West Palm Beach already has lost $2 million of its residents’ money on the failed Digital Domain deal.
The city paid that incentive money upfront. The company declared bankruptcy and laid off most of its employees, so it certainly won’t be building the downtown film school it planned to operate in conjunction with Florida State University.
West Palm Beach also put at risk a $10 million piece of land the city owns. Exactly how much risk isn’t clear. Digital Domain tried to mortgage the property that was to be the school site. And the land is part of the company’s bankruptcy filing in Delaware.
City officials say their attorneys have advised them to clam up about Digital Domain. Their comments could damage the city’s case in the bankruptcy proceedings, they say.
Given the revelation that city officials and staff held behind-the-scenes meetings with former Digital Domain CEO John Textor as his company was collapsing, the order to stay mum comes at an awkward time. Or is it just a convenient time?
Mayor Jeri Muoio looked bad when she hid the fact that Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell, City Attorney Claudia McKenna and Community Redevelopment Agency director Kim Briesemeister had met with Mr. Textor.
Although Mayor Muoio later apologized for the deception, all subsequent questions to the officials involved were answered with: We’ve been told not to talk.
One basic question is: Why did the city go so far as to actually deed the $10 million property to Digital Domain when the film company had not met any of the benchmarks for acquiring the property?
If the city was lax in that regard, was the city lax in other ways? Did officials give favored treatment to Mr. Textor that now complicates getting the property back? Were promises made on either side during those secret meetings with Mr. Textor?
There are two possible ways to look at the official silence. Officials simply are staying mum out of an abundance of caution. Or they’re trying to hide aspects of the deal and its collapse from the public.
What do you think? Are West Palm Beach officials hiding something on Digital Domain? Take our poll and/or leave a comment.
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.