June 5, 2008

Developer offers city $1.5 million for former mall site

The Florida developer who submitted the sole plan for revitalizing the former downtown mall site offered the city $1.5 million for the property.
In a secret appendix to the developer’s offer, Heritage Financial Group proposed the city sell the 17-acre site for $1.5 million and offered two approaches to the deal.
The Bristol Press has a pending Freedom of Information request to get a copy of the appendix, but hasn’t received word whether the request will be honored or not. In the meantime, the newspaper secured a leaked copy.
The city has spent about $8 million to buy the property, raze the mall, hire contractors and cover the associated legal bills.
The developer’s conceptual plan calls for creation of a “live, work, play community” that would include upscale stores, restaurants, offices, housing and amenities ranging from a train station to a dog park.
The Bristol Downtown Development Corp. is reviewing the offer and plans to discuss it at a meeting on June 16, though several officials said they didn’t intend to talk in public about the money the developer was willing to put on the table.
The “Letter of Intent” sent by the developer is signed by Mark LaPoint for Heritage Financial Group. It’s dated May 27.
LaPoint, who could not be reached for comment, is cited in the plan as Heritage’s front man for the Bristol project.
LaPoint is currently the project manager for the Meadow Creek Golf Estates in Mission, Texas, a border town about an hour away from Brownsville, a project that appears to have some connection to Heritage Financial Group.
In the letter given to the city, LaPoint offers to pay $10,000 within 10 days of the acceptance of his offer and another $150,000 later as an initial down payment.
The deal then proposes the buyer take out a first mortgage to pay for feasibility studies, engineering, lawyers and the like, basically any costs associated with the property’s development.
At the same time, the city would take a second mortgage on the property for $1,350,000, with a payment of $350,000 due within 24 months and the entire balance due within three years.
The deal also includes a provision that says, “Terms and conditions of this agreement must remain strictly confidential and may not be released under any circumstances without written permission” from Heritage Financial Group.
An alternative arrangement is even more complex, though it again calls for the buyer to pay $10,000 within 10 days of the acceptance of the deal.
After that, the city would form a limited liability corporation registered by both the city and Heritage Financial Group.
Once created, the city would transfer 75 percent of the new company to Heritage in exchange for a $1.5 million note and mortgage “containing a three-year balloon,” with Heritage paying for lawyers, site plans and the like.
Heritage would “manage, develop, market and sell the property,” probably over a three to five-year period, and use any financing it secures only for development of the site.
Once all the expenses are satisfied, the offer continues, Bristol would get 40 percent from the net proceeds of the development to satisfy the $1.5 million note. After that, the city would get 25 percent from future sales of the developed property.
Once the “horizontal development” is done, Bristol would retain a 20 percent interest in any “vertical construction projects built on the developed land by” Heritage.
Again for the second alternative, the terms of the deal are supposed to remain “strictly confidential.”
The numbers mentioned are well below the figures that city officials have long said they hoped to get for the mall site.
It also remains unclear whether Heritage Financial has the track record and finances to complete a project of the scale envisioned in Bristol.
If the BDDC opts to skip the deal, it would basically return to square one, with no offers on the table and no immediate prospects. Officials would likely try again to see if developers would be interested, perhaps with a less restrictive outline of what the city would like to see on the property.

*******
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

100 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amazing.

Anonymous said...

Steve, why would you disclose this information if it was supposed to stay"Strictly Confidential"?

Steve Collins said...

Because it's news.

Anonymous said...

The deal also includes a provision that says, “Terms and conditions of this agreement must remain strictly confidential and may not be released under any circumstances without written permission” from Heritage Financial Group.


STEVE:

So by releasing the information you received from a leak, have you risked the negotiations between the City and Heritage?

Why didn't you wait for the FOI request to go through the proper channels first?

Sometimes Steve you are not acting in the best interest of the City. You and your "leak" may have just eliminated the one developer that was interested in the property.

Oh and why haven't you retracted the statements that the developer was from a Trailer Park company?

You seem to be getting rather impulsive with your "news".

Anonymous said...

Steve Collins said...
Because it's news.

June 5, 2008 6:15 PM


Next time don't do us any favors. You should have waited.

I'd like to see your leak get fired.

Anonymous said...

I wonder who in City government or the BDDC is this developer friends with? For the City to keep this part of the proposal confidential is extremely sketchy. Obviously they didn't want this going public.

Steve Collins said...

I never said the developer ran a trailer park company. I said a company with the same name runs a trailer park outfit in the same city. I don't know have any independent knowledge whether they are related or not, but the LA-based promoter of the deal says they are not.
And for what it's worth, I think that finding out who the developer is was quite important. And I did that.

Steve Collins said...

As for jeopardizing any negotiations, well, I can live with that.

Anonymous said...

Steve, why do you bother defending yourself against this sort of junk? Anybody with half a brain can see the developer is a sham and the offer is a joke. Even the BDDC knows what.
You did right.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the great work Steve. Personally I'd like to hear some leaks more often :)

Anonymous said...

WOW !!!!!

With the leadership involved I was expecting that we'd have to pay a developer $1.5 million to take the property off our hands .

Odin said...

"As for jeopardizing any negotiations, well, I can live with that."

Even if it had been a bonafide proposal? Think carefully before answering.

geek said...

Steve,

Thank you for posting this information. What a strange situation.

Perhaps this guy Legrand (or whoever else is involved) thinks the South won the Civil War and they think they're "carpet-bagging"?

As a taxpayer for $1.5 million I'd rather see the city use the land for soccer fields.

Anonymous said...

$1.5 million dollars for the mall site is a pretty good deal, it would pay for another much deserved City Employee salary raise. Get it done, boys.

Anonymous said...

Steve, your involvement and expose should expedite the process of throwing this proposal out, rethinking the process and going out again.

Thank You!

Steve Collins said...

If it was viewed as a serious proposal, I suspect it wouldn't have been leaked.
But I balance the news value of items against the harm that reporting might do all the time. Generally, I think I've made the right call. I've kept a few things to myself and have had few regrets about much that I've put in print during my 20 years in this profession.
I know that some readers won't believe it, but like most of you, I want good things to happen in Bristol. You can't write about a community for years without caring about what happens to it.
I lived in Bristol for years. My kids were born in Bristol. I would love to see Bristol thrive.
So the answer to that question about a "bonafide proposal" is that I'd think about it and try to do what's right.

geek said...

Hold on a second, what's the value of this empty lot in today's market anyway?

Is $1.5 million that bad of a deal for 17 acres?

That's about $88.24 thousand an acre. I think that's a fair deal.

When I first heard the price I thought it was low, but after comparing it to other land deals I'm familiar with, I don't think it's that far off in today's market.

The problem is the initial purchase price and the cost involved in tearing the mall down etc. Now people can see how wrong it was for the city to get involved in this.

How much does anyone expect a private developer to pay? Maybe Carpenter will bid $1.51 million. That'd be even better!

Anonymous said...

"Officials would likely try again to see if developers would be interested, perhaps with a less restrictive outline of what the city would like to see on the property"

-Sounds like the right idea.

Anonymous said...

Super Dollar Store, yes!

Anonymous said...

Here we are. This is why the city government should not be in "the real estate business".

This entire project beginning with the mall purchase from Gatto, is the biggest debacle in the history of Bristol.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Ward the Dep. Mayor when this was bought? Didn't he support it and vote yes for the purchase?

Ward...moving Bristol Back-Ward!!

Anonymous said...

I think Couture did the right thing buying the mall property. Having anything there - even an empty lot is better than the crap that was there before.

I really hope that this developer doesn't back off because of the "leak" to Collins. Even if his ideas are over zealous, I'm sure the BDDC could come to a realistic decision on how it can be developed.

It was a start - an interest in the property. I hope it doesn't go away.

Anyone in marketing or sales knows that initial proposals are always over zealous and then they are negotiated down to realistic levels. There were some good realistic ideas in that proposal that shouldn't be shot down.

Anonymous said...

FROM BRISTOL PRESS ARTICLEThe Bristol Press has a pending Freedom of Information request to get a copy of the appendix, but hasn’t received word whether the request will be honored. In the meantime, the newspaper has secured a copy.

FROM THE COLLINS BLOG
The Bristol Press has a pending Freedom of Information request to get a copy of the appendix, but hasn’t received word whether the request will be honored or not. In the meantime, the newspaper secured a leaked copy.

Why was the word "leaked" eliminated from the Press article?

Bristol readers are not as dumb as you think we are Steve.

You should have waited for the legitimate FOI to go through and then talk to the BDDC members about the terms. You jumped the gun, again.

Steve Collins said...

I filed the story with the word "leaked" in it. But it's superfluous, really, since obviously it was leaked since the document remains secret. I assume an editor took it out because it didn't add anything.
And I completely fail to understand the logic of keeping information from the public until officials want it released. That's not my idea of a free press.

Anonymous said...

The question everyone should be asking why isn't Carpenter or Damato placing bids on this piece of property? It seems very strange that they did not. Or any other big developer in CT - is there more to this mall then we know about?

Steve Collins said...

I'm told that Carpenter, D'Amato and other area developers haven't ever done a project on this sort of scale. They may be interested in getting the construction contract from a developer, I'm told, but wouldn't want to be the ones in charge as long as the project remains as ambitious as the BDDC is currently eyeing.

Anonymous said...

So should the school face Main St or Riverside Ave?

Anonymous said...

"I think Couture did the right thing buying the mall property. Having anything there - even an empty lot is better than the crap that was there before'

--Well the "crap" that was there before didn't cost the taxpayers over $6 million dollars!

--Now we have a bid for $1.5 million which is a good price for 17 acres of commercial real estate that no one wants. But we do have this pie-in-the-sky proposal from some "get rich quick" real estate shyster with trolleys and other silly junk that appears to be a joke.

--The mall is gone which is nice but did the city not move too quickly? Did everyone not know that real estate was high (seeing Gatto only paid $2.5 million)? Again this whole scheme is a debacle to the upmost extent. I'm sorry, the government has NO BUSINESS "being in the real estate business" (McCauley at the FHA meeting 2008)!!

Anonymous said...

Steve your reasoning for "leaking" this information smacks of a heaping pile of rationalization of a bad move. Your editor pulled the word "leaked" because they knew it was an improper move and wanted to cover the paper's backside. But I guess when you’re running a failing business such as the press you go ahead and print it anyway. You just sanitize it.

This is great example of why the media's credibility is at an all time low. Do the wrong thing and then rationalize it by hiding behind the "freedom of the press."

Bottom-line in your haste to create more juicy tidbits for the mindless idiots on this Blog who spend hours tearing apart people or ideas in order to gain some sick satisfaction you may well have damaged the city's short term opportunity to move downtown redevelopment forward. This proposal may not be a good one or even viable but based on the Peyton Place local media coverage a serious well established developer will most likely think twice about getting into the game. If handled correctly this first proposal could have been leveraged to create further interest. You helped turn it into a joke.

The process of rebuilding downtown is not a sprint it's a marathon. There is no silver bullet and it may require a multi year, multi-phase approach to eventually succeed. You can couch it any way you want but this kind of journalism doesn't help.

If you think you are part of the solution then here's a news flash for you. You're not.

the geek said...

To continue my last post from June 6, 2008 12:31 PM:

I agree that a school is a good idea for this spot. That is IF we really need new schools.

But if they must build a new one, build one on these 17 acres. I have said numerous times that the only viable developments in this area now will be part of the government sector, and a school fits that description. Small retail and eating establishments will cater to the people that work and do business there, as well as parents. It's the only viable (I love that word) idea.

Steve Collins said...

To the 12:41 poster:

Sorry, but government operates best when it operates openly. Secrecy is almost never a good idea. My job is to bring information to the public, not help officials hide it.

Anonymous said...

June 6, 2008 12:41 PM:

Calling people "mindless idiots" get you no where. I couldn't care less about your opinion or this proposal. It's garbage and so are you.

Good reporting Steve. You are an asset to this city.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous poster of June 6, 2008 12:41 PM:
If you think you're clever, you're not.
To everyone who thinks Steve did wrong by publishing leaked information:
Don't read it.
Steve obviously believes in the public's right to know, even when said public involves an unappreciative bunch of jerks who would rather be kept in the dark and spoon fed their "news" from the "officials" when the powers that be deem it the right moment.

Anonymous said...

If Collins' expose screws the deal with this snake oil salesman, then I can live with it, too.

Anonymous said...

If you believe this developer is an honest, upright guy who might just run away because of a newspaper story, then you deserve whatever sham he's going to pull on the town. Sadly, not all citizens feel the way you do, so trusting of a real estate get rich quick guy, and we want to know what our government is doing. We also don't want to get taken for a ride, and I for one am grateful to Steve and the Press for being vigilant.

Anonymous said...

The editers took out the work leak because they dint know whut it ment.

Anonymous said...

Steve, your argument only holds water if some one is indeed hiding something. So working with an inside "leak" is open and honest? More pot - kettle rationalization if you ask me. Please spare us the prose on how your job is to protect us from the big bad politicians. It's insulting.

It's bad enough that you probably fouled up the process but it is really disingenuous to claim you did it with the best interest of Bristol in mind. Your words fly in the face of your actions.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but government operates best when it operates openly. Secrecy is almost never a good idea. My job is to bring information to the public, not help officials hide it.

I don't agree with you in this case. I don't believe that they were "hiding" information from us. I think that they were waiting for Corp Counsel to review the proposal, the company making the proposal and the legitimacy of any legal requests that were made BEFORE they told the public a bunch of maybe/maybe not scenarios. You didn't allow them the time for due diligence. You jumped the gun, again. Just like you did when you tried to research the Heritage company and came up with a trailer park report.

I hope your "leak" is found out and fired or if it's an elected official the person is removed from their elected position for releasing legal documentation to the media without corporation counsel approval.

You should have waited for the FOI response. There may have been a legitimate reason that they had to wait to give you the information. I really hope you didn't ruin our chances for development.

You seem to keep being an obstacle for the City and not a asset.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the editors were confused and thought Steve was writing about a vegetable.

Steve Collins said...

What would those "legitimate reasons" be? Because, frankly, having seen what was kept secret, I can't imagine what they are.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the editers R vegetables?

Anonymous said...

That's OK Steve. I understand why you did what you did and risking a potentially decent development for our downtown.

After all, if something good happens to Bristol that's less controversy for you and your wife to report on.

Anonymous said...

What would those "legitimate reasons" be? Because, frankly, having seen what was kept secret, I can't imagine what they are.

Steve, That wasn't for you to decide. Like others have said, you should have waited for your FOI to be reviewed and responded to. You did jump the gun. I hope it didn't cost us.

Anonymous said...

Leek! Leek! Leek!

Steve Collins said...

Right, it's not my job to decide. It's my job to report the news.

Anonymous said...

The only people complaining about the "leak" are
1)those in power who are going to be embarrassed by this whole situation, or
2)those who are hoping to profit from this developer.

If the developer offered the city $10 million, do you think the city officials would have kept it a secret like they are doing now?

Anonymous said...

Your leak knew they were doing something wrong otherwise they would have been open about giving you the information.

That person is just as guilty as you are for potentially ruining chances for negotiation.

Steve Collins said...

I can live with myself quite easily. And I suspect whoever leaked the appendix feels exactly the same way.
I won't apologize for putting the public's right to know ahead of some mythical need to preserve government secrecy.

Anonymous said...

OK Steve, now you're just a mindless news reporting machine. Your articles never contain one iota of your opinion just the facts. All news all the time!

All hail Steve Collins - Guardian of the public's right to know, keeper of the 1st Amendment, protector of the weak and political dust buster.

NOT!

Steve, if you truly believe everything you wrote about yourself in these last few posts then you need to get out of the business for a while. You're becoming as bad as the politicians you write about. Unable to admit when you are wrong and hiding behind the veil of the 1st amendment. Face it, you're standing far too close to the trees and you no longer see the forest.

Anonymous said...

I'll bet that Glen is getting worried. How is he going to replace that 8 million so that he looks good to FOA????

Anonymous said...

This is amusing. If someone gave Collins the information, it's his job, his right, his duty as a reporter, and his obligation to his trade to report it.

If you don't like it, sue him...but you can't because you have no grounds!

I'm glad to know what's going on. Thank you Collins. I give you a hard time once in a while about your reporting (because I believe you to be a liberal, a Democrat, and a Bush-hater) but you still do a decent job. Plus you're a character and a good, thoughtful guy.

I'd be interesting to see who's so upset about this "proposal" being "leaked". I'll tell you that I'm not, because it's silly.

Anonymous said...

Steve, It's funny that you believe that everyone should comply with FOI rules... except you.

If the FOI rules that financial offers that are the basis of future negotiations can be withheld and should be withheld in the public interest and these two documents fit that category; Too bad.

FOI is a tool to get what you think you're entitled to but if the ruling went the other way, you could care less.

Sometimes, Stevie Boy, the public right to know is outweighed by the need to conduct negotiations in private. The public could actually benefit from some things being kept quiet until the appropriate time. It’s not about arrogance on the part of city officials, it’s because they are trying to do the right thing for the city.

The arrogance comes in when a reporter believes that their right to blab and degrade exceeds any possible benefit that Bristol might realize.

Nothing stands in the way of your incessant desire to minimize every effort in Bristol.

Your condescending and mocking attitude coupled with your belief that your mission is more holy than that of elected officials and volunteers trying to improve the city is a harmful combination.

Anonymous said...

How convenient that you Art Ward supporters criticizing Steve Collins right now about this leak weren't complaining about Steve Collins last year when he refused to make the effort to reprint Ward's DUI arrest report and sentencing.

Anonymous said...

Very good 3;17

4:10 - I am not a Ward supporter - never was but I am a supporter for what is right ,and bypassing the FOI to get a story isn't right. There is a reason for financial information held back from public view for a while. It's called "negotiation" and "future bidders". Steve didn't even wait a day from the time of the proposal before he went off the deep end with his blog information.

Steve may have very well screwed that up for all of us. How will this affect a re-RFP.

Steve Collins said...

There was nothing secret posted on this blog about the plan until late yesterday afternoon, nearly a full week after the bid opening.
Before that, I merely reported public information about the developer.
Anybody who thinks we shouldn't try find out something about a developer that is seeking the city's business on a project that has consumed the community for years clearly lacks an understanding of what democracy and open government are all about.
You can quibble if you like about releasing leaked information - it's at least arguable --- but to maintain that I shouldn't have tried to figure out who the developer is makes no sense at all.
There's no reasonable underpinning whatsoever for that position. I certainly hope whoever is posting that has nothing to do with the downtown decision-making.

Anonymous said...

I was at a BDDC meeting where they said $20,000 was spent on advertising this. Now all of the work, time and effort that went into this are at risk because it looks like Bristol doesn't understand the word "CONFIDENTIAL."

If these bidder withdraws because of this, and the BDDC has to spend another 20 or 25 grand will Collin's article still be justified.

And if NO ONE from the development community chooses to bid next time for fear of being called a trailer park maven (WHICH WAS NOT TRUE) or outed by some disgruntled employee will the story then be worth it.

Just as Bristol was beginning to gain positve favor with the develoment community, here we go again right into the dumper.

Steve, you may think you raised your credibility and integrity but you sure shot a hole in Bristol's reputation.

Do a blog search for Bristol CT, BDDC, or Downtown Bristol, what pops up? All this negative crap, nothing positive.

I think the employee or volunteer who leaked the story should be fired or removed from his volunteer position.

As to Collins, the paper has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel so I am confident that Bristol will outlive the press.

Steve Collins said...

Hey 5:28 -
You're a fine one to talk about being negative.

Anonymous said...

Steve:

It's 5:28 Blogger again.

Thanks for the response but I am not being negative. Like you, I just report the news as I see fit, slanting it this way and that, in my own self-rightous, arrogant way.

Not being negative Stevie, just like you I am only doing my job. The First Amendment belongs to all of us Steve, not just you.

Have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

great job steve, this deal is a joke and a waste, the city can and should do better, as far as those cry babies, crying about the leak,
get your heads out of sand,

john cullen said...

In 2007, the state legislature added an exemption to the open records law that allows officials to keep the responses secret "provided the chief executive officer of such public agency certifies that the public interest" in disclosing them is outweighed by the need to keep them secret. Per Steve Collins

It seems that in order for there to be a “leak”, there has to be a desire to conceal. I’m not sure how that translates in a process of “open bidding”. The concepts are incongruous. I would assume that the BDDC spent the taxpayers’ $20,000 advertising fee to solicit “open” bids for this project. If they did not, I would like to know why. If they did, then I don’t understand how there can be a leak. I would also like to know who has the authority to invoke this power. I would like to know why they have chosen to, if they in fact have.

There has been expressed dismay that other Bristol as well as Ct. developers and contractors have not shown interest in this 17 acre downtown project. With such unbelievably broad specifications and now a lack of transparency in the bidding process, why should any bother?

The thought that some magician is going to appear and transform downtown Bristol into something even remotely akin to the one “plan” submitted and have it make economic sense is foolish. So far, that is what has been asked of potential bidders. Their response appears to give merit to the ineffectiveness of the bid requests. This project needs far more structure. I think it is very important for Bristol’s “leaders” to pare and better define the wish list for this project rather than hope some outside entity will do so for us.

Perhaps deciding on a road location through the property, breaking the project into two or more sections, even tentatively establishing lots and targeted uses could help persuade others to spend the time and effort necessary to see what they might think is viable. What they might be willing to invest their money in. Trying to find someone who is willing to have the whole thing dumped in their lap as it is seems rather silly. Who would possibly want that headache? And how would we possibly keep an eye on them or avoid having to compromise if things “don’t work out as planned”? We are years and years into this thing and we still can’t give any concise answers to the question “what will work?” How can we expect someone else to?

It is really time to start to focus on what can reasonably be expected of the 17 acre area. If there are any priorities that can’t be compromised, they should be clearly established for integration into any plan. The guidelines for the rest of the development should be well defined but remain flexible. There may actually be significant advantages to having the area subdivided rather than continuing to exist as a single entity.

What this means is that the City leaders need to be leaders. And they need to operate completely above board. If they encounter a developer that would prefer to conceal financial information regarding their interest in the project, tell them to go get lost. One of the most compelling reasons we are all in the less than favorable economic situation of today is because so many “financial entities” have “concealed” a great deal of information as well as falsified it. And people “leveraged” things that weren’t worth the debt they incurred on it.

This secrecy and limited reporting of finances nonsense is just that – nonsense. It is toppling major financial institutions. The Federal government is admitting it should have had stricter regulations regarding transparency and reporting. The entire nation is digging out from under a massive, financial institution driven scam based on bad information and bad valuation. Why would Bristol even consider lending an ear to someone who wasn’t willing to be forthright about its finances regarding the 17 acre development? And why wouldn’t our leaders insist on full disclosure – to everyone? Please pay attention and protect our interests, not further jeopardize them.

This project has gotten off in a very bad way. By anyone’s measure, the response to the request for bids was very disappointing. The fact that the lone bid contained financial information that was presumably deemed inappropriate for dissemination to the public is a serious setback for the BDDC. The level of trust in this entity and the credibility it needs to make this project work have been diminished. The faster they can move on to a more realistic approach to this development, with full communication and transparency, the better.

Thank you Mr. Collins for providing the “financials” of this sole bid that has caused this ruckus. It looked a lot like Heritage wants Bristol to hold mortgages for the property, which would mean that very little cash would be paid to the City until three years down the road. I don’t really understand the whole deal, since it was rather convoluted. I suspect that was part of the whole idea from their perspective. But it was nice to have an opportunity to look it over.

Try as I might, I haven’t been able to figure how concealing this information could be troublesome for any of the parties. I am rather tired of having other people determine what I do and don’t need to know about my government, especially when money is involved. I’m sad that the BDDC appears to have concealed the financial information. I’m disappointed Steve found it necessary to obtain the information the way he did. I would hate to see this play out again down the road. I hope everyone can take a deep breath, learn from this phase of the process, and get going together toward making some progress down town. There still seems to be quite a bit of energy and anticipation for the project, and I sincerely hope the next series of efforts are rewarded with some momentum and positive feelings.

john cullen

Anonymous said...

Whoever is complaining about the leaked info is missing the point entirely.

The info should NEVER have been confidential in the first place!!!!!

My suspicion is that the people complaining about the leak are connected somehow to this project or were friends with the political powers making decisions, they probably thought they were going to get in on this cheap deal and make out like bandits. Maybe if the price remained a secret until the last minute, the public would have been forced to accept it, but now that the public knows in advance, there is no way they will accept anything close to this insulting price.

Steve Collins said...

Hey 5:28-
If I didn't agree that the First Amendment belongs to all of us, nobody except me would know what you had to say.
Have a nice weekend yourself.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who thinks we shouldn't try find out something about a developer that is seeking the city's business on a project that has consumed the community for years clearly lacks an understanding of what democracy and open government are all about.

Find out all you want about the developer or anyone else for that matter Steve but don't post it as news until you know it's the truth and that your "research" didn't send you in the wrong direction.

Maybe you have forgotten that democracy requires truth, not speculation.

Anonymous said...

WHO, WHO, leaked the info to Steve?

Who had access?

Anonymous said...

John Cullen - long winded and over worded.

Anonymous said...

I've been told that during Stortz's term at least Ward was Steve's source (aka "leak") at City Hall.

Maybe Ward leaked this plan himself to help avoid it coming to fruition?

Anonymous said...

Did you people even read the terms of the deal? The buyer is getting reimbursed for their small investment and using none of their own money in the long run. The city is liable for the 1.5 million. An the developer is getting the majority of the revenue stream if it is created.

This is a shame deal along the lines of all these get rich quick without any of your own money operators. The developer identified a vulnerable opportunity and is trying to sell us on the deal by repeating back to us what was on Bristol citizen's wish list for the property.

There is a reason why no other developers submitted proposals. They are legitimate and wouldn't risk their reputation in trying to sell a pipe dream in a bad economy.

Steve Collins said...

"...democracy requires truth, not speculation."

Oh, c'mon. Democracy requires a rambuctious, freewheeling, probing electorate, not a bunch of passive people waiting for government officials to spoonfeed them pablum.
Moreover, everything that's come out about the developer has come from The Bristol Press. Without it, we would all know nothing at all about the company that wants to rebuild Bristol's downtown.

Anonymous said...

Steve has plenty of sources and the person you might most expect to "leak" often does not and vice versa.
I know because I am one of his sources and I am going to remain anonymous! MUWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
And to the extent that Art Ward was a big source for Steve at City Hall when Stortz was mayor, well, that is a hoot because Art was kept completely in the dark during the whole administration and wouldn't have had anything to share.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't surprise me at all!

Anonymous said...

June 6, 2008 8:53 PM:

Really, even at the meetings he was present at?

Sounds like you're trying to defend Ward here even though you helped "keep him in the dark" all the time.

It's just a rumor that was told to me by an supporter of one of Arty's opponents. So far Ward's doing an decent job, so I have no problem with him. I'm definately happy his Democrat primary opponents isn't the mayor and I'm not too sure that flake that the GOP ran would have been better either.

But there is some circumstantial evidence that leads me to believe the rumor. Nothing harmful though.

Anonymous said...

Art wasn't kept in the dark, he WAS IN THE DARK.

He did not get involved by his own choice.

It is ironic that all the things he complained about, he is doing now, special meetings, witholding appointments, not gettining certain council members involved etc.

Hope people are paying attention.

Anonymous said...

"Hope people are paying attention."

We are. Mayor Ward is doing a great job!

Anonymous said...

Yep, reduced services, higher taxes, NO decision (either way) on schools, minimal progress on SEBBBP.

And now this fiasco on the Mall.
Yep, great job indeed.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you'd like to blame him for the ridiculous gas prices while you're at it? Our wounded economy and a looming recession are to blame for the "mall fiasco," rising taxes, reduced services, and the stalled school project...not mayor ward.

Anonymous said...

AS CEO of the city he should have been looking ahead.

He was warned, all kinds of information was in the media, he should have talked with dept heads and others.

He is not a manager, he is a baby kissing politician.

After 14 plus years he should have had a better handle on what was and is happening.

And there is NO excuse for that!!!


And his bosum buddy Rosenthal certainly did not help him.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Ward can't do anything about the recession, but if Ward did more during his 14 years as councilman, deputy mayor, and brief time as mayor, Bristol would have been able to better withstand this horrible economy. All Ward succeeded in doing in those years was driving up the cost of City Workers salaries and benefits, which is crippling Bristol in hard economic times. And now he wants to bargain with them again to give them even more benefits? Thank God for Art Ward (if you are a City employee)

Anonymous said...

Art Ward is a bigger publicity hound than Frank Nicastro.

And that, takes some doing!!!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like Ward was kept out of the loop, so how can anyone blame him for this mess that was thrown in his lap?

The ones to blame are;

1) Ellen
2) Levigne
3) McCauley
4) Couture
5) Diamantis
6) Minor
7) Stortz
8) Block-head
9) Ken Scott
10) Chet Reed
11) Stretch
12) Leone
13) Rimcoski
14) Werner
15) Longo
16) Wojtusik
17) Casey
18) Walt Murphy
19) Colapietro
20) Nicastro

Anonymous said...

That's priceless. Ward is less to blame than the dog catcher and dead people? Give me a break. Ward was DEPUTY MAYOR when the mall bought and this whole thing started. If he did not know what was happening under Stortz, that's because Ward didn't care or he was just plain stupid.

Anonymous said...

Ward has been mayor for over 7 months: what has he done in this area of Downtown?

He has been in office almost 15 years, what has he done in that time?

Anonymous said...

~ Pointing fingers and playing the blame game of who's responsible for buying the mall property is pointless. It's all water under the bridge. What matters now is what we're going to do with it...

Anonymous said...

"Ward has been mayor for over 7 months: what has he done in this area of Downtown"

~ Not much as of yet, which is a very wise thing during this economy.

former Republican activist said...

The list I wrote turned into a joke. People like Wojtusik, Werner and Jim Casey are certainly not responsible for our current mall parcel debacle.

But I wonder "June 8, 2008 12:21 PM", what was Johnson's or Her Highness' strategy for doing this.

As I remember "Her Highness" was one of the first proponets of buying the mall. I'm sorry that IS important. It's important to recognize and remember idiocy.

Johnson's solution was to appoint a COO. How would that have expedited this?

I didn't vote for Ward, but I think he's doing an OK job handling this and trying to cut the budget. Next time I might just vote for Arty "join his party" Ward.

Anonymous said...

8:28

There are a lot of things that could be, should be, done now to alleviate the impact of the staggering economy.

He should have started in November, and it should be an ongoing effort.

That is why he was elected, that is why he is the CEO, that is what the people are waiting for.

We know thsat if he was doing anything that his PR machine would let us know, so apparently things are not getting done.

Anonymous said...

June 9, 2008 11:23 AM:

What exactly is the city gov't supposed to do to help the economy except trim the budget, reduce property taxes and lessen the burden on private enterprise?

Sounds like Ward, Nicastro, Rimcoski, Cockanye and Klocko are attempting to do the aforementioned. Dump the "new school" garbage and they'll be doing even better.

Anonymous said...

"There are a lot of things that could be, should be, done now to alleviate the impact of the staggering economy."

~ Like what? If our mayor has the answer to alleviating the staggering economy, he should be president...hell, maybe even king!

While many people predicted the coming recession, it's pretty obvious that NO ONE could do anything about it.

Anonymous said...

Simple: reduce the operating costs.

Like 3-4-5 times having ones street swept.

Like looking for other ways to reduce activity as Mike Rimcoski did.

Like reducing OT until workers are fully utilized during regular work hours.

Like paring budgets. It was done last year, and should be continued.

Every one can be reduced.

And not waiting until it is too late.

Locally we can't stop what is having Globally and Nationally, but we can and should be aware of it and how it affects us.

Or would you rather we just sit and cry???

Anonymous said...

Connecticut General Statutes Section 1-210(b) (part of the State Freedom of Information Act) provides specific exemptions from public disclosure for certain documents, including subsection 5(B) "Commercial or financial information given in confidence, not required by statute" and subsection (7) "The contents of real estate appraisals, engineering or feasibility estimates and evaluations made for or by an agency relative to the acquisition of property or to prospective public supply and construction contracts, until such time as all of the property has been acquired or all proceedings or transactions have been terminated or abandoned, provided the law of eminent domain shall not be affected by this provision." There are very good reasons for these exemptions, specifically to ensure that bids and negotiations for public contracts are not compromised. Although there was only one bidder, maybe he really wants this project. Maybe the BDDC could have gone back and negotiated for an upfront payment ($3M, $5M?) and an additional payment upon final development. Maybe they could have negotiated a letter of credit or performance bond. Who knows what they could have negotiated - but now it is unlikely they can negotiate anything. As someone intimately involved in the public bidding process, public bids are often kept entirely confidential until final contracts are signed in order to allow for latitude in negotiations. It is also commonplace for bidders to walk away after negotiations have been compromised. If a confidential bid document is leaked once, bidders will rarely believe an assertion that future negotiations can be kept confidential. Look at any public project, the bidding process is the same. Should we disclose confidential financial info on the school construction bids prior to contract negotiation? Should we disclose union contract negotiations (another FOI exemption) prior to final contract signing? Settlement negotiations in court proceedings are kept confidential for the same reasons. Why wasn't there more than one bid? Could it have something to do with the public castigation of this project and the lack of the City's ability to get this under control - including the City's inability to keep documents protected under FOI from being disclosed? Will this "leak" hurt the BDDC in negotiations? YES. Will the "leak" hurt the BDDC if it attempts to rebid the project? YES. I am not arguing that the documents should not be made public, only that they should be made public at the appropriate time. The public is not the decision-maker on the award of a development contract for the mall - the BDDC is. After it does its job, the documents will be made public and the taxpayers are free to support the project or not, as it needs to be ultimately approved by the City Council. The taxpayers will have ample opportunity to weigh in on any deal struck by the BDDC, if one actually is. But compromising the BDDC's ability to negotiate the best deal possible gets no one anywhere. Additionally, I think if the Bristol Press believes so firmly in the public's right to know, it ought to disclose the identity of the leak. The only individuals that had copies of the bid documents are members of the BDDC, the purchasing office, corp counsel's office, the Mayor's office, the BDDC's consultant and the BDDC's lawyer. If the leak was BDDC's counsel or consultant, it is a violation of their contract (not to mention their trust) and they need to be fired. If it was someone on the BDDC or in the City, or in an elected office, the public should have the right to know so they can make an educated determination of whether they want to vote for that person, or support that person's nomination or re-nomination to a public board. The Mayor and Council should know so they can determine whether they want to appoint or reappoint a person who cannot follow the rules. The "leak" is, by definition someone who is a rulebreaker and the public has the right to know who believes himself or herself to be above the rules. In for a penny, in for a pound on the public's right to know. I am sure the Press will stand behind its "confidential source" protection rules, but why should the source be protected if the bid document is not? Especially if the source is a member of the City's government! Or has the City's system been hacked? Certainly the taxpayers have a right to know if their information has been electronically compromised. Steve, care to offer up your source's identity?

Anonymous said...

AMEN 4:10

Perfectly stated.

The city should obey FOI when it suits Collins.

Collins should ignore FOI rules when they could benefit the city.

Journalistic integrity... an oxymoron.

Journalistic opportunism is more accurate.

Somehow I just know that Rosenthal is the leak.

Anonymous said...

Nope, crying won't help. Neither will any of the things you suggest 3:39. All together they wouldn't amount to a proverbial drop in the proverbial bucket...certainly not enough to make life easier for the citizens of Bristol. Although I must admit that when I see the gas prices, I really do want to cry...

cockayne addict said...

June 9, 2008 3:39 PM:

Good points, maybe it WILL take a Republican to institute those things or at least a Democrat not afraid of stepping on union toes.

But aren't your examples ones that for example the Director of Public Works should be doing NOT the Mayor?

June 9, 2008 4:10 PM:

You spend all that time looking up a statute yet you still don't state your name? Your post is ignorable.

Steve Collins said...

The leaked material was not "given in confidence" at all. The RFP specifically said that information about a developer's finances should be given under separate, sealed cover. If it was, the RFP said, it would be kept confidential.
The obvious point is that material not put under seal would not be kept confidential. Otherwise, what's the point of saying that particular item would be kept secret?
In any case, keeping the BDDC's material confidential is not up to me. It's up to the BDDC.

Steve Collins said...

I should add that nothing in Heritage's bid was put under seal to attempt to keep it confidential. For that matter, a review of the RFP makes clear that most of the information the city asked for wasn't provided at all.

Steve Collins said...

Should we see construction bids on the school projects when they are submitted? You betcha. And we have seen just that kind of information time and again over the years, without anyone complaining. Any administration that sought to keep it secret would be in big trouble.

Anonymous said...

The leaked material was not "given in confidence" at all.

OK Steve, then who was the leak? The public has the right to know, just as past posters have said. Why should you be the judge of what we should and shouldn't be told?

I want to know who your leak was. It's important to me, and it's important to many of the residents in town - those that support the fact that the information was given to you and those that don't.

Steve Collins said...

Sorry for the confusion. I should have been more clear. What I was trying to say, and believe it is true, is that the material that someone leaked (and, no, I will never tell) was never intended to be confidential at all. If it was, it would have been in a sealed envelope as the RFP requested. There was only one item that the BDDC promised to keep confidential and the material in Appendix D wasn't it. The developer never actually submitted the only thing the city ever promised to keep secret.

Anonymous said...

5:40

Why should we spend tax dollars at double time to clean up a neighborhood that won't look out for itself?

Will Cockayne come to clean up my neighborhood next?

I am in his district.

It all adds up to incxreased taxes!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Round and round and round we go! Steve if the information wasn't confidential then it wasn't a leak because you can't leak non-confidential information and thus your informant need not be concerned and can either be identified or simply identify themselves. Remember "leak" is your word. You used it in a covert context which tells me that you are not as confident as you are trying to portray that this was not indeed confidential information. You are trying to have it both ways. I guess we will see how it all plays out.

Steve Collins said...

Fine, we'll agree that nobody leaked anything.