Local developer Chris Thieneman will withhold filing a lawsuit against the city over the $950,000 loan given to The Cordish Cos. until Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway issues an opinion on the deal.
Joined by a dozen supporters who assembled in front of the Sports & Social Club, the community activist said Metro Councilman Hal Heiner, R-19, who is a potential mayoral candidate, asked him to postpone suing Metro government because it could further delay the attorney general’s decision.
In December 2008, Heiner and fellow council members Kelly Downard, R-16, and Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9, asked for Conway’s opinion on whether Mayor Jerry Abramson overstepped his authority when giving financial help and property — without council approval — to the Baltimore-based developer. For the past nine months they have been awaiting the attorney general’s decision.
“The lawsuit is ready to be filed. Until yesterday I had intention in filling it today,” Thieneman says. “Councilman Heiner’s request to hold on a bit longer has hit home, and after being told the attorney general’s answer was promised by the end of the week, we will wait a bit longer on the suit.”
Allison Martin, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, told LEO Weekly no exact release date was ever discussed, but a conversation did take place with Heiner’s legislative aide regarding an estimate. The attorney general’s opinion won’t be released until it’s complete, she says, which could be this Friday or another two weeks from now.
The pending lawsuit asks the court whether the mayor has the authority to transfer funds issued for one project to another, which happened when the Abramson administration provided Cordish public money that was originally intended for another downtown restaurant to develop the Sports & Social Club. The suit also questions if public officials can enter into a confidentiality agreement that exempts them and their findings from open records law.
During the press conference Thieneman also blasted Metro Council President David Tandy, D-4, for a lack of transparency in spending tax dollars. Tandy was one of five Metro officials who went to Baltimore seeking financial documentation, but signed a confidentiality agreement with Cordish that barred him from discussion the loan details. Thieneman stopped short of calling for the public to boycott the Sports & Social Club, but said the lawsuit is the first attempt to find out how the taxpayer money was spent.
“We will find out how the money was spent regardless of what we have to do,” he says. “No matter what we’ll get to the bottom of this. Business as usual for Jerry Abramson is over.”