Writing in Public Response Years Ago with Regard to Strathmore Development Company Were not Intended to Allege or Imply Illegalities

I have received a letter from Attorney R. Christopher Cataldo, demanding retraction of anything I wrote on Public Response years ago concerning Strathmore Development Company or Scott Chappelle that alleged or implied corruption, illicit schemes, criminal, or other wrongdoing.

I never intended to make such allegations and tried my best to stick to publicly available facts and documents concerning projects by Strathmore and its affiliates. The context was the City Center II project in East Lansing that involved bonds backed by full and credit … Read more →

Center City District bond and TIF update // Alice Dreger

There’s good financial news emerging on the Center City District project — the strict cost-control measures put in place by now-Mayor Ruth Beier and her colleagues on Council in 2017 turn out to be stricter than we had realized. In 2017, the TIF was effectively reduced by Council from a $56M cap to a $50M cap!

Combined with the new valuation method from tax assessor David Lee for big apartment buildings, this means that the Center City TIF will pay off years earlier than … Read more →

We Were Outgunned // Alice Dreger

What happened at the BRA yesterday?  ELi has my report up , but I would sum it up this way:

We were outgunned. And we were paying for the other side’s weapons.

What my reporting team saw yesterday is what we see at so many meetings. People representing our side – in this case, BRA members Jim Croom, Jeff Smith, and Aaron Stephens – ask really reasonable questions and express reasonable skepticism. 

But then, in the end, they vote “yes” without adequate protections for us. In the fog of … Read more →

Letter to the Brownfield Development Authority // Alice Dreger

I have steadily reported for East Lansing Info on the Center City District project from the day it was introduced, on many occasions with my colleague Chris Root. We have spent a lot of time using FOIA to document what has happened (and not happened) with regard to the public financing of this project.  Today I sent the attached letter (below) to the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority about their meeting which happens tomorrow (Thursday, July 9) at noon. I share it with readers of Public Response … Read more →

East Lansing City Bond Attorney // Eliot Singer

I see  in ELi  that some members of Council are (finally) questioning the continued use of the bond attorney. I would add, they also need to get rid of Baird as the city’s bond agent.

Better yet, time to stop allowing DDA/BRA to issue bonds and to stop allowing the city to issue bonds unless approved by voters. Just a reminder, the DPW building was built without voter-approved bonds (with cost overrun) after voters were promised, in approving sale of the old building, there would be no … Read more →

Will the Chappelle Indictment Change City Hall? // Alice Dreger

It’s painful that Jim Cuddeback, the founder of Public Response, is not alive to read  the news  that real estate developer Scott Chappelle has been indicted for tax and bank fraud. When it was impossible for citizen watchdogs to convince any local news organization to report the truth about Chappelle’s history, Public Response provided the space to educate the community.

Eliot Singer, above all, worked doggedly to track and expose what was really going on with the developer with whom the City was looking to partner … Read more →

Selling and redeveloping city’s Evergreen properties is not financially necessary // Eliot Singer

Three of the EverGreen properties

With a new Council and an apparent willingness to look beyond the DDA for solutions to the Evergreen properties quagmire, I am going to revive my analysis from several years ago that it is not financially imperative to sell and redevelop the city’s Evergreen properties, which were originally bought with the intent of tearing them down and replacing with a massive parking garage.

Recall that the properties were bought 10 years ago for more than 3 times their assessed market value, at a time … Read more →

Failure to Reform // Eliot Singer

I thought it might be useful to provide some insights as to what reformers hoped to accomplish at the time of the 2015 Council election.

The context that was finally conducive to reform was: City Center II, St. Anne’s Lofts, and other public-private development fiascos; “retaining-wall-gate”; neglect of neighborhoods in favor of the downtown development agenda; the growing fiscal crisis, brought on by unfunded debt for big projects, tax diversion to development authorities, and legacy costs; and lack of accountability in city hall. Getting rid … Read more →

Albert Ave. // Alice Dreger

When the Center City District project was pitched, the idea was to institute a “woonerf” on Albert Ave. between About Road and MAC Ave. A woonerf is a European street style that has no markings and slopes from storefronts – basically there are no sidewalks, no lines, no lanes. In Europe, these are usually old-fashioned cobbled roads and everyone goes slowly on them. They’re not very welcoming to cars unless drivers are willing to go very slowly, and the visual cues tell drivers to … Read more →

The Quest for Answers on the Center City Ground Lease Payments // Alice Dreger

East Lansing’s City Council voted on Tuesday night to clarify the Center City District ground lease deal so the City can finally start getting paid for use of the public land. I explain the details of the deal in a  new report   up today at ELi . 

Readers of Public Response are often interested in the backstories of major stories, so I wanted to make sure you note you have the opportunity to see my correspondence with city officials and the developers in terms of trying … Read more →

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