Who had Jane Mobley in the Kansas City Public-Relations Person Most Likely to Be in the News pool?
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill recently announced an investigation into the government's use of image consultants after KSHB Channel 41 reporter Russ Ptacek revealed that Jane Mobley Associates was paid $234,000 to help the General Services Administration crisis-manage the contamination problem at the Bannister Federal Complex. On Monday, Mobley was introduced as an adviser to the committee studying a potential 1,000-room convention hotel in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
Mobley will work as a subcontractor to C.H. Consulting, a firm that's been hired to evaluate the hotel proposals that two developers have submitted. The 1,000-room hotel will cost at least $300 million and require substantial taxpayer support, should the city council give it the green light.
If a deal emerges, it's sure to involve tax-increment financing and other development programs that only about 350 people in the city really understand. Mobley says her shop will help the public make sense of the financial review that's conducted. "That is a lot of what we do for a living, is take technical material and translate it into what can be understood by a diverse population," she says.
The General Services Administration hired Mobley at a time when Ptacek was reporting on the startling number of sick or dead workers at the Bannister Federal Complex, which the GSA shares with the National Nuclear Security Administration. The Pitch's Nadia Pflaum wrote a feature story in 2009 about the health complaints of people who worked in the part of the complex where non-nuclear components for nuclear weapons were made.
A new convention hotel won't expose anyone to beryllium, but the project could have a toxic effect on the city's budget.
Cities have overbuilt convention facilities in the race to attract tourists. The glut makes it hard for projects to break even. Last year, the City of Overland Park had to scrounge up $2.4 million to stay current on the debt on its convention hotel.
Residents have reason to be wary about the due diligence that C.H. Johnson will conduct and Mobley will put into layman's terms. C.H. Johnson is the outfit that did the numbers on the Power & Light District when it was still a glimmer in former Mayor Kay Barnes' eye. C.H. Johnson's forecast completely missed the mark. Sales in the district last year were only 16 percent of what had been projected originally. The faulty prediction means that taxpayers will have to prop up the district for years to come.