What is Vincent David Jericho talking about when he asks that citizens of Springfield contact certain City Council members about the City "powers that be" not meeting in secret meetings regarding the negotiating of the development of the property adjacent to the Expo Center?
Let's see if we can get there from here:
I understand that there are some things that went down concerning the Heers Building in the past.
I understand that today, to hear most of the City Council members who were around during early Heers negotiations discuss the history of the Heers Building that it will be said that the developer, Vaughn Prost, couldn't get financing. That Vaughn Prost went broke, though Prost Builders, Inc seems to be continuing in business. It is implied that the Council had no choice but to purchase the Heers Building though I have already posted here that according to this October 16, 2006 City Council meeting... :
"Prost claimed he had two letters of commitment from Bank of America which implies he could have soon paid off the loan. He couldn't have paid off the loan that night but surely he would be able to shortly, that is, if the letters of commitment from Bank of America were reliable. Prost even gave a copy of one of the letters of commitment to the City Clerk that night."
...but at the June 18, 2007 Council meeting (see Heers Building)
"Ralph Manley commented that the City reacquired the property out of necessity to avoid a foreclosure....."
"...Doug Burlison stated that he was not indicating that he was in opposition of the proposed; however, was concerned with the amount of funds that would be expended by the City for interest and other expenses."
Mayor Carlson remarked on the history of the project and stated that the issue had been openly discussed in numerous meetings.
Denny Whayne stated that there was a misconception regarding what was being spent in the downtown area. Mr. Whayne stated that much of the funds were coming from grants and matching funds. Mr. Whayne extended appreciation to the legislators for their assistance."
Though this was all of Whayne's comments included in the June 18 meeting minutes, in fact, Whayne didn't stop there. The City's meeting minutes that are approved don't provide everything that goes on at a meeting, they are summarized. You can watch the Council meeting here by following the archive link to that meeting.
"...We had a situation that we couldn't control, at the outset. We had a developer we thought was ready to go but couldn't quite get the financing so we almost went into foreclosure so we had to fall in the tub...if we hadn't have purchased the building....When you're dealing with those kind of restoration people we owed them and everything works out but sometimes it doesn't so, you know, we have to try to do the next best thing and I think that's what's happening here..."
"...like Denny said, the investor that did it went broke and so that the task for this community was to set there and let that thing stop any further development or take a calculated risk that we could lose some money and it was done in open meetings, lots of discussion and we made a calculated risk and there we were, and maybe we need to go back and say, "well, we shoulda left it like it was..."
The only problem Councilman Whayne and Mayor Carlson is that Vaughn Prost had been approved by Great Southern Bank for a loan extension. Bank of America had issued two letters of commitment to Vaughn Prost. At least one of those letters of commitment was for nearly $20 million. The Great Southern Bank loan extension was contingent upon the City of Springfield's approval. The City refused to approve it.
So, why am I going into all of this re-hash of the Heers Building in response to the question of why Vincent David Jericho is asking people to call certain Council members and express that they would like the Council to act in PUBLIC meetings regarding consideration of who will develop the property adjacent to the Expo Center? Here's your answer:
Today there are questions about how we ended up, as Cindy Rushefsky recently put it, "over a barrel" in how the City is able to negotiate the sale of the Heers Building with McGowan-Walsh and the City never mentions their refusal to approve the loan extension that Great Southern Bank had approved contingent upon the City's approval, in fact, in the retelling it seems they try to rewrite history, certain members want citizens to believe that the City had no other choice but to dismiss Vaughn Prost and take over the Heers Building.
Will they, years from now, rewrite history on how the developer was chosen to build on the property adjacent to the Expo Center?
Only if the citizens allow it, only if the citizens don't research it.
So, the answer to "what is Vincent David Jericho talking about when he tells us to contact certain Council members and request these meetings be made in the open?
I think he's trying to solve the next mystery before it becomes the next mystery.
So, Tom Carlson, at the June 18, 2007 meeting you said:
"...but I think, you know, if we're gonna make allegations that things are being mismanaged, uh, then you really need to say "are they?" and if they are we need to know about it...."
Okay, I'll take that challenge.
One of the things I gleaned from the July 2, 2007 City Council meeting was that the City, after they had already climbed between the sheets with Vaughn Prost, realized they didn't have a very good deal (mismanagement) and so they took an opportunity to bail out on that deal when they had the opportunity. They did this by not approving the approved loan extention for Vaughn Prost with Great Southern Bank which would have been covered by the Bank of America loan(s) for which Prost had received letters of committment, then they breathed what they thought was a sigh of relief and pretended that they had no other option because Prost couldn't get the financing for the loan.
When Mary Lilly Smith spoke on the night of July 2, 2007 she referenced the fact that under the Vaughn Prost deal the City had authorized access to more parking spaces in the Heers parking garage than they actually could afford to commit. She compared the deal the City had with Vaughn Prost to the deal the City is negotiating with McGowan-Walsh. Lilly Smith seemed to be trying to make the case that they are negotiating a much better deal with McGowan-Walsh than they had with Vaughn Prost.
Vince is asking you to call certain Council members so that we don't have to look back at the negotiations on the property adjacent to the Expo Center in the future and try to figure out how we got there from here and why.
Is there something wrong with asking that the City Managers and the negotiators fully inform the Council as to how they have made decisions about the "winner" of this prime site?
If YOU are interested in contacting a Council member the numbers are listed at Jericho's Journal
To quote a very famous and transparent City employee:
"Nip it in the bud." ~ Barney Fife, Mayberry.
P.S. The News-Leader does NOT have my permission to publish excerpts of this posting.