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Panelist's offer for quick, easy website hits major block

Forward Franklin back to looking for firm to create, manage site

June 26, 2012

Franklin - Striving to roll out the welcome mat to developers, the Forward Franklin Economic Development Committee on Monday night approved a plan to publish a full-color pictorial brochure describing the community and its opportunities.

Additionally, after much debate, members decided to hire a professional website development firm to establish the group's presence on the Internet.

The cost of creating the website - $19,000 or more, according to two recently submitted bids - and the six months it would take to get it up and running, troubled some committee members. In his frustration, John Michlig, who runs a marketing firm called Fully Articulated Productions, said he could produce a Franklin economic development website by the end of the month at a cost of $9,000 - to pay for technical and design help - and it would be easier to work with and easier to change than the professional model.

"Take $9,000 and get this thing launched this month," he said. The committee leaped at the idea. Michlig already was responsible for the content of the website.

But then assistant city attorney Brian Sajdak weighed in.

"Mr. Michlig would have to resign all positions with the city," he said, to avoid accusations of "self-dealing" and the appearance of conflict of interest. Even then, he would be in a gray area, the attorney said later in the meeting.

Committee member Mike Sweeney sought "an option to use John and keep him on all the boards, and active." Michlig serves on a number of panels. And Committee Chairman Craig Haskins asked, "Who is harmed if John does it? Who in the world would care?"

Sajdak said these were common arguments in decisions that end in trouble.

Alderman Steve Taylor said, "It's the perception, that's the problem. It only takes one person to complain, and we lose credibility."

Michlig quickly withdrew his offer.

"It's off the table now, because the bell's been rung," he said.

In the end, Michlig said he would use $35 in petty cash to put up a simple placeholder website that would give potential developers basic contact information, to be replaced later by the fully functional site built by a contractor.

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