Residents deserve to know

by Halie Rebeccaschild

Dear Loveland Magazine Readers,

Who is Joe Wessels? Does he have a contract with the city of Loveland? And how do we pay him? Residents deserve to know. The email you can read below, from Joe Braun, Loveland City Solicitor, was sent to me on 5/15/2017 in response to a Public Records Request request that I sent to Clerk of Court, Misty Cheshire, on 5/10/2017 in regards to the employment of Joe Wessels as PR consultant and independent contractor for the city of Loveland.

On 5/11/2017, Wessels dedicated some time on the Loveland Community Heartbeat Political Action Committee (LCHPAC) Facebook page making public allegations that LCHPAC had been spreading false and misleading information to the public about the lack of engagement that Loveland City Council majority members have had with the residents of Loveland. At that time, Wessels stated that he is a new, part-time employee who represents the city, and he engaged with our stakeholders on our Facebook page from 7:45-11:50 AM, as well as a thread on another social media application used by Loveland residents, NextDoor. That thread may be seen in entirety here: https://www.facebook.com/LCHPAC/posts/451134371900703 .

Of course, the big question residents should want to know: How much does the city pay for a public relations consultant to spend hours on Facebook?

It seems prudent that anyone claiming to speak for the city should provide evidence to residents supporting that claim. Residents also have the legal right to review employment contracts and verify the authority by which contractors are hired. Of course, the big question residents should want to know: How much does the city pay for a public relations consultant to spend hours on Facebook?

Is it possible that Joe Wessels is actually a campaign tool for the majority on council?

This last question is especially important given his motivation to clean up the poor public relations problem of our city council, all of whom are elected by Loveland residents. Is it possible that Joe Wessels is actually a campaign tool for the majority on council, two of which are up for reelection on November 7th and one of which, Mark Fitzgerald, has petitions actively circulating to recall him to the 2017 ballot?

Given that the positions Wessels chose to take on the Facebook thread serve the interest of the current development philosophy and the positions of the majority on council who drive that philosophy, it does indeed appear that Joe Wessels is election campaigning for the majority members up for reelection (or protecting the job of the city manager, Dave Kennedy). Why else would the city need a PR person to troll a Facebook page of a political action committee established with the singular intention of removing those members from city council this year and of questioning the development agenda of the city? 

It does indeed appear that Joe Wessels is election campaigning for the majority members up for reelection.

In particular, Wessels claimed that a 6-resident session at the high school in February of 2016 somehow counted as sufficient engagement to endorse the current plan to demolish and rebuild city hall. I personally would like to call Wessels out on that information as patently false and unsupported by minority on council who attended, as neither was a 4-story, multi-use city hall project discussed at that meeting, nor has the city done any outreach to engage residents on this particular project (or any other development planning in the last eight years). Residents deserve to know we’ve been sidelined for nearly a decade, and we are clearly not going to get that information from Wessels or majority council. But let’s take a look at the money spent to cover up this unfortunate truth.

Why else would the city need a PR person to troll a Facebook page of a political action committee?

Anyone who cares to stop abuse of tax payer funds and abuse of power should see the following employment documents for Joe Wessels (no contract exists, which means the authority to hire him is in question). Given the hourly rate of $125, Joe Wessels, an independent contractor who trolled the LCHPAC page from 7:45 AM until 11:50 AM on May 11th, will charge the city $500 to counter a single morning on the Loveland Community Heartbeat Facebook page. At 20 hours per week, Wessels will earn $2500/month, $30,000/ year to do the job that our majority on council should be doing to improve the poor relations between city council and Loveland residents. 

I challenge Dave Kennedy, Loveland city manager, to produce authorization by ordinance or charter to pay for the ongoing public relations services of Joe Wessels. And I call to all Loveland residents to vote accordingly on November 7th, 2017.

(Like and Follow Loveland Community Heartbeat on Facebook for daily updates on our efforts to hold majority council accountable on election day.)

It’s time to Stand Up, Loveland!

 


Halie Rebeccaschild is a Loveland resident and Secretary of Loveland Community Heartbeat Political Action Committee


 
From: Braun, Joseph J.<jjbraun@strausstroy.com>

Halie:

You requested the following public documents from the City of Loveland:

Any and all documents that detail Joe Wessels’ job description, salary, and any charter section or other materials governing his employment with the city and his salary amount.  Some of what you requested is information — not a public document.  Notwithstanding, in response to your public document request I am attaching any and all public documents in the possession of the City related to the work being performed by Joe Wessels. The City has no document that is a contract or job description responsive to your request.

You should be advised that no documents are being withheld for any statutorily permitted reason or any privilege.  There are two redactions made to the documents related to his social security number and federal tax ID number.

Thanks,
Joe Braun

Joseph J. Braun | Shareholder
STRAUSS TROY CO., LPA




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2 COMMENTS

  1. This is a very common service most communities pay a contractor (not an employee) for these days. If they are not going to spend more than $25,000 there is no need for a public bid and asking for for documentation on who approved the expenditures is like asking them for documentation on who approved the copier repairman to come in. I’m starting to believe the LCHCPAC is costing the residents as much money as they claim the council majority is.

    • Sounds like council hired a “Spin Doctor” with taxpayer money to handle the negative complaints. Watch the film, “Wag the Dog”, a well done film how Spin Doctors help out elected officials change public perception.

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