Attorney General & the Coliseum

By:  Diane Benjamin

I wrote previously about filing a Request for Review with the Illinois Attorney General.  Coliseum Management is refusing to comply with a Freedom of Information Act Request.  Details here:  https://blnnews.com/2015/02/06/coliseum-investigated-by-attorney-general/

As the Council considers spending another $2,510,00 on the less than 10 years old Coliseum, they need to consider how Central Illinois Arena Management views their job.  Somehow they forgot they were hired as managers for a taxpayer owned facility.  The Coliseum is exempt from property taxes because it is owned by the City of Bloomington, so obviously they are performing a government function.  CIAM is not running a traditional business started with their own money, but CIAM is claiming a right to privacy as a private company.  The Attorney General will rule on whether than can keep secrets.

I don’t see any references in the contract to BMI Concessions.  John Butler (1/2 of CIAM) separated the rest of the Coliseum from concessions.  The City bought the machines concession sales are entered on (Micros).  John Butler refuses to allow the City or me see the reports generated by these City owned machines.  The management contract calls for the City to be paid a specific percentage of all sales, the percent depends on where the sale was made.  For example, General Stands are different from Suites.  The City is also to be paid a percentage of catering.

Because Butler refuses to show anybody these reports, the City has relied on his word that the City is getting paid properly.  Can John Butler be trusted?  Review this post from January:  https://blnnews.com/2015/01/20/more-coliseum-fraud/.  For at least the last 3 years Profit/Loss reported by CIAM is much different from what the Auditors determined the actual number to be.  Last year CIAM underestimated the loss by almost $600,000.

Obviously I don’t trust John Butler to have paid the City anywhere close to what they are entitled to.  Why does City Manager David Hales trust Butler!  Why isn’t the City Council holding Hales accountable for never reviewing concession reports?  In the last few years the Coliseum Fund has been paid at least $250,000 per year, a lot of money is at stake.  Are taxpayers being fleeced?  Unless the reports are public documents, taxpayers will never know the truth.

Another part of my FOIA request was for the 2014 payroll.   There are references in the documents below that the information may be available – without names.  CIAM believes you don’t have the right to know who IS profiting from the City asset.  Payroll has been at least $1,000,000 per year for many years.

The link below contains what I received yesterday from the Attorney General.  Included is a letter from City Attorney Jeff Jurgens and 2 letters from CIAM’s lawyer, pretty fascinating reading.  See for yourself:

Letter from Attorney General, City, CIAM Attorney

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. so much to hide from the taxpayers and public. Attorney Dollar Bill Mueller must be paid handsomely by the management company. what a great client

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  2. What don’t you people understand? The management of the Coliseum is a private company, it doesn’t have to disclose anything. It has exclusive legal contracts with musical artist and groups that they will not disclose. Just because you “write” a “blog”, it doesn’t mean that you have any right to their private accounts. I think that Ms. Benjamin has too much time on her hands.

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    • When you prove your ignorance, I will respond. Obviously you haven’t read the foia law. If you are so brilliant please explain wht the AG is investigating. They chose to take it up. They didn’t have to.

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    • R Kennedy I don’t believe I agree with you. Did the contract with the city specify they couldn’t disclose what is any contract with any performer? The taxpayers have a right to know what revenue was generated and to make sure CIAM only gets what they contracted to receive.

      It is pretty obvious that the AG is investigating is it not?

      Why is it people like you find fault in what DB is asking about? It is certainly within her right to do so is it not?

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    • Diane is not after the artists contracts. She is simply trying to figure out if the city (and thus us taxpayers) are getting all the money we are contractually obligated to receive. Given the repeated contractual violations by CIAM, she is right to be asking for this information. Instead they are wasting time and money stonewalling. Sure smells fishy to me.

      By the way, has anybody checked to see how much CIAM donated to the mayor and council races over the past few years? That is my guess why nothing has been done.

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      • I hear the acts or promoters already know about how much the venue will take in. The book these things all the time. It’s just an excuse that won’t fly.

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  3. Seems like CIAM would not only have to supply the payroll information but also who it was paid too, their age, position, and sex. Could be some possible discrimination going on, one never knows. Are they complying with the EEOC regulations and laws?

    I notice Bill Mueller doesn’t provide any contract evidence to support confidentiality and proprietary evidence. He can say all he wants to in a letter subject to interpretation. I don’t see CIAM as a private company. If the contract with the city doesn’t specify they can withhold proprietary information I don’t see where they have a leg to stand on.

    http://www.cityblm.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=4650
    “The Coliseum is owned by the City of Bloomington, Illinois (the “City”)
    and operated under a management agreement with
    Central Illinois Arena Management, Inc.
    (CIAM); it is a part of the City government and is not a separate legal entity
    or otherwise organized apart from the City.”

    It would seem reasonable the public deserves to know what CIAM is doing. In that 2012 document above it specifies what percentage of the revenues CIAM is entitled too. Are they taking more, who knows if they aren’t providing the information.

    I’m not an attorney but my gut feeling is that the Attorney General’s office will make them turn over the information.

    As for David Hale’s he should be terminated immediately and gotten rid of for not performing duties as assigned and contracted to do.

    I like the comment someone posted in the local newspaper, the city should file for bankruptcy and terminate the contract with CIAM and dump that Coliseum aka put it up for sale.

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  4. Sue them! You already proved once that he city tried keeping records secret – the Judge ruled on that one. You have a right to the records, and they ARE public records regardless of what R. Kennedy says. You should ask for the certified payroll to make sure they are paying prevailing wages. All contractors have to provide that information.

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  5. Sunrise Shutters and Blinds says:

    Diane; I don’t know enough about the proper protocol but if we can’t know the workings of this type of business, why are we funding it???

    Like

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