Monday, January 21, 2008

Mike Turner and the Real Estate/Development Interests

Mike Turner has received significant contributions from a cluster of donors best described as the real estate/development special interest community. This includes PAC and individual donors from real estate, contracting, construction, engineering and architecture, and building trades unions.
In fact some of the largest individual contributors are associated with this special interest donor base.
And there is overlap. Note that RG Properities is one of Turners largest contributors. This development firm is a regional partner with Wal-Mart in shopping center development. The Wal-Mart PAC has contributed $12,500 to Turner.

But so what?

The set of top contributing developers are key players in contributing to urban sprawl in northern Warren/Southern Montgomery County. Even smaller contributors are involved. Individuals associated with developer active in that area, Design Homes, have contributed $5,700 to Turner. Individuals associated with Kendall Construction have also contributed.

And the big infrastructure project in the area that would materially benefit these developers is the Austin Road Interchange.

Has Turner done earmarking for the Austin Road interchange?

Lets look at the latest big infrastructure bill, authorizing appropriations out to FY10.

And that would be SAFETEA-LU, AKA known as Public Law 109–59, enacted by the 109th Congress. The bill made famous by that Alaska “bridge to nowhere”.

Here is the Congressional Research Service statement on earmarks in this bill:

SAFE, ACCOUNTABLE, FLEXIBLE, EFFICIENT TRANSPORTATION EQUITY ACT: A LEGACY FOR USERS Order Code RL33119 Oct 18 2005

Earmarking
The level of earmarking in SAFETEA is exponentially larger in terms of both
numbers of projects and dollar terms then was the case in TEA-21. For starters,
SAFETEA contains at least 5,092 separate earmarks for congressional high priority
projects (HPPs) with a value of over $14.8 billion (there are several additional blank,but nonetheless numbered earmarks in the conference report). This compares with 1,849 similarly labeled earmarks in TEA-21 with a value of $9.4 billion.

Then looking at the OMB Earmark List we see that there are two earmarks for Austin Road.

And, finally, looking at the Congressional Record here they are, in the pork-laden High Priority Projects list.

H.R.3

TITLE 1 FEDERAL AID HIGHWAYS

SUBTITLE G HIGH PRIORITY PROJECTS

SEC. 1702. PROJECT AUTHORIZATIONS.
Subject to section 117 of title 23, United States Code, the
amount listed for each high priority project in the following table
shall be available (from amounts made available by section
1101(a)(16) of this Act) for fiscal years 2005 through 2009 to carry
out each such project:

And the two Austin Road line items on the list:

2404. OH Construction of I–75 Austin Road Interchange,
Montgomery County, Ohio .............................. $6,000,000

4630. OH Construct full movement interchange on I–75
at Austin/Miamisburg-Springboro Rd. and
widen Miamisburg-Springboro Rd. from
Wood Rd. to SR 741, Dayton, OH .................. $750,000

So, a total of $6,750,000 earmarked.

Chickenfeed compared to the projected construction cost. But note that these authorizations extend to 2010, and can be reauthorized at a higher amount. And Turner is jockeying for a position on the House Appropriations Committee, where he would be in a position to earmark more money for this project as well as others.

But is this a Turner earmark?

This report from the Springboro Sun of 9/5/2007 implies that it is:

Congressman Turner Answers Questions

....Congressman Turner works with Congressman Dave Hobson, Ohio 7th District, matching line items and funding. So far $350 million extra has gone to WPAFB, with other local gains going to transportation projects such as the Interstate 75/ Austin Road interchange and economic development projects such as Middletown Regional Hospital's new facilities.

So it sounds like Turner is involved somehow, based on the article .

Putting it together graphically:


…one can see how some of Turners large contributors would stand to benefit from improved interstate access, as the interchange would make Social Row a major artery, and improve access for the lower reaches of OH 48 below Centerville. The benefit would be greater, of course, for property adjacent to the interchange, which is held or being aquired by RG and Miller Valentine.

Yet, this is all just circumstantial. There is no way to prove a quid pro quo. Contributions could be based on shared ideology as much as Turners ability to earmark infrastructure improvements.

Taking a larger view, for what its worth, here is what various construction industry lobby/PAC groups give Turner on their Congressional scorecards. I wasn’t able to find any for the real estate or homebuilder industry.

There is a larger public policy issue around the Austin Road interchange, due to the impact this will have on the city housing market, the downtown office market, and redevelopment of old inner-city industrial sites.

Maybe not a big deal if this area was growing, but its not.


This could also be the reason that there is minimal emphasis on downtown revitalization by top level groups like the Dayton Development Coalition (the leadership are Turner donors) compared to other cities.

In any case one can infer Turner, though touted as a GOP urbanist, really represents a suburban/exurban growth coalition.

9 comments:

David Esrati said...

Jeffrey, When Greg Hunter sees this- he's going to say "I told you so"- thank you for researching this so carefully, and revealing Turners ugly underbelly. I've known from day one that I heard him campaigning that he wasn't an urbanist at all- just a climber- looking for his own self-interest. The move from the city to the private gated community couldn't happen fast enough for him. The next set of donors to look at is health care (KMC execs give him tons of cash- directly, and through his wifes firm, Turner Effect) and then look at the Dayton Development Coalition- another slush fund to support Austin Road- and to pay Turner Effect a lot of money for bad advice- the "Get Midwest" campaign.
Thank you for doing this research- and mapping out what you get when you "buy" a Congressman.

Greg Hunter said...

I am sorry but I told you so does not pay the bills or fix the situation. I told you so gets squat as in these types of decisions, just like the ones made in New York and DC, We all go down together; except the Rich. I do not want to say these things, but I sit around and say what is the point, when any hard work is nullified by the Greediest Generation. Spouting free market rhetoric while fixing taxation policies and earmarks in their favor. I've always asked for a plan or rational and when I do not get something that passes the "smell test" I rant. The people that run this town and region better get their snout out of trough or in the case of Mathile out of his @&& and fund things that make sense for the future. (He just paid the Republican Party, err the Dayton Development Coalition 2 Million dollars for the Get Midwest campaign.) The only solution palatable to me is not to build Austin Road. If the boys continue to force the issue, this area is in for additional pain.

Now that we have a problem we need leadership and where are the leaders. They say nothing. I would hate to be a politician as the next cycle will require much more radical approaches than I have called for in the past. I admit that if I was in charge I would not want to deal with my ideas or questions, but the successful people that have financed these politicians and drove these processes have failed. If they are truly leaders that will admit some culpability and reach out to those of us who have seen the future and what should be done. If the continue to look to DC and New York to bail us out we are lost. The region needs a plan that includes well paying stable jobs and not ones where the ultimate outcome is an instrument of war, but one that benefits man and looks to minimize future problems.

Unfortunately, the biggest failure belongs to the greedy Cox sisters and their lack of investment in maintaining the standards set forth in the First Amendment. The DDN has been a party to the poor decisions and continues to parse words to provide the appearance of partiality.

Greg Hunter said...

Have you ever tried to track who actually owns or benefits from the Land around Austin Road? The partnerships that Randy Gunlock (RG) and Miller V put together are not very transparent. It is impossible to track. Below is a copy of my comment on the Defense Industry post at Esrati's site.

"What most people do not understand is the power of “influence” that can be rained down by politicians that are known by their friends. Contracting officers know it, small business advocates know it, officers know it and of course contractors buy it. In addition there are less transparent discussions that occur at levels that are not monitored as General Lester Lyles is on the board of Directors of MTC and DPL. Ernie Green is/was (quit after the Forester trial debacle) on Board of Directors of DPL. Ernie is a minority subcontractor with Sam Morgon (Turner Contributor), part of Mills Morgan (Multiple Turner Contributors), benefactor of Hobson (see Porker on DaytonOS) operation and land owner with Ernie south of town. I can go on with links to other contractors all the way to Austin Road."

Jeffrey said...

I think the news here is that Turner is seeking a seat on the House Apporpriations Committee. Has this been reported elsewhere?

***

As for quid-pro-quo, note that the interchange is or was estimated at $37M and the earmark is only $6.7.

Not a very big contribution to the project.

Especially when the Seattle Times reported $53.3M in FY07 Defense earmarks from Turner.

Greg Hunter said...

Is this earmark in your total?
http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/earmarks/public-site-preview/earmarks/earmark_183886.html

Nicholas Sullivan said...

Thank you for doing this research- and mapping out what you get when you "buy" a Congressman.

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