An Open Letter to Councilman Neal Oury Regarding the Non-Partisan Loveland City Council

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Dear Councilman Oury,

My name is Ryan Kulik. My wife and I were city dwellers who wanted to find a growing and quiet community to raise our family. Loveland had all the things we wanted, good schools, beautiful scenery, and welcoming people. I moved my family to Loveland six years ago because we fell in love with the land.

Sorry for the bad joke.

Over the last six years I have become increasingly involved with the community. I volunteer for various groups, I ride the bike trail regularly, and I have been very active in voicing my own personal opinions on the politics in our great community. Not long after your election to City Council I helped create a watchdog group known as Eye on Loveland that distributes a weekly podcast where we highlight the actions of the City Council. I also write under the byline RD, The Loveland Tattler. I pay close attention to what is going on all over our community, and I have been paying extra close attention to the 2019 municipal elections.

That brings me to why I am writing you. Recently I posted an article on this very website that discusses the endorsement of current city council candidates by the Hamilton County GOP. The article seems to have upset you. In recent social media postings you have indirectly referenced my thoughts and have championed the idea that the Loveland City Council is a non-partisan body, and it is good for Democrats like Councilman Kent Blair and Republicans like yourself and the rest of the City Council to work together in harmony. You claim that partisan politics has no place in our community’s government.

I agree with you Councilman Oury.

I do not think any political party should be endorsing any candidate in the Loveland City Council race, and I do not believe any candidate should accept the endorsement of a partisan political group. We invite partisanship into our community when the leaders of our city go out and seek endorsements for partisan groups. I for one have never voted for any candidate in Loveland who has a partisan endorsement. In my mind that means the candidate cares more about their political party than they care for the entire community. Unfortunately that means I did not vote for you in 2017 because you proudly ran as an endorsed republican, and I will not vote for Kathy Bailey or Andrew Bateman because they are the only two candidates that have actively sought partisan endorsements. Bailey and Bateman are causing the problem you speak of Councilman Oury.

So I ask you this question Neal, what can we do to stop partisan political groups from taking over our city government? Do you have a plan? I personally believe in the right to free speech granted by the first Amendment to the United States Constitution, so I do not think the Hamilton County GOP should be silenced. Nor do I think any voices should be silenced, including ones that you, or the government, may not agree with. I am sure as a fellow American you would find dissension as an important part of what makes our country great.

Maybe we could encourage our leaders to practice the collaborative form of government you champion when you advocate for Democrats and Republicans to work together. We should start by encouraging the two candidates with a partisan endorsement, Kathy Bailey and Andrew Bateman, to reject the endorsement. We can bring the non-partisan ideals of our council back when we have leaders who act in a non-partisan manner.

I look forward to your leadership on this issue Councilman Oury. Be a man of your word and ask your supporters to reject any candidate who seeks a partisan endorsement. As you claim, partisanship has no place in our community. If you did not mean what you said, and you are trying to trick your Republican friends into voting for a Democrat, well I do know quite a few Democrats in Loveland that would like to move their ideas and philosophies forward in our fantastic community. Let me know how I can help.

Sincerely

Ryan D Kulik

Loveland Resident, Taxpayer, and The Loveland Tattler

Loveland Republicans Have Endorsed a Democrat

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On November 5th, the citizens of Loveland will go to the polls and elect three people to serve four years as their representatives on the City Council. Mayor Kathy Bailey and Councilwoman Angie Settell will be asking the voters for their support again, Councilman Kent Blair who was not elected to his seat, Mayor Bailey appointed him, will be asking voters for their support for the first time. Previous council candidate Andy Bateman, along with first time candidates Cory O’Donnell and Pat Ahr, round out the six person field.

Loveland’s municipal elections are considered non-partisan. You will not see a political party affiliation next to any candidates name on the ballot. Yet the candidates themselves are not non-partisan. All but one of the city council candidates has a declared political affiliation. Pat Ahr is listed as a registered independent. Mayor Bailey, Councilwoman Settell, and candidates Bateman and O’Donnell are all registered Republicans. Councilman Kent Blair is a registered Democrat. While the election is non-partisan, most of the candidates have a definite partisan loyalty.

Mayor Kathy Bailey has been particularly active in local republican politics over the last few years. She is a ward chair, she campaigns and works with other Republican campaigns to get their people in office. She has been called a “good republican” by many people associated with the local party. She has even selected a fellow Republican, Andy Bateman, to run on the ticket with her in the upcoming election.

Oh, she also picked the Democrat Kent Blair to run with her.

It should not be a surprise that Republican Kathy Bailey has decided to run, fund raise with, and promote Democrat Kent Blair. Kathy Bailey’s first significant act as mayor was to appoint Kent Blair to the open seat on Loveland’s City Council. She choose Blair because she felt like “he shared her values”. While Mayor Bailey has been trying to strengthen her Republican Party support, she also strengthened the Democratic Party by giving one of their members an influential place in the City of Loveland’s political future.

Yet Mayor Kathy Bailey is not alone in endorsing the values and philosophy of Democrats in Loveland. Recently the Hamilton County Republican Precinct Executives met to hand out endorsements for the upcoming 2019 municipal elections. The Republican Precinct Executives in Loveland are the people who are elected by Republicans on a partisan ballot to represent the party at the local level. These are not non-partisan “reach across the aisle” type positions. The Precinct Executives are the arm of the County party that is supposed to represent the philosophy and strategy of the GOP. The Precinct Executives voted 6-1 to endorse only Kathy Bailey and Andrew Bateman. The other candidates were not even present to speak on their candidacy. By being secretive, and not inclusive, the Loveland Precinct Executives supported Kathy Bailey’s chosen slate of two Republicans and one Democrat. The Loveland Republican Precinct Executives have decided to make a shadow endorsement of Democrat Kent Blair. They have helped Kathy Bailey legitimize and strengthen the opposition party in their own hometown.

It is obvious that Kathy Bailey, Andrew Bateman, and the large majority of the Republican Precinct executives wanted to have this meeting with no opposing voices. Mayor Bailey wanted to increase the chances of her victory by using the Hamilton County GOP’s endorsements, and at the same time wanted to enhance the chance of victory for Democrat Kent Blair by not having all the endorsements filled by republicans. This was a typical “back room deal” made between the republicans and democrats to work together and circumvent the wishes of the people who elected them. The endorsement process in Loveland was one of strategy and not one of promoting a political party’s philosophy. The Republican Precinct Executives want to ensure the elections of Kathy Bailey, Andy Bateman, and Kent Blair, and they do not care about ensuring the victory of the Republican Party. These kind of secret deals are why the younger generations are giving up on the current political organizations. Loveland’s Republicans are the authors of their own party’s failures.

It did not have to be this way. There are three seats and four Republicans running. The Precinct Executives are elected by republicans to serve the interests of their party. Yes, Kathy Bailey and Andy Bateman are Republicans, but so are Angie Settell and Cory O’Donnell. Ms. Settell is very active in the Hamilton County GOP being the leader of multiple Republican Clubs and a strong fundraiser for the party. Cory O’Donnell is an elected Republican Precinct Executive.

You read that right. A Republican Precinct Executive was passed over for endorsement by local Republicans so they could shadow endorse a Democrat. The Hamilton County GOP, who has not had a lot of successes in the last few years, decided to secretly back a Democrat for office rather than endorse a person who was elected by Republicans to represent the party’s philosophy and vision. The Hamilton County GOP did not even let Mr. O’Donnell or Ms. Settell the opportunity to make their case for being endorsed. Again, this is why the younger generations are giving up political parties. The powers that be in the Hamilton County GOP are allowing ill advised tactics by trying to trick loyal Republicans in Loveland to vote for a Democrat.

In the upcoming months, and throughout all of 2020, the local Republicans in Loveland, and the Hamilton County GOP are going to tell the voters that their party needs to band together and not let the Democrats continue their winning streak in Southwest Ohio. They will tell you this hoping that you forget that in 2019 prominent Loveland Republicans met in secret to shadow endorse a Democrat because Kathy Bailey wanted it that way. They hope you will forget about their deceit. Do not be fooled.

RD

RD Kulik  is a resident of the City of Loveland.

Contact him on twitter @TattlerLoveland.

The Know Nothing Council

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In the mid 1800’s the United States saw the rise of a new political party, the American Party. This new political coalition was able to get a few legislators elected, and even fielded a candidate in the 1856 Presidential election. Many of us learned about the American Party, but we know them by a different name, the Know Nothings. This name was given because of the secret nature of how the party acted in public. When anyone was to ask a member of the American Party anything about their political group, “I know nothing” was the response to be given. The Know Nothings believed only their supporters and colleagues were important enough to know what was going on. The groups secrecy, and lack of transparency, led to a very quick downfall of their political coalition.

During the course of the Mayor Kathy Bailey administration, I have asked a lot of questions about the governing thoughts of the Mayor and her five loyal members on the Loveland City Council. I have spoken in open forum to ask my questions, I have made a number of public records requests, and I have even sat down on the rare occasion with members of the Mayor’s majority. In all three instances I find myself asking the questions, and the council majority responds with a form of “I know nothing”.

Let’s start with the public forum. At the charter required public meetings of the City Council, the public is given five minutes to speak on a subject of their choice. Many people use this time to talk about an issue that faces them personally. I have used my time in the public forum to ask questions, or voice concern, over policies that the council is considering. At the March 12th meeting I used my five minutes to ask questions related to the proposed DORA (Designated Outdoor Recreation Area) legislation. As a point of clarification I should say that I spoke in a public hearing, not the open forum. I asked very specific questions about the legislation, questions that had not been answered in the past. City Manager Dave Kennedy answered most of my inquires, yet not one elected member of the city government said a word. When the time came for the council to discuss the legislation, without me being at the podium, a discussion did not take place. No one addressed any of my concerns. The council acted in manner of knowing nothing or not wanting to know something.

This has happened at almost every public forum / public hearing that I have participated in. Yet I am not the only citizen to be told by the council that they know nothing. At the February 26th meeting, the council was silent in the face of serious questions from a resident. The resident was eventually engaged, but it was not a pretty sight (read about it here). Last summer, the Mayor Bailey majority was presented with concern from another resident about the painting of the city water towers. Once again that resident was presented with no information on the council majority’s plans. When it comes to residents that do not 100% agree with the council majority, residents with valid questions, the council majority sits back and says “I know nothing”.

Public records brings the know nothingness of the council majority to a whole new level. Public records are exactly as stated, records that are for the public. Shortly after the Mayor Bailey majority took power, Vice Mayor Robert Weisgerber lamented the burden of the city having to produce public records (read about it here). The political action committee that supports the council majority has used the public forum, and social media, to criticize people who make public records requests. The idea of the public wanting information seems troublesome to the council majority and their political supporters. Wanting to know something seems to be a problem for the council majority and their supporters.

Yet what happens when the public does receive public records. Of the requests I have personally made over the last year, the records I get have almost no communication from the Mayor Bailey majority. When it comes to the farmer’s market (read about it here), PACE financing (read about it here), or problems in the city’s public works department (read about it here), I requested the communications of the elected members of the city council. In each instance there was little to no dialogue going on for the public to see. When we look at public records to see how the Mayor Bailey majority governs, and what questions they ask on important legislation, the council majority says “I know nothing”.

When it comes to engaging with the council majority away from chambers, my experiences have been a mixed bag. I have approached members of the majority in public, and they have been gracious with their time. When the time comes to vote on a questionable ordinance, my discussion with the member of the majority is forgotten. When I question their promise of transparency and engagement, attacks come from social media, and elected members of the city council engage with those attacks. It does seem that discussions are being had outside of chambers. Councilman Kent Blair said at a recent council meeting that “we (the council majority) have discussed this (road funding) at meetings in the hallways and over pizza”, but when a citizen with a question about how the council majority governs, the council majority says “I know nothing”.

Does the Mayor Bailey majority discuss any of the issues that face the city? If they do, then why are those discussions not there for the public to see? If all the discussion is being done in “the hallways and over pizza”, do we have a transparency problem in Loveland? If all the the discussions are being done in a way to hide the intent of the council majority from the taxpayers of Loveland, what must be done to bring these discussions into the sunlight? If there is no discussion going on at all with the council majority when it comes to the governance of the city, should the taxpayers of Loveland be afraid of the lack of curiosity coming from our elected officials? What ever the answer may be, what we have seen from the communication strategy of the Mayor Bailey majority is that all difficult questions are answered the same way. “I know nothing”.

Note from the author: On February 27th, 2019 I made additional public records requests related to the city’s public works department. On the date of this posting, I have not received the records. If the council majority does have any discussion related to questions or policies, I will update this article.

RD

RD Kulik  is a resident of the City of Loveland.

Contact him on twitter @TattlerLoveland or email him

City Council's No Good Very Bad Meeting

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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 their 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

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

The Silencing of Loveland

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The Loveland City Council has scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday October 17th, 2018. The agenda for the special meeting consists of a second reading for three ordinances related to a private development project in the downtown area. The three ordinances are labeled as being an emergency, meaning they need six council votes, and the legislation will go into effect immediately. There is no public forum, or public hearing, scheduled for this emergency meeting. The only people who can comment on the pros and cons of these emergency ordinances are the seven members of council. No one else in Loveland will be permitted to have a voice.

The three emergency ordinances looking for passage in this emergency meeting are not new to the council agenda. They first appeared at the September 11th meeting. They were also tagged as emergencies then. I spoke in the public forum on the complexities of the legislation and the potential downside to bringing a new, untested, program into the city. The council tabled the ordinances and promised to bring them up at the next meeting.

The ordinances were once again labeled as an emergency in the September 26th meeting, but they were pulled from the agenda. There was no further discussion on the potential impact the new program would have on the entire city.

At the October 9th council meeting the ordinances were once again on the agenda, and they were once again labeled as an emergency. Councilman Tim Butler was absent from the meeting, so all six present members of the Loveland City Council had to vote yes for the ordinances to pass. Councilwoman Angie Settell voiced support for the individual project, but felt like the city was introducing an unknown new program into the city without understanding all the pros and cons. She voted no. The emergency legislation failed.

Just over one week later, Mayor Kathy Bailey, and her majority consisting of the five men on Loveland City Council, will take up these three pieces of emergency legislation at a non regularly scheduled meeting. Only the city council will have a say on creating this new program. No public input will be sought.

I fully expect the Mayor Bailey majority will pass these three emergency ordinances. Vice Mayor Rob Weisgerber, who says he does not like emergency ordinances, may say something, but I expect him to vote yes. I shared some of my concerns about the potential consequences of the new program with Councilman Butler. He may address those concerns, he may not, but I full expect him to vote yes. I sent an email to the council, per Councilman Butler’s request, asking a few basic questions. No one in the majority has seen fit to respond. Even Councilwoman Settell, who can speak tonight, has had her concerns brushed off by eye rolls and indifference from Mayor Bailey. The council majority does not care about opposing views. They have the votes tonight, and they will use any non-transparent means to get their way.

Why silence the city to push this legislation? Is it out of spite for people like me and Councilwoman Settell? I do not think so. My thought is that the council majority is using non-transparency because they want to hide from the city that the passage of these three pieces of legislation is for one project and one very small group of people.

Cronyism is the reason for the emergency meeting.

In less than one year, Mayor Bailey and her loyal majority have used every non-transparent administrative tool in the book to serve their cronies. Why should this be any different? The City of Loveland will have a new complex financing program brought into the community because of cronyism. The public shall have no voice when a crony needs a favor. That is how the council majority governs. The majority of the city will be silenced for the benefit of a few., the future be damned. Tonight’s meeting is just another reminder of the council majority’s indifference to the greater good of all.

I will be at the emergency meeting, and I will update to any shocking changes that may occur. I expect a quick meeting with three 6-1 votes. I expect no discussion. The majority wants to keep this hidden and quiet.

The council majority may have taken our voices away, but they did not take our vision. The record of non-transparency and cronyism by Mayor Bailey and her majority has been in full view all year long. I wonder how it will look next year for the city council elections? That is where the City of Loveland will no longer be silenced.

RD

RD Kulik  is a resident of the City of Loveland and the editor at The Loveland Tattler. Do not be silenced. Let us know what you think.

Hit RD up on twitter @TattlerLoveland or email him lovelandtattler@gmail.com.