Since I have been following, and writing, and podcasting, about the Loveland City Council I have had many disagreements with the current majority. I do not feel like they have embraced any real positive economic development (read my thoughts here). I believe the council majority puts the wants of their friends , aka cronies, ahead of the city at large. (read my thoughts here). I also believe the council majority used the concept of community engagement as a campaign slogan and they do not practice it at all in the way they govern (again, I have written about this). The February 26th, 2019 meeting of the Loveland City Council put all of my issues on display, along with a few new troubles.
Let’s talk about the idea of community engagement. During the part of the meeting where city council gives anyone five minutes to talk about any issue, known as the open forum, a resident informed city council of an issue with city owned property in his neighborhood. The neighborhood in question is White Pillars, and the property is the homestead known as the White Pillars Mansion. The City of Loveland bought the property in 1996 with an understanding that the city would maintain the house and land in perpetuity. In those decades, the city has not taken very good care of the White Pillars Mansion. The grass tends to get a bit long, the paint is peeling, and the building has sat vacant for a while. Right now there are homes surrounding the White Pillars Mansion and the homeowners do not appreciate an eyesore in their community. The resident who spoke wanted real answers on what the city was going to do with the property. When this engaged taxpayer stopped to hear from his elected city council, they were met with quiet indifference. Mayor Kathy Bailey stared straight ahead and said nothing. An eternity seemed to pass, and the council majority was ignoring this resident’s questions about his city. Vice Mayor Rob Weisgerber finally broke the silence and told the resident to email his concerns, even though the concerned citizen has previously sent numerous emails to all of council and has received little or no response from the members. The City staff responded and made excuses for their delay and explained that the city was under no obligation to pay home owners association fees, or to do anything with the property. The resident was joined at this meeting by many homeowners in the White Pillars community. The mood among the homeowners was one of dismay for a council majority that is ignoring their concern. The council majority had a real chance to engage with the community, but since it was a group of residents they did not want to engage with, the concern was met with silence, punting of the problem, and excuses.
What made this latest dismissal of the public by the city council majority so disgraceful was the way it was handled by the council. Mayor Bailey’s cold silence in the face of questions was stunning. Vice Mayor Weisgerber’s solution of having the resident email their concerns showed that the longtime councilman did not want to discuss this issue when there was a nearly full house of residents in the council chamber. Speaking of the larger than normal attendance for the council meeting, Mayor Bailey encouraged them to leave after the public forum instead of truly engaging with the public and encouraging them to stay for the entire meeting. The City Manager’s State of City presentation was scheduled for this particular meeting, would you not want a full house? Silence, excuses, and dismissals, this is how the Mayor Bailey majority likes to treat concerns from the public.
I believe the reason for the ill advised actions of the council majority on February 26th, 2019 is because the White Pillars issue is a political problem for Mayor Kathy Bailey. The Mayor’s current term ends this year, and it is presumed that she will ask the voters to giver her the votes for another four years on the Loveland City Council. Mayor Bailey was not on the ballot in 2017, but she gladly put her arms around the political action committee that was supporting Rob Weisgerber, Ted Phelps, Neal Oury, and Tim Butler. Since this majority took over, they have looked at everything through a political lens. When the council majority had upset residents about a proposed plan for changing Loveland-Maderia Road to accommodate traffic for the bike trail, Mayor Bailey was defensive and dismissive (read about it here). When they decided to “fix” the politically manufactured problems with the farmer’s market, Mayor Bailey and her majority found the least transparent way to reward their political allies (read about it here). Anytime there is any question about the governance from the council majority, their political supporters are quick to give words of support to Mayor Bailey and her cohorts, and words of scorn towards political adversaries. The Mayor’s priority, or the priority of any member of city council, should not be to win elections. Their priority is to govern the city. The priorities seemed to be going the other way with the Mayor Bailey majority. The actions towards the concerned residents of White Pillars was all the proof the eye needed to see.
The February 26th no good very bad meeting showed the lack of governance, or concern, for the City of Loveland with long presentations about spending more money on a minor problem in the downtown district. There was also the issue of City Ordinances that were being voted on, and being incorrectly created. The sloppiness, and fiscal irresponsibility, on display on February 26th should be a wake up call to all the taxpayers in Loveland. When holding onto power is an elected official’s only concern, then those officials should lose that power. We deserve a city council that listens to the concerns of all residents. White Pillars deserves it as much as any political action committee, or politically connected organization. February 26th showed that Loveland deserves a better class of representation.
Thank goodness there is an election on November 5th.
RD Kulik is a resident of the City of Loveland and the editor at The Loveland Tattler.
Contact him on twitter @TattlerLoveland or email him