Metro Districts; Epicenter of New Political Chasm

For literally decades the Loveland City Council took a devil may care approach to Metro Districts (special taxing districts) approving many different taxing districts in Loveland with little concern for voter retribution.

All that is changing with the recent survey by Thompson School District that their number one obstacle to passing a bond measure in 2017 are the residents in such districts whose property taxes exceed the statewide average in Colorado.

Read our story and please feel welcome to contribute to the conversation.  Do you live in a Metro District and will you support the Thompson School District’s third attempt at passing a mill levy override or special bond for school infrastructure?

 

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Multiple Stories

A lot is going on so here is a quick summary;

1.  Our May 3, post that School Board member Denise Montagu is renting her home and headed to Boulder as the result of a divorce is indeed being re-confirmed.  Superintendent Stan Scheer and the school board he controls agreed in secret to delay announcing Montagu’s departure to avoid the requirement of a special election due to the cost.  Instead, they are waiting until August to make the announcement so her replacement can run in a general election already being conducted by the county.

2.  Rev. Howard Dotson has converted to Islam.  Oddly enough his church members are celebrating his departure while he is making historical arguments for his conversion.  

3.  David Wayne Balsiger of Loveland, Colorado, passed away at age 71 on June 27, 2017.  You may recall he was the producer of the 70’s television show Grizzly Adams.  More recently, he invested $12,000 of his own money to defeat the latest Thompson School District bond measure by publishing his own newspaper, taking out advertisements and posting signs around Loveland in opposition to the bond.

4.  Loveland’s City Council approved diverting federal funds intended to assist flood victims instead to an annual light show in Centerra Chupungu Park celebrating Denver resident Chad McWhinney’s private art collection in the park.  The annual show will cost over $100,000 and provides pagans an interesting secular display during the insufferable last week of December.  No word yet on whether Jared’s Galleria of Jewlry will be contributing the Golden Calf for the celebrations or maybe it can be constructed from Centerra shopper’s personal jewlry.   

5.  Colorado attorney Brian Matise described all the red flags of a troubled or corrupt metro district to Loveland’s Council last Tuesday inadvertently describing Centerra on every point from perpetual developer control to exceeding payment timeframes and debt limits.  More on this later…..

6.  Brothers Steve and Ed Klen sold the Rocky Mountain Gun Club they have operated for years in Anasazi Plaza behind Walmart.  The City of Loveland declined offers to purchase the indoor shooting range in favor of building their own facility for police to qualify and practice shooting.  

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Councilwoman Asked to Resign

Even in today’s world of tabloid politics it is difficult to comprehend how a nearly homeless woman trying to escape creditors and without a regular job can continue serving on Loveland’s City Council despite the fact she is no longer residing in the Ward she represents.  See our story

The answer is not complicated.  Loveland’s daily newspaper, the Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald, has lost all objectivity and independence from city hall in reporting city news since it now relies on the city to maintain and sell articles from its archive so unlikely to report any hard news anymore impacting those appropriating their annual subsidy.  Secondly, fellow political travelers of Councilwoman Shaffer,  like Mayor Cecil Gutierrez and Councilman Richard Ball, see her as an easy vote for any pet project so why let the law stand in the way of political expediency?

Our goal is not to highlight the personal problems of Councilwoman Joan Shaffer but instead simply ask the question how she is allowed to continue ignoring the city’s laws regarding her residency requirement in Ward II?  We understand that councilors Dave Clark, Don Overcash and others have asked for this issue to finally be discussed in public at their next regularly scheduled meeting.  Ironically, we are told city staff will be delivering her agenda packet for that next meeting to her crash pad outside Ward II.

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Council To Vote On Subsidizing Reporter-Herald Newspaper Archive

This Wednesday, July 5, Loveland’s City Council is set to vote on a onetime $59,000 expenditure to move the RH’s archives to the city’s Cultural Services Department along with another $60,000 annual increase in the departments budget to better organize, preserve and maintain the thousands of newspaper articles and photographs for the newspaper’s current owners.  The Reporter-Herald reportedly doesn’t have the resources to move the archives to their new small office in Berthoud.

See our story along with links to older stories about how the newspaper was sold previously etc….

When this idea was first presented to Loveland’s City Council, museum staff claimed they signed the agreement back in May with the newspaper because the Reporter-Herald was planning to dispose of the archive upon selling their building in downtown.  Incredibly, the staff negotiated an agreement where the party supposedly ready to dispose of their archives will continue to receive revenue and maintain rights to the copyright of the archive after it is acquired by the city and maintained at taxpayer expense.

Staff must know how incredibly incompetent their negotiation skills are because during a presentation to Loveland’s City Council in early June, they repeatedly claimed the archive will now be available for Loveland residents for free with the exception of “commercial” uses.  Unfortunately, our elected representatives failed to read the actual agreement and voted 9-0 on first reading to became the custodian of the newspaper’s  archives without obtaining any rights for the citizens to use that archive.  

Essentially, city taxpayers are being asked to organize, preserve, and distribute the newspaper’s archive to the financial benefit of its owners who not only maintain control of their archives but also, according to the agreement, may take them back at anytime from the city.

We strongly support the city acquiring the “going to be trashed” archive from our city’s failing daily newspaper for the use of its citizens and the museum for historical purposes in perpetuity.  Unfortunately, this agreement they are scheduled to approve Wednesday doesn’t come close to accomplishing the objective the staff claims it does.

Councilors – please read the agreement before voting for final approval.

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Small Victory – Problem of Public/Private Partnerships

There comes a time when the merger of private interests with the authority to govern collide in a bad way.  We have long been annoyed by the official signs along E-470 and I-25 showing services near exits that are much farther from the highway than indicated.

Background:  Since the late 1990’s Colorado has relied heavily on a private company, Colorado Logos Inc., to sell and place advertising on the blue service signs along state controlled highways.  Unfotunately, selling the placement of a business logo on the sign appears to have taken priority over accuracy.

Ironically, the company’s website states, “Throughout our history, we have remained committed to the three (3) groups of customers who must be satisfied with our work: the Transportation Agency to whom we report, the participating businesses, and, ultimately, the motorists who rely on the information we provide to make their travel safer and more efficient.”

Unfortunately, that last group doesn’t really seem to be very important since their money comes from the state and business whose logos are placed on official signs.  Case in point, the E-470 exit onto 104th Street in Commerce City near Denver Airport advertises a McDonald’s west of E-470 is “1 mile.”  In fact, it is 2.5 miles.  Other lessor abuses may be indicating 3/4 of a mile to gas stations along I-25 that are no less than a mile away.  Were these private billboards it wouldn’t be that important since people automatically distrust commercial advertising and expect hyperbally.  Stating false mileage to food, gas stations or other services just to entice them to exit for the private company’s client – on official state signs is terrible because it conditions drivers to disregard safety information on more important official signs.

Today an engineer at E-470 measured the distance to McDonald ‘s, based on our complaint, and confirmed the actual distance is more than 200% than what was posted on the sign erected and maintenance by Colorado Logos.   As a result, E-470 staff will now be auditing all the signs placed on their toll road by Colorado Logos Inc. for accuracy.

This reminds us of the time a candidate for Loveland City Council bragged about east Highway 34 having more turn-lanes into Centerra than going straight.  The point, as I understood it at the time,  was this was good for Loveland and the McWhinney’s that the city could “roll” CDOT into allowing Loveland to force traffic into the Promenade Shopping Center by limiting the number of lanes going east off I-25.  

City planners and traffic engineers have no more business trying to manipulate traffic into city “partner” retail establishments than than a signage company representing the State of Colorado has in lying to the traveling public about distances between certain sponsors of their signage and the highway to encourage people to exit.   

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Staff Appropriates More Ongoing Funding for Foundry 

Last Tuesday several members of Loveland’s City Council yawned as city staff described their surprise to find the proposed underground parking for the Foundry (formerly South Catalyst) is going to be located inside a contaminated natural artesian well.  Even less interesting to the elected representatives is the fact the Foundry will now cost an additional $100,000 annually in perpetuity to prevent cars in the garage from being flooded with toxic affluent.

See article
Loveland taxpayers will need to shoulder the additional estimated $240,000 capital costs and the additional estimated annual expenditure of $100,000 to pump up to 350 gallons per minute through filters and into the city’s storm water drain system from under the subterranean parking structure.  Engineers working for the city (and presumably not terminated) estimated the underground water flow to be around 130 gallons per minute.

Staff is implementing an increase in the property taxes, sales taxes and hotel occupancy taxes to offset approximately 75% of the additional annual operational cost for the parking garage for the yet to be approved DDA (Downtown Develooment Authority).  The balance will fall to the rest of Loveland taxpayers if not all of the annual cost depending on the success of the DDA approval vote on this November’s ballot.

 

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Loveland Mayor Caught: “Obstructing Justice”

Loveland Mayor Cecil Gutierrez acknowledged during the May 16, 2017 council meeting that he tried to contact Loveland Municipal Judge Joneson regarding a matter between the City of Loveland and Loveland resident Larry Sarner the night before she was going to make a decision about hearing the case.

Loveland’s city attorney successfully prevented Sarner from filing his case in municipal court by having the court clerk refuse his paperwork, when he appealed directly to the judge, who was apparently unaware of the matter, she agreed to provide him a hearing the next day.

Mayor Cecil Gutierrez and Mayor Pro Tem John Fogle then scrambled to warn their colleagues about the judge’s decision and the pending hearing.  Gutierrez also left a message on the judge’s answering machine that is being preserved for a potential investigation by the Larimer County District Attorney.

See meeting video of an exchange between Gutierrez and Councilman Troy Krenning

Read our complete story about the city’s efforts to keep measure off the ballot

 

 

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Denise Montagu to Resign Seat on Board of Education

LovelandPolitics has been informed that Denise Montagu is moving to Boulder, Colorado due to a divorce thus vacating her seat on the Thompson Board of Education.   We have confirmed that her personal residence in Loveland where she is registered to vote is being offered for rent on Zillow.com.

Despite her obnoxious and disruptive behavior during her first term on the Thompson Board of Education, Montagu was re-elected in November of 2015 along with Pam Howard, Dave Levy and Jeff Swanty due to the local and state teacher unions pouring more than a quarter million dollars into the race.

Mantagu’s absence from the board will likely not change the direction of the board.  A graduate from CSU, Montagu’s work history was primarily doing marketing for Uptown Auto in Loveland owned by a family member and later a short stint working for a financial services firm.

Montagu is most well known for her public outbursts and interruptions of former Board of Education President Bob Kerrigan who decided not to seek re-election in 2015.  Montagu is reported to have said she was assigned the task of disrupting meetings and acting in an obnoxious manner to try and provoke Kerrigan to lose his temper and do something “regrettable.”  Montagu also once demanded an elderly man be forceably removed “immediately” from a Board of Education meeting after he spoke critically about her during his turn at public comments.

We hope she learns the value of civil discourse and treating all people with respect.  We also hope she has success with her new life in Boulder.

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Sovereigns of Centerra – Taxation Without Representation

You would be hard pressed to find any principle more fundamental to the founding of our country than the ideal that nobody should be taxed without representation.  Nevertheless, both Democrats and Republicans on Loveland’s 9 member City Council voted unanimously on April 4, to again deny the residents and property owners of Centerra this fundamental American right.

See our story 

Loveland’s City Council expanded McWhinney brothers Chad and Troy governmental authority to further indebt Centerra residents and businesses with compounding interest on “forever bonds” stretching all the way into 2050.   Adding insult to injury, McWhinney’s pledge of up to 72 mills of future property taxes to repay the revolving debt encumbers only those property owners in Centerra Metro Districts 2-5; the exact ones prohibited from voting for a member of Centerra’s governing board of directors.  So who can select the board?  Only property owners of tiny Centerra District 1 which is already owned exclusively by McWhinney.   Even worse, McWhinney’s District 1 property is exempt from the Centerra Mill Levy so the elite decision maker is free to determine everyone else’s tax without fear of paying it on their own qualifying property being held for the long term.

The IRS put it best with a 2014 ruling aimed at exactly this type of threat of private parties looting metro districts for their own gain while leaving behind an unwieldy debt load for others to repay. “Privatizing gains while socializing losses.”

“A governmental unit is inherently accountable, directly or indirectly, to a general electorate. In effect, § 103 relies, in large part, on the democratic process to ensure that subsidized bond financing is used for projects which the general electorate considers appropriate State or local government purposes.”

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Homeless In Loveland In For Big Surprise

LovelandPoltics has been informed that Brinkman President Jay Hardy has cooked-up an admirable scheme to prevent Loveland’s intractable homeless population from ruining his downtown Foundry Project.  Simply stated, they cannot use the “public” pedestrian areas inside the Foundry project as the city has deeded the land to Brinkman or vacated its existing Rights-of-Way (on 3rd Street i.e.) in favor of private control.

See our complete story

While the clever plan has promise it comes at a time when Loveland’s homeless population is growing due to the legalization of marijuana.  In the meantime, Respresentative Hugh McKean (previously a member of Loveland City Council) fights against the homeless legislation named, “Right to Rest” bill which essentially prevents any anti-loitering ordinances by cities over public space.

As if that isn’t enough, Larimer County Commissioners just voted to outlaw more than three gatherings on private property per year if more than 40 people participate.  

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