Meadows “just as surprised as everyone” // Eliot Singer

Mayor Mark Meadows wrote on July 24, “I was just as surprised as everyone to see that the developer was advertising the Grand River property as ‘student housing.’ The Grand River housing was approved as market rate housing and was to be advertised as available to anyone.”

Another wonderful example of an excuse-making professional politician having to choose between admitting he was in the know from the beginning or coming across as a moron.

Ruth Beier knew, she just doesn’t seem to think the developer is to blame for breaking promises, since the student housing was something she and everyone with a lick of common sense expected. She is counting on promises not being broken on the senior apartments. I’m not.

So, since the Lotto 1 project was a backroom deal, blatantly violating the city charter’s requirement of public vote to sell city property and essentially giving away a valuable asset for a fraction of its worth, and since Meadows has fully embraced the developer, acting as if the developer is doing the project almost as a public service not to maximize profits, is he going to demand some kind of accountability?

The history, as I have fully documented for many years, is that developers are not held accountable in East Lansing for breaking promises on tax diversion projects.The fundamental problem is that city officials get as vested in public-private partnerships as the developers, as we saw for years and years with the unwillingness to hold the CC II developer accountable or aiding and abetting the illegal extra floor on St. Anne’s Lofts or the houses that were supposed to be converted from rentals in exchange for a brownfield for Campus Village left to rot. City officials have been more interested in protecting the interests of their “trusted partners” than the public interest.

Where there are bonds involved, the city is stuck, because TIF revenue is needed for the bonds, even though the TIF revenue inevitably falls short. Albert Place is a good example of that. With Lotto 1, since the city has promised to refinance the “no-recourse” bond, I doubt it can, and more doubt it will, seek accountability for broken promises.

I have often described some East Lansing officials as the sort who would send money to the spam guy from Nigeria. I guess Mark would rather be counted as one of those than accused of wink and nod wheeling and dealing.


-Eliot Singer

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