Group Seeking Arts Funding from CRA has Ties to Controversial City Vendor

Group Seeking Arts Funding from CRA has Ties to Controversial City Vendor

The Big Bend Community Development Corporation (Big Bend CDC), one of three groups in line to receive part of a $3 million cultural arts grant, lists an executive director that is also a principal with a city vendor that has ties to City Commissioner Nancy Miller.

Tom Lewis, the executive director of the Big Bend CDC, is also listed as a principal with DPB & Associates.

DPB & Associates, which employs Rich Buss, the brother-in law of City Commissioner Nancy Miller, has been awarded City of Tallahassee contracts through a process that has resulted in bid protests and a city audit that found an appearance of conflict.

Also, a review of state filings with shows that DPB & Associates and the Big Bend CDC share the same “Principal Address” of 421 West Georgia, Tallahassee, Fl 32301. (Shown in photo above)

In addition, the filings show that Mr. Lewis is listed as the “Manager” of the business affairs for DPB & Associates and is listed as the registered agent and “Treasurer” for the Big Bend CDC.

A recent City of Tallahassee audit of the Big Bend CDC found that as of September 2016 the organization had failed to make any payments on city of Tallahassee loans totaling $1,275,000. Some of the loans were first originated in 2002. Also, the audit documented instances of mismanagement and nepotism.

Since the audit, it has been reported that the loan balances are now $500,000.

Also, Mr. Lewis is a former employee of the city of Tallahassee who retired as Economic and Community Development Director in 2012.

The Grant Process

On May 25, 2017, the CRA Board directed staff to pursue a competitive process for allocating approximately $3 million in Tourist Development Tax funds that remained after the move to create a performing arts center ended.

Since that meeting, a competitive application process based on nine criteria was developed and adopted by the CRA Board.

On Monday, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) will discuss the results of this process which recommended the allocations listed below.

LeMoyne Gallery: Arts for Always, $2,042,000

Big Bend CDC: A Community-Driven Arts, Culture, Heritage & Educational Project,  $840,885

John Gilmore Riley House Museum: Soul Voices- Frenchtown Heritage Kiosk Program, $189,000

Total Awards: $3,071,885

The CRA Board and City and County Commissions reserve the right to award the funds to a single or multiple proposals, and to allocate those funds in the manner that best meets the stated program criteria.

Also, the CRA Board, County Commission and City Commission must approve the same recommended allocations.

14 Responses to "Group Seeking Arts Funding from CRA has Ties to Controversial City Vendor"

  1. Just more, and more , and more of the same garbage heaped upon the local (stupid) taxpayers. The taxpayers have kept these creeps in position of power far too long (result of block voting), and no one has the guts to call their hand (takes the FBI to come into our community and try to charge these crooks with something, anything to get them out of government or related positions). Starting to feel like a Banana Republic I live in, and if were 25 years younger, I would be like gone out of here !!

    1. RB, I like Tallahassee – I attended FSU back in the mid-70s when Bobby Bowden was first hired, and missed Tallahassee during the 20-some years I lived in Orlando. My wife and I moved back in 2006, when our two daughters decided to go to FSU. Would like to stay here, but if the COT “insiders” win again, my wife & I are outta here too.
      There are too many other wiser areas in FL to make me stay here if the voters can’t think outside their liberal-lockstep habits.
      Tallahassee so far is voting in it’s own ruin, just like San Francisco, Chicago, and New York.

  2. Tallahassee Reports, thank you for doing the job that the Tallahassee Democrat inexplicably fails to do. Why they are incapable of putting together the pieces like this is a great mystery. They have a budget that is probably 100 times bigger than you all and a team of reporters and staff. Yet when I want to read about local corruption, I have to edit the TDO and come here.

    Nancy Miller is one that needs to be investigated. She and her family cabal of government moochers have slinked under the radar for almost 10 years. And the waste and abuse by our local insiders is simply disgusting. How can the city just lose track of $1.2m worth of loans until its audited? Our city needs a clean sweep of these mother*******s.

  3. It is too bad for Tallahassee citizens that the corrupt FBI are democrats too. I guess that is good for Nancy Miller, and Andrew Gillum.

    1. Todd, I (along with many others, I’m certain) share your frustration with the the slow pace and/or lack of any indictments so far from the FBI. Whatever their agents may be politically, I hope their honor to uphold the law supercedes any party affiliation. If the FBI doesn’t find “sufficient actionable cause or evidence” to get indictments on COT officials, we may have our answer there about the political loyalty question. Too many crucial questions and evidence about COT misconduct have been raised by TR, Dr. Jackson (thank you!), and other Florida news publications that inarguably contradict any possible conclusion that there’s not enough corruption for indictments at COT – wherever such a conclusion may come from.

      In the meantime, I’d like to remain optimistic and hope the slow-turning wheels of justice are gearing up a rock-solid case and a large pile of indictments.

  4. Of course these character have an inside track – that’s what they do – this IS their job; this is how Tallahassee tax-payers get to continually support these characters and their families. The elected officials dance right on the continual ragged edge of illegal; I wonder what Ethic’s training Nancy Miller, Buss, Lewis, etc. have had – as if that is Goad’s answer to “The Problem Has Been Addressed”. More and more and more of the same….FBI – get it? How many more separate independent demonstrations of abuse of power are needed to demonstrate to your jury? Perhaps there is enough information at this point?

    Why isn’t this nepotism-based-contract-awards a campaign issue for the forthcoming new Mayor and Commission members? Oh don’t forget to look at the Riley House funding – plenty of issues going on there….

  5. Here’s a novel idea:
    How about using the taxpayer funds on a millage rate reduction for property taxes that results in a $3M savings for us taxpayers?

    Nah, that makes too much sense.

  6. I hope the FBI is watching . . .
    (1) It would seem that the CDC would have to file a report of some sort with a detailed list of EXACTLY where the grant money it receives is going and exactly how much is spent on each item-project-cultural event listed in that report. There should be no “miscellaneous” expenses allowed.
    (2) Seems way too coincidental and convenient. Your organization (DPB) owes $500,000 to the city. The city then gives you a “grant” for your Big Bend CDC (which just happens to be at exactly the same address as DPB) that is more than enough to repay your loan to the city.
    To anyone with common sense, this whole incident has the appearance of a circular money-laundering setup – not saying that it is, but that’s the way it looks. I went to the website listed for Big Bend CDC ( and all I got was “can’t find that site”.
    As said above, I hope the FBI is watching, and/or reading TR.

  7. How bold does a group have to be to take 1.2 million, skim 3/4 of million off it to paint a dilapidated house purple, then make no payments for a couple years, and then come back for more?

    WWABD – What would a banker do?

  8. And so the corruption continues!! Please bring on the Ethics Committee before this is finalized!!

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