The $300,000 question: Get Midwest Goes Bye-Bye?

Now that Lori Turner and Turner Effect have gotten paid $300,000 and resigned the account, several people asked me today: what next?

History tells me that it’s time to do some housecleaning at the Dayton Development Coalition. This reminds me of when Thomas Heine was ousted from the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, or when the city finally decided it was time to be done with first Ed Armentrout and then Maureen Pero at the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

DDC director J.P. Nauseef can’t be excused on this one. First, saying that the decision was made only by the now departed Evan Scott just won’t cut it.  The DDC is too small, and JP is paid too much (reports of $285,854 in 2005!) and gives too much to political candidates (same link) while being entrusted with some public money- and if it’s public money, it has to have public oversight and an open and transparent bid process.

Secondly, it’s not just the $300,000 that was paid to Turner Effect, but another $450,000 that was split between Real Art and other vendors. That’s a lot of money on a branding campaign that no one likes.

It’s time to demand to see the other options that Turner Effect had come up with- all of them. For them to spend that much money- there has to be several “Plan B’s” in reserve.  If not, there needs to be a full investigation into every dime that was billed and make it public.

The conflict of interest problem can’t be overlooked. The idea that the whole campaign is supposed to tell the world what a hot bed of innovation and a great place to locate has to be questioned just by the fact that according to Mr. Scott- there was only one firm qualified to do this work- the Congressmans wifes. We need to walk the talk before we try to sell the idea.

The fact that she was willing to take the project, knowing it was not bid competitively, from a frequent donor to her husbands campaign, says only one thing: influence peddling.

For this, there should be an investigation and punishment. Even giving back the $300,000 which could easily come out of Turners campaign chest- would be a start, but not much more than an attempt at covering-up the fact that our Congressman is for sale.

The acceptance of work by Turner Effect from the Home Depot PAC, after they had donated to her husbands campaign is yet another clear cut case of skirting FEC rules.

Right now, even if Mike Turner does manage to weather this out and loses in the November election, he still wins, having made it over 5 years in Congress which fully vests him in the congressional pension plan.

Even if there is a plan b that isn’t universally hated, the project is already 3x over what it should have been. It would be very hard to find an ad agency that would be willing to take over this dog and try to make it fly.

The only option is to have a reality check panel formed, do a full investigation of what has happened and make some recommendations on how to proceed. The panel should be paid for by taking it out of JP’s salary- and others who were involved in this fiasco.

In the mean time, no more public funds should be allowed to flow into the DDC.

There should also be a full Congressional investigation into the Turners business/campaign practices.

What do you think?

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