Friday, May 28, 2010

May 28, 2010 6:11 PM

Judge dismisses two lawsuits over Silverdome sale

Crain's Detroit Business
An Oakland County Circuit Court judge this week agreed to dismiss two lawsuits against Pontiac and its state-appointed Emergency Financial Manager Fred Leeb, over the sale of the Pontiac Silverdome to Triple Properties Inc. that closed last December.

Judge Edward Sosnick on Thursday granted summary disposition of the lawsuit filed by would-be stadium buyer Silver Stallion Development Corp., which alleged breach of contract and racial discrimination in the sale to Triple Properties for $583,000.

Silver Stallion, the company headed by attorney H. Wallace Parker, had entered into a purchase agreement for the stadium for $20 million, later reduced to $17 million, but never closed on the sale.

“As to any claim for…breach of contract, the undisputed evidence shows the contract (with the city) expired when the parties failed to close in November 2008…,” Sosnick's ruling states. “As to the claim for race discrimination, the (parties never produced) any evidence whatsoever that race had anything to do with the parties' failure to close on the sale.”

Sosnick also dismissed a separate lawsuit by a group of city residents, including Oakland County Commissioner Mattie Hatchett and former Pontiac School District Superintendent Mildred Mason, alleging due process violations and a violation of the city charter provision, giving the Council the power to decide on the sale of city assets.

Sosnick found in that case that the individuals did not have standing, and that the state law defining the powers of emergency financial matters gave Leeb authority to make the sale.

“These lawsuits have gone on now for nearly six months after the fact. A small group of local people complained very loudly that was improper, and now we see it was proper and correct,” Leeb said Friday in response to the judge's decisions.

“The sale of the Silverdome, even at $583,000, was probably one of the best decisions the city has made in many years, because it saved $2 million a year in maintenance, and we have found a buyer who has reopened the Silverdome and even hosted events there already, and brings jobs to the city.”

Thursday, May 13, 2010

May 13, 2010 1:23 PM

Pontiac emergency planner had authority to auction Silverdome, judge rules

Crain's Detroit Business
Pontiac Emergency Financial Planner Fred Leeb had authority to auction off the Pontiac Silverdome, and does not have to allocate funds to the city council so it can sue him, a judge ruled in two lawsuits stemming from the stadium sale.

Circuit Judge Edward Sosnick’s two rulings this week do not name the stadium or reference the sale, but both indicate the court does not have power of review over Leeb’s decisions. Sosnick denied the council’s request for funds to retain an attorney and oppose Leeb in both the stadium cases.

“(Leeb has) power to exercise the authority of the chief administrative officer and the governing body of the municipality … (and) can make, approve or disapprove of any appropriation, contract, expenditure or loan,” the ruling states. “The Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act does not give this court any supervisory or appellate jurisdiction over the decisions of the emergency financial manager.”

The council sought to intervene as a party opposing Leeb in two pending cases, one by would-be-stadium buyer Silver Stallion Development Corp., and another by a group of Pontiac residents including Oakland County Commissioner Mattie Hatchett, who filed separately to oppose the sale.

Silver Stallion, owned by attorney H. Wallace Parker, had made a $20 million offer on the Silverdome property in 2007 and is still offering $7 million for the site, according to David McGruder, partner at Bloomfield Hills-based Parker McGruder & Associates P.C. and attorney for Silver Stallion.

“We still disagree with the scope of authority given to the emergency financial manager in this ruling,” McGruder said. “We are still considering whether to appeal.”

But Leeb hailed the Sosnick rulings as a clarification of the state law defining an emergency financial manager’s power.

“The ruling certainly provides us some clarity about who is in charge at the city,” he said. “I think it’s time now for everyone involved to work together again and take positive action that benefits Pontiac as a community.”

Sosnick also is considering separate motions that would dismiss both cases, and is expected to rule on them within several weeks.

Built in 1975 for $55.7 million, the Silverdome was sold to Toronto-based Triple Properties Inc., the high bidder in a Nov. 16 auction, for $583,000.