The Secret Dahlia Society (AKA the Spokane Park Board), the MOBIUS Project, and the Cowles family connection
IMPORTANT UPDATE – Scroll to the bottom
Mr. Camden scrubs my comment in his S-R Blog Spin Control
This is a developing story and I will post more as I have the time. In the meantime here’s and interesting discussion that is taking place in the Spokesman-Review’s blogs:
The Spokane Park Board approved a 50-year lease with Mobius Spokane to build a science center on property north of Riverfront Park.
They did it at a 7 a.m. meeting at Manito Park, but unlike last week’s meeting, this one was open to the public (although not many members of the public were interested enough or awake enough to show.)
Quick details of the lease include rent of $1 a year in exchange for Mobius building the $29.5 million complex. If Mobius develops commercial structures on the property, the city gets 15 percent. Mobius also has to pay $12,500 a year for parking.
The contract has been a cause celebre among some city watchers ever since the board discussed it in a close session at a 7 a.m. session last week. After approving it this week, Parks Director Barry Russell initially refused requests to make the contract public, saying a formal public records request would have to be filed. Assistant City Attorney Pat Dalton quickly corrected that, and supplied a copy, which can be found here.
It’s not the end, because both Mobius and the City Council must still approve the contract, and the latter must apply it’s own scrutiny and hear from the public.
It’s not even the beginning of the end, because after that, Mobius still has about $14 million to raise and a complex to build. But maybe, to borrow from Winston Churchill, it’s the end of the beginning.
I do appreciate your breath of fresh air re the Mobius Project lease story. I will post later regarding why the Cowles connection to this story is germane. A colleague of yours, independent investigative reporter Larry Shook, had this comment:
Yes, I saw I saw Mr. Camden’s acknowledgment of his paper’s unethical reporting about the owner’s business affairs. I consider it a repeat of the same bomb disposal acknowledgment that was in the “audit” of the paper’s RPS reporting. “We did this bad stuff but we don’t do it any more.” (See “Invitation to an Audit” at www.camasmagazine.com.)
The bad stuff, of course, facilitated the unremediated multi- million-dollar RPS public funds fraud, the death of Jo Ellen Savage because of unsafe conditions in the RPS garage, and the possible continuing risk to members of the public who park in the garage. And then, of course, there’s the issue of what the public’s financial exposure might be if there’s another death or injury.
Do you think an aggressive plaintiff’s attorney might want to reach into the pockets of Spokane’s taxpayers? Worst case scenario would be a serious injury–say a chunk of concrete falling on a baby’s head from the RPS ceiling, as Steve Rudd fears (see “Deathtrap,” and “Death by Parking” at www.girlfromhotsprings.com). That would enable an attorney to stand before a jury and say, “Look at what public officials in Spokane tolerated, and look at what this community’s passive citizens allowed to happen. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you must make them pay enough so they will fix this problem and not permit such innocent suffering in the future.”
It’s the Gerry Spence/Ford Pinto scenario. (“If you can’t give me back my daughter’s life I want you to pay enough so you don’t consider it economical to kill anyone else’s daughter.”) Do you think such an attorney might want to give a jury the opportunity to listen to former Mayor Talbott explain why he thinks many people have Ms. Savage’s blood on their hands, or listen to former real estate manager Dennis Beringer testify about the issue of the garage’s non-inspection? Do you think such an attorney might enter into evidence the email and pictures below that I distributed broadly last spring?
The pictures show why construction fraud expert Steve Rudd is so worried about the public’s safety in the RPS garage. I can tell you that there are many other people who go to bed worried every night that Ms. Savage’s tragedy might be repeated. Once again, you will notice that I have copied this message widely in order to build the public record.
[Shook’s email from last spring he referred to above]
Dear All: I have had many messages since the announcement yesterday by Spokane Prosecuting Attorney Steve Tucker that he would not press first-degree manslaughter charges in the April 8, 2006, death of Jo Ellen Savage in the Cowles-owned River Park Square parking garage in downtown Spokane, WA. Former sheriff Tony Bamonte filed those charges in August 2007. (See “Deathtrap” and “Death by Parking” at www.camasmagazine.com.)
As I responded to one person who wrote me: “Found myself thinking of John Donne (‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’) and Dostoevsky (‘Crime and Punishment’) yesterday. I think this area has plenty of Roskolnikovs walking around today, although Jo Ellen Savage wasn’t a greedy pawn broker but a woman much loved by many. Poor Jesse Savage. What a memory to carry about how his mother died. Ah, life…”
Clearly, one of the most troubled observers of the failure of the county prosecutor and state attorney general to prosecute Ms. Savage’s death is her former husband, David Savage. In one of the supreme ironies of the River Park Square scandal, Mr. Savage (who has long been divorced from Ms. Savage) happens to be an attorney with special expertise in wrongful automotive death. He is also past president of the Washington State Bar Assn. Mr. Savage represented Jesse, the son he and Jo Ellen had together, in Ms. Savage’s death.
In September 2008, Mr. Savage told Spokesman-Review reporter Jonathan Brunt that he turned over to investigators records produced during civil litigation over Ms. Savage’s death. Those records contained “substantial grounds for a criminal prosecution for manslaughter,” said Mr. Savage.
Of Mr. Tucker’s decision not to prosecuted his former wife’s death, Mr. Savage told KXLY TV reporter Eric Loney: “We don’t feel it’s the product of a full, fair, impartial and robust review of the evidence. We continue to have grave concerns about the safety of the garage because of professional input provided to us.”
That quote did not make it into the story Spokesman-Review reporter Jim Camden wrote yesterday about Mr. Tucker’s decision not to prosecute the Savage death. Instead, Mr. Camden ended his story by giving Cowles real estate/First Amendment attorney Duane Swinton the last word: “The River Park Square project has been looked at from different angles on a variety of issues. I can’t imagine what else is left to be investigated.”
Mr. Swinton played a central role in the RPS scandal, acting to suppress public records both as the Cowles family’s RPS real estate attorney and its newspaper attorney. (See, inter alia, “Under the Influence,” “Swinton v. Swinton,” “The Verdict,” “Duane Swinton and Cowles, Inc.,” and “Swinton Cleared” at www.camasmagazine.com.) (The City of Spokane handed over to Camas magazine $415,000 of taxpayer money because city officials violated state public records law along the way to allowing the Cowleses the dubious ability to leverage some $100 million in public funds to re-develop River Park Square. The city’s first RPS special counsel, O. Yale Lewis, raised the possibility that Spokane officials had entered into a civil conspiracy with the RPS developer to “improperly divert public money for private purpose.”)
Neither was Mr. Savage’s quote included in the AP story that went out to the world. This, too, is part of– but only part of– the Jo Ellen Savage memorial. Photographs of another part of the memorial are included below.
Because Mr. Swinton used to be a newspaper reporter himself, he should have known that at least one thing “left to be investigated” by Mr. Camden in yesterday’s story was how Mr. Savage felt about the failure to prosecute his former wife’s death. But Mr. Camden didn’t even seek comment from Mr. Savage. At least, if he did, he didn’t note it in his story, as journalistic convention required. This is exactly the kind of suspiciously selective reporting that has led former sheriff Bamonte and former economic crime detective Ron Wright to accuse the Cowles family of using its newspaper as an instrument of its ongoing criminal activity. I personally have come to think of Cowles reporting about Cowles business affairs as a kind of bomb disposal. It takes steely nerves… or something else.
For me, one of the most seriously disingenuous aspects of Mr. Camden’s story yesterday was its assertion that the Cowles garage is safe because it passes building code.
“After Savage’s death, garage officials said the facility exceeds code and insisted it was safe,” Mr. Camden reported. (This has always been an interesting argument to me. The building was “safe” because it passed building code. Thus, a safe building killed Jo Ellen Savage.) Continued Mr. Camden: “Swinton said Cowles Co. has always asserted the garage met building standards, but he couldn’t speculate if Tucker’s decision will end questions about the structure, or any other controversy surrounding the project.”
It does not end questions Steve Rudd, a highly respected construction fraud expert, has about the garage’s safety. Mr. Rudd worked on the Cowles garage and brought concerns about its safety to the attention of former Cowles KHQ TV anchorman Randy Shaw, whose superiors, as Mr. Shaw confirmed, wouldn’t let him report the story. Mr. Rudd says he has been troubled ever since about the facility’s condition. After I quoted Mr. Rudd in “Deathtrap” at www.girlfromhotsprings.com, he wanted to take me on a tour of the Cowles garage and point out what worries him. He asked me to bring a camera and take pictures. I did. As we walked, water dripped from the garage’s ceiling on our heads and splashed on parked cars.
Photos taken February 26, 2009
Mr. Rudd considers cracks and water staining like this found in the garage’s ceilings to be a bad sign.
Everywhere I looked up I saw sights like this…
… and this…
… and this.
A “repaired” barrier on the floor from which Ms. Savage fell. Note the lateral cracks.
This is what you see when you stand at the place where Jo Ellen Savage fell.
This is what you see when you look up.
When I asked Mr. Rudd what sights like this meant, he said simply: “This is the most dangerous public facility I have ever seen. If the roof in my house was leaking, I’d fix it. Wouldn’t you fix your roof if it was leaking? The structural integrity of this building depends on the bond between the concrete and the rebar inside. These cracks and stains suggest you’ve got water on rebar. Not good.”
But does that mean the Cowles garage is still dangerous? Mr. Rudd told me that regard for public safety leads him to conclude that the building is dangerous until extensive testing completely independent of the public corruption that led to its construction proves otherwise. Taxpayers paid the Cowleses more than $30,000 per stall for their garage at a time when the national per-stall average for such facilities was $9,000.
The irony, of course, is that if the Cowles garage does kill again, Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker and the state attorney general’s office have provided the Cowles family with an alibi: The building meets code. Such legal doctrine suggests that the purpose of building codes is not to protect human life but to protect building owners whose indifference to the sanctity of human life causes its loss.
Whether that’s a good enough reason for you to park in the River Park Square garage, or recommend that your friends and loved ones do, is up to you. You might want to forward these pictures and let them decide for themselves.
Sincerely, Larry Shook
Mr. Camden scrubs my comment in his S-R Blog Spin Control:
[Email to Ryan Pitts – S/R Assistant Managing Editor – Digital Media]
Both Mr. Camden and I secured copies of the new MOBIUS Project draft lease agreement that the Park Board approved last Thursday. We were the only members of the public in attendance:-) You are linking to this new lease agreement in the web version of Mr. Camden’s article as am I in my blog did and several posts in the S-R blogs. For your readers who may actually read this new lease agreement, to put it into proper perspective you should also link to the original lease agreement as well as the 2006 amendment. When I was at the City Clerk’s Office filing my PDR for the new lease agreement, I obtained these two documents. Could you link to these docs as well? They are stored on one of my servers at:
In the the print version of Mr. Camden’s article a graphic ran on the site plan of the MOBIUS Project including the proposed locations of the commercial/office locations that the MOBIUS Group can sublease to generate revenue to support the operation of the science center. I think this graphic may not be the latest site plan as proposed in the new draft lease although it gives the general idea. Again for the benefit of your readers could you link to this graphic in your web version of Camden’s article or perhaps update it so it reflects the new draft lease agreement language?
Mr. Camden also removed a post of mine from his blog Spin Control in that I quoted a critique of his article by independent investigative reporter Larry Shook. Mr. Camden graciously did post a comment of why he was removing my post as it strayed into other development projects in the Downtown Area including RPS. I too think there is some linkages that the readers should be informed of so that they can form their own opinions. This was Mr. Camden’s call to make but I don’t think the post was in violation of any of your current Blog comment policies. [My emphasis]
As Mr. Camden suggested I’m free to post my own opinion and I will as to why I believe the Cowles family connection to the MOBIUS Project at least warrants some mention in your coverage of this developing story. I’m guessing Mr. Camden took offense at Mr. Shook’s critique. I didn’t include all of Mr. Shook’s comment. I posted it in full at my blog and linked to it to keep it short. In this day and age of the MSM’s paradigm shift/decline such unwillingness to tolerate additional information/critique will only hasten it demise. Do I sense a similarity here re factual informational and the need for a police ombudsman:-) Who referees what reporters write as to the truth, facts, and omissions of perhaps critical details? Mr. Shook I believe is a credible member of your profession. I think he above all others should be able to critique Mr. Camden reporting.
In my profession we were held to the standard – to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. In other words I could not mislead the jury or the court by omission of facts/information. To ensure this did not happen the defense would regiously cross-examine my testimony. We seem to lack this check and balance nowadays in journalism. In the past professional jounanlistic standard/ethics governed reporters. What seems to be lacking in today’s MSM is the holding reporters to these standards/ethics by heir editors and peers. I will post a “reasoned” reply in Mr. Camden’s thread. [My emphasis]
As I commended Mr. Camden with this comment in the same thread:
Thank you Mr. Camden for your candid response and explanation. I see this as a positive collaboration between your readers and your reporters and not as a negative aspect of the evolving new alternative media e.g., citizen blogging/reporting.
I look forward to further reports by Mr. Brunt or by you on this developing story. Such reporting informs/educates your readers on the important issues of the day. Most people don’t have the luxury of the time to watch those who we elect attend to the public’s business. We must rely on your reporting of these events.
This is crucial to WE THE PEOPLE hold those we empower to govern on our behalf accountable for their actions.
Why do I have his gut feeling that Mr. Camden’s action may have been influenced by ohers or at least the expectations and expected behavior of others?
Challenge to S-R Political Reporters Jim Camden and Jonathan Brunt
Dear Mr. Camden and Mr. Brunt:
I’m looking forward to your continuing coverage of the MOBIUS Project et al, the Spokane Park Board and the Spokane City Council. I just posted this additional comment (see below) in several S-R blog threads re links to the old MOBIUS Project lease agreement and the 2006 amendment. Mr. Camden you pulled my comment in your S-R Blog Spin Control. As I expressed in my email to Mr. Pitts which I cc’d you both I said, “This was Mr. Camden’s call to make but I don’t think the post was in violation of any of your current Blog comment policies.”
I’ve just added this my comment to my blog post on the MOBIUS Project which includes my key thought re your, Mr. Camden, reasons for pulling my comment in my email to Mr. Pitts:
Mr. Camden suggested I’m free to post my own opinion and I will as to why I believe the Cowles family connection to the MOBIUS Project at least warrants some mention in your coverage of this developing story. I’m guessing Mr. Camden took offense at Mr. Shook’s critique. I didn’t include all of Mr. Shook’s comment. I posted it in full at my blog and linked to it to keep it short. In this day and age of the MSM’s paradigm shift/decline such unwillingness to tolerate additional information/critique will only hasten it demise. Do I sense a similarity here re factual informational and the need for a police ombudsman:-) Who referees what reporters write as to the truth, facts, and omissions of perhaps critical details? Mr. Shook I believe is a credible member of your profession. I think he above all others should be able to critique Mr. Camden reporting. [My emphasis]
I’ve continued my research into the history of the proposed science center and its earlier manifestations. As I’ve said often I haven’t formed an opinion yet whether this project is worthy of any public subsidy. Please see the below S-R archive links [S-R articles can be found here] re the 1999 Park Bond and the purchase of this property where the proposed science center is to be built.
Here are three more articles that aren’t included below:
From an earlier story by Prager park bond money was used to purchased some of this property subject to this proposed lease:
The city used $3.5 million from a voter-approved bond issue in 1999 to buy former dairy land along Cataldo Avenue. The parks department then spent $310,000 soliciting public input. In 2001, the department sought private bids on developing and operating the center, and Mobius was chosen.
There is a rather enthusiastic S-R editorial that implies there was voter support for this purpose:
The Park Board is set to consider the plan at a public hearing today at 1:30 p.m. If the plan is accepted, it will be the most significant development in landing a science center since the 1999 bond election, which paved the way for the purchase of 5.7 acres on the north bank of the river, just east of the Spokane Arena.
And here’s a report in the Spokane Business Journal:
The Spokane Parks and Recreation Department has issued a request for qualifications for a developer to secure funding, design, build, and manage facilities at a proposed 5.7-acre addition to Riverfront Park.
The property lies between Howard and Washington Streets south of Boone Avenue. The city bought it from Inland Northwest Corp., an affiliate of Spokanebased Goodale & Barbieri Cos., about 18 months ago with $3.5 million it raised through a 1999 city park bond issue.
In short Mr. Camden and Mr. Brutt there are aspects to this story that need to be referenced so that your readers can form their own opinions. Several key items are that the Pacific Science center (Ms. Goodspeed was a spokesperson for this prior project) was previously defeated by the voters. There is considerable discussion of this in the S-R archives that I haven’t linked to. This project was resurrected with the 1999 Park Bond issue. Was the purchase of this new property disclosed adequately to the voters – perhaps? Was the purchased of this property unfairly linked to the Park Bond issue – see dissent by Councilperson Cherie Rodgers? Did the Park Board pay a fair price for this property? Who sit on the MOBIUS Project Board of Directors? I think this is very important as a similar nonprofit, the Spokane Downtown Foundation that the RPS bonds were issued on behalf of by the City of Spokane, was found to be a false front and a sham in the IRS ruling, as reported by Camas Magazine in, The Casino Was Rigged. This will ultimately cost the citizens of Spokane some $100M if the second series of bonds go to maturity. This is a drain on Spokane’s general fund of nearly $2M per year from Downtown parking revenue.
Referring to the nonprofit Spokane Downtown Foundation, which Cowles set up to sell the RPS garage bonds, the report makes a pointed observation: “It is clear from the facts of this case, the developer had, and continues to have a particular relationship with the City of Spokane and the Issuer/Foundation such that it was in a position to control or influence its activities. . .
The IRS’s basic conclusions are no different than those from its previous reports. Contrary to the numerous public declarations by all parties that the garage project was for a public purpose, the IRS concluded it was just the opposite. It refers to the heart of the garage financing as “smoke and mirrors” and finds that “the intent of the transaction” was to get money to Cowles real estate companies to help finance the private mall.
The terms of this lease – $1 per year for fifty-years are quite significant. Could this be considered a gift of public funds if the MOBIUS Project is also too a false front, in an attempt to tie up prime riverfront property at taxpayer expense? I don’t know the answer but this is why those behind the MOBIUS Project need to be scrutinized very carefully.
The North Bank property belonged to an entity of the Barbieri family. I’m sorry but this raised red flags for me as Lou Barbieri was involved in land deals as was Washington Trust Bank and its president Tom Perko in the purchase of the property that proceeded the perhaps mislocated STA Transit Plaza built in 1990. This project was to eventually cost the taxpayers some $20M and is currently only valued at a fraction of this build out/land acquisition costs by the Spokane County Assessor’s Office.
And yes I still have my investigation on the back burner of the arson/murder fire at the Zukor Clothing Store (Jamison Building March 1980) where SFD Capt. Hana was killed. It concerns me that in my inquiries there is no public outrage of the death of this firefighter. The Spokane Fire Department can’t even find their reports when I filed a PDR. The Spokane Police Department could find their own limited investigative files when I filed a PDR. It was only when I spoke with the SPD records manager and gave her tips where to look did their very minimal and spotty investigation reports surface. Doesn’t anyone care? Why?
During my thirty-five year law enforcement career we had five police officers murdered from my police department. Trust me there was no stone left unturned in the the investigations of their deaths until the perpetrators were identified and brought to trial. Is this just another case of Breaking Blue as discovered by former Sheriff Tony Bamonte? The Jamison Building sits right where the STA Plaza is now located. And let’s not forget the arson fire of the District 81 Adm Building did not miss my attention that occurred the previous year. Coincidentally this property was purchased at the fire sale by the real estate arm of the Cowles Co. What is the significance of the District 81 fire? Well this is where the current Nostrum’s is located. A three alarm fire followed by a four alarm fire all within a year and a stone’s throw from each other. Coincidence Mr. Camden and Mr. Brunt? Only time will tell. Skeletons will only stay buried for so long.
Mr. Camden and Mr. Brunt please feel free to use any of this information in your new reports. As I’ve said I think it’s very relevant to disclose the involvement of the Cowles family on the MOBIUS Project Board, e.g., Anne Cowles and Wanda Cowles. I believe Nancy Goodspeed’s, currently the Park and Recreation Dept’s Marketing and Communication Director, relationship with the Cowles Co should be disclosed too e.g., prior employment as a reporter with KHQ, spokesperson for the RPS Renovation Project (See too this Inlander editorial by Ted McGregor), The Rockey Company (Could this be the same as Rockey Hill & Knowlton of Spokane? – See Camas Magazine and the behind the scenes Cowles Co’s campaign to oust the then Mayor John Talbott – How a publishing heiress went after an uncooperative mayor), and Pacific Science Center.
From Ms. Goospeed’s own webpage Goodie Cookie:
Goodspeed was the first TV anchorwoman in Spokane, a position she held at KHQ-TV from 1975-1984. In recent years she has provided professional public relations services
Mr. Camden and Mr. Brunt your readers and the citizens of Spokane need a watchdog to shine light on these public/private deals so that the taxpayers’ interests are fairly represented in these deals. Some of these deals in the past have been tantamount to robberies of the public treasury in broad daylight by the “powers that be” in Spokane who have a track record of doing so e.g, Camas Magazine article, “Double Trouble.”
As I said in my email to Mr. Pitts:
In my profession we were held to the standard – to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth [My emphasis]. In other words I could not mislead the jury or the court by omission of facts/information. To ensure this did not happen the defense would rigorously [ed sp] cross-examine my testimony. We seem to lack this check and balance nowadays in journalism. In the past professional journalistic [ed sp] standard/ethics governed reporters. What seems to be lacking in today’s MSM is the holding reporters to these standards/ethics by their editors and peers.
Mr. Camden and Mr. Brunt will you do the same? The information I’ve provided is easily located in the public domain. Will you report? Or will you mislead your readers by omission in deference to the owners of the S-R?
Det. Ron Wright (Retired)
BREAKING – Parks director resigns!
As I tongue n cheek commented to a regular commenter in the S-R blogs in the comment thread for Brunt’s article on the resignation:
[Garfnagn comment] <I think the Park Director knew way too much and wanted out while he could still salvage his career and indeed, his life and self respect. Nobody wants to wake up from a cold cocking in the night to find their hands duct taped to the steering wheel of a minivan parked in the RPS parking lot on the top level. Then hearing the engine suddenly revving way, way up>
My sources say Mr. Russell was not a happy camper re the MOBIUS Project lease. He was told by the Park Board to suck it up and get with the program at least that’s what I’m hearing.
As for your reference to duck tape you might want to read my new post. I won’t list the title as the “rovers” [e.g., The Prisoner] of the thought police will make this post go poof:
More on sudden resignation of Parks director Barry Russell.
Jonathan Brunt has a very informative article in today’s S-R:
Land swap near Albi falls apart, triggering finger-pointing
[Note: Clink on “print” in the header to view the entire article]
I posted this comment in today’s article thread to give some of the back story reasons why Barry Russell, the Parks director, may have been given the boot. My sources indicate the main reason for Russell’s leaving had more to do with the pending MOBIUS Project than anything else. He was not a happy camper re this lease deal and was told to suck it up by the Park Board. See the letters below to the S-R editor by a source of mine that the S-R that have not run even though Ast. Editor Doug Floyd has run similar pieces without the mention of the Cowles family connection.
There may be more reasons why Mayor Verner canned Russell. Check the back stories out and you decide whose interests are being facilitated. All may not be as it appears to be.
Ron the Cop
Good article Mr. Brunt. My sources also say also brewing in the background of why Mr. Russell may have “resigned” or became the scapegoat. Mr. Russell was in a very difficult position serving too masters. There was a component of the MOBIUS Project too.:
The Secret Dahlia Society, the MOBIUS Project, and the Cowles family connection
Mr. Russell was not a fan of the MOBIUS lease and was told to suck it up by the Park Board. A regular commenter at S-R’s Community Comment had said:
“I think the Park Director knew way too much and wanted out while he could still salvage his career and indeed, his life and self respect. Nobody wants to wake up from a cold cocking in the night to find their hands duct taped to the steering wheel of a minivan parked in the RPS parking lot on the top level. Then hearing the engine suddenly revving way, way up”
Another source has written several letters to the editor on this topic too. I will post his letter later this morning in my piece on the Secret Dahlia Society:
Hello, I have now submitted two letters to the Spokesman Review revealing the facts about the Mobius lease on the north bank of Riverfront Park for $1.00 a year. My first letter was not printed. I then submitted another letter last Wednesday October 7th leaving out the Cowles’ names, and no response at all from the newspaper. The Mobius group knows the science center will lose big bucks. That’s why on their website there is a parking garage and several larger buildings. They think that will absorb their losses. NOT A CHANCE. With 15% of what ever they have planned as far as businesses to give back to the City or Park Board, they would have to contribute 1.5 to 2.0 million a year to break even. That’s not going to happen. In the case of the Riverpark Square Parking garage the tax payer really got stuck in the wallet and purse for 100 million dollars. This will happen again with this Mobius lease. THIS GROUP WILL NOT ACCEPT ANY FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR LOSSES. It will again go back to the Park Board or City to suck up the debt. A blatant land heist for personal use with no responsibilty for financial losses is what the Park Board has approved and the City Council is about to lay it’s blessing on the robbery. Something must be done to stop this process. Any ideas?
Then of course there is the running battle between the Park Board, the Mayor, the Council and the special citizens committee appointed to advise on the last park bond chaired by Mr. Crow. This includes the adult softball league that has exclusive use of Franklin Park thanks to the Park Board and for the most park Joe Albi too at taxpayer expense. The Little League was used as a pawn to shill for the park bond but was aced out of Albi in favor of adult softball and was sent packing to the Northside Landfill:
Northside Landfill Little League Project – Spokane, WA
I have an equity issue with adult softball being heavily subsidized at taxpayer expense when other youth sports are precluded from using these same public facilities. To some degree an argument can be made that the voters were misled in the last park bond election.
The exclusive use lease of Franklin Park by the adult softball league expired at the end of December 08. Now that adult softball has most of the fields at Albi, Franklin Park should be made available for other youth sports. I’m not sympathetic to this may interfere with tournament play that there are bids out by adult softball for the 2010 season. A transition schedule between Albi and Franklin could be worked out.
BTW Ms. McLaughlin, my councilperson, should quit riding the fence on this issue. Ms. Kearney her opponent in the upcoming election has taken a clear position on these issues.
Letter to the S-R Editor re the MOBIUS Project that was not run:
MOBIUS LEASE WILL COST SPOKANE RESIDENTS
Mr. Camden’s article left out some important facts about the MOBIUS Project Group draft lease. Voters rejected this project over a decade ago. The proponents spent over $150,000 campaigning for it and still lost. It was the most expensive single campaign in Spokane history. Why was it defeated?
Science centers lose money. My research estimates $1.5 million in red ink annually for the Spokane Science center. The proposed fifty-year lease at $l per year also allows for subleasing to other parties. This lease confers valuable parkland to a group that will have no financial responsibility when it fails. Who will pick up the tab? Not MOBIUS. It will leave the taxpayers stuck paying the bills. Sound familiar?
MOBIUS Board Members, Wanda and Anne Cowles, are from the family that stuck the public with the RPS parking garage. The RPS bailout will eventually cost the taxpayers of Spokane $100 million. Can Spokane take another hit like this? No!
The unelected Park Board approved this lease. The City Council will now review this draft lease agreement. This is a heist of public property with no recourse. “Halt before default” is the cry. Demand the City Council put this to a public vote.
Interestingly enough S-R Assistant Editor/OP-ED Mr. Floyd later chose to run this letter. You decide what the difference is between these letters:
Mobius will be money loser
Regarding articles about the city contracting with Mobius for $1-a-year lease for a science center:
When the citizens voted in 1999 to acquire the north bank land for development, we were under the assumption that an amusement center was going there. Something money-making. The Review and TV had stories about the city maybe contracting with Disney to build Disney-type rides there; and a people mover would be built along the Howard Street corridor.
Not that I’m against a science center. However, it will NOT make money, like an amusment park would. Let’s say kids are $5 and adults $7.50 admission, family with two kids would cost $25. Most people will go once, and that’s it, whereas an amusment park will draw people over and over.
So, put an amusement park on the north bank, and if Mobius wants to spend $29.5 million, then put the science center in the Pavilion (half of the Pavilion is empty from a previous failed science center) and leave the IMAX where it’s at. The aging Pavilion would then be saved from the wrecking ball, as it’s falling apart, and it’s either that or the Park Board will want millions of dollars to save it.