Saturday, July 12, 2008

Childhood pal Carl: "If Solomont is willing and able to raise money from others... more power to him!"

As we await word on the future of the new and improved Israel Baseball League that will probably drop shortly after the end of Shabbat, the man on whom the future seems to hinge is David Solomont, the controversial Boston businessman who's stepped in with promise of being the IBL's financial saviour but more likely was handed off Larry Baras' top hat and cane in what appears to be an attempt to raise money from other investors, while keeping hope alive and appearances up.

We were the first to bring up Solomont's past troubles in the form of a well-publicized 2004 lawsuit in which he was accused of siphoning more than a million dollars in funds from a software firm while he served as its CEO.

We indicated that Solomont's past may not bode well for the IBL's future.

But a different take comes from the Israel Matzav site ("Israel is treated unfairly by much of the mainstream media... Our own self-hating Jewish and Israeli left has not helped. This blog aims to tell you what's really going on Israel..."), written by a blogger who identifies himself as Carl in Jerusalem (a neat twist on Our Man Elli in Israel):

"I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for twenty-six years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 4 to 24 years and one grandson..."

Carl read our David Solomont coverage on our Baseball in Israel archival site (where you can find all of our Israel baseball coverage, uninterrupted), and gave his insider's view in a post entitled, "The 'new' Israel Baseball League: Is it different from the old?":

"The league plans to play a 20-game season this year with only four teams, beginning on July 27. Obviously, the league needs funding. "To raise money for the league to continue, Baras turned to another Boston businessman, 56-year old David Solomont (Hat Tip: Lance K.). (That last name may ring a bell with some of you). David Solomont was the defendant in a nasty lawsuit four years ago. The lawsuit was settled, but it is not clear whether the settlement was ever carried out. In any event, David Solomont did not - as far as I can tell - face criminal charges. Blogger Baseball in Israel has a problem with Solomont doing the fundraising.

"In an uncanny similarity to a federal lawsuit filed against IBL founder Larry Baras, the start-up scandal lawsuit stated: 'Solomont has become overextended, and is robbing Peter to pay Paul...' (See our teaser story.)

"Honestly, that's irrelevant. Like hundreds of other entrepreneurs, Solomont was caught in the downdraft of the dotcom implosion of the early part of this decade. The existence of lawsuits and paying money to settle them doesn't prove anything in the real world. There's not a failed startup in the world that hasn't led to lawsuits (except for the ones that never reached the point of raising money from outside investors). And if Solomont is willing and able to raise money from others (which is what he is doing according to my sources) to bring baseball back to Israel, more power to him. Does Baseball in Israel wish to kill the reason his blog exists?

"In sum, I say give the League a chance to get its act together. It's just about the only clean fun we have in this country.

"I should note my connections to some of the people in this story (so that some genious doesn't go searching the web to find them and claim that I am biased or hiding something). I know David Solomont from my childhood - one of his brothers went to school with me from Kindergarten through 12th grade. In the past, I have done some legal work for that brother, some of which was unpaid. I met Larry Baras a year and a half ago in Boston. His brother went to college with me. I did a small amount of legal work (as an American lawyer working for an American law firm, and not as an Israeli lawyer) for the Israel Baseball League in its early days.

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