Port Authority Board Must Address Crisis of Confidence!…time to ‘fish or cut bait’

At a recent Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Jerry Cirino mentioned how important the Port Authority is to economic development. We agree with that statement…for the most part. He also made a very good point that the Port Authority is involved in a lot of things…big deals and other projects. Duly noted Commissioner Cirino.

So, we have to wonder what makes the Port Authority Board and Commissioner Cirino so confident that Mark Rantala can manage the really big deals and projects when the Better Flip has been such an epic failure? The project costs were NOT TO EXCEED $150,000; and we are now 100 percent over that amount at nearly $300,000! They are down to about $4,000 left; and they have six (6) months of marketing to get done…will Rantala come back to his board for more money?

We are petrified that all these BIG projects and BIG deals Commissioner Cirino alluded to, which likely involve millions of dollars, will be handled in exactly the same way. Could one of those big deals/projects be the Fairport Harbor Waterpark? God help us!

Lobbyists for Citizens was correct in our assertion that the Better Flip Project had no budget, even though Board President Art Lindrose insisted they prepare a budget before the accepted the property from the Land Bank.  Rantala had to confirm that in his written response to our records request. Commissioner Hamercheck stated on the record at a recent Commissioners Meeting that Mr. Rantala told him there was a budget for The Better Flip Project as he was being given a tour of the flip house, and he vowed to get to the bottom of the matter. Prosecutor DeLeone provided the documents that Mr. Rantala gave to Commissioner Hamercheck as a result of his request for a copy of the Port Authority budget for the Better Flip Project. Said document amounts to nothing more than a checkbook register; NOT a budget.

It appears Mr. Rantala lied to Commissioner Hamercheck about there being a budget for the Better Flip project. Whether Rantala lied to his board remains to be seen.

The Port Authority Board funded the Better Flip Project by its Resolution No. 2018-08 in March of 2018. The cost of the project was not to exceed $150,000. As we mentioned above, the project is now 100 percent over the budgeted amount…for a bungalow remodel. 

We find it very intriguing that the threshold for projects necessitating competitive bidding, pursuant to ORC Section 4582.12, are those that EXCEED $150,000. Coincidence? We don’t believe in them.

So, since there was no budget for the Better Flip Project, as admitted by Mr. Rantala himself in writing, then the $150,000 amount reflected in Resolution 2018-08 to fund The Better Flip project was either completely arbitrary or perhaps was selected specifically so that competitive bidding would be avoided. Very intriguing indeed.

Regardless of what makes Cirino warm and fuzzy about the abilities of the Port Authority (and we would love to hear Cirino explain his feelings on the matter…perhaps in a debate or some other such forum), we at Lobbyists for Citizens remain very concerned about the Port Authority’s ability to handle much bigger deals and projects involving perhaps millions of dollars rather than the paltry hundreds of thousands of dollars involved with the Better Flip Project.

We hand-delivered eight (8) records requests to the Port Authority on Monday, June 24. At the Board meeting yesterday, Rantala whined about all the time he and Mr. Tentacles have spent on record requests and told his board the Port had received 8 more records requests. Rantala would love for his board to believe these 8 records requests are all brand new requests. More lack of candor from Rantala! Can the Port Authority Board trust anything that comes out of Rantala’s mouth?

For the record, most of the 8 “new” records requests are for records that Lobbyists for Citizens has been waiting on for over 3 months! We are VERY interested in credit card invoices to see what other wasteful spending is going on at the Port Authority over the past several years (we’ve been waiting on the credit card invoices since May 22, 2019…over 30 days). Rantala wrote us on May 28 when he was admitting there was no budget for The Better Flip that “they were working on producing our request for credit card invoices.” Still waiting….

Oh alright…we will tell you about one of the new requests we made…a copy of the Directors and Officers insurance policy. We’d like to see if there is any exclusion for financial nonfeasance or something along those lines.

fish or cut bait

Simply put, the Lake County Ohio Port & Economic Development Authority Board needs to do its job and manage its employee. We believe that Mr. Rantala refuses to be managed and is untrustworthy. The Board needs to remove Rantala.

At the Port Authority board meeting yesterday, we handed each board member a letter laying out our concerns with the irregularities and the mismanagement of The Better Flip Project. We have requested that the Port Authority Board take steps to address the crisis of confidence created by Mr. Rantala and his handling of the Better Flip Project and other matters at the Port Authority. (2019-06-26 Letter to LCOPEDA Board Hand Delivered).

We also hand delivered to the Lake County Commissioners and the Lake County Treasurer copies of our letter to the Port Authority Board. We have more information/proof about the shenanigans going on over at the Port Authority, that we have not yet reported on, should any of the Port Authority Board members or the Commissioners wish to discuss the same with Lobbyists for Citizens.  

eating crow

Commissioner Cirino made the following statement at a recent Commissioners Meeting, “It appears Mr. Massie and others are on a mission to discredit the Port Authority and those that run it.” We hope Commissioner Cirino likes the taste of crow. In that same meeting Commissioner Hamercheck, an honorable man, offered Mr. Massie an apology when he was given the proof of what we’ve been saying all along…THERE WAS NO BUDGET. Hopefully Commissioner Cirino can man-up and offer Mr. Massie an apology for his rush to judgment. 

Contrary to Commissioner Cirino’s SCURRILOUS claims (he loves that word so we figured we’d use it too), Lobbyists for Citizens does not wish the Port Authority to be destroyed, dissolved or anything of the sort. We DO want the incompetent manager running the thing to be removed poste haste though. As you can see from our letter to the Port Authority Board hand-delivered yesterday, we are requesting that they act. 

Should they refuse to do so, we will expect the Lake County Commissioners to exercise the oversight granted to them by the Ohio Revised Code, Section 4582.03 and remove several board members for fiduciary nonfeasance.



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