Tag Archives: BRAC Iniative

Steve Austria doomed to defeat

It’s never too early to face the facts, not to mention plan for their consequences, and the simple truth is that Steve Austria will be gone from Congress no later than 2012. The reason; after the 2010 census, Ohio will lose two congressional seats and the 7th Congressional District will be carved up to protect more senior incumbents from both parties. Here’s why you can take that to the bank.

Ohio is dying — that is reflected in the fact that since 1980 we have lost five Congressional House seats. As those seats drop off the electoral map, the competition for the decreasing number of voters becomes keener and the preferred method of competing is to make promises you can’t keep, including earmarks and spending for your constituents, but more important, for special interest campaign contributors. Because there’s only so much campaign cash to go around, fund-raising has become a ruthless science based on deception and fear mongering. Although it won’t do Steve Austria and his lobbyist spouse any good in the long run, here’s how they came to power, which also explains why they will be irrelevant at the turn of the decade.

Both Steve and Eileen Austria sat on the Dayton Development Coalition Wright Patt 2010 Advisory Committee, Steve as a State Senator and Eileen as Dave Hobson’s District Director, and as such, rubbed elbows with Miami Valley’s most wealthy and influential “kingmakers.” Since Dayton is dying faster than the rest of south-central Ohio, the powerful elitists in Montgomery County thought it was only fair they redistribute Greene County wealth among the Coalition’s inner circle. Although the double dealing is wide and deep, the 2003-2006 $1.9 million taxpayer-funded BRAC Initiative Agreement provides us with the most flagrant and transparent example of “pay-to-play” politics. Steve and Eileen Austria as well as Greene County elected officials were willing participants because that guaranteed political success, at least for the short term.

Briefly, here’s the money trail that starts with Greene County and Ohio taxpayers and ends with Dave Hobson, Steve Austria and other elected officials after it is money-laundered through the Coalition. In 2003 Greene County Commissioners awarded $1.9 million to the Dayton Development Coalition to protect existing jobs and attract others to Wright Patterson AFB. The Coalition in turn hired the Greentree Group in Beavercreek, Washington lobbyist PMA Group and other high priced consultants who had passed through the revolving door from the Department of Defense to the private sector. For example, IRS public disclosures indicate that the Coalition President and CEO, a former Air Force officer and close friend of the Austrias, received more than $500,000 in compensation in 2005 and 2006, the last two years of the BRAC contract. According to www.fec.gov and the Greene County Board of Elections, he in turn contributed thousands to Hobson, Austria and other elected officials in Greene County. The list goes on and on. Greentree associates and their families have contributed over $50,000 to Hobson and Austria. In return they received Hobson earmarks and a “no-bid, no work, no value added contract” funded by an interest free loan, $900,000 from the Ohio Third Frontier initiative and an outright $100,000 grant. During the period of performance of the BRAC Initiative Agreement, the Dayton Development Coalition paid lobbying firm PMA over $500,000. According to www.fec.gov, over the years PMA associates and their families contributed more than $100,000 to Hobson and Austria. PMA has recently closed its doors after being raided by the FBI in November following allegations they illegally bundled campaign contributions to Dave Hobson, Steve Austria and other Congressmen, which brings us back to the 2010 and 2012 elections.

Compared to Austria, the four Republican Congressmen whose districts border Austria’s 7th District (Turner, District 3; Jordan, 4; Boehner, 8; and Tiberi, 12) are virtually untouched by the PMA scandal. The political reality is that after the 2010 census, they will all need Republican votes from the 7th District to survive. Regardless of which party controls redistricting after the 2010 census, Republicans will be Mr. and Mrs. Austria’s worst enemy as they will carve up the 7th District and redistribute conservative voters among neighboring districts. In short, because of the PMA scandal, Austria will be odd man out to protect the other four Republican Congressmen in central and south central Ohio. Maybe then folks in Greene, Clark, Fairfield and other counties in the 7th District will understand the real Hobson/Austria legacy.

John Mitchel Asks County Commissioners About $1.9 Million Missing In Budget Enactment

On December 11, John Mitchel presented testimony before the newly elected Greene County Commissioners about previous the commission’s oversight of the Wright Patterson AFB BRAC Initiative Agreement and a corresponding unaccounted for $1.9 million deficit in that commission’s budget enactment.

The following are excerpts from Mitchel’s testimony:

There are two elements of the BRAC Initiative Agreement that cause me grave concern. First, during recent and past campaigns, many politicians including Commissioner Perales, Commissioner-elect Reid, State Senator Austria and Congressman Hobson, took significant credit for BRAC success by implying their opponent was less-equipped to address the issue. Rarely, if ever do we hear about the diligent professionals at Wright Patt who go to work every day quietly doing their jobs serving our courageous war-fighters. I would say their hard work and professionalism warrant recognition for Wright Patt’s success infinitely more than the self-directed praise from elected officials who are paid well to serve their constituents, not take undeserved credit for their success. Second, Greene County taxpayers are never recognized for their role in funding the BRAC Initiative Agreement, although I still doubt its value added to the process. In the Economic Development Note dated October 3rd, 2003, County Auditor Delaney describes a “non-interest bearing” loan to the Dayton Development Coalition from Fund 0207-0101 in the amount of $900,000 to partially fund the $1.9 million BRAC Initiative Agreement. In essence, the Greene County Commissioners authorized an interest free loan to the Dayton Development Coalition for $900,000 and then sold the note to Fifth Third Bank with Greene County taxpayers picking up the interest. To add insult to injury, in documents acquired through Ohio’s open records statute, there’s evidence that the Dayton Development Coalition deposited their interest free loan from Greene County taxpayers in an interest bearing account, not to mention that Fifth Third Bank did not pay federal or state corporate income taxes on over $17,000 they collected in interest paid by Greene County taxpayers. Contrast that to the hapless Greene County taxpayer who is late in paying his or her property taxes. If even one day late, a Greene County taxpayer is charged an immediate 10 percent penalty on the unpaid balance and 8 percent annual interest if the tax bill continues to be delinquent. My first question is, “Does it concern you that your constituents paid the interest on a loan to the Dayton Development Coalition who in turn non-competitively awarded contracts to Greentree and The PMA Group, a Washington lobbyist? Does it concern you that your constituents are also hit for a 10 percent penalty plus 8 percent interest if they are late paying their property taxes?

Now let’s take a look at what Greene County taxpayers got for that $1,900,000 the Commission sent to the Dayton Development Coalition by way of the BRAC Initiative Agreement. Here I have Dayton Development Coalition’s 2005 IRS Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax. The Form 990 shows that in 2005, the last full year of the BRAC Initiative Agreement, on revenues of $1,747,719, the Dayton Development Coalition lost $337,325. On page 6 of the Form 990, it shows that the Coalition paid $74,402 to former officer Ron Wine. Page 12 shows that the Coalition paid $285,854 to the Coalition’s President and CEO, J P Nauseef. Those two expenditures alone account for almost $30,000 more than the Coalition lost in 2005. Let me ask the same question. Does it concern you that in 2005 your constituents helped pay over $72,000 to a former Coalition employee and over $285,000 to the President and CEO when the Coalition lost over $300,000 under his leadership.

My next question goes back to the $1.9 million to fund the BRAC Initiative Agreement. Nowhere in the Greene County 2003 budget enactment could I find that this money was legally appropriated. In fact, the entire enactment in 2003 for “Economic Development” was less than $450,000. Fund 0207-0101 does authorize a $900,000 interest-free loan to the Dayton Development Commission, but that does not address my concern that it was legally appropriated in the 2003 budget. And that still doesn’t account for the other $1,000,000 in the BRAC Initiative Agreement including the $100,000 grant. Could the Commission address those concerns and report back to me in January?

Mitchel continued by bring to the attention of the commission about pertinent information that was withheld or suppressed by various officials that could have resolved the valid legal issues.

I wonder what will be the outcome in January?