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Editorial by David Miller—Misinformation and Innuendo Revisited
Feather River Recreation & Park District (FRRPD) Board of Director candidate Karen Whitlow was recently taken to task by former Federal Penitentiary inmate John Loewe (serving a five & three year concurrent sentence in prison for Grand Theft, Conspiracy and Forgery in the 1980’s) current owner and publisher of the Oroville Mirror, for stating some facts about the conditions under which the district purchased the gymnastics building. Mr. Loewe took exception in his “Misinformation and Innuendo” editorial to Ms. Whitlow’s contention that the price paid for the gymnastics building was excessive and could readily have been purchased at a considerably lower price.
What Ms. Whitlow pointed out was that the previous owner of the center, Marcia Carter, was deeply in debt. Back taxes of $174,663 were owed to the County of Butte. No payment on the $789,157 loan from the City of Oroville had been made for 2-1/2 years.
Mr. Loewe contends that the building and property had been appraised at between $4 and $5 million, which it had been in February and November of 2007, at the height of the real estate market. Three years later, following the contraction of the market, the Private Industry Council (PIC) offered to purchase the building and property for $2.5 million with the intention of then leasing the facility to FRRPD. That offer was rescinded, however, when it was determined that the operating cost would be prohibitive.
Both FRRPD and the YMCA had an interest in the facility and discussions were ongoing about the feasibility of the two sharing the facility and the operating costs. A meeting of PIC, the YMCA and FRRPD was held to continue, “how might we do this” discussions. John Buck, then General Manager of FRRPD, attended and terminated the meeting by making the surprising announcement that, FRRPD has made an offer to purchase the facility and equipment for $3.5 million.
It seems reasonable that Ms. Whitlow would be correct in believing that $3.5 million was an excessive amount when the only other offer to purchase the facility came in at $2.5 million and the feasibility of paying that price was still being studied by the interested parties. Her thinking is especially understandable, when it may have been possible and mutually beneficial to share the operating costs of the facility between the two nonprofit organizations.
Mr. Loewe goes on in his Oroville Mirror editorial to claim that the blame somehow lies with Robert Sharkey, a man who prior to John Buck was general manager of FRRPD. But at the time, Mr. Sharkey was neither on the Board, nor the general manager.
Mr. Loewe states in his editorial, “It is not that the District made a bad deal on a building.” Again, he’s mistaken. When you pay a $1 million in excess on a $3.5 million deal, it is, “a bad deal on a building.” It is Mr. Loewe who has a documented history of “Misinformation and Innuendo.”