Games at council
At the same time people were complaining about political maneuvers our state House and Senate were making at the deadline of the legislative session, our own Mayor Dennis Coombs pulled a maneuver I had never seen at a council meeting.
Whenever a council member "pulls" an item off the Consent Agenda, that council member is immediately called upon by the mayor when that item is up for discussion. The item in question was the "Municipal Code Regarding Oil And Gas Well Operations" -- aka fracking. The council member who pulled it was Katie Witt.
But Mayor Coombs instead called on Councilwoman Sarah Levison, who immediately made a motion to pass the oil and gas regulations -- which was seconded by none other than Mayor Coombs himself. This was out of line for Mayor Coombs and showed no respect for fellow council members from both Ms. Levison and Mr. Coombs.
The person who pulled the item for discussion was immediately behind the eight ball, by design, and Mayor Coombs made it appear that pre-meeting coordination was afoot. Odds were, and it turned out to be so, that this was going to pass on first reading anyway. Why the games?
During this discussion, Councilman Brian Bagley said he didn't mind a court fight, saying he thought the city could win. But Councilwoman Bonnie Finley was correct: That money would be better spent on monitoring air and water quality around wells. Even if the city could win a court battle, it wouldn't come cheap. With all due respect to my friend Mr. Bagley, an attorney, attorneys are the only ones who win in these cases. The rest of us have to pay for it -- win or lose.
Big government or freedom
The Barack Obama campaign has published a slideshow creating a fictional character named Julia. It shows how a big federal government will take care of her from cradle to grave. It starts from the time she goes to school, gets into college, has a family, starts a business and has the government programs take care of her after she retires; all the credit goes to Barack Obama and big government.
What the slideshow does not discuss is freedom and opportunity, self-reliance, success through hard work and perseverance or any manner of personal accountability. We did not see how all these government programs were going to be paid for by Julia, or the tax increases necessary to cover the cost. It did not tell you what freedoms you will lose or government regulations you must follow to get the benefits. What was not said is Europe has already tried this approach for 50 years and is now crumbling due to the overregulation, massive debt and excessive taxes.
Centralized governments fail because they cannot pay for their promises or manage any program of substance. Name one government program that is on budget or managed well. Decisions are made based on politics, not sound economics.
In this election we have a choice. Do we want to be Julia, completely relying on a big government to take care of us, or live our own lives and pursue our own happiness? A limited government allows everyone a chance to succeed and go after their own dreams based on skills, education, hard work, and desire. This approach built the greatest country the world ever knew. Barack Obama's approach has failed every time it is tried. It's your choice; a large federal government or freedom. You can't have both.
One issue: Support constitutions
Sen. Dick Lugar (a RINO) was recently defeated in the Indiana Primary by the tea party-preferred candidate (http://tinyurl.com/ch5lrkx).
Speaking (only) as a voter, a registered Republican, and an avid tea party supporter, I want to urge all Republican candidates to publicly take a stand of unconditional support for the U.S. and Colorado constitutions. This is the one issue that is universally supported by taxpayers and tea partiers alike.
Conventional Republican (GOP/RNC) wisdom is telling Republican candidates that, to win, they must distance themselves from the tea party in order not to offend "moderate Republicans" and "independents."
In the real world the facts suggest exactly the opposite, demonstrated by incumbent Lugar's defeat and the 2010 tea party turnover in Congress. Lugar was in high standing with "Moderate Republicans." (http://tinyurl.com/7y65z7q)
I predict that GOP/RNC "wisdom" will respond by attacking winner Richard Mourdock with a ferocity scarcely less than that of the Democrat party itself. Ask Dan Maes.
This same "wisdom" will intone that "moderate Republicans" and "independents" will reject and punish strong conservative candidates (and by inference all Republicans) by voting for Democrats in November. We'll see.
This same "wisdom" says to never utter the divisive word "RINO" and to deny that RINOism (aka progressivism) even exists in the GOP. That's ostrich logic.
Candidates, please: Speak at tea party meetings and submit essays to the tea party website. Doing so is an excellent way to promote your non-RINO credentials and find committed workers and supporters for your campaign. Our website is longmont912teaparty.org.
To be non-RINO you only need to give us your solemn word that you will:
Support the U.S. and Colorado constitutions above all, and leave all social issue legislation to the individual states.
Keep eye on kids
The weather is warmer and school is almost out for the year. Parents, do you know where your children are?
There is a construction site next door to my apartment complex, and I have called the police a few times to report two boys riding their skateboards or bikes on the concrete slab for one of the buildings. These boys are trespassing on private property. On Sunday evening, May 6, these boys returned to the construction site, and one of the boys went up to one of the several pieces of heavy equipment and started climbing on to it.
I again, called the police, but the boys left before the police arrived. These boys ride their bikes at a pretty high rate of speed.
Parents, be sure you know where your kids are and teach them that they need to stay away from construction areas and off of private property.
Market dog ban is unreasonable
Well, the Boulder County moon bats are at it again, banning people from bringing their dogs to the farmers market. It seems like all some people want to do these days is ban this and ban that. If all these people have to worry about is somebody bringing a dog into an open-air venue like a farmers market, they obviously don't have many problems in their lives. I would be more worried about some who attend the farmers market, perhaps those who carry communicable diseases.
I think that those who pushed for this ban are in reality dog haters. How is this ban going to be enforced? Will there be police or security armed and ready with pepper spray and Tasers? It would not surprise me at all these tumultuous days. Anytime I have been at the farmers market with my dog, I have not witnessed one problem with any of the dogs I have encountered there.
The bottom line is: Don't like my dog, then you don't need my money! I will not patronize any of the vendors who attend. I find most people who dislike dogs to be closed-minded, and their opinions and attitudes tend to be of a belligerent nature. Someone once said that one of the best things about dogs is the way they wag their tails and not their tongues. I am sick to death of people nowadays who want to ban anything they don't like and tell everyone else how to live. People need to stand up to this kind of untenable nonsense.
The seeds of self-destruction seem to be embedded in our genes. The ancient Greeks designed "The Republic," an attempt to introduce order into the calamity of humanity. Sadly, their design did not include the inclination to listen to one another, and so the city-states of Athens and Sparta disappeared in the dust of the Peloponnesian War. The "Republic-ans" have been self-righteous ever since, and the modern Greeks are living in the shadow of shame, more than under the rainbow of respect.
The Romans threw together a motley "Empire," which tried to fashion a "Democratic" flavor (with the popular vote) but did not include the decision to listen to their neighbors, and thus fell victim to the Huns to the north. The "Demo-crats" have been other-wrongous ever since, and the entire land of "Romance Languages" has become more combative than compassionate.
Today, the historical descendants of the previous two aborted efforts are once again engaged in a "Gingham-Calico" conflict, with lots of loudness, little listening and a dust level that is beginning to be measurable. The "Social Fabric" of the family is rapidly being replaced by the "Civil Union" of the self, and the identity of the nation is becoming one of ambiguity, in place of direction/definition.
Student loan rate roadblock
Recently the House of Representatives voted, along party lines, to kill a bill drafted to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling. The majority objected to the way this was going to be paid for: taxes would be raised a bit for the rich, who have been paying a lower tax rate than you and I for at least a decade. The majority doesn't object to keeping interest rates low. They just want to pay for it by cutting funding for preventive health care for low-income citizens.
Lest I be accused of trying to stir up hatred between political parties, I won't point out which party thinks the rich, who have more, can't afford to pay their fair share of taxes, and the less fortunate, who have less and whom Jesus called "the least of My brothers and sisters," can afford to have more taken away.
Museum storage move shortsighted
As a former director of the Longmont Museum (1982-2000), I was shocked to learn that the city of Longmont had traded away a building to a private business. The city-owned building at First and Main was transferred to the museum in the late 1990s under the enlightened leadership of Mayor Leona Stoecker and the Museum Advisory Board. Nearly $500,000 of taxpayer money was then invested to create a state-of-the-art storage facility for the museum's collection of historical artifacts.
The resulting Collections Storage Facility was second to none in Colorado. This facility ensured the long-term preservation and conservation of tens of thousands of artifacts, the gifts of thousands of donors representing the history of the people of Longmont. Established in the 1930s by the St. Vrain Historical Society as the Longmont Pioneer Museum, these historic objects are the cultural patrimony from generations of residents entrusted to the present generation for their care.
To give away the Collections Storage Facility building on the promise that the facility will be replaced at a later date was shortsighted. Moving and placing these environmentally sensitive and irreplaceable historic artifacts places them in danger. And what if the "promised" new facility fails to materialize (for any number of reasons)? What then for Longmont's heritage?
The core mission and value for any museum is "to collect, preserve and interpret." The Collections Storage Facility is where the artifacts were preserved along with the detailed records of their donors, and the description and history of every object. Longmont and the St. Vrain Valley today is the sum total of all of its history. Much of that history has been placed at potential risk.
As John Steinbeck asked in the "Grapes of Wrath": "How will we know it's us without our past?"
When city government works
Longmont's new trash-pickup trucks began running in March, and after a brief fleetwide recall are back on the job.
More than 30 years ago, Longmont city employees were getting out of their conventional trucks and hoisting garbage cans into open truck beds. The crews had a lot of medical bills because the heavy cans were straining workers' muscles and backs. The city was contemplating self-insurance and continued exposure to back injuries would be a deal-breaker for self-insurance, which would otherwise save taxpayer money.
City manager Charlie Klarich visited with me in my capacity as Longmont mayor about trying out one experimental truck that hydraulically hoisted trash containers into the truck. The idea sounded great to me. The lifter worked well when it worked. We tried it out first in Longmont Estates because cans were set in the streets in front of houses for easy pickup.
Improvement in a second generation of lifting mechanisms allowed the citywide adoption of the new pickup system. Later came trucks with covered beds so trash did not blow out. Now we have a fleet of trucks to pick up trash and recycled materials, a group of employees whose backs don't hurt, and generally satisfied residents who take the whole process for granted.
And that, to my mind, is what government should be about. Government should work behind the scenes for our betterment. City government, particularly, should be about streets, pipes and wires -- unobtrusive delivery of utilities to our homes, a silent underground network of water and sewer pipes, stuff that works for everyone's good.
As Longmont mayor three decades ago, I am glad to have had a part in laying a foundation for some of what the city of Longmont has going for all of us today.
Bring back cruisers
My father-in-law encouraged me to enter my'32 Ford Deuce in the Cinco de Mayo car show at Roosevelt Park. I was not too excited about the idea but did it anyway. We had a wonderful time and the cars were incredible. But what was more amazing was talking to exhibitors and people walking by. So many of the people who brought cars were Longmont residents who had body shops, restoration businesses and an overall passion for the rich history of the automobile. I heard about the history of cruising in Longmont -- some good, some bad. But the people were all nice and all spending money and time in Longmont!
I also heard about the Colfax Cruise up and down Colfax Avenue in Denver. Hundreds of cars. Tens of thousands of spectators. Retail lots up and down Colfax where people can stop and walk around the cars just like Roosevelt Park.
So tonight I go down Main and there at Pacific Auction is another car show. Lots of cars. Lots of people.
So why don't we do the same here so we can spread the business all over Longmont instead of the four blocks of Main that gets the benefit of parades? When I had Buzz Coffee on Francis Street, my major complaint was that Longmont City Council, the Chamber of Commerce and the LDDA virtually ignored that wonderful retail block here in Old Town that I so loved. If that center was a stop on the "tour," people would finally get a chance to see it's greatness. And we could expose all of the wonderful stops on Main Street from Prospect to Highway 66 instead of just the "favored four."
I know this idea must be flawed. I just can't see why. Someone tell me.
No second chance for Charlie
Boulder County residents should be very proud of the "I Have a Dream" Foundation (Sunday, May 13, Times-Call), the dropout-prevention program that serves students from elementary through high school and provides these students with scholarships to pursue higher education.
It was interesting to read how three "Dreamers" (Charlie Trejo, Sonia Pargas and Beatriz Perez) are all planning to attend college upon graduation. The "I Have a Dream" Foundation has given each of these young people a chance for success in the future. I do wish all three the best of luck in their college careers, and I am sure that with a little hard work they will succeed.
I am troubled by one aspect of the Times-Call article. It was stated that as a young teen Charlie hated school, got into a little trouble and racked up a juvenile court record, getting ticketed for several minor offenses. It was stated that Trejo's past still haunts him because his first choice of colleges (CU-Boulder) denied his application based on his criminal record.
Is this the same CU that about a year ago accepted a former UCLA football player who was kicked off the UCLA football team after being arrested on suspicion of stealing a purse? Is this the same CU that accepted a football player who several months ago was expelled from his high school for racially and sexually explicit tweets? The University of Michigan and Notre Dame withdrew scholarship offers -- the coach of CU said everyone deserves a "second chance."
If that is true, where is the second chance for Charlie Trejo? Maybe Charlie should give up his dream of being an engineer and take up football. I'm sure CU will welcome him with open arms.
A democracy problem
At last week's City Council meeting a few people said it was irresponsible of the city to risk a lawsuit with the state over fracking. They were upset that the city would risk taxpayer money to fight a legal battle, while taxpayer money would also be used against the city on the state side.
Who would lose, they asked, no matter the outcome of a lawsuit? The taxpayer.
I respect their stance on this, but I feel their anger is misdirected. If we truly do not want to have to pay for both sides of a lawsuit over fracking, we should direct our anger, frustration and voices at the state level.
It is a failure of democracy that Colorado towns are not allowed to refuse a heavy industrial activity within their neighborhoods, near schools and hospitals and near water sources. If the state was requiring us to open a tire recycling center, a nuclear waste processing plant or an oil refinery, we would be up in arms. What right does the state have to require us to have any commercial or industrial activity in our town?
The state has sold the mineral rights beneath our feet. And they did it without a vote, without a public hearing, without so much as a public notice.
That's not right.
We do not have a fracking problem in Longmont. We have a democracy problem. And it is not the City Council's fault. They are merely trying to do their job and keep their promises to protect the residents of Longmont by keeping heavy industry out of our neighborhoods, away from schools and hospitals and away from water sources.
If you think our tax dollars shouldn't go to a fight for the right to reject heavy industry, take it up with the state.
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