Even after all the figurative head-slapping (ala Special Agent Gibbs in NCIS) that Toledo City Council received over the last week following their stuck-on-stupid ideas for the sale of the Marina District to Dashing Pacific, they still don't get it.
Dashing Pacific Group is 'reassessing' their interest in the deal primarily because of all the strings city council members wanted to attach for their friends and supporters. Remember, Dashing Pacific was offering to purchase part of the property for $3.8 million - and wasn't asking for anything else! No tax abatements, no grants, no loans, no special terms - unlike previous developers. They wanted to actually give the city money for the property and take ownership.
But that just wouldn't do for most of city council which wanted to make sure this 'deal' benefitted friends and supporters - primarily unions. Everything from deed restrictions to dictating the unions that would work on the project to taking back ownership if Dashing Pacific wasn't where city council wanted them to be in a paltry two years. (As if having the property sit for the last 10 and maybe for another 10 before someone else might offer to buy it was any great alternative!)
Besides, insisting on a time frame for development clearly ignores the market realities of the area. Many investors purchase land when it is affordable or available and hold it until the time is right to actually develop it. To insist that something happen in a specific time allotment shows the conceit of city council members who 'obviously' know better than the buyers.
But our smug city council members just couldn't resist using the power of their positions to interfere and dictate to the potential buyers. Well, why not? They've gotten away with such nefarious and detrimental shenanigans in the past - why should this deal be any different? But it was.
Based upon what Dashing Pacific saw and heard from council - which probably appalled them, as it should - they backed out of the deal. Dashing Pacific, clearly cognizant of the political implications, was too polite to insult city council, so they termed their withdrawal 'reassessing' their interest.
Appropriately, Mayor Mike Bell asked for the ordinance on the sale to be referred back to the administration. As Deputy Mayor Tom Crothers explained to council, the ordinance was to consummate a specific deal and there no longer is a deal, so there is no need for the legislation.
But a stuck-on-stupid council wanted to hold the legislation for two weeks. At-large Councilman Joe McNamara said that holding onto the legislation would send a message that council is willing to work with the investors.
TOO LATE! McNamara's message last week was heard loud and clear and it wasn't one of 'working with' as much as one of 'dictating to.'
McNamara, still whining like a child because he didn't get introduced to the investors, had the temerity to suggest this whole thing was a misunderstanding due to cultural differences. Apparently McNamara is even more clueless than the rest of council to assume that the problem is on the part of Dashing Pacific for 'not understanding.'
I've got news for McNamara: everyone else is clear on the fact that it is council who fails to understand the business world primarily because none of them have ever run a business before. It has nothing to do with culture, unless McNamara is talking about the culture of corruption surrounding the routine use of a political office to reward his union friends by mandating their inclusion on a future development.
District 2 Councilman D. Michael Collins asked for a referral of how much money had been spent on the Marina District and the conditions under which the city accepted the money. His concern is that the City accepted grants and loans that might require repayment of the monies if certain conditions are not met. Now, it's been a decade that we've been dealing with this property and I fail to understand what difference another two or three or five might make. Collins' question is a valid one - and certainly council should know what they committed to when they accepted the grants and loans for the clean-up of the land (why they don't already is an entirely different question for another day). But if that was his concern, he certainly went about expressing it in a terrible, arrogant and condescending way last week.
Council did decide to hold the legislation, but it won't do any good. Council members have proven themselves to be the antipathy of 'business-friendly,' though many in the area already knew this to be the case. Now, our council's reputation in that regard is international.
The only way to salvage the deal - if that is even possible - would be to humbly ask Dashing Pacific if they would still like to purchase the land at the prior monetary offer and, if so, have council pass the ordinance immediately - with no changes or restrictions or mandates.
But that's not likely to happen.
I do hope Bell will be able to convince Dashing Pacific that the purchase is still a good deal for everyone involved. But I won't hold my breath that some on council won't muck it up again. Their actions and comments clearly demonstrate that they can't resist their 'not-business-friendly' antics.
***Side Note: For those of you who may be new readers of my blog, you'll notice the headline for this post is #20. I had to start numbering the 'not-business-friendly' blog posts because there were just too many of them. Fortunately, I've not had as many since Mike Bell was elected mayor, but like a leopard that can't change it's spots, I knew it wouldn't be long before the anti-business members of city council did something worthy of an additional number.