Monday, February 9, 2009

Two Med Mart meetings Thursday

Looks like we'll get some answers about the Medical Mart and convention center on Thursday.

Representatives of MMPI, the developer, are speaking at two meetings downtown. We should learn more about why the developer wants to build on the downtown mall, not at Tower City.

The first is a meeting with Cleveland city council, at 10 a.m. Thursday in City Hall's room 217, the council committee room.

The next is a public forum in the Cleveland Public Library auditorium. MMPI will give a presentation about its plans. It's at 2 p.m. (I've now confirmed this).

{I heard about the second meeting from the county administrator's office. But I also heard that the county commissioners won't be at the meeting. You might expect them to hold a forum to explain their $400+ million decision to the taxpayers. Guess again.} -- Update, Wed. p.m.: The county's press release says the "county commissioners will host" MMPI's presentation. Sounds like they'll be there, but we'll see if they answer questions or leave that to MMPI.

I wrote this on Jan. 25: The Plain Dealer and other citizens who want this decision explained clearly will probably not get what they want. Hagan and Dimora are usually not inclined to do this. ... If they act like they acted with the Ameritrust Tower issue, they're more likely to rant at the Plain Dealer at Thursday's commissioners meeting.

Sure enough, when I got back from vacation, I flipped through the week's papers and found this big headline from Feb. 4:

Defends choice of mall site for med mart

You can tell the PD loves a fight:

Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan lambasted the news media -- especially The Plain Dealer -- on Tuesday for questioning the county's abrupt convention-center site selection.

Hagan began his harangue by insisting it is "nonsense" to refer to the closed-door meetings that preceded the decision announcement as "secret meetings."

Those private, closed-to-the-public meetings were "executive sessions" allowable by law and held "under the instruction of our counsel," Hagan said.

Yes, the commissioners can go into closed session to discuss real estate negotiations -- if "premature disclosure of information would give an unfair competitive or bargaining advantage to a ... private interest." But the commissioners have already pre-empted the negotiations by naming their choice and their price!

Next time the commissioners meet in executive session with MMPI, just remember: it's not a secret meeting -- it's just that the public can't get in!

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