MPS Denies MacIver’s Open Records Request on Malcolm X Sale

MacIver News Service | December 12, 2013

[Milwaukee, Wisc…] Milwaukee Public Schools seems to be worried a bad deal could get even worse if the public knew the inside details of conversations leading up to the sale of the Malcolm X building, according to the Office of Board Governance.

“The public interest in ensuring the best negotiation strategy possible, in my opinion, outweighs the public’s right to inspect or to have access to the withheld records at this time,” Lynne Sobczak, Office of Board Governance Director, wrote to MNS.

The City of Milwaukee and the school board recently agreed to a deal that would sell the building for $2.1 million to 2760 Holdings, LLC. The school district will then pay for renovations through a lease fee for a term that matches the financing for the full redevelopment project of the school portion. No limit was set on the amount of taxpayers dollars that could be spent. The approved deal only put a cap on the interest paid at 4 percent.

MacIver News asked for copies of communications between the board president, Michael Bonds, and members of the holding company through October 14th. The district denied the request stating the sale would not be considered final until it is executed.

“To make public responsive records at this time will endanger the Board’s ability to successfully conclude crucial negotiations now and in the future,” Sobczak wrote. “This would harm the public interest because the potential decreased revenue or increased costs relating to various projects.”

Because the city owns the school building, both the city and the school district had to approve the sale. The board approved it on November 1st and the Milwaukee Common Council on November 26th.

2760 Holdings, LLC was created less than three months before by Quiana Mosby, out of the office of JCP Construction.

The construction company purchasing the building will turn a portion of the building into a 600-person International Baccalaureate middle school. The other part will be turned into retail and housing space. After the lease is up, MPS has the option to buy back the school portion for $1.