Our Vote! Longmont organization was in the August 2ndBoulder County Fair Parade.We also received a trophy for 2nd Place in the “Organizational” category!(8/5/08 Times-Call Pg A-3)
Was it the theme?The parade theme was “Back to our Roots”.As we passed the judges desk, the announcer introduced us: “Vote! Longmont encourages Longmont residents to register and vote in all elections, especially at the local level.VOTING IS THE ROOT OF DEMOCRACY.Be informed..get involved..VOTE! LONGMONT”
Was it the music?We had a medley of songs playing, pumping out of my PA system.We started it off at a fairly low volume, but people kept yelling to turn it up.We HATE quiet parades.We were wedged between a couple trucks with big engines, so the high volume was a good counterbalance.We had people along the route dancing and singing along.At a couple points the PA system tripped a circuit breaker.Yep, it was loud.
Was it the mascot?We had our basset hound as our official Vote! Longmont “Am-basset-door” barking and howling out the passenger window.
Was it the float design?We had our banner on the front.We had our voting booth in the back.We had red, white, and blue “fringes” along the sides – considering the (supposedly) Lunatic, Disconnected, and Fanatical Fringe were there as part of our entry.
Was it the free stuff?The entire route, Brigette was handing out hundreds of pieces of candy (red/white/blue saltwater taffy), bookmarks (also known as “garbage” to Longmont Councilmember Sean McCoy), and election and registration information.She also gave these to the judges, couldn’t hurt.Keep in mind this was a hot day on blacktop.
A funny side note: in the staging area we were right next to the Boulder County Democratic Party entry (see picture of the Obama Boat).More than once we were confused as being the lead for their procession, by citizens, elected officials, and candidates alike.Everyone that came up to us were friendly, even after they figured out who we were, or weren’t.One in particular was U.S. Congressional candidate Jared Polis.We had a friendly chat, talked about his ads on our Vote! Longmont site, which he was aware of and thanked us for.He was also aware we probably wouldn’t be voting for him (most of Longmont isn’t in the district he’s running for).
So, it was a fun time, a nice surprise to actually win a trophy, and best of all, the organizers already called us hoping we’ll return next year!
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.
The following is a speech made to Longmont City Council by Brigette Rodriguez of Vote! Longmont on Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Mayor Lange and members of Council,
Most of you are used to seeing my husband Chris up here. I’m here tonite to talk about our non-partisan organization called Vote Longmont. I have the primary responsibilities of our organization. We started it as we felt that not enough residents are either registered voters nor are they showing up to actually vote. We are certified by the Colorado Secretary of States office to help people register to vote and in addition our website provides Longmont residents with current local initiative links and information. We have been very busy this year for obvious reasons with the national election coming up.
Last weekend we had the opportunity to have a booth at our first large event, Rhythm on the River. In addition to working with the Boulder County Clerk who was at a different location at the event, we were in an area sponsored by the Longmont Museum called the Discovery District. This area is a family oriented area and we offered an activity called “Discover Voting”. We had 172 children cast their ballots for President in a voting booth I had created for our mock election. Many parents as well as the museum director thought this would inspire them to one day become more civically involved. My husband was even dressed up as 2nd President John Adams. Our booth also offered a convenience to parents who themselves wished to register or update their voter registrations while their children were doing activities in that area. One six year old who voted in our booth even cutely asked me “who would you vote for if you were a kid?”
We had many people visit us, including teachers and council members. We received lots of positive feedback and one councilmembers child even voted in our voting booth. But I’m disappointed about the behavior of Councilman McCoy who came into our area. I had stepped away to pick up more flyers from the Longmont City Council booth and found that he had visited our area when my husband and son were staffing the table. When my husband offered him one of the hundreds of bookmarks we had handed out, he replied “I wouldn’t take any of your garbage.”
That “garbage” consisted of flyers about deadlines for voting, how to verify your voter registration, links to contacts for the current school district bond and mill levy override issue, information on local businesses to encourage shopping local, and interesting enough…the flyer for “meet your council members.” I spent weeks preparing for this event. I would have expected better behavior from a councilmember and a school teacher at that, especially because my 12 yr old son was witness to this.
Our project wants to encourage people to be involved in their community and what their city council is discussing. Actions like this make me also not surprised to read in the paper today about the low percentage of city surveys that have been turned in. I am not a member of the lunatic fringe as Councilmember McCoy likes to put it, but a member of your community.
I’ve been a follower of politics since I was a teenager subscribing to Time Magazine. I was usually pretty good at picking winners of elections; I’d just follow trends, do a lot of reading, and follow my gut. Over the years I’ve made a hobby of picking presidential elections, getting better each time with 2004 topping out at correctly picking every state except one, Wisconsin, which was pretty close.
Apparently my interest in this stuff is not the norm based on low voter registration rates and turnouts come election time. Ever since starting up my Wrongmont rantings, an ongoing theme has been to hold elected officials accountable, and one great way is to vote them IN to office, or vote them OUT.
At times it appears interest is on the rise based on more people showing up at City Council meetings, petition drives, and activist groups. But the steady decline in voter activity has continued. I figured talk with calls to action wasn’t enough, so I took the next step and got certified as a Voter Registration Drive by the Colorado Secretary of State. You need this certification to collect voter registration forms, try it without this, it’s all bad.
I also built a website with links and phone numbers to make it as easy as possible for people to find out their registration status and fix it if need be. My wife Brigette has also gotten us a choice location at Longmont’s Rhythm On The River event this summer. We’re looking at other venues to set up a table and get people registered.
Within a day of making the front page with our smiling faces on the Times-Call, we started getting emails and phone calls. My wife helped get info to an 18 year old working a McDonalds drive-thru window who was registering for the first time in his life. I spoke to a 90 year old gentleman who called our home. He had just moved and was unsure of his registration status, so my wife mailed him a form, some instructions, and a self-addressed stamped envelope with the Boulder County Clerks address on the front.
Since then we’ve received emails and calls from people who may think WE are the Boulder County Clerk, not this self-funded little operation. One in particular saw our story but had no internet capabilities, so I just gave her the direct number to the county clerk. It’s been fun so far and we’ve only just begun which we hope will turn in to more voter registrations, and come election time it’ll turn into higher voter interest, and more importantly, TURNOUT.
It’s far from an end though, in many ways it’s a beginning, and quite a beginning on the horizon.
As some of you may have seen, I recently started a Voter Registration Drive effort called Vote Longmont. It came from my years of trying to get people to pay more attention to their local community and government. So it was one offshoot of Wrongmont, and I think an important one. It will take up a fair amount of my time and money, but hopefully it will be worth it in higher registrations and turnout.
I’ve also been invited to join a fairly large media operation to write on subjects having to do with Longmont. It pays, not enough to be a second job, but I’m flattered to be considered. Prior to this offer, I had already been working on a much larger project than Wrongmont in scope and reach. The timing of this is total coincidence, but you know what they say about coincidences.
I’m well aware of the perceived connotations to the name “Wrongmont”, and that is partly the reason for the change, but not totally. After people read my stuff or got to know me, both online and personally, they got to see that I was actually a Longmont supporter and booster. Even friends who would agree with what I was saying, still after all these years, didn’t really care for the name. And those that didn’t know me, it maybe left a bad first impression. I thought it was snappy, a little sarcastic and witty (like myself), and easy to remember and type into a browser.
But I also knew there were limitations with the name, and what people thought it meant. I don’t like limitations, especially self inflicted ones.
Without giving too much away, I’m hoping my new project will interest people in wanting to participate. I will cover a wide variety of issues and topics and welcome outside submissions, as long as its Longmont related as much as possible. One example is I will showcase local talent, and I already have at least one band interested in taking part.
Local politics will still remain a large part of what is covered, but will be done in a much more interesting and entertaining way, at least that’s the goal. The rest, you’ll just have to wait. But whatever it is, and to whomever wants to take part, it will reach a larger audience than any other avenue I’ve used prior – combined. A hint: The Yellow Scene once said of me ” By founding Wrongmont.com, Rodriguez became one of EastCounty‘s early independent publishers.” The plan is to eclipse that. I’m not interested in standing still, no matter how comfortable it may be.
What’s ahead is daunting and challenging, mainly because I’m not willing to do things half-a, well you know. And if it just doesn’t work out, well, I guess you could consider this an April Fools joke.
While the name may change, the promise I made to myself and to my friend, the late Jeff Sands, remains.
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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