets; and internet stalking, intimidation, and harassment.
But next time this could be you under the proverbial gun. Are you “radical”? Do you consider truth, or ones opinion of truth, “fringe” or “radical”? Do you appreciate government officials leveling these kinds of attacks and insults, whether it is on the federal level collecting email addresses and comments they consider “shady”, or at the local level displaying this utter contempt for citizens?
I’m not asking for your sympathy or money, I don’t need either. I’m suggesting you get involved in your own way and be heard on this. Or sit idly by and hope you’re not next.
The 2009 Longmont municipal election is coming up, I thought this would be a good time to look back at the election of 2007 that brought us what has been called the “Eastern Bloc”, the “Benker bloc”, the “Bloc of 4″ etc.
Total votes cast 40,051
Votes for Benker, McCoy, Levison, and Hansen (aka the “Bloc of 4″) 18,453 46.1%
Votes for opposing candidates 21,598 53.9%
You’re reading that correctly, they didn’t get a plurality or majority. I included links to definitions as some in the city don’t know the difference. The point is Longmont did not swing blue, or left, like some would like you to believe. The election of Gabe Santos in January 2008 proved that. When voters in Longmont actually show up to vote, leftist, radical, anti-growth, anti-development, anti-religious candidates lose.
When the vote is suppressed, or the system makes it harder for citizens to get involved and engaged (like the incumbent bloc’s overly restrictive “fair” campaigns act), candidates like “the bloc” win.
It’s always amusing for me to take a national topic and apply it to things right here in Longmont. Today I’m going to do the opposite.
Of course we all know by now some members of Longmont City Council have a real problem with open government and transparency. For those with short memories, there was a block of candidates back in 2007 who made no attempt to hide they were indeed a, well, block of candidates. They got funding from the same sources, they shared ad space, they appeared together at party (Democratic of course) functions (and still do), and they shared in their victory as a, well, block. The title they attained went from “block of candidates” to ‘Bloc of 4‘. Say that around them now and they either try to deny it or get visibly irritated. Hey, embrace what you are.
(In case there’s any mystery to who this refers to, it’s Karen Benker, Sean McCoy, Sarah Levison, and Brian Hansen. Richard Juday attempted to join this, ahem, elite crowd, but got trounced in the special election by Gabe Santos.)
But back to this transparency thing: these former candidates (and their loyal mouthpieces) sure went to great lengths to say how closed off and non “open” our previous council was. This was their rallying cry. That, and how they would do things differently. Well, they have. Worse. They now hold the honor of the most secretive and closed city council in recent memory/history.
And like the national example I’m about to show you, they (and their loyal mouthpieces) sure don’t like to be called on it. They even have the nerve to go after and call names of those that put into daylight their questionable, and possibly (no, probably) illegal ways.
Thanks to the miracle (and a new found one to some city councilmembers) of Open Records, here’s what goes on behind the scenes. This is just what we know about, I’m sure there’s more and worse.
—– Forwarded Message —-
From: Douglas Wray <email@example.com>
To: Kaye Fissinger <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Duane Leise <email@example.com>
Cc: Sean_P_McCoy <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Sarah Levison <email@example.com>; Karen Benker<firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com>
Sent: Saturday, October 18, 2008 9:29:14 AM
<firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com>Subject: Time to kick Chris’ ass again
M. Douglas Wray
<firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com>——————————————————- <firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com>Well that subject and text sound like a threat, wouldn’t be the first.
The picture you see below and to the right of current councilmember Karen Benker and candidate Kaye Fissinger, there’s an interesting story behind that: Pratt to Fissinger: Analyze this!
And then there’s this:
—– Forwarded by Open Records City Council/Longmont on 06/18/2009 12:15 PM —–
From: “Karen Benker” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: “Douglas Wray”
Date: 04/08/2009 07:20 PM
Subject: Re: Please go vote.
<email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com>—– Original Message —–
From: “Douglas Wray” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: “Kaye Fissinger” <email@example.com>
Sent: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:22 PM
Subject: Please go vote.
Yet another noise poll.
I wonder who’s paying the Rodriguezes?
This was referencing a poll we didn’t post, someone else did. But it brings up an interesting point: We don’t get paid by anyone to do anything. But the fact these types of people would think it<firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org> gives you an insight to what they probably do. I always wondered why they threw around “paid hacks and shills” or “agents”. I guess since it’s normal for them to engage in such behavior, the simpletons must have figured everyone else does it, too! Sorry to disappoint.
But now on to the national example of this, and never forget that Councilmembers Benker and McCoy drooled on endlessly about their national leader Barack Obama – but not as much anymore, wonder why? (Lets also never forget these two councilmembers are card carrying and trained members of Progressive Majority, a hard left organization that has no place in local non-partisan elections and elected offices). Seems this administration is also having something of an issue of secrets, badmouthing and gathering information on their opponents, and missing a little part of the law <email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com>that is similar to our Open Records laws around here. Watch this video for an explanation of what I mean:
Catch that? This cute little firstname.lastname@example.org (the email address to report people saying bad things about Obama’s health care plan today, who knows whattomorrow) by accepting a single email and not keeping it breaks the law! Personally, I don’t see how anyone – liberal/conservative/libertarian/anything – wouldn’t have a huge problem with this. Right, they’re not going to keep or collect information based on these emails. Then why ask for them?
In closing, just like I said in my earlier “Amateurism from the top down<email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com>” piece, you have to<firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org> take these people collectively as a group (and they love that collectivism stuff). If you like <email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com>secrets, information gathering on political enemies by elected officials, closed government, and<firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com><firstname.lastname@example.org> basically just stupid and ignorant behavior – well, then you’ve probably already stopped reading by this point and most of us could care less what you think. The rest of you need to vote these kinds of people out of office ASAP and not allow their fellow travelers anywhere near elected office.
In the July 14, 2009 Longmont City Council meeting, the issue of the former BMX track came up. It used to be over by Union Reservoir, but is now gone. Councilmember Mary Blue was asked about it at Rhythm on the River recently, and the constituent eluded to a fee hike as the reason they are gone.
Well, they were partially right. It was an attempted fee hike by Councilmember Sarah Levison, and her cohorts on council (Sean McCoy and Karen Benker) couldn’t say no to a fee increase (a form of a tax). I talked about this with lots of audio in a podcast back on May 4, 2008.
So the greedy get too greedy and end up with NOTHING. Councilmember Levison wanted to shake down the BMX people for a $100 here, $50 there, cleanup fees over there (which already existed) and what did the city get for her idea of “incenting”? Not a thin dime. As a matter of fact, money lost – and a venue gone and probably not coming back. Would you?
And you thought raiding Estate sales (as in recently dead people) for tax revenue was the beginning? Nope. She first went after kids, their BMX bikes and family fun. Why am I hearing The Beatles “Taxman“‘s line “declare the pennies on your eyes“? These tax-and-spend types have no shame or decency.
Since it changes almost weekly, I don’t have the exact number of Executive Sessions the current Longmont City Council has held in the last couple of years. It’s probably around 26, which means the council that’s been in office since November 2007 has held 1.4 Executive Sessions per month since they’ve been here. That’s just ridiculous.
For those that don’t know, an Executive Session is a meeting that is closed to the public. You can’t know what goes on or is said in those meetings. It isn’t recorded or televised like City Council meetings, you can’t comment, you can’t be told what went on, you usually don’t even know who requested it and specifically why.
A couple of things you need to know to get the full picture: at least one councilmember doesn’t like being held accountable for his often abrasive and utterly embarrassing remarks. After making said remarks, feels paranoid enough to ask the local police department to show up at council meetings for his safety. If you know anything about YouTube, you’d know that any public official can and often is featured on this site basically being themselves, good or bad. This councilman has publicly requested there be a way to stop this from occuring. Or audio from meetings being used in some way. Did I mention he and others on council also have a vendetta against the local newspaper – so it’s pretty much all media they want shut down and not commenting on their public activities. Reminder: a) these are elected public officials, and b) last I checked we’re not in the USSR (yet).
So how does one stop ones idiotic remarks from actually getting read or heard? Secret meetings closed to the public! Brilliant!
But really, how bad could it be? Who could be so paranoid and such a lousy public speaker to cause such a shift in public policy and this need for covertness? Two words: Sean McCoy
Oh, there’s much more at my YouTube channel, but one can only guess what goes on behind closed doors. But he’s not alone, other members of this majority on council (that would be McCoy, Karen Benker, Sarah Levison, and Brian Hansen) have blathered repeatedly and at least one has shown their concern and curiosity over citizens having cameras at council meetings. Nevermind that these meetings are televised LIVE, re-aired, and available at the library to check out on DVD. So why would someone be so concerned about their own words?
I doubt we’ll ever know what’s gone on in those meetings, and that’s a shame because I’m sure it would be very revealing (which is why we’ll never know). Considering their public behavior, we can only assume some of them must act like total horses asses behind closed doors. Until we hear otherwise, that’s exactly the mental picture you should assume – all the worst stuff you can think up, or as they said in Ghostbusters and Team America: World Police, “all the bad/worst parts of the Bible.”
Things like: name calling, saying how they really feel about something or someone, attacks on citizens, anti-religious comments, praise for Dear Leader, war on Firestone, war on Times-Call, war on free speech, prairie dog amnesty, mosquitos are human too, who haven’t we taxed yet and how do we go about it, fees are too low – we need more and higher fees, screw city employees, etc etc etc. Feel free to submit your own. They can say all they want they didn’t say it, but can they prove it? Nope, no records. Double sided sword.
Come clean and stop these secret meetings, or that list, correct or not, will only grow.
You’ve worked your whole life, you die, your family tries to sell off some stuff for whatever reason (pay off debts, pay for your funeral, etc) and the taxman, or taxwoman in this case (Longmont City Councilmember Sarah Levison) follows you to and beyond the grave to collect.
Apparently someone in town was holding an “estate sale” and Ms. Levison wants the city to get its fair share of sales tax revenue from this sale. She “had an occasion to stop by” this sale, said she didn’t buy any of the $500+ items, and has now turned snitch on the people holding it. I’m sure it will greatly help in the grieving process.
She said she “noticed they were not collecting taxes for the City of Longmont”. She’s either clairvoyant or actually asked them, but she didn’t elude to that in her comments. How does she know they weren’t collecting sales tax for Longmont or the State of Colorado? That’s right, she doesn’t. Don’t you love those kind of people who show up at places (usually uninvited as anyone who knows them would just assume not invite them to anything) and start throwing their weight and opinion around? In this case a city councilmember making assumptions (correct or not) about a possibly criminal activity, in her opinion.
She didn’t say she didn’t buy anything. So if she did, was she a known accessory to tax evasion? We’ll leave that alone, for now… Here’s the video
Once again, with some people their instincts and principles just come natural in social settings – in this case a nosey, overtaxing nanny-state type. It’s not enough that they want to bring back the “Death Tax” (“Estate tax” is just too nice) and tax you your whole life and into the afterlife spreading their misery to those you leave behind. But tax them again when they try to sell your stuff, probably just to keep the house you lived in and paid a mortgage on for years.
But that’s not all! She also wants to find out if maybe the state could go after these people, she’d “hate to think that we might have lost several hundred dollars worth of tax income that day“. She ended with “we need every dime we can get these days“. First off, “we” being the government, is supposed to be us, the people. It’s amazing how quickly elected officials forget that and find as many ways as possible to siphon off money from citizens.
Second, if this city didn’t squander money away so frivolously in the last 18 months (about the same time as this weak majority has been on council – no, precisely the time this weak majority has been in charge) this wouldn’t be so much of an issue. It was Ms. Levison in particular who led the charge with last minute adjustments to the recent budget, things dreamed up on the fly with no public notice. You must know where this is leading, get ready for….
GARAGE SALES TAX.
…and here’s your future garage sale monitor and elected busybody, Sarah Levison, At-Large Longmont City Councilmember.
On Sunday June 14, 2009 the Longmont Times-Call did a fairly large piece on emails and Open Records. It sounded sort of familiar as I’ve written about it over the last year, did my own Open Records request for these emails, and my wife has discussed this with council members.
Something I want you to keep in mind when you read these stories and the editorial that came out the same day: when you hear a councilmember, Karen Benker in particular because she asked point blank about this issue, don’t assume for a second “they didn’t know“. They knew alright.
April 30, 2008 on this site and YourHub, I wrote a story called “Can of Worms“. Do I assume they all read my stuff? Of course not. The point is what they asked during a City Council meeting of their then City Attorney Clay Douglas. Here are some relevent parts: ————– 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.
Councilmember Karen Benker asked City Attorney Clay Douglas about (the LifeBridge Open Records request) 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.
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. 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. ————————- There’s more, relating to Open Meetings laws and how this “new” council was advised of all of this. No excuses. These councilmembers were well aware of all the laws and procedures, but will they be held accountable? What do you think?
This was an interesting quote in the TC story: “City Council members who are not making all their e-mails available to the public are violating the Colorado Open Records Act, said Steve Zansberg, a Denver-based media attorney.”
Karen Benker basically admitted to violating this in one of the stories (‘Lot of room for error’ built in). Even if it “wasn’t made clear to her when she was appointed to the council in 2005“, this is a lifetime bureaucrat, are you really buying that? And again, she asked the City Attorney during an open council meeting about this April of 2008, over a year ago! So not only has she violated this statute, she’s lying about her knowledge and legal advice on this issue.
I did an Open Records request of council emails a few months ago. I was shocked at gaping holes in time of absolutely no emails, entire months wiped clean. I know for a fact I sent some emails to councilmembers before, during, and after that time period. Most were not forwarded. And as you saw, Councilmember Brian Hansen was the worst offender in this program and Times-Call attack dog Sean McCoy wouldn’t even respond for their story. A pretty important issue, don’t you think?
Well, not if you’re the local village idiots who think Benker, McCoy, Hansen, and Levison can do no wrong. Yes, that’s right, they are defending blatant intentional flaunting and violating of state law. Why not? They have the majority, right? The new City Attorney probably isn’t aware of what the previous one said about this (and that list grows by the month), so don’t expect much there.
So which is it, are they just babes in the woods playing it by ear? Or outright lawlessness?
Longmont Politics includes political posts from Wrongmont, Longmont Advocate, UNElect McCoy, and news/info posts from Longmont Foreclosures, Vote Longmont, and Longmont Examiner.
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