Providing Greater Lancaster with an Alternative Source for Local News and Commentary  _________________________________________________________
 January 12, 2007                                         Publisher: LLC                                    Volume 1, Number 20

Has Convention Center Authority falsified budget to comply with court ruling?
In what appears as a baldfaced attempt to circumvent a judicial requirement for a balanced budget, the Convention Center Authority conspicuously underestimates and omits major past expenditures in its budget for next year.

In October, Judge Joseph Madenspacher ruled that project sponsors must have a balanced budget before construction funds were released.

More than half of the $18 million the Authority has spent to date have been paid to five consultants:
the Stevens & Lee law firm ($7 million); Bulls Advisory Group ($800,000); Growth Business Development ($800,000); Metrovision Community Development ($700,000) and Cimbrian (formerly Kelly Michener) public relations ($600,000).

Yet the Authority budget for fiscal year 2008 shows only Cimbrian listed as an expense, but at only $3,500 per month, a far cry from the PR firm's previous $20,000 monthly average. They expect the public and the judge to believe they
are cutting back their public relations by about 75% the year before they plan to open the facility?

And if the other consultants aren't necessary in the future, were they in the past?

The budget also does not include litigation fees despite the fact there are currently three separate pending lawsuits in Harrisburg courts. Have they discovered that the $100,000 a month in litigation attorneys has also been superfluous?

Sunday News' reckless reporting (and tiny 'Correction')
In the December 31 Sunday News, Associate Editor Gil Smart incorrectly stated in a lead article:

"Shaub testified twice before the grand jury, but Shellenberger and Henderson testified only once... The appearance of 'taking the fifth,' say observers, could be extremely

damaging politically."

On January 7, an inconspicuous "Corrections / Clarifications" appeared at the top corner of page "A2," acknowledging, "Shellenberger then testified once more, and Henderson testified on two additional occasions."

While this may have been a lack of competence, the December 31 article falls into a long pattern of unsubstantiated charges against Henderson, and may be another case of "reckless disregard for the truth and knowledge of falsity," i.e., libel.

In 245 Days...

County appointees become the majority on the Convention Center Board
and the public gets some accountability.


Cites Lack of Corroborating Evidence

  1. Although Report offered tantalizing views of back room dealings and juicy tidbits of gossip, there were scant if any findings of wrongdoings.

  2. No accusation of crime concerning Gary Heinke appointment, and only tenuous evidence of Sunshine Law violations pertaining to sale of Conestoga View.

  3. It appears likely that Molly Henderson and possibly also Shellenberger and Shaub did not violate the Sunshine Law.

  4. Shaub and Shellenberger were for privatization of Conestoga View Nursing Home even before Shellenberger took office. (Editor's note: "Privatization" was a Republican buzz word at that time, perceived as a panacea for "big government." Shellenberger did not conceal his views about privatization and the voters elected him).

  5. Shellenberger and Shaub, and apparently Stevens & Lee, felt it was appropriate to discuss a flat fee because law firm was accepting the assignment "at risk" that they would not receive any compensation unless and until the commissioners would authorize the sale.

  6. Although there was a desire to keep consideration of a sale secret during the period of exploration, this was not necessarily illegal or even improper. In Shaub's opinion, it involved the future of Conestoga View personnel and secret discussions of matters involving personnel are permissible.

  7. Shaub favored sale and voted for it initially with Shellenberger. (Henderson voted against the sale initially). Shaub voted against the sale only after receiving assurances that other commissioners would vote for it.

  8. Shellenberger thought his friend Gary Heinke would make a good candidate and wanted him to be considered by commissioners. Shaub apparently also thought well of Heinke. Henderson voted against hiring Heinke during an appropriately private commissioners' meeting. Henderson only joined Shellenberger and Shaub in voting for Heinke at the public meeting as a customary show of unanimous support.

  9. Henderson is virtually exonerated by the Report.

  10. John Espenshade of Stevens & Lee was skillful in coaching and guiding commissioners on how to avoid violating Sunshine Laws.

  11. Report concluded that Sunshine Laws are almost hopelessly vague. retracts its criticism of Espenshade and Stevens & Lee for supposedly allowing clients to violate Sunshine Laws. re-affirms its concern that Grand Jury findings hardly justified its time and expense to taxpayers.

Click here for the Grand Jury Report in its entirety.

Read carefully, pay particular attention to the revealing footnotes, and reach your own conclusions.