Fantasy Land

A green amusement park was supposed to bring prosperity to New Caney, but so far, only a few have profited. And it still exists only on paper.

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See if you can get through this without laughing.

In 2005, a renowned dinosaur expert and author of children's books, together with a self-proclaimed economic development expert with a PhD from a diploma mill, sells a community development agency in the sticks north of Houston on the idea of a $50 million dinosaur-themed amusement park. In a year, the idea is expanded to a half-billion-dollar, 500-acre, environmentally themed juggernaut called EarthQuest, which calls for things like a water park formed by a man-made retreating glacier; mountains; a volcano; a submarine excursion among gigantic scaly sea creatures with glowing eyes; roller coasters; a racetrack for corn-fuel-powered go-karts; and a place where kids can go to watch "hip" scientists fiddle about in a lab with giant tubes full of algae. The racetrack is framed with banners that say things like "Put the Corn in Cornering!" No, really.

Visitors to EarthQuest's "Land" zone will "blast from a fiery volcano" and "trek through endless deserts," according to the nonexistent park's Web site. See www.earthquestadventures.com for the whole shebang.
Visitors to EarthQuest's "Land" zone will "blast from a fiery volcano" and "trek through endless deserts," according to the nonexistent park's Web site. See www.earthquestadventures.com for the whole shebang.
The "Water" zone is apparently a town surrounded by water, only some of the water is salty, some is fresh and some is snow. Take that, Kemah Boardwalk!
The "Water" zone is apparently a town surrounded by water, only some of the water is salty, some is fresh and some is snow. Take that, Kemah Boardwalk!
The "Pangea" zone features a submarine ride that lets visitors get a close look at...what the hell are those things?
The "Pangea" zone features a submarine ride that lets visitors get a close look at...what the hell are those things?

The proposed site — 1,564 acres in all — is owned by a company overseen by a guy who will go on to launch a multilevel-marketing scheme in which distributors can get rich by selling tap water infused with cancer-fighting agents.

The East Montgomery County Improvement District issues $7.6 million in bonds to finance the project and promotes the bejesus out of it, saying the first phase should be completed by 2010. The District has no transparency or accountability, so their president and staff do things like treat themselves to $2,000 dinners at Pappas and trips to Las Vegas. Their president, consultant, board members and some of their family members "study" theme parks in Canada and the Bahamas. A few go to China for some reason.

They charge everything they can think of to their District credit cards, such as mileage on a 1/8-mile trip across the District office's parking lot. No one in the community knows. Working for the District is a major windfall. You can do whatever you want. You can tell people that EarthQuest is still on track, even though the company that owns the land — the one partially owned by the dude selling magic tap water — astonishingly goes bankrupt in 2011.

Then some uppity local newspaper called the Tribune, which thinks the public has a right to know what's being done with its tax dollars, starts investigating. The newspaper uncovers the bankruptcy and the dubious backgrounds of some of the key players. It reveals questionable connections and expenditures.

Suddenly, some residents on the east side of Montgomery County take notice. They ask questions. The president of the District disparages the newspaper reports and says they're "moving forward." The guy elevates vagueness to an art form, showing that he's worth every cent of his $97,000 salary and recent $50,000 bonus, even though EarthQuest exists only on paper.

For something touted as the only amusement park of its kind in the world, an attraction that would put AstroWorld to shame, very few people involved in the project actually want to talk about it. Some even try to distance themselves from it.

EarthQuest was supposed to bring money and jobs to a rural community, but the only people it's brought money to so far are the people who dreamed it up, and who are still trying to sell something that doesn't exist.
_____________________

In the beginning, there was an idea for a dinosaur park, and it was good.

"Dino" Don Lessem, a former science reporter for The Boston Globe, had fallen in love with dinosaurs after covering an archaeological dig in Mongolia. He decided to devote his life to the creatures, eventually building and designing permanent and traveling museum exhibits; writing dozens of children's books; hosting Discovery Channel and NOVA documentaries; and advising for both the Jurassic Park movie and theme park ride.

"I never had a permanent dinosaur attraction, and I thought, you know, museums do it in kind of a boring way. I wanted to make something more exciting, and on a permanent basis," Lessem tells the Houston Press from his office outside of Philadelphia. He scouted locations in the West, one of which was Lake Havasu City, Arizona, home to the London Bridge and a dude named Don Holbrook.

At the time, Holbrook headed the Lake Havasu City Partnership for Economic Development. Ultimately, the two Dons decided Lake Havasu City's older population wasn't right for a dinosaur park. Which worked out, because after the Partnership decided not to renew Holbrook's contract, Lessem hired Holbrook, who had always been excited about the dino-park, to help bring his dream to fruition.

Holbrook, according to Lessem, wrote and disseminated a request for proposal to dozens of cities across the country and got a few nibbles from small communities in Texas.

"He wrote to the State of Texas Tourism Board and said, 'You know, [if] you want this project, you better come up with some better places.' So they put out kind of an all-points bulletin and got two communities — one outside Dallas...and East Montgomery County responding," Lessem says. He found the latter to be better organized and just as enthusiastic about the educational aspects he wanted to bring to the park.

Lessem was impressed by Holbrook's supposed credentials and didn't check references or verify Holbrook's background. From Lessem's perspective, appearance was incredibly important in the economic development industry.

"His profession is about professional bullshitting," Lessem says.

Lessem learned just how important Holbrook thought appearance was when Holbrook asked him to dress like a big shot — or Holbrook's idea of a big shot — during the wheeling-and-dealing process. In the requests for proposal, Holbrook had not disclosed Don Lessem as the creator, saying instead that someone in the "entertainment industry" was behind the project. Lessem says that Holbrook even wanted him to act the part during the wheeling and dealing.

"I remember going to a meeting with a state legislator where I was told I should dress up like a Hollywood character," Lessem recalls with a chuckle. "...I was supposed to sit in the back with, like, Armani sunglasses and a cashmere turtleneck."

Thanks in large part to Holbrook, Lessem says, the Texas Legislature passed a bill creating a special tax zone comprising the future location of the park, nearly 1,600 acres off U.S. 59 that had been owned for a century by Rice University. Lessem says he was told that the property was owned outright by Dallas-based developer Marlin Atlantis, who paid for the feasibility studies and site analyses that ultimately determined that the area was ready for way more than a mere 50-acre dinosaur park. It was based in part on these reports — which the East Montgomery County Improvement District has yet to make public — that the idea for a project of EarthQuest's magnitude was born.
_____________________

Spread over more than 500 acres, EarthQuest is planned to be an experience unlike any other in the country: a theme park with elaborate areas set up for "Land," "Life," "Sky," "Pangea" and "Water." Per the EarthQuest Web site, "Attractions in each zone are introduced by a team of hip young scientists. These characters appear throughout the park, both in media and graphics, and possibly as walk-around streetmosphere players or guides presenting impromptu shows and demonstrations."

Then there's EarthWalk, a "shady street" lined with 60,000 square feet of "eco-friendly shops, restaurants and entertainment venues," and a resort hotel "surrounded by lush waterfalls, natural woods, native plants, and eco-friendly facilities."

But, based on the questionable business practices and apparent self-interest of some of the key players, the project should probably be called ClusterQuest.

Right off the bat, the biggest problem was that Marlin Atlantis didn't actually own the property. It was held by an entity called Whitestone, created by Marlin Atlantis honchos John Marlin and Roscoe Frederick "Trey" White III, which borrowed $19.6 million to purchase it.

Marlin was just getting his feet wet as a developer; White had made a name for himself by creating a successful real estate Web site that was bought by HomeStore.com.

In 2003, White founded White Energy, a producer of ethanol. After White Energy went bankrupt in 2009, White jumped into the always respectable multilevel-marketing industry, peddling bottles of water called Evolv which supposedly contained cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory agents.

The promotional materials for White's myriad corporations often referred to him as a billionaire, something White himself never professed, but never appeared to discourage. Although EarthQuest was going to be built on land owned by White's empire, he preferred to focus on Evolv, leaving the hands-on stuff to his partner, John Marlin.

When Lessem's idea of a nonprofit was incorporated as the EarthQuest Institute, White sat back and let Marlin take the reins. But Marlin and Lessem clashed, as Marlin's hands-on activities allegedly included screaming in Lessem's face for no discernible reason.

When asked if Lessem felt that Marlin pressured him into resigning from the board, Lessem puts it like this: "He walks into a board meeting and says, 'I don't like the way you run the organization, you have to quit.'...I sensed a certain pressure in there, subtly...But ultimately, I felt I had to go along with it, because his support of the entire project was at that point vital." (Marlin could not be reached for comment; multiple calls to multiple extensions at Marlin Atlantis's office went straight to voice mail. The Press left messages with two of Marlin's bankruptcy attorneys, as well as his wife, who for some reason was surprised to hear that no one ever answers the phone at her husband's office.)

Lessem outlined his concern in a few letters to the EarthQuest Institute board. In one he wrote, "Not one person among us has significant national or local contacts among the business and personal philanthropic communities. None of us has the right kind of board experience for leading what was chartered as an international educational effort. None of us has been able to set this organization on the right course...We all need to remember that this is an organization we SERVE, not our fiefdom to control."

Marlin clearly felt that his development company should have a major stake in the Institute, which is why he installed a Marlin Atlantis employee named Deborah Thomas as chief financial officer. Her 2009 salary was listed on federal tax returns as $140,000 for a 20-hour workweek. Lessem says board members deferred half their salaries. (When reached on the phone by the Press, Thomas referred all questions to East Montgomery County Improvement District President Frank McCrady and declined to discuss her work with the Institute. She was just one of many current and erstwhile EarthQuest players, including McCrady, who either didn't want to comment for this story, or didn't want to admit that they once had something to do with EarthQuest).

Lessem says of Marlin Atlantis's involvement: "It's hard to blame EMCID for trying, but not being expert enough to do their financial investigating of...a company that did a lot of bullshitting that they had the capacity to make this happen."

But it seems there was plenty of bullshitting to go around, with much of it spewed by both McCrady and his dubious consultant, Don Holbrook. With Lessem out of the picture, EarthQuest's destiny seemed to be largely in their hands.
_____________________

Because local media expressed exactly zero skepticism about McCrady's and Holbrook's royal proclamations, their lavish trips and spending sprees went unnoticed for years.

It wasn't until a reporter for the Houston Community Newspapers chain, Cynthia Calvert, left her post to launch her own paper, The Tribune, that someone actually tried to find out the real story.

Much to McCrady's dismay, Calvert broke the story earlier this year about Whitestone's bankruptcy. Things like that weren't supposed to happen. McCrady was supposed to tell the public and the media that everything was going fine, and they were supposed to smile like idiots and take him at his word, and he was supposed to take his annual cost-of-living raise, party in Vegas on the District's dime, and use the District's AmEx and Visa to charge things like $1,000 for an apparent jalapeño popper-fueled orgy at a TGI Friday's in Humble.

Calvert's reporting, and that of Tribune Editor Geoff Geiger, also uncovered public records showing that the District paid for a 12-day reconnaissance of theme parks in Canada, Orlando, the Bahamas and China for McCrady, Holbrook and their families. The District also covered a first-class flight to Tokyo and Saigon for McCrady, a District board member, the District's attorney and an engineer.

Calvert also looked into Holbrook's background and came up with more questions than answers.

A self-described maverick with a fondness for portmanteaus ("thrivival" = thriving + survival), Holbrook is the kind of guy who loves to make bold, if often weird, claims, like his assertion that he "launched the first economic development Web site in the world in 1991."

He claims elsewhere to have "worked on over 100 projects representing over $1 billion...in capital investment, generating more than 50,000 jobs in his nearly 20 years in the profession." Neither Calvert nor the Press was able to find documentation to support this.

He also claims to have authored "the best selling book in the economic development industry," which is a remarkable feat for a self-published book whose sole professional review came from Kirkus Indie, a fee-for-review service for self-published authors. (Holbrook has self-published three books. Until recently, he hawked these books on the EarthQuest Institute's Web site and Facebook page.)

It would have been wonderful if Holbrook had quickly clarified some of these matters, but, after an initial phone interview, Holbrook didn't return the Press's calls. He had dismissed Calvert's work for the Tribune and was suspicious of reporters' motivations.

"You've got media that writes purely investigative reporting...and then you've got...yellow tabloid journalism," Holbrook told the Press. "And if you're referring to the Tribune, you know, they report infactual stuff that's not factual at all [sic]. And they don't seem to want to actually report the information that's factual if you do give it to them."

Holbrook seems to have had some initial success in the early-to-mid-1990s, working as the economic developer for the city of Crookston, Minnesota. However, he didn't seem to find much success after leaving Crookston. A gig as executive director of the Red Wing, Minnesota, Port Authority, was short-lived; hired in 1996, he was fired in 1998 after some of the Port Authority commissioners questioned his résumé.

Holbrook claimed to have a doctorate and MBA from LaSalle University, an online institution subsequently exposed as a diploma mill. While most LaSalle "students" simply wrote checks for their degrees, some poor saps actually thought they were writing term papers and theses for a legitimate university. Holbrook, who has said he wrote thousands of pages for LaSalle courses and spent years on his dissertation, appears to have fallen in the latter camp.

The Port ultimately fired Holbrook for what they believed to be fraud; Holbrook sued for breach of contract. The suit was settled out of court, with the Port paying Holbrook $160,000 to cover court costs, and the Port also issued a "letter of misunderstanding," saying Holbrook had not lied on his résumé, he just wasn't able to produce certain documents in time.

From there it was on to his short stint in Lake Havasu City, followed by an acrimonious few years as executive director of the Wayne County (Indiana) Economic Development Corporation, where he started off on the wrong foot by spending $10,000 on new office furniture, including $8,000 for a desk.

When a board member and a former Corporation staff attorney questioned these and other expenditures, Holbrook hired a lawyer to dash off letters threatening them with legal action if they didn't stop making "untrue and malicious statements."

The local paper, the Palladium-Item, followed with an editorial calling for Holbrook's ouster, saying, "Holbrook's flagrant bullying involves tactics designed to silence critics of a public official's public spending and performance. His actions follow a pattern from past employment, a pattern that stifles needed public discourse and disclosure."

It's also a pattern that would repeat with EarthQuest.
_____________________

Although he had the occasional speaking gig after leaving Indiana, Holbrook had no steady job.

But thanks to "Dino" Don Lessem and Frank McCrady, Holbrook experienced a career jump start. Now he could tell people he was an integral part of what would be a truly groundbreaking theme park. He included the EarthQuest story in one of his books and got an EarthQuest Institute board member to write the forward to another book.

He worked closely with EarthQuest designer Chris Brown, a former Disney engineer who founded Los Angeles-based Contour Entertainment. Contour makes excellent renderings, but it's not a developer, and not all of its cool drawings come to life. Brown told the Press that, while Contour designed a large entertainment center currently under construction in Dubai, no ­Contour-designed theme parks on the scale of EarthQuest have been completed in the last ten years. The things that have been completed include a casino in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and a traveling, multimedia Star Trek exhibit, complete with flight simulator.

Holbrook and Brown sought other consulting jobs that often dovetailed with District business. During the time the duo pitched an economic study to councilmembers of a Cleveland suburb in August 2011, Holbrook used his District-issued American Express.

Citing their EarthQuest credentials, the two also contracted with the town of Pahrump, outside Las Vegas, to provide an economic feasibility study as well as some novel ideas for attractions, including something called Think Tank!, in which people could pay around $500 to drive a tank around for a few hours. In addition to tank stuff, Think Tank! could also feature a separate area for a mortar firing range. There was also the Hot Shots golf range, where you could drink alcoholic beverages while firing Titleists out of a machine gun.

Holbrook apparently liked Pahrump so much, he wanted to export a little of it to east Montgomery County: The town is home to Front Sight, the largest outdoor shooting range in the country. Its owner, Ignatius Piazza, wanted to build homes and schools around the business, creating what he called the safest community in the U.S. He sold home lots for hundreds of thousands, and when the community was never built, some consumers felt they'd been ripped off. They sued Piazza in federal court, and Front Sight briefly ended up in receivership.

Recently, McCrady announced that Front Sight may soon build an indoor firing range in east Montgomery County. (Piazza would not return calls seeking confirmation.)

Back in Pahrump, the Valley Times soon picked up on Calvert's stories, causing headaches for Holbrook and McCrady. Between the Tribune and a self-appointed online scambuster named Heather Dobrott, EarthQuest was under scrutiny for the first time, and something had to be done. The final straw was probably when Dobrott posted Facebook photos of McCrady and Holbrook partying in Las Vegas with their wives and Brown; at one point the women are pictured dancing on a table.

The District called a special meeting in early March, supposedly to quash rumors and explain the latest developments.

McCrady kicked off the meeting, held at the East Montgomery County Improvement District office in New Caney, by assuring the 60 or so people in attendance that EarthQuest was still a go.

It's a slight variation on a theme McCrady's been playing for five years, the only difference being that this time McCrady acknowledges that the national recession has delayed development. For the most part, McCrady probably could have sent a slightly modified tape-recorded speech in his place, with a loop that echoed his quotes from a 2009 East Montgomery County Observer article: "The Houston market is ready" for a theme park of EarthQuest's magnitude, and that groundbreaking was expected at the end of 2009 or beginning of 2010.

McCrady's mantra for the evening was "moving forward." He said it so often that it would have made a terrific drinking game: Take a shot every time he said it. He said that residential developer D.R. Horton had already made an offer on the land held by the bankrupt Whitestone, and that he expected the judge overseeing the case to approve the sale, meaning the land might be free and clear for groundbreaking in 18 months. (D.R. Horton's spokesperson didn't return the Press's calls.)

Perhaps the highlight was when he assured the audience that while a $1,600 dinner at Chez Nous in Humble might look fun on paper, that and other expensive outings were actually high-pressure, cutthroat courtships wherein East Montgomery County was competing with communities across the country and had to do whatever it could to stand out.

At one point, he got a bit testy and suggested that, if the public thought he was spending too much money on travel and expensive meals in order to bring new business to the area, "We can sit in the office and wait for someone to walk in the door."

The thing is, EarthQuest would likely be in the same place — i.e., no place — if McCrady had just sat in the office.

McCrady gave no specifics or assurances, something that appears to have been deliberate. To wit, when one resident stood up and asked to confirm that McCrady had said he assured a groundbreaking in 18 months, McCrady was quick to correct.

"I didn't say, 'I assure,'" he said. "I said, 'We're going to continue to move forward.'"

There it is. Take a shot.

craig.malisow@houstonpress.com

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86 comments
hdobrott
hdobrott

Malisow quoted Holbrook:

"He claims elsewhere to have "worked on over 100 projects representing over $1 billion...in capital investment, generating more than 50,000 jobs in his nearly 20 years in the profession." Neither Calvert nor the Press was able to find documentation to support this."

Someone who I take to be Holbrook wrote:
"As for other things I've done- I have been on the SBA board for CA, NV and Az since 2006. I was on the small business loan committee and we approved over 2.5B in loans during my time on the loan committee and those loans assisted in those businesses creating over 50,000 jobs here in America. Those are all documented via the government. Each year I have to pass a full background check to be on that board."

So, now we know where he got that fictitious figure of 50,000 jobs. It was not his prowess or even work as an economic developer, but his seat on a loan committee from which he got that. Anyone could warm that same loan committee chair. Again, he has been misrepresenting himself and his accomplishments for years.

hdobrott
hdobrott

Channel 2 Investigates will be airing a story on Earthquest tonight, so please tune in.  What could be better than an update on this fantastic story by Craig Malisow!

hdobrott
hdobrott

Don Allen Holbrook's boat to Fantasy Land has sunk!  All the remaining third-party defendants named in his frivolous harassment suit have been dismissed by the judge in Ohio.  His bid to silence John and Jane Does (taxpayers commenting on matters of public concern - Earthquest) is out the window.  What kind of idiot would dare to sue taxpayers discussing how their tax dollars are being spent?  I hope the taxpayers are outraged enough to see this fool never works in our great state of Texas again!!!

Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott
Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott

http://www.citypages.com/conte...

Five years ago the city of Crookston attempted to proclaim itself "the Bigfoot capital of the world." Don Holbrook, then executive director of the Crookston Economic Development Authority, told the Star Tribune that the small town wanted to drum up "alternative" tourism by opening a Bigfoot museum. To that end, Holbrook had told the Strib that the town would be doing more research into Minnesota sightings. Quast wrote to Holbrook, offering his services. When he never got a reply, it began to dawn on him that it might all be just a stunt.

Just Been Paid
Just Been Paid

Another case that will show that freedom of speech is not crossing the line causing hatred, harassment, loss of income, and other acts that Heather and Paul Dobrott have gone way above the legal threshold.  Don is going to have a field day when his legal action get to the court room.  It won't be some silly summary judgement that Heather Dobrott shouts all day.

http://www.q13fox.com/news/kcp...

Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott
Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott

Holbrook indicated to Pahrump in writing that the project had not been rephased in May 2011. He said flat out that groundbreaking was to occur in Texas by December 2011 or early 2012. He also said emphatically that it was not reduced in size or scope. So, just how it is that this Titanic, that is to have its day with destiny according to the Tribune, is going to move forward? (bottoms up!)

I assume you have verification that there are in fact investors coming on board and can give us a current figure that reflects the amount raised.

My little muffin, you do realize that sued is past tense? So, let's have the court of filing and case number for this suit you are braying about.

Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott
Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott

There is media coverage coming in Ohio as that suit is in progress. This should be quite interesting to follow. I assume Holbrook will talk to reporters from Ohio I always cooperate with the media and law enforcement.

Allthetimeready
Allthetimeready

Only 2 new members were elected to the EMCID board. The EMCID board still has more people supporting the project. Martin Wise LOST. LOL! Yesterday's election will have very little impact on the EarthQuest project.

The EMCID will see to it that East Montgomery County will have something to show for the extra taxes that the residents of East Montgomery County will be paying for the next 28 years. Nothing but a project like EarthQuest will generated the revenue needed to justify those taxes.

The project is and will still move forward. Just because no one invites or notifies bored, sued, desperate housewives( soapboxmoms) doesn't mean that investors are not being pursued at this very moment. Happy MOTHER's day.

Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott
Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott

Only 1 incumbent will return to the East Montgomery County Improvement District. So, Holbrook's campaign donation was for naught. His gravy train is now likely ended and a cold and critical look will be taken at the floundering Earthquest project. Is Holbrook going to threaten to sue all the new board members who dare to ask questions and research his background??? He is trying very hard to silence everyone else and get everything about himself that he doesn't like removed from the internet.

Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott
Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott

www.ourtribune.com/article.php... Look who the Chez Nous group has for a contributor. Don Holbrook certainly doesn't want that gravy train to end as that is the only source of income listed on his bankruptcy for the last 3 years. No doubt new board members coming in will stop paying him for this project this isn't exactly "moving forward." McCrady didn't say it, but bottoms up anyway! Cheers!!

Abuse
Abuse

Hey Don, sue this site also. They allow crazy lady Heather Dobrott and Criminal empire site owner Paul Dobrott to post anything witn no regard to truth, but have deleted comments from others about the Dobrott's.

Tonyt101
Tonyt101

"I invite our readers to take a hard look at the comments by those purporting to be supporters of Don Holbrook. Dragging my husband through the mud based on fiction and making all kinds of false, sometimes criminal, allegations against our extended family and worse wanting to drag our children into this??? Absolute low-life scum. Remember, if Holbrook files a lawsuit the defendant gets to (in reality) file a lawsuit against him if they file a counterclaim, and there are no filing fees. The defendant gets to file for free!!! What should be a discussion about Earthquest is getting really ugly for no reason."

Soapboxmom

poor whiny hypocrite. Remember you say all public information is ok and now above you cry.  You haven't seen anything yet human.

We have contacted all family listed below and others and requested interviews for potential case.

Colette M DobrottDavid Dean DobrottPaul DobrottJohn Roland DobrottRobert D Dobrott

ScottyCash55
ScottyCash55

Whoopy. The second time or more is the charm. You, Paul, your children and kin will get what you deserve. You have it coming. Your words will be judged including your last whacky statement. Stop trying to scare the lawsuits away. You say you want it then let Paul know to get a lawyer.

For the readers who want this crazy lady Heather committed, do a background check on Paul Dobrott. There are some surprises on his credit report.

Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott
Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott

Here is some educational reading for the lawsuit happy Black Knight fans:

http://www.citmedialaw.org/sit...

Our armchair lawyers here might want to get their facts straight before making any more embarrassing posts. I have been sued and triumphed in Summary Judgment for libel, slander, defamation and tortious interference and I have also gone into court pro se and forced the defendant (same idiot) I filed against to remove all his libelous comments. Tim Darnell, who was the subject of a scathing Craig Malisow article here, tried messing with me and he got the devil's horns to be sure.

http://www.houstonpress.com/20...

Be sure to note that Tim Darnell now has a $97,265.17 tax lien and the eternal wrath of Soapboxmom. There is no escape from death, taxes or my wrath! Brilliant tactic!!!

Realscam lawsuit
Realscam lawsuit

"I contacted the organization the following ways:The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem - Autonomous Grand Priory of the United States of Americacontact_usa@osmth.org

I made them aware of his vicious attacks on free speech. Don's trampling all over the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States by his not so thinly-veiled threats of legal action against posters on websites. Who does Holbrook think he is trying to silence public discussions concerning projects utilizing thousands or millions of tax dollars? What makes him think he can withhold charity documents that must be made public by law. What shameful behavior! Does his treatment of clients exemplify the actions of a Knight in shining armor???

Soapboxmom"

Wrong Paul R Dobrott and Heather Dobrott.   Even if you post "true info" it must not be done with criminal intent as you and your kin have done.  Take it to court, not to your twisted nonfactual opinionated world. You have done way worse than the criminals who lost a cyper stalking case for 13 million.  You and every member on your site will be cleaned out soon.  I know first hand what is coming your way.

Realscam lawsuit
Realscam lawsuit

Status:    Active    File Date:    06/18/2010Entity Type:    Domestic Limited-Liability Company    File Number:    E0313382010-8Annual List Due:    06/30/2012    Entity Age:    2 Years, 11 Months

1645 Village Center Circle Ste 170Las Vegas, NV 89134

Owner to sue and file criminal charges:Paul R Dobrott2518 Suncrest Dr.Garland, TX 75044Phone: (972) 496-3649

Heather Clarke Dobrott is in favor of all public info being posted so we hope her neighbors like it as well once their info is also posted to help all the people that Heather, ProfessorHenryHiggins, littleroundman, and others have hurt.  Let Paul know we have over 400 people that have put in place legal actions against him being he is listed as the owner of the rag site.  And do we have a list of dirt on him Heather.  Hubby isn't so clean. You may want to put him on your rag site because he has scammed people.

Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott
Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott

Perhaps, this would be a good time to discuss Huber Heights, Ohio suing Don Holbrook to recover the money they paid him for his work as an economic developer. He has been accused of not fulfilling his contract there. I suspect they were less than delighted with what he brought to the table, which included Contour Entertainment's designs with the Earthquest project renderings among them.

Harvey
Harvey

It sounds like a 14 year-old arguing with a teacher. Ms.Dobrott sounds like she doesn't know the first thing about business development or the theme park business and is trying to teach the class. Her comments are unworthy of serious consideration. The internet is the only place where anyone would listen to her and she is making the most of the attention to stroke her own ego.

Don Holbrook
Don Holbrook

Mr. Malisow;

I need to make a clarification in my previous statement to be very specific in my comments. The original developer on the EarthQuest project was Marlin-Atlantis, which used a controlled holding company for the land called Houston Whitestone Land, LLC, which filed for bankruptcy in 2011 after they're other controlled entity Earthquest Adventures failed to perform to their development agreement with my client the East Montgomery County Improvement District, (EMCID) in raising the necessary capital to cause the project to be funded for construction and eventual opening operations. All of these entities to my knowledge were managed by one of the owners of Marlin-Atlantis Company's John Marlin. Mr. Marlin negotiated the BK strategy on behalf of Houston Whitestone Land Company, of which EMCID owns the controlling interest of 51%, but EMCID has no financial obligation with regard to any of the debts associated with Houston Whitestone Land Company. EMCID acquired the 51% to protect the direction of the proceedings so that the EQ going forward strategy could be protected within this wind down and legal proceedings. Mr. John Marlin contacted me today and asked that I be more specific in my clarity of the explanation. This is as specific as I am able to be and to the best of my knowledge is accurate. I know that there are many different holding companies woven into the Marlin Atlantis original Earthquest strategy and I may have the names slightly off from their legal names, but the gist is correct.

Don Holbrook
Don Holbrook

Mr. Malisow;

Your commentary is a fictional accounting of a very positive economic opportunity for Greater Houston's economy. Many projects such as this go through unexpected mitigation such as the failure of the developer and then have to carefully navigate that web of liabilities in order to separate a good project with valid financial market appeal from an insolvent over-leveraged developer that got squeezed with financial pressures during the Greatest Financial Recession in my lifetime. EMCID has done a very professional job of strategically protecting the ability for the project to regain site control and then move forward in the pursuit of capitalization to fund the construction and opening of the Theme Park as an anchor to an over-all destination tourism strategy. They had to work within the constraints of the US Bankruptcy Court and the judicial timelines dictated by that court.

No project of this potential magnitude is achieved without front end public sector risk and thus the eventual reward for persevering through the long-term process of locking down the right developer, operator and investment groups to support the project over-all.

Most theme park projects that are successful in the world today take between 8-14 years to get open and operational from concept to operations. This is according to a third party theme park expert that is world renowned for her knowledge of such things. They always constitute the need for a strong visionary public sector partner. In the early stages it is always the public sector partner that carries the burden of getting the professional due diligence done, validating the market, developing the footprint and site requirements, creating the conceptual design (intellectual property) and the financial business case that will be utilized to attract the private sector investors. It is a shared risk environment.

EMCID has done everything very professionally to keep this project on the path to be able to move forward to fruition and without their efforts this project would not become a reality.

Lastly, I believe your portrayal of my own professional background was sensationalized to lead people improperly to believe that somehow I have acted inappropriately in the past or perhaps am doing so now. Nothing is further from the truth. My economic value and the amounts of monies I am paid as a professional are directly tied to my hourly fee for my know how of constructing public-private partnerships, incentives and special legislation that will induce potential private sector investors to invest in such projects and addressing any mitigation factors within my area of expertise as a highly decorated and accomplished economic developer. They are not extreme fees considering the intellectual know how I bring to projects. Neither am I a professional developer. My clients sign contracts with very clear fee definitions and terms of payment, my fees are not contingent upon some developer being chosen and/or the developer finding investors. By that point my public policy work has been done, validated by jurisdictional approval and further validated by an executed development agreement. I am a highly paid and respected professional. I do not unduly charge unwitting people for hidden fees. I clearly set out my fee structure in each and every contract tied to performance milestones as has been the case in the EarthQuest Project. I was asked first to do work for Don Lessem, then asked to further do work in support of the expansion of the concept with EMCID, and then assigned to do work in support of the now defunct developer Mr. John Marlin and Marlin Atlantis Companies (who has not paid his final bill to me for my work which has been completed on this project since 2008-2009. Lastly I was asked again under another separate contract to give assistance to the EQI project with an hourly contract which was consistent with my previous contracts stated professional hourly rate. I did so under the promise that the board of directors would make sure that myself and Dr. Gardner and Ms. Thomas were paid partially as we did the work requested of us monthly by the EQI board of directors and finally in a deferred but not contingent basis until Marlin Atlantis contributed their promised financial support for the EQI. That financial support never appeared. We as professional employees got stung for our time. Now some folks may believe that professionals such as ourselves make too much per hour, but that is based on non-factual opinions. Many attorneys, accountants, and other professionals make far more than my own hourly rate. What others think of my economic value other than my clients is irrelevant. But when you fuel rumors and innuendo in these type of articles that are purely opinion based it economically harms people like myself now and far into the future with no basis for such wrongful assertions. Up until these slanderous and defamatory articles and now comments fueled by this malicious blogger Heather Dobrott, I had not experienced any credible or legally justified customer complaints, stated dissatisfaction or anything of anything close to unethical behavior. There must be a reason for that? Of course there is. I was doing my stated job and performing to the expectations of my clients engagement contracts. Now your continuous posting of this article has unjustly created a perception in the general public that is virally spreading across the internet causing me to have tremendous economic hardships now and into an unfathomable and unpredictable future total damages that are completely not factual. I performed my job and completed my assignment in each of my contractual client based contracts. To this day I have not been paid fully for my economic development incentive strategy and the special legislation that I was asked to assist in designing to make this project economically attract to the private investment world. I have waited patiently for my final payment and worked with EMCID to achieve a turn around under the promise that at that time my final payment would be paid by the new developer as a requirement of using any EMCID entitlements as per our written contractual agreements. Any work I have done since 2008 has been on an agreed upon retainer basis in support of moving this project to eventual fruition.

This woman Heather Dobrott seems to use your article and those of the OurTribune as some form of factual basis to bombard my clients, colleagues and others that hire me to consult, speak and purchase my books. She is acting illegally and outside of the borders of professional and lawful conduct in the online crusade to defame, slander and create libelous commentary regarding my profession, my conduct and my professional economic livelihood. I would appreciate your ceasing to attack my professional reputation just because you do not believe a project will come to fruition. In the past I have many times seen such projects become the economic game changer that most did not think was possible. That is the nature of economic development creating positive economic outcomes where others only see adversity and complacency.

Sincerely,

Don A. Holbrook, CEcD, FMBoard Member of the International Economic Development Council.

Reporter
Reporter

Anyone that has victimized by Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott, or harassers from her site RealScam, like ProfessorHenryHiggins and littleroundman; please contact your police department and Jonathan Betz Reporter, WFAA-TV, Channel 8, Jbetz@wfaa.com

Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott
Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott

McCrady's comment about "expensive outings were actually high-pressure, cutthroat courtships wherein East Montgomery County was competing with communities across the country and had to do whatever it could to stand out." is another gem in this incredible article. Thanks to taxpayer money then, it appears that McCrady was courting Don Holbrook with worldwide travel, meals at Chez Nous, Rocket tickets, limousine rides and more. McCrady courting Holbrook??? Yikes!!!!

Donlessem
Donlessem

As the creator EarthQuest sustainability theme park, and the knucklehead whose misadventures start off this very-well written piece on the many problems afflicting the park, I did want to make clear the distinction between those project-stalling actions that were numb-skulled or self-serving, and those that may have been criminal.There's been way too much blustering and stone-walling going on from the project principals and employees, which doesn't help clarify matters. But in short, some of us were simply misguided and have nothing to show for it - I'd include myself and science advisor Dr. Matt Gardner among those. Many others made a lot of money and delivered nothing. East Montgomery County's development organization spent a lot of taxpayer money without doing proper homework on the project team. Don Holbrook, the economic developer whose record is questioned here, made a good deal of money and is owed more, but actually did his job of getting the government interested in supporting the project very well. So by the standards of that profession, he is entitled to what he earned.The rest of us, taxpayers and myself included, are still hoping this all pans out. But the developers, Marlin/Atlantis may have criminally misrepresented their ownership of the land, and misappropriated bond funds from County citizens. I'm hoping that continued investigative sleuthing and perhaps government investigation will bring answers to what became of that money.Meanwhile, oddly enough, the EarthQuest project is in a better place than it ever was. The company purchasing the land from Marlin/Atlantis is apparently open to supporting the project and the concept developers at Contour Entertainment are honestly trying to broker a funding deal from investors internationally. I wish them luck and I wish some good news for us all.

Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott
Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott

Unless Mr. Holbrook has authorized you to speak on his behalf, you would be well advised to be careful what you say. Holbrook may not want to turn over his tax returns and other financial records to prove the loss of income you are braying about.

Of course, those documents would show just what he has earned from those 100s of projects he brags of, his speaking engagements, book sales and clients. It would also out your identity as all the parties would be seeking information on the posters commenting on this dino disaster / Fantasy Land.

Abuse
Abuse

Don could careless about the internet. But what you, Paul, ProfessorHenryHiggins, LittleRoundMan, Doc B( oh that's right that is you playing multiple members and that is creditable? ) and the rest of the members on yours and your husbands website realscam dotcom will have your day to get what want. A place to go on record with your real names and addresses for others to sue. SLAPP that.

Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott
Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott

To talk to one of those listed would require the services of John Edward or someone else in his intriguing profession. What did you have to pay for those services? Will you be publishing the information gathered????

Craig Malisow
Craig Malisow

OK folks, can we please cut out the name-calling and posting of family members' names, phone numbers, etc? Please move those threats elsewhere.

I'll repeat my request from the other day: if anyone has credible information about lawsuits being filed against the Dobrotts, or about Paul Dobrott being a scammer, please send it my way so it can be reported. Otherwise, all I see are baseless accusations made by people too afraid to use their real names. Healthy debate is one thing, but this has just degenerated into sub-literate playground taunting. Please, I beg you, for the sake of humanity and the preservation of IQ points everywhere, knock it off!

Thanks,Craig

Craig Malisow
Craig Malisow

Wow, we seem to have taken a turn for the vindictive and petty here. Could you please explain what you mean by "put in place legal actions"? Do you mean that more than 400 people have filed lawsuits against Paul R. Dobrott? If so, that's quite a story, and it needs to be reported immediately. Seriously, if the husband of a woman who runs a site called Realscam.com is himself a scammer, then it needs to come to light.

So can you please tell me in which court(s) these suits were filed, or the names of the attorneys and/or plaintiffs I'd need to contact? That would be very helpful.

It's 4 pm central time, as I'm typing this. Surely you can get this info to me in the next hour, right? You can also e-mail me directly at craig.malisow@houstonpress.com or call at 713.280.2481. I can't wait to get on this story, Realscam lawsuit! (Sorry, I'd address you by your name, but you didn't include it.)

Thanks,Craig

Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott
Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott

For those that want a sobering look at theme park disasters please Google Hard Rock Park. That park cost 400 million to build in Myrtle Beach (a popular tourist area). It went bust the first year. It was bought at auction for 25 million and went under again the next year. Even with the 25 million dollar price tag it could not be run profitably and remain open. What chance does a green theme park have with folks like Holbrook who have no experience running and maintaining something like that??? How much has been budgeted for advertising and building cost overruns?

Don Holbrook
Don Holbrook

Thanks Dino Don for attempting to set the record straight. Those of us that were hired under contracts based on our performance to achieve objectives stated in our contracts by our clients have been wrongfully accused and defamed based on innuendo, rumors, bloggers and slanted media. I doubt no matter what facts are given they would properly report or blog the facts correctly. With regard to the Fantasyland article, I actually gave the reporter facts, and he chose to deflect them and not base the article on factual evidence. He chose to purposefully mislead the general public in order to sensationalize his own fictional conspiracy theory. I have chosen not to respond to these folks because of their inability to be factual, fair and impartial in their alleged investigative stories. Soapbox is just a housewife with too much time on her hands and a delusional vision of her own misguided contribution to society in my opinion. My experience is you can't reason or debate with people that are so self absorbed they can't tell fact from fiction. I do appreciate your valiant effort to set the record straight. I also agree the project, thanks to EMCID's strategic intervention is now in the best position ever to bring this project to fruition. Nothing of this scale and magnitude comes without criticism, but when it opens all this will be washed away like a sandcastle on the beach of time.

Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott
Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott

My little muffin, you are not making a lick of sense. Ya think maybe you shouldn't be speaking on Holbrook's behalf. With friends like you, who needs enemies??? You do know to get subpoenas you will have to file a proper suit and that will necessitate making you own identity public, right?

Don Holbrook
Don Holbrook

There is no comparison between these two parks. I know for a fact as I did the evaluation and review of Hard Rock Park in SC for another client. The Houston market is the best market in the United States for a major theme park and is centrally located in the 4th largest city in the United States, with a major hub airport, gulf port, and exponentially more visitors and population than a remote city in SC. You are no expert on theme parks and should bias your statements as to the lack of knowledge you actually have on such subjects. Secondary to that the Hard Rock Park in SC was built for adults mostly and theme parks cater to 10-18 year olds mostly and thus an adult theme park would be more likely to be Las Vegas. Children should not be expected to view some of the raunchy stuff on the theme at Hard Rock in SC. In addition, Hard Rock did not have a public-private partnership in SC, they knew more than everyone and felt their brand and strategy was enough to carry their project. Obviously they were wrong. The Earthquest project has had three official world class theme park economic analysis groups report independently that the Houston market is the best and only one they feel could support a theme park in the US today. That was further backed up just last year by another 4th opinion from yet another of the world's most renowned theme park experts. The only issues with the EarthQuest project lie squarely with the lack of performance by the private sector developer and the timing of the unforeseen global financial crisis. The developer situation is able to be remedied by EMCID and the financial markets are now finally beginning to show signs of new investment mindsets.

Realscam lawsuit
Realscam lawsuit

No mad scammers. You get nothing. You get end result. Your not a professional and nothing but a crazy lady. Your relatives information and pictures are being posted on many websites as well as reported for non payment of taxes.

Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott
Heather Dawne Clarke Dobrott

Have all those reports been made public as requested? Please give us the links.

Can an independent park that is not affiliated with Disney or the like really get funded? What if this park does have cost overruns and will actually cost more than a billion dollars to construct? How much has been budgeted to promote the park? How many visitors must come through the gates yearly for this thing to break even? If the project has been downsized and the resort isn't built early on, where are visitors supposed to stay? Has anyone really addressed the astronomical cost to maintain a 550 acre park? Lots of questions. Where are the answers?

 
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