Thursday, February 12, 2009

Council cross-examines

Some Cleveland city councilpeople are way better cross-examiners than others, their Med Mart hearing today showed.

Joe Cimperman did the best job, getting these important answers out of Chris Kennedy of MMPI:

-If engineers find a new convention center can’t be built on the old one’s foundation, raising the cost, MMPI will take another look at the Mall, Tower City, and Flats site proposals. (That contradicts this.)

-Property taxes aren’t figured into MMPI’s costs. Since the odd county-MMPI partnership leaves the developer owning the convention center and Mart for 20 years, they’re going to need a tax abatement.

-Kennedy thinks our Med Mart can beat out the one proposed for New York by getting to market faster. MMPI already has relationships with 125 manufacturers in the health-care marketplace, he says, and no one else does.

-MMPI is still likely to cover any cost overruns, though that’s part of the ongoing negotiations with the county. “I don’t see a scenario where the city and county are exposing themselves,” Kennedy said.

The least effective questioner was Ken Johnson, who sounded slow and confused. He kept asking how MMPI decided it would cost $17 million to buy the Mall land from the city. “For the fourth time, sir: the Greater Cleveland Partnership study,” an exasperated Kennedy answered.

Johnson joked Kennedy needed to be patient with the committee because, “We’re just councilmen.”

Kennedy didn’t buy the self-deprecation. “Mr. Johnson, I’m looking at the only guy in this room who’s got a building named after him.” (It's a city rec center near Shaker Square.)

Ooooh! buzzed the crowd.

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