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« Not quite getting it | Main | Invitation only? »

Feb 11, 2010

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RBM

As an outsider, I find this very intriguing.

Andrew M.

Quaintance and Weaver can do what they want. I just wish they'd drop the "for the community" act and flat out say that this hotel would hurt their business. The very fact that they are even able to bring this suit is because they have alleged some potential harm to themselves and their business, not because their looking out for Greensboro's best interests.

RecycleBill

Damn, there goes Greensboro's distinction as the first city in the world to have a real 4 star homeless shelter.

Will someone get Timmy out of the well? Lassie wants him back.

Sedge

I think it's already been agreed to by most people on both sides of this issue that Q and W have a business interest in this whole deal - they are businessmen and they own businesses. However, our city and county elected officials and staff have, once again, done a poor job of educating themselves on these bonds and the subsequent projects, not to mention the blatant, here's my middle finger major conflict of interest on the part of "Skip," as referenced in the email from our new city manager to another city official about their "conversation." If it takes two dedicated individuals with a staff of attorneys and researchers, who also have deep pockets and can hold their own against any economic or personal threats, to get this information out in the open and clean up our city and county government, I'm all for it. And I'm really hoping that some good people step forward and file to run against incumbent county commissioners who are up for reelection this year, none of whom have done or said anything on behalf of the people of this county for the past 4 years.

Abner Doon

Greensboro and Guilford County need ethics rules.

Abner Doon

From Triad Watch:

The City of Greensboro and Guilford County governments should be prohibited from funding or approving projects or programs from which local elected officials derive income or profit that depend upon local governmental financial support.

Current Greensboro City Council members, Guilford County School Board members, Guilford County Commissioners and Candidates for local elected office should be prohibited from entering into or receiving compensation from enterprises dependent upon local governmental support.

Current Greensboro City Council members, Guilford County School Board members, Guilford County Commissioners and Candidates for local elected office should be prohibited from making campaign contributions to entities who publicly endorse political candidates.

Current Greensboro City Council members, Guilford County School Board members, Guilford County Commissioners and Candidates for local elected office should be prohibited from accepting campaign contributions or endorsements from those with conflicts of interests, including but not limited to; leading members of organizations receiving taxpayer money, and/or developers, contractors or their lawyers or agents, for 12 months before and after doing business with Greensboro and Guilford County’s governments.

Tim

Id have to say they may not have a legal ground to stand on because they themselves have a conflict of interest being that they are in the hotel business. No judge is going to rule in their favor. I will say this is getting as rediculous as the fight against the baseball stadium

Tim

This is also the second time Weaver and Quaintance have LIED. First they said they didnt have their own plans for a downtown hotel and then they said they werent trying to stop the hotel from getting built, they just wanted transparency. Just a reminder, they were hoing to do the same thing:

quote from Dennis Quaintance:

"Yet I am disappointed in that if we’d known earlier what we know now, we probably would have gotten busy and put together our own project (smaller initial phase), three variations of which have been in the work for years. My bet is that it was just an honest misunderstanding. We probably would have had enough time if we’d started earlier. I want to explain my feelings about that and make sure that we are ‘clean.’ If we’d started back in the early winter, we’d likely be ahead of this other project now but since we sat on our hands, they have lapped us and will possibly suck a lot of the various allocations away prior to our being able to belly up. Plus, even our long-term investment idea of making sense out of a smaller project that surely wouldn’t make money for years but would be justified with the eventual expansion potential and lower basis, wouldn’t work if new inventory is added to the market."

RecycleBill

Timmy, get out of the downtown well before you catch cold.

Brandon Burgess

Deena Hayes also lied when she said QW's concerns were race related. Skip was out of line to threaten a recall. If people really felt a recall is in order then the hotel should have nothing to do with it.

RPinGSO

Can an attorney help clarify how broad or narrow is the action that Quaintance and Weaver are taking? They seem to argue that the entire Council Resolution on 12/15 should be overturned "generally and specifically" as it relates to the Hotel Project. This action also authorized the allocation of bonds for Deep Roots and Miller Lofts. What will happen if they are successful? Are these two projects collateral damage and would they have opportunity to be re-approved? Mr. Quaintance, I assume that you read this blog, please clarify. Their web page seems to argue that the entire stimulus allocation needs to be revisited.

Sue

@Abner who wrote, "Greensboro and Guilford County need ethics rules."

Nah, we just need elected officials who follow the ones already on the books. And some better informed politicians with backbones who know what they're voting for. And maybe some 21st century thinking.

Ishmael

W & Q have every right to do what they are doing. Their interest is transparent but elected officials should not be using their clout to line their wallets.

Spag

"I'd have to say they may not have a legal ground to stand on because they themselves have a conflict of interest being that they are in the hotel business"

Dumbest thing I've read in a long time. What do you think lawsuits are about, Tim? People with conflicting interests. That isn't the same as a government official having a conflict of interest on a matter he has authority over.

Are you ever going to tell us who is paying you? They aren't getting their monies worth.

Tim

In case you didnt know, Skip Alston DID NOT vote for the bonds. NO CONFLICT OF INTEREST there.

Bob

Tim - Do you think the only way to exert influence is actually voting on the matter. How about lobbying city council members, threatening them, meeting with city staff who are likely going to be working for a combined government body, trading votes on other issues, etc.

Abner Doon

skip didn't bother to tell anybody he had an interest. He lied by not bothering to disclose material information.

That is a Conflict of Interest.

Tim

well there is just one problem Bob. City Council had already approved the bonds before Alston went to council and expressed his concerns about a protest. Also Council had no intention on changing their votes anyway. What ever Alston did, if he did anything, is not grounds for this project not getting the stimulus money. And frankly the wrong people brought on the lawsuit. The two bringing on the lawsuit are the comptetion of the hotel project so you better believe a judge will weigh that heavily in his decision. Now if If they want to sue Alston thats fine.

Andrew M.

I read the complaint. Q & W make some valid arguments. But their counsel seemed to rely heavily on the Lee Street Proposal before it was moved to the Elm Street Center. Problem is, most of the facts and studies, etc. related to the proposed hotel at the Lee Street site are moot because the current proposal is different. And the complaint didn't cite any state or federal statute stating that proposals can't be materially changed after the deadline for submissions had passed, which is what happened here. Q & W are arguing that b/c the notice of intent which included Elm Street Center was submitted after the deadline that it can't be recognized. But if there's no law saying that proposals submitted prior to the deadline can't be changed, then their argument becomes more tenuous.

Secondly, the complaint refers to both December and January reports from Richard Williams at HVS. As I commented in a previous post, Richard Williams has done consulting work for Quaintance Weaver in the past. Now read what Jordan Green wrote in Yes! this week: "[Andy] Scott turned to local hotel developer Dennis Quaintance for advice on the viability of Chisholm’s project. The day after Shoffner expressed concerns about the project, Quaintance told Scott: “If I were in the city’s shoes, I’d get a market study for this sort of hotel from one of the top consultancies.”

If Quaintance or Weaver suggested/encouraged the city contract with HVS, and specifically, Richard Williams, for the reports cited in their complaint, their impartiality and admissibility are questionable and shouldn't be allowed in. Or at least that's what I'd argue if I were the hotel group.

Q & W make some good points. But I don't think they're exactly coming to the table with clean hands either.

Abner Doon

looks like somebody is going to pay for a third third party feasability study.

Tim

well there has to be another study done anyway because neither report included all data (impact of civil rights museum, office retail leases, ect) Secondly nothing is set in stone for the project which means the number of rooms could change or we could see a lot more office/retail in this project than envisioned. Right now the developers are keeping quiet on the final plan and I don't blame them. I wouldnt want to give Q & W the upper hand either because their goal is to stop this hotel from getting built. You don't show all your cards to Q & W.

Tim

Also I wouldnt be surprised to see a counter law suit in the mix.

Bubba

Also I wouldnt be surprised to see a counter law suit in the mix."

Imagine that!

And there won't be any mention of race in said suit, right?

Spag

I think many of you don't understand what a declaratory judgment is. It does not matter that Weaver/Quaintance have an interest. In fact, that might help them in some respects.

In this case, the suit is considered a "taxpayer suit" and they are seeking a court declaration that the political votes are void because they didn't comply with the statutes and also because they are tainted by a person who was disqualified from the process.

Suppose the voters passed a bond referendum to build a swimming pool, but then the City used the money for something else. Any taxpayer would have the right to ask for a declaratory judgment that the City could not spend the money on something other than the swimming pool. Not a perfect analogy, but close enough.

There was a suit against the State and Governor Easley asking for a declaratory judgment that the State could not take money out of the Highway Trust fund for other purposes. That case is Goldston v. State, Easley 08COA754 (2009). I expect it will figure prominently in this case.

I have my doubts about how far Weaver/Quaintance will get at this point which I have explained here. I provide the link because you know, Ed doesn't read my blog...(nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, say no more...)

triadwatch

i like how mike weaver is a citizen of florida and a resident of North Carolina. Wonder why? We all know why ,

Jack Hart

Tim, you don't listen to reason very well!
Or you are one that thinks that building a huge elephant just a few miles from the Royal Villa is a good idea!
If the Marriott sits at 40% as it has been said...what makes you or anyone...without a chance to make tainted money that is...think this will work?
And don't think the Civil Rights Museum is going to bring throngs of folks in after a few weeks. In fact I would love to know how many folks have come there in the past week after the first day.

Andrew Brod

Spag, if it's a taxpayer suit, does Q and W's interest matter at all? Couldn't any taxpayer could have filed the same suit?

Some years ago, the city and county of Wilson granted an incentives package to a new Target store, and an existing shopping center anchored by a Wal-Mart filed suit to stop it. The suit was dismissed, but not because the shopping center had an interest (in a stagnant local economy, the new store was likely to harm the Wal-Mart's bottom line). It was dismissed because the competing shopping center lacked standing. I'm not suggesting that standing is an issue here, because that's legal arcana and not my bailiwick. But in that case, the plaintiff's business interest was irrelevant.

Tim

Folks...only in Greensboro. Well we haven't seen this kind of fiasco since the silly fight against the downtown ballpark. Why is it that everything being planned for downtown has to be controversal? Its clearly obvious what the Dennis and Mike's motives are. No matter what you think about Skip Alston or the viabilty of the hotel project, this law suit is rediculous. Its like Home Depot trying to sue Lowes for opening up shop down the street. Its crazy. Quaintance knows that if this hotel is built, his downtown hotel dreams are flushed down the toilet. Well Dennis you had your chance but you decided not to build the O'Henry and Proximity downtown. Dennis has every reason to be scared because the developers will likely attract a luxury flag brand like Westin, Hyatt or Wyndham and if they do, this planned hotel will take quite a bit of the luxury hotel business in Greensboro. Dennis Quaintance isnt concerned about the planned hotel becoming a white elephant, he's concerned his hotels will become white elephants. But you know thats just the nature of the free market. These developers have every right to build their hotel and no it wont be built with public dollars because the stimulus bonds are back by private investors, not the taxpayers. Folks this fight is going to get nastier and I would expect to see a counter suit coming up really soon. Secondly all the feasibilty reports mean nothing because the excluded vital data such as the effect of the civil rights museum and revenue being generated from the office and retail portion of the hotel project. The Urban Hotel Group has not released its final final plan yet so you can bet they will address the concerns stated in the feasibilty reports.

I do think this law suit is going to back fire. After reading a number of blogs, im starting to see more people against Q & W because what they today is making them look like sore losers. Nobody likes a sore loser.

Jack Hart

Tim, you said..."because the stimulus bonds are back by private investors, not the taxpayers."
Where do you think the money is coming from?
I'll answer that...it's you and me...it's a government program. Where does that money come from when this thing goes bust?

Tim

those private investors are investing their money, not the government's. If the hotel doesnt succeed, they will lose their investment, not the tax payers

Thomas

Tim, Please look at this before you comment again.

Thanks.


Spag

Andrew, what you are referring to is an injunction- asking a court to stop something. In that situation, the Plaintiff must show an immediate danger of irreparable harm. Q&W aren't asking for an injunction. They are asking the Court to declare the hotel/bond process in this case void as a matter of law. In this situation, they have standing as taxpayers. Read the case I linked to which goes through an analysis of taxpayer standing.

I think from now on I am going to simply link comments here to posts on my blog just to illustrate how petty Ed is in his ongoing refusal to link to any posts on my blog even though they may be quite insightful to a discussion that occurs here. There is a reason he does this that involves his ego that goes back to the very first comment I ever wrote on this blog.

Ed Cone

Tim writes, "nothing is set in stone for the project which means the number of rooms could change or we could see a lot more office/retail in this project than envisioned. Right now the developers are keeping quiet on the final plan."

That's one of the big problems, isn't it?

We're being asked to get behind an idea that we don't understand.

The plan used to get City approval is long gone -- the project isn't even in the same location anymore. I think we'd all agree that's an improvement, but still, we are discussing a project that has not yet been vetted by Council.

The plan discussed at the January council meeting has been dismissed as fantasy by the HVS report. HVS has worked for QW, but Kaplan acknowledges that the firm is the industry standard, and it's not like the numbers were even close to being close to adding up. Even Tim is forced to say that that plan is not the one we should be thinking about.

Jack Hart, taxpayers do not appear to be at risk for these bonds. I'm unimpressed by the argument that the bonds cost taxpayers because they are tax free. The costs to taxpayers include siting a parking garage at a less-than-optimal location, and the possible costs of a white elephant in the midst of downtown.

RecycleBill

Thomas,
I'm surprised Tim's picture isn't a part of that definition.

Kim

There is also an opportunity cost to other worthy projects that could have benefited from these bonds.

Ed Cone

Kim -- true on the opp cost, but that ship has sailed -- as I understand it, this pool of money cannot be reallocated, so it's use it or lose it.

Kim

How well were these bonds advertised proir to being awarded?

Patrick

Sam, I would have guessed there'd be big standing problems with this suit, but the first appeal in the Goldston case you cited seems to open the door pretty wide for taxpayers to challenge misallocation of public funds.

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