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Judge orders release of list of raceway bidders

Fri., June 20, 2008

Superior Court Judge Robert Austin ordered the release Thursday of the names of 18 bidders who signed up at a public auction to compete against Spokane County to buy 560 acres of land at Spokane Raceway Park.

The land was sold to the highest bidders during a complex, multiple-round auction conducted April 10 by J.P. King Co., of Alabama. Formal approval of those sales was delayed Thursday.

The company hired to conduct the auction was recommended by receiver Barry Davidson and approved by the court. The receiver was appointed by the judge in June 2005 to take over financial and day-to-day operations of Washington Motorsports, the limited partnership that owns the racing complex in Airway Heights.

The court took control after hearing evidence that longtime track manager Orville Moe had committed a host of financial irregularities, including “self-dealing” with other companies he owned, to the detriment of limited partner investors who brought the suit in 2003.

Both the auction company and the receiver refused a request from The Spokesman-Review on the day of the auction and a follow-up request the following week for a list of individuals and businesses who signed up for the court-ordered auction. Davidson, who promised the auction would be “open and transparent,” forwarded the newspaper’s request to the judge, who quickly ruled from the bench Thursday.

“There’s no reason to withhold the names and addresses of those who registered,” the judge said. “This was an open and public auction, and these people chose to participate.”

“Who the bidders were is a matter of public interest,” the judge said.

Those who registered include prominent businessmen and developers.

Here is the list, in order of bid-number assignment, as provided by Davidson immediately following the judge’s ruling:

Richard “Dick” Edwards, Spokane; Don Simmonds, Abaco, Bahamas; William T. Murphy, Spokane; John Claude Barrier, Spokane; Kevin Gunder, Liberty Lake; George Hans Lawrence, Spokane; Pamp Matthew Maiers, Moses Lake; Mark D. Dagostino, Spokane; Steven Michael Salvatori, Spokane; Donald Morse, Chewelah; Anton A. Kuznetsov, Airway Heights; Lowell Stanley McKee, Colbert; Mark Murphy, Spokane Valley; Joseph H. McKervey, Spokane; Walter James Knopp, Mead; Lloyd Torgerson, Mead; Marlene Nixon, Nine Mile Falls; and Harlan D. Douglass, Spokane.

Commissioner Mark Richard was the designated representative of Spokane County at the auction.

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