Des Moines Register: Blackbird Investments, a development firm known for its involvement in taxpayer-backed landmark projects in Des Moines, is facing growing skepticism as it and its owner face lawsuits that accuse them of failing to pay loans and, in one case, embezzlement and deception. Public records, court documents and interviews show a company that is unable to pay its bills — including, at times, employee salaries — and has failed to meet promised deadlines for projects it promotes as "transformative." Active or recently settled lawsuits have targeted three of its four completed Des Moines projects. Those developments, plus a planned project in Ottumwa and a proposed 33-story tower in downtown Des Moines, have a total of $10.4 million in mechanic's liens against them, filed by contractors seeking unpaid compensation.