Governance

Safeguards? Loveland Needs Some Stinking Safeguards

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Google Images

On February 14th, the City of Loveland released a statement concerning the Public Works Department. We wrote about it - click here and we talked about it - click here. We are still trying to figure out what the city is trying to achieve by issuing this statement and we are focused not on their words but their actions.

One of the most concerning aspects of the city statement is this sentence - “ the city has already put in place safeguards and procedures….to ensure the alleged conduct could not take place in the future..” Does that mean there were no safeguards and procedures before? Eye On Loveland decided to explore this question.

In November, 2018 the city manager created a plan of safeguards and procedures for the public works department. We can assume that based on the city statement that this plan was a reaction to the allegations of misdeeds in the public works department. To see the plan, click here. We want to focus on the plan the city put forth and not on the personnel, so the names and other non relevant information has been redacted. After reading the steps laid out for the Public Works Department, two questions pop into mind:

  • Why were these safeguards not already in place?

  • Have the policies and procedures outlined in November, 2018 been implemented, it is February, 2019?

Many of these new safeguards and procedures look like things any city should be doing. It is troubling that Loveland did not ( and still may not) have the very basic protection when it comes to equipment, materials, and procedures that protect the taxpayer. The equipment at the public works building does not belong to any one individual, it belongs to all of the taxpayers.

We applaud the city for acknowledging that taxpayers should be protected. However, why now? Why were the safeguards not already in place and what made the city put them in place now? The borrowing, theft, or destruction of taxpayer property is a very serious offense. Having safeguards and sound policies, then and now, is always in the best interest of taxpayers.

The next public meeting of the Loveland City Council is February 26th, 7pm, City Hall.

Be sure to sign up to receive regular updates and subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes,apple.com - eyeonloveland. Please follow us on twitter @eyeonloveland and facebook at eyeonloveland.  We would love to hear what you have to say so send us an email at eyeonloveland@gmail.com.

Eyeonloveland.com - Be Informed. Be Involved. Be Influential.

Pamela Gross - Founder & CEO - Follow personally on Twitter @ lovelandpam

RD Kulik - Founder & COO - Hit him up on Twitter @ tattlerloveland

Loveland - What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

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Transparency, Accountability, Public Engagement - powerful words and we hear them a lot from politicians especially at election time. When Kent Blair was appointed to the vacant council seat he stated “I am a strong supporter of accountability of elected officials to the people they serve, an expectation of inclusion - Loveland should stand for all residents, not the few who lead it.” However, once they are in office do they govern as promised? Is the new council majority led by Mayor Kathy Bailey delivering on this committment of openness and inclusion?

Listen to our latest podcast - click here - where we discuss these questions and the actions of our elected ( and un-elected) representatives.

We would love to hear what you have to say so send us an email at eyeonloveland@gmail.com. Please follow us on twitter @eyeonloveland and facebook at eyeonloveland. Be sure to sign up to receive regular updates and subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes,apple.com - eyeonloveland.

 Eyeonloveland.com - Be Informed. Be Involved. Be Influential.

Pamela Gross - President - Follow me on Twitter @ lovelandpam

What Is Bike Shedding?

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Google Image

Bikes, sheds, what the heck are you talking about?

According to Wikipedia, the term bike-shed effect or bike-shedding was coined as a metaphor to illuminate the law of triviality. Bike-shedding is when time and energy is spent disproportionately on trivial matters. Does the Loveland City Council majority engage in the practice of bike shedding?

Listen to our latest podcast - click here - where we discuss this issue and give examples of council members actions and questions related to decisions that impact our community.

We would love to hear what you have to say so send us an email at eyeonloveland@gmail.com. Please follow us on twitter @eyeonloveland and facebook at eyeonloveland. Be sure to sign up to receive regular updates and subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes,apple.com - eyeonloveland.

 Eyeonloveland.com - Be Informed. Be Involved. Be Influential.

Pamela Gross - President - Follow me on Twitter @ lovelandpam

Creating a Historic District in Loveland - Follow Up

Partial map of proposed historic boundaries

Partial map of proposed historic boundaries

On Thursday, October 25th there was a meeting of the Historic Preservation Design Review Committee (HPDRC) There were several members of the public who attended, some who own property in the proposed boundaries. Many questions were asked, some were answered, however many questions remain unanswered, particularly relating to what the government can and can’t do regarding personal property.

Why does this matter? Much is unknown regarding the power and authority of this committee and it’s five unelected members. Is the City of Loveland creating the biggest and most powerful HOA and doing so without full engagement of those most affected i.e people who own personal property in the proposed historic boundaries?

Please listen to our podcast - what is the deal with historic boundaries - to learn more.

Stay tuned for more information. Have questions? We encourage you to attend the next committee meeting ( a November meeting has yet to be scheduled)

Original Post Follows:

What is a historical district? Should certain areas in Loveland be designated as historic? Is the purpose of creating this district so the city can preserve property or develop the property? These questions and many others are discussed on our recent podcast - What is the deal with historic boundaries?

Earlier this year City Council created a new committee - The Historic Preservation Design Review Committee ( HPDRC) This committee is made up of six residents who will decide the boundaries of the proposed historic district, adopt regulations, and must approve any repairs and improvements to structures, including personal residences, located within the historic district.

According to the design review fact sheet “owners of properties within the City of Loveland Historic District Boundaries must obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) for any action affecting use, exterior appearance, new construction or demolition of the designated historic structure.”

Eye On Loveland is currently researching this very influential and powerful committee and will keep you up to date on the decisions made by this group of six unelected individuals. Their decisions will affect many business owners and residents which is why their actions should matter to all of us.

Some of the questions we have asked the committee members include - how did you establish the historic boundaries? Why are there no details regarding the discussion and determination of the boundaries in the meeting minutes, something that is required by law? One of the stated reasons for establishing this district is to “improve property values.” Why then is an elected represetative’s home, Vice Mayor Rob Weisgerber, in the historic boundaries? Vice Mayor Weisgerber spoke at a recent committee meeting, however there are no details on what was said? Why was Vice Mayor Weisgerber privately meeting with one member of this committee?

We did get an answer from the group regarding their decision on the historic boundaries - which consists of all of downtown extending up E Loveland Ave ( the picture at top of this page shows this street, the blue box is the Vice Mayor’s home) and the five points intersection going up the hill and includes the building at the top. Listen to the podcast here to learn more. We did not receive any answers on the other questions. Stay tuned as we continue on our quest for information.

Please visit the lovelandtattler.com and read the latest article on the historic district - building the history of Loveland.

We would love to hear what you have to say so send us an email at eyeonloveland@gmail.com. Please follow us on twitter @eyeonloveland and facebook at eyeonloveland. Be sure to sign up to receive regular updates and subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes,apple.com - eyeonloveland.

 Eyeonloveland.org - Be Informed. Be Involved. Be Influential.

Pamela Gross - President - Follow me on Twitter @ lovelandpam

 

 

 

PACE Legislation = Good Governance?

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The original post was modified on October 25, 2018 to now include our podcast on this issue. Click Here to listen to - The Hitchhiker’s Guide to PACE Transparency.

Did you ever read the book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams? The novel lampoons government bureaucracy, the endless red tape, paperwork and the numerous hurdles and blunders of a political system.

In a nutshell it is a story about Arthur Dent, whose home is in the way of a planned local road. Coincidentally, earth is in the way of a intergalactic highway. Obviously bureaucracy knows no bounds in or out of our solar system. One day, Mr. Dent wakes up and realizes his house is about to be bulldozed and complains that the government did a terrible job of making their plans known. He is told that the plans have been on “display” for his approval or disapproval in the cellar of the planning office. It was up to him to come and find the information.

Sitting in Loveland council chambers on October 17th, for a special meeting called on a Wednesday night and awaiting the vote ( again) regarding PACE financing, I heard several comments from various council members regarding the handling of this complicated and never before implemented legislation:

Vice Mayor Rob Weisgerber stated “all of council and the public were able to hear the dialogue in regard to the pluses, minuses, risks and how there is no real risk to the city.”

Councilman Tim Butler stated “questions have been addressed and answered.”

Mayor Kathy Bailey states “anyone could come to a meeting and speak in open forum.”   

After these comments I couldn’t help but be transported to the “hitchhiker’s galaxy” and its central theme about bureaucracy and blunders associated with the political system. I realized at this point that I was watching what many people fear about our government – by all appearances and actions the majority of council acted in a way that is not good governance for the city.

Let’s review why I say that, and we will start with the legislation itself. I am going to give you the CliffsNotes version of events so if you want a more detailed look at the entire process, documentation and discussion, CLICK HERE  

The legislation was created for the owners of West Loveland Holdings Ltd and presented to council as an “emergency.”  The city must adopt five pieces of legislation to accommodate funding through the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. This is a special type of financing that requires a municipality to levy a special assessment and create an energy special improvement district (ESID). While this program is not particularly new in Ohio, having been established around 2009, it is new to the city and has never been implemented in Loveland. City Manager Dave Kennedy states in his legislative memorandum “the program and presented legislations are complicated, and a best effort to explain the process is included in this memo.”

Mayor Kathy Bailey states “Mr. Malof had invested a lot of money in the city and is trying to move his project forward with a simple request.”

After legislation was presented a member of the public spoke and asked questions, the owner of the building and his representative spoke in favor of the financing. No other business owner, developer, or person who had utilized this financing spoke and no one presented the downside of the program.

Four of the seven council members asked questions - Blair, Butler, Weisgerber and Settell. Councilman Neil Oury was prepared to vote yes on the legislation without publicly asking a single question. Since many of the questions remained unanswered the legislation was put on hold until the next meeting.

Councilman Tim Butler states “that this was a complicated process and encouraged citizens to direct their questions… to a council member.”

Several emails were sent to all Council members seeking answers to questions related to the legislation, only Councilwoman Settell responded. Other emails were sent on October 8th, this time Councilman Oury responded not answering the questions but providing several links to websites about PACE financing. Vice Mayor Weisgerber also sent a response but did not answer the questions.

One of the questions never answered was “if there is a default on the loan(s) what happens to the building and what is the role of the city regarding any default?”

The legislation was then put on the 9/25/18 council agenda but was taken off the agenda right before the start of the meeting, therefore there was no discussion on the legislation. A side note, this was done improperly by parliamentary rules.

Legislation was again brought before council on 10/9/18 as an “emergency.” Councilwoman Settell asked further questions that were not addressed. There were no other questions or discussion from the other council members. The legislation failed to pass with a 5-1 vote.

This brings me back to the special council meeting held on Wednesday, October 17th and my “hitchhiker galaxy” moment. Whenever a special council meeting is held there is no opportunity for the public to speak. It was then I realized that transparency and participation as defined by the majority of council and expressed in the comments listed above consists of the public coming to them, to council chambers, no outreach on their part to individuals, questions asked by the public may remain unanswered, a few questions may be asked by council members but no detailed explanations are given regarding their decisions and no discussion regarding the impact to the city long term. What I learned - that this legislation was created to accommodate one person and one development. That was what was most important to the majority members of council. Legislation passed 6-1. Settell was the no vote.  

Let us know what you think. Was this good governance? Was this important and complicated legislation sufficiently vetted? Send us your comments at eyeonloveland@gmail.com

For more information on this issue check out the lovelandtattler.com - the silencing of Loveland

Please follow us on twitter @eyeonloveland and facebook at eyeonloveland. Be sure to sign up to receive regular updates and subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes,apple.com - eyeonloveland.

 Eyeonloveland.org - Be Informed. Be Involved. Be Influential 

Pamela Gross - President - Follow me on Twitter @ lovelandpam

 

 

 

Creating a Historic District in Loveland

Partial map of proposed historic boundaries

Partial map of proposed historic boundaries

What is a historical district? Should certain areas in Loveland be designated as historic? Is the purpose of creating this district so the city can preserve property or develop the property? These questions and many others are discussed on our recent podcast - What is the deal with historic boundaries?

Earlier this year City Council created a new committee - The Historic Preservation Design Review Committee ( HPDRC) This committee is made up of six residents who will decide the boundaries of the proposed historic district, adopt regulations, and must approve any repairs and improvements to structures, including personal residences, located within the historic district.

According to the design review fact sheet “owners of properties within the City of Loveland Historic District Boundaries must obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) for any action affecting use, exterior appearance, new construction or demolition of the designated historic structure.”

Eye On Loveland is currently researching this very influential and powerful committee and will keep you up to date on the decisions made by this group of six unelected individuals. Their decisions will affect many business owners and residents which is why their actions should matter to all of us.

Some of the questions we have asked the committee members include - how did you establish the historic boundaries? Why are there no details regarding the discussion and determination of the boundaries in the meeting minutes, something that is required by law? One of the stated reasons for establishing this district is to “improve property values.” Why then is an elected represetative’s home, Vice Mayor Rob Weisgerber, in the historic boundaries? Vice Mayor Weisgerber spoke at a recent committee meeting, however there are no details on what was said? Why was Vice Mayor Weisgerber privately meeting with one member of this committee?

We did get an answer from the group regarding their decision on the historic boundaries - which consists of all of downtown extending up E Loveland Ave ( the picture at top of this page shows this street, the blue box is the Vice Mayor’s home) and the five points intersection going up the hill and includes the building at the top. Listen to the podcast here to learn more. We did not receive any answers on the other questions. Stay tuned as we continue on our quest for information.

Please visit the lovelandtattler.com and read the latest article on the historic district - building the history of Loveland.

We would love to hear what you have to say so send us an email at eyeonloveland@gmail.com. Please follow us on twitter @eyeonloveland and facebook at eyeonloveland. Be sure to sign up to receive regular updates and subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes,apple.com - eyeonloveland.

 Eyeonloveland.org - Be Informed. Be Involved. Be Influential.

Pamela Gross - President - Follow me on Twitter @ lovelandpam