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LovelandPolitics
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Loveland - August 23, 2012

During a discussion earlier this month by Loveland's City Council regarding the existing
moratorium on any new oil or gas exploration or drilling in Loveland,  Mayor Cecil
Gutierrez told his colleagues they may not like the fact there will be public hearings on
any permanent regulation the city adopts.

Already a divided council unable to elect a Mayor Pro Tem following
the resignation of the
9th council member, Cathleen McEwen, the Mayor's comments were not well received.

Councilman Hugh McKean, the de facto leader of the other faction,  sent an email the
following day (see complete emails in right column) asking the Mayor for an apology by
stating,

"You owe me an apology for the vitriolic manner in which you suggest things that are
simply not true."

While Gutierrez did not directly apologize to McKean in his response, he did offer a kind
of general apology to all his colleagues by stating,

"As a result of poor execution verbalizing what I was actually thinking, I do offer my
apologies to all that I created the opportunity for even one of you to interpret it as a
personal attack."

While the Mayor's comments appear innocent enough and hardly deserving of the kind of
reaction provided by his colleague Hugh McKean, it is the context that makes them
particularly offensive his colleagues claim.

Elected on a platform of greater public participation and transparency, Mayor Gutierrez
has in recent years become an advocate of "emergency" exceptions to the normal public
process to avoid public hearings on a first and second reading of ordinances to bypass
potentially unfriendly public comments.

As one councilman commented, "Cecil only favors a public process when the public is on
his side otherwise he is happy finding ways around it."  Some of his opponents have also
pointed to the controversial museum exhibit that made national news when the city
received over 20,000 emails.  Gutierrez used his majority on the council at the time to
limit any public comment on the issue despite the high level of public interest and
demands by a minority of his colleagues that the public be given the opportunity to
address council.


Oil & Gas Regulations / Public Input Wasn't Needed

The Loveland City Council is equally divided on the issue of oil and gas exploration
therefore city staff have been reluctant to bring back any proposed permanent ordinance
to council for consideration before November when a new member of the City Council
will be elected.  Again councilors repeated their frustrations during the August 7,
meeting at feet dragging by staff in reporting back to council how oil and gas drilling and
exploration are regulated by the state and other municipalities.  Councilman Fogle
cautioned staff, "this is a big issue" arguing that leaving it to the last minute will be a
mistake.

Ironically, the first council decision on a moratorium passed by a 5-4 vote but was not on
the agenda of the May 1, 2012 council meeting so was passed as "council direction" to
avoid requirements in state law to notify the public in advance of any agenda items the
council may act upon during a meeting; in other words the Mayor and four of his
colleagues chose to bypass the normal requirement of public notification and hearings
before taking the official action.

Unclean Hands On Both Sides

Prior to the vote on May 1, the council did hear from a number of citizens who spoke in
opposition to a proposed amendment of the Millennium GDP (which was the proper and
legal item on the agenda for a public hearing and later council action that evening).   The
Millennium GDP amendment passed when both Gutierrez and McKean voted in favor of
McWhinney's request to block the public out of future development approvals.   The
Millennium GDP they supported largely eliminates the required public notice and public
hearing process requirements for McWhinney within the area of the GPD.
see story

Many citizens who spoke May 1, feared the amendment being sought by McWhinney
would give the developer and subsequent owners the ability to lease land for exploratory
drilling and fracking close to residential areas without any public review or chance to
comment.  Mayor Gutierrez worked out a private compromise prior to the meeting with
one vocal opponent of McWhinney's proposed amendment by agreeing to implement a
moratorium on oil and gas alone thus preserving the developer's ability to shut down
public comment on most other uses of the properties included within the GDP.

Mayor Gutierrez than proposed the moratorium during the May 1, meeting which was
not on the agenda but passed by a 5-4 vote directing staff to prepare the ordinance for
final vote on June 15, 2012.  

Residents opposed to the amendment to the Millennium GDP feared a back door to
approve oil and gas exploration so by proposing the moratorium, Gutierrez assisted
McWhinney in passing an otherwise controversial amendment to their GDP that passed
by an 8-1 vote with only Councilman Ralph Trenary voting in opposition.

Future of Oil & Gas Moratorium

On June 15, 2012 the council again voted by a slim majority to pass the oil & gas
moratorium which extends until December 31, 2012.  The temporary nature of the
moratorium was a legal necessity to escape the legal problem of it constituting a “taking”
from current property owners given the temporary nature of the action.   The council
chambers filled with people the evening of the vote as it was the only opportunity for the
public to comment.

During the more recent August 7, council discussion Councilman John Fogle expressed his
frustration that Greeley and Weld County benefit financially from the oil and gas
industries.  Fogle explained the city could have used such revenue for supporting the now
struggling Fire Authority.  In addition, a number of councilors expressed frustration that
Loveland's legal authority to regulate the industry is much less than their colleagues are
implying so the public may have raised expectations of a ban on oil & gas which is largely
regulated by the State of Colorado and not municipalities.

Those in favor of allowing some sort of oil and gas exploration and extraction in Loveland
pointed to a City of Greeley ordinance as an example of a local regulation that works
while those against are seeking something more restrictive perhaps similar to
Longmont's more restrictive ordinance which is currently being challenged in court.

City staff appears to be avoiding the controversy altogether by indefinitely delaying their
report back to council on any proposed permanent ordinance.
Mayor Apologizes For Comments
Public Process Only Favored Sometimes
From: Ward III - Hugh McKean
<Hugh.McKean@cityofloveland.org>

To:Mayor - Cecil Gutierrez <Cecil.   
Gutierrez@cityofloveland.org>

Cc: City Council <CCouncil@cityofloveland.org>; Bill Cahill
<Bill.Cahill@cityofloveland.org>; Temp CCMAIL
<TEMPCC@cityofloveland.org>

Subject:    Your comments from Tuesday
Date:        Thu, 9 Aug 2012 19:46:28 +0000

Cecil,

My mother's advice has always been to let things sit for a
day and so I have.

There has been a lot of talk about partisanship and
polarity on Council in the community of late, some of that
might be coming from the vote for pro-tem and some just
from folks who watch and listen and can tell that we often
approach things from a different point of view.  

That said, I think that the general tenor of our discussion
on Council is respectful and deliberative.  When we
discussed on Tuesday the process ahead for the oil and
gas regulations, especially your response when I
suggested that we not drag the process out you replied
to me that you wanted people to know that this would be
a very public process with opportunities for public
comment even you know I might not like that.  In fact your
exact words, as you looked in my direction (1:58:28 on
the tape), were that there would be a public process,
"even though you may not like that", intimating that I am
opposed to hearing from our citizens.

You owe me an apology for the vitriolic manner in which
you suggest things that are simply not true.  As you might
remember I have asked for matters such as the Loveland
Classical Schools annexation amendment to be
continued so that we could hear more and have time to
consider the matter, along with Ralph I very vocally
raised my concern with the lack of time on the
Millennium
Amendment and have consistently been vocal about the
rush of items through our process and the (I think,
inappropriate) use of Emergency Ordinances of late, all
of which concerns have to do with the abbreviated time
for public comment.  What you said could not have been
farther from the truth and does a disservice to our
debate.

I would appreciate an apology from you, Cecil.  I know
that there are times when we speak before we think but I
would hope that we don't start mischaracterizing each
other as that leads to a less collegial and productive
discourse.

Hugh

Hugh McKean
Loveland City Council
Ward III
970-581-3754




From: Mayor - Cecil Gutierrez
<Cecil.Gutierrez@cityofloveland.org>
To:  Ward III - Hugh McKean
<Hugh.McKean@cityofloveland.org>

Cc: City Council <CCouncil@cityofloveland.org>; Bill Cahill
<Bill.Cahill@cityofloveland.org>; Temp CCMAIL
<TEMPCC@cityofloveland.org>

Subject:    Re: Your comments from Tuesday
Date:        Fri, 10 Aug 2012 17:19:34 +0000

Hugh,

The intent of my comment was to express that through
the public process we will need to be prepared for long
meetings that very well may go into the midnight hour
and that none of us is particularly fond of those.
However, after reviewing the tape I can clearly see that
what I actually said did not come close to expressing that
idea and could very easily be misconstrued. As a result
of poor execution verbalizing what I was actually thinking,
I do offer my apologies to all that I created the
opportunity for even one of you to interpret it as a
personal attack. That was never my intent.

Cecil Gutierrez, Mayor
City of Loveland
CLICK ON PICTURE TO SEE VIDEO OF COMMENT