Charlestown’s Mayor Pledges Tax Dollars to Fund Propaganda

images-2Fake news is a much discussed topic today. Who can we trust to give accurate, factual, unbiased information? I work hard to ensure that the information presented in this blog is well supported. Although I don’t try to hide my opinion on many things, I always provide links, documents, and/or pictures to show where I get my information. My goal is to present information for people in Charlestown that they’re not likely to get from our current administration. That’s why this particular post is so important.

Mayor Bob Hall has contracted with a public relations group to manipulate the messages you receive about the City. The Mayor wants to create Fake News and the tax payers are covering the costs.

At the Board of Public Works meeting on February 5, 2018, Mayor Hall introduced a contract for ProMedia Group citing

“negative press and wide-spread public descent [sic] for City Government decisions and management” (Contract, pg 2).

Through this partnership the Mayor intends to respond to negative feedback from the people of Charlestown by

“taking control of [the City’s] messaging” and cites the need “to stop relying on the media” to report on issues of concern for Charlestown.

This contract was unanimously approved by the Board of Public Works. The ProMedia Group will take over the City’s website, public communication, and social media pages. They will produce videos every month and create a quarterly newsletter over the next year. These basic services will cost the city $5,000 per month (February’s invoice was paid on March 5th). In addition to basic services, Mayor Hall requested an amendment to the contract that provides a “kick start” to the “Positive Messaging Campaign” that costs an extra $23,000. Check my math, but that’s $60,000 for one year of service + $23,000 in kick start fees for a total of…

$83,000

…to a private company who will make sure that the City’s “social network will be monitored at all times ensuring that the City is represented in the best possible way” (Contract pg 4). 

You’ve probably already seen some of the products of this new agreement. The “kick start” plan calls for the creation of 10-12 short “setting the record straight” videos scheduled for release each week in the first 90 days at a cost of “$1,500 per” (Contract pg 4). Since adopting this contract the City has released FIVE (5) videos.  Are you counting? In the first five weeks we’ve paid ProMedia Group an extra $7,500 in addition to our monthly $5,000 fee.

 

Is the information in these videos correct? Probably, technically so, yes. But, is it all inclusive? No. The police station video fails to mention that plans for such a building date back almost a decade with no follow-through. The video for the Renaissance Project does not account for all the businesses and homes that the Mayor wants to demolish to make his vision a reality. The Indiana American Water video doesn’t mention that the Mayor ignored the Citizens’ petition to take the sale to voter referendum. The Springville Manor video doesn’t address the fact that many folks who move in are taking on debt (that their heirs will pay) when they had none and were already living in homes that were not damaged. Every time you watch one of these, remember that it cost you $1,500.

Do not fall for the bells and whistles, Charlestown. We’re smarter than that. Come to the meetings. The next City Council Meeting is Monday, April 2. If you can’t attend, then come here and listen to the audio I post. Maybe you see and hear all the information and you still think things are great. Fine. Everyone is entitled to form their own opinions. But you AT LEAST deserve all the information before you make your decisions.

You also should continue to be alarmed by the way the Mayor silences those who dissent (that’s the correct spelling) with his opinion. If you post a comment against the city on social media will it be deleted? Will you be getting accurate information after it’s filtered through ProMedia’s lens?

I guess the joke is on me this time, though. About a year ago, when I naively thought that our problems were caused by a simple lack of communication, I asked Bob Hall to start posting short video updates. I imagined Bob in his office with a camera and a free YouTube channel. I did NOT think he’d spend almost $100,000 in tax-payer money to manipulate the message.

*Edited to include signed contract and the official meeting Minutes*

You can read the full contract here: ProMedia Contract – Signed

Minutes for the meeting in which the contract was approved are here (This meeting also addressed phosphorus levels in wastewater): BPW Minutes 02/05/2018

PS. I apologize if this post costs us another $1,500 to “set the record straight.”

 

What is your property worth?

Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 1.09.09 PM

While the City of Charlestown is partnering with a private developer to drive people out of their homes in Pleasant Ridge at far below assessed or appraised values for their homes, they are willing to inflate the value of property purchased for the Renaissance Project.

During the January 25, 2018 meeting of the Redevelopment Commission, members unanimously approved Mayor Hall’s request to approve up to $105,000 to purchase the Decker property located at 221 Market Street. This property was assessed at $57,000 and appraised at (approximately) $80,000 before remediation but the city did not request an updated appraisal prior to agreement.

Decisions like this matter when Mayor Hall’s vision includes acquiring, demolishing, and rebuilding all of the property fronting Highway 3.

Link to the official minutes of this meeting available here: Redevelopment Meeting Jan 25, 2018

Redevelopment Commission Meeting 03/22/2018

The Charlestown Redevelopment Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, March 22 at 9:00 am in City Hall. Following is a summary of the meeting (full audio available at end of notes):

  1. Call to order/Pledge of Allegiance
  2. Determination of a Quorum and Roll Call
    • Members present – Bob Hall, Eric Vaughn, John Spencer, and Ted Little
    • Members absent – George Roberts and Mark Pavey
  3. Minutes from 03/08 meeting, claims, and payroll docket all combined into one motion.
    • Motion to approve made by John Spencer
    • Seconded by Ted Little
    • No Discussion
    • Unanimous approval
  4. Introduction of letter of engagement to contract with London Witte to help establish an economic development area for the hospital.
    • Motion to approve engagement letter made by Ted Little
    • Seconded by Eric Vaughn
    • No Discussion
    • Unanimous approval
  5. Adjournment
    • Motion to adjourn made by Eric Vaughn
    • Seconded by John Spencer
    • Unanimous approval

Full audio available here (2:55): 

stock-photo-community-word-cloud-heart-concept-425621863

Board of Public Works Meeting 03/19/2018

The following is a summary of the Board of Public Works meeting that took place on Monday, March 19, 2018 at 9:00 am. The full audio of the meeting is at the end of the summary.

  1. Call to order
    • Pledge of Allegiance led by Geneva Adams
    • All members present
  2. Minutes from 3/5/2018 meeting, claims, and payroll combined into one motion
    • Motion to approve all three made by Ted Little
    • Motion seconded by Ben Ledbetter
    • No discussion
    • Unanimous approval
  3. Letter of engagement for the economic development area to be established for the hospital
    • motion to approve engagement letter made by Ben Ledbetter
    • motion seconded by Ted Little
    • No discussion
    • Unanimous approval
  4. Approval of engaging company to conduct water rate credit study – City will engage company to study a 4-year gradual increase in water rates – Fee paid not to exceed $7,500.
    • motion to approve study made by Ted Little
    • motion seconded by Ben Ledbetter
    • Question about fees answered (unintelligible)
    • Unanimous approval
  5. Eric Vaughn update on the RFQ processes for the design/build of the new police station – three companies submitted, all three will be issued RFPs and will be allowed to present their bids – groups are Wheatley Group (sp?), AMC, and ARC.
    • Motion to send all three companies RFPs made by Ben Ledbetter
    • Motion seconded by Ted Little
    • No discussion
    • unanimous approval
  6. Contract on Circus – Circus coming to town on May 23 – City gets percentage of gate fee and will contribute $295 (or $395? not clear) – city usually makes money on this agreement
    • motion to approve contract made by Ted Little
    • motion seconded by Ben Ledbetter
    • No discussion
    • Unanimous approval
  7. Minutes will reflect that Donna Coomer is given authority to approve circus contract
  8. A mock up of new street signs was displayed. The new signs are not traditional rectangle but will be cut out into the shape of the Charleston logo (skyline look). Cost of sign not discussed.
  9. Adjournment

Link to full audio here (12:43): 

stock-photo-community-word-cloud-heart-concept-425621863

2018 Elections – Candidate Mike Bowling

In addition to County offices, I also got to speak to candidates running for state office this morning at the Crusade for Children pancake breakfast hosted by Charlestown Fire Department. Mike Bowling is running for Indiana State Representative for District 66, and he shared a little of his platform with me in between pancake bites.

image1-2Mike hopes to represent district 66, which includes northern Clark County, all of Scott County, and parts of Jefferson County. His primary goal is to assist Governor Eric Holcomb with his 2018 Next Level Agenda. You can read more about that plan HERE. Mike has a passion for helping Indiana’s secondary schools to prepare students for success after graduation. We talked about how some students will decide to go to college and others want to enter the workforce right away. Mike hopes to help develop programs that will assist in creating work-ready graduates. He recognizes the importance of highly skilled laborers to our economy and hopes to work with technical schools such as Prosser Career Education Center and Ivy Tech Community College to meet Indiana’s needs in these areas. For more information about Mike’s platform visit his Mike Bowling Indiana State Representative District 66 Facebook Page.


*None of the candidate profiles in this blog are official endorsements of the candidates and are written for informational purposes only. All candidates being considered for 2018 elections are welcome to contact me to have their platform profiled. Email treva.hodges@gmail.com

2018 Elections – Candidate Butch Love

If you came to the Crusade benefit pancake breakfast hosted by the Charlestown Fire Department this morning wearing a candidate’s shirt then you can bet I interrupted you mid-bite to ask if you’d like to have your platform featured on the blog. Butch Love, candidate for Clark County Assessor was no exception. I asked Butch to share his ideas for the Assessor’s office and he was happy to help.

image2Butch wants to bring Transparency to the office of Assessor. He said it is important for property owners to know how their properties are being assessed. What happens when rates go up? Why do rates sometimes go down? How can an owner have an errant assessment corrected? These are all questions that Butch wants to answer. One way that Butch will bring transparency to the office is by hosting quarterly public meetings throughout the county. At these meetings Butch will answer questions and give owners opportunities to voice their opinions about the assessment process. Additionally, Butch hopes to bring about changes in the office itself by examining sales disclosures. He hopes that revising this process will help residents and owners understand the Assessor’s office even better. To learn more about Butch’s platform and his goals for the office of Assessor visit his Butch Love for Clark County Assessor Facebook Page.


*None of the candidate profiles in this blog are official endorsements of the candidates and are written for informational purposes only. All candidates being considered for 2018 elections are welcome to contact me to have their platform profiled. Email treva.hodges@gmail.com