“Divisive” comments at Loveland City Council meetings are taking up too much of the public’s time, according to a group of business leaders and concerned citizens.
On Tuesday, the group published an online letter urging the council to limit public information to once a month.
“A group of business and community leaders in Loveland is launching an initiative today called ‘Back to Business Loveland,'” part of the read. of the media. “Sharing their frustration with the constant disruption and drama at Loveland City Council meetings, the group is proposing direct change for the meetings.”
Currently, citizens are given three minutes to address the City Council on any matter not on the regular agenda at the beginning of the regular biweekly meetings, when the council votes on business. wait.
The proposed change will remove that period of information from regular meetings or special meetings, and move to a monthly study, which is only information.
The move comes after recent public comments about Loveland City Manager Steve Adams, who entered a pretrial detention program last month, after then face charges of criminal activity.
In recent weeks, both supporters and opponents of Adams have spoken out during City Council meetings, as his continued employment with the city has been called into question.
“Looking at this situation through a problem-solving lens, we know we cannot maintain the status quo,” said Mindy McCloughan, president and CEO of the Loveland Chamber. of Commerce in the press release. “We have an ongoing effort from a small group of citizens who seem intent on derailing the normal business of the council.”
McCloughan went on to criticize the “constant drama and name-calling,” which he called “disheartening.”
As for whether the request to limit public information would limit freedom of expression or political speech, Alana McGough, a spokeswoman for the group, wrote in an email interview that citizens have “sufficient opportunities” to express themselves. their concerns in Loveland.
“We’re putting out a general statement once a month,” he wrote. “People can also email their councilor or the town at any time. They can also write letters to the editor. When the concerns of a few people interfere with the business of the rest of the community, something must change in the structure of the meetings.
The Loveland City Council has the authority to set or change public ordinances, but there may be restrictions that eliminate opportunities for citizens to speak to the council, according to the City Attorney. Moses Garcia.
The Loveland City Charter states that “the people shall have a fair opportunity to be heard at every meeting,” and further, “the Council shall allow public comment,” before voting on any law.
Garcia said the word “reasonable” was open to interpretation and could be expanded to mean once a month, but he was skeptical.
“The city of Loveland is probably one of the largest public information systems in all of Colorado,” he said. “There are limits that can be placed on this, but our brand has limits.”
One of the members of the council against the move is Mayor Jacki Marsh, who was a regular at meetings before she was elected in 2017.
Citing many examples of the city’s recent actions – from the COVID-19 aid, to the metro district reform, to the ban on camping – he argued that the engagement with citizens is one the most important tools of the forum, and it will be short-sighted to limit the opportunities for this.
“It has had a positive impact on where Loveland has gone,” he said. “…I think our job is to listen. We don’t want to operate in a crisis.”
The group plans to present its proposal and sign it to the City Council in December.
To read or sign the letter, visit backtobusinessloveland.org.