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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