Waterloo City Councilman backs developer: "You got my support" - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo City Councilman backs developer: "You got my support"

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Waterloo Convention Center developer says he wants full transparency as some on the city council are questioning his motives and business practices.

Leslie Hospitality owner Edwin Leslie says he doesn't have anything to hide, and to prove it he invited the public to view all of the documents, emails, agreements, and financial statements related to the deal at a public meeting this morning. Among a slew of other confidential financial documents, Leslie also provided his credit score, personal financial statements, portfolio documents listing properties the company owns, as well as corporate balance sheets. 

In the public meeting, Leslie said there has been $1.6 million just in deferred maintenance and repairs on the convention center, which has been neglected over the years. He also revealed that the Waterloo fire dept. has not certified the building for occupation and a liquor license for 3 years. Leslie went on to explain there are 42 items on the list that have been outstanding, and nothing has been done to fix them. 

"All I'm asking for is fairness," said Leslie, on the convention center agreement and deal, saying the agreement has been available online for all of public and city council members to review. 

Waterloo City Councilman Steve Schmitt spoke out for both Councilmen Bruce Jacobs and Tom Lind, who were not in attendance saying, "taxpayers expect us to ask questions - not just nod at every project that comes our way." 

Councilman Patrick Morrissey says, "You got my support, I wish you didn't have to go through something I've never seen any other developer go through." 

One supporter of the of the sale says he is "disappointed in some of our council people."

Another supporter expressed concern over what has happened to the building over the last few years, commending city council members, "We got three people asking questions that they should be asking."

Only two words were changed from the first development agreement signed on June 21, and the second was provided in advance of the meeting. 

"This thing was approved a month ago," said Councilman Schmitt, talking about the development agreement. "We're moving on. We're here today because some of this may have gotten personal." 

Leslie called for a public meeting just days after city emails were uncovered, revealing friction between Waterloo City Council members who abstained from the development vote over the convention center. 

In July, three members on the council abstained from voting to approve the sale of the convention center and adjacent Ramada Hotel to Leslie Hospitality. One councilman says he had a conflict of interest. The other two said they didn't have enough information on the multi-million dollar deal. 

Owner Edwin Leslie says he's got nothing to hide, and invited anyone who wanted more information on the agreement to attend the public meeting this morning. 

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