The June 26th, 2018 meeting of the Loveland City Council did not go by the script. Once again Mayor Kathy Bailey, and her loyal group of five other councilmen, had to face people upset with a policy the council majority was trying to push through. To say that the council was unprepared and flustered is an understatement.
This new potential public relations disaster centered on the painting of the Loveland city owned water towers. The towers desperately need to be cleaned. The stark white paint has been a magnet for dirt and mildew ever since they were first painted. The half white half muck look of the towers does not help enhance the brand of Loveland. No one disagreed that the towers needed cleaning.
The issue in front of the City Council concerned an idea put forth by Mayor Kathy Bailey in an earlier meeting that the towers should replace the city logo with the logo, or branding, associated with the Loveland City Schools district. The Mayor said that the logos would be at the expense of the school district, or another entity, and would not be paid for by the city. Two people spoke in public forum about their disagreement with placing any logos on the water towers. These were people who had a vested interest in the city's actions since their homes, or livelihoods, would by affected by any changes to the towers. The council, like always, did not immediately address the speakers, or their concerns. A bit later, councilman Neal Oury did ask if it was possible to look at painting the towers the preferred color one speaker referenced. He was not given a clear answer. The ordinance to paint the towers, with city or school logos, passed 6-1. Councilwoman Angela Settell was once again the only dissenting vote.
Shortly after the concern of the public forum speakers was swept aside, a public hearing was conducted on changing the procedure for approving a special planning district. In simple terms, the council was voting on if they wanted to add another public hearing before approval on a new business development in an area not specifically zoned for the type of development. Two residents spoke at the public hearing, one for the change and one against.
I was the voice against the ordinance.
An additional public hearing, in other words more bureaucracy, is not going to help speed up any economic development in any city. If anything, the additional layer of bureaucracy will send business development to other communities where the local government favors economic growth. I expressed my concern, explained my position, and offered a solution. I told the council to get out into the community and talk with the taxpayers who can not, or do not want to, come to the council chambers. Once again, no member of council acknowledge my words or engaged in any sort of discussion.
Before the hearing, councilman Tim Butler, along with councilwoman Settell, said they do not agree with the extra regulations being proposed for new development. Councilmen Kent Blair and Ted Phelps said they support the measure because they prefer to be on the on the side of more community engagement. The measure was not put to a vote. After the hearing Vice Mayor Weisgerber did feel the need to say that he hated bureaucracy. Yet he also voiced support for the measure. Right now it is hard to say where the Vice Mayor stands on this issue dividing the city council. Maybe the Vice Mayor will vote the ordinance down when it is up for a vote and show the community how much he hates bureaucracy.
The June 26th Loveland City Council meeting showed that the majority of council feels the need to only engage with the concerns of the community at large strictly in the council chambers. These elected officials choose only to discuss the city issues on their home turf. They get unlimited time to talk about whatever they want on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. The concerned public gets five minutes in public forum. That does not seem like a good environment to have quality community engagement.
Why does the new council majority demand that the public bring their concerns only to the halls of government? Why does the new council majority ignore, and refuse to engage in meaningful debate, with people who do not blindly believe everything Mayor Bailey and her five councilman voting block believe in? For Loveland to thrive, we need all viable thoughts to be acknowledged. No one is infallible. Good government is achieved by listening to all voices, not just holding back room secret meetings with one's political supporters.
As a resident, a parent with a child enrolled in Loveland City Schools, and a taxpayer, the secrecy and aloofness of the Loveland City Council majority is disheartening. The council committees have been stacked with political supporters, and people who are not even residents of the city. The council itself gives dissenting voices five minutes on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, then refuses to have any meaningful discussion. There is very little opportunity for a different opinion to be heard with the elected officials of Loveland. It is frustrating trying to have your concerns heard by an uninterested city council, but there is hope that things can be different in the future. Every person gets an equal voice, and equal time, at the ballot box.
RD Kulik is a resident of the City of Loveland and the editor at The Loveland Tattler. He wants to hear from all voices, especially those who disagree with his ideas. Find out about one of our many community meetings by contacting him on twitter @TattlerLoveland or email email@example.com.