Keweenaw Co. needs to heed a real closer

As we have previously reported, the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge operation has been listed for sale since earlier this year — however nominally by a real estate firm based in North Carolina.

Does anybody around here outside the Keweenaw County Board sincerely believe such a way-out-of-state firm can understand and appreciate all the unique nuances that would go into selling a property like the Mountain Lodge?

How involved has this agency been with the board, and did it recommend the acceptance of the two offers that failed? Of course we don’t know. Board members, unanimous in accepting the offers, are now unanimous in refusing to say.

Apparently, members of the Keweenaw County Board assume they are qualified to manage the complex negotiation of a publicly-owned property, even though none of them have credentials or demonstrated experience to do such a deal.

Our opinion is the board has demonstrated its inability to lead the sale process. We base that opinion on the fact that the board has accepted two separate offers that subsequently were voided that would have never been accepted if the board had done minimal due diligence in evaluating each offer.

It seems board members have demonstrated their lack of experience to the point that they have agreed among themselves not to explain why the second deal failed.

That’s our opinion, which is what is expressed in this space. We have a right to express our opinions here, just as we give space to Copper Country residents to express their opinions on this page.

We’ll continue to do so, because it promotes more citizen involvement and therefore community improvement. The fact that officials who are elected and staff who are paid by public funds disagree with our opinions is fine with us, but our opinions are based on the interests of the taxpayers.

They are a public body elected to responsibly manage taxpayer dollars. They, like all public bodies, have a legal obligation to be transparent to the taxpayers.

Those taxpayers have questions they are asking:

•Why aren’t the backgrounds and histories of these individuals making these offers being adequately checked prior to board votes of acceptance?

•What, if anything, are the real estate agents doing in advising and consulting the board members, or are board members refusing to use their expertise?

•Aren’t there local real estate brokers who have far more knowledge and insight into the unique history and special circumstances of the Mountain Lodge and could be helpful partners in selling the property?

•Even if a local broker charges a higher commission, could that not be accounted for at no taxpayer expense in the sale contract?

In our opinion, the board is making a mistake by micromanaging this sale and not leaving it up to the professionals to do the deal. It is compounding that mistake by failing to be open and transparent. Board members should want to put the responsibility of the whole task in the hands of the professionals, thus making sure they — and the voters they represent — are fully protected.

A Daily Mining Gazette editorial