** Followup by Jon Suce to his article from July **
I-Team: Controversy behind Sarasota Rowing ParkABC Action NewsOne of the people in charge of raising that private money is Randy Benderson, head of http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/local-news/i-team-investigates/i-team-controversy-behind-sarasota-rowing-park Development
SARASOTA MEDIA IS ONCE AGAIN EXPOSED BY MAJOR MEDIA OUTLETS AS IN THE POCKETS OF PAY TO PLAY LOCAL MULTI DEVELOPERS WHO CONTROL A CORRUPT SARASOTA COUNTY GOVERNMENT
THIS ARTICLE BELOW ALONG WITH ED JAMES II OF BLACK ALMANAC WERE THE ONLY LOCAL MEDIA EXPOSING RANDY BENDERSON $65 MILLION DOLLAR PAY TO PLAY CORPORATE WELFARE SCAM
BENDERSON/BLACKKETTER “BAIT AND SWITCH” PART I THE BENDERSON & BLACKKETTER ROWING VENUE A MINOR LEAGUE FACILITY FOR A MAJOR LEAGUE EVENT
Reposted by permission of John Susce – Sarasota Phoenix. At the end of the article is a banner, which you can click and subscribe to his emails
BAIT AND SWITCH: “The ploy of offering a person something desirable to gain favor then thwarting expectations with something less desirable.”
Nowhere is there a better example of a “bait and switch” scheme, as was the bid presented to the International Rowing Federation (FISA) in 2013 by billionaire developer Randy Benderson and Paul Blackketter to secure the 2017 World Rowing Championships (WRC), with a multimillion dollar “world-class” rowing venue to host this prestigious international event.
Prior to being head of the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates (SANCA) Blackketer was a Benderson Project Manager, whose major function was to bring what he called “the masses” to Sarasota County Commission meetings to support Benderson projects.
Below find a link to an article written about Blackketter after he was seen on video verbally abusing a fellow employee, which eventually led to Blackketter’s resignation in 2016. He is now CEO of Square Blue LLC Consults. http://www.heraldtribune.com
|THE BENDERSON/BLACKKETTER BUSINESS PLAN|
In the “business plan” presented to FISA by Benderson and Blackketter there were $millions in local, state and federal public funds promised for park infrastructure, as part of this Public/Private partnership commitment—with among other items, a state-of-the-art finish line tower, a boat house and grandstands to be funded by the private sector.
Four years later and just three months previous to the 2017 World Rowing Championships commencement, the public has met its obligations and more. The private partners in this massive project have not done so—-as the WRC looms on the horizon.
There is no state-of-the-art grandstands or boathouse—only a finish line tower to house SANCA offices and for use by rowing judges and VIPs invited to watch the event from elevated viewing areas.
|A BENDERSON “PAY TO PLAY” CORPORATE WELFARE SCAM|
What began as an exciting $2 million plan for a few competitive rowing amenities at a county-owned lake has now turned into the $70 million Randy Benderson/Paul Blackketter “Pay to Play” corporate welfare scam, which local neighborhood activist Alice White described in 2011 as smelling like “three day old garbage.”
“The salesmanship and campaign donations that went into persuading county and state elected officials to spend so many millions of dollars on, of all things, a facility for row-boat races, still astounds me,” wrote Tom Lyons of the Sarasota Herald Tribune.
THE $19.5 MILLION “PAY TO PLAY” CORPORATE WELFARE SCAM
The Benderson/Blackketter business plan called for construction crews to build a boathouse, grandstands and a finish tower — an expansion to facilities that required SANCA to raise $22 million before hosting the 2017 World Rowing Championships, transforming Nathan Benderson Park from a small lake to an international venue.
There is no boathouse, no grandstand and instead of a $10 million dollar finish tower there is a $5 million finish tower that Benderson funded only so as to pocket the $5 million for building it.
The Benderson/Blackketter business plan promised a state of the art facility, which was never going to occur. What Benderson and Blackketter have produced is the minor league facility you see today at Nathan Benderson Park, which will host a major league event.
In addition, the Benderson/Blackketter business plan, which stated that $22 million in public funds would be raised from the private sector, is as fraudulent as the numerous LLC’s that Benderson utilizes to stuff local and state politicians in his pockets. The following quote by Blackketter was found in the Sarasota Observer on February 5, 2014:
“To raise $22 million, the business plan that supports ‘the ask’ should cover every inch” Paul Blackketter, president of SANCA said, motioning at a colorful, glossy packet. It should be ‘Here’s what we have here,’ and it blows them away. It has to be so well thought out, where everything has a good use so that you can turn it 10 different ways. Everything has a plan. And you can’t compromise that.”
“SANCA LED BY RANDY BENDERSON”
In that same article, Blackketter states, “The nonprofit (SANCA) has an operational board, which will grow from 6 to 10 people in three months, to oversee finances; and a foundation, led by Randy Benderson, president of Benderson Development, that has the “sole purpose in life of raising money.”
BENDERSON RENEGES ON $22 MILLION PROMISE
vidently Benderson’s “sole purpose in life of raising money” is not the Nathan Benderson Rowing facility. For example, in the reimbursement agreement signed on September 14, 2013 by Benderson, which was an agreement between SANCA and Sarasota and Manatee Counties, that had the two counties contributing $5.8 million to host/stage the WRC event, there is a hand written note initialed by Benderson:
“SANCA and Benderson Development shall have no obligation for these capital Improvements.” The Capital Improvement Benderson was referencing in the documentation included 17 entities for the Benderson Rowing Park, totaling $15 million dollars.
BENDERSON/BLACKKETTER PROMISES NOT HAPPENING
Unfortunately, Benderson and Blackketter’s promises not only to the local Sarasota/Manatee communities and the State of Florida, but to the (FISA) to provide a world class event in 2017, are not happening.
By the way, the $22 million for world class facilities, which included a $10 million boathouse, a $10 million finish tower and a $2.5 million grandstand was promised by Benderson and Blackketter to be completed by 2016.
BENDERSON/BLACKKETTER VIDEO REVEALS BENDERSON PLAN
The slick video (click pitcure on left) is revealing in that it clearly depicts how the $60 million publicly funded Benderson Rowing Park will enhance the financial profits of the Benderson/Taubman $321 million University Town Center (UTC) and the numerous Benderson projects in close proximity to the Benderson Rowing Park.
BENDERSON/BLACKKETTER PROMISED FACILITIES NOT OPTIONAL
The facilities Benderson and Blackketter promised were not optional. Had the boathouse, grandstands, and finish tower been optional, the Sarasota bid for the World Rowing Championships would have been rejected–period. The Benderson Rowing Park in Sarasota was selected over a fully-equipped international rowing venue in Bulgaria, and this would not have happened without the promise of the above mentioned facilities.
As the Sarasota Observer article of February 5, 2015 states, “The plan (Benderson/Blackketter business plan), which calls for construction crews to build a boathouse, grandstands and a finish tower — an expansion to facilities that requires SANCA to raise $22 million before hosting the 2017 World Rowing Championships — acts as a lens into how local officials will race to finish the transformation of Nathan Benderson Park from a small lake to an international venue.”
BENDERSON PRESSURED TO FINANCE FINISH TOWER
Only when Benderson was forced under pressure from local and Florida state officials to come up with funds for the $10 million finish tower did Benderson come forward with the funds to build the finish tower. Benderson proceeded to contribute, not the promised $10 million, but only $5 million.
BLACKKETTER RETURNS BENDERSON’S $5 MILLION “CONTRIBUTION”
Blackketter, who had become the CEO of SANCA at $190,000 a year after leaving Benderson Development, put the $5 million finish tower out to bid and originally awarded the contract to Tandem Construction. According to Blackketter, Tandem could not fulfill the contract, which Blackketter then awarded to Benderson Development LLC, aka Randy Benderson. Benderson puts up $5 million for the finish tower and gets it back in constructing the finish tower.
SARASOTA COUNTY AND BENDERSON PRIVATE/PUBLIC
PARTNERSHIP IS A FRAUD
Four years later with Blackketter now a Consultant at Square Blue LLC and just two months previous to the 2017 World Rowing Championships commencement, Sarasota and other public entities have met its obligations and more. Benderson and the Benderson Corporation LLC, who are the private partners in this massive project have not—-as the WRC looms on the horizon.
With the park sitting just south of Benderson’s University Town Center (UTC) Mall and not far from other Benderson plazas, the Benderson’s stand to profit a great deal from those involved with the Nathan Benderson rowing park activities and beyond. That would be no problem if the Benderson’s would dig into their pockets and ante up some money, but the Benderson business plan is to play only with house money—the public’s house money.
A MINOR LEAGUE FACILITY FOR A MAJOR LEAGUE EVENT
As mentioned above, there is no state-of-the-art grandstands or boathouse—only a finish line tower to house SANCA offices and for use by rowing judges and VIPs invited to watch the event from elevated viewing areas.
Instead of what was promised to FISA and the public entities that contributed untold $millions$, the public and FISA get a minor league facility for a major league event.
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