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From: Victor Kidd [mailto:victorlanekidd@gmail.

com]
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2018 4:07 PM
To: Cheatham, Craig <Craig.Cheatham@wcpo.com>
Subject: Economic Development Mason, Ohio

Craig,

Thank you for the courtesy of reaching out for my comments. I think I’ve answered all your
questions in the following statement. You can imagine the discomfort and annoyance of being
publicly and falsely accused of impropriety. I do not want to fight with these people, but they
continually put me in a position where I'm forced to defend the truth.

The letter below is to clarify the procedure leading to the City’s purchase of two downtown
properties located near the corner of Mason Montgomery Road and Main Street which was
acquired by the City of Mason to facilitate development of downtown Mason.

Most council members have been residents of Mason for many years and, therefore, have
numerous personal and business relationships throughout the community. Those of us who have
businesses in Mason will inevitably vote on issues that effect people with whom we have
business relationships. This is true of nearly every community in America.

TO QUOTE THE OHIO ETHICS COMMISSION: Conflicts of interest are normal because
public servants have families and friends, and may have businesses, professions, investments,
property interests, and other connections to their communities. Any of these connections could
result in a conflict of interest for the official. The issue is how the public servant responds to his
or her conflict of interest.

Simply put, a public official has a “conflict of interest” when his or her ability to be an objective
decision-maker is impaired by his or her own interests, or the interests of family members or
business associates.”

As far as I know, no-one at the City ever asked Mr. Malholtra to sell his property. I certainly did
not. Because of the strategic location of his property, we merely invited him to explore
participation with other developers in a downtown development. He expressed his desire to sell
rather than be involved. City staff handled the entire transaction.

No public official shall knowingly authorize, or employ the authority or influence of the public
official's office to secure authorization of any public contract in which the public official, a
member of the public official's family, or any of the public official's business associates has an
interest (ORC 2921.42).

At no time did I attempt to influence anyone to buy Ramesh’s property. As mayor, I was merely
part of the discussion in which we looked objectively at the merits of securing the property and
city staff negotiated in the same manner we do on every acquisition.

To avoid any question of inappropriate bias or conflict of interest, council has always been very
careful to follow the guidance and advice of our law director when a particular transaction
involves a relationship between a council person and anyone with whom the city may be doing
business.

Our law director is present for all executive session discussions regarding the acquisition of
property and gives direction when necessary. He was aware of the transaction between Malholtra
and the church when he reviewed the facts and found no conflict of interest.

Any council person with concerns are welcome to submit those concerns to our law director for
review and a professional legal response. That is the appropriate procedure.

In this case, I voluntarily abstained from voting on the matter in question even though the
relationship does not fall under the conflict of interest definition provided by the OEC or state
statute. I was involved in the early discussions, but solely out of interest in developing downtown
Mason. Moreover, I chose to remove myself from discussions as soon as an attempt was made to
cast doubt on my objectivity.

Since 1999, I have been involved in several attempts to develop downtown through the DMA,
local business collaboratives, the Chamber and city council. I was supportive of this acquisition
of these properties because they are contiguous to 4.3 acres currently owned by the City of
Mason which increased the opportunity to finally facilitate a substantial downtown development.
The city has been very successful at acquiring land to allow leverage for economic development
in other parts of the city and this was merely applying the same strategy to downtown
development. Furthermore, this area provides, by far, and, quite obviously, the best opportunity
for developing downtown in decades. The vast majority of Mason residents want a vibrant
downtown with restaurants, pubs, new housing, boutiques and other entertainment opportunities.

I was approached by a developer, Chris Koob, two years ago about developing the city owned
property in that location. I arranged a meeting with city staff and a couple of other developers to
discuss Mr. Koob’s preliminary mixed use design for the property. As we contemplated
developing that location with city staff and developers, the property in questions was identified
as a potential strategic acquisition both for additional space and a second ingress egress to the
potential development. The city reached out to the owner and negotiations commenced leading to
the recent purchase. We met with city staff to discuss and it looked like an opportunity that
would be great for the community since so many of our citizens have been asking for a more
vibrant downtown. As we looked at the plan, we saw the possibility of doing something really
great, especially if some of the other property owners would get involved.

Mr. Malholtra and Mr. Koob collectively own a large percentage of downtown and if they could
work together with the city, the outcome could be what council and the community have wanted
for years. Furthermore, Ramesh Malholtra had been very interested for years in efforts to
develop the downtown. So we approached Mr. Malholtra about a cooperative effort. He
responded by saying he would prefer to sell the property rather than be involved in the
development. The idea was presented to council in executive session and negotiations progressed
until the sale was finalized.

I explained this to Mrs. Grossmann but she continues to push a false narrative along with highly
inappropriate innuendo of illegal activity. This is very clearly retaliation for my support of Tom
Grossmann’s opponent for county commissioner.

Beyond our community connection, my only connection to Ramesh Malholtra is that he
purchased our church property in Union Township three years ago. That previous transaction
between the church and Mr. Malholtra is completely unrelated and was never in the thought
process, nor was it ever discussed in connection with the purchase of his downtown property.
This was a completely independent transaction years removed from any other business
transactions between Mr. Malholtra and the church.

As noted, the law director reviewed the facts and ruled nothing inappropriate has occurred. To
underscore the point, and due to my desire for complete transparency, I subsequently asked our
city manager to seek an outside review from a neighboring law director, and to submit a request
for the OEC to examine the facts and offer an opinion.

In summary, since being first elected in 2001, I’ve been dedicated to maintaining the highest
level of integrity in every aspect of city business and will continue that commitment until my
final day of service. I have no problem answering a legitimate question. However, the
Grossmanns have identified this public accusation as a way to punish me for supporting his
opponent in this recent commissioner race. Tom knows better, but he just can’t help himself.

A BIT OF HISTORY
My family first moved to Mason in 1965 when my father became pastor of the Mason Church of
the Nazarene where he served for seven years before being transferred to another church in
Dayton.

After college, my wife and kids moved back to Mason in 1985 and I began serving the Mason
Church of the Nazarene located at 300 West Church Street. The church had only about 10 elderly
attendees at the time and was considering closing. We brought new energy to the church and, due
to growth, we sold the building and purchased the old Methodist church building at 200 West
Church Street. We continued to grow, eventually sold that building and worshipped in the School
for 6 years before securing the property on at 2752 St Route 42. Along that time we changed our
church name to Living Leaf Community Church. I served at that location until January 2009
when a small church on the island of Maui invited me to become the pastor where I served until
May 2011.

Upon my return, I discovered, Living Leaf, the congregation I had served for 24 years had
struggled to mesh with the new pastor and many had exited the church. I tried to be supportive
without interfering but the congregation continued to dwindle and fell behind on mortgage
payments. When it became clear the property was about to be lost, one of our long term members
who was a licensed associate minster and I agreed to purchase the property and allow the church
to continue meeting free of charge.

However, after discussing the matter at length, we decided not to purchase the property but
continue to pay the mortgage for the church and pray for guidance on reviving the church. The
shrinking congregation continued to meet until most decided to join other more traditional
ministries in the community. At about that time we began sharpening our focus on ministry to
individuals and families effected by heroin addiction, which has become one of the greatest
social maladies of our time.

Someone once said, “society sets the agenda for the church” and we agree. It’s difficult and
sometimes even risky work, but we’re convinced it’s what Jesus would have us do. Our church
has had its ups and downs, as have all churches, but we have persevered and continued to serve
heroin addicts and their families very effectively along side One City Against Heroin, Warren
County Drug Court as well as individual families in our communities.

Whatever the challenges, we felt a calling to serve heroin addicts and their families due to the
rapid rise in heroin use and overdoses. Too many families were being brutalized by this scourge
and too many lives were being lost. It was and continues to be our passion to minister Love,
Encouragement, Acceptance and Forgiveness to those who had been alienated or isolated from
God by this addiction.

We invited the Lindner Center, Woodhaven, Sojourners, New Housing Ohio, Warren County
Solutions and a few others to come and look at the property as a possible way to partner with us
on ministering to the addicted, which we were actively doing. In the course of that exploration, I
happened to be visiting an art gallery on Main Street owned by Ramesh Malholtra with whom I
had been acquainted for many years.

Mr. Malholtra is a serious art collector, philanthropist, spiritual author and owner of the Spiritual
Light Center in Franklin, Ohio. Ramesh has an incredible collection of art and it was all very
spiritual in nature, which started a conversation about his dream to build an interfaith spiritual
resource center in our area to inspire and heal. I suggested the church property as a potential site
for his vision. He looked at the property, agreed to purchase the property and wrote into the
contract that Living Leaf could meet free on Sunday mornings in perpetuity. Jonathon Sams, our
church’s attorney handled the transaction. 100% of the proceeds from the property go to Living
Leaf Church to support minitry, a fact that may be easily verified with Mr. Malholtra. As pastor,
I presently receive no compensation from the church and over the past decade my total
compensation as pastor of Living Leaf has never exceeded 25k per year.
In conclusion, I believe the vote to rescind was an effort to protect the City, Mr Malholtra, and
myself from ongoing false accusations. The Grossmanns, however, continue to advance a false
narrative and are no doubt delighted for the media’s involvement as a way of furthering their
efforts. Sadly, they have no concern for the collateral damage that may be caused Mr. Malholtra,
the City of Mason, Living Leaf or anyone else. You can judge for yourself why I would have so
strongly supported someone else for county commissioner.

vk