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The USOC/City/LandCo tragicomedy

Thu, Mar 26, 2009

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It’d be pretty funny if the potential consequences to this particular brouhaha weren’t so serious to the city, and to all of us who live here.

In one corner, developer Ray Marshall and his company LandCo. Marshall’s not an easy guy to reach – at least if you’re a reporter for the Business Journal. He hasn’t written, he hasn’t called, he hasn’t e-mailed, he hasn’t texted … not even a tweet, to let us know what’s up.

But after we published a story earlier this week on the Web, and a follow up revealing that he was the subject of a criminal investigation, we got a long e-mail – from his P.R. firm!

According to the P.R. folks, there’s nothing to the stories! The million dollar Internal Revenue Service lien on Marshall’s residence? No problem – the IRS had no right to do it!! The statute of limitations has expired!! Those lawsuits? All settled, except one!! (Ah, er, Mr. P.R. guy, that just ain’t so.) And the criminal investigation? He’ll be completely exonerated!! And anyway, those lawsuits were frivolous – just disgruntled investors!! No word on why the investors went from being gruntled to disgruntled.

But Marshall did speak to Gazette reporter Rich Laden, who had previously written a long, mostly laudatory piece about the developer a few weeks after the U.S. Olympic Committee deal was announced.

And speaking of the Gazette, it’s funny to watch the daily’s reaction to being scooped.

Perhaps as a matter of policy, they never, ever, acknowledge the work of other newsgathering organizations, as in “The Business Journal reported, and the Gazette has confirmed that blah, blah, blah.” They write their own piece, and then post it as “Breaking News!!” Guess what? We broke it, not The G!!

Meanwhile, we’ve had a lot of comments/posts/e-mails from folks who wonder why the city was so lax in its due diligence. Surely, they write, the city with all of its resources should have known about Marshall’s legal and financial woes. Good questions-and we don’t know the answers.

Some speculation. If Marshall’s problems cause his exit from the deal, who’ll take his place? The list of folks who are both capable of taking such a deal, and willing to be heroes, is not a long one – but it includes some of the most illustrious figures in this city’s business community.

Finally, a word about leadership. There are many programs, some in existence for nearly a quarter of a century, which purport to teach leadership skills to city residents. Many councilmembers have passed through such programs. Now, they’re confronted with a situation which requires leadership – firm, decisive, uncompromised, and right now!

They’re going to have to take risks, to acknowledge their own past failures and move quickly. They can’t just sit there passively, hem and haw, pass the buck and hope that, by some miracle, everything will turn out just fine.

We’ll see. And we’ll see whether they have the guts to hold their scheduled “closed session” meeting in public, and let the rest of us know what they know – and what they’re going to do about it.

And I just figured out how to get in touch with Marshall … I’ll friend him on Facebook! That’ll show Rich Laden …

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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Jerry Heimlicher Says:

    John, It is a shame we are learning of this in the press, but I am glad we have been alerted so we can determine what needs to be done to save this deal for our community. We are having a closed session on Monday at 4 pm to get more facts on this and if we determine there is a need to make a change in strategy, I am confident we will do so. I know you suggested an open meeting, but as with any touchy negotiation we must determine the facts first and see what can be done. This is a three party deal and the biggest hole to fill will be the training center issues since the city is not a party to that part of the deal. However, if the training center promises are not lived up to, the whole deal will be in trouble. If we find one of our two partners cannot live up to their end of the transaction, then, we will have to work to find a replacement. As you say, this is too important to our community to not find a solution.

  2. Brenda Speer Says:

    John,

    First, great scoop!

    Second, you mention “not even a tweet” from Marshall or LandCo. I looked for you on Twitter, but didn’t find you. What’s your username? If a tweet had been sent, would you have seen it?

    @wwwcsbjcom is on Twitter, but no updates…yet. Please tweet! Your readers await.

    You’ll find me tweeting as @IPGirl.

  3. Mikki Andersen Says:

    There are citizens, long-time and very invested in our community, who can do something about this-other than just point fingers and complain.
    Regardless of who/whom was or is responsible, and I believe the investigation needs to continue and abuses revealed and prosecuted, the USOC has been, is, and will be an important entity to the history, culture and future of Colorado Springs. There were important and sincere reasons the negations were held, deals made, etc.-the real issue is whether or not personal agendas and greed were involved. Those are the legal, ethical, and moral issues that should be addressed.
    In the mean time, Colorado Springs, our citizens, future, and an important component of our community are in jeopardy and we need to come together and find common ground to move things forward. Let the legal process continue, as it should, but please don’t let this immobilize and paralyze us, create divisiveness and distraction from what the real issue is…we need the USOC to remain in Colorado Springs! This is such a unique opportunity and component in our quest to continue to carve out what makes Colorado Springs so unique! Growth will happen, needs to continue for survival, requires a managed plan to include ALL stakeholders (including those who resist development and growth-I used to hike around Austin Bluffs when Academy Blvd. was a dirt road and there was only a farm house east of Maizeland and Chelton so I understand!), but is inevitable. We still have a chance to impact and influence what and how our community grows and develops….but we can’t be naive, uneducated, biased and stubborn. We must get together and find what brings us together, our commonalities, shared visions, and LISTEN to those who have opinions that are contrary to ours. Stubborn opposition, uninformed opinions and personal agenda’s will not bring us to a common understanding or solution.
    We have the opportunity, right now, to come together and define what Colorado Springs should be while considering our culture, history, values, standards and goals….for all citizens. I am a native, my father was from Colorado, I love this city and community and we can be awesome! This is a perfect opportunity to come together and figure out what we want our city to be, affirm the things that have made us unique, explore where we want our future to go, and define and direct where we end up! What an opportunity for creativity and collaboration…we just need to focus and come together!! Everybody’s ideas and opinions have value, we ALL matter, we ALL are stakeholders in our community and our future. I would love to see a venue/format/agenda where all opinions are heard, considered, valued respected…take the best of all ideas and let’s define who we are, what we want to be, and how we can accomplish the goals! We have a unique opportunity to define OUR community and create an example/model for other communities to imitate!
    We have an enormous challenge and we have incredible and dedicated resources to collaborate and promote inclusive resolutions. We can approach this as an astronomical and overwhelming disaster…or we can find our common ground and come together to create solutions. It is really pretty simple-kind of like the old days when communities came together and did a barn raising! Common goals, shared interests and productive solutions!

  4. John Whitten Says:

    Glad to see Heimlichmaneuver is pleased you broke the story and alerted him…….probably significant that he gave you credit for the alert instead of the Gazette…but then, the G wouldn’t have known about it since it wasn’t in the Denver Post first…..

    Council better have this meeting in public…if not, they just perpetuate the community suspicisions about their competancy. And, besides, how much more PR damage can you do to Landco (Real Estate Advisor to the Stars!!), and Marshall….? Not much, I suspect……

    I’m also curious about where El Pomar is in this deal……they can NOT be happy campers……
    Landco (Real Estate Advisor to the Stars!!) and Marshall makes them look bad and, to quote a famous movie line: “(they) cannot be made to look ridiculous……!” And to take the movie theme one step futher:

    Kind of looks like MayorLionel and council have awoken with the business equivilant of a horse head in their proverbial beds…….

    Yikes…

    JGW

  5. John Whitten Says:

    Oh yea, one more thing: If council thinks Landco (Real Estate Advisor to the Stars!)can complete this deal, they’d better ask for proof…..the conventional wisdom around town is that a number of our high profile developer types are just a bounced check away from filing bankruptcy…..

    Double yikes……

  6. John Hazlehurst Says:

    Brenda, I’m not on Twitter-but I’ll take your advice on go on. The whole USOC etc. situation is fairly amazing-I suspect that there are more revelations to come. Jerry, I understand your desire to have a closed meeting, but there’s an issue of public confidence and trust here-and a perception that this whole mess came about because of many meetings behind closed doors.

  7. Eddie Says:

    Mikki expressed with passion the importance of the USOC remaining and the importance of coming together as a city to solve our other challenges.

    Here’s a bit of my take on it …..

    This is a sorry mess for our Town, but what we need are solutions and not Salem Witch Hunts. For now the DA is investigating. Let’s see what comes from this first.

    It is imperative,, that in my opinion we keep the USOC here. Our town has a huge history of sportsmanship. Thanks to Spencer Penrose, the Tutt Family, Bill Hybyl, El Pomar, Judy Bell, Ralph Routon, The Gazette and countless volunteers . I’m sorry I can’t name everyone who has contributed to our rich heritage. Remember the first Sport Festivals at Gerry Berry ?

    We have a problem with a real estate deal that has gone sour in a bad market. Not much news there really , it is happening all over America. But this deal includes the City and the City must be totally open and transparent with the citizens.

    If they are and the community is made to feel part of something special again, I believe Colorado Springs will rally to the cause and we will all have something to be proud of .