Friday, December 02, 2016


Stuart "Neil" Fisher is a goddamned hero.
A developer whose company failed in a bid to convert the former World Trade Center building in New Orleans into a hotel and condominiums is challenging the latest dismissal of a lawsuit to stop the job from going to another team. He's also secured a new legal team to handle the lawsuit after the first walked away.

Attorneys for Two Canal Street Investors Inc. (TCSI) filed their notice to appeal Judge Tiffany Chase's dismissal late Tuesday afternoon, just ahead of a Wednesday (Dec. 1) deadline. TCSI's principal, Florida investor Stuart "Neil" Fisher, said in a phone interview the appeal will reveal the "conspiracy, fraud and bid-rigging" that resulted in the Carpenter-Woodward team winning rights in May 2015 to redevelop the city-owned 33-story tower.

"We are far from being over," Fisher said.
Hollleeee crap you cannot kill this dude off. He has not yet begun to fight.  A few weeks ago I suggested we campaign to have Fisher named Gambit's "New Orleanian Of The Year." This was before I knew he had the sta-mi-nah to keep this thing going. We're gonna need a bigger trophy now.

2016 is the Year of the Con Man and Fisher certainly fits the bill there.  It is also the year of the con man frustrating the ambitions of neoliberal corporatist politics (to a small and unproductive degree, of course, but still) and Fisher's lawsuit has done exactly that to Mitch Landrieu's attempts to put the WTC building "back into commerce" as a hotel. The value of this is complicated. Of course we'd all like to see the building put to good use.  We're not thrilled about yet another hotel there, of course. But that's the way things go lately. It's something we can live with under the right circumstances.  We're not convinced these are the right circumstances, though.

Now Fisher is a crackpot and his suit is not likely based on the most... well.. accurate of suppositions. But his statements are worth noting because the instincts behind them are interesting.
Fisher contends the Carpenter-Woodward proposal was the worst for taxpayers based on its upfront payment to the city -- lower than the other proposals. Jones Lang LaSalle, the commercial real estate advisory the city hired to handle the proposal process, determined the Carpenter-Woodward proposal had the biggest upside when including the property taxes generated over the 99-year lease with the city.

Fisher, who is also suing Jones Lang LaSalle, contends the WTC property is tax-exempt, rendering any projections of property tax revenue moot. The Orleans Parish Assessor's website confirms the property is tax-exempt, although the Carpenter-Woodward proposal includes a payment schedule for property taxes.
The agreement is they're paying property taxes from which they are exempt?  Maybe Fisher is misunderstanding something. Although, if he is, this article doesn't tell us what that could be.  But that does seem kind of odd, at least to us laypeople. There is also this.
Fisher's Facebook page includes several posts with emails between city officials and representatives of Jones Lang LaSalle and Carpenter-Woodward, all dated before the winning proposal was selected. Fisher maintains the public records are evidence of collusion among the parties to ensure the bid went to the firm with the lowest upfront payment, which he said the mayor's office sought to keep any cash windfall out of the reach of firefighters with whom the city was negotiating a settlement in a lawsuit over decades of owed back pay.
Again, to be clear, I think Fisher is probably pulling most of this out of his butt. (I base that on nothing, of course. All I know is what I read in the paper.) But this allegation may be worth pursuing a bit. It does sound slightly out of character for the mayor who has been all too happy to pursue big up front sums of money in other legal disputes. The Wisner Trust and NO Public Belt situations come to mind as examples. Why would he opt in this case for the long term payment plan via these taxes that aren't really taxes?  Curious.

In any case, I've suspected for a very long time that there is more going on with regard to this deal than has been shared publicly. And I think it's worth examining further even if it takes humoring this con man's lawsuit for a while longer.

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