Longmont’s Mall theater solution: Netflix!


Contrary to what some, or even many, people may think, I don’t go out of my way to try to make some members of Longmont City Council look bad. They usually do it all by themselves. Problem is, most people in this city have no idea what kinds of things come out of their mouths, and if they did they would occasionally be appalled – or at least entertained.

On Saturday May 2nd, three councilmembers (Karen Benker, Sarah Levison, and Brian Hansen) hosted a town meeting along with members of city staff. The hottest topic that took up most of the meeting was the Twin Peaks Mall. Whenever the mall is a topic in the Times-Call, the comments from citizens are many, long, and heated. For the most part, people want something done with this failing piece of property. And yesterday.

Who needs theaters when you have Netflix?
Many of the comments by the above councilmembers were quite revealing. The most ridiculous has to go to Mr. Hansen. Most people in the city seem to be in favor of a new theater, the old one has lousy seating, along with sub-par picture and sound quality. It’s ugly and people go elsewhere, plain and simple. When asked about this theater situation, Mr. Hansen said that no one is going to theaters anymore, and a viable alternative is to stay at home and rent from Netflix.

Now, I love Netflix, use it constantly, both streaming and by mail. But how many of you relish the idea of sitting around the glow of your TV (and the warmth of your mercury-laden CFL bulbs) and staying home to watch movies? Keep in mind Netflix doesn’t have movies when they first come out, so you have to wait a bit for that new picture you want to see. Mr. Hansen also used the excuse of getting the flu or cold in theaters, which is possible anywhere you have actual interaction with live human beings. Who needs that, right?

It’s tough being green
Then the point of driving to the theater came up and how he can just walk down to the mailbox and drop off his DVD. This is not very eco-friendly when you take into account everything involved with multiple vehicles in the US Postal system getting that DVD to and from your mailbox. It’s a much smaller carbon footprint to drive a mile, or even several miles, to a theater. Or walk, or ride your bike, or take a bus – just about anything.

Then there’s the “benefit to the city” issue: What sales/use tax does Netflix bring to the City of Longmont? I’d guess ZERO. And Mr. Hansen is endorsing a service that competes directly with companies around town that rent or sell DVD’s who actually do bring revenues into the city.

His excuse was the improvements in flat panels and home theaters, and that the sound they offer is about as good as you’re going to get at a theater. How many of you would agree with that? It may be better than what Twin Peaks Mall theater has NOW, but not in a new stadium seating, Dolby Digital theater, which is about the bare minimum now in new theaters surrounding, but not in, Longmont.

How do you really feel?
But it wasn’t just the theater with Mr. Hansen. He said more than once he isn’t against the mall redevelopment, yet he has consistently spoken and voted against it. There is a contingent here in Longmont, and they always side with Mr. Hansen and the “Benker-wing” of city council, who have made it clear it’s just fine with them if the land where the mall now sits became one big Open Space with prairie dogs as far as the eye can see. It’s my opinion that Mr. Hansen’s above comments reveal his true feelings about the mall: let it fail, let it be bulldozed, let it be “returned to its natural state” (my term).

What was really infuriating was his comments that now is not the time to do this with the economy in the shape that it’s in, and that the city was in a “much better position to do something” prior to the downturn. I’ve been writing about this situation for well over a year, (see for yourself at this link) and the stalling game this council has played with the mall. There have been public meetings (which Mr. Hansen never attended), studies, a “charrette” – you name it, it’s been done ad nuaseam with this mall. And long before these “hard economic times”.

The most accurate thing he said was “they (Panattoni) are in the mall business, and I’m not. They’re probably more experts than we are.” You wouldn’t know that watching City Council meetings on this subject for the last year and a half. Karen Benker noted that “people are voting with their feet”, which is true, right into other malls and theaters in Boulder, Erie, and Loveland.

Council’s Mall hostility
Sarah Levisons continued apparent hostility towards Panattoni continued with her comments about “strip mall stuff like Harvest Junction”, and how inexperienced the company is. She also kept saying they could build any time they want – although there is the little issue of getting it through Planning and Zoning and a vote of council – which is a consistent NO vote from Ms. Levison.

Like I said prior, drive by Harvest Junction, is that (and the now planned hotel) the small, meaningless potatoes that some on this council pretend it to be? The question was asked, and Ms. Benker didn’t quite get it, so I’ll rephrase it: The pro-mall comments at this meeting notwithstanding, about a year ago you were more positive on the mall situation, something changed and as your support went south, the project stalled. Without using the excuse of the economy (your support fell prior to that), why did your support wane? Was it a shifting interest and prioritization towards Downtown? What has Panattoni done wrong, or differently, to warrant this negative treatment?

These things have consequences
Whatever the reason, all of the citizens of Longmont suffer over this council’s inaction, stalling, and stonewalling of this issue. If nothing happens with Twin Peaks Mall before November, regardless of your newfound and returned support, the stalling by you and the consistent non-support by your fellow councilmembers (Levison, Hansen, and McCoy) will be a major election issue. Count on it.

(Additional resources for this report provided by the Longmont Examiner)

“Would You Please Recall The Mayor?”

From time to time, Longmont City Councilmembers other than the Mayor get their chance at being Acting Mayor. Karen Benker has done it a couple of times, once was fine, the other was a little shaky. At the December 16 council meeting, Gabe Santos got a shot at it and he uttered what’s sure to be the line of the year. He asked that Mayor Lange and Mayor Pro-Tem Benker be recalled!
I’m a fan of getting right to the point, no mixing of words. But this is unprecedented! Has Chicago-style politics (that would include the Illinois governorship) come to Longmont? No, it was just a faux pas when Mr. Santos was asking that these two members be un-sequestered from a Longmont Area Economic Council (LAEC) discussion, and was pretty funny (or extreme hubris! I’ll go with the former)
Speaking of the LAEC, why do I get the feeling that some on council are still unsure of what this organization does? Councilmembers McCoy and Levison asked questions that made it appear they’re not totally familiar with their mission. I heard a couple “is that correct”, followed by “no, it’s not”, and financial numbers that weren’t too close to reality, like membership fees.
What I really was getting a kick out of, and shocked at the amount of restraint LAEC President John Cody showed, was the added demands put on the LAEC by the same people who wanted to cut it fairly severely, especially Ms. Levison, who made the most requests and also wanted the harshest cuts. To his credit, Mr. McCoy was the one earlier who found $30,000 from other funds to cover some of Ms. Levison’s cuts in LAEC, and he did move the issue forward at this meeting after getting his questions answered.
But some of the points and questions were a bit much, like the LAEC needs to find jobs for the laid off people at the turkey plant, and find them here in Longmont. Not a whole lot of turkey plants in the area. And a recurring theme from some on council, but to a much greater degree from their fellow travelers, is this non-stop attack on former administrations to the point of ridiculous. Case in point here was towards former Mayor Leona Stoecker coming from Mr. McCoy. It sounded petty and vindictive, and it was also clear he didn’t know exactly what she was doing (which sounds like a positive thing for the city) and that it wasn’t coming from the LAEC contract. No “double dipping” like he was accusing.
The whole Mall issue, which took up a couple of hours, I’ll leave for later. But there were a couple of other interesting things that I’d like to take a couple quick hits at: Karen Benker wants a tax on Internet sales. I only bring this up as it’s ironic that she was also pushing, and succeeded, at drastically cutting the credit local businesses get for the paperwork needed to actually report those collected taxes.
The city’s Use Tax projections are a bit thin, like off by a third! Guess what makes up a big chunk of Use Taxes – building permits. Can anyone say Lifebridge Union Development? (say Firestone as you do). Or how about the Mall for that matter, and the stalling that’s lead to no building activity there.
Finally, the board appointments seemed to go a little smoother than usual, except for a little argument between Mr. Santos and Mr. McCoy, as the latter started straying from the rules council agreed to. It also looked like council, once again, allowed a late applicant (late as in applied at the council meeting) to be considered and appointed.
In other cases it was a new applicant perhaps not familiar with the rules and deadlines (what’s the point of those anyway, right?). In this case, it was someone already on the board they were applying for completely unaware of the vacancy! Stunning. Surprised this applicant wasn’t passed over out of the obvious ineptitude. Then again, I’m not.

City Council Rules! (Of Procedure)

In yet another contentious Longmont City Council meeting on October 21, there was one bit of irony I couldn’t let slip by. Councilmember Sarah Levison brought up City Council RULE 19: RECONSIDERATION in opposition to a motion Gabe Santos made which would effectively reverse a motion she made the previous week.

The rule reads: After the decision on any question, any member who voted with the prevailing side may move to reconsider the decision at the same meeting or at the next meeting at which Rule 25 permits final or official action on the subject question. Rule 25 spells out when there will be meetings, whether they’re regular or study session, and public postings of these meetings and their agendas.

At the September 23 regular session meeting, City Manager Gordon Pedrow told council they had a decision to make about a meeting on November 4 (Election Day) or November 11 (Veterans Day). Council voted to have an early and abbreviated meeting on November 4. The minutes for that meeting aren’t available yet, and Mayor Lange said it passed but didn’t say if it was unanimous or not. Ms. Levison said “I do not want to meet on Veterans Day”, so it’s assumed she voted for November 4. So she may have well voted with the “prevailing side”, as Rule 19 specifies.

But, on October 14, Ms. Levison brought this issue up again and tried to get council to reconsider having a meeting on Veterans Day, stating that she didn’t know that not having it then meant having it Thanksgiving week. Two problems with this: first, Mr. Pedrow stated during his comments on September 23 as they were considering this, that this indeed would mean a meeting during “Thanksgiving week”. Secondly, when she brought it up for reconsideration, it wasn’t during the same meeting or even the next meeting. Did she violate the very rule she was trying to use for her own purposes?

Granted, it may be debatable that a meeting date is a final or official action. But since this decision, it has been posted on subsequent agendas that the November 11 meeting has been cancelled. Either way, Ms. Levison went back on her earlier statement, and I could not find a single councilmember who spoke in favor of meeting on Veterans Day. So why bring it back up for reconsideration?

What Mr. Santos wanted reconsideration of was a questionable vote last week where two councilmembers abstained from voting. City Attorney Clay Douglas made an on-the-spot decision involving this issue, which he now seems to be reversing, which changes everything and should make that earlier vote invalid. So, in reality, this is not a reconsideration at all. It’s a clarification and correction.

This is an undecided item and might get resolved behind closed doors next week at yet another Executive Session. By Mr. Santo’s count, this should be the 21st of these types of “closed to the public” meetings.

That must be a record, and not one to be proud of. The new councilmembers promised a more open and accessible governing body when they ran for election. This staggering amount of closed door meetings proves, beyond any doubt, the contrary.

“Laughing Stock of the Community”

While I was trying to pull together some audio for my next podcast, (which originally was going to be completely devoted to the Police/Firefighter bargaining issue, and hopefully still will be), I ended up with way more sound than I can use in one show just from the most recent Longmont City Council meeting of October 14, 2008.
Of course the line of the night, and if you suffer through the entire meeting you will surely agree, was Councilmember Mary Blue’s statement “We’re already the laughing stock of the community, we just want to compound it”. And this was before most of the ridiculous and tedious antics that made this meeting go nearly until midnight. Ms. Blue couldn’t have been more correct. But I’ll add, it isn’t all of council that is a laughing stock, and some of that stock resides in the crowd that often attends and makes fools out of themselves in Public Invited to Be Heard.
Ms. Blue’s main point was the haphazard way in which this current council goes about the business it tries to conduct in chambers. As I predicted, they are behind and floundering on the current budget, and it doesn’t help when councilmembers stray from the agenda and bring up all kinds of motions that go nowhere and waste time. Best example in the last couple of meetings is Councilmember Sarah Levison. I’ve never seen so many motions die due to no second, or voted down when a second actually occurs.
Nearly every one of these pointless motions could be a story or Times-Call article in themselves. For instance, anyone remember how council voted down having a meeting on November 11th, Veterans Day, well, because it’s a holiday and the whole veteran thing? At a late hour, Ms. Levison tried to revive this and sneak it into a part of the Consent Agenda. Sean McCoy tried to second it, but when councilmembers Karen Benker and Mary Blue said they’d remove their own second from the original Consent Agenda motion, he backed off. But boy did they want to undo the previous NO vote and to heck with veterans.
Even after City Manager Gordon Pedrow made it clear there were no more funds for any projects unless other projects were cut or unfunded, Ms. Levison still tried to move some projects from “unfunded” to “funded”. In one case there was a question of conflict of interest to the point Ms. Levison had to remover herself from voting. It failed anyway, more time wasted.
Another item which I found extremely troubling, but I believe I predicted this as well some time in the last few months, was when Ms. Levison wanted to skip the hassle of waiting for the Election Reform group and just put in the budget money for publicly financed campaigns! I know I said somewhere that this group, which Ms. Levison helped put together, would come forward with suggestions, but that council would disregard what didn’t fit their narrow agenda and vote in what they wanted and ignore this group by and large. I didn’t expect it to happen so blatantly and as rapidly as this! Much more on this and reaction from this group upcoming on this little gem.
Believe me when I tell you I’m only scratching the surface on council’s recent meetings. Watch it for yourself; it’s not something to be proud of. I’m glad to see Councilmember Blue put it the way she did, because she was right on the money. We’re in the midst of a sad and often befuddled governing body currently. It does not give me pleasure, nor does it Ms. Blue I assume, to have to point out this obvious sad state of affairs. See the price for not paying attention even for local elections?

Give It A Rest


When I first heard Councilmember Sarah Levison repeatedly bring up the Brennan Center for Justice as a “non-partisan” organization to help frame the new Campaign finance reform, I, and I assume others, let it go trusting Ms. Levison was just trying to do what was best for Longmont.

In a recent Longmont City Council meeting, Ms. Levison mentioned how some members on the task force were getting tired of hearing about this organization. Now the truly “non-partisan” nature of this group is coming in to question.

In the September 13, 2008 New York Times, the newspaper of “record” (or lining birdcages, and fewer birdcages every day) spun very nicely a story of getting the word out to former convicted felons, often as they are just barely out of prison. Who’s getting this word out and actively pursuing these people? First there’s the Voter Registration Drive (VRD) organization that gives the rest of us VRD‘s a bad name, ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). Just Google them, (add ” Obama” to the search and it gets really interesting) the results will be “voter fraud” across several states.

Next up is the ACLU, NAACP, the Sentencing Project, and…the Brennan Center for Justice. Neither presidential candidate chose to be involved with this operation, but the NY Times noted ” Last month, Obama campaign workers took down a sign at their headquarters in Pottstown, Pa., that said ” Felons can vote,because it might have sent the wrong message.” That can be taken a few ways, you decide for yourself. But the point is ” the company you keep”, etc.

Then there’s the NY Times article entitled ” A Book Club Courts Liberals” about the Progressive Book Club. This is all well and good, as there are all kinds of book clubs, including a Conservative Book Club. But if the Brennan Center was non-partisan, it would advertise for both, or neither. I can’t find any mention of the Conservative Book Club on Brennan’s site, but the NY Times article had this: ” Participating organizations, which will also advertise the Progressive Book Club on their Web sites and help recruit members, include the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law; the Foundation for National Progress, which publishes Mother Jones magazine; and the Wellstone Action Fundand ” alliance partnerDaily Kos. Again, the company you keep, and the above are far from middle of the road groups like Ms. Levison claims Brennan is.

Just a quick glance at Wikipedia says they’re a ” progressive” institute named after Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan who (according to Wikipedia again) was ” Known for his outspoken liberal views, including opposition to the death penalty and support for abortion rights.” Some of you might recall his claim of the death penalty as being ” cruel and unusual” punishment describing in gruesome detail this process, apparently having more sympathy for hardened criminals than the innocent unborn.

But the center’s naming after him, and the connections above are all just a coincidence, is that what we are lead to believe?

If Ms. Levison wants to use them as a resource that works out for the best interests of Longmont, fine. Even if they are partisan, that’s fine, too (unless they are a non-profit organization). But can we dispense with the charade of this organization (Brennan) being above politics?

( emphasis added in NY Times quotes)

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.

3 Cheers for our new “Progressive” Council Members

1 Cheer for getting rid of our Library Director
1 Cheer for getting rid of the Fire Chief and
1 Cheer for getting rid of the City Attorney

What wonderful “progress” for our city! Maybe they can all be replaced by people who can’t think for themselves, who are self-serving and live in a dream world…just like their fellow Progressives! If this keeps up we’ll be cheering our way to absolute devestation. Thankfully there’s a WHOLE lot of us keeping score…who will remind everyone, come election time,of what “wonderful” work the majority of our council have done so that history doesn’t repeat itself.

Contributed by: Stephanie Baum 

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.

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.

Mall-itics Pt. 5

Continuing the coverage of the Mall Redevelopment Meeting of June 16th, I had to comment on one of previous speakers comments and of course the council politics part of it. I didn’t identify myself or promote my blog/podcast, just speaking as a citizen in this unprepared speech.

I just wanted to address the point that he made, that can the citizens, can the community, can they handle this? Can they afford this? And this is what I want everybody to tell their councilmembers: The city and the community can’t afford not to do this. They can’t afford for the mall to be the way it is right now. They can’t afford for it to get worse. And in 2 or 3 years, when they ( Panattoni) still own it, and everybody starts screaming that this has become a nightmare, fiasco, boarded up facility, you can tell those councilmembers that aren’t attending these meetings..and if I’m not wrong these meetings have been on (different nights of the week). There’s been three meetings, one of those three non-voting people have come to one meeting ( Levison), two of them haven’t come to any ( McCoy & Hansen), so I don’t want to hear the excuse that they want to listen, they want to learn. No, they’re just flat out against it. This thing is bigger than downtown, it’s bigger than light rail ( FastTracks), it’s bigger than the Lifebridge development, it’s bigger than most anything else going on in this city. It’s important, so all of you need to tell all your councilmembers exactly how you feel.”

The next speaker chimed in, and this wasn’t mentioned at all in the Times-Call article, and I’m sure the speaker would like her councilman, Brian Hansen, to be aware of her comments, as she said he’s basically ignoring her. She said she voted for Brian Hansen and she lives near him, and that he has his own thinking, but doesn’t poll his district to see what they want, and that he won’t listen to her. After the meeting, someone else asked how in the world he got elected in the first place. Hey, I’m just repeating what I heard.

The group got a little hostile towards a member of the consulting group when he was showing a design similar to 29th St in Boulder. The question was asked ” aren’t we all in unanimous agreement this isn’t what we want? Why are you showing this to us?” At first I thought it was a little reverse psychology in play; get the crowd up in a lather about adamantly not wanting anything resembling what you’re pitching to them. Then slowly turn them your way as you show some nice concept drawings of what they do want, an updated indoor mall. But apparently I was giving this guy too much credit, this did not occur, and the long slide show of other developments around the country was anticlimactic.

I just didn’t get the feeling this portion added much to the discussion. I think what people want, and I heard this from people on the inside, is that people, including councilmembers, just want to see a plan of what WE might get HERE, not so much what others are doing. To this, Panattoni’s Will Damrath did show a concept overhead rendering of a theater and alterations to the current mall. But he also said whatever they show us now, could change tomorrow. As important as community involvement is, tenant needs and demands rule. Unfortunately, we have some citizens and members of council that think they can micromanage the design, architecture, and building of a mall. Talk about ” inexperienced” (see Pt.2).

The Times Call story received a big response, about 39 comments in 3 days. Most are in favor of doing something with the mall, and there was a scattering of apologists for the councilmembers who vote against anything to do with the mall. I’d like to know, if not this plan, then what is their plan for the mall area? Panattoni has been endlessly answering the same questions, but I haven’t heard the councilmembers against this answer this one. I get that they a) don’t think it was blighted, and b) they don’t want a public/private partnership with this corporation. So what’s your idea? And don’t bring up Downtown or FastTracks. Tell us your plan for this area. Got one?