Is this why the cost of rehabbing the former Federal Courthouse sky rocketed? August 8, 2011 Lisa Kuzela
Okay, here’s the ENTIRE file I found (from SOS site). All of these LLCs have William Prowell listed as the organizer / registered agent. He is an attorney for Shuttleworth and Ingersoll, (one of the big firms the City has monopolized). He is also Chair of the Neighborhood Development Corp(another of the many scam non profits here in Cedar Rapids). His name has also shown many times with other organizations that I researched that donated $$$ to Vote Yes for 20 more years of sales tax.
All of the following 3 LLCs were FORMED APRIL 2011. (NOTE: there are NO officers listed for ANY of these LLCs. I am REALLY anxious to see who they are!)
1. Courthouse II LLC is leasing from the City of Cedar Rapids the former Federal Courthouse (and future City Hall) for 99 years, then leasing it to Courthouse II Tenant for 32 years.
Courthouse_II_LLC_Certificate_of_Organization 1.jpg (JPG — 32 KB)
2. Courthouse II Manager LLC is overseeing all the building and rehabbing of the former Federal Courthouse (sounds like a “consultant” to me.)
Courthouse_II_LLC_Restated_Articles 2.jpg (JPG — 54 KB)
3. Courthouse II Tenant LLC is leasing the courthouse from Courthouse II LLC for 32 years. So, the City OWNS the former Federal Courthouse and is leasing it to Courthouse II for 99 years (probably for $1 like they always do for their friends), who is basically also leasing it back to himself (Courthouse II Tenant LLC) while managing the rebuilding. The CITY is getting the funds for the rehab, like from I-Jobs, etc.
Courthouse_II_LLC_Summary_-_William_Prowell_atty_ShuttlworthIngersoll 3.jpg (JPG — 45 KB)
So, we are actually paying for the rehab, but having Courthouse II Manager oversee everything (like John Frew with the Events Center). This all sounds like a glorified and indirect (not to mention sneaky) way to hire another overpaid consultant.
Courthouse_II_Manager_LLC_Certificate_of_Organization 4.jpg (JPG — 35 KB)
Courthouse_II_Manager_LLC_Restated_Articles 5.jpg (JPG — 55 KB)
Courthouse_II_Manager_LLC_Summary 6.jpg (JPG — 46 KB)
Courthouse_II_Tenant_LLC_Summary 7.jpg (JPG — 50 KB)
Couthouse_II_Tenant_LLC_Certificate_of_Organization 8.jpg (JPG — 34 KB)
Is THIS why the cost of rehabbing the former Federal Courthouse sky rocketed?
See attached Council Agenda and Packet from April 12, 2011, 5a and 6a:
5a) Following up on my latest discovery, it was April 12, 2011 that Council approved leasing the CITY-OWNED former Federal Courthouse (new city hall) to Courthouse II LLC for 99 years, “ownership of which entity may later be assigned.”
Hmmmm… This also sounds like another project in which the taxpayers pay for everything, then the City will be selling it on the cheap to their friends – another Sinclair? Ice Arena?
HOWEVER, Courthouse II LLC was not even established at the time Council voted to do this! This LLC was established (papers signed) April 14, 2011 (see attached file from Secretary of State regarding this subject).
6a) This same council meeting, April 12, 2011, Council then approves leasing the building back to themselves from Courthouse II Tenant for 19 years. Courthouse II Tenant was also not formed until April 14, 2011.
Staff used the excuse that the City was ineligible to receive State and Federal historic tax credits toward the old Federal Courthouse unless they put it in the hands of another eligible entity. If this was the case, then why 19 years? NINETEEN YEARS our taxes are going to go to pay rent on a building that taxpayers OWN??!
In the interim, Courthouse II Manager LLC will be overseeing all the rebuilding. Sounds like a sneaky way Council got around putting bids out for this project, less transparency, and a backdoor method to get around voting for yet another OVERPAID “consultant,” while passing along the wealth to more of their friends. WHO ARE THESE “Managing” PEOPLE?? What are their qualifications?
Council continues to vote to make agreements with LLCs and non profits that don’t even exist until they have secured funds or agreements from our City Council! I was told recently they did the same thing with Transitions Made Better, voting to give her funds before she even officially filed her non profit. I haven’t check on that yet. But, I DO know the Council approved the formation of the Neighborhood Development Corporation (NDC) and at the same meeting agreed to support giving them $1.5 million, it was a city staffer who presented the formation of the non profit is now the paid CEO for that non profit – Marty Hoeger! NDC has received State, Federal (CDBG), and now recently the City gave them another $100,000 and with NO accountability for where the money has gone. NO QUESTIONS ASKED! Oh yeah, and Christine Butterfield, the City’s Community Development Director in charge of all this is also on the NDC Board. If they want any money, she just gets it on the consent agenda for them and Council rubber stamps it.
And let me point out another thing that shows the incompetence and carelessness of our City: Council agrees to these resolutions without FIRST seeing the contracts and without knowledge of the cost of these leases!
When I was on the School Board, before we voted to pass any “contract between the District and another entity,” we had that contract in front of us before we voted on it, so we can ask questions or change things. The City does not do it that way at all.
I asked for a copy of the Pro Source contract right after they approved hiring them for another service, and the Chair of the Procurement Committee said, “well they have to write it first.” I said, “you mean you approved a contract that wasn’t yet written?” This is standard procedure with our city!
Read the attached resolutions 5a and 6a. “NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA that the City Manager and City Clerk are authorized and directed to execute the Lease Agreement and all associated documents necessary with Courthouse II, LLC, subject to legal review, contract terms, and final documents, and to be consistent with any governing rules and regulations.”
What FUNDS (and sources of funds, CDBG? FEMA?) are being used for the rehab of this Courthouse. I do know about I-Jobs (State bonds), but what else?
What is the cost of rehab up to now, and when did it increase so much?
And HOW is the CITY using the courthouse if Courthouse II is leasing it back to himself (Courthouse II Tenant) for 32 years?
It sounds like the City will have to therefore PAY RENT to Courthouse II Tenant LLC, even though the City owns the building!!!?? WHY is this being done?
THIS SOUNDS LIKE ANOTHER one of Cedar Rapids’ SCAM to help their rich friends get richer on the backs of us taxpayers!!! Isn’t this illegal? If not, it should be! It’s OUR taxes!
Then they have their hand out continually for MORE taxes!
See “Signs of Progress” here
HMGP flood victims: “$10,000 Incentive” is NOT a DOB
by Lisa Kuzela, August 9, 2011
HMGP Flood Victims: “$10,000 Incentive” is NOT a DOB for RHAby Lisa Kuzela, August 9, 2011
I have been saying this from the beginning, but once again, no one would listen. I hope those who have worked hard to discredit me will realize how much they screwed themselves and other flood victims due to not allowing me the opportunity to be on the inside to make sure these errors would not have occurred. Reminder: A Duplication of Benefits (DOB) is utilized to check on funds received for the SAME specific purpose for which the assistance is given (for instance structure, personal possessions, etc.)
The following is one of the several waivers that the states of Louisiana and Texas asked for from HUD and received. I have no documentation if Iowa ever requested this waiver, probably not the with where their priorities were. However, our state IS using “$10,000 incentive” for those acquisitions in the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), aka “greenway” zone.
I’ve seen enough files from flood victims who were in the 100 year flood plain (HMGP) and their Iowa Dept. of Economic Development (IDED) DOB papers that say “$10,000 Incentive” + “$15,000 Replacement Housing Assistance” – in order to make equal the $25,000 of RHA that everyone was offered (if they qualify).
For these flood victims who received the $10,000 “incentive,” it is NOT a DOB of Replacement Housing Assistance (RHA) and should have NEVER BEEN DEDUCTED as such from the $25,000 RHA. It is for a different purpose from any replacement housing funds and is in addition to their buyout and RHA.Also, those who relocated from the 500 year flood plain could’ve been eligible for this $10,000 incentive also had the State (urged by our local government) asked for it.
NOTE: the following quote below comes from the Federal Register /Vol. 74, No. 156 / Friday, August 14, 2009 Notice:”For example, a grantee may offer an incentive payment (possibly in addition to buyouts) for households thatvolunteer to relocate within a particular period of time, or who choose to resettle outside a 100- or 500-year floodplain. Note, however, that if the grantee requires the funds to be used for a particular purpose by the household receiving the assistance, then the activity will be that required use, not an eligible incentive. The Department is waiving 42 U.S.C. 5305(a) and associated regulations to make these uses of grant funds eligible.”
The buyout forms state “incentive payment” therefore it is not officially used as replacement housing assistance or on the structure in any way, and it should not have counted within the $25,000 RHA. INCENTIVE is the use; not RHA.
Federal Registers for the CDBG/HUD money:
HUD CDBG 1st of 2nd alloc 2009.02.13 Fed Reg Docket FR-5250-N-01 2.pdf(PDF — 93 KB)
HUD CDBG 2nd of 2nd alloc 2009.08.14 Fed Reg Docket FR-5337-N-01 1.pdf(PDF — 127 KB)
The whole country is BROKEbut Cedar Rapidsspends like there is no tomorrow! When will it end?
Ode to an Obsolete Slogan
Nowhere else may any see
A pigeon roost like downtown’s tree
A tree whose bulbous gaps house pests
Along the Cedar’s brownish mess
A tree right next to City Hall
Where downtown interests rule us all
Winged vermin droppings in their hair
A tree at which the people swear
Upon whose base the names lie slain
Of donor’s tiles now down the drain
Taxes paid by fools like we
To those who worship downtown’s tree
With apologies to Joyce Kilmer
On the second round of LOST crap
My City gave to me
A Chamber Pot in a tin tree
FEMA MONEY IS NOT FREE MONEY
Demolition is not the answer
This house was rebuilt immediately after the 2008 floods in Cedar Rapids, Iowa AND rented out for the last three years. The tenants were forced to find a new place to live so that the owner of this h…
Check out one of the HOTTEST- fastest growing Facebook Groups: “You know you grew up in Cedar Rapids in the 70s and 80s because…” approaching 7000 members and EXPLODING right now and has been featured on 96.5!
Don’t forget to check out the page dedicated tosaving the iconic A&W! firstname.lastname@example.org write the City Clerk and tell City leaders that the A&W should be spared demolition!
NO MEANS NO! We have a plan that wouldn’t require a local option sales tax! Don’t be duped into paying for the downtown plan!
We cannot trust this city council! Monica Vernon cannot be trusted to do right by tax payers and you should know that Downtown has a “vision” that they think we should pay for!
LOCALS TALK ABOUT CREATING A DOCUMENTARY 2008 FLOODS TO NOW
The Great Deluge – Trailer
In 2008 our city was hit with a flood and since then we have had nothing but problems! Today while I sat waiting for the internet to be hooked back up I put together the intro to our upcoming documentary
Click HERE for “destination” Photo by Bruce Merrin
Celebrating a Half Century of Failure
Wasting taxpayer’smoney on downtown redevelopment scams since 1961 The City of Cedar Rapids
Why does this structure continue to be ignored- right next door to the City’s Public Works building where nuisance hearings take place?
The Truth: What is Cedar Rapids Doing with OUR Properties after they buy them?
by Lisa Kuzela, June 25, 2011
BACKGROUND: You won’t hear these truths from the Gazette, because they are actually HELPING this to happen with their free advertising of Block by Block (BbB). No surprise! Because, BbB hired former KCRG reporter, Liz Mathis, to be their bulldog publicity director.
What is happening to the properties after the City spends tens of millions of tax dollars buying them up? Council is GIVING them away FOR FREE, nearly all of them to Block by Block – an organization whose partners had all the control over the rehabilitation of the flooded homes, fiscally and labor-wise, including the volunteers (who got rehabbed and who didn’t).
Frank King made a great point in an email when he said “remember that Christine Butterfield said to Monica Vernon and Chuck Swore that the city has TOO many units and not enough buyers so if the council and or staff say they are giving them away to serve a need that is obviously a lie. It is important that HUD be told we have a glut of homes and should NOT be subsidizing more houses until the market absorbs what we already have.
If they keep doing that it lowers the value of ALL the homesstill owned by individuals who worked hard and spent their own money rebuilding”
More taxes to help the rich while flood victims’ property values fall: HUD needs to know that the need for affordable housing has been met and that the director of our community development department (Butterfield) said so herself. (I need to get the recording of that meeting.)
The STATE should know too! They need to stop giving Cedar Rapids money just to help their developer and non profit friends get richer with our taxes by building more “affordable housing” that we do NOT need, or we’re really going to have a landslide on our property values!
(While THEY reap a WINDFALL – another thing that is against Federal law.)
It is SO clear that this council does not care that our property values are dropping as a direct response to their actions. The flood hurt us enough, but they are making conscious decisions that further destroy our property values just so they can help their friends rather than the flood victims who worked hard rehabbing their homes.
Frank and I have talked with Ron Corbett and Don Karr privately more than once on this, and Frank and I spoke on this several times before the Council.I also spoke on it night they finally passed it, and I was crying, I fear the consequences of speaking up about this.
We have it well-documented that they have been told the truth and warned them of what the consequences of their actions will cause. We even have Skogman in the paper agreeing what it would do to our property values if they put a large supply of affordable homes in that neighborhood.
Council’s major mistake: But the city should be caring about these properties being sold for under fair market value (FMV) even more than HUD. As I have explained to the Council, if they sell any property (acquired with HUD funds) for under the FMV (this includes gifting them), then that property MUST continue to meet one of the 3 national objectives for 5 years after the close out of the program. Since we are an entitled community, we do not close out. Therefore, that requirement is “forever.” If for any reason in the future that any of the properties they are giving away does not meet one of the 3 national objectives, THE CITY must pay HUD back the cost of the acquisition (not sure if it also includes any HUD-funded demo fees, I don’t think so).
By doing this, they are putting the Cedar Rapids tax payers hostage to these groups they are giving properties to. But, if the city SELLS at FMV these properties acquired with HUD funds, then:
1. this requirement for the HUD restriction goes away;
2. In addition those funds would count toward the local match;
3. PLUS, the city could ask the state permission to keep the money and use it for other disaster recovery. The state of course would say “yes” and it would be counted as “program income” and would need to follow the same rules as any money that comes directly from HUD (such as using it for an eligible expense under their guidelines AND meeting one of the 3 national objectives). The difference here is that WE have control of meeting those requirements AND the taxpayers are being compensated for the selling of those properties – not Council and staff’s rich friends.
There are 3 great reasons to be SELLING these properties at FMV and 1 great reason to NOT even consider it! This Council is NOT doing what is best for the taxpayers of Cedar Rapids – only their friends. If they care so much about rehabbing these properties, why have they kept funds away from me and others so that we could do that to OUR OWN?
Conflict of Interests galore:
Here’s another bit of information that needs to be known. Block by Block (BbB) is formed by the 2 main groups who were in control of who got rehabbed and who did not. Affordable Housing Network, Inc. (Jim Ernst) was hired by the City to administer the residential Jumpstart (State and CDBG-funded) and Matthew 25 (Clint Twedt-Ball and brother Courtney Ball) had the control over the Long Term Recovery Center, which administered the volunteers and donated materials.
Double Standard to benefit themselves (BbB): Final comment on this…recall BbB will only help rehab home in blocks they adopted? Well,all these homes that the City is giving them so they can rehab … are NOT in any of those blocks!!!! So, they will NOT rehab them if the homeowner still has the house and will reap the benefit of getting her home back, but they WILL rehab them if THEY (BbB) owns them!!!!!!!!!! Keep in mind that they are the ones who controlled whether those homes got rehabbed to begin with!
Mayor Ron Corbett and Councilman Don Karr knew all of this better than any of them, but they too have “drank the Kool Aid.” I pray they’d come back to doing what is right for the common taxpayers.
Cedar Rapids Shady Wreck Hotel & Convention Center
Tax Jokey Karaoke Sing Along
Shut up and pay the tax
Forget that your ensnared
Throw ya curves, you bet
(Tax ’em Cedar Rapids)
(Tax ’em Cedar Rapids)
In the Rapids
*Shift $10 million from the Streets budget to delete train whistle.
Old McStalin had a farm
and on that farm ruled by the pigs
With a new tax here and a raised tax there
Old McStalin had a farm
With apologies to George Orwell
Old McStalin had a farm C-R-C-R-O
June 11, 2008 citizens along the Cedar River prepared for a mandatory evacuation from an imminent flood. As we approach the third anniversary of that epic event we carry with us a vast library of experiences and emotions.
AMERICANA at it’s finest at the Ellis Blvd Cruise on June 11, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
June 11, 2011 marks a special time for the people of the NW neighborhood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa because we were forced from our homes three years ago to the day due to flood water coming our way. NOT o…
RE: Two Programs discussed in the Council Flood Committee, May 27, 2011
In summary: this program is NOT at all about compensating renters for personal possessions lost in the flood; it is about finding a way to compensate the renters of Roosevelt for their inconvenience of the noise of rebuilding and for not having their parking lot, as well asmistakes supposedly made by our multi-million-dollar-paid consultant, John Frew. If so, these costs should be coming out of HIS pocket – NOT THE TAXPAYERS’! At the cost the taxpayers are paying him, he should’ve had the foresight and intelligence to consider these issues (the emergency exit, the parking lot Roosevelt tenants pay for, and so on). The cost of this Convention Center project just continues to escalate! Let me remind Council that this is not YOUR money, but the residents of Cedar Rapids’ money.
In addition, there are thousands of business owners and residents who are put out and inconvenienced on a daily basis due to city work (such as roadwork and road closings); they are not compensated. Why start now? Are we going to charge the tenants a higher cost after they get a brand new parkade? It all balances out in the end if you really think about it. Or how about having Sherman Associates (Roosevelt owner) pay for their subsidies since he would be able to charge more rent with a new parkade?
Just ideas I’m tossing out. Fairness and accountability, rather than favoritism and protecting mistakes needs to be shown from our city’s leaders.
It is past time that our town’s leaders stand up to protect the TAXPAYER rather than the staff, third party administrator,contractor, or consultant that are paid with OUR taxes and continue to make mistakes.
Does our city-paid attorney even consider when reviewing contracts that one of his responsibilities is to protect the taxpayers and not the person being hired? This consultant should’ve been required to be bonded or insured to cover any errors caused by him. In addition, as I told the Mayor several times, it is a DIS-incentive for the taxpayers to pay this consultant a percentage of the project cost; the more expensive he makes the project, the more he gets paid!
It should be an inverse incentive: pay him more for lowering the cost to the taxpayers. This Roosevelt Renters Possession Program is WRONG; it has NOTHING to do with personal possessions. In my opinion, this borders on fraud. Hopefully, there will be at least one City leader who will understand these truths and have the courage to step up to do the right thing by eliminating it. On behalf of the taxpayers, much thanks to the person who does this, and thank you forlistening.
Lisa KuzelaCedar Rapids
Drew Westberg City Manager’s Special Assistant City Council at Flood Recovery Meeting
May 27, 2011 at the City of Cedar Rapids Flood Recovery meeting talks about the renter’s personal possessions program for renters who were not touched with water but experienced mold damages. If …
“I think we were surprised and very disappointed. Honestly, we haven’t even started picking up the pieces. They are still falling. We are still sorting out what happened,” said City Councilwoman Monica Vernon, the mayor pro tempore of Iowa’s second-largest city. “
“City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said Friday that the city is likely to close the book on a decade-old, oft-changed plan to build a new Intermodal Transit Facility and, instead, return the city’s bus operation to its pre-flood home, The Ground Transportation Center.”
Three days after the “flood protection” LOST lost, the new bus depot in downtown Cedar Rapids was lost. This was just the first downtown project post LOST lost.
“According to The Gazette, City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said Wednesday that the city won’t be hiring a consultant to begin the process of implementing a quiet zone for train traffic through downtown. The consultant alone could have cost up to $370,000.
Last week, city officials estimated that putting crossing guards along the train corridor could have cost more than $10 million.”
On May 26, folks in Mason City were reading how Iowa’s second-largest city had given up on quiet railroad crossings. The Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce had been pushing quiet crossings. It would encourage people to patronize a long failed hotel being renovated with millions taken from Cedar Rapids taxpayers. In addition, quiet crossings would encourage people to buy condominiums and live on the downtown flood plain.
“The Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce on Friday said it will not construct a $6 million “innovation center” on the site of its existing building and will relinquish a $3 million federal grant for the project.”
The next day, the Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce announced they were backing away from federal grant money to build an “innovation center.” The Chamber’s innovations over the last two decades have noticeably been writing grants to receive taxpayers money.
If federal taxpayers were to pay half the cost, where was the rest coming from? Could it be from local taxpayers as with so many other of the Cedar Rapids Chamber’s pipe dreams?
A lot of pieces have hit the ground since the May 3 LOST defeat. How many more will reach terra firma? Stay tuned. Have no fear.
These people will be back claiming they need to tax you for flood protection, Caveat emptor.
VICTIMS STILL AFTER 3 YEARS
BY ROBBERT EDDINGTON
Many people that were victims of the Iowa flood of 08 are still victims, of the disaster, of scams, and of political red tape. Virgil and Joyce Elsbury are just one such couple that fell victim to false promises by individuals, or a business to get their life back.
Trying to live the American dream Virgil and Joyce started buying their dream home located at 1423 Ellis Blvd. on contract in October of 2007, from Chad Wilson. They got to live what most Americans just dream of for a whole eight months before the flood. A home on contract that also had two other leans against it, that their contract payments were to pay off.
Then just as things were going good for them, like so many people the rising flood waters forced them to leave their home. Coming home later to find that the flood waters had reached as high as 8 feet in their home. With that the feeling of utter helplessness. A feeling that their dream, is gone, with nowhere to turn.
Then the federal government declaring the floods of 2008 a federal disaster, allowed FEMA, the RED CROSS, and other federal agencies to step in with money, and aide. Finally the Elsbury’s along with all of the other flood victims, had a light at the end of a long dark tunnel.
Their story though, along with a lot of other disaster victims has a twist. Unfortunately like winning the lottery, and making friends, family you didn’t know you had, victims of disasters have predators to. Scammers, businesses, and in general anyone trying to make a fast buck off the misfortune of others.
The original owner of their house Chad Wilson found out that they were going to receive money from FEMA for repairs, and came to them with a proposal. Virgil said that he was told that if he gave Mr. Wilson $10 thousand that he would fix the walls, heating, plumbing, and electrical. Mr Elsbury thinking this was a good deal, did just that once he received the $28k from FEMA. After a few days Mr. Wilson came back and informed Mr. Elsbury and his wife that he had over extended, and needed to get an additional $6 thousand. Mr Elsbury thinking good will in people, went to the bank and got a cashier’s check in Chad Wilson’s name.
Days went by and no work was started, and feeling defrauded Mr.Elsbury, unable to contacted Mr. Wison contacted Iowa Legal Services. From there they were told to contact the Attorney general’s office. They were told by the Attorney General’s office that it was a civil matter, to contact the CRPD. In a nutshell they were passed around like a gambler playing a shell game on a street corner. Mr Wilson is saying that the Elsbury’s broke that contract because they didn’t mow the yard.
After all the passing this off, not one agency is seeing the deliberate intent to defraud the Elsbury’s, by Mr Wison. Doing a walk-through of the house, seeing all of the copper that has been taken out, heater, water heater removed. You as a voter have to ask yourself where the justice is. Not in Cedar Rapids, IA, where the phrase, “It’s a civil Matter” is used over official doing their jobs.
If you are a victim of a disaster there are several resources that you can turn to. Do not wait!, and if you suspect fraud FEMA has a link to report it on their webpage. Here is another link that will be of fast help, with links and references that will be fast and easy.
Bottom line, if you are a victim of a disaster, always check for references. Check with the Better Business Bureau. Do not get a business card from someone and take for granted that they are a good person/business, because it may be you that gets taken.