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Tipsters urge media to look at role in convention center deals
Someone has been out to get New Albany Co. Chairman John W. Kessler.
Last week, anonymous and unnamed tipsters were calling the Columbus news media pushing a story that Kessler had, as a member of the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, voted to award two contracts to companies with which he had business ties. The authority is an 11-member body created in 1988 that developed and owns the convention center.
That much of the story is accurate. But whether Kessler's votes constitute conflict of interest violations or had an impact on the awarding of the contracts is unclear. Columbus police and the Franklin County prosecutor's office are investigating the allegations, although it is not clear why the issue has come up now.
In 1988 and 1989, the authority awarded an $875,000 contract for construction management to John W. Galbreath & Co. (now Galbreath Co.) and a legal services contract to the law firm of Schwartz, Kelm, Warren & Rubenstein (now Schwartz, Kelm, Warren & Ramirez). Since the awarding of the contract, Schwartz Kelm has billed $916,000, according to Authority Executive Director Claire Sawaya.
Both contracts were recommended by the authority's consultant selection committee, which Kessler chaired.