Loveland - August 15
In what appears to many in Loveland as a violation of Colorado's Sunshine Law, the Loveland
City Council voted Tuesday night, Aug. 14, to meet in private to discuss the controversial request
by the McWhinneys to use Loveland tax dollars to fund a trolley for the proposed Grand Station
The McWhinneys first proposed using taxpayer funds for the trolley after receiving support from
the City Council for their proposed Grand Station development. LovelandPolitics.com reported at
that time on the peculiarity of the City Manager, Don Williams, supporting Grand Station in
comments to the press before such support was granted in any public meetings by the Council.
Either he was acting outside the purview of his appointed position or he more likely already met
with enough members of the City Council in private to know the approval was forthcoming. The
latter would be a violation of Colorado's Public Meetings law that requires public business before
the Council be decided in a public meeting.
In late July, however, everything changed. Emboldened with their easy approval for Grand Station
the McWhinneys came back to the City Council. This time they wanted Council to approve using
taxpayer dollars for their estimated $1 million trolley to nowhere attraction plus other fundamental
changes in their Master Financing Agreement (MFA) between the City of Loveland and the
McWhinneys. Comments made early in the Council meeting appeared to indicate Williams and
the McWhinneys didn't have the majority they required on the City Council to pass the resolution.
Acting more like a partisan instead of City Manager, Williams encouraged the Council to postpone
their vote (to avoid an outright denial for McWhinney). The RH Line (a call-in line for the
Reporter-Herald Newspaper), local public radio shows and this website received record numbers
of negative comments from the public against approving the McWhinney request to fund the trolley
to nowhere using tax dollars.
The McWhinneys subsequently changed strategies in their public campaign by posting a new
website called get the facts sent stooge letters to the editor and even hosted two public forums to
try and sell their proposal to the public. Alicia Beard, formerly a reporter for the Reporter-Herald
newspaper, tracked down members of the audience at the public forum who asked negative
questions to demand to know why they were there and who they represented. Using her goodwill
earned while working for the community newspaper, Beard was now shaking down audience
members for the McWhinneys. Her new business card indicates she works in "community
relations" and is responsible for their new web campaign.
After the McWhinney's community forum failed to turn the negative tide -- the City Manager again
stymied the public process by asking the Council not to vote on the matter as they intended at their
August 7, meeting. Instead, the viewing public was treated to a discussion by the City Manager
telling the City Council why they need to take the matter into a closed session at their August 14,
Council meeting. Walt Skowron, who apparently didn't get the memo, asked why they were going
to discuss in private what was clearly a public matter. The City Manager, in obvious discomfort,
answered Skowron's questions slowly and carefully while regularly glancing over to the City
Attorney for support.
Councilman Walt Skowron did vote against the August 14, motion to begin discussing the trolley in
closed session but invalidated the stand by then participating in the discussion behind closed
doors. According to an unnamed source on city staff, the City Manager presented to Council
several options or as he called them "alternatives" to just saying no to the trolley.
The "public" meeting to decide the fate of the trolley proposal has now been scheduled for August
28, 2007 when the council will vote on what was decided in private to provide the appearance of
complying with the State of Colorado Open Meetings Law.
|COUNCIL TAKES TROLLEY DISCUSSION
PRIVATE - SEEN AS BLATANT VIOLATION
OF OPEN MEETINGS LAW
|Mayor Larry Walsh
is seen here glancing towards the City Manager
when vote passes Council to discuss the
McWhinney's trolley request in secret and
Councilman Skowron's objections are ignored.
|Councilman Walt Skowron aka "Scrappy
Skowron" voiced concerns about violating
the open meetings law and voted against the
|Mayor Pro Tem, Gene Pielin
aka "Sleepy Gene" seen here at the Aug.
14, meeting half-shaven, groggy and
inattentive at times.
|Taking a queue from Sleepy Gene, City
Manager Don Williams enjoys a cat nap
during a presentation to City Council