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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12 Responses

  1. Pedro February 24, 2008 / 11:01 pm
    The Half-Billion Dollar (and counting) Answer.

    J.P. gets a lifetime pass as far as I go and ALOT of people in this region feel stronger than I do about it. Let me spell it out for you, B-R-A-C. How quickly you forget that it was less then 3 years ago that Ted Kennedy was trying to pull Wright-Patterson directorates and thousands of high-paying jobs to Hancsom using the ‘economic development’ tactics you hate so much to curry favor with the BRAC Commission. Turner was a pit-bull fighting off Kennedy and JP was the narrator that convinced the BRAC Commission that the Dayton Region had the talent base and infrastructure in place that meant a place like Wright-Patt is a place where the cutting edge technology of the United States Air Force could be nurtured, supported and continue to flourish. We as a region will reap the benefits of the these champions for decades to come. A little more than two years later we have already seen well over half a billion dollars worth of investment in an expanding Wright-Patt, The Col. Glenn Beltway and Miami Valley Research Park. Tell me David, would all this have happened if Turner and Nauseef hadn’t fought to keep Wright-Patt the R&D center of the United States Air Force? These accomplishments are often ommited in your attacks that sound more and more personal vendetta’s and less and less like solutions based politics. You come across as more Hillary and less Barack.

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  2. David Esrati February 24, 2008 / 11:41 pm

    Pedro-
    I don’t believe that Turner should be taking all the credit here- Hobson was pretty involved too. As to “bringing jobs” to WPAFB with BRAC- lets see how long we can keep investing in the Military Industrial complex while we owe several trillion dollars to China, the dollar is dropping like a rock, we’re in a war with no way out, we keep building expensive manned aircraft while we should be investing in high-performance remotely controlled drones and cruise missiles- submarines, special ops and mobility forces.
    As to JP being at the helm- if that’s the case- why bother to even elect people?
    In fact, since JP just acts as pass-through for Republican money- why not just put the seat up for auction- and let it go to the highest bidder.

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  3. Greg Hunter February 25, 2008 / 11:31 am
    Christ Pedro, where to start. We will acquiesce to the fact that WPAFB received a great deal of funding for the programs; however, let’s be fair in the scheme of things it was the right choice in spite of the narrative. To think that Mighty Mouse and the Puppet of RAJ single handedly defeated Senator (I’ll Save Myself) Kennedy, without having a damn good case, is ludicrous.

    Get off your high horse about the DDC and BRAC, if they wanted to accomplish something, then an empty lot would not be at Harrison Radiator or at any number other manufacturing locations around the area. If you have not noticed, Daytonians cannot eat the cruddy Java apps, or the new high tech composites placed on a 1.2 BILLION a copy B-2 Stealth bomber developed by the Military.

    Believe me when it comes feed time the porkers will forget their differences and fight like hell to prove they can waste as many Federal Dollars in Dayton as the idiots in DC. I watched money get “WASTED” at WPAFB and if it continues the cuts are going to hit harder when they come. If the DDC was smart they would continue to market DC, but also make sure that those investments are paying dividends, by ensuring that projects get completed on time and within budget.

    Investing in the implements of war to the degree that America has is bad policy. Now, with that said I would fight for every damn dollar I could from DC to re direct the dollars to our area, it only makes good sense, but I will still contend I would rather invest in technologies that uplift mankind, not ones to punk on it.

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  4. yavne melnikoff February 25, 2008 / 1:51 pm
    yvan melnikoff on Feb 21st, 2008 said:
    “Find a way to force consolidation of all local and regional development under a single auspice, audit functionality, and then clean out all the dead wood.”

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  5. Jeff February 25, 2008 / 6:52 pm
    That was a good save, that IT stuff. The Pentagon recommendation was to move it all to Hanscom, and that would have meant a lot more contractor jobs relocating than military/civilian.

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  6. Greg Hunter February 26, 2008 / 12:03 am
    Ok, Thanks Jeff I do remember some effort and was impressed with success.

    But bringing CSC to Dayton was never very impressive as I had some run ins with the Cambridge boys while working for the FAA. Questionable. I was also not impressed about the Air Force continuing their software development primarily in Java. I was at the Air Force Museum when Sergei Brin and the CIO of the Air Force spoke. They could not, or would not, answer the question of how a Java application or web based application would be accessible to the soldier, or Tech Sargent in the field. Maybe it is a state secret, but I question the resiliency of such a system. If it relies strictly on server farms with backup generators OY, what can I say.

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  7. David Esrati February 26, 2008 / 6:36 am

    It’s OK Greg, we put together a group to work on an SBIR project- for the DOD. They wanted to be able to look at maps and overlays- much like Google maps- but their constraints were use Internet Explorer 6 or NETSCAPE 4.5! With NO PLUG INS.
    No Firefox, no extensions- it blew my mind.
    This was only last year. It’s as if they never heard of Firefox- or even understood how Google caches maps.

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  8. yvan melnikoff February 26, 2008 / 8:37 am
    THIS IS FROM THE DAYTON DAILY NEWS

    Study says change essential for Dayton’s economic development
    Consultants outline six recommendations to help the city’s economic development delivery system.
    By Joanne Huist Smith
    Staff Writer
    Friday, December 14, 2007
    DAYTON — It’s time for change, Dayton. That’s the message coming from a study by KMK Consulting Company, LLC looking at ways to improve the city’s economic development delivery system.
    “We got six pretty significant recommendations and we’re certainly evaluating them and devising a plan of attack,” Young said.
    Five organizations impacting economic development in Dayton were reviewed as part of the study, including the city’s Department of Economic Development, CityWide Development Corporation, the Downtown Dayton Partnership, the Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority and the Greater Dayton Foreign Trade Zone.
    The study found the city’s biggest inefficiency fell in the area of business retention.
    “Everyone does it yet no one is responsible,” the study said.
    Another obstacle pointed out in the study, “none of the staff of the various organizations, nor any of their board members interviewed, indicated a willingness to give up any of their ‘turf’ and narrow their current scope of services.”
    The six recommendations include:
    • Creating a specialized agency to direct a new, consolidated business retention and expansion program for the city. The program should be managed by an independent agency on an interim basis until a development authority has been formed.
    All business retention activities currently being conducted for the city should be consolidated into the new program.
    • Create a government oversight committee to guide the consolidation of economic development services to achieve bold delivery system improvements for the city. The consolidation should be accomplished in six months.
    • Launch an initiative to reinvent downtown Dayton. The city, in partnership with the county and the private sector, should hire a national consultant to analyze the Dayton market and recommend ways to transform the city’s core into a residential community.
    • Form a city development authority or a city/county development authority that would be located at one site and called, the Dayton Montgomery County Growth Center. The collaborative would be governed by a private sector board selected by the mayor and Montgomery County Commission.
    • Create a private-sector deal fund. This support finance function would source and manage private-sector equity and debt into the development pipeline. Private sector funds can be raised from investors who are interested in the redevelopment of Dayton.
    • Expand support of the Regional Leaders Forum. This collaborative should be engaged in an advisory role focusing on regional cooperation. All the individual members of the Leaders Forum should have a interest in the competitive success of the urban core of the region that is the brand name of the region — Dayton.

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  9. Theresa Gasper February 28, 2008 / 10:47 pm
    Geez, I get side tracked for a few days, turn my back and already you guys are back to name calling and personal attacks. My work here is for naught.

    Just thought you’d like this story – I was talking to a Major in the AF the other evening – he’s about to relocate here from LA to attend AFIT and he’s interested in possibly living in South Park.

    At one point he said he & his wife are from Northern Ohio that they ‘miss the Midwestern values and Midwestern way of life and can’t wait to get back home to it.’

    Maybe the research that was done wasn’t so far off the mark after all. It’s only one person – but he sure gets it. One thing you guys fail to understand about the Coalition is their mission to speak as a region with one voice. I spoke to someone the other day who said he’s really impressed by the respect the Coalition has garnered in DC – and that DC looks as Dayton as having it’s sh** together. You may not think so, but I think that’s worth something.

    Sorry boys & girls, but I agree with Pedro. OK – so let the personal attacks begin! Make sure you call me all sorts of names, treat me like I have no shred of intelligence and mock me in all manners possible, I’m ready for you! ;) (Did you miss me?)

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  10. David Esrati February 28, 2008 / 11:08 pm

    Theresa-
    Go read this post: The Flowchart: Your money to the congressman and his pals
    http://esrati.com/?p=671
    Maybe it will start to look fishy to you too.

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  11. Jeff February 28, 2008 / 11:45 pm
    This is the key point from Yvans post, where he quotes the ED consultant from last years report:

    “Launch an initiative to reinvent downtown Dayton. The city, in partnership with the county and the private sector, should hire a national consultant to analyze the Dayton market and recommend ways to transform the city’s core into a residential community.”

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  12. Greg Hunter February 29, 2008 / 8:46 am
    Theresa – With your positive attitude it is not worth the effort. :) I will say again that in my travels around the Country and in Dayton, the Major is the Exception and not the Rule. I will also say that the opening of the Greene has moved the Dayton Area up immensely in the eyes of the younger Military Personnel. The branding campaign by the DDC is perfect in a sense for enticing BRAC personnel as it ignores the black eye that is Dayton. The Dayton banana along 675 is a perfect place to rear children and we are within an hour south or east of professional sports venues. So I get it.

    I wish I could have someone, anyone tell me that this investment in sprawl and our car culture will continue due to cheap and available energy, but no one will, nor will anyone discuss it. The embrace of this sprawl, away from problems is starting show evidence that it was and is the wrong choice. (Bush spoke of it yesterday in his Renewable Energy Press Conference) The people at AFIT are designing ways to use the cheap energy we have remaining to kill people. Sorry but I cannot advocate that kind of investment, even if it brings short term (5 years) gains to the community. We has a community need to think about what is the best for Dayton in 30 years, not 5.

    What happened to people? Have they lost touch from whence they came? Are we so divorced from our environment that we think we are above it?

    And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

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