A Policy of Over-Spending: Are Civil Engineers’ Donations Dictating Policy? By Brad Linzy


A Policy of Over-Spending: Are Civil Engineers’ Donations Dictating Policy?
By Brad Linzy

Over the last couple days, partly spurred by curiosity, partly by a suspicion that there is more going on with the Roberts Stadium demolition deal than meets the eye, I sat about the task of pouring over then-candidate for Mayor Lloyd Winneke’s donor reports. In the course of this research one thing has become apparent – by far the most generous donors to now-Mayor Winnecke’s campaign tended to be from people who sit at the helms of civil engineering firms.

I want to say up front and in all fairness, I see no problem with individuals donating to a cause or campaign for honest reasons and without any expectation of quid pro quo, but it seems to me the sheer number and sizes of the donations given to this Mayor by people in the field of civil engineering – i.e. people who work at firms that deal directly with municipalities building bridges, roads, levees, managing waste water, building parks, bike trails, etc. – is telling of at least a hope these engineering executives have of ingratiating themselves to someone in a position to direct civic policy.

Of course, the Mayor is not in a position to hand out a contract directly to a crony, but he is certainly in a position to set policy that will lead to opportunities for contracts where they otherwise might not exist, e.g. Robert’s Stadium, its demolition, and the creation of a park and pedestrian bridge. In this policy decision alone there exists the opportunity to take bids on multiple contracts for different stages of the project.

First, as we have seen, the contents needed to be auctioned off, so a contract was needed for that. Next, the demolition of the building will require a contract and bids have already ballooned to 4x their initial estimates for that. Next, the parking lot will need to be demolished, and it’s possible that could get done under a separate contract. Then the park will need to be built…another contract. And let’s not forget that pedestrian bridge; that should be a nice, juicy contract for some lucky firm.

So we see that in this one policy decision alone, there could be at least FIVE different contracts with potentially FIVE different firms who may or may not have contributed to the campaign of this Mayor. We know already that Andrew Wilson of Wilson’s Auction, which got the contract for 10% of the auctioned contents, was a donor. Let’s take a look at some of the civil engineering firms that gave large sums to this Mayor’s campaign and guess at who might end up in the cat bird’s seat to receive some of these remaining contracts. Keep in mind, a donation does not necessarily equate to impropriety.

I will be using information from the following link for my data, which I don’t believe is comprehensive: https://city-countyobserver.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Winnecke-Campaign-Pre-Election-Report-Oct-14-2011.pdf

Phil Kuntz is Executive Vice President at Janssen & Spaans Engineering, Inc. Based in Indianapolis, this firm specializes in bridges, but also does everything from sewers to subdivision designs. Kuntz gave $2500 to the Winnecke campaign. http://www.jsengr.com/

Keith Lochmueller is a partner at Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates, Inc. (BLA). Based in Evansville, this is the firm that built the Evansville Riverfront Plaza and designed the Aztar Hotel complex. They seem to specialize in wastewater management and sewer systems, but they do about everything else too. Lochmueller gave $10,500 cumulative to the Winnecke campaign. http://www.blainc.com/index.html

Ed Jolliffe is the President of Hannum, Wagle and Cline Engineering. They too specialize in wastewater and stormwater drainage, but they do other things as well like a new Aquatic Center in Newcastle and the city center of French Lick. They have four offices, two of which are in Terre Haute and Indianapolis. Jolliffe gave $2500 to Winnecke. His partner David Hannum of the same firm gave $1000. http://www.hwcengineering.com/index.html

Willis (Rick) Conner is President, COO and Co-owner American Structurepoint Inc. This firm is based in Indianapolis with an office in Evansville and they build everything from Interstate exchanges to IMAX theatres. They also do sewers, site planning for parks, you name it. Conner gave a cumulative $8000 to Winnecke. http://www.structurepoint.com/

Martin Wessler is Chairman and CEO of Wessler Engineering. They are based in Indianapolis, but also have an office on Vogel Rd. in Evansville. They do everything pertaining to water, electrical, bridge construction and urban planning. Wessler and his firm gave $2500 to Winnecke. http://www.wesslerengineering.com/

John Brand is an Executive at Butler, Fairman, & Seufert. Here is yet another Indy-based company that does it all, including bridges, parks and sewer. Brand gave $2350 to Winnecke. http://www.bfsengr.com/

David Hynes is an engineer at Commonwealth Engineers. This company seems to specialize in sewers and recently put in a bid for an Evansville Westside community project. Hynes gave $1600 to Winnecke. http://www.commonwealth-engineers.com/

Jorge Lanz is President of Jacobi, Toombs & Lanz, Inc. (JTL) out of Louisville. They have their hands in many pies as well, including completion of a softball complex in Clarksville. Lanz gave $1000 to Winnecke. http://www.jtleng.com/staff.htm

Powers Engineering is an Evansville firm. They seem to specialize in water and sewer. They gave $1000 to Winnecke. http://www.powersengineeringinc.com/

Adam Westermann is an engineer at Black & Veatch, who has an office in Indy. They do everything from water to energy to telecom. Westermann gave $1500 to Winnecke. http://bv.com/

Steven Fehribach works for A&F Engineering out of Indy. They specialize in traffic control and road building. Fehribach gave $2000 to Winnecke. http://www.af-eng.com/

All told in the records I’ve seen, Winnecke received nearly $40,000 from individuals whose occupation was in civil engineering. As I said before, a political donation does not necessarily equate to impropriety or quid pro quo. It is possible that some of these people are just honest businessmen trying to put their company on equal footing with other firms. They could just really like Lloyd Winnecke. However, when a President or CEO of an Indianapolis-based firm takes such a keen interest in the politics of a town in which he does not reside, it is clear his gift is a calculated business decision, and when a local civil engineering executive gives in excess of $10,000 to a Mayoral campaign, a reasonable man can only conclude he believes his money will come back to him in kind.

The question is what effect, if any, have all these gifts had on Mayor Winnecke’s policy decisions? The question should be asked, if the Mayor had received none of these large gifts from civil engineering firms, would he have advocated a sale of the Roberts Stadium property? Such a move would have still resulted in an auctioneer contract, but no others.

Is it possible that what we are seeing here is the normal modus operandi for politicians and their donors? Do donors support politicians only insofar as their support is rewarded with a slice of some future pie? And do politicians avoid making policy decisions that would save the taxpayers he represents money in favor of policies which spend the maximum amount he can get away with politically? In the case of Lloyd Winnecke, the answer to these questions appears to be a resounding “yes”.


  1. Engineering firms tend to be the largest donors to any campaign for Mayors, Commissioners and such since those are the people that authorize building projects. Both sides rake in the engineering money.

  2. If you haven’t figured it out yet the office of Mayor for Evansville is for sale to highest bidder.

    Brad, please take time and check out Marsha Abells and Joe Kiefer political donation lists and you will see similar names that are listed on Winnenke’s list.

    Also one needs to look at how many bankers and lawers donated to the above individuals political campaign. I bet you shall see similar names listed on the above elected official donation list.

  3. Great research Mr. Linzy.

    Wow, If your concern about conflict of interest issues they are listed in Mayor Winnenke’s political donation reports!

    This make me ashamed of the political process.

  4. Brad, please check County Council members Jtm Raben and Tom Shelter,Jr.
    if you want to see possible comflict of interests issues from political donations.

    Also you might check with County Auditor and see how many tires Jim Raben sold to county offices without formal bids!

  5. Word at the Civic Center is that the Vanderburgh County Sheriff Department buys all their tires from Jim Raben without formal bids.

  6. Don’t tell me “Mr. Politically Clean” Sheriff Eric Willims would do anything considered to be underhanded.

    Can you guess what would happen to the City-County budgets if the poster child for Vandygov. gets his way on this issue.

    I now understand why Eric Williams get everthing he wants at budget time from Raben! Could this be called tires for votes?

  7. Well if you decide to expand your “research” to cover design firms too your list of those who receive these no-bid contracts is very short. As a matter of fact it is more like a conveyor belt that runs from the civic center and the EVSC to the NW corner of Sixth & Main Street.


    • On page 98 of the document George Link and Sarah Schuler, both of VPS Architecture (the firm that designed the $95 million Ford Center and worked on the $11 million Riverfront Revitalization), gave $1000 each on the same day to Winnecke.

  8. Some interesting comments here. The Raben Tire angle sounds especially intriguing. I know when I buy tires I call at least 3 or 4 places to get the best price. It would be shameful if the City or Sheriff’s office didn’t do the same.

    • I have done the same, and Raben is about as good as you can get price wise. I will give them that. Dependable service too.

      • I agree. I think they have put the tires on all my cars too.

        I have to imagine with as many vehicles and miles the Sheriff’s office drives, they would do well to have some sort of long term maintenance contract with a bigger discount. Maybe I’m just naive to how they operate.

  9. What about County Commissioner Marsha Abell hiring her step son to be a Director of County funded Department?

    Could this be a “comfict of interest” issue?

    The plot goes on and on.

    Thanks Brad for taking time to reserch the political donation issues.

  10. At least we are not dealing with bumblers; these scammers are really good at it.
    Luckily we E’villians are rich enough to pay for all this mess. (so far)
    Sorry for my previous spelling error; I don’t get to use the word rich very often.

  11. Why do you think the Mayor appointed his campaign chairman as underlord of the department awarding these 5 contracts?

  12. If you look through the report, you will also find several organizations involved in the construction of I-69. There’s no doubt in my mind that that is why he went up to Bloomington to bully those people who don’t want this boondoggle.

    I also found a John Stanley. (same name as the UE A.D). Is this the reason for the free bricks?

    I also found a Lynn Miller (Is this Lynn Miller-Pease?) If so, it would explain why she’s allowed to run all of these clown shoes and not take any responsibility for the city manipulating their processes.

  13. Nothing new here Brad. I think it is called patronage and influence peddling. Government has to give contracts to someone. Been going on since the beginning of time. Good reason to get out of the corrupt matrix.

    • Let me save you the trouble of guess work and idle gossip, dude. Lloyd Winnecke is the only elected official who took the time and trouble to put together quarterly meetings between the airport board, the airport manager (Doug Joest), the airport’s engineering consultant (R.W. Armstrong), and our neighborhood which is receiving the greatest impact from the new airport runway extention. Before Winnecke did this, our neighborhood and the airport were at loggerheads. Now the relationship is much more cordial, and there at least is a much higher level of understanding between us all.

      For Lloyd Winnecke’s efforts in that regard, I gave him an A+ and a couple hundred dollars campaign contribution in 2011. Yes, I did it openly and knowing that all contributions over $100 are reported. You got a problem with that? Well then I guess you got me confused with somebody who gives a damn about what you think.

      • I would welcome you to our side Jeffrey but I don’t really think we need Mr. Nepotism whose a democrat one day and a republican the next.

        Fire exposed you for what your worth and all you can come up with is a lousy airport? Mr. Nepotism is pathetic!

      • I see no problem contributing honestly to a candidate you believe in. I also don’t see the relevance of dragging Mr. Jeffers’ party affiliation into it.

        I don’t agree with Mr. Jeffers very often. In fact, we have had some pretty tense debates in the past, but I don’t think his $200 contribution has any appearance of quid pro quo about it.

        I am interested to know why someone would refer to Mr. Jeffers as “Mr. Nepotism” though. Is there something I’m missing?

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