‘Open,’ ‘transparent’ mean little to LEDO
The “new” Local Economic Development Organization (LEDO) was widely publicized as a group of six citizens who would operate with “openness, transparency and civility.” Because they were funded solely with our tax money, we were told they would have “oversight and plenty of guidance from” an “Alliance Board” of elected officials.
The LEDO’s four tasks were agribusiness development, business retention, the U.S. 31 Corridor and family attraction. These goals were to be accomplished with committees of citizen volunteers.
In return for this work, the LEDO was guaranteed $150,000 per year of our tax money. After just two years, the mayor and commissioners will have given this group just under $380,000 of our money.
There was a public meeting for the agribusiness development committee in March, 2013. There is no record of any public meetings for business retention. A public meeting for family attraction was held in June, 2013, and the results of a survey were distributed last December. There’s been no meeting since. Three meetings for the U.S. 31 Corridor have been advertised, generally about the proposed interchange.
With one of the four goals being “family attraction,” isn’t it strange the LEDO gives more than $100,000 a year of our tax money for the salary and benefits of a director who lives in Culver? How can he promote Tipton and convince others to move here if he won’t do it himself? In the June community meeting, Director Jeff Sheridan asked the audience, “Why don’t people want to move to Tipton?” Maybe he should answer that himself.
The Alliance Board members who are supposed to oversee the LEDO are Mike Cline, Phil Heron, Joe VanBibber, Don Havens, Jim Powell, Barb Cardwell and Mike Dollens. Even though the original promoters of the LEDO promised it would operate with openness and transparency, at a May 30, 2013, Alliance Board meeting, a citizen asked the LEDO president Mike Harlowe if the meetings were open to the public. He replied, “No, they are not.” The citizen asked why not, and Mayor Don Havens said, “The LEDO has elected not to have public meetings. There’s no reason they have to hold public meetings.”