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CQG founder Boone, Councilman Moore go nose to nose over sweetheart Hona Luana airport lease (VIDEO)
City's PR department tries to duck issue by telling the public that math is hard
-- John Patten, 10/10/07

Got a comment? Make it here.

Airport sublease to be reviewed-- Sizable profits are being made but not by the city
-- Venice Gondolier Sun, 10/10/07

Such a deal
Yet another dragon's head came out of the sea at a city council meeting, this in the form of a sublet approval request made by Purdy Enterprises, the leaseholder for Hona Luana Restaurant.

On Tuesday, council decided to hold off on the sublet request pending legal review by City Attorney Bob Anderson, this after Councilman John Moore brought the issue to light in council discussion. Moore's objections, in turn, had been inspired by a series of emails to the city by Venice resident Thurman Randall Greene.

Purdy rents the building and property from the airport for $8,000 a year. The sublet, if approved by council, would allow Purdy to collect $6,000 a month from Chef's Rule, the new operators of the Hona Luana.

Edited video excerpts of the discussion in council on the Hona Luana lease (6:44)

Without having access to the underlying lease, the Airport Advisory Board rubberstamped the sub-lease and sent it to council, this according to Moore at Tuesday's meeting. Moore stated that the Airport Advisory Board didn't know the amounts that they were dealing with.

That's not exactly true, according to Airport Advisory Board member Jim Leis. Leis stated that he had all of the rent amounts at the advisory board meeting, but Leis stated that he had to gather the information on his own prior to the meeting. Leis stated that he informed the advisory board during the meeting as to exactly how much the airport would be getting and how much Purdy Enterprises would be making off of the deal. Leis said that he discovered later that his comments and objections about the Purdy lease were inexplicably absent from the minutes of the meeting, thus making it appear that the advisory board was not fully informed.

Leis acknowledged that the city, the airport, and the applicant had not provided the board members with copies of the underlying lease, so the board would truly have been flying blind on the matter if he had not done his research prior to the meeting.


CQG's Dan Boone: Marriott would save the airport, Purdy lease is a fair deal
Attorney E.G. 'Dan' Boone argued at the council meeting that the airport was getting a fair amount of rent from Purdy. Boone was speaking as the attorney for Purdy Enterprises.

Boone is also the attorney for the Venice Golf Association. The VGA had inked a lease transfer deal with representatives of Aris Mardirossian for the purpose of building a Marriott. The pitch to citizens was that a Marriott would save the economically failing airport. One of the reasons given for the airport's economic woes in support of airport development was, strangely enough, because the airport wasn't making enough money from existing rents.

Boone is also the founder and one of the primary forces behind the Citizens for Quality Government, a PAC that has successfully supported all current sitting members of council and is pushing to get Bill Willson re-elected and political appointees Jim Woods and Fred Hammett elected.

Meanwhile, Mardirossian representatives Ed Taylor and Tom Creech have been prominent at at CQG candidate campaign appearances with Taylor sporting a Hammett for Mayor button.

Which, of course, is all purely an innocent coincidence.


Johnson: Math is hard and will only confuse the public
As noted above, Thurman Randall Greene had opened up this can of worms with a couple of emails to council. These were sent after he stumbled upon the information. In his first email of October 1, 2007, Greene asked if the lease amount of $8,000 per year and the sub-lease amount of $6,000 a month were accurate figures (they were). Greene was dumfounded: he could not understand why the city would knowingly give away such an obscenely huge amount of profit to a third party.

The city never responded to Greene's inquiry. A week later, Greene then fired off a second email to the city's propaganda minister, Pam Johnson. Greene again specifically asked if what he had heard about the amounts of the lease and the sub-lease were true.

Johnson responded by politely avoiding answering the question. Instead, she stated that the issues involved could be confusing to the general public. Johnson gave a brief history of the leased property and how the lease had been transferred to the present leaseholder -- which means Johnson actually did go and look up the information. Some of her history is wrong, this according to Moore. In council, Moore stated that the building was already in existence when the lease was first initiated, whereas Johnson states that the leaseholder built the building. That's anything but a minor issue.

However when it came to the actual dollar amounts involved, which was Greene's question, Johnson's answer can be boiled down to three words: Math is hard.


From: Thurman R Greene
To: City Council, Airport Advisory Chair Paul Hollowell
Sent: 10/01/07
Subject: Hona Luana Lease

There is a rumor that the lease holder of the Hona Luana Island Grill has sub-let the restaurant lease for $6000/ month, but the airport fund receives only $8000/year. Is this true and does the Advisory Board and Council have to approve the sub-lease? When was the Hona Luana lease negotiated and by whom?

Thanks for any information you can provide. I'd like to inform the residents of Golden Beach.
-- Randall Greene, GBAI [Golden Beach Asociation] Airport Contact


From: Thurman R Greene
To: Pam Johnson
Sent: 10/06/07
Subject: Re: Hona Luana Lease

Ms Johnson,
Please see the message forwarded [above]. To date, I've received no answers from either addressee. I've also looked for Advisory Board minutes which apparently have not been recorded lately. As public Information officer, would you please respond to my questions?
Randall Greene


From: Pam Johnson
CC: Fred Hammett, John Simmonds, Jim Woods, Linda Depew, Lori Stelzer, Bill Willson,, Rick Tacy, Vicki Taylor, Frederick Watts, John Moore,,, Martin Black
Date: Monday - October 8, 2007
Subject: Re: Hona Luana Lease

Dear Mr. Greene: As I understand it, Paul Hostetler, owner of Purdy Inc., built and owns the building on this parcel. He leases the land parcel from the airport. Mr. Hostetler is approximately halfway into his lease, meaning he has about 11 years to go - at which time, the building will revert to airport ownership. In the meantime, he is allowed to sublet the building, which he has most recently done in a sublease to Dave and Valerie Thompson, who owned and operated Hona Luana restaurant. The Thompsons sold their business to the Westrom family. In accordance with the original land lease still in use, the lessee (Hostetler) must submit a request for permission to transfer the sublease from one party to another. The request came before the Airport Advisory Board at their last meeting and that board recommended to city council that the request be approved. The city council will consider the approval at tomorrow's city council meeting.

While I am not certain of the exact amount the Airport Enterprise Fund receives from this lease, whatever the amount in the lease agreement is what it gets.

It must be remembered that the airport leases land, not the businesses themselves. That seems to get a little confusing to some people. Thanks for asking. If you have other questions, please feel free to contact me. - Pam

Pam Johnson
Public Information Officer
City of Venice

John Patten is the editor and publisher of Venice Florida! dot com and had previously worked in broadcasting for over 12 years. He can also be incredibly rude at times.


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