Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What REALLY Happened at The Senator Theatre Auction?

Well, if you live in Baltimore, you've seen the heavily edited news coverage, where in most cases, any hint of controversy was taken out. You've been told by the media that the city now owns The Senator. That's all wrong.

UPDATE: The auctioneer changed the venue from inside the theatre to outside with less than 5 minutes notice. Weeks ago, they had called Tom Kiefaber to request permission to have the auction inside the theatre. The auctioneer, the city, and Tom had all agreed upon the location inside the theatre, the auction had been promoted as being inside the theatre, and it had been reported as being expected to take place inside by the news media. Why the last minute change of venue?

By the way, Tom Kiefaber still owns the theatre until this farce is ratified in court.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I am just not understanding. Why is it bad that the city owns the theater? And this "transitioning to a non-profit" you advocate for -- exactly how would that work? How is it different from what the city says it wants to do?

July 23, 2009

Blogger Laura Serena said...

The city bought the Mayfair Theatre, Baltimore's oldest historic theatre, in the mid '80's, and they let it sit empty so long that the roof caved in. They have an absolutely ABYSMAL record with historic preservation. They cannot be trusted to do the right thing with The Senator, especially since they have already indicated their unwillingness to put any money into it, and now they're going to be responsible for its upkeep.

And a transition to non-profit has happened for historic theatres all over the country. It's a model that has a proven track record. It could have been easily accomplished here, but Baltimore City failed to consult experts in the field of historic theatre preservation.

And it's different from what the city wants to do, because the city wants to hand The Senator over to their own hand-picked crony, probably without genuine public input, and probably not to run it as a non-profit, although that could still be a possibility.

July 23, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am still confused as to why nobody else bid? If the building was such a steal at $800k and youre upset the city now has 1st rights to purchase with their bid, why didnt you bid higher? It was a standard bidding system where the auctioneer announced the highest bid and gave opportunity to bid higher. If you planned to bid on a property, you would have been within 10 feet of the auctioneer to hear. Were people terrified of the jumbled lingo? Were you not ALlOWED to bid? Did you have to come with a certified check for $25k or something? I have been to several auctions and this one didnt seem too odd. I watched the video in its entirety and I am thoroughly confused as to why nobody else bid. If there were potential bidders inside the theater, they would have been notified by someone to come outside within the time it took to get an auctioneer to read his jumbled boilerplate junk, and been able to bid. Why isnt this blogger mad that the community couldnt produce a bidder to outbid the "Evil City" bid... It was a public auction, announced, posted, recorded, etc. It doesnt appear to be rigged or fixed or anything. Please correct me, I would love to see real corruption.

July 23, 2009

Blogger Laura Serena said...

I love all the anonymous comments here.

The auctioneer was not clearly announcing the bid was $800K to the people who could not hear, because he did not have a microphone, or to the people who were confused and left inside when the venue of the auction was changed at the last minute. The auction was advertised for weeks as being held inside and was moved outside with less than 5 minutes notice.

Also, city officials have repeatedly talked down the value of the theatre, spent less than $5K on advertising it (when 1st Mariner had spent at least 7 times that amount on advertising the previously scheduled auction), and apparently must have been getting in touch with anyone who expressed an interest in bidding and convincing them not to bid, since less than 24 hours before the auction, Loyola said they were willing to bid over a million dollars for the theatre, and they were a no show at the auction.

The whole process has been rigged from start to finish. The city has used multiple methods of scaring bidders away, which may even be illegal, since as trustee, they had a fiduciary responsibility to maximize the auction sale price.

Look, if you really want to understand why this is a corrupt process, most of the information is in the public record, and much of it has been reported on this blog in the past few months.

Start by reading these 2 posts in their entirety:

The Senator's Lover Bares All, Episode 1
Urgent Communique from The Senator Theatre

Then, if you really want to understand what has happened in the past few months, you have to go back and look at the events. The dots are not hard to connect, but it is going to take you some time to get up to speed to the extent that I am after spending literally months on this.

Please read all this and watch all the videos:

This really CHAPs my hide!
Buzz Cusack recuses himself, but who is Mr. X?
Deconstructing Baltimore City's "Offer" to Senator Owner Tom Kiefaber
A Clue to the Identity of Mr. X?
City's Steering Committee Needs Designated Driver
CHAP hearing on The Senator on Tuesday, May 12th
CHAP commission ignores concers, passes controversial interior controls on Senator Theatre
Just back from State Senator Joan Carter Conway's Meeting at The Senator
Conflict at Senator Theatre Meeting
The Kim Clark Show at The Senator Theatre
Kim Clark's Denial of her Earlier Daily Record Comments

If you read all that and watch all those videos and have enough intelligence to follow obvious connections and put 2 and 2 together and you still don't understand that there's something very fishy going on here, then you're in denial and don't want to understand. It's as simple as that.

July 23, 2009

Blogger Cory said...

I think what Laura said is right. I have been following this whole thing as much as I could. It was all over the news that Loyola was ready to bid 1.2 mil at auction. Plus there were reports of other interested parties.

The lack of advertising is an OBVIOUS fact. If the city REALLY wanted to sell The Senator at auction they would have at LEAST done as much advertising as the bank that held the note before the city bought it.

I would think they would have also handled the auction in a much more organized, and clear manner than they did.

It seems because of all of these red flags, and the cities insistence from the beginning that it wouldn't sell at auction, that they wanted control of it so THEY could pick who will run it through the RFP process that they have been talking about.

I believe they talked more about the RFP process than the auction!

Well now the city won the auction and will probably take ownership so they can pick their little "bed buddy" (whoever it may be) that has been waiting in the wings to take over without anyone else's input. And they will no doubt spin it as being the best for the community...

When the best for the community would have been to let the Senator progress as it was (before the city decided it saw an opportunity to run the show) in setting up a non-profit entity to take over, for the community, by the community.

I guess time will tell... I remain hopeful but skeptical after what happened yesterday.

July 23, 2009

Blogger KTH said...

Well, "anonymous." You DO have to have money to bid at an auction...the winning bidder would have to bring a $50,000 certified check.

It's bad for the city to own the theatre because they won't spend the money to take care of it; like every other over-spending group of politicians, their budgets are a mess.

There are houses that cost more than 800k; don't you find it odd that this huge building went for so little? Where were the other bidders in that huge crowd? Why so few takers? It isn't that no one wants the Senator...it appears that interested parties are changing their minds, and I'd just like to know why.

July 23, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The auction is the end result of what the city has been planning all along. The way it was handled was horrendous.

When the people from Alex Cooper showed up early it looked like everything was going as planned. The stage was set for a comfortable indoor light-hearted auction that was talked about up to the last minute. Then some others from Alex Cooper showed up and that was when things changed. They were yelling instructions and that was not neccessary! They had
an agenda. That is when the chaos insued.

(I do believe certain city officials in attendance suggested that it be held outdoors so they
would not feel uncomfortable in Tom's house.)

Once outide the circus began. People were struggling to hear with the traffic noise and the
heat. Hundreds of people were crowded together like sardines. The auctioneer was showing
who they were aligned with. It was not comfortable.

Some backround:

The beautiful area just accross the street from The Historic Senator Theatre did not always
look that way. At one time it was just a bunch of empty stores. While that was going on Tom
Kiefaber and his family put everything, and I do mean everything they had into the Senator to keep it going strong while the area struggled with the hopes of getting some help once
the city decided to throw large sums of money at Belvedere Square. But you will notice that
The Senator side of the street was not included in that plan and the city made no improvements to the their infrastructure. Where are the nice street lamps? Where is the nice new curb? Who do we have to thank for that?

The local government has had it in for Tom and have been trying to get their hands on The
Senator real estate for some time now. Well it is no surprise to the people that know the
history of Baltimore and it's shadow government. The city and their individual departments
like CHAP, putting inside restrictions on the building and parking restrictions etc. Then they canceled the first auction that was heavily advertised in order to set up the fiasco that
occued on the 22nd of July. No surprise to the people that know. Now they can send out the
RFP's that Mr. Henry said on the news that they have already put out in the neighborhood.
What? How can you do that in advance if you do not already know the outcome of the auction? And you don't call that rigged?

What the city just did to someone that put it all out there for all of us is hard to comprehend.

Now we have to wait and see what is to become of The Senator Theatre. It's not over yet

May the force be with us all.

July 23, 2009


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