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Dithering, indecisive – say it ain’t so!!

Mon, Mar 30, 2009

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In a stunning example of City Council’s apparent inability to decide upon anything, councilmembers first voted to open this afternoon’s meeting, and then voted to have a closed session after all.

City Attorney Pat Kelly prefaced the meeting with a recital of routine legalese, citing the Colorado statutes which permit closed meetings (“to receive advice from counsel, to consider real estate matters, blah, blah, blah”).

Mayor Lionel Rivera then polled councilmembers to determine whether a two-thirds majority, as the applicable statute requires, would support closing the meeting.  Five votes for closure, four votes against.  The mayor then asked whether city staff would agree to present the issues in question in an open forum.

Deputy City Manager Mike Anderson said that staff was not prepared to present any issues that could be appropriately discussed in an open session.

Three of the four dissenters (Tom Gallagher, Darryl Glenn and Jerry Heimlicher) remained opposed to a closed session. The fourth, Scott Hente, withdrew his objection and changed his vote. Council ushered out members of the “public,” which consisted of four print reporters, one radio guy and one TV crew.

So here’s a question regarding the USOC deal: What did council know and when did they know it?  Put differently, who are the maniacs responsible?  Who got the city into this mess?

We don’t have any answers yet, and it seems that both the city administration and a majority of our elected officials, aren’t particularly interested in giving us any.

LandCo’s lawsuit against the city, filed on Friday at 5:30 p.m., gives an interesting, if biased, account of the events leading up to the suit.

According to the recital contained therein,”… In Feb. 2008, the USOC, the city, and LandCo spent three days negotiating a deal in the conference room of a Denver law firm …The city was represented at these negotiations by (acting city manager) Michael Anderson, City Attorney Patricia Kelly and an outside attorney.”

OMG-LOL!! (pardon the textspeak).

Anderson and Kelly are capable enough, and i suspect that the “outside attorney” also is a capable person.  But this was a speculative real estate deal, with more than $50 million on the line.  With all due respect, which of these three had ever originated, structured and put money at risk in such a venture?

Probably none – for that kind of expertise, you need a developer and an experienced commercial real estate broker.  You need Steve Schuck, or David Jenkins or Tim Leigh, or any of the scores of people in this community who have put together big development deals and pulled buildings out of the ground.

You need folks with experience, who understand risk, performance and reality.

Land development is a tough, risky business.  It’s no place for amateurs, especially with tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on the line.

Lawyers can write a contract, or they help you get out of trouble after you’ve screwed up.  But putting deals together isn’t what lawyers do – and it isn’t what city officials do either.

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4 Comments For This Post

  1. Tim O'Donnell Says:

    Here’s my understanding. First the USOC blackmails the city with undisclosed offers from Chicago and NYC. The city council, in backroom meetings, makes a deal for $53M using cops instead of making a case to the people for the money. Landco goes into the hole for $22M and is now suing the city and the USOC becasue the cops weren’t issued. The USOC won’t sign the agreement which costs them nothing because they want leverage to make sure the OTC work (which has an open ended cost) gets done. The city can’t issue the cops without the USOC signature and they can’t help Landco because they used cops and have no money in the budget due to the economy.

    I say let the spoiled brats at the USOC move to Chicago or NYC. I’ve done it and my cost of living went up 30%. That would impact the execs as well as the athletes. I doubt they would get much of a deal from either place now. The city needs to call their bluff…but oh wait they can’t because they are being sued for non performance. Oh what a tangled web we weave…..

    Oh and did I forget to mention the connection between the mayor and UBS who handled Landco’s finances?

  2. John Whitten Says:

    I didn’t realize the circus was back in town…

    So, why was MayorLionel unavailable after the meeting to talk?….I believe it was reported he had to ‘get somewhere’…(as in somewhere, ANYWHERE, but here……)……leadership at it’s finest.

    It seems the administration/council believes they still control the spin on this and, for the short term, they just might. But they better hope the lawsuits get settled out of court, so everyone can agree ‘not to disclose’ and , thus, not look officially stupid in public……. Although, is it possible for all the parties to look dumber than they do now? ( Sorry, that’s just a rhetorical question…..)

    Because if they go to trial, and the cases get in front of someone like Judge Crowder, who does not suffer fools, look out. I’d take vacation time to attend THAT trial…..it would be better than the circus……..

    Mike Anderson probably doesn’t want another mess like the animal control contract the city screwed up a couple of years ago. By the way, did anybody notice that the city’s choice for that contract, Mary Warren of Colorado Humane, is being investigated by the Colorado AG for fraud?……..guess not……

    Anyway, the LandCo (Real Estate Advisor to the Stars!!) lawsuit is probably just a smokescreen…an attempt to gain some kind of leverage in a deal where they don’t have a leg (or is it a loan?) to stand on.

    There’s an ugly, vicious and completely unsubstantiated rumor (the only kind worth passing on….) that LandCo.(Real Estate Advisor to the Stars!!), et al. have $$ stached ‘offshore’…WOW, wouldn’t that be a fun twist in the story….!

    Guess the Frank Aries and Dave Sellons of the Colorado Springs Real Estate Development world are gone, but apparently not forgotton.

  3. Candice Says:

    We need outside HELP, PLEASE! …Someone who isn’t politically, personally or financially married to this project. A someone who wont lose their job on a decision or agreement that was made, someone who won’t suffer financially from the deal made, someone who won’t worry they could go to jail because of their inside machinations- to decipher the status and how to move forward with clear expectations. This was approved under much fanfare and publicity–where are those folks now?

    Right now we’re stuck with everyone doing the CYA dance, burying their head in the sand and not able to get creative and make some progress with the deal. Unfortunately lawsuits do force people to talk, and those “understandings” are forced to be clarified. They also make people mad.

    We have to keep the USOC. But SMART SAVVY people need to put the deal in the right direction, not conflicted potentially liable city employees and politicians. Please, a leader step up, we need you!

  4. Daniel Cole Says:

    Although Jon Karroll never actually articulated the words “Colorado Springs Business Journal,” the camera showed a copy as he was talking about published reports regarding a potential mayoral conflict of interest: http://www.krdo.com/global/story.asp?s=10106248.

    I thought that, considering your “Take that, Rich Laden!” blog entry last week, you would be happy to know that you got a little credit.