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MMPI GETS MORE; COUNTY SPENDS ANOTHER $600,000 ON MED MART DEAL
Submitted by Roldo on Thu, 11/19/2009 - 13:22.
Cuyahoga County has paid MMPI another $1,240,799 in addition to the monthly fees of $333,333.33, according to figures from the County Auditor’s department. (Update below).
The monthly fees have cost County taxpayers some $2.3 million to MMPI. As I noted earlier, MMPI collects this each month as a fee and give no details of spending for the monthly check. The added $1.2 million went for other tasks performed for or by MMPI.
In addition, the County itself has spent $611,801 of the sales tax monies collected since January 2008. The total collected as of the end of October was $74,454,985.70.
The breakdown of the County’s expenditures is $61,517 in salary, $9,839 in benefits and $540,365 in contracts associated with the Medical Mart and Convention Center project. I am seeking a breakdown of the $540,000 payments.
The three payments made to MMPI, the Chicago firm contracted with to build and operate the Med Mart and Convention Center by County Commissioners Tim Hagan, Jimmy Dimora and Peter Lawson Jones, were in the amounts of $125,185, $385,129 and $730,485, according to the County Auditor.
MMPI this week sent its representatives to Cleveland City Council after it “trashed” - in the words of the city administration - Public Auditorium and decided the original deal was off. Public Auditorium and the city’s convention center were to be part of the new project. The city and county had agreed to a $20 million payment for both.
With the Public Auditorium out of the picture, the city wanted clarification.
MMPI also dropped negotiations with property owners at St. Clair and Ontario, nearby the present and proposed convention facilities. Representatives of the property owners claim that MMPI never seriously negotiated. The property was to be used specifically for the Medical Mart.
MMPI now apparently wants to put its Medical Mart on Mall C. This is city property and long has been held sacrosanct as part of the Group Plan. Only public buildings and the Malls make up this area of downtown.
None of the Group Plan, originated in the early 1900s as Cleveland grew, would ever have been open to a private business.
Council President Marty Sweeney rushed Tuesday’s meeting with MMPI representatives. Sweeney said at the outset of the meeting that they had a deadline so that MMPI representatives could leave City Hall in time to catch a flight at about 5 p. m. back to Chicago.
One guesses that the MMPI contingent at the meeting want to make sure the meeting at City Hall wouldn’t go long, so they set an early afternoon flight back to Chicago. Mark Falanga of MMPI, however, said he would agree to a request for four more meetings with the city. One would hope that air flights wouldn’t determine how brief the meetings would be. Maybe even the public might get an opportunity to make its views known on a project that appears ready to go off track.
The “trashing” of Public Auditorium, after the agreement seemed set, has angered city officials, including Mayor Frank Jackson. It could make the use of the hall impossible as the safety of the building is now in question.
The public ought to be even more angered by the attempt by MMPI to intrude on public land overlooking the lake.
Talk of the exclusive use of this land for public buildings goes back to the late 1890s.
“According to “Daniel Burnham’s biographer, Thomas Hines, ‘The first urban reformer to exploit Burnham’s talents was Cleveland’s controversial mayor, Tom L. Johnson,’” Eric Johannesen writes in his book, Cleveland Architecture – 1876-1976. Johnson was considered a leader of the Progressive Movement in cities. Johannesen wrote, “In this (progressive) atmosphere arose the ‘City Beautiful’ movement, of which the Cleveland Group Plan was a preeminent example.
It would be more than a shame to place a trade show building amidst these government buildings.
Talk about a Mistake on the Lake. This would certainly be it.
UPDATE ON COUNTY PAYMENTS: More on the breakdown mentioned above - Fred Nance of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, for negotiatiing the deal with MMPI, $175,000; Bricker & Eckler, another law firm, $60,000, legal services; Osborne Engineering, $152,342; and Conventional Wisdom Corp. of Orlando, Fla., $142,247, for construction requirements for the project. There were other small incidental payments to round out the $540,000 in contracts by the County for this project.