Heavy accusations made during Waterloo City Council meeting - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Heavy accusations made during Waterloo City Council meeting

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Councilman Tom Lind calls for independent review of convention center sale. Councilman Tom Lind calls for independent review of convention center sale.
Facebook ads brought into question by Councilman Lind Facebook ads brought into question by Councilman Lind

The Waterloo City Council was heated Monday night when the sale of the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center was questioned, yet again.

Councilman Tom Lind called for an independent review of the sale of the convention center. Lind has been outspoken about the sale since the initial agreement was presented to the council this summer.

Now, months after the city finalized the sale of the building to developer Edwin Leslie, Lind is calling for another review.  This comes days after 'The Omaha World-Herald' printed an article, saying Leslie's company is facing a lawsuit over a separate project in Omaha. 

"I just want to make sure this developer can perform. We based our decision on his success in Omaha, which I understand he lost the hotel and convention center."

 The article details a lawsuit between Leslie and his South Dakota business partners.

 "There is nothing about a hotel failing. I would need someone to show me that that hotel has failed because I am not aware of that. There were disagreements between partners," said Waterloo's Chief Financial Officer, Michelle Weidner.

Mayor Quentin Hart stands by Waterloo's agreement. The mayor pointed to fail-safes that protect the city and promised to release all communication between the city and Leslie.

Mayor Hart went on to say the communication documents have already been reviewed by the county attorney to ensure the deal was handled correctly.

"From the conversation with the attorneys, from the conversation with the state, we followed every rule we were supposed to," said Mayor Hart.

Lind countered saying, "If you don't want to do it, fine. Let's vote on it, see who supports it or not.  And, by the way, Mr. Morrissey and Mr. Powers would have to abstain because they have serious conflicts of interest."

"What is the conflict of interest?" asked Mayor Hart.

"A developer paying for political ads is not a conflict of interest?" asked Lind.

Lind was referring to Facebook ads that were posted under the new convention center name, that supported Councilmen Morrissey and Powers, as well as Mayor Hart, in the recent city elections.

Both Mayor Hart and Morrissey fired back.

"You better sure prove it, and you better have the information correct to get on television and state that someone received some type of incentive," said Mayor Hart.

"Shame on you for making an accusation that is totally false.  I did not seek out anything from anybody at the Leslie group. I ran on my record and that was it," said Morrissey.

Councilman Morrissey and Mayor Hart said they had no connection to the ads Leslie chose to run during the election.

Sharon Juon was also included in the Facebook ads.  She beat out Lind for the at-large council seat with nearly double the votes.

KWWL spoke with Edwin Leslie about the Omaha article. Leslie called the article inaccurate and said there are no financing issues with the Waterloo project.

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