The Wichita City Council wisely deferred a Tuesday vote on the Renaissance Square redevelopment project proposed for the Midtown neighborhood, in response to an Eagle report on the financial and legal problems of the businessman who negotiated the deal, our editorial today argued. Because the deal involves an $11 million investment of public funds, the 11th-hour caution was advised.
But so was due diligence by city staff, which missed the mark in vetting negotiator Grant Gaudreau. So it was up to The Eagle to report Tuesday that Gaudreau has been sued at least 35 times in seven years, mostly for bounced checks and unpaid bills, and has an outstanding warrant in Butler County for $12,000 in unpaid income tax. According to court records, he also previously headed a hotel venture that went bankrupt owing more than $450,000 in back taxes to the city, county and state.
Council members were left looking clueless at Tuesday’s meeting, with little choice but to delay the vote in the hope that the cloud can be cleared by next week.
Meanwhile, citizens were left to wonder where the scrutiny and accountability come into such City Hall dealmaking.
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