In the free market business leadership entertains proposals every day.
Leadership delegates subordinates to ‘vet,’ or study these propositions
and determine if they benefit the business…
…sometimes the subordinates don’t bother because they think no one is looking.
Bad things happen under those circumstances.
The essence of trust in good government is transparency.
When business relies upon government to achieve its means, transparency is essential.
Geoffrey Hirson has come town with promises. Big promises. $250 million worth of promises.
Right here in River City.
Tuning Fork has reported numerous facts, viewpoints and questions associated with Mr. Hirson’s proposed biodiesel project. We have stated clearly our shared concern regarding these perspectives. We are saturating our online editorial, comment and reporting pieces with supporting documents for our readers to weigh and consider. In our experience, a community considering issues such as this one may find resolve in the most obvious of solutions. In this case perhaps it is best to distill matters to one simple proposition. Against the recommendations of City planning staff, the City Transportation Commission, Fire and Police Departments (and many will argue this land use is counter to the recommendations of Imagine St. Joseph 2040) is the City vacating Monterey Street to a credible and viable economic development proposal?
This City is coming up on a third date with Mr. Hirson Monday, October 15 and a fourth is already set for the Monday to follow. Tuning Fork has discovered that Mr. Hirson indeed has a trail of companies, ideas, proposals, patents (mostly shared with Mr. Gus F. Shouse) and a quality for pitching these assets to rival the imagination of Meredith Wilson. This newspaper, however, has discovered no verifiable record of investment or performance behind Mr. Hirson’s claims.
Ya Got Trouble!
Friend, either you’re closing your eyes
To a situation you do not wish to acknowledge
Or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated…
Remember my friends, listen to me,
because I pass this way but once!
(Lyrics by Meredith Wilson from The Music Man)
Continued Lack of Transparency and Fluidity of Facts and Numbers
Of the numerous alarms associated with this matter, Tuning Fork and the City must certainly ask – if this quarter billion-dollar biodiesel refinery is a viable and solidly funded proposal, why have Mr. Hirson’s claimed partners or associates in the project including Chevron Corporation, NAES Corporation, Itochu Corporation, Northwest Mechanical, Inc., or INTL FCStone not participated in Mr. Hirson’s presentations to the community? Mr. Shouse, Mr. Hirson’s Powerdyne Renewable Fuels Chief Operating Officer and patent co-holder has never been seen nor heard from on this project proposal.
We must also certainly ask if Mr. Hirson’s Chevron contract expires October 30, 2018, why are simultaneous negotiations not underway in Newton and Salem, Illinois, Southern California and Crystal Lake, Louisiana? Tuning Fork can answer part of the previous question – Crystal Lake is a lake in Washington Parish, which we imagine makes negotiations complicated.
Mr. Hirson promised a $250 million economic investment to the St. Joseph Planning Commission August 23, 2018. On the other hand, it may be a $200 million investment, as reflected in Mr. Hirson’s letter from Jay Adkins, Senior Trading Manager, International and US West Coast Crude for Chevron Products Company, dated July 17, 2018 and presented to the City Council in work session September 12, 2018 extending “the date set forth in the Agreement for the complete closing of $200 million in financing” (the letter says nothing of a stipulation requiring closing of Monterey Street). It could also be a $170 million investment promised to the State of Missouri as reflected a July 20, 2018 letter to Mr. Hirson from the Missouri Department of Economic Development outlining tax credits and sales tax exemptions available for the refinery project. Clearly Mr. Hirson’s numbers are fluid.
This biodiesel refinery project numbers could also be as fluid as those projects floated by Mr. Hirson’s Powerdyne Regional Center, LLC (now Global Future Regional Center, LLC) to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through their EB-5 Investor Program. In a USCIS letter dated August 2, 2017 terminating Hirson’s company as a Regional Center (a status held by Hirson’s company since May 28, 2013) USCIS cited numerous reasons, including that no EB-5 resident applications were generated and no investments were generated (and thus no jobs were created). In addition, reports were submitted by Powerdyne Regional Center, LLC to USCIS indicating a Chinese national, Mr. Ning Liu, had been installed as the new President and Director of Hirson’s Regional Center. According to USCIS these reports cited Mr. Liu’s “extensive connection with Chinese business networks which will greatly help in attracting EB-5 investments from overseas Chinese investors and entrepreneurs.” It turns out, also according to USCIS’s termination letter, that Mr. Liu had been detained by Chinese law enforcement authorities since 2016 and remains in detention in China pending appeal of his March 2, 2017 conviction “for violations of the People’s Republic of China’s multi-level marketing regulations.”
What To Make of This?
The citizens in Saint Joseph have made it very clear at the polling place that they are no longer shy and will not be cowed to just go along to get along – that band has marched. Folks in this town are, in fact, bothering with the notes. As for where Mr. Hirson’s financial backing for a quarter billion-dollar refinery comes from; it could be from some Shipoopi, but it appears more likely the answer is simply from nowhere.
More to Read on This Issue
For the full picture, check out our other stories as we try to uncover and piece together what’s going on with our city’s Economic Development Team.