Decommissioning Yeadon // Eliot Singer

Ah, nostalgia, to quote the great storyteller, Gamble Rogers.

I see the DDA is finally giving up on Yeadon. I still maintain, if the city gave up on the DDA, eliminating staffing costs and reducing it to paying its existing debts and bills, it would save more money than trying desperately to make good on the idiotic 2009 decision to borrow to buy the Evergreen properties. By time any big new project is completed, the debt of the bonds for City Center I will be almost paid off and there will be no excuse for tax incentives.

But anyone who has watched Yeadon do development deals over the years will chortle over his dismissal.

I remember when the clean bill of health for Park District Investment Group blew up in their faces, Yeadon suddenly brought to the attention of the DDA the Tree Breach fraud. I had been throwing this at the DDA and Council over and over, and I was years behind the curve. Others had found this tidbit long before the city made its fateful mistakes.

More recently there was the reduction to the lease for Lotto 1, which was discovered by a citizen who closely read the final paperwork not by the city attorney.

The frightening “irreparable harm” clause if the city did not borrow nearly $30 million in the City Center II 2012 predevelopment agreement was discovered by a member of the business community, though I ran shot gun with it. The city attorney and the usual suspects in city hall were the only ones  not screaming bloody murder.

I could go on and on. My personal favorite was when St. Anne’s Lofts had its accident and illegal extra floor but the usual suspects were pushing to get its final approval before classes started. I was at the Council meeting to speak about safety, responsibility, and accountability (along with others) when I noticed the paperwork was in the name of the wrong shell company. An incompetent staff person had once again screwed up routine paperwork, and in this case the amateurish developer, instead of hiring a lawyer, had handwritten the change of shell company. Nothing wrong with changing the name for a completed project, but this is normally done with care and the developer should have caught the incompetent staff person’s mistake before the wrong paperwork came to Council. Yeadon’s response to my pointing to the wrong name was it didn’t matter. Of course it matters, though unless at same point there is a legal problem transferring title or something, it won’t matter in practice. But the reason we pay lawyers is to make sure petty details are done correctly, and Yeadon had the information right in front of him that should have led him to discover what I did. His job was to read the paperwork carefully and correct mistakes. 

I am certainly among those who wants accountability for Retaining-wall-gate. But my own top argument for firing Yeadon was I didn’t think he was competent at protecting the city’s interests with development, even if he wanted to, which we all doubted—the city’s interests were equated with developers’ interests not with the people’s interests.

The DDA deciding it needs someone good at these development deals is high time. But again, why not effectively get rid of the DDA instead?

-Eliot Singer 

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