by Rob Weisgerber,
The assertion was false and heedlessly made without full knowledge of the facts.
I want to take this opportunity to set the record straight. The assertion made by a local business owner and council member that illegal payments were made to a contractor the City used throughout 2013 is false and was heedlessly made without full knowledge of the facts.
During the 8/22/17 Loveland City Council meeting, Mr. Tim Canada, of Bond Furniture, addressed city council about transparency in Loveland politics. (See video below) Mr. Canada asked questions about payments made to a contractor the City used throughout 2013. During this same address, he asked for a subpoena of the former city manager and Pam Gross asserted the referenced payments were illegal. In a subsequent email from Tim Canada, he also asserted the payments to the Colwell Group were illegal.
While Mr. Canada wanted an immediate response in the moment, given the inflammatory nature of the inquiry and Ms. Gross’s statement, I chose to hold my response so that I could research the matter in question and consult with the appropriate people to ensure my response was accurate. Knowing full well that I was risking more inflammatory accusations by not answering questions at that moment. I have no interest in participating in the kind of inflammatory and reckless rhetoric heard at the 8/22 council meeting.
There was absolutely nothing illegal regarding the contracts with the Colwell Group, nor were any city procedures or spending authority violated.
After proper review, including discussion with Loveland’s city solicitor and Mr. Colwell, I indeed have answers to Mr. Canada’s questions. I will start with this fundamental fact: There was absolutely nothing illegal regarding the contracts with the Colwell Group, nor were any city procedures or spending authority violated.
The Colwell Group is a professional organization providing help and solutions to political subdivisions in Ohio. The City of Loveland hired the Colwell group for three separate engagements covering lobbying to get state funding for performance measures, working with ODNR and the railroad on quiet zone needs, and working to secure a grant from ODNR for parking. All three agreements were properly reviewed by legal and the finance director, and all three efforts were at or under the legal spending authority of the city manager, per the city’s rules. Under the final contract, the Colwell Group secured between $300,000 and $350,000 in a grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) for the downtown parking area that is now the Linda Cox lot. That represented a 20X return for the taxpayers of Loveland.
Mr. Canada often references his extensive research, yet the facts of these contracts were readily accessible, had this information been his primary interest or objective.
Mr. Canada often references his extensive research, yet the facts of these contracts were readily accessible, had this information been his primary interest or objective. Whether at a meeting or in emails, calling for subpoenas and lobbing terms like “illegal” and “tarnished reputation” make for great drama in the moment, but when invoked without proof or cause, they are irresponsible and reckless. Mr. Canada is creating the very negativity he has lamented repeatedly from the podium.
With more than 20 years proudly serving the City of Loveland as a representative of city council, I cannot claim to have never made a mistake or a decision I regretted in hindsight. But I have always made decisions with the best interest of the city and its residents in mind, and to the best of my ability with the information available at the time. I intend to carry this same approach forward, with greater council collaboration, communication and resident involvement. Loveland residents deserve nothing less.
Rob Weisgerber is a Loveland Council member and running for re-election this November.
Here is video from LOVELAND MAGAZINE TV showing what was said by Tim Canada and Pam Gross during the August 22 City Council meeting: