U.S. Rep. David Bonior (D-Mt. Clemens) stood drenched in a rainstorm last Friday as he tossed a political hot potato right into the lap of Attorney General Jennifer Granholm. Gubernatorial politics? You bet. A smart move on Bonior’s part? It sure looks that way to News Hits.
The issue is 36 acres adjacent to the State Fairgrounds being sold by the state for $6.1 million and then, after passing through the hands of two middlemen, being purchased by Detroit Public Schools for $17 million. Like a lot of people, Bonior, who will square off against Granholm next year in the Democratic primary for governor, thinks the deal is an unwarranted boondoggle.
So what’s Granholm got to do with it? Well, for one thing, she sits on the state Administrative Board, which approved selling the land off in the first place. Moreover, she sent her minions to court to defend the whole transaction when a group of taxpayers sued to stop the deal from closing. What makes the whole thing even more perplexing is that attorneys from the AG’s office have also raised concerns that there could have been some fraud involved in the way this deal developed.
The deal, which was supposed to close Sept. 1, remains in limbo because of some clever legal maneuvering on the part of attorney George Ward, who represents the taxpayers pro bono. When their lawsuit was thrown out of court — with the judge ruling they had no legal standing to block the sale — Ward immediately filed an appeal. But he also took advantage of a little-known state law that allowed him to attached an affidavit to the property’s title, providing notice to any potential buyer that pending action could render any sale void.
“It’s a slander of title,” said attorney Leonard Hyman, representing theatrical promoter Joe Nederlander, who is all set to buy the land from the state.
Hyman attempted to have Ward cited for contempt of court, but Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Susan Bieke Nielson dismissed that motion. Essentially, Ward violated no court order, hence no contempt. But the two sides could be before Neilson soon: Hyman announced his intention to bring a suit against Ward personally in an attempt to have the court order him to remove the affidavit.
However, according to Hyman, as long as that affidavit remains, the deal will not be finalized.
As the raindrops fell on his sparsely attended news conference, Bonior described the whole deal as a “rip-off” and called upon state officials to kill it before it’s too late.
Folks, News Hits has been on this story like stink on week-old fish, and we’re going to stay with it until it plays out. So hang on for the ride because we think it is only going to get more interesting.News Hits is edited by Metro Times news editor Curt Guyette. Call 313-202-8004 or e-mail [email protected]