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City Will Operate Fresard Parking Lots During Arts, Beats & Eats

Commissioner Jim Rasor is now out, and the city is in, to get revenues from a controversial parking station on Main Street.

A Main Street parking station, which has been the focus of debate, will now be operated by the city of Royal Oak during the Arts, Beats & Eats (ABE) festival this weekend.

The city has a lease agreement with the owners of two former Jim Fresard sites - one at 400 N. Main Street and the other near Lincoln and the railroad tracks - to operate the properties as parking stations during the four-day festival, according to City Manager Don Johnson. The city will pay 25 percent of the gross revenue to the owner and use the remainder to help offset city costs, such as police and fire protection during the Labor Day weekend event.

This past Monday, Johnson was contacted by owners of the Fresard lots.

"They offered me the two lots and we signed an agreement on Monday afternoon," Johnson said. "I'm not sure what happened on the back-end between (Jim) Rasor and North Main. They are telling me they didn't have a written contract with them just a verbal."

With the lot opening up to the city so close to the event, school and other volunteer organizations were not available to man the lot.

"Employees of Park Rite will run the lot for us," Johnson said.

The former Fresard properties became the focus of a last Friday after it was learned Commissioner Jim Rasor applied for an ABE parking station licenses for sites. The to determine whether Rasor’s actions constitute a conflict interest or an ethics violation.

Rasor and Johnson have not met on or discussed the issue, though phone calls between the two have been made.

"Originally, when we tried to get that lot we were told it was already rented," Johnson said. "We learned it was rented by Commissioner Rasor, and we learned he had submitted applications for parking stations on those locations."

That caused the commotion that started an independent investigation to look into any conflict of interest problems. The investigation is still ongoing. City Attorney Dave Gillam brought in outside counsel last Friday and has been on vacation this week.

Johnson explained that conflict of interest happens quite often but it's how individuals deal with it that either solves or creates the problem.

"Rasor did previously have a parking station license on his own property where his law firm is," Johnson said. "And when they changed the parking station ordinance a few months back, he recused himself from that conversation because he did have a conflict."

Johnson said that on occasions where recycling is before the city, Mayor Ellison recuses himself from those dealings as well.

"The thing that is awkward here is that I have a city commissioner doing something that is directly competing with what I'm trying to do on behalf of the city," he said. "We rely on what we bring in on parking revenue to pay our costs related to the event. That's what pays our cops and our firemen working the event."

According to Johnson the city does not get any monies back from private parking lots around the city during Arts, Beats & Eats type events.

"It's a huge event and it costs us quite a bit of money to do it but so far the first two years, what we've run in parking (revenue) has paid for it."

Mike Hammer August 29, 2012 at 06:42 PM
On the contrary. I would welcome a hotel development on that property. I want a clean deal, though, not a dirty backroom deal. This mystery developer has started on the wrong foot by seeking business relations with DDA/Planning Commission/City Commission representatives, prior to gaining approval. Rasor knows who the developer is. DDA member Jason Krieger knows who it is, but apparently, even the city manager doesn't know who it is, to date. The city manager dealt with the real estate brokers to seal the deal on the parking lots. PS.....I was ambivalent on the Kroger proposal. I prefer a hotel development over a grocery store, though.
Ronald Wolf August 29, 2012 at 06:47 PM
DDT You can't really blame them for trying to weasel themselves in by employing a few Oakies. Its not illegal or unusual. As the old saying goes though: "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts" As for any "conspiracy" to stop "any" group. Smells like a "Rasorism" if ever there was one and we have all heard that song before. I predict there are some others out there with self serving ulterior interests including even more legal/ political facilitators. Stick around DDT we still may need you again if this mosquito problem gets out hand.
Mike Hammer August 29, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Rasor's explanation that he was doing this for charity (15%) isn't plausible. Why would he try to do that in a way that forces him to recuse himself on a major development in the downtown. Secondly, if charity was his goal, then why didn't he secure that lot for a nonprofit, itself? It's all spin, and after the fact excuses. He was chasing the 85% profit for his own personal gain. It was done based on greed.
Ronald Wolf August 29, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Excluding one buck passer I know of Royal Oak is blessed with amazing staff. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water
DDT August 29, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Judy, that won't help the conspiracy theorists on this site. The resident agent is just that, an agent and not necessarily an owner or principle.
Curt Jacobs August 29, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Rasor is claiming he was doing this for charity is an excuse. As a city commissioner his primary commitment is to the city he serves as an elected official. Through his own lips he has claimed the city is going to run out of money in 2013 if additional revenue sources aren't secured. Why wouldn't he be working to guarantee that the city receive the parking revenue so that the city didn't lose money on ABE? Also, doing all of this unilateral to the rest of the commission sends up flags.
Geof Vasquez August 30, 2012 at 12:43 PM
If Rasor only entered the deal to benefit the Roots Foundation, why was he only committing 15% to the Foundation? Sounds like 85% of the reason he was in it was to fatten his wallet. And the very fact that the city has unwound Rasor's deals is absolute proof there was something ethically wrong with them.
l.c. August 30, 2012 at 01:35 PM
if everything is so peachE then why is Royal Oak so under staffed in regards to public safety? mismanagement+,no?
Ronald Wolf August 30, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Ic Your point is well taken. This is especially true with the police department in my experience and opinion. With longer shifts, costly overtime and an incrementally rising crime rate (especially in the vicinity of EMagine for whatever reason). there definitley has exists a problem with morale. I am also sure there are some officers bored as crap doing daily unchallenging duty as left hand turn ticket writing robots downtown. Another reason I take your comment seriously is the history of expensive lawsuits (internal and external) generated by the ROPD by a few bad apples. The chief I believe is a nice guy, perhaps too nice if he tolerates those few officers who stray from assigned duty because just like our commissioners who went overboard to tolerate the falling from grace of a fellow commissioner, they are human. As for the fire department, there no doubt abuse of promotions just before retirement as found in all city public safety departments but they deserve more than just your respect as 24/7 EMS calls increase.
Ronald Wolf August 30, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Look up the word "greed" a subject of many tragic tales since recorded history Curt.
Terry G. August 30, 2012 at 03:31 PM
It was my understanding that the city was doing away with parking that benefited charities as they had done in previous years. I was a parking volunteer and made money for my charity that way. The city was not going to participate in it this year and parking was going to go to a private company. So, why is Rasor being vilified for getting involved? Is it because Pat Capello is trying to discredit him? That appears to be her mode of operation - in this case casting doubt on someone's character by creating an issue where there truly isn't one.
Tom August 30, 2012 at 04:26 PM
ROFL......right, Terry. Don't try to defend what is wrong Terry. Why didn't Rasor try to secure the lot for the city which Rasor is claiming will be broke in 2013? Why didn't Rasor secure the lot for a non profit, instead of profiting himself? Why did Rasor get involved with a business transaction with the prospective hotel developer that needs approval for their plans, and a liquor license? This is a dirty deal that was exposed, and there is more to come. If this is the type of backroom deals that Rasor perpetrates, just imagine what he has going with some of the downtown bar operators. This bum needs to resign or be recalled.
Tom August 30, 2012 at 04:28 PM
PS.....why did Rasor back away from the deal after ALL of his colleagues called for the special investigation. The vote was unanmous, so it wasn't one commissioner calling him out? Rasor was defiant at that special meeting. It's because he knew he got caught in a undefendable position with this business deal.
Ray Smith August 30, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Terry G, you are right that the city discontinued using charities for MOST of their parking needs this year. Their plan was to hire a company to run the lots and then reap whatever profits came from that approach. So, had Rasor handled the parking at the Fresard lots, HE would have been the largest (no pun intended) beneficiary and the city would have received nothing.
Jess Parker August 30, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Every year, we go way Up North for the month of August. We're retired and have a place in the U.P. So, I'm just catching up on what's been going on in town in the last 30 days, or so. I've read that we have a rat infestation problem, and that public corruption is alive and well in the Royal Oak city commission. I wish I could say, "It's good to be home." Now, I wonder why we came back!
Ronald Wolf August 30, 2012 at 05:06 PM
You are way off base Terry. Pat Capello now somewhat reluctant is one of Rasors supporters if you look at her history. Her last statement was: "Innocent until proven guilty" and who was to to make that call? A hand picked outside attorney by fellow commissioners that included his own vote to go ahead in which he should of abstained. Sounds funny?
Ronald Wolf August 30, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Before you jump to conclusions first look at the history. Opportunities for volunteers who donate their time go to a favorite local cause whether it involves a local school , a local homeless outreach, animal shelter and so on. The heart of this scandal is that the city uses parking structures NOT owned privately (and we have quite a few unfortunately, at least one owned by a company in Chicago) to help offset expenses laid out by the city for hosting AB and E. ON top of this 400MainLLC which represented by CBRichard Ellis is not divulging who they really are. They purchased Fresrd for an undisclosed amount and as the deal is being handled by this international company for all we know the new owners could be in China, Saudi Arabia, or maybe in the Cayman Islands where Romney keeps his money, or they could be local politicians, doctors, lawyers who wish not to disclose their identity for fear of being accused of conflicts, or possibly being sued by ex wives, or Kardashians. The truth is we will never know as no LLC in Michigan has had its corporate veil pierced (ownership disclosed) by a judges order as yet. Who benefits? Well ostensibly one commissioner who attempted to use his position on two commissions to profit. Who suffered?, the taxpayers who picks up the incidentals that in a perfect world should be the responibility of the event organizer. We do this it is argued because the benefits to needy causes and downtown outweighs the costs out of YOUR pocket. How nice.
Sherman August 30, 2012 at 05:43 PM
A link that was previously posted on another string on this issue. http://www.hometownlife.com/article/20120824/NEWS20/120824020/Royal-Oak-Commisson-votes-Friday-seek-probe-one-its-own?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Frontpage Rasor and Capello ended up joining forces toward the end of the 2009 municipal election. They sent out a postcard with the title "Capello-Rasor Team", and they had a joint plan for Royal Oak. They look awfully cozy in the photo, and it looks like they may have had a joint victory party on that election night, too. It's been rumored that Capello wants to run for mayor, so I suppose it's plausible that she would be trying to discredit possible mayoral opponents, but I'll leave that to the conspiracy theroists.
Tom K. August 30, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Judy Davids- You had indicated that Mr. Rasor was going to make himself available for comment yesterday afternoon. Any luck? Thank you and Patch for providing this forum.
The Duke of Royal Oak August 30, 2012 at 07:59 PM
What is the city doing to plan for additional parking and monies for the arts beats & eats once the former Fresard land is developed and no longer available ?
Ronald Wolf August 30, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Good luck. Most likely once an attorney in Royal Oak passes the bar he will never pass another one. Do you know how many bars there are in this town? One other thing about lawyers. Always remember ninety nine percent of them give the rest a bad reputation.
Ronald Wolf August 30, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Probably not as by that time the whole act will have found another fat city to make promises to. Probably Lansing, maybe even Toledo. Will I miss them? Heck no. Will you? If they do stick around school grounds, parks, and busses will work.
K.C. Evans August 30, 2012 at 09:08 PM
"So, why is Rasor being vilified for getting involved?" Terry G. what you're forgetting about is that Rasor voted (along with the rest of the city commission) to change parking management companies to a company that didn't utilize the volunteers. Did he do that, so that he could pursue the parking lot opportunity for himself?
Ignorance Isbliss August 30, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Geof Vasquez, are you 100% certain that there was a gain of 85% to the entity in question? You are setting your self up very nice to lead your spread of your gospel as a loyal disciple. Who is your leader? The city is doing a great job with its leaders; the only leaders that are in question are those associated with your team and your leadership. Now our playing field is fair...no?
Ronald Wolf September 01, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Jess just couple of more reasons to have stayed up north. Channel 7 also announced that Royal Oak along with Detroit has the highest concentration of the possibly fatal West Nile virus in SE Michigan, one reason is that no money has been spent on spraying and planting of larvae killling bricks in sewers and drains. No virus cases have been reported up north. No doubt you did not have your local community (if you own your property up there) sign a six year contract with Jon Witz to advance him $100,000 per annum that you ostensibly are to recover from exhorbitant parking fees, providing the weather holds and the turnout is good. This does not include police, and sheriff overtime. You also did not have to have half your town made off limits unless you paid admission and fifteen dollars for parking if you cannot walk there. The good news is that if you have a spare room up north you can advertise it on the RO patch and that should offset some of your expenses next year.
K. Rutledge September 01, 2012 at 03:25 PM
If this commissioner was doing this this for charity, why did he start a for profit company?
Anna Nicole Smith September 01, 2012 at 03:36 PM
West Nile Reports by county from the USGS: http://diseasemaps.usgs.gov/wnv_mi_human.html
Ronald Wolf September 01, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Purportedly from what I hear and please tell me politely if I am wrong our DDA is already two million dollars in debt to the state. If this is true how can they take on the risk of additional state and local monies with an LLC immune from any responsibility? Regardless of the A+ BBB rating of their agent CBRE who has no responsibility as a signer of anything with the city.
Ronald Wolf September 01, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Really, any profits Rasor who openly showed us what goes on every day downtown is small potatoes, a drop in the bucket compared to the multitude of privately owned lots including some bars that are also charging fifteen dollars going directly into their greedy pockets. Nothing for the city. Unlike Jon Witz who required money up front in his contract, RO did not think to require a substantial percentage of private parking charges to be added to their AB and E temperary permit fee. Michigan cities unfortunately as a rule are just not that smart. Maybe we should THANK Rasor for exposing what goes on. This is why AB and E leaves if there is no contract guarantee of proftiy in place. Witz may be a lot of things but he's no dummy.
K. Rutledge September 01, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I'll thank Rasor when he resigns.

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