Mayor gets city's $75,000 back from consultant

Firm's head meets with Mayor, commerce Lexington chief

jpatton1@herald-leader.comMarch 8, 2011 

Jim Gray

DAVID PERRY | STAFF

At the request of Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, a consultant is returning $75,000 paid for an economic development report that has been criticized as "recycled recommendations."

Gray met with Angelos Angelou, head of Texas-based AngelouEconomics, early Monday in Lexington.

"I asked if he was willing to take the financial consequences of the credibility gap and refund the city's money, ... and he agreed to that," Gray said. "You've got to respect someone who is willing to do that."

Commerce Lexington president and chief executive Bob Quick also met with Gray and Angelou. The city and Commerce Lexington split the cost of the $150,000 consultant's report.

The steering committee of city and Commerce Lexington officials handling the report met with Angelou on Monday morning.

"He apologized. We accepted that," Quick said. "It was a very productive conversation."

Quick said there was no discussion about asking for the rest of the money back.

Last week, a member of the local grass-roots advocacy group ProgressLex questioned the value of the report after finding that significant portions of a draft were taken almost verbatim from reports prepared for other cities.

Lexington entrepreneur Ben Self, who discovered the problem, said in a blog posting Monday that he looks forward to reading the new version in three weeks, but he predicted a lack of support in the business community.

"Even if the report is worth its weight in gold, few will trust it," Self wrote. "And, if it can't be used in the community as a justification for taking the steps it recommends, how can it truly be a road map for moving forward?"

Angelou said last week that he is personally taking charge of rewriting the economic-development strategy, but he asked to delay the delivery. The report was scheduled to be unveiled March 18.

Gray said Monday that he wants Angelou to consider recommendations made by the mayor's transition teams.

"There's a lot at stake," Gray said. "We're in the worst economy most of us have known for a long time. ... But we've got to have a plan for the future. It's important to see how we're going to implement this plan."

He pointed out that another crucial preliminary report from AngelouEconomics on how the city's economic development efforts stack up against peers has yet to be delivered.

As for the draft's recommendation for expanding Commerce Lexington's role and funding, Gray said, "I consider that to be some of the recommendations we need to be examining and need to evaluate."

Reach Janet Patton at (859) 231-3264 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3264.

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