In most towns, a large cash subsidy of taxpayer's money by elected officials to a business owned by their own campaign contributor would spell scandal but in Loveland, the Reporter-Herald calls it "Council invests in the future" (see Editorial Feb. 9, 2008). Whether due to incompetence, ignorance or just plain yellow journalism, the editorial shamefully misleads readers by perpetuating myths that are contrary to the facts.
Absent any precedent, policy or even defensible reasoning; the Loveland City Council directed staff to prepare a resolution providing a known local activist and campaign contributor to at least three on the Council nearly $1 million to assist him in moving the location of his business OUT OF downtown Loveland to a new location in Loveland he has yet to identify. As members of the public shouted requests to speak, Mayor Pielin banned public comment on the controversial item during the meeting.
At the very least, Councilors (and the Mayor) who owe their seats on Council, in part, to the contributions of the business owner of Colorado VNet need to remove themselves from voting to give that company cash for the purpose of “business development.” In the meantime, the Reporter-Herald has chosen to act like a clapping seal by applauding the effort without apparently researching any of the facts behind the deal. They even attacked one of only two Councilors who had the courage and integrity to ask whether or not this makes sense for the City of Loveland taxpayers - Solt and Gutierrez.
The pretense for the gift of public funds? The company, Colorado VNet, promised to move only 14 jobs into Loveland from Longmont and like every entrepreneural start-up promised to bring more jobs in the future as the company grows.
Colorado VNet is a limited liability corporation, but the majority owner is apparently unwilling to make a personal guarantee for the complete sum of money being given to him as a "cash incentive" by the City of Loveland. Any responsible steward of the public's trust would try and link the money he is being given to the promise of creating jobs - instead the Council chose another model where possibly half of the money is paid upfront whether he creates new jobs or not.
Real business development involves bringing NEW employers to Loveland. In addition, cash incentives are a dangerous game. Councilman Gutierrez tried to point out to his colleagues the MILLIONS Pueblo, Colorado lost in cash incentives to companies that relocated there and later closed their doors. His colleagues (especially those who received campaign contributions from Coloraod VNet's owner) failed to ask tough questions or even consider the risks. SEE STORY.
Shame on the Reporter-Herald Editor for failing to inform his readers of what is happening. Instead of reporting the facts surrounding the "cash incentives" and controversy they instead attacked Councilman Cecil Gutierrez for trying to be a good steward of the public's trust since he voted no.