Once upon a time there was this little quaint country town slap dab in the middle of Florida. Cattle, Orange groves and country folks. Everyone got along. Then the nasty little word set in, Corruption. Money, Power and Greed took over.
HOW THEY STEAL EDA MONEY (by Henry Kuhlman)
Dear EDA Members,
I’ve taken a little more of my time to throw together some thoughts on how the EDA game has been played since 2005. I used the summary of EDA expenditures released by Director Bill Lambert which drove home some eye popping realities. So the question is, how did they do it? What are the salient points of the setup that Lex Albritton, Ken Evers, Bill Lambert and the insiders used to get money out of the EDA and IDA for these deals (you can’t really call them projects because most of them happened overnight and were more reactions to events than to planned end games). Everyone of the 14 deals on the EDA list has it’s own story that is not clean and is not in the public interest. But most of all, from your perspective, the EDA’s interest, each one is corrupt because you were cheated. How can you tell? Go check your files. Where are the applications, evaluations, feasibility, rationales, contracts, bids, appraisals, competitive processes, management reports, audits, reviews, statuses, summaries, closeouts? What happened to the money? What objectives were accomplished? What better uses were there for that money? Can’t find any files you say? I can tell you there are no files on many of those projects like Allyndeb, Forrestwood, PFMan, PRECO, Terrell Property (Lambert became a bank director the same day as the closing on Bank President Terrell). So, your board gave Bill Lambert $17 million of your $23 million dollars and you have no files? Does Bill Lambert? Ask Him.
So, I know a great deal about your Board and the IDA Board. Your Board is Broken beyond repair. It is blowing up with problems caused by Lex Albritton trying to keep the game going with Bill Lambert. Look at the status of the grants you approved in Feb. Isn’t that pathetic? The biggest user of EDA money is the salaries of IDA employees giving themselves raises and cell telephones and premium health insurance. Paddlesports money is paying for family member salaries. Incubator money is paying for upgrades to your fill line that is being used to manufacture products for other company(s) owned by Vanessa Thomas, who is getting paid by you to manage tenants on the fill line that do not exist. Do you ever get the feeling you wasted a great deal of time and money in the 2016 EDA Grant cycle process? Ever wonder what happened to IDA Member Dottie Connerly’s $337,000 Bella Mia EDA application that was pulled from your packet the day of the presentation?
Think there might be a better way to find good prospective companies to give $2,300,000?
For Easier Reading please click on the following link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4Kcl4GeG-RdQnp0N3NqMDdJSHc/view?usp=sharing
Misappropriating Public Severance Tax Money from the EDA. Here is the way they do it.
Dignified Protocols —- Substitute administrative processes for management processes. Submitting and paying reimbursements is a far cry from actively managing a project. Think of an investment banker that loans a new company $3,000,000. Would they happily pay out every receipt sent in as long as it fell within a budget category, until the money was all gone? This is what the EDA does.
Upon Request by EDA, Contract Clauses — Language allows neither side to keep records or be held accountable.
Project Closeout — When the money is all gone the project is over.
No management records created by the EDA.
Subjective contracts with subjective measures.
No structured EDA management processes, reports, formats, audits or reviews.
EDA Director (County Manager) refuses to manage projects or take responsibility other than administration.
Privacy Rights and Flexibility of recipients Override management rights.
Bait and Switch Games change fund destinations and project purposes after grant awards. Grants are held in the “back pocket” for years then switched.
No Checks and Balances Systems are in place to catch fraud.
No Help — Seven members that cannot talk to each other with no office, no staff, no resources, and four with serious conflicts of interest (David Royal, Stan Pelham, Sue Birge, Steven Southwell, Kenny Miller, Linda Roberson, Donna Doubleday). For example, Stan Pelham’s daughter in law is the IDA Coordinator making about $75,000 and he is the former business partner of the IDA Director). Other than the flimsiest of application information submitted by novice applicants, they have no evaluative information upon which to make grant decisions. They have no management information to act on once a grant is approved. They voted Yes $17,410,000 in grant requests from the IDA and that was the last they heard from them or that money. In reality, almost all of those 14 projects involved massive misappropriations, gross misrepresentations and willful mismanagement. 73.4% of EDA funds have gone to the IDA, including $150,000 per year for their salaries and administrative expenses. The EDA has granted $17,410,691 out of their total $23,770,683 to the IDA (see chart below). The EDA continued to give the IDA funds during and after the myriad audits, investigations, lawsuits, and the scathing Grand Jury Finding.
The IDA does not — Keep records on EDA projects they apply for except to forward the receipts for reimbursement.
— Provide a project manager for EDA projects the are awarded.
— Actively manage EDA projects or claim that these are IDA projects
— Provide EDA with reports, updates, audits, construction records and bids, final accountings, end of project closeout reports, etc.
— Provide due diligence or get approvals on changes to project purpose, funding destinations, timelines, contracts, lease modifications, capitalizations of assets, etc.
— Abide by contracts they sign with the EDA. IDA writes contracts with sub grant recipients without approval of the EDA. The IDA takes no responsibility for managing or enforcing these contracts including record keeping?
The EDA cannot operate an economic development board without managing their own projects. This includes the entire process starting with marketing the EDA’s funding availability to a wide audience outside the County to attract the best possible development for our long term benefit. Word of mouth inside Hardee is not working! Just look at your results! Counting beans on the back end to make sure all the money was spent without managing the front end is stupid. Pretending the administrative “check the boxes” process of invoice reimbursement is project management is fraudulent.
The EDA by structure and design is fully incapable of effectively operating as a grantor of economic development funds. It was built during a time when corrupt public officials had free reign to operate in the dark. They applied for their own projects, approved those projects and wrote their own subjective contracts with no requirements for records. They approved their own invoices and signed the EDA checks themselves. There were no audits, budgets, records or anyone held accountable for corrupt activities. Among those crooked deals involving EDA funds was Forrestwood and Allyndeb/Keyplex Complex.
Those days of operating in the dark with no staff an no witnesses are over. But the EDA organizational structure remains the same. That structure is like an airplane without a crew. It will not fly. The EDA has no employees to search for suitable target companies, modify Local Bill provisions, solicit applicants, evaluate applicants, negotiate contracts, actively manage contracts, present regular reports, annual reviews, audit projects, project closeouts. The EDA needs an MBA, a CPA and a retained contract attorney.
This is especially true with the $10,000,000 Mosaic South Pasture Mine Extension incentive money coming to the EDA and not the IDA. The IDA should be prohibited from applying for anymore EDA funds. Furthermore, the EDA employees, once they are reorganized and establish a new process, must go back and conduct a forensic audit of past EDA projects to find out what happened to $23,770,000 dollars. How much of that money was never authorized and was not accounted for.
The Ona Mine negotiations will take place soon (if not already begun). The EDA Board should appoint their own person to negotiate for them. Not Bill Lambert. He is not your friend. Conceivably, the EDA might have $60,000,000 more in economic development money to award. Certainly, they will need college educated staff, professional resources, and more than one grant cycle per year. All of this needs planning and time. But most of all it needs leadership that the EDA does not have. Corruption permeates this stacked board and must be excised. This goes for the County Manager and Attorney most of all. No true EDA reorganization will take place until the housecleaning is completed.
The IDA and EDA must be separated until the IDA is dissolved and the authorities are finished processing evidence. The EDA must proceed on their own and isolate themselves from the IDA except for the projects on the list above that were never closed out. They need accountability from the IDA.
For Information on State Rep James Grant Stealing 7 Million of our tax dollars, Click here