A Brief History of Athens Theatre Scandal


On or about 20-Apr-1993, Mark Zimmerman (acting as DeLand city attorney) negotiated an agreement with Mark Zimmerman (acting on own behalf as investor). According to the agreement, [item 5-e] Zimmerman, his law partner, and their wives would purchase the vacant Athens Theater and hold it for re-sale. The deal negotiated by Mark Zimmerman (city attorney) had the City guarantee Mark Zimmerman (investor) a certain profit on the deal. Upon advice from Mark Zimmerman, city attorney, the City signed the agreement with Mark Zimmerman, investor. The agreement was signed on 23-Apr-1993.

On 02-Sep-1993, Mark Zimmerman, the City of DeLand, and and Main Street DeLand signed an agreement [item 5-f] whereby Zimmerman and partners would lease the property to Main Street DeLand, with option to purchase, and with the City of DeLand continuing to guarantee a profit for Zimmerman and partners.

On 15-Dec-1993, Main Street DeLand submitted a grant application (item 5, with attachments) to the State of Florida, seeking matching funds to buy the building from Mr. Zimmerman and partners. This grant application included letters of support from Mayor Dave Rigsby, City Manager Wayne Sanborn, State Rep. Dick McMahan, State Sen. Locke Burt, and some members of Main Street DeLand.

According to the grant application, $30,000 of local funding was to be supplied and matched by the state grant. It appears that all of this money was collected timely, and that the building was purchased as planned.

On 15-Jun-1994, Main Street DeLand submitted another grant application (item 3) for state funding. In this application, Main Street listed pledges and earlier Historical Preservation grants as money to be matched by the State. Attachment ‘B’ (item 3-b) Includes the purchase of the building, with the $30,000 of Historical Preservation grant, as part of the money to be matched in this application. That is, the state matching money is to be matched by the state.

Examination of the pledge history during August, 1996, shows that the overwhelming majority are unpaid. Some never represented real money, and others are unlikely to ever be paid. The most notable omission is probably the City of DeLand’s choice not to provide $48,000 in CBDG money or $12,000 in CRA money. The letter from Gerald Chester (item 4-5B) suggests the reason: it would not be a legal expenditure of CDBG money, and the City would risk its future eligibility.

Many of the other pledges, particularly the larger ones, have not been fulfilled. When the applicant’s director fails to pay her pledge, one wonders whether the pledges are anything beyond a fictional front designed to obtain state money.

In the 1996-97 grant application (item 6, made 31-May-1995), Main Street claims that the City has pledged another $60,000 in CDBG money. The City made no such pledge. Again, the Chester letter explains why we should not expect the City to budget CDBG money in this way. In fact, at the meeting of 05-Jun-1995, the minutes show that the City of DeLand refused to make such a pledge. (item 8) However, the non-existent pledge is still included as the largest portion of the new money to be matched.

The most recent grant application also shows the unpaid pledges, including those such as the DeLand CDBG pledge which are not likely to be paid, as money to be matched. Given the history of local fund-raising, it seems reasonable to believe that the overwhelming majority of actual money spent on the Athens project is to come from the State of Florida, and that the State is asked to match puffery with dollars.

Index of Documents

The following documents are important to this scandal. Each is identified by a mark on its first page. Some documents are divided into parts, in which case some of the parts may be marked and indexed under the main document.

There may be gaps in the numbering of documents. Additionally, neither the index nor the documents are in chronological order.
mark part ref desc
1 main st deland/cra agree, fy 1994-95
3 grant app for 1995-96 restoration funds
3 a map, showing athens site
3 b local match list
3 b-1 l/france3 sanborn [14-Jun-94]: CDBG pledge of $60,000
3 b-2 l/france4 sanborn [14-Jun-94]: CRA pledge of $15,000
3 b-3 news-journal pledge of $25,000
3 b-4 barry barnett letter of donation
3 b-5 bone pledge of forgone profits
3 b-6 jr svc league pledge of $3,000
3 b-7 misc pledge cards
4-2 sc603 grant agreement for restoration
4-3 s5001 grant agreement for acquisition
4-5 a l\athens sanborn [23-Oct-95]: cover for 4-5(b)
4-5 b 1095-019.z chester [16-Oct-95]: cbdg restriction letter
4-6 24cfr ch v CBDG rules
4-7 fleishel [18-May-95]: pledge request
5 grant app for acquisition funds
5 g repurchase agreement: city, zimmerman
5 h repurchase agreement: msd, city, zimmerman
6 grant app for 1996-97 restoration funds (31-May-1995)
7 fleishel [10-May-1995]: request for $60,000 fy 1996-97
8 171 minutes of commission [05-Jun-1996] , denying $60,000
9 brock [06-Jun-1995]: advice to city to deny $60,000
10 msd-pled list of pledges & amounts paid


from @(#)msd-ath01.txt 1.0 07-Oct-1996

proc with hmac.ta2 1.0 19-Jan-1999