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The creation of the Midwest China Hub Commission

by Craig Cheatham

KMOV.com

Posted on September 26, 2011 at 1:32 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 9:59 AM

The roots of the proposal to build a "China Hub" for cargo at Lambert Airport can be found in documents obtained by News 4. The documents were prepared by the consulting group Spectrum, which has been paid $15,000 a month to manage the operations of the Midwest China Hub Commission. The MCHC is based at the Clayton offices of the St. Louis County Economic Council.

After reviewing the documents, there's no doubt Steve Stone, the attorney for developer Paul McKee, is clearly considered the most important person in the formation of the Hub Commission. According to the records, consultant Jason Van Eaton, the former Deputy Chief of Staff for Senator Kit Bond, meets with Stone on May 1, 2008 regarding "Commission formation concept." Six days later, Van Eaton meets with Stone, again. Four days after that, Van Eaton gets together with Stone to discuss the Hub Commission "Operating Agreement draft and review." During the first two weeks of this process, Stone is the only person identified by name who participated in discussions about the China Hub project with Van Eaton, the Hub Commission consultant who serves at its Director. On May 21, Van Eaton meets again with Stone. This time, McKee and Dan Brungard, the corporate Vice-President of Communications for McKee's company McEagle, are involved in the meeting.

It's obvious that Stone is more involved than anyone else in the formation of the Commission. In Van Eaton's chronology of events, Stone is mentioned by name 19 times. RCGA President and CEO Dick Fleming is identified 5 times. MCHC Chair Mike Jones is only identified 4 times. There's no doubt that these men were probably involved in other meetings , but were not identified by name. I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with Stone's involvement. I am just noting that he was heavily involved at all stages of the China Hub project, and based on these records, appears to be the local point man for the project. 

In August and September, the MCHC began to pursue direct contact with Chinese officials, including Consul General Ping Huang. The Hub Commission also made presentations to The Hawthorn Foundation and Bank of America, presumably in pursuit of more corporate support for the effort to turn Lambert into an international cargo hub.

On October 14, Spectrum consultant Bill Brown, a "liaison to congressional leadership," has a conference call with Sen. Bond's staff and Tim Nowak, the Executive Director of the World Trade Center St. Louis. According to Spectrum's notes, they discussed the "Chinese Investor Visa Program." Five days later, Spectrum met for 5 hours with Bond's Jefferson City staff regarding the Chinese Investor Visa Program.

The total cost billed by Spectrum was $47,670.66. Van Eaton and Brown billed at a rate of $275 an hour, and $80 an hour for office support staff.

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