Loveland - December 28, 2011

Loveland City Councilman Ralph Trenary is criticizing his colleagues' failure to support an investigation
into what he calls possible, "
clandestine activities" used to collect quotes from elected officials
at public meetings.

Trenary stated,
"I have yet to see any desire for an investigation aimed at any finding of civil
or criminal wrong-doing"
in a December 16, email he sent to Loveland's City Manager Bill Cahill,
Loveland Mayor Cecil Gutierrez, and members of Loveland's City Council.   Trenary used his
official city email account to send the correspondence.

Trenary apparently intended to keep that email confidential by attaching a long notice of confidentiality that begins,
NOTICE: The information contained in this e-mail is privileged and confidential, and is intended only for the use of the individual
or entity named above........."

Trenary's email was in response to a long string of comments and speculation by various councilors regarding how LovelandPolitics
obtained information about a November 29, public council meeting with Cumberland & Western at the old Agilent property.  No one from the
public attended the meeting.  City management denied discussing a particular topic at that meeting (contradicting a report by
LovelandPolitics) but were later proven wrong when a poor quality recording apparently recorded by someone in the meeting surfaced.

The accusation that one councilor is recording colleagues during public meetings, not otherwise recorded, has created tension among the
council along with a spat of contentious emails.  Closed session meetings of the council must be recorded, according to state law, in the
event a court needs to review the proceedings and determine the legality of excluding the public.  All regularly scheduled meetings are also
recorded and televised by the city on cable channel 16.

Special public meetings where no actions will be taken appear to be the exception.  LovelandPolitics has produced evidence to back-up our
stories when councilors, assuming no record existed, contradicted the information reported here.  Trenary, we are told by staff, is the
leading voice in city hall to "
trap a rat" by initiating a witch hunt of employees at meetings and even asking for sweeping devices to detect
remote surveillance equipment in city buildings.

Some On Council Troubled By Open Meeting Requirements

Last August, the City of Loveland paid $25,000 in attorney fees to the Loveland Reporter-Herald when the city sought declaratory relief
from a judge to ignore a public information request by the local newspaper.  The Loveland Reporter-Herald sought information about votes
taken during a closed session meeting when selecting a new city manager.  Instead of providing Loveland the legal cover they sought, the
Judge instead determined the Loveland City Council indeed violated Colorado's open meetings law when voting during a closed session
the newspaper alleged.  
see story

On November 15, the Loveland City Council met with state lawmakers in a breakfast meeting that was public but attended only by the
officials and their staff.  It was at this meeting that Mayor Gutierrez urged state lawmakers not to support legislation by the Colorado Press
Association or other media connected groups looking to expand or clarify definitions of transparency laws.  When LovelandPolitics' account
of the meeting was challenged, we posted a tape recording of the Mayor's comments in that meeting on our blog.
see story

On November 29, eight of the nine Loveland Councilors (Joan Shaffer was absent) met with two representatives of Cumberland & Western
Resources along with city staff at the old Agilent campus on Taft Ave. in Loveland.  In accordance with state law, the meeting included more
than three councilors and therefore was open to the public.  During that meeting, Loveland's Director of Business Development, Betsey
Hale, answered questions regarding Colorado's new "COIN" initiative and mentioned her intention to meet with the Governor's staff.   In
addition, a representative of Cumberland & Western at the meeting described COIN as "irrelevant" to their project.  No member of the
public or press was at the meeting therefore giving councilors a false sense of security that their comments were off-the-record.

LovelandPolitics then made a public information request to the city clerk regarding correspondence between the city and COIN or the
Governor's office referencing the November 29, comments.  Loveland City Manager Bill Cahill, who was not at the meeting, responded that
COIN was not discussed in the meeting.  LovelandPolitics again corrected the information pointing to specific comments by the meeting
participants regarding COIN.

That response by LovelandPolitics was forwarded to the entire Loveland City Council by Cahill.  Below are excerpts from a long string of
emails mostly expressing disappointment or outrage that LovelandPolitics obtained this information from the meeting.  

Intrigue and Accusations Continue

Unable to identify any participant of those meetings as the party recording the meetings, rumors about hidden recorders, bugs and even
clandestine activities" run wild in city hall.    

Trenary wrote in response to Klassen's denials of having recorded the meeting and repudiation of the witch hunt,
" I am concerned by the
content and consistency of your position on these deceptive and damaging recordings. Let me convey my highest assurance that I
have yet to see any evidence or argument that would lead me to consider dismissing, ignoring nor forgetting what has been done
to this Council."

His comments were not well received by colleagues angered at his innuendo that they may be the source of information.  Councilors Hugh
McKean and Daryle Klassen explained the holder of the microphone is irrelevant as the meeting was a meeting open to the public.  Each
denied having recorded the meeting along with Councilwoman Cat McEwen and Mayor Cecil Gutierrez.
Loveland's Independent News Source
"....This was a publicly-noticed meeting, so it is not an executive session or a secret meeting
in any way.  Further, Colorado law allows recording by an individual of conversations in which
that individual is present.  Provided that the individual is present, no permission for
recording is needed from others in the conversation.

I simply want to make Council Members aware of this. "
William D. Cahill, Loveland City Manager
"This is asinine.  As I read these emails it all boils down to, "It wasn't me".  
That said, it wasn't me.  Daryle, you make a great point and one that I
wholeheartedly agree with.  These are public meetings and so, instead of someone
taking notes on a pad there may be a recording to memorialize the conversations."

Loveland Councilman Hugh McKean
"It wasn't me. I don't know what the concern is about whoever it was.

Any publicly advertised meeting is open to recording by anyone, So, whoever did the
recording did nothing, NOTHING, illegal nor irregular. Any member of the public, or any
member of the council, or anyone from C & W would have placed a ten foot tall tape deck
on the table, asking NO permission and recorded the entire conversations. The same
fact pertained to the museum meeting with the legislators. So, what's the beef ?

Councilman Daryle Klassen
Councilman Ralph Trenary
"Attorneys are prohibited from recording conversations."

Councilwoman Cathleen McEwen
"It couldn't have been me. It's too hard to conceal my reel to reel."

Mayor Cecil Gutierrez
Below are excerpts from the thirteen emails traded between councilors on the topic.
To read the full text of the emails
click here.
"I find this all quite disheartening. In my first two years on council, I thought we as
representatives of our community have done an admirable job of learning to work
together, respect differences, cross divides, and pull in the same direction for the
people of Loveland. While taping public meetings is not illegal, and I don't fear what
might be recorded, the practice of doing so for release to the press or a blogger for no
other purpose but to stir up ill will and apparent distrust of fellow councilors is sad,

Councilwoman Joan Shaffer
"I find myself in agreement with Cecil and Joan. While I have no issue with the
recording of any posted meeting, I find it very surprising that someone would do it
such an underhanded manner"

Councilman Phil Farley
As I was told by my first speech broadcast and journalism teacher, 'There is no such
thing as a dead microphone.' Because we do not particularly like what the blogger had
to say (and that includes me), we then try to make an issue out of a microphone that
was or was not in sight. This seems to imply that what we might, or might not say, has to
do whether there is a microphone in sight. This in sight, or out of sight is a non-issue. A
public meeting 0f public officials, duly advertised, does not require anyone to hold the
microphone up in the air for all to see. Enough spin on this. I'm wondering if we learned
anything by the $25,000 we recently spent. Yes, we are talking about legality. Totally."

Councilman Daryle Klassen
"I am concerned by the content and consistency of your position on these deceptive and
damaging recordings. Let me convey my highest assurance that I have yet to see any
evidence or argument that would lead me to consider dismissing, ignoring nor forgetting
what has been done to this Council.

It is the absolute truth that on Nov 29 the blogger was not present. To date there is no
admission of who was acting as the agent/source of the blogger. This is deceptive.

Unless you are implying that one of our guests or city staff were the agent of this
blogger, then we are regrettably facing the likelihood that a member of City Council
made the recording. This strikes me as a betrayal of professional conduct and fiduciary
trust amongst the members of the Council.

To deny this as the situation of Nov 29 implies that the recording was made by an
unknown person outside of that meeting room. That would constitute clandestine
surveillance and imply the use of specialized technology. A new factor that could result
in further investigation as it removes the present at the meeting or party to the
conversation exemption.

I object to your inference that criticism of these secret recordings is a recurrence of
errors made during Executive Session and then subjected to a lawsuit. Irrelevant. The
sequence of events, circumstances and actions of those present show no similarity.

Failing to cross the line into illegal conduct does remove the fundamental conclusion
that the creation of the Nov 29 secret recording by a member of the Council was wrong. I
have yet to see any desire for an investigation aimed at any finding of civil or criminal

I am reassured by numerous expressions that regardless of the cloak of legality, the Nov
29 secret recording was wrong. My fundamental standards of moral and ethical conduct
do not allow me to condone letting this slide by without protest and condemnation."

Councilman Ralph Trenary
Councilman Fears Surveillance  
of Public Meetings
Accusations Fly Via Email - Trenary Is Angry and wants investigation