Simao: Watertown Mayor Jeffrey Smith should RESIGN in disgrace

January 2, 2023

Good afternoon Mayor Smith, it is very apparent that you lied to Ms. Blevins and the public with your disinformation to promote your political agenda and to carry out your very personal vendettas. You failed to provide available information to Ms. Blevins and the public that would have totally dispelled your narrative of the City paying five or six times the appraised value of the Watertown Golf Club Inc. (WGC).

City Assessor Brian S. Phelps was quoted in an article on 10/18/22 in the Watertown Daily Times as saying,  “That is a different arrangement than when Mr. Lundy acquired the golf club for about $500,000 in September 2017 as the major shareholder in the business in a stock sale.” Mr. Phelps pointed out that the city would buy the golf club’s assets, including the nine holes, the clubhouse, 40 golf carts, other equipment, a party tent and the golf cart building and pro shop. Why have you omitted what Mr. Phelps said from your narrative? 

You’ve used the dais in Council Chambers, Newzjunky, 790 WTNY, WATN 1240, 7News and the Watertown Daily Times (WDT) to disseminate false information and to promote your political narrative. Community Broadcasters LLC and part owner Jim Leven  have played a very large part in giving you and others a platform to spew your lies and attack anyone who disagrees with you. That platform provided by Mr. Leven allowed you to unfairly attack Newzjunky multiple times. It is widely known that Newzjunky does a great job and provides a valuable service to the community.

Please see the attached document  that was obtained from a FOIL Request to the City in Sept. 2018. The Mosher Financial Group, LTD. was working on behalf of  the Watertown Golf Club Inc.( WGC) and was involved in the negotiations with the City.  The June 17, 2017 cover letter  of that Appraisal  stated “ The function of the appraisal is to provide a basis for acquisition”.  The Appraisal didn’t mention anything about the potential Sale / Leaseback arrangement. The City withheld important pertinent information from the Appraiser that would’ve resulted in a much higher valuation. The appraiser wasn’t informed of the fact that the proposed purchase price was offset by a deep discount in rent. And so the appraisal was based on a misleading set of facts.

Based on the 2017 Appraised Value of $810K utilizing a 9% rate of return as specified in the appraisal  the rent should’ve been approximately $73,000 per year. That very important fact hasn’t been disclosed to the public. If the City purchased  only the property back in 2017 for $600K and proceeded to not charge to the WGC the value of the deal would’ve been in excess of $1.5m.

Why did you withhold the important fact  that it was the City’s intention to make the WGC  a “franchisee” as stated in the below press release which was also discussed in the attached document?  The Mosher correspondence said the WGC could have a “fresh lease” up to 25 years and “should probably expect to continue to pay the property taxes at a minimum”. In simple terms the City wasn’t going charge the WGC any rent and the WGC was going to be a “franchisee” as highlighted in the below press release. Any reasonable person should be able to come to the conclusion that a Sale / Leaseback that includes free rent for up to 25 years shouldn’t even be a part of this  discussion or a basis for the litigation you encouraged.

You’ve been misleading the public by telling them that the City could’ve purchased the property for $600,000 in 2017 when you knew that there was no meeting of the minds, no executed purchase contract, and no lease agreement which means your  statements were and are patently false. The Appraisal’s Valuation Date was May 19, 2017 which was  over 5 1/2 years ago and the Appraisal is meaningless today as too much time has passed and I’m sure the Appraiser would agree with me.

Your incessant lies about the 2017 purchase price and 2017 appraisal while not disclosing the other important relevant terms was intended  to create turmoil and chaos in the community just as it did at the Dec. 12th Council Meeting.  You also wanted promote your political agenda and to recruit Ms. Blevins into suing the City. It is very unfortunate that she would take your word as the truth and fund the pending litigation.

It is very disturbing and concerning that Mr. Slye, Mr. Lumbis and Mr. Phelps were at the meeting on Jan.13, 2017 and not a one of them  was willing to come forward over the last few months and set the record straight that there was much more to the deal than just a proposed $600K purchase back in 2017.  Why were they afraid to come forward? You, former Mayor Joe Butler Jr, former Councilman Cody Horbacz and others have also misled the public by withholding that  information. I might add that Butler and Horbacz were on the Council in 2017 and should’ve known that their statements were false and misleading. It’s  also worth noting the Joe Butler Jr. had an admitted conflict of interest in 2017.

You will also see the below an email exchange between Mike Lumbis and myself on 8/12/22 confirming the proposed rezoning of the WGC’s property that led to the meeting on 8/31/22 to discuss a resolution of the proposed rezoning issue.  Bob Slye, Ken Mix, Councilwoman  Ruggiero, Mike Lundy,  Atty. Mike Young, Atty. Jan Kublick, Atty. Steven Leventhal and myself were all in attendance. I thought the 8/31 meeting was not only productive but very cordial and professional. You and Councilwoman Ms. Compo  Pierce on two weeks notice refused to attend the meeting and coincidentally you you and her have the least amount of knowledge of the terms of the purchase but for political reasons are the most vocal in opposition. You also refused to ask Mr. Hickey or Mr. Olney to attend the 8/31 meeting after three email requests from me. It was at that meeting that the proposed purchase by the City was discussed along with other details.

Mr. Lundy and I  had a meeting of the minds prior to the discovery of the proposed zone change 8/11/22. My company Prime L.L.C. was going to purchase the WGC property and all of its assets. My intentions were to immediately cease golf operations at the WGC and pursue development opportunities with the property. The proposed rezoning of the property by the City was going to severely impact the value of our deal and my plan. Ives Hill Country Club Inc. (IHCC) was going to become the only Golf Course in the City and it would’ve been 18 Holes.

IHCC would’ve become very valuable as the only 18 Hole Golf Course in the City however with the City’s intention to rezone the WGC property Mr. Lundy and I decided to pivot and propose an alternative to address the City’s desire to protect the Park from adjacent development. There was no “scheme” as unfairly alleged by the WDT. The proposed purchase of the WGC property by the City was simply just an alternative to address the City’s preference of having no development on the WGC property and adjacent to Parkland.  There have been allegations of improprieties which have no basis and couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Obviously the reduction of IHCC to operate no more than nine holes in perpetuity was a very valuable concession on behalf of Prime L.L.C. and IHCC to which I agreed. In fact Mr. Slye demanded exactly that concession when speaking of the “reservation” at the Nov. 7, 2022 City Council Meeting  when he said “ I want Mr. Lundy to obtain that from Mr. Simao first I’m not going to negotiate with Mr. Simao for that”. Mr.  Lundy did obtain exactly what Mr. Slye requested from my companies and it is in the Asset Purchase Agreement. 

There was much discussion in the community prior to the 8/31 meeting about Mr. Lundy’s negotiations with me and I can’t help but think that all or many of the above mentioned people were aware of those discussions. Why else after 57 years of the status quo would the city now want to change the zoning?  The City had many opportunities to prevent development on the WGC property in exchange for the below market lease but the City for some reason didn’t negotiate a deed restriction on the property. That’s not Mr. Lundy’s fault or mine. It was prior City Administrations and the City Attorney who did nothing to prevent development on the WGC property while negotiating multiple leases.

The fact that the City was going to change to zoning to further restrict development on the WGC property was an obvious indication that anyone looking to obtain the necessary municipal approvals for development from the City and other government agencies would be facing a monumental task and very expensive uphill battle.

If Ms. Blevins was willing to sue to stop the the City’s acquisition of the WGC property,  you can be rest assured that there would be someone or a group of people willing to challenge any municipal approval process that would allow for development adjacent to Thompson Park.

The fact that the City concealed the rezoning of the WGC property to the public is very suspect. The fact that the WGC had a Notice of Claim against the City prior to the revelation of the proposed rezoning makes it appear that the City was targeting the WGC’s property and  appears to be retaliatory. The proposed rezoning was the procuring and only cause of the 8/31 meeting.

It is my very strong opinion that if Ms. Blevins was aware of any of these important relevant  facts and didn’t reveal them to her attorneys prior to commencing the current litigation she is complicit along with you. If she didn’t know these facts she now does and she should immediately withdraw her lawsuit and stop playing the lead role in your political charade against the City and your political rivals.

You’ve said before many times that “elections have consequences” but your actions speak louder than your words because you as the Mayor publicly, through the media, encouraged a lawsuit against the City because you didn’t get the outcome you desired.  The lawsuit against the City that you encouraged was based on the false and misleading information that you presented to the public. You also revealed Privileged & Confidential – Attorney/ Client Information to the public without the authorization of the Council. You revealed the information to solicit a lawsuit against the City with complete disregard to ethics. It’s also my opinion that you miserably breached your oath of office and fiduciary duty to the City and should resign in disgrace or be removed from Office of Mayor!  


       P.J. Simao