The more we “peel back the onion” on the Port Authority’s ‘Better Flip’ project the more it stinks……I tell ya, we are running out of air freshener dealing with this mess….
We sent a records request for to the Port Authority. Here is the request, their reply, and the Board minutes for their meeting held on December 20, 2017: LFC PORT RR FOR BETTER FLIP – NO BUDGET (1)
One of the items (#3) requested was a budget for their ‘Better Flip’ project. Why would we ask for budget?
Their minutes of their December 20, 2017 Board minutes tells us that Board members Art Lindrose , and Bill Martin “would collobrate on the project to put together a budget, i.e. what it would take to bring the house to the point of resale to a millennial, should the board choose to take the project on. He noted that it is important that the Board understands everything up front before the LCOPEDA receives the home from the Lake County Land Bank.”
Resolution 2017-46 was passed at the same meeting authorizing the Port to accept the home from the Land Bank.
To our utter amazement, Mark Rantala, Executive Director, admits in his reply to us that there “no such document(s) exist.” NO BUDGET WAS EVER PREPARED!..Or was there one, and they do not want to admit it? There is a State of Ohio rule that says that all projects over $150,000 are subject to competitive bidding. Their initial resolution authorizing the project just happened to be $150,000……what a coincidence!
We thought that we should bring the “no budget” fact to the attention of the Lake County Board of Commissioners. because we thought it to be a significant turn of events. We were really surprised with their reactions when we mentioned this in the public meeting.
Commissioner Hamercheck took exception to our statement of no budget because he had been told directly by Rantala that there definitely was a budget in place before the projected started, and Hamercheck vehemently questioned our comments.
When we told Hamercheck that we have the documentation to prove our statements he asked if he could have a copy. At that point Commissioner [Blank] said that we were to give everything to the clerk. [the Leg Lamp incident must be still in his head] Hamercheck insisted that he see the copies and we gave him the copies. He proceeded to read our proof, and he was shocked to learn that was a huge “inconsistency” with what Rantala had told him and our documentation. At that point, a very gracious Commissioner Hamercheck apologized for his prior statement, and we accepted his apologies.
Commissioner [Blank] then chimed in by stating that it appears that LFC is trying to eliminate the Lake County Port Authority, when they are an important part of future growth of the community. Our response to Commissioner [Blank] was all we wanted was the truth.
We had no hope of convincing Commissioner [Blank] on anything, and we are resigned to the fact that Commissioner [Blank] and LFC will never see “eye to eye” on the ‘Better Flip’ project. It appears that he has bought into the idea that spending $299,000 is no big deal.
Commissioner Young was very quiet during this whole ordeal, so we thought that we would send him an email and ask for his comments on the record. Here is the email that we sent to him and his reply:
Brian, I’ll be out of state till June 12th and in the air today. However, this is an important matter and I’ll get back to soon. Before I give you an answer I want to speak with the Port.
In summary, we have Commissioner [Blank] that will ride this dying horse to the bitter end, Commissioner Hamercheck that WILL DEFINITELY find out why there is an inconsistency in Rantala’s previous statement to him, and Commissioner Young will get back to us.
Why would Commissioner Cirino not be concerned about a project not having a budget and then spending $299,000 of the peoples’ money? Something is up…..they must be working on some big deals, and Commissioner [Blank] does not want this little distraction from muddying the waters…….so how good is our guess Commissioner [Blank]?