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.

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