Although Ohio no longer has money invested with a controversial Toledo-area landlord, neighborhood activists used new details about Tom Noe's state investments with John Ulmer yesterday to press for support for legislation under consideration by City Council.
Beth Lewandowski, president of the Lagrange Village Council, stood in front of a home owned by an Ulmer company to laud Mayor Jack Ford's "point-of-sale" legislation aimed at forcing property owners such as Mr. Ulmer to fix up homes before they sell them. "The point-of-sale [legislation] needs to go to committee, and it needs to be passed by City Council," she said.
The Blade reported yesterday that Mr. Noe loaned at least $602,000 of Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation money to Mr. Ulmer's real estate management company in the first six months after Mr. Noe got $25 million to invest in rare coins for the bureau in March, 1998.
The report added detail to an April story by The Blade that Mr. Noe had invested as much as $1 million with Mr. Ulmer, who is often criticized for charging high interest rates on homes he sells and for owning substandard rental properties.
Although Mr. Noe was ultimately given $50 million by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation to invest in rare coins - and was on the verge of getting another $25 million, records show that he invested the state's money in many other things, including real estate, collectibles, and stocks.
Before Mr. Noe's attorneys acknowledged that as much as $13 million is unaccounted for from the funds, officials defended Mr. Noe's dealings with Mr. Ulmer, saying the bureau gave its money managers "wide latitude."
Shortly after the Noe coin funds were shut down, a liquidator was assigned to sell off assets.
Bill Brandt, the president of Development Specialists Inc., the firm that replaced Mr. Noe as manager of the coin funds, said the funds no longer have investments with Mr. Ulmer's firm, the Westhaven Group. "It was high-risk mortgages, but it was pretty straightforward," he said. "They, like a number of people, were anxious to get away from the Noe situation."
He added, "I'm not sure that's what a state coin fund should be investing in."
Mr. Ulmer's investors give him money and he promises them 10 to 12 percent returns. He takes the money and uses it to buy homes, often fixing them up and selling them on land contract. Westhaven did not return a call seeking comment.
The point-of-sale legislation would require Toledo residential property owners to get a building inspection and have any violations addressed before selling, and threatens those who do not with a first-degree misdemeanor and a $10,000 fine.
Council decided Tuesday to hold off on a vote and may restart a task force to look into housing issues.
But Terry Glazer, executive director of the Lagrange Community Development Corp., said a task force has studied housing issues. Point-of-sale, he said, needs to be passed. "They're trying to bury it again," he said.
Ms. Lewandowski, who has tangled with Mr. Ulmer for years, said it appears he has kept his pledge not to buy additional properties in the Lagrange Village Council area that is centered at Lagrange Street and Central Avenue.
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