From the madison.com article:
Also, private business users of the program must have suffered a loss due to storms to qualify.
File this under attempted waste, fraud and abuse of a federal financial relief program. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Bob Dunn and the Edgewater is not eligible under the program, as they have not suffered loss due to storms. Perhaps they lost a few shingles in high winds, but I'm grabbin' at straws here to see it their way.
Otherwise, this is the kind of ENRON accounting that had compromised the integrity of city TIF funding, which was an egregious-enough abuse that it led Soglin to run for mayor again. But wait~! Apparently they hired the law firm of Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek to twist the letter of the law to finance the kind of projects explicitly excluded by the program/statute language. From the article: "Proceeds from the bonds must be used for qualified projects, which can include . .. retail businesses and shopping centers, restaurants, office buildings ... commercial development. "Neither hotels nor luxury condominiums" are explicitly identified "as qualifying projects." Given that level of detail, if the legislators had meant
hotels, they would've said
One could really work over the language until it submitted to the 'interpretation' that Edgewater is a commercial development that includes restaurants -- but that sort of weaseling is badly undercut by facilities that are specifically prohibited, including "skyboxes or other private luxury boxes, health club facilities, golf courses, country clubs, racetracks and liquor stores." The 10 luxury condominiums atop the hotel and the hotel itself are nothing if not a skybox from which to take in the panorama of outdoor sporting activities conducted on Lake Mendota day-in and day-out.
The madison.com article gets the story wrong on two counts: that hotels and luxury condominiums not being listed as qualifying projects isn't
important, and that hotels and luxury condominiums not being listed as excluded from the program is
IMHO, you could reasonable argue that a hotel is a form of commercial development that retails shelter. You cannot reasonably assert that this
hotel and the luxury condominiums atop it somehow are not
covered by the list of prohibited projects, all of which are luxury goods and/or cater to an exclusive clientele.
The idea that the shoreline location qualifies the project because it somehow makes it vulnerable to future flooding is ludicrous and a no-go on two counts. First, it's not gonna flood. It's just not. So, it's not vulnerable to flooding going forward. Second, only businesses that've already suffered damage in the past qualify.
The kicker? " . . . the governor could declare that the borrower has suffered a loss."
Only a few routes to approval exist to tap this funding source:
1. One of the new financial backers own a business that suffered storm-related losses elsewhere, which still doesn't qualify the business that is the Edgewater, short of a full merger and more lawyerly statute-twisting.
2. An unjustifiably baseless court ruling that pulls the Edgewater off the luxury list and onto the qualified project list.
3. Governor's declaration of a nonexistent storm-related loss to the Edgewater.
None of which qualify the Edgewater under the program, unless someone or someone's law firm can enlighten us taxpayers as to how exactly this business and this project has suffered storm-related losses. The hotel is certainly a form of development. But that's as far as it goes.