Jazz Hall still behind on bills
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Saturday, October 13, 2012
10/13/12 at 7:36 AM
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame says it will vigorously fight any effort by Tulsa County to evict it from the Union Depot building and has asked for three months to stabilize its financial situation, according to a letter from the nonprofit group's attorney.
The Jazz Hall leases the historic structure at First Street and Cincinnati Avenue, a facility bought and refurbished by the county with $4 million in Vision 2025 funds. It pays no rent.
The release of the letter, obtained Friday by the Tulsa World through the state Open Records Act, came on the same day that county officials confirmed that the Jazz Hall still owes $13,496 in past-due utility bills.
Officials from the Jazz Hall told the Tulsa County Industrial Authority on Monday that they had raised the money needed to pay $75,000 in past-due bills - including approximately $50,000 owed to American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma.
The Industrial Authority - which is made up of the three Tulsa County commissioners - had given the Jazz Hall until that day to pay its bills or face possible termination of its lease.
"First and foremost, we are very happy that the Jazz Hall of Fame has been able to pay what they have," authority Chairman John Smaligo said Friday. "However, we had been given assurance that all of the past-due bills would be taken care of, and if that is not the case when we meet Monday, then we will have very important decisions to make at that time."
Mark Darrah, representing the Jazz Hall, sent the letter to the Industrial Authority's attorney, Jim Orbison, on Oct. 5 in advance of the authority's Oct. 8 meeting.
"The preference of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is to work at satisfactorily resolving the remaining issues, improving lines of communication between the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame and (the Industrial Authority) and carrying out the citizens' Vision 2025 wishes," Darrah wrote. "I therefore suggest that any further action is postponed until the (Industrial Authority's) first meeting in January 2013 on these issues."
Noting that the Vision 2025 vote created the new home for the Jazz Hall, Darrah wrote: "It would be a betrayal to these voters to turn the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame out and may even be a breach of the Vision 2025 bond covenants."
The Jazz Hall has worked to comply with the terms of its lease, and failure to do so "with such a lengthy and complex document does not imply bad faith or ill intent," the letter states.
Darrah wrote that the Jazz Hall's challenges have been exacerbated by the surrounding news coverage.
"So much so that a reasonable person could suspect the coverage has been orchestrated by those whose purpose is not good faith but destruction of the institution," the letter states. "Private event bookings have virtually dried up."
The $75,000 in past-due bills included $25,875 owed to the county for downtown assessment and insurance fees.
Smaligo said the county has been paid for those expenses.
The Jazz Hall of Fame has also failed to come up with the $8,400 needed to put the utility bill in its name, as required by the Industrial Authority, Smaligo said.
The bill remains in the authority's name.
Jazz Hall CEO Jason McIntosh said the down payment would be included in the Jazz Hall's first bill.
Darrah said he expects that the Jazz Hall's utility bill will be paid by the time the authority meets again Monday.
"There was a donor commitment based on a stock sale," Darrah said. "The donor did not realize there would be a delay in that clearing and then getting that from the account of the Jazz Hall of Fame to PSO."
Smaligo would not say whether the authority would consider delaying action on the Jazz Hall lease until January.
"The terms of the lease spell out what actions we can take and when we can take them," he said. "And I have said before, I believe the authority will continue to assert our rights under the lease."
The Industrial Authority is slated to meet at 10:30 a.m. Monday in Room 315 of the Ray Jordan Tulsa County Administration Building, 500 S. Denver Ave.
Original Print Headline: Jazz Hall still behind on bills
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame leases the historic Union Depot building at First Street and Cincinnati Avenue in downtown Tulsa. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World file