We heard a finely orchestrated sales pitch about the Better Flip project at the Commissioners’ meeting held on Thursday, July 25th. Commissioner Cirino was the conductor with Willowick Mayor Regovich, Scott Yamomoto of the Auditor’s Office, and Mark Rantala, Executive Director of the Port Authority, all extolling the virtues of the Better Flip, and falling just short of conveying sainthood on Rantala.
The only negative comment about the project we heard, was mentioned by Mr. Yamomoto. He asked the rhetorical question: “Did they spend too much?”…..He continued: “Well, yes…”….As if that overspending is expected by government officials without any repercussions to them.
No comments at all from Cirino on spending $299,000 on the project . It leaves us to wonder if he thinks that the “ends justifies the means”. We thought that uncontrolled, irresponsible, government spending would be a concern for the Lake County Commissioners. Regretfully, we can say that Commissioner Hamercheck is the only commissioner that has expressed concern about the wasteful spending, and the abysmal project management on the Better Flip project. The Better Flip will be the “white whale” for Cirino and Young….they will ride it all the way to the bottom.
LFC has previously stated that the original idea about the Better Flip was sound, but the project management was shockingly inept.
- There was no initial budget ever prepared even though the President of the Port Authority Board said the following at the December 20, 2017 Board meeting:
“Chairman Art Lindrose announced that he and his fellow builder on the board, Bill Martin, will be preparing a budget for the Better Flip project, i.e. what it would take to bring the home to resale to a millennial. Lindrose notes that it is important the Board understands everything up front before the Board accepts the land and existing structure from the Lake County Lake Bank.”
( LFC Comment: That was never done even though Rantala told Commissioner John Hammercheck that a budget was prepared. Lack of candor moment #1)
2. At the April 12, 2017 Port Board Meeting, Rantala tells the Board that they can sell the house at a profit.
(LFC Comment: This illustrates that Rantala and the Board had no idea about the financial ramifications of this project, and the Board displayed a serious neglect of their Director’s duties.)
3. A Board resolution was passed on March 28, 2018 setting the authorized spending limit to be $150,000.
(LFC Comment: We have asked numerous times how or why the $150,000 was the authorized spending limit, but have never received an answer, and Commissioners Cirino and Young really do not seem to care. Again, Commissioner Hamercheck is the only one expressing concern for this questionable resolution amount.
The reason we asked is really quite simple. Under the Ohio Revised Code, the Port Authority is not subject to competitive bidding requirements,if a project is $150,000 or less. Lack of candor moment #2)
4.. We confirmed with the Willowick Zoning Inspector that an electrician and the HVAC contractor were not registered with the City of Willowick as of March 6, 2019.
(LFC comment: Try being a general contractor in Willowick and authorize work by non-registered sub-contractors….Different rules for government officials?)
5. The project costs were increased initially to $210,000 by resolution. At a January 23, 2019 Port meeting attended by Commissioner Hamercheck and this writer, Hamercheck asked Rantala if it was true that the project costs are now in the $250,000 – $260,000 range? Rantala responded saying that the “cost would be more than you may expect.”
Rantala was correct on that statement, since they ultimately required another resolution to bring the authorized spending to $299,000.
(LFC Comment: Rantala had to know the projected costs were going to be in the $299,000 range. Lack of candor moment #3)
6. Commissioner Hamercheck wanted to hear the audio tape of the January 23, 2019 Port meeting, and was told by Port officials that the audio was not available because there was a problem with the recording device.
(LFC Comment: We asked for and received the audio of the January 23, 2019 Port meeting, and a copy was delivered to the Commissioners’ office at the request of Commissioner Hamercheck. Lack of candor moment #4)
We are really concerned that Commissioners Cirino and Young do not have any problem with the conduct of Rantala or the entire Port Authority Board. They have demonstrated to LFC that they are not good stewards of the people’s money. Cirino and Young have shown to be very poor administrators showing total apathy to the spending habits of this governmental body.
Cirino is working overtime getting the News-Herald to print only positive articles, and he knows how to spin a local story to ensure nothing “splashes” on him.
Since the people of Lake County cannot count on support from Cirino and Young, we will have to rely on the State authorities to delve into this whole sordid mess.)