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Entry for November 26, 2007

The lame-duck City Council knew by 7:30 PM on November 6, that at least three members would not be returning to vote at their next meeting.

The City Manager, in complete disregard for the public process, rushed through the final passage of two major property purchases by the city for millions of dollars not previously budgeted that will tie the hands of the new city councils for the next ten years.  One, a 98 acre parcel on I-25, is completely without precedent and puts the City of Loveland into the land speculation business.

Councilman Walt Skowron attempted to better understand the 98 acre deal and asked pertinent questions regarding the funding, process and need for hasty action.  Instead of answers he received personal insults and mocking by his colleague Larry Heckel.  The videos tell the entire story and also show the city manager trying to downplay or obfuscate the fact $3 million of the $4 million being appropriated was coming directly from fire safety funds.

2007-11-26 18:07:53 GMT
Comments (27 total)
Thanks for finally posting this story. I did watch some parts of the meeting that night and was shocked by the actions of one frequent poster on this website - Councilman Rousey.

You failed to stand-up for your colleague and looked like a kid in the play yard reinforcing the bully’s behavior instead of defending the victim. Your lack of courage was quite frankly disappointing. By the way, you also stated that Larry Heckel “doesn’t have a mean bone in his body” on this web blog. Are you ready to retract that nonsense?

Heckel and everyone who voted to throw millions of dollars in fire safety funds towards a huge land purchase on I-25 should be recalled. It is clear they were ignoring community input to stop wasting money on land speculation to encourage sprawl when downtown needs help and services on the Westside are faltering.

Too bad our city’s brave firefighters are not better represented on City Council. Stealing funds from future fire safety needs for land speculation is a despicable and unforgivable act.

2007-11-26 18:19:59 GMT
I have never heard a public servant speak in such a rude and condescending voice in all my years. Mr. Heckel has no business interrupting Walt or telling him what he will not understand. This behavior is reprehensible and should never be part of our public discourse in town. I cannot believe they got away with this and it is no wonder Mr. Ouch (Glenn Rousey) will not comment. If he says anything at all it should an apology to Walt.
2007-11-26 19:49:07 GMT
Grace you miss the point. Why is a lame-duck council rushing to buy property along I-25? Did you see the CM sweat when asked a couple questions by Councilor Skowron? They clearly violated the spirit of the Sunshine Act (if not the letter) and did so in complete defiance of the public's input during the election.

I don't think recalling the whole council is the right move. Just cut the head off the snake, Don Williams, and the city will recover quickly when properly managed.

In some ways the people of this town deserve to be left short on future fire service and parks if the city fails to repay those funds. No one even spoke at the meeting against this and let Walt Skowron get verbally assualted by a bunch of dishonest bullies. It makes me sick to my stomach.
2007-11-26 19:55:44 GMT
The fact is the city doesn't have any real public purpose to buy that property. Williams is way out of bounds. Did anyone catch his quick correction of Heckel by saying it really wasn't initiated by him but instead by council? How come that was news to the entire council if they initiated it?

This city is totally messed-up.
2007-11-26 19:59:42 GMT
Can ther new guys do something to change it or do they have to only vote on what the city manager tells them to?
2007-11-26 20:00:51 GMT
Did anyone read the letter-to-the-Editor by the property owner in the Repeater-Herald? He said it was good for the city to buy his property and made perfect sense. Wow-what an unbiased source. I haven't one person yet who agreed with the railroad. Williams relies on apathy to stay in his position. I can't imagine someone getting away with these dishonest antics in any other city.
2007-11-26 20:25:28 GMT
The City Council did not do the math involved in this purchase. Neither did the so-called professional journalists at The Reporter-Herald.

A purchase of this size is NOT a cash deal. They bought the land with a down-payment. This means they will be paying interest on it. Which means the six million once cited will likely be closer to ten or twelve million dollars.

And you have to know who gets to pay the difference.
2007-11-26 23:20:49 GMT
I have been in favor of this land purchase since the beginning. I believe that it will be a good thing for the city in a few years.

Ask Walt (Skowron) if he is upset with Larry or me....the answer is no.

As to me not having courage...not sure what Walter means. If I like the land purchase, why would I argue against it?

If I believed it would, in any way, hurt the fire department, I would have objected. Remember that the fire service is where I came from. The money will go back to the fire deparment CEF funds. There is nothing currently pending for the those CEF's that were borrowed from the fire department fund and in no way hurts 'fire safety'.
2007-11-27 00:40:31 GMT
I said you lack courage because you allowed Councilman Heckel to publicly berate his colleague for raising some important questions regarding a critical property acquisition that involves millions of taxpayer dollars. I know you encourage civil discussions on this blog and appear to promote an honest exchange of ideas but your tacit endorsement of the bully tactics being employed by your council ally and supported by you during the meeting betray the image you have carefully nurtured on this blog.

I guess personally insulting someone while also calling them a liar are appropriate in your book so long as the abusive behavior is being used to support your opinion. I think this is called situational ethics – I just thought you were a better person than that but you proved me wrong when you jumped-in to back Heckel’s bad behavior during the meeting. Councilman Skowron has no lesser right than you or Heckel to speak at the meeting.

Yes, I know you were a firefighter. That is the irony, so many more people now living in Loveland but the same old fire stations to serve a bigger population with hundreds of miles of new roads. I am sure most residents would prefer the council accelerate building the stations to serve these new populations (instead straining the existing ones) but you don’t seem to support that either.

If anyone doubts that Councilman Larry Heckel’s behavior was out of order – watch the video clip on the main page of this website ( and decide for yourself – please let me know your reaction since you now know mine.

2007-11-27 02:47:54 GMT
I don't know why anyone is wasting time arguing this issue. It was clearly wrong and sneaky for the council to do this and I really don't care that Skowron was shouted at by Heckel. We elected them to protect us not screw us but Walt is the only guy who seems to realize this so it is par for his course. As far i am concerned I will never watch another budget meeting again since they just do what they want anyway.
2007-11-27 06:27:08 GMT
Walter: Would you have rather had different council members taking sides and bickering back and forth? It was much better to move onto the issue at hand.

I would have to review the tapes of this meeting but I believe I stated that I appreciated Walt's comments and understood where he was coming from. I stated that the contract documentation that Walt wanted was given to all council members the week before and that we had enough time to study the material.

Larry Walsh had requested this material at a previous meeting and it had been furnished in a timely manner so each of us would have enough time to study the documents.

Each of us, including Walt, may have different issues and concerns with any item before coucil. Sometimes we may rub each other the wrong way...human nature.

On this issue, if I supported Walt or Larry makes no difference. If one counicl member gets upset with another, it makes no difference. The main thing is to move on and conduct the business at hand...that's what I did. At a different place and at a different time, maybe we all could have argued with each other but not at a open council meeting.
2007-11-27 21:38:14 GMT
Once the meeting turned ugly and Mr. Heckel began throwing personal insults at Walt you jumped in for the kill just like the bravo male wolf in a pack of wolves following the Alfa male.

My point is you could have allowed Mr. Skowron to ask his questions or discussed the substance of the issue. I was terribly disappointed. While you were not exhibiting the outrageous behavior of Mr. Heckel you were the enabler by not standing-up for your colleague and pointing out that personal attacks have no place on city council.

As far as I am concerned, Walt Skowron is the true gentleman not to mention a man willing to stick his neck out to defend taxpayers. That land grab was ill conceived and poorely executed.

Buying property for a price that has not sold for two years is certainly not a “rush.” The only rush was the election and Mr. Williams’ fear that better people were coming onto to council to put a stop to his madness.

Mr. Rousey, do you understand what a smack in the face it is to every area home owner who has lost property value that you are picking his pockets to buy-up land to create even more supply of housing. I am not a “no-growther” but for God’s sake stop manufacturing growth from the pockets of people already hurting from the overbuilding.

2007-11-28 02:17:01 GMT
Walter: Sorry, but I don't understand how you would believe that I did not allow Walt to ask questions or continue a discussion of the issue. I'm one of nine members of the city council and I do not run the meetings.

As I stated before, I was in favor of the land purchase and simply stated at the meeting that some of the information that was requested had already been supplied to council members.

This is in no way taking sides or stopping anyone from asking any questions. Again, I do not run the meetings and consider both Larry and Walt as friends.
2007-11-28 13:59:47 GMT
I cannot believe there wasn't local coverage of this. I just read the story and saw the video. It is not right for Larry Heckel to tell his fellow councilor to shut-up or lecture him that he won't understand it so he doesn't need to know. Don't the people in Skowron's Ward deserve to have equal representation as do the people in Heckel's?

Larry Heckel seems to believe his recent re-election gave him license to abuse his power in city government. Even Hugo Chavez doesn't tell his legislature to shut-up or hide documents and use as an excuse "you won't understand them anyway."

Are the people of Loveland aware this guy is acting this way? I say not since I just heard about this website and never knew about it before. If more people knew what was going on they would immdediately recall this Heckeler guy and get someone in office who respects the process of government.

I still can't believe he was interrupting a fellow official and acting this way at a public meeting. He makes Supervisor Glenn Gibson look like a gentleman - and that is hard to do!
2007-12-04 18:58:04 GMT
Rose, I agree. In Ft. Collins it would be big news and the bully who is spewing verbal abuse would apologize or be force to leave office. The problem with Loveland is Larry owns a construction company and throws money around to local subs. He uses this to keep people in-line since so many people here depend on construction related jobs to live. It really is scary. Anyway, saying Walt "came out of the woodwork" is like saying you are nobody so please don't try and express an opinion now.

He was emotional because contractors are hurting and Heckel has long used his position on council to manufacture growth for his industry regardless of the cost to his community. Cheap construction projects are like a junky getting a fix - it provides some money for the community for a short time but longterm hurts us. These special interest politicians who don't care about this town need to go.
2007-12-04 19:04:46 GMT
having viewed the article and watched the video the behavior of King Heckel was just outrageous.I don't know much about a recall process but I certainly think a recall is in order.Had I known how insulting and arrogrant and belittling he is he would never have gotten my vote.I would be the first person to sign the petition

fed up
2007-12-11 00:03:46 GMT
Not to dismiss the behavior issues or behind-the-scenes shenanigans which led up to that embarrassing exchange. But, the main issue for me is the raiding of Capital Expansion Funds(CEFs) for a purpose other than what they are pledged for. They are NOT a slush fund; not a Reserve fund for anything other than making improvements in the service area they cover.
It may not be illegal, but it is highly unethical to use these for other purposes.
The fire CEF diversion is especially troubling because the Fire Chief, apparently with the blessing of the CM, asked Council to consider loosening the response time standard for Fire because the City's rapid sprawl to the East has not been met with adequate facilities for FIre. As the Chief then noted, effectively, the City Fire Dep't is not meeting the 5 minute response standard anyway.
So it seems outrageous that Council, including former fireman Rousey, would approve a condition likey to make that problem (inadequate Fire facilities) worse.
2007-12-12 04:33:37 GMT
Carl: I argued against any reduction of response times. For me, it's rather simple...the faster the fire department's response to any incident, the better the outcome (along with adaquate manpower).

We have a fire station in Centerra and at the airport which has good response times to homes and businesses in our eastern parts of the city (if we're not in Johnstown..another issue).

The proposed change in response times was brought forward for futher placement of stations as our city grows. Lower response times would allow less stations (or at least more distance between stations) to be constructed and manned in the future.

Please be assured that as long as I'm on the council, I will fight against any reduction of response times.

As to using CEF's, I believe that the investment in this property is good for the city and payback will be made to the appropriate departments before a use of these CEFs are needed.

I believe I'm correct in this belief...I sincerely hope that I am.
2007-12-12 15:07:10 GMT
Councilman Rousey, with all due respect you pummeled your own argument with your own facts.

If response time was lowered due to the longer distances between stations than the "budget" report sent to everyone in the mail two weeks ago by the city was simply put an open lie. That publication "reported" that the quality of services has not been impacted by growth.

You stated above that it has been since the traditional 5 minute response requirement being removed was due to the greater distances the emergency responders need to travel.

If my grandmother who lives in Hunter's Run dies waiting for an engine that was dispatched to another area right before her house caught fire I am placing the blame on the front door of this city council.

Response time is impacted by both staffing and the distance between stations. Loveland has not kept the fire safety staffing up with population growth nor built the required new stations.

If everything you say is true, will it be worth it seeing people die waiting for emergency services since that money was better invested for a greater return in the future?

You and your colleagues just committed those funds for the next 10 years to a land speculation. What the hell does she care if the city gets a return on investment 10 or 15 years from now? She bought and paid for the Taft fire station with her tax dollars for the past 25 years. Now she is forced to share it with thousands more people while you reinvest the money for a new station into land speculation.

This City Council and you simply don't care for those of us already living here. You are being led around by the nose by a city manager who wants to assist builders at the cost of everyone else in the community.

I for one am fed up and want to see a city council that cares about my grandmother's safety instead of using money generated by growth to manufacture even more growth.

Why can't you respect our property rights for a change? My taxes haven't gone down but the services I can expect from the city sure have gone way down!
2007-12-15 07:53:48 GMT
What ever happened to the private market? It seems the imperial government in Loveland is now the biggest landlord "affordable housing" and now wants to be the city's biggest land speculator.

If the private market is so great how come none of the Republicans on City Council trust it to provide housing and growth in the community?

I believe the private market should regulate housing supply in Loveland not a bunch of councilors who got their seats through developer contributions.

Free markets always work better than central government planning. Where was Loveland's City Council when the Berlin Wall fell? Hiding under a rock? Everyone knows central planning doesn't work so why is Loveland trying to compete with the private sector and telling builders what to build?

Their job is to provide local services but from the sound of this blog they haven't taken that job very seriously.
2007-12-15 08:01:02 GMT
Well, Kyle you have a great point. Didn't Hugo Chavez (that nutty dictator in Venezuela) just do the same thing by buying property with government funds to create a development on the outskirts of Caracas the way he wants it built? They also tried it in Brazil - its called Brazilia. Another terrible squander of public money since the elected officials thought they knew more about development than the private sector.

Weird that this City Council is acting like a South American Dictator.
2007-12-15 08:05:03 GMT
Walt: Venezulea, Brazil and Loveland? Sometimes I use bad analogies but I think you just beat me.

Caleb: Please re-read my comments above. I never said that the response times of 5 minutes were removed due to greater distances the fire department now needed to travel. First, the response time standard was not removed.

I was making the statement that if the standard were removed (increased) it would result in less stations needed in the future.....something I'm opposed to.

The proposed increase in response times was not due to the department having to travel greater distances now....the greater distances would be a result of any increase in response times. Greater response times equal less stations in the future because the existing stations could cover a larger area and still meet the increased response time.

Your make the assumption that the monies used to buy the land will stop the building of any new fire station planned in the immediate future. This is not true.

I also said in my previous comments that as long as I serve on the city council, I will fight any reduction of response times.
2007-12-15 21:02:36 GMT
Its interesting to note that the same council persons who blew the possibility of annexing land at I25/402 are still on city council and along with the CM are attempting to rectify their past blunder by buying what they could have through annexation.By buying that 97 acres when no one else seemed interested they have not only antagonized other land owners,but driven them to Johnstown.Additionally,they are now trying to rob Peter to pay Paul by borrowing their own money (fire service and recreation)with the hope of paying it back with interest.That interest payment has to come from somewhere,and guess what,those dollars are going to be tax dollars lost that would have otherwise been tax dollars gained.
What we need to do to right this ship before it sinks is to get rid of the incompetents on the council, and the sooner the better.
2007-12-17 22:10:04 GMT
The very "incentives" the council gave McWhinney they refused to us "farmers" along I-25 and 402.

We only were looking for equity in 2003. They let the cat out of the back and thought we were not smart enough to notice the raw deal they wanted to give us.

Mr. Rousey, I went back and read all the many reasons you posted for providing the McWhinneys city tax dollars for 25 years but what about everyone else who owns land in the vicinity?

You caused the problem and now can't even buy your way out of it no matter.
2007-12-17 22:41:39 GMT
The property owners presented council with an annexation request which included 15 years of vested rights...council agreed. On the second reading, the property owners amended their request by asking that the 15 years would not start until development took place with a 25 year cap on development to begin. That's a possible total of 40 years of vested rights. Council denied the request.

I've told other developers to make sure that what they are requesting is what they actually want....and not to change the request between 1st and 2nd readings or come back with "add-ons" after approval. That's what happened with McWhinney's request for additional homes in the planned Grand Station. That's why I voted no for the increase at Grand Station and it's one reason I voted no on the second reading for the 402 properties.

There was no "raw deal" we wanted to make or give the property owners. We only acted on the property owners request. The sharing of tax revenues with the McWhinneys was after a development plan was in place. No such plan existed with the 402 was open-ended.

How many of you who get upset with council decisions on various developments in Loveland would have screamed at us for giving 40 years of vested rights to the 402 propety owners?

I do know that council was in favor of the annexation and wanted to treat the propety owners the same as anyone else. Council has been and still is willing to work with the property owners along 402.

2007-12-18 14:32:40 GMT
You just demonstrated my point. The Mchinneys clock on the 25 years doesn't start until the bonds are pulled and the project started.

In our deal, the clock would start running on open land before we had the chance to get started.
--Proud Johnstown Resident
2007-12-18 20:23:49 GMT
What point? I'm not sure you had one.

Are you really a 402 property owner? I doubt it. As I said above, a development plan was in place for the McWhinneys. There was no such plan for 402. No one knew what was to be developed in that area or when it would be developed.

Why wasn't the request for the same (25 years of shared revenue) instead of 40?

The 25 years for some of the development on McWhinney's property has already started and is now down to 21/22years.

By the way, there are no 402 properties (west of I-25) in Johnstown at the present time. All the land is currently in the county. One parcel has made application to be annexed but it needs a second reading from Johnstown.

So, I guess you are not one of the propety owners and if you live in Johnstown....this blog is for Loveland residents only...check the top of this page or have someone read it for you.
2007-12-18 21:17:46 GMT
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