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January 28, 2017

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The Salem City Council should immediately reconsider its vote in December to give away taxpayer funds to Mr. Sullivan based on the fact that he lied on his application for the funds when he stated that 80 new jobs would be created. In signing the application he certified that "all information in this application ... is true and complete to the best of the applicant's knowledge." It was not. I demand our City Council take action to rectify this. What a precedent it would set if applicants for Urban Renewal grants were able to lie in their application and get away with it.

Not surprising at all. TJ gave Chuck Bennett’s campaign lots of help. TJ gets a $749,000 GRANT. Paul Gehlar donated $500 to Bennett’s campaign, he gets a $740,000 GRANT, Tokarski donated $7,000 to the Affordable Homes PAC (the PAC then donated $7,500 to Bennett’s campaign) and Tokarski received a $749,000 GRANT AND A 10 year tax abatement. Small investments that paid off big for all three men.

Who knew about this new GRANT program? I asked Kristin Retherford and the answer was, the Downtown Development Board (where Paul Gehlar was a board member) and the Chamber Board (where TJ is on the executive board). No one else was told about this program.

The loan-grant program in the past has only allowed historic building owners to BORROW up to 1 million for renovation (at 3% interest) and a MATCHING $50,000 grant for exterior and interior work. Now new buildings get a $749,000 grant. Money they do not pay interest on, or have to pay back!

Why is the city so eager to get new building downtown, but seemingly lost interest in historic preservation of our existing buildings? Does the city think new buildings will attract tourism? Will new buildings draw more family wage companies to Salem? No.

New buildings are only estimated to last 50 years, then they get torn down. Historic buildings last hundreds of years. Which one is a better investment of public funds? I believe the amount of the grant is set at $749,000 because if the developer asks for more from the city - the developer has to pay union wages on his construction. Why is the city working to prevent union wages on publicly funded jobs? How does that help our economy?

These are just handouts for campaign donations, pure and simple.  And the citizens just keep voting in the same old people and expect different results.

to paraphrase Goodfellas:

Henry Hill: [narrating] It was revenge for the police station measure, and a lot of other things. And there was nothing that we could do about it. TJ Sullivan was a made man, and Brian Hines wasn't. And we had to sit still and take it. It was among the "collaborators." It was real greaseball shit.

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