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New Taxpayers Group Launches Petition Drive Over Radisson Fiasco

Under proposal, all capital spending of $1 million or more by village would have to be approved by residents in a binding referendum.

Taxpayer anger over the village’s nearly $18 million loan to owners of the Radisson hotel is growing, with a newly formed Menomonee Falls Taxpayers Association deeming the Village Board’s actions on the hotel a “colossal blunder” and launching a petition drive to prevent similar projects in the future.

The association, which formed only Tuesday, released a statement Wednesday announcing that it was starting a petition drive to initiate a binding referendum that would require the Village Board to submit any capital expenditures of $1 million or more to a binding referendum.

"As most of us are aware, as Menomonee Falls residents we are now owners of a hotel," the statement said. "No more telling example could be conceived as to why municipalities and government entities should never be involved in financing any private development projects or chase companies with taxpayer incentives."

The association said it needs 2,700 signatures to force the matter to binding referendum.

The association's statement urges concerned residents to attend Monday's Village Board meeting and promises to have additional information about the group available at that time. The board meets at 6:30 p.m. at , W156 N8480 Pilgrim Rd.

“From a conservative point of view, the government just had no business making a loan of $18 million to a group of people who wanted to run a hotel,” said Bill Savage, treasurer of the association. "If the hotel was a viable option, they would have found private investors and private banks and entities that would give them the money and make the loan to them.”

Savage said that people interested in joining the taxpayers association can call him at (414) 218-0959.

Organizing began informally

Savage said the effort on the petition drive started organically in the past week, with concerned citizens who used Scott Walker email lists “to get people out there” to Monday's meeting. People weren't using official campaign lists, but rather “they were concerned people who have put together lists over the past few years.”

The fledgling taxpayers association then jumped on board the effort, putting out the statement and further publicizing the issue, which sparked a segment Wednesday by WISN Radio talk show host Mark Belling, who was harshly critical of the village’s decision to loan money to the hotel.

“Please come to the meeting and help show how engaged and enraged the community is with the Village Board and their cavalier use of our tax dollars,” the group's statement said.

The action also came after revelations this week by a local newspaper that discovered through an open records request and review of loan documents that loan money was now being used to finance payroll for the troubled facility at N88 W14750 Main Street.

Farrell joins group, but is mum on petition

One Village Board member, Dennis Farrell, told Patch on Wednesday that he had joined the taxpayers group. However, he said he wanted to keep an open mind and learn more about the petition question before commenting on it. And he defended the village’s decision to lend money to the troubled hotel’s owners.

“This was an eyesore. Something had to be done to eliminate that,” he said. “At the time, (the loan) seemed to be the only recourse.”

He called the taxpayers group a “fine organization.”

Farrell said he was hesitant to comment  further on the project “because it’s in litigation.”

Other board members were not at home for comment Wednesday.

Battling it out in court

The village confirmed in mid-June that it has in Waukesha County Circuit Court involving the village’s mortgage on the Radisson.  The village holds the mortgage because it’s the primary lender on the property.

The village $14.4 million in principal that it advanced, as well as interest and other costs. In the suit, the village is seeking property and collateral from five members of the ownership group of the hotel.

The hotel, banquet facilities and a restaurant, remain open.

Things have gotten progressively worse, with contractors saying they weren’t paid, the Waukesha County District Attorney getting involved on the contractors’ payments, and now the report that some of the money is going to payments for payroll.

The development agreement between the village and owners dates to 2010, when the village agreed to provide the nearly $18 million loan to jumpstart the hotel’s construction.

One of the developers quickly filed for bankruptcy. The village has already appointed a receiver to monitor day-to-day operations of the facility.

The newly organized taxpayers' association has started a blog and has a Twitter account. The blog describes the organization as “a group of citizens who want to make sure their hard-earned tax dollars are used efficiently and effectively. We are not affiliated with any past or present PAC or organization. We want to elect conservative leaders to office to represent us.”

However, the organization has been Tweeting in past races support of Republicans like state Rep. Don Pridemore and Gov. Scott Walker. Its Twitter site has 32 followers. It also has a new Facebook page.

Jefferson Davis, the controversial former village president, also sent an email Wednesday to multiple media organizations urging them to cover the Radisson story and excoriating the board.

“Supposedly a group of citizens are organizing to appear at the Village Board Meeting on July 2 in support of the contractors who have been stiffed by the village and to ask questions about the end game for the taxpayers to see how much their tax bills are going to go up to cover the some $18 million taxpayer funded loan that the hotel owners have not made any payments on for two years,” Davis wrote.

Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) June 28, 2012 at 11:17 AM
Sounds like common sense to me. Back a bout a decade ago, the school district waned to pass a around a $34 million renovation referendum to update all the schools. That was turned down, yet this hotel was just signed off by a just a few hacks?
red June 28, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Closing the barn door after the horses have left. We should be able to expect our elected officials to avoid this malfeasance or idiocy.
James Gottemoller June 28, 2012 at 12:34 PM
I would sign. But $1 million might interrupt city business. Do we need to vote on a referendum when a street needs to be repaired? I agree with the spirit. This project should have been left to a commercial bank and not to a village board.
Pj June 28, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Maybe James taxpayers should start interrupting city business, our Village Board can't seem to handle our hard earned money wisely.
Gary Tefft June 28, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Several months ago, Mark Belling spoke about another deal that the Falls Board had given (preliminary?) approval to. That was to underwrite the financing of a condominium project in the vicinity of Appleton Ave and Main Street. It ought to be clear to even the most financially unsophisticated how that would be even riskier that the hotel deal. Can anyone tell us, did that deal ultimately get turned down, or is it going to be the next shoe to fall?
Richard June 28, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Yes, the hotel project should have been left to the banks and guess what, it's my understanding that no bank would make the loan. Also, yes, the sight was an ugly mess but it would have been cheaper and better to have torn the mess down and put in a nice attractive park if no other project made sense. As for the proposed committee, it's a good ideas but a better one is a strong movement to get rid of the people who made such a ridiculous investment on behalf of the village. Check out todays IBD newspaper, the editorial section and read the viewpoint "The Lessons Stockton Teaches" sounds like the Falls to me.
voiceofreason June 28, 2012 at 02:40 PM
This is a step in the right direction to engage the taxpayers in MF and hold the Vill. Admin. and trustees feet to the fire. I can't believe that in the midst of this mess and on the heels of the school board's terrible decision to vote on a 2 year contract not using the tools of Act 10-- that some members of the community want to change the voting system to a top 3 vote getters system for trustees. If there was ever a time to elect trustees and school board members INDIVIDUALLY it is now. We as voters should have the opportunity to vote for or against individuals who make these very damaging decisions that have huge ramifications for the taxpayers, business owners and residents of this community. The trustees and the school board members who cast these terrible votes need to be held responsible and the voters need to the ability to vote to throw them out. This is a terrible time to change the voting system in MF.
W . Benz June 28, 2012 at 02:40 PM
The Money train of the village has not only bank rolled this but has given yes given money to a Bar and "coffee shop[ twice ]" The owner is the same person for both projects and was kind enought to lower the rent on himself , what a guy hey. Same land owner who's loan was forgiven [ by grant ] on the property when he brought and built the building , and also houses Appt's upstairs . Gary feel free to call the Hiding trustees the same ones who have been in office for over 20 yrs . Call Joe Greco @ the High school were he works !! Gee I wonder how he was selected for that job ? Oh ya he was awarded ' Friends of Education " for backing the referendum's . ---- Pottersville
atthec44 June 28, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Where do I sign?
Jessica McBride June 28, 2012 at 06:22 PM
They should have materials available at the July 2 Village Board meeting. Or you can call Savage at the number listed in the story.
Steven Farrell June 28, 2012 at 08:04 PM
How is it that Menomonee Falls had no money to help the small established business owners that got evicted {30 days to move} when Walmart wanted to move in, but can give them and the Raddison Hotel millions of dollars. This Village board needs to be investigated and then hung.
W . Benz June 28, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Business owners weren't connected and one small group of owner's now are located in G.T. The hierachy decided the small business owners can go pound salt. The Wall was given a cool mill and the Village brought and paid to reclaim the Gas station. . Mistycoty give the Menomonee Falls chamber ask them what they did for these owners . By the way the M.F chamber had their meeting /party @ the Hilton park place Hotel , did they know or think something may happen @ the Radison ?? Same for the rotary club's casino nite march 16 th @ the Hilton.... When some of us Qustion this we were told that the Hilton @ Park Place Milw does so much for these organizations. ,,,,,,They don't support their Village OWNED Hotel .................................... WTF
Jann June 28, 2012 at 09:42 PM
mistycoty, who got evicted?
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) June 28, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Minuteman Press I believe.
Menomonee Falls Taxpayers Association June 28, 2012 at 10:36 PM
After some thought it would be best to e-mail me at bill.savage@charter.net. We have by-laws, a mission statement and a pledge that I can send electronically. Thanks, Bill Savage.
sbates July 02, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I also find it interesting that the Village has laid off employees over the last several years and the services there at the Village Hall have suffered because of it. Yet they are able to fund projects that would scare the "Sharks" off the popular venture capitalist show away from investing in THESE ECONOMIC TIMES! The Village Manager and the Board members should be fired for mismanagement of taxpayer funds! Maybe the Village can hire those employees they recently laid off to work at the hotel they now own. What is next? A pancake house or IHOP?
Steven Farrell July 02, 2012 at 10:57 PM
At least 3 businesses were given 30 days to move. That meant that they had to find another place to go to, build another shop and move out! Go get a loan somewhere + get out of town! A Cut A Head {beauty salon who had been there over 20 years}, ended up moving to Germantown who actually welcomed their business. A car stereo place moved down by Neus, and I'm not sure where Minute Man press ended up. The village offered no help to these established businesses to either relocate or offer any loans to relocate. Thanks for locating in the Fall's. See you later and screw you, "we don't want your businesses here". Wallmart, after securing a nice $800,000.00 low interest loan from the Village, is now back in town. Has anyone seen our nice downtown Village lately? Full of empty store fronts + no big attractions. If you want to attract business here, you don't treat your patrons like crap. Lets not keep successful places here, let's BUY a Hotel that couldn't make it after at least 2 owners. The Hotel business is a huge gambel even in good times. Since when do Villages actually buy businsses! This is unheard of. And to buy a Hotel is ludicrous if not criminal. Who is making these decissions and why? We have roads to be repaired and empty buildings all over town. Think about this and you have to ask, why would anyone pay $17,000,000.00,on a failed hotel? And now we find it's only worth 6-7 million. Let the Village board members spend their OWN MONEY, like everyone else has to.
Steven Farrell July 02, 2012 at 11:03 PM
They did nothing for the owners except a kick in the teeth. Absolutley nothing!!!
W . Benz July 03, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Sbates,Try $$ Grants for Coffee/bar nite club and $$ for landowners and 1 Million Grant [ free money ] to a corporation building a plant in GT. So where's all the concern from the taxpayer and New taxpayer group, this crap has been going on for years by the insiders and the cabal. So ask some of the Trustee's why they do NOT vote and abstain when it comes to some projects.... Mistycoty- Some of us know what's happening in RINOville but until the Taxpayers get stuck in the backside a little more there's not much one person can do ,,,,, We are watching from the shadows !!!
W . Benz August 21, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Will MFTax speak tonite now that the election is over.
Menomonee Falls Taxpayers Association August 21, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Eddie, the Menomonee Falls Taxpayers will be meeting Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 7:30pm. We will be meeting at the Radisson Hotel. We will be discussing a few issues including candidates to run for the village board in the spring elections. My suggestion would be to get together with Gaylord Focker and Firefly and form a carpool! You may even qualify for a group rate. See you there.
W . Benz August 21, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Sure I'll bring the other screen names you may know ! can we vote on anything or do you decide the agenda. I'am sure the Bar will be open if your there. Hey how did you like the RINO's doing a end run on your petition .... The RINO's still spending and your having a meeting @ the Solyndra Hotel . Bring your $$ because "we all have to support this" boondoggle ...The RINO's thank you for waiting until the spring Election I'am sure. So what recycled Candidates are you running against the Cabal ??? -- Good Luck your going to need it . Chris Davis
Pj August 21, 2012 at 11:29 PM
I think Eddie should run!
Menomonee Falls Taxpayers Association August 22, 2012 at 12:50 AM
For all three seats!! =)
W . Benz August 22, 2012 at 01:32 AM
.You Bet !!! That's how many trustees we should have 3 and a Village Prez since we don't have districts and Trustees are all elected @ large . The PR rep of MFTax can't run for trustee he doesn't live in M.F. The RINO's are going to roll on you Guys big time now that D. P. has been elected I give the tax group 2 years and you'll be History... How's that petition going ?? better yet where is it going ..
Menomonee Falls Taxpayers Association August 28, 2012 at 12:14 PM
This just in! Menomonee Falls Taxpayers Association questions the need to pave the bugline trail. President urges the public to engage. At a recent meeting of the Menomonee Falls taxpayers the question of spending $700,000.00 of County money to pave the bugline bike trail quickly became one of the top points of discussion. The issue was elevated by a citizen who had just joined the group that evening. “My wife and I are cutting every corner just to meet our household obligations and the county is going to spend that kind of money on something like that?” the member stated. The statement was well received as many of us in the area are struggling with the current economic conditions. President Steve Welcenbach pointed out that an ill-advised quest for federal dollars was the underlying motive to pave the trail. “Scott Walker was right to turn down federal money when he was at the county level and Waukesha would be wise to follow his example” said Welcenbach, “we must get the spending under control, at the federal level in particular”, he added. The next public meeting dealing with the bugline project will be held at the Pauline Haas Library in Sussex on Wednesday August 29, 2012 from 5 till 7pm. In the meantime the Taxpayer group asked anyone with concerns about the project to call their county supervisor and tell them to reduce their tax levy by the $700,000 they would have spent paving a trail.

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