The Reality of the Earthcare Deal is in the Deeds and not the Spin


Lloyd Winnecke

The Reality of the Earthcare Deal is in the Deeds and not the Spin

Mayor Winnecke authored an op-ed column that extolled the exhaustive process that was followed to determine the viability of the Earthcare Energy opportunity that was presented to the City of Evansville early in his administration. We still do not really know who made the introductions that lead to the now infamous March of 2012 that saw a deal struck, a marquee photo-op at the old Whirlpool Building, the advance of $200,000 against a loan that was not yet approved, and the 5 – 4 vote that divided the Evansville City Council.

Earthcare Energy even offered the City of Evansville an opportunity to make a loan of $5 Million with a potential not only to be paid back the $5 Million but to receive a commission on power produced that could be as high as $32 Million. The annualized rate of return calculated to roughly 100%. Deals like this while appealing to greed should also ring the caution bells, as guaranteed 100% returns on investments are typically only associated with midnight runs for the border.

Earthcare executives stood before the City Council and made claims of patents that are not yet issued, an exclusive license they never produced, and tests that were never published. They also claimed to be in danger of jeopardizing a big order with the DOD for installations of Langson devices that were scheduled to begin in the summer of 2012 and alluded that there were opportunities for Billions of dollars of business in New York to replace aging nuclear power stations. Private exhaustive vetting efforts eventually uncovered some of the claims that were made were not true and others were physically impossible.

These private vetting efforts led by Evansville City Councilwoman Stephanie Brinkerhoff Riley were made available to Mayor Winnecke, GAGE officials, and other Earthcare supporters soon after the 5 – 4 vote. In spite of these obvious shortcomings they pushed forward with the Earthcare deal like lemmings sprinting into the sea. In truth, the Mayor, GAGE, some City Council members, and some other self serving locals were dragged kicking and screaming by Riley’s findings and public opinion to even read the facts that they should have gathered themselves before calling that March press conference to congratulate themselves.
These people were in denial of the facts until the hour the decision to pull the plug was announced. The comment boards on the Courier and the CCO that day had over 500 comments against this deal and exactly one comment expressing support.

The contract touted by the Mayor as having the language that Earthcare failed to fulfill did not and does not require that Earthcare show an exclusive license. It only requires a letter from Richard Langson to Mayor Winnecke explaining the relationship between Langson and Earthcare with respect to intellectual property. As for the DOE loan guarantee, the program is not currently available to anyone and was not at the time the contract was signed between Earthcare and the City of Evansville. That requirement given the current DOE offerings made as much common sense as a requirement to apply for a loan from a bank on Mars.

In reality the Earthcare Energy relationship with the City of Evansville is not dead yet. Earthcare has a 30 day period to cure the two deficiencies. The City of Evansville has already been put on notice of pending litigation by Earthcare’s Chicago based law firm. The way this eventually plays out and the fate of the $184,000 that is still owed to the City of Evansville will be interesting to watch.

The Earthcare executives for all of the shortcomings in their loan application and the findings of the private vetting efforts really seem to believe they are the next Google. In the event that this lands in court they may very well ask for Google sized damages. If that happens the City of Evansville will get to spend more money on legal expenses in addition the mounting tab already accrued trying to close the deal.

Mayor Winnecke has written that the efforts to seek jobs are still going on as they should. It was not the lead generation process that failed with the collapse of the Earthcare deal. The process that failed was the failure of the City of Evansville to do a complete vetting of the Earthcare business model, their plans, the technology, and the executives themselves before letting the adrenaline of the deal stimulate that Kodak moment out at Park 41. It is not too much to ask of our elected officials and their surrogates to actually think and do some research before smiling for the camera and making premature job announcements. Actually it is expected that they do so. It is unfair for a handful of City Council members and some private individuals to have to do this vetting in an effort to save the City from itself.

The bottom line here is that the efforts of Councilwoman Riley and the courage she showed to go public with the information after being rebuffed in private by the very people who are now patting themselves on the back for killing the deal is what killed the deal. Evansville needs a vetting process and some money set aside to pay for it. During the past few years the taxpayers of Evansville have seen the McCurdy project, the downtown hotel, the $18 Million ball fields, and now the Earthcare Energy loan fail due to a deficiency in whatever vetting process that the powers that be actually have.

Make no mistake, if some process is not defined, approved, and funded that is professional and competent this will happen again. One of the accepted definitions of insanity is to continue doing the same thing and expecting a different result. It is time for the City of Evansville and Mayor Winnecke to stop the insanity and establish a real vetting process that will work. Failure to do so will violate the campaign promises of transparency and will severely blunt the job attraction efforts that we all agree are important. Many times during the campaign, Mayor Winnecke touted his experience as a banker. It is time that he starts to act like one.


  1. WOW–outstanding–tell it like it is and in your face editiorial!!!!

    Article like this is why I’m proud to be a loyal CCO supporter!

    Couier take notice, we now have a new paper in town that people trust!

  2. Just read the Mayor’s Op-Ed article in Evansville Courier and Press.

    It is obvious he doesn’t get it. He just blew this Earthcare deal by not properly vetting it. In his OP-ED article he acts acts like everything is fine.

    I hope he and his “political dream team” spends the next 3 1/2 years doing “push ups in the park” and producing “Chicken Fat” videos and stay from future business deal. If so, the taxpayers of this community will be saving a great geal of money from any future no-vetting deals created by the Mayor and GAGE!

    I voted for the Mayor but wish I could take it back. What an idiot!

  3. Winnecke’s handlers should do a better job of protecting him from himself. The CP article was nothing but fluff. These folks are to insecure to admit to making a mistake. By the way CCO, Winnecke was not a banker he was the PR guy for a bank. That explains why he always does the fluff and nothing else. He had the hard job at 5/3 of deciding whether you get a cooler or a kuzi when you opened a checking account. He had nothing to do with banking.

  4. I always thought that JW brought these people to GAGE, and that the most likely scenario for the Conor O’Daniel hall incident during the council meeting intermission was that Hayne handed O’Daniel a phone and said: “there is someone on here who would like a word with you”.


  5. Isn’t it Steve Schaffer’s job to keep Winnecke from doing stupid things? Heck he kept Teen Wolf (Matt Meadors) out of trouble for a long time why can’t he keep Winnecke from doing Joe Biden imitations?

  6. Who is they? You use they twice in your allegations against Steve. Your claims that they wonder what happened at the Chamber and they blame Steve for the Earthcare deal are baseless allegations. They are sources who like you are just Civic Center rumor mongers with too little meaningful work to do. Whattup with that?

    • This comment was directed at Civic Center Mole whose comment was deleted. I was objecting to the use of they say this and they say that when Civic Center Mole made some very pointed accusations about Steve Schafer’s employment at the Chamber of Commerce and as the Mayor’s Chief of Staff.

  7. Nothing is going to change.

    Winneke et al(Mosby, Weaver, O’Daniel, Robinson) are all graduates of the Weinzapful school of SNEGAL machine government.

    They hadn’t been in office less than 5 months when they tried to pull a fast one.

    How did Earthcare get $186,000 front money without the City Council’s approval? And were councilmen and women pressured to pass it because the money had already been fronted?

    They will lay low for a while until the heat has passed but like the poke weed along the ditch in my back yard they will sneak up again, bigger and sneakering than ever.

    • Hilarious!Is the Weinzapfel School of Snegal on the same campus as the Dewey Institute for Condescending Behavior?

  8. The chamber took the toadies to Savanna on the taxpayer dime for a refresher course. Underhanded, sneeky, and shameless so soon after the stupid earthcare deal.

  9. Winnecke, take a lesson from Harry Truman: “the buck stops here”. When the mistakes pile up, and the heat becomes unbearable, get rid of the ones who caused the mess. Fire Debbie Dewey, disband GAGE, congratulate Stephanie, and get on with it. You are making yourself look even more guilty by defending, defending, defending, and finding excuses.

    • Kind of like he made excuses for Weinzapfel when he tried to steal th Homestead Tax Credit. Some folks never learn.

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