Over on my Salem Political Snark blog I've posted an in-depth critique of how City officials handled a large grant to T.J. Sullivan (an ex-city councilor and current Chamber of Commerce vice-president): "Disturbing facts revealed about $749,000 Park Front urban renewal grant."
Here's how the post starts out. You can read my entire Investigative Blogging Masterpiece by clicking on the image below.
After making a public records request to the City of Salem for documents related to approval of the $749,000 Park Front LLC grant, and reviewing what I got, I'm even more disturbed by how this grant request was handled -- which relates to how Downtown Urban Renewal funds are being handled in general.
The easiest way to read this post is via an Adobe Spark web page I've fashioned. The images are larger on that web page, and copies of the documents are a bit easier to download and view. Just click below. Alternatively, scroll down and continue reading the post on this blog.
This is a lengthy post, so here's key "headlines" about the Park Front grant:
Park Front developer T.J. Sullivan wrongly asserted in his grant application to the City of Salem that 80 permanent new jobs would be created by the project. This should be grounds for the City Council revoking, or at least revisiting, approval of the $749,000 urban renewal grant, since the actual number of permanent new jobs likely is zero, or very few.
It is clear that the Park Front building was going to be built with or without urban renewal funds, so the City of Salem's claim that public funds leveraged private investment with public money is false.
The Park Front developers said they plan to use the $749,000 to "add back" features of the building that they were going to leave out after construction costs escalated and Pioneer Trust Bank failed to loan them as much money as they asked for. So I continue to call this crony capitalism, since these are normal problems encountered by developers.
Approval of the grant by the City Council acting as the Urban Renewal Agency Board was rushed through by City staff before the end of 2016 so it wouldn't be considered by the 2017 City Council that would include three newly-elected progressive councilors.