Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Five Rivers term sheet rescinded; some councilors lack courage to do the right thing and stand up for taxpayers

Earlier this evening the Oshkosh Common Council approved an amended version of a resolution, formally rescinding the term sheet with Five Rivers LLC (developer Tom Doig) based on the group’s failure to meet the items outlined in that term sheet for the Five Rivers Resort project.

The amended resolution was approved by four of our Common Council members: its sponsors Paul Esslinger and Dennis McHugh, as well as Bryan Bain and Burk Tower. It was not supported by Mayor William Castle and councilors Shirley Mattox and Meredith Scheuermann. The question is “why not?”

The main reasons they gave in saying they would not support it were: (1) it was going backward when we are trying to go forward and was really unnecessary because the Redevelopment Authority was already moving forward with a new Request for Proposals; (2) it had never been done before and would be setting a precedent; and, (3) it was essentially taking a poke at or kicking someone, and dividing the parties. These reasons make little, if any sense, and lack all merit, in my opinion. Rather, they strike me as comments from councilors who are afraid to take a public stand against a wannabe developer. Maybe they think Mr. Doig will come back to the city at some point in the future and they don't want to ruffle his feathers; I don't know. But here's what I see wrong with their "reasoning."

First, the passage of this resolution was certainly not taking a step backward. Quite the contrary. It is closing the door on a better than two-year chapter in this city’s history and bringing finality to it so we can better move forward. Our own assistant city attorney said it was a cleaner way of doing things, rather than to just leave things hanging.

Second, so what if we’re setting a precedent by doing so? It's important that developers would know we are willing to go the extra mile to work with them, but also important they realize that we expect them to do what they say they’re going to do and that they can't get something for nothing. I would remind Mrs. Scheuermann that while the council may not have rescinded a term sheet in the past, it also has never had a project of this magnitude in front of it before either. I also don't recall a term sheet being put out there like this before.

Furthermore, while Mrs. Scheuermann was concerned this evening about setting a precedent, I remember last summer when the fishing pier issue came up, she asked that the city take the lead on issues related to parks and neighbor notification, etc., when things were being done in the parks, be they neighborhood parks, regional parks, what have you. At the time she said that we shouldn’t be afraid of doing things just because they haven’t been done before. (Incidentally, what IS happening with Scheuermann's request, and how long must we wait for it to come to fruition?)

And finally, this resolution does not kick someone when they're down, create division, or anything of the sort. Mr. Doig did that I think with his comments in his letter to the city earlier this month and in the media. Doig’s remarks about a city that did everything but co-sign a loan for him (though we did contact lenders on his behalf) were doled out with not a word of defense publicly for the city from councilors Mattox and Scheuermann. Yet, these councilors were concerned about the resolution somehow kicking someone when they’re down, or, as Mrs. Scheuermann said, “dividing us.” It does nothing of the sort. The council had earlier in the process been asked to approve the term sheet; then approve an extension on it. Therefore, it is only fitting that the council give the entire process as we knew it some finality.

Kudos to the four council members who approved this resolution. And to those who wouldn’t because of how it might look or the message it might send, understand that your “NAY” vote sent a clear message of another kind – both to the taxpayers you’re supposed to represent and to developers like Tom Doig.

- Cheryl Hentz

[following is a response to the above post from an earlier version of Eye on Oshkosh]

Authored by: DBCooper on Thursday, June 29 2006 @ 07:47 PM MDT
Let us not forget, this is the same Meredith Scheuermann that had a private meeting with Mr. Doig, during which she signed a non-disclosure agreement with Doig/5 Rivers. Timeframe approx 2/15/06. Between the non-disclosure agreement, her behavior before the councils (illegal?) closed meeting with Doig (also 2/06), her vote in favor of the garbage fee, and now not voting for rescinding the term sheet, she has pretty much earned herself a spot in the express lane for tarring and feathering.Shirley Mattox just thought we were kicking poor Tom Doig when he was down. Clearly the oddest reason for not voting for it, but then, consider the source! She was probably still attempting to calculate the butterburger factor for $42,600 worth of Spanish tile...