Widener wants $1B for BRAC
State Senator Chris Widener came out with this stunning announcement in the Saturday, August 16th Dayton Daily News. Incredible! Add this to the political class’s long list of stuff you simply can’t make up on your own. In the last Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) negotiations Greene County Commissioners and the Dayton Development Coalition (DDC) worked out a backroom deal that sent $1.9 million to the non-profit private corporation. The Coalition and their Greene County politician-bankers took credit for the successful outcome for Wright Patterson. Nothing could be further from reality. The real reason Wright Patt fared so well in the 2005 BRAC was because of its professional workforce that over the last century made Wright Patt a national treasure. Leave it up to the politicians to take credit for positive outcomes and play the blame game when things go bad. In any case, the political class patted each other on the back and praised Greene County government for their generous contribution to the cause, but of course never thanked the taxpayers who paid the bill. Now Widener’s eyes are lighting up with the possibility of raising the ante from the citizen class to $1 billion dollars.
Furthermore, the $1.9 million for the 2005 BRAC had little effect if any on the BRAC outcome except to enrich the political class. When you take a closer look, here’s where that money went:
- $1M was laundered as matching funds to qualify for a state grant,
- About a million dollars went to The Greentree Group, a Beavercreek information technology defense contractor with absolutely no experience in “economic development.” Ohio statutes can allow public money to be spent on economic development, but not by inept contractors whose only qualification is that they rub elbows with the folks that awarded the unbid contract,
- Over $500,000 went to The PMA Group, a Washington lobbying firm who’s Founder and President went to prison for making illegal campaign contributions to dozens of congressmen, including Dave Hobson and Steve Austria,
- Over-the-top salaries to Dayton Development Coalition executives including over $285,000 to J.P. Nauseef in 2005, the last full year of the BRAC contract.
Widener insists that he’s not asking for new money to finance the next BRAC boondoggle. He says the money is available from the state with Third Frontier and JobsOhio appropriations, and from the private sector. Of course he passes that off as a “public-private partnership,” which of course is a euphemism for public money going into private pockets.
To add insult to injury, in the article Mr. Widener rhetorically asks, “Is $1 billion enough?” He then remarks, “I don’t know. But I think it’s a good place to start.” To put a floor on BRAC spending at $1B is not only irresponsible, it reveals a profound misunderstanding of free market economics, not to mention Mr. Widener’s condescending attitude toward his constituents’ ability to recognize another big government transfer of wealth from the citizen class. Senator Widener, if you really believe the taxpayers and the private sector will come up with a billion dollars to give you campaign fodder for your next election, it’s time to leave government and go find a real job.