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Sat, Feb. 29

Kudos to the City Council

Maybe it's because the crisp winter air is filling the hearts of our elected officials with holiday cheer. Maybe it's because nobody cares anymore now that four new fannies will fill the seats in the Council Chambers come spring. Or maybe it's because the fear of current officials is being redirected to incoming candidates - one of whom was responsible for landing us a city administrator who I'll politely say could have made better decisions for this city.

Whatever the reason, absent from Monday's Council meeting were the usual cat fights between residents and officials. And Council actually got some work done - work that I believe deserves some recognition.

After months of saying "nothing is set in stone" with regard to the Kingman Crossing plans, Council voted 6-0 to terminate two contracts with consultants on the proposed traffic interchange and commercial development project. One contract will cost us about $240,000 to pay off. The other won't cost us a dime; but it will save us whatever 14 percent translates as from the eventual sale of the city land at Kingman Crossing.

While I don't understand the process of voting to allocate "a maximum of $250,000" without having all the invoices verified, the decision to scrap the contracts, in my view, was a good one.

The deal we had in place prior to the termination of the contract, signed during the Paul Beecher Reign (PBR) under the Gates Administration (GA), would have given S&Y Capital Group and another brokerage firm 14 percent of any profit on the eventual sale of our 168 or so acres at Kingman Crossing. I believe when the time is right, the market will allow a profit worth selling our land for, and when there is trust that city officials are giving taxpayers/residents all the information needed to make an educated decision, then voters will give the city the authority to sell the land; then, perhaps, commercial development on the south side of I-40 will sound appealing. Perhaps not.

Knowing what I know now, it isn't reassuring that Beecher represented us in the Kingman Crossing deal; less reassuring was the discovery that the head honcho consultant, reassuring British accent and all, told the Council and public he didn't know the cost to fill the crater on our land even though he'd e-mailed Beecher the same figure months earlier.

My knowledge of commercial land brokering is about as deep as my familiarity with the sesquipedalian tendencies of the Herzegovinian elite. What I do know is that in the past, not so much lately, Council has been accused of "putting the cart before the horse" (not to be confused with the other terms used in the past year: "six monkeys," "blank check," "lame duck," "antiquated," "tyranny"...).

Does putting the cart before the horse refer to hiring someone to "broker" for you when you don't have a buyer to "broker with" on land you don't have the authorization to "broker on?"

All the unknowns, this thing just feels like a residual screwing from the PBR era that would leave us, well, broker.

Why not hire a broker after it's established that we are moving forward on this project? And hire someone from Kingman rather than an out-of-stater?

In conclusion, kudos are in order.

So kudos.

Now before you hit the champagne, hit the calculators and tell us exactly what this PBR/GA deal will cost us.

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