First in a monthly series by Jim Sneddon
When Daniel Logan was initially hired in March 2003 as a consultant to the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority, it seemed simple enough. He was to analyze the proposed convention center's operating and marketing plan.
A glowing resume, submitted to the Authority by Chairman James O. Pickard, claimed that Logan was involved in various Philadelphia convention and tourist related projects between 1993 and 1998. It was less clear, however, what Logan had been doing in the five years before he was signed on by the Authority.
The contract allowed for a total payment of $18,000, plus "reasonable expenses of Growth Business Development," Logan’s one-person company operating out of his Medford, N.J. home. The contract specifically states it was to "be completed within a 30-day period from the date of the signed agreement." Records show Logan was paid in three $6,000 payments. No expenses were submitted.
But that was not the end of it. Logan just wouldn’t go away after completing his work on the operating and marketing plan. Both Pickard and David Hixson, the executive director hired in the summer of 2003, began paying him $150 an hour for a significant amount of work done without a contract. According to Authority records, Logan was paid $200,795.29 for the period when he had no board-approved contract.
It wasn’t until June 30, 2004 that Logan submitted a "letter contract" to Ted Darcus, the new Chairman of the LCCCA Board. The contract appears to have been triggered when the Authority realized Logan was operating without one when it attempted to answer a Right-to-Know request filed by a hotelier. The hoteliers were involved in a court suit seeking to overturn a decision by county commissioners to implement a hotel tax to pay for the Convention Center.
The Authority covered the missing contract by noting, in a document generated by Logan and signed by him and Darcus on July 14, 2004, that he is to be paid $150/hour, "the rate at which he has been paid prior to this date." His responsibilities under the contract are broadly general. It is an open-ended contract, there are no limits set on the total amount to be paid to him.
For Logan, that contract with the Authority was as good as finding a gold mine. Over a period of four-years, he was paid more than $950,000. But what did Logan actually do to earn that money?
A former Authority employee described him as an "invisible man." In the four-year period, he is seldom quoted in board meetings. No work products have surfaced. A member of the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau recalled Logan coming with Hixson to some of their board meetings. Critics who brought litigation against the Authority during this time only vaguely recall Logan and did not know what he did for the Authority.
Logan became Executive Director Hixson’s "right-hand-man." As one person behind the scenes told us, "He was always with Dave."
An intensive review of Logan’s bills shows over-billing for hours he could not have worked.
Although living in New Jersey, more than two hours from Lancaster, Logan commuted. At times, according to telephone records, he worked out of his home in Medford, N.J.
How much work Logan did is a matter of dispute.
Logan primarily billed the Authority in daily blocks of eight hours, collecting $1,200 for each day.
But a close comparison of Logan’s records with Authority records and other consultants showed there were times when Logan was billing for meetings with other consultants, when there was no record of those meetings on their bills.
Logan was "primarily involved with pre-sales and marketing," Hixson told Authority members. "He serves as community liaisons to the Convention and Visitors Bureau which is obviously a very important working partnership with us in moving forward."
But when the Convention and Visitors Bureau co-sponsored "a meet us in Lancaster," a free weekend visit for booking agencies from the Baltimore area, only Hixson attended the events. The sales and marketing expert, Logan was no where to be found.
The lack of detail on Logan’s invoices for the hours he worked was typical of consultants hired by the authority. It required little detail to substantiate hours billed.
For example, in October 2005, new Authority member Laura Douglas asked Hixson specifically about Growth Business Development. "…there are a number of these extremely high bills without itemization or some sort of results or some sort of actual work to show for it."
"Sure, fair questions," Hixson told Douglas and the board. "We have in our office the itemization. Each month we receive the bills from various vendors and advisors that serve us. That is reviewed by me, as well as Willie Borden who is our Treasurer. We also run it by the Chairman.
"So what we do is we review it in our roles as Executive Director, Treasurer and as Chair, and then we submit the summary out to the Board members, but certainly we have the itemization that is closely reviewed by the Treasurer and Executive Director."
Either Hixson lied about the detailed itemization of Logan's "miscellaneous" bills or the itemization he referred to have since been destroyed.
When asked for that specific information on two occasions, NewsLanc was told : "Please be advised that the LCCCA has provided you with full and complete invoices on file for the requested documents. Therefore the LCCCA … does not have any additional information."
Logan's unknown miscellaneous bills, all approved without details by Hixson, Borden and Darcus, totaled $121,986.
Without detailed, supporting material for the miscellaneous bills Logan submitted to the Authority, there is no way of knowing what they were for, and if the money went only to Logan or flowed to someone else after he deposited the checks.
It’s not likely the public will ever find out. Only a law enforcement agency with subpoena powers would be able to trace that money.
(Jim Sneddon is the former long time Editor and Publisher of the The York Dispatch and York Sunday News.)