Government & Politics  April 16, 2024

Loveland council pushes investigation discussion to later meeting 

LOVELAND — Members of the Loveland City Council, who were expected to discuss the criminal and civil investigations of the minority members of the council at Tuesday night’s meeting, instead moved to defer the topic until the special meeting April 30.

Neither special prosecutors Kathy Haddock nor Christopher Gregory was present. Mayor Jacki Marsh asked to move the item, and the council voted 5-3 to move it. Three of the four minority members voted against moving it; the fourth minority member was absent due to a death in his family.

The investigations stem from an effort of the five majority members of the council to investigate whether violations of the law and city charter occurred when members of the previous council wrote letters to the state Legislature and Gov. Jared Polis about a bill that was moving through the Statehouse. The bill passed but was vetoed by the governor. The letters that were sent were not discussed at a public meeting but included the signatures of most of the members of the council at the time.

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Haddock told the council in a letter this week that she did not find probable cause that criminal offenses occurred. Gregory continues to investigate whether a civil case can be mounted.

In a letter dated April 15, Gregory filed a massive Colorado Open Records Act request — six pages of detailed requests plus a four/page appendix listing the names of hundreds of local and state individuals who might have had contact with the city over McWhinney developments.

Among the requests were “all writings, communications/statements, meeting notes, presentation materials, recordings, calendar entries, and other documentation of meetings between the owners, officers, and/or employees of McWhinney Real Estate Services Inc. (including its subsidiaries and its affiliates) … and the city of Loveland’s mayor, city council members and/or city employees/staff/boards and commission members.”

The request went on to include the Loveland Chamber of Commerce, Loveland Business Partnership, Antler Solutions, PinnacleConsulting Group Inc. and law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.

It asked for writings involving McWhinney’s paid lobbyists, the chairman of the Larimer County Democratic Party, former council members, employees and others affiliated with former council members, writings involving the Thompson School District and Larimer County, information regarding advice and education given regarding open meetings and records and any communication with the governor or legislature.

Further, the request seeks financial information from McWhinney, audited financial statements, balance sheets and statements of revenues and expenditures “since Jan. 10, 2004, to the present.”

It seeks information regarding the social affair that was held April 4, 2024, at which former executive members of the city were recognized. “(R)equested communications/records extend to those in the possession of council members regardless of their status as either former or current members.”

He asked the city to waive all fees that might apply to searching and compiling the information; under state law, governments can charge for gathering of open records when they exceed a certain amount of time.

He asked for the information within three days and not to exceed seven days.

Finally, he asked that the information be organized and labeled “to correspond with the categories of this request” and that the city “sequentially apply Bates numbering to the documents disclosed and provide a table of contents/listing of non-document digital files … To the extent possible, please separate the documents produced with tabs, bookmarks or other tables of contents to assist with their navigation.”

The council only briefly discussed the Gregory request, with council member Andrea Samson asking about the timing of the request given the short window for compliance. 

Acting city attorney Vince Junglas said his office would need additional resources in order to comply. “Just as it relates to emails, it would take an employee 14 days,” he said.

Junglas said he would ask Gregory and Haddock to attend the council’s April 30 meeting.

Members of the public did address Gregory’s request in public comments. 

“Please respect the citizens’ money, respect the citizens’ time and let it go,” said resident Kasey Mullins.

“Stop fighting amongst yourselves and deal with it (the problems the city faces),” said resident Vi Wickam. “You’re here to provide vision and leadership. … Drop your vendettas against each other.”

Bob Massaro, on the other hand, said the allegations haven’t been resolved and won’t be until it goes to court.

Members of the Loveland City Council, who were expected to discuss the criminal and civil investigations of the minority members of the council at Tuesday night’s meeting, instead moved to defer the topic until the special meeting April 30.

Ken Amundson
Ken Amundson is managing editor of BizWest. He has lived in Loveland and reported on issues in the region since 1987. Prior to Colorado, he reported and edited for news organizations in Minnesota and Iowa. He's a parent of two and grandparent of four, all of whom make their homes on the Front Range. A news junkie at heart, he also enjoys competitive sports, especially the Rapids.
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