Was it PERJURY?

By The Arrowflinger

(In the latest coverup in the Augusta Equipmentgate Scandal, which saw City of Augusta, Georgia resources deployed to work on private property in Lincoln County in March 2017  has just been released. In it, the Augusta Richmond County Grand Jury issued a statement which said they found no criminality had occurred.)

The Presentment of the Augusta Richmond County Grand Jury of yesterday, June 27, 2017 on the Use of Augusta manpower, heavy equipment, trailers, supplies, fuel, fringe benefits and trucks on Private Property in Lincoln County back in March contained this statement:

The testimony revealed that the excavator was never actually used as the weather at the time was inclement.

The presentment also says that the Augusta Mini-excavator was  on the Lincoln County private property from March 8, 2017 to March 17, 2017.

That statement is most interesting as video taken on March 16, 2017 at the Lincoln County site shows a large freshly-installed culvert and drainage work that certainly seems to have been performed by an excavator and the only excavator in evidence was the one owned by the City of Augusta.

District Attorney Natalie Paine needs to determine which witness provided that testimony and whether perjury occurred.

If there was no perjury in the production of that presentment, she needs to explain why not and, while she is at it, explain why so many material aspects of this incident were omitted from any investigation by her or the Augusta Richmond County Sheriff’s office.

-AG

No Account, But Headed to Judgement Anyway

Comments of Al M. Gray to the Augusta Commission

No Account, But Headed to Judgement, Anyway

Tuesday June, 20 2017

 

Mayor Davis and commissioners, thank you for the opportunity to speak. I never intended to return to this chamber, yet here I am. One should never say ‘never’ and that is borne out by the power of events that have shaken you, me and the people of Augusta.

No Account, But Headed to Judgement, Anyway sounds like a sermon harkening to passing into eternity that we all face, but as Mayor Copenhaver once told me “You ain’t dead yet!.”

Older folks used to have a description that was applied to crooked, lazy people. It was that they were “No Account.”

Your Equipmentgate scandal has assaulted the Rule of Law, not that this body, mayor, administrator, district attorney or Sheriff intended that consequence. That result grew out of the cronyism that has destroyed our protective institutions From Washington down. The accountants safeguarding our money threw math out, the lawyers forgot nobody needs them if there is no law, the press lost objectivity and credibility, and pastors escorted the money changers into our temples, not out. Our protectors decided to be No Account.

At Commissioner Sias’ last meeting DA Paine was posed the question “Is the RULE OF LAW DEAD?” After all, the most powerful, revered man in Georgia politics, had $2 million invested in banks and other financial institutions involved with drug money laundering, among other things. The Legislature two sessions ago decriminalized banking crimes in our state which was number 1 in mortgage fraud five years running. Then there is Equipmentgate. What happens in Atlanta and Washington is not yours, but what happened in Lincoln County is fully on your account, but you want to be no account for that.

Some of it comes from misguided instinct to protect the defenseless, who are anything but that. Elements of this body and friends of the mayor pro-tem rallied to defend her last week, but the fun poked at her soon will rain all over you. The rest of this body is protecting a nice lady administrator with the same instinct. At $187,000 per year and much power, she isn’t defenseless either. She is responsible for about 2/3 of this scandal, in my opinion.

16 years ago a sweet, attractive planning director supported by the full Columbia County commission abruptly left her position. Failures proved her plan flawed, deceptive, and outrageous to the no longer defenseless people.

2 weeks ago, we were walking with our dog Lilly. We came upon a flock of molting geese, whose wings were of No Account. Now geese are mean, big and can peck or wing-whip a beagle. One ran out of the woods, but Lilly caught it. The goose wing whipped her and got to the water. Lilly jumped in and outswam it. The goose did something it isn’t supposed to be able to do and that was to dive! While that one was escaping another goose ran out doing something even stranger. It ran low to the ground, head and all, like a snake! It didn’t want to be seen with its No Account wings.


You are faced with the same thing. This body is confronted by the truth of Equipmentgate. You must do the impossible for the next 6 months and together rise to account before Augusta. Justice must be served and accountability restored. Former Director Johnson must be dealt with, this Administrator must be phased out, her contract not extended, and a forensic audit of the landfill done.

The consequences of the 1/3 of the scandal resting with the Sheriff’s Department are simply chilling. The Sheriff must remove those involved.

Lady Justice has been dead in Augusta so long she stinketh like Lazarus. It is time for her resurrection.

Thank you.

-AG

Update: At the conclusion of these remarks, Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis, Jr. took umbrage with them and made thinly-veiled threats that “there will be consequences!”

Mr. Mayor is voteless and toothless! He doesn’t have the guts to call the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in on this OUTRAGEOUS SCANDAL. He could you know.

Mums the word from Augusta’s No Account County Commission, as there was not even a second for Commissioner Marion Williams’ motion to request that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation conduct an Investigation that the Augusta Richmond County Sheriff’s office botched.

At least one Augusta Commissioner isn’t No Account!

The Mary Davis Sand and Gravel Company

By Arrowflinger Al

Remember the good old days out here in the rural counties when your commissioner could rock, grade and maybe even pave your driveway if you supported him? Well, those days are gone out here because our commissioners don’t want to go to prison. Now, there is hope and help from our good neighbors down in Augusta  with their new Public-private partnership we are  calling the Mary Davis Sand and Gravel Company. Call  Augusta Mayor Pro-tem Davis at (706) 821-1831 and you may be able to arrange what one of my neighbors got here in Lincoln County – men, trucks, trailers, supplies, fringe benefits, and heavy equipment expended fixing a private road. All for FREE!

No need to worry about tipping the Augusta workers either because they get the greater of 3 months severance pay or a full retirement if they get caught.

Even getting 300 tons of stone like THIS isn’t impossible, because the Augusta Landfill down on Deans Bridge Road has stockpiles of everything you need – sand, gravel, screenings, surge stone and even rip rap. Those can be loaded up and sent out to us through the same gate that the equipment loaned to my neighbor was.

If you look at the pictures of my neighbors’ Augusta built Project, there is even drain pipe furnished with the deal you get from Mary Davis.

You don’t even have to pay a registered contractor with expensive insurance, permits, a business or contractor’s license in your county, either. Those gifts give a pretty big bonus to your free work value  from Mary Davis.

If the equipment from the landfill is tied up and can’t get to you, then the nice sheriff down there has a guy who will meet your equipment needs with no delay stationed at the shooting range next door.

Augusta taxpayers and residents, you do not qualify for this program, so don’t attempt to call. You give but cannot receive.

We out here in the sticks thank you for your generosity and the kind treatment we get from Mary Davis Sand and Gravel.

Mary rocks our world.

 

-AG

Rocking Their World – Digging into Augusta’s Equipment Scandal

By Arrowflinger Al

On Thursday, May 25, 2017 citizens of Augusta, Georgia and surrounding counties were shocked to learn that City of Augusta personnel, vehicles, materials and construction equipment had been found deployed and operating on private land in Lincoln County, Georgia, 40 miles from their assigned work site at the Augusta Solid Waste Facility on Deans Bridge Road.

This week the resulting uproar concluded with the resignation of Augusta Solid Waste Director Mark Johnson. Will the Johnson resignation calm the turmoil surrounding a botched investigation by a conflicted Augusta Richmond County Sheriff Department, who turned out to be the custodian of an excavator used in the misbegotten affair, the apparently imprudent white commissioners defending Johnson against evidence, black commissioners defending an Administrator who bungled accountability, and a District Attorney who remains to be kept clueless of the events?

Stay tuned. What happens in Augusta, should stay in Augusta. This time it didn’t and the repercussions look to be immense.

Here is the first hand account of the events from March 15, 2017 through May 28, 2017. Names have been replaced by Pseudonyms.

********

Wednesday March 15, 2017

2017-03-15 17:23:00     THE ARROWFLINGER reaches top of a hill on an easement road between lands of Cox, Kitchens, bank and partners Troy Meeks and Landowner O of Statesboro, sees construction equipment and stone pile. Stops to video beagle. Joined by neighbor and Informant.

2017-03-15 18:17:15     THE ARROWFLINGER meets Informant going back to get serial numbers and photos of an equipment trailer he claims is City of Augusta owned. Informant wants to know who bought the property where the stone pile is. THE ARROWFLINGER states he has met Landowner O but not his partner.

Texts Between THE ARROWFLINGER and Informant

2017-03-15          19:01:29               Informant           Phone Number Redacted            I got confirmation its county equipment

2017-03-15          19:09:41               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Do you have a guess about when it was bought?

2017-03-15          19:14:26               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            I can find out

2017-03-15          19:44:20               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            You know, if they are not alerted and they are getting rock for free, they will be at it for days because that road has to be rocked all the way to Booths Branch road. They excavated and installed a 30 or 36 inch pipe in the creek bed last week.

2017-03-15          19:50:06               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Your bud who is talking to you might/probably spill the beans, but if we just observe for a few days and take pictures we will have a better picture. The land was bought by Landowner O (guy I met) and Landowner M of Statesboro. We need the serial number off the equipment and the ARCSWD inventory or purchase record. If it looks strong, then state investigators should be called.

2017-03-15          19:55:49               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Landowner M used to work with Director as a contractor

2017-03-15          19:57:10               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            The trailer was purchased by the county and I took pic of the vin number the escalator was seized by the county and falls under the sheriff

2017-03-15          19:58:16               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            I will go back early tomorrow and photo the vin of the track hoe

2017-03-15          20:04:11               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            I am gonna go out early on my walk. Probably find a good spot on Booth branch near gate to observe.

2017-03-15          20:12:31               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Sounds like the Boyz came to play in our backyards! I am amazed.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Texts of March 16, 2017 Between THE ARROWFLINGER and Informant

2017-03-16          09:40:44               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Good morning! A dump truck left about 10 minutes ago. Let’s observe today. They plan on ditching the low spot inside the gate. So they don’t plan on stopping today. I think another rock truck might be coming

2017-03-16          09:43:09               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Ok

2017-03-16          09:44:30               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            I think if you want to do this up right, we need to notify Sheriff Beggs followed shortly by Roundtree. The pols will just f**k it up. So will we if we go for a big ‘got you’ as delicious and tempting as that might be.

2017-03-16          09:45:40               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Get the pros in. If they f**k it up then I or we can raise hell.

2017-03-16          09:48:38               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Right

2017-03-16          09:51:26               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            I got a conference call T 10 I will get with you after that

2017-03-16          09:53:06               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            They dropped a load at the second wet spot between gate and creek.

2017-03-16          10:46:00               THE ARROWFLINGER     Two dump trucks videoed entering gate and then leaving after dumping loads at stone stockpile on hill.

2017-03-16          11:08:00               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            2 trucks came and dumped. Got some video

2017-03-16          11:08:08               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            No tags

2017-03-16          11:08:33               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Got names of haulers I think

2017-03-16          11:51:58               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Got pix and video of all equipment with serial numbers

2017-03-16          13:12:45               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            I can call Augusta Commissioner MW and just talk to him he can’t stand Director

2017-03-16          13:30:11               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Yes, but anything Augusta Commissioner MW can do can be done if law enforcement drops the ball. Law enforcement can remove these people. Augusta Commissioner MW can only fire them

2017-03-16          13:31:30               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Law enforcement can surveillance them when they bring in dozers and graders

2017-03-16          13:36:09               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Ok I will stand by you know more than me

2017-03-16          13:37:07               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Also I don’t see permits posted

2017-03-16          13:38:47               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            I am going to call Sheriff Beggs In a bit

2017-03-16          13:39:04               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                           Knitter is doing research

2017-03-16          13:40:15               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            On Augusta database. Knitter is a systems person

2017-03-16       14:06:00       Knitter emails THE ARROWFLINGER a .pdf showing that Landowner M attended a prebid conference for landfill work  at the ARC Solid Waste Facility on 1/20/2017

2017-03-16       Around 14:00:00       THE ARROWFLINGER calls ARC Chief Deputy, with whom he had conversed about contract mismanagement and fraud during the Augusta SPLOST 7b campaign in 2015. Tells that 2 pieces of equipment are reported to be operating in Lincoln County and one of them is assigned to the ARC Sheriff Department Shooting range at the Deans Bridge Road landfill. Chief Deputy denies that Sheriff Department has any equipment.

2017-03-16       15:21:00   THE ARROWFLINGER is texted the email address of Augusta Richmond County Chief Deputy by same for purpose of uploading pictures and serial numbers from Canon camera that is not net-connected.

2017-03-16       16:56        THE ARROWFLINGER sends ARC Chief Deputy summary of situation, events, observations and equipment serial numbers

2017-03-16       18:16        Chief Deputy requests pictures be emailed, saying he will “get to the bottom of this.”

2017-03-16       18:38        THE ARROWFLINGER suggests that ARC Chief Deputy hold off until following Monday, based upon information from inside Solid Waste Department that additional ARC assets would be deployed to Lincoln County site. It was noted that even heavier equipment would be needed to place the stone.

Texts of March 16, 2017 Between THE ARROWFLINGER and Informant Resume

2017-03-16          18:48:07               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            ARC Chief Deputy Redacted is now interested. Told him waiting til Monday to pursue is advised. Told him I now believe this is a real deal. Suggested CID come up under coordination and advice of Sheriff Bruce Beggs.

2017-03-16          19:07:53               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Sweet

2017-03-16          19:29:50               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            I suggested that. Told him I will be here.

2017-03-16          19:32:42               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Nice

2017-03-16          19:40          THE ARROWFLINGER called back by Lincoln Sheriff Beggs, who indicates he has discussed with ARC Chief Deputy

2017-03-16          22:30:00          THE ARROWFLINGER takes his dog, Lilly, for a tour of fields and then down Booth Branch Road. There was a navy blue 3/4 ton, long wheelbase pickup pulled into a 4-wheeler path onto Corps Land about 80 yards from the red gate into the combined properties and grading project. Did not get License plate.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Texts of March 17, 2017 Between THE ARROWFLINGER and Informant

2017-03-17          02:10:00          THE ARROWFLINGER awakens during interlude when heating system was off. Hears heavy truck in the distance. Goes outside and finds the sound coming from Booths Branch Road. Quickly dons insulated Coverall, grabs automatic pistol and digital camcorder. Calls Informant. Gets no answer. Jumps in truck. Drives to red gate at properties/ grading site. Waits and listens. Concludes that the truck was leaving, not entering.

2017-03-17          09:43:08               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            All equipment was removed in the middle of the  night.

2017-03-17          09:45:06               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            No stone deliveries this morning?

2017-03-17          09:46:57               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Long trailer and excavator are GONE

2017-03-17          09:47:46               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Well it might be back on Monday

2017-03-17          09:48:29               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Unless someone said something to them

2017-03-17          09:49:05               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            I think the latter. Sold out. Again

2017-03-17          09:50:03               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            They should be delivering more rock at the standing water spots

2017-03-17          09:50:12               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            They ain’t

2017-03-17          09:52:27               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Yea well we have proof they county equipment out here

2017-03-17          09:55:53               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            I am with you I think someone tipped them off

2017-03-17          10:01:28               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Can’t talk anymore. We might have given the right people what they need.

2017-03-17          10:10:22               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            I just got a call (From Inside Source at ARC Landfill) we should talk

2017-03-16       About 10:20        THE ARROWFLINGER  calls Landowner K, with whom Landowners O and M has an easement agreement with cost-sharing provisions to discuss the condierable part of the construction on her land. She states she is not paying anything and that Landowner M told het that they can repair the easement road at least cost because they have connections in Richmond and  Columbia Counties. Also discussed was the new culvert installation and the work done on US Army Corps of Engineers lands.

2017-03-17          12:42:21               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            I have a visitor (ARCSD Investigator) at 3 who may want to come talk to you, if you are open.

2017-03-17          12:48:39               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Sure

2017-03-17          15:04:34               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            You coming to my place or yours

2017-03-17          16:09:08               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            They (investigators)are headed back to you.

2017-03-17          16:09:40               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Ok I am tell them everything I know

2017-03-17          16:10:16               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Tell them the truth. They will want your source.

2017-03-17          16:10:37               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            We went out to the site.

2017-03-17          20:07:00               Informant calls THE ARROWFLINGER and reports an automobile parked at entrance gate to the combined properties where the work was going on.

2017-03-17          20:09:24               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Should I call the investigator?

2017-03-17          20:10:28               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Call 911

2017-03-17          20:11:17               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            And tell them what?

2017-03-17          20:17:42               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            I called the shield (sheriff?) number they sending someone out

2017-03-17          20:30:00 to    20:50:00 THE ARROWFLINGER spots Director emerging from around posted gate: Augusta Director explains that he came to check on one of his contractor’s pieces of  equipment, as Bobcat Rentals had called his contractor concerned when an ARCSD investigator called earlier in the day. Shows text and photo sent.

2017-03-17          22:09:00               THE ARROWFLINGER      Transmits video of Director to ARCSD Investigator

2017-03-17          22:35:39               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            (pictures of Director)

2017-03-17          22:53:48               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Yup Director

2017-03-17          22:55:22               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Sent to investigator and our Sheriff

2017-03-17          22:55:47               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Send short video too

2017-03-17          22:55:54               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted      Sent

2017-03-17          22:56:03               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Sweet

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Texts of March 18, 2017 Between THE ARROWFLINGER and Informant

2017-03-18          01:12:04               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Directors name is not on the property his equipment’s showed up there and he drives out here to check why?

2017-03-18          01:13:58               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Monday I will tell cid he was out here

2017-03-18          01:17:23               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            He knew where it was!

2017-03-18          01:18:16               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Yea

2017-03-18          01:18:31               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Probably 500 yards inside gate?

2017-03-18          01:28:24               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            The bob cat belongs to Bobcat Renter which is anther contractor who works for the landfill

2017-03-18          01:32:31               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Yes, that was the name Bobcat (of Augusta) gave Redacted LEI.

2017-03-18          01:33:24               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            See it’s all dirty

2017-03-18          07:18:27               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            And it is why I have been looking to just leave. I have been fighting it like nobody else in this state for 5 years, except for hunting seasons, and have only lost “friends” who are on the gravy train. Knitter and I have been looking in McCormick and Abbeville counties but now I am thinking northern Mississippi or North Carolina. Yeah, it is like this all over, but any place else I don’t know about them and I damned sure won’t look again. I seesaw between going apes**t exposing how utterly crooked the Augusta area is, making fun of the ridiculous fakery, and just leaving. I think this deal is the last straw.

2017-03-18          12:49:37               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            I white Silverado just pulled out with a bobcat I think it was Bobcat Renter

2017-03-18          12:49:59               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Ok

2017-03-18          21:02:18               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            When we ride Lilly to tour fields for deer we will ride down Booths Branch Road to the gates and back. Probably in the next 30 minutes

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Texts of March 19, 2017 Between THE ARROWFLINGER and Informant

2017-03-19          09:51:08               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Yesterday they hand dug a drainage ditch to drain the mud puddles 10 yards inside the gate. They also unloaded 3 rolls of geotextile fabric at the rock stockpile.

2017-03-19          09:51:24               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Took pix

 

 

 

Monday, March 20, 2017

2017-03-20          06:16:34               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Heavy truck just went down Booth Branch Road I am going to see what’s going on

2017-03-20          06:19:36               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Ok

2017-03-20          06:36:55               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Drove Ranger out last  4 wheeler trail to left on Corps Land just before gate. Gonna walk Booth Branch past Landowner K.

2017-03-20          11:02:14               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Well, my early morning hike was a quiet one. No turkeys seen or heard.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

2017-03-21          10:10:55               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            A big truck just went down

2017-03-21          10:11:51               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Ok

2017-03-21          10:12:34               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Landowner O probably will keep on plan to finish

2017-03-21          10:13:22               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            It was the trash truck

2017-03-21          10:15:37               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Lol

2017-03-21          10:16:18               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Filled my roller can up an hour ago

2017-03-21?       11:10:00        THE ARROWFLINGER      Researches Grantor and Grantee Indices of the Clerk Of Superior Court of Lincoln County to ascertain if Landowner O and Landowner M had transferred any property interests to Director. Finds no evidence of that. Finds Easement agreement from Landowner K to Landowners O and M after a $5000 payment which settled the access rights of the parties. Noted that all landowners bear maintenance and improvement costs.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

2017-03-22          08:11:29               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            I’ve been in the woods sense sun up haven’t heard any turkeys

2017-03-22          08:30:11               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            They have been in hiding. I did see a gobbler on the side of a road in McCormick County Sunday.

2017-03-22          12:37:34               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Hey I am sorry about this morning I wasn’t trying to be rude

2017-03-22          20:41:07               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            I know. No problem. I want to talk over how you work from the house.

2017-03-22          20:41:56               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Ok

2017-03-22          20:45:55               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            I thought I heard turkeys this morning on my walk back down below the houses on Bamboo Trail.

2017-03-22          20:46:22               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Bambi

2017-03-22          20:46:24               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Sweet

2017-03-22          20:46:43               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            We can chat in the morning

2017-03-22          20:46:57               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Ok

Thursday, April 27, 2017

2017-04-27          11:33:00               THE ARROWFLINGER Calls ARCSD Investigator looking for update and leaves message requesting a return call

Friday, April 28, 2017

2017-04-28          15:38:00               THE ARROWFLINGER Calls Lincoln County Sheriff and leaves message asking him to prod ARCSD into giving an update citing uncertainty over personal status with respect to activity in the public eye

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

2017-05-02         15:15:00               ARCSD Investigator calls THE ARROWFLINGER, apologizes for delay in responding, then says that the investigation was completed and turned over to the Augusta District Attorney and to the Augusta Administrator for an audit. Knitter hears the conversation because the Bluetooth truck phone grabbed the call and it was broadcast in the yard.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

2017-05-16          19:52                     THE ARROWFLINGER      Texts Commissioner G to suggest that he look out for special audit funds for Administrator’s Office. No Response.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

2017-05-18          19:52                     THE ARROWFLINGER Turns over pictures and summary of events as they existed March 15 through March 20, 2017 to Osprey. Osprey is an Augusta resident with contacts who might discuss.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

2017-05-20          09:32:09               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Those Statesboro guys are up here for the first time in ages. They are boring perk test holes with an auger.

2017-05-20          12:01:36               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Oh

2017-05-20          12:03:12               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            I thought those guys  would squirm their way out of any trouble

2017-05-20          12:06:31               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Does Landowner O even know? Landowner M is SCI and was With Dabbs….but is Landowner O an ARC contractor, too?

2017-05-20          12:08:48               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            I Think Landowner O is a. Contractor

2017-05-20          12:24:35               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            It’s awful funny they ran out of money and had to move all the equipment out at at 3 am

2017-05-20 13:12:00        THE ARROWFLINGER    calls Commissioner MW, leaves message to please call

Monday, May 22, 2017

2017-05-22 16:40:00        THE ARROWFLINGER      texts Commissioner G to relay that Osprey has pictures and video of Lincoln County events. Concludes with “Its Y’all’s Hellhole”

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

2017-05-24 11:32:00        THE ARROWFLINGER      calls Commissioner H, leaves message to please call

2017-05-24 11:38:00        THE ARROWFLINGER      calls Commissioner MW, leaves message to please call

2017-05-24          19:29:20               THE ARROWFLINGER         Phone Number Redacted                            Well, you were right. They are blaming the guy who retired 2 days into the investigation, saying it was a mistake that the equipment got sent.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

2017-05-25 09:12:00        THE ARROWFLINGER      Called Osprey. Both agreed that more commissioner angles needed than Commissioner G and Commissioner F, with whom Osprey had communicated.

2017-05-25 09:32:00        THE ARROWFLINGER      gets call from Commissioner MW, explains background and the developments to that point. Agrees to forward the unchanged, original questions and information of 3/15 to 3/20/2017 to ARC Clerk of Commission

2017-05-25 11:57:00        THE ARROWFLINGER Emails information sent to Osprey on 05/18/2017 to ARC Clerk of Commission

2017-05-25 13:08:00        THE ARROWFLINGER confers with Osprey, who had talked with Director earlier, and who recommended that THE ARROWFLINGER call Director directly with issues and questions.

2017-05-25          13:27:00               THE ARROWFLINGER Called Director. Asked if Landowner M, Landowner O, or Bobcat Lessee are Augusta Contractors and if he knows any of them. He said no. Asked if DW of Stateboro was a contractor. He said they were but had not done any work since 2013. Said that Landowner M’s firm was not awarded Landfill contract after he was on bid documents at January 2017 bid meeting. (Confirmed by THE ARROWFLINGER) Award contested and work might be rebid.(THE ARROWFLINGER agreed, as it had been in the newspaper) Director asked about stone purchases and stated that Augusta purchases aggregates under annual bulk purchase agreement and stockpiles various stone products at landfill. (Known in Advance by THE ARROWFLINGER)When asked how Director knew where Bobcat Lessee’s equipment was when Director and THE ARROWFLINGER met at the gate to the combined properties at 8:16 PM on March 16, 2017, Director stated that he was directed to follow the power line and that the equipment was parked under the power line.

Director asserted that the reason he could find his way in the dark when spotted coming out of the gate to the combined properties at 8:22 PM on March 16, 2017, was that he arrived in the daylight. (Official Sunset was 7:37 PM, but conditions at his exit were clearly past darkness)

Director repeated his purpose for coming out of the gate to the combined properties at 8:22 PM on March 16, 2017 was that a contractor at his facility called him, after being unable to contact Director’s subordinate employee, and was concerned about verifying the location of the Bobcat and cutter, so he drove out to the site in Lincoln County to locate the equipment and report back to the contractor, which he had done.

Director queried THE ARROWFLINGER about why he was not called earlier into the process of determining the status of the investigation. THE ARROWFLINGER said that the investigation was in the hands of ARCSD and that he was told that it was turned over to the DA. THE ARROWFLINGER turned to Osprey, an Augusta citizen, to investigate because Augusta is his city. THE ARROWFLINGER had performed considerable free work for Augusta and insisted on better contract controls since 2011 and did not feel compelled to conduct an investigation based upon GORA requests because that cost money and the Augusta Commission had failed to act to provide a solution to that obstacle when it had been proposed.

Director suggested that he had answered all questions truthfully and that THE ARROWFLINGER should accept that, to which THE ARROWFLINGER responded that there were too many inconsistencies in how the work was sequenced and suddenly halted when the investigators arrived at the Augusta Solid Waste Facility on 3/16/17. Director asked if THE ARROWFLINGER had approached the landowners to which THE ARROWFLINGER responded that the investigation should have done that and no report had been issued.

Director asserted that Administrator’s office and ARCSD had determined that there were no criminal violations, but that one of his supervisors had retired as planned but moved up during the investigation. Director admitted that said supervisor had done work at the Lincoln Site. THE ARROWFLINGER asked for a copy of that investigators’ report but Director said he could not provide it.

THE ARROWFLINGER reminded Director of THE ARROWFLINGER’s powerful defense of Director in a commission meeting presentation on another matter.

THE ARROWFLINGER agreed to forward an accounting of the conversation to all who had gotten questions and information from THE ARROWFLINGER regarded the Lincoln County matter and he did.

2017-05-25          14:57:00               THE ARROWFLINGER emails ARC Clerk of Commission that he talked to Director and provided a summary of points upon which there was agreement, but not points of disagreement, which had been previously sent.

2017-05-25          15:16:00               THE ARROWFLINGER      Agrees to discuss the March Events in Lincoln County in an on-air conversation with Most Dangerous Man in Augusta Politics, Austin Rhodes of  radio Station WGAC.

2017-05-25          15:38:00               THE ARROWFLINGER      goes on the Austin Rhodes to discuss the March Events in Lincoln County

2017-05-25          23:47:35               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            3 weeks ago The investigator said it was referred to the DA and to City Administrator for an audit,  but the DA has nothing. When the guy called that day that my new truck grabbed the audio and output it on the speaker so Knitter heard him say it. They are trying to duck and cover but I am satisfied I have it covered with enough proof.  It would be helpful to show how Landowner M has recently been working there. They didn’t apparently get the contract and Dabbs Williams did work in 2011 I found. The equipment they have conceded and also that the supervisor who was moonlighting retired 2 days into the investigation. Your info was spot on. The heat is on and some of them are spinning deeper. Hope your trip is productive. We got rain!

2017-05-25          23:50:28               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Nice I heard some of it through the internet on the radio show good job

2017-05-25          23:51:17               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            If he was moonlighting why was he driving a county truck out there that’s the word I got from Inside Source

Friday, May 26, 2017

2017-05-26          00:13:44               out         Phone Number Redacted                            I wish I had walked up tge hill when the Bobcat brush cutter was being used and seen the truck. Pretty sure he was there on a weekday morning

2017-05-26          00:31:49               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Yup

2017-05-26          18:12:36               out         Phone Number Redacted                            Can you tell me who got retired?

2017-05-26          18:13:13               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            McKinley Williams

2017-05-28          00:35:00               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Also McKinley has worked there so long and knows all the equipment I can’t imagine he would make a mistake I think he is just covering for Director

Sunday, May 28, 2017

2017-05-28          00:35:45               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Did Director contact you? If he did he his trying to cover himself

2017-05-28          00:39:21               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            I was told to call him. I did.

2017-05-28          00:40:39               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Oh well he is a snake with a lot of political connections

2017-05-28          00:41:11               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            That’s based on my experience

2017-05-28          00:44:39               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            He said he did not know Landowner M or Landowner O…..the landowners. Said he did not know Bobcat Renter….the Bobcat lessee. Said DW has not worked there since 2014. Ssid stone is bought under annual contract and stockpiled. Got on my case for not calling him until after sending out claims.(emails to ARC Commissioners)

2017-05-28          00:47:22               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            That’s a lie Bobcat Renter was out there last year helping extend the sides of the land feel(fill) to meet the air space. Landowner M was out there all the time him and Director went to lunch several times

2017-05-28          00:48:03               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Said he got up here before dark is why he had no flash flight and found the equipment because it was under the power line easement. .. Trouble with that is my video is time stamped 8:48 pm (exit time)

2017-05-28          00:48:40               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Augusta Commissioner G is barbequed

2017-05-28          00:48:55               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Sweet

2017-05-28          00:50:38               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted            I have Commissioners Augusta Commissioner W and Augusta Commissioner G FURIOUS AND LOADED FOR BEAR for Tuesday’s commission meeting.

2017-05-28          00:51:01               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Administrator in deep S**t

2017-05-28          00:51:20               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Administrator.

2017-05-28          00:51:42               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Administrator

2017-05-28          00:52:29               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            I am going to have all their a$$es.

2017-05-28          00:54:14               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Good, if Director told you he didn’t know those guys he is lying. Why did he tell his staff he had property on the lake?

2017-05-28          00:55:47               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            That excavator has a small’ backward reflex clam-shell or scoop. Small blade. Not suited for moving stone piles. The loaders at landfill. ARE

2017-05-28          00:57:14               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Every one out there knows they mini excavator every one used it including McKinley

2017-05-28          00:58:31               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            What about the trailer the county just purchased did he make a mistake with that to

2017-05-28          00:58:33               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted           (I am hearing) Commissioner G says landfill doesn’t use that sort of stone. However, it is too fine to use for road without geotextile underlayment. There are 4 (actually 3) rolls of that there

2017-05-28          01:00:16               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Bull s**t we use crush and run all the time look at the camp sites at the sheriff range they have three sites up there for campers I know because I was told I could park mine there

 

2017-05-28          01:00:29               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Sounds like McKinley was the Bobcat operator up here. Isn’t that what you found out?

2017-05-28          01:01:29               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Yes I know he ran that for sure

2017-05-28          01:02:18               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Well that means an arc employee destroyed us government property

2017-05-28          01:02:45               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            The landfill Owens (owns) John Deere skid steeres (steers) not bob cats

2017-05-28          01:03:29               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                              McKinley loves Director and will cover until it’s his a$$

2017-05-28          01:04:29               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            I am gonna fry some a$$ Yes Bobcat was rented to Bobcat Renter by Bobcat Augusta. Director was concerned about it because Bobcat called him.

2017-05-28          01:05:49               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Yea brother he knew what was going on he just want to take his Own or parents Winnebago out there

2017-05-28          01:06:20               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            So Director was concerned about the Bobcat that destroyed corps woodland. And his supervisor ran it. Perfect.

Footage from March 16, 2016 as events were unfolding.

2017-05-28          01:07:07               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            You keep asking questions and I’ll keep giving information they can’t hide from us

2017-05-28          01:07:32               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            What about the trailer?

2017-05-28          01:08:18               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            The press and politicians want my hide. After 5 years you handed me something to tear Augusta apart with.

2017-05-28          01:08:19               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            That was county property no one made a mistake with that

2017-05-28          01:08:44               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            They brought it to me

2017-05-28          01:09:14               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            It does not have property tag or number on it

2017-05-28          01:10:09               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Oh, they are conceding that the trailer and excavator are Augusta assets

2017-05-28          01:10:51               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Yea

2017-05-28          01:11:26               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted            The landfill does have loaders and graders right?

2017-05-28          01:11:47               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            I would to see Director gone. I want to live out there in peace

2017-05-28          01:12:31               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            I am pretty sure that will happen.

2017-05-28          01:12:59               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Oh yea komatso 320 front loaders and they use roads department grader they also have a cat roller

2017-05-28          01:13:43               in            Phone Number Redacted                            I know because I have worked on all of it

2017-05-28          01:15:43               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Ok. Good. So you are sure others saw Director with Landowner M and know that Bobcat Renter did work there

2017-05-28          01:16:49               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            The investigator did not turn over anything to the DA like he said. It was his bad luck that his call to me telling me that came on over my car speakerphone so everyone in my yard could hear it

2017-05-28          01:17:37               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Buddy is ready to testify that he saw him up here in fact I was in the back (actually the passenger seat) seat of the investigators car and Buddy did not see me when he stopped them in the road and demanded to know who they were

2017-05-28          01:18:00               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            The sheriff’s department is screwed about as bad as Commissioner G and Director

2017-05-28          01:22:21               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            You can ask any one who works at the landfill when I quite Bobcat Renter was working out there and that was april last year

2017-05-28          01:23:29               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Commissioner G called you a disgruntled employee. I am gonna make him rue those words. (Because it was a smokescreen. Informant had nothing to do with the perpetrator’s actions.)

2017-05-28          01:23:38               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Talk to **** he was a supervisor and he just got hired back

2017-05-28          01:24:57               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Sorry I meant James ******

2017-05-28          01:25:17               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Why would he say that when I resigned

2017-05-28          01:26:19               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            I went to lunch with him and Director and I said grace before the meal. Dirty people

2017-05-28          01:26:30               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Don’t worry about that. You are gonna love it.

2017-05-28          01:27:07               Informant           Phone Number Redacted

2017-05-28          01:28:24               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                            Gonna go back to bed. Good night!

2017-05-28          01:29:23               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                            Good night from California

2017-05-28         14:23:00                THE ARROWFLINGER calls Landowner K and learns that no investigators contacted her after the mid-March incidents. Conversation lasts 39 minutes. Topics beside social updating of family and friends include the easement road work. Three times Landowner K reiterates that Landowners M and O kept saying that they  had connections to get the work done. No mention was made of Columbia or Richmond Counties in that context, as was the case in the mid-March conversation.

2017-05-28          15:36:00               THE ARROWFLINGER      Phone Number Redacted                         Investigators did not contact you or Landowner K

2017-05-28          15:37:00               Informant           Phone Number Redacted                           Nope I talked to them once The day you were with them

Thursday, June 1, 2017

2017-06-01        19:00?                Augusta Administrator calls THE ARROWFLINGER on his land line phone (no logs)and a Q&A session resulted that lasted about 30 to 40 minutes. THE ARROWFLINGER called the Informant while the Administrator was on the other line to ascertain that the Informant would allow her to have his number. Later Informant called to state that he and the Administrator had talked and would continue the next day.

2017-06-02        13:08 Commissioner H calls to verify that the Administrator had talked to Informant

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

2017-06-06          15:27:00 ?             Director resigns and Augusta Commission accepts his resignation.

Can the good people of Augusta get their rogue government under control?

 

 

  • AG

 

The Still Waters of Lincoln County’s Lots of Murder

Tragedy…… when you lose control and you got no soul, It’s tragedy

The BeeGees

In the heady days of 2005, as the real estate bubble was inflating in full force, James Robert “Bob” Ward was lifting helicopter rides to show off many of the 8 subdivisions in 5 states his company, Land Resources, Inc., was marketing worldwide. A short six years later Ward was in prison with a thirty year sentence for the murder of his wife. The bullet that ended her life wasn’t fired in the northern reaches of Lincoln County, Georgia but the lingering tears of tragedy still water the financial landscape of the less than 8000 permanent citizens of the county and hapless investing victims far away.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that Land Resources was founded in 1997 and had successfully completed a number of subdivisions in Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Florida. Most providently HGTV picked Land Resource developments Cumberland Harbor and Grey Rock for two of its million-dollar home giveaways. Trouble arose from 2005, when Stillwater Coves in Lincoln County was announced, through 2008. A pattern emerged of unsophisticated, mostly rural county governments allowing Land Resources to market and sell lots before the basic infrastructure was completed to permit home-building. In 2008 Land Resources filed for bankruptcy protection. Suddenly lots that had sold for $300,000 were virtually worthless.

Bob Ward began this saga in Atlanta. Near the height of selling hundreds of millions of dollars of hot resort real estate in 2007, Ward and his wife moved to the Islesworth community in Orlando, Florida, this being also home to golfer Tiger Woods and his beating from wife Elin. When Bob Ward became subject of a criminal investigation, his wife Diane was called to testify, apparently causing the developer to shoot her in their bedroom in September 2009. The murder trial, incarceration, conviction, appeal, retrial, and drug overdose in prison made a twisting, turning and very compelling tabloid story. An excellent timeline from the perspective of the Grey Rock development can be found here.

The Big Four (ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox News), CNN, The Orlando Sentinel (a series on the saga), Atlanta Constitution, various Florida TV stations and even the UK Mirror jumped all over the murder tragedy and the accompanying trial, yet missed the total tragedy. The connection to the Greater Financial Crisis that became manifest in 2008 and which has morphed into a world-consuming monster went unnoticed. The Augusta area media seemingly slept through it all, especially the Lincoln County connection. The closest article to do it and the only one found to actually mention the murder trial was an article by the Augusta Chronicle’s LaTina Emerson of October 15, 2009 reporting that the successor to Ward’s bankrupt Land Resources had promised that the development remained on track for 2010. Amazingly it took one of the lowly commenters to note “…..the original developer being tried for murder? Seems it would be a story.

Indeed it was. Ward’s Land Resources had sold out its Stillwater Cove lots in one week , garnering a reported $43 million(the author’s spreadsheet says $27 million) in the process. At the time of bankruptcy, the paving and grading of the roads had been completed, with water, sewer and fire protection systems only partially complete. Fortunately, the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, under the direction of then Chairman Walker “Boss Hog” Norman, had insulated the county from all liability, obtaining performance and payment bonds on the crucial infrastructure before lots were allowed to be sold.

Most of the development was financed by Wachovia Bank, a rogue financial institution whose sullied name can be found in Augusta’s Parking Deck and Convention Center fiascos, the 2008 financial decimation of Augusta’s blueblood society, money laundering nearly a half-billion dollars for the Mexican drug cartel, identity fraud against elderly customers, selling $9 billion of bad securities as money-good, and $millions on mortgage fraud. There is much more to be reported in these pages on this bank. Those are stories for another day.

Elsewhere in county government, the tempting lure of the hundreds of millions of dollars in additions to the property tax base represented by the full build out of Stillwater Coves and the other lakefront subdivisions created in the boom was too great. Lincoln County needed a modern high school and that need had found a promising revenue stream. It was a case of chickens counted that were never to hatch. The Lincoln County Board of Education voted to build a $32 million new school complex to house junior high school and high school students. Financing for the project was to be $23 million. R.W. Allen LLC was engaged to construct the complex.

More bad news erupted in 2009 when it was discovered that the bonds protecting the Stillwater Coves lot buyers had been issued in an even bigger fraud. An insurance man named Ray Miller had sold fictitious bonds covering more than $500 million in projects. The bonds covering one of the water systems at Stillwater Coves proved to be worthless. The county doesn’t seem to be at fault, however, for most of the bonds had been forged in the name of legitimate bond insurors. Perhaps the only mistake that the county made was to allow reduction, perhaps too early, in some of the coverage on the bonds that were good. Perhaps the discipline to achieve completion of infrastructure before any subdivision lots are sold is better. Tragedy would have been averted!

The school board found itself in a fiasco when it decided to house only high school students in the new school, keeping the junior students at an old school. The State Board of Education withheld funds based upon the fact that the school it agreed to fund was for grades 6-12. Citizens cried FRAUD and for good reason.

Many of the lot buyers lost their life savings in the meltdown of the Land Resources empire. Diane Ward lost her life. Lincoln County found itself financially crippled with extraordinarly high property taxes created by the school bond debt, a collapsed lake front property tax base, and the reality that three successive property tax exemptions involving timberland removed two thirds of the county from the tax digest. Existing residential property owners bore the brunt of the damage, with elderly property owners denied exemptions from school taxes afforded citizens of Columbia and Richmond Counties because their money was needed to service the bonds. The corrupt shell of Wachovia Bank continues to threaten the viability of Wells Fargo Bank, who had the misfortune of wanting the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to fold Wachovia into their operations. The lots themselves might not ever be viable, as they were drawn up to be served by a sewage system that languishes without paying customers.

The waters remain still up on Graball Road but the tragedy continues.

At least now it isn’t an untold tragedy in Augusta and the Central Savannah River Area of Georgia and South Carolina. Lessons are never learned from things covered up.

Agraynation.com gets the big stories of our times and tries to make our readers think about what they mean.

The JERK of Lincoln County?

On Tuesday April 19th, 2016 the Lincoln County Republican Party held a candidate forum at the public Library. Your Arrowflinger was there and asked the candidates very tough questions. Former House District 117 Representative Lee Anderson, now running for the Senate District 24 seat, and his wife Donna were seated the next row in front. When Lee got up to speak my questions were pointed at his previous record of voting for double digit fee, rate, and tax increases on us. Donna turned and called me a “jerk” numerous times, although the only clearly audible one was at the end, when I loudly challenged Lee to take further questioning.

Now, the point being made is that we go broke very fast paying double digit cost increases when our incomes are increasing less than 2%. Lee and Donna have a solution to this dilemma though. You see, Lee’s first cousin Superior Court Judge David Roper heads the guardian ad litem program in Augusta which became a national scandal because of the guardians’ ad looting. Now Donna is in that stable of ad lootems, supplementing their family income. We don’t have that option, do we?

None of the other candidates or their parties reacted with anger at my tough questions, only the one person divorcing parents would expect to stay calm.

Later radio talker Austin Rhodes quipped that the Andersons don’t need the money, but did the other Ad lootems who punished distraught parents with outrageous fees??

Usually the phrase “grab the wife and kids” is hyperbole in a political season, but can you families of the 24th risk having a rogue judge, rubber-stamp lawmaker, and angry guardian ad lootem wife all aligned against you in the event of divorce?

Think about it.

Watch and listen, as Arrowflinger Al gets tagged with yet another insulting label to join many other such Badges of Honor.

Double-crossed at the Doubletree, Augustans Got a 22% Property Tax Increase

When your humble flinger of arrows climbed into his pickup truck one afternoon in the late summer of 2010 it was not dreamed that the trip was worth $4 million to $5 million to the people of Augusta Richmond County, Georgia, yet it was.

The Georgia General Assembly had empaneled a Tax Reform Council, chaired by former Atlanta Olympic Games chairman A.D. Frazier, and charged it with recommending a tax reform plan. Earlier, in 2008, the legislature had wisely rejected disgraced House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s G.R.E.A.T. (Georgia Repeal Every Ad valorem Tax) plan but still held the notion of “tax reform” dear, spurred on by the Georgia Traditional Manufacturers Association and others. Manufacturers wanted relief from Georgia’s sales-tax-exemption-limiting “Direct Use” requirements. Agricultural interests wanted sales tax relief, too.

The Tax Reform Council met in cities across Georgia. The meeting in Augusta came within 3 weeks of a furious Republican Party runoff for governor, which diverted attention from what was at risk. The Council convened at the Doubletree Hotel on August 30, 2010. A number of presenters had prepared remarks which were posted on the Tax Council website. This writer had not come to speak but rose and gave an impromptu talk in opposition based upon the enormous revenue loss that appeared to be in the making, including a critique of surviving elements of G.R.E.A.T. A sitting member of the Georgia House of Representatives, Don Parsons, was not paying attention enough to catch the name and dismissed the talk as uninformed.

The frightening thing was that the Tax Council withheld its report, despite promises it would be published in November, until the start of the 2011 session and the stated intent was for the plan to rocket through the General Assembly for a straight “up or down” vote.

The Augusta presentations included one that tipped off how draconian the sales and use tax losses would be for Augusta. An email to a key member of the Augusta Commission warned of the losses. Another to an organization promoting the bad tax deal laid out the reasons that killing it in 2011 were good.

Taxreformwarning_Page_1Tax Reform 2011 Killed_Page_1Lobbyists didn’t care.

The Augusta Chronicle reported “Twice panel members asked how to replace the revenue from new tax breaks such as elimination of the inventory tax. John Krueger, senior vice president of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, replied that he hadn’t polled his members about that.

“To be honest, I really don’t have an answer to that,” he said.”

The next year tax reform returned and passed. Not one of the location legislative delegation voted against it, not even “conservatives” Representative Barbara Sims or Senator Bill Jackson. Just as night follows day, the tax losses hit Augusta Richmond County so hard that in 2014, the Augusta Commission had to pass a 22% property tax increase to compensate for them.

The Augusta Commission got the blame but the damage was clearly inflicted by the General Assembly, with the local delegation going right along with it.

The sales taxes given up were were being passed on to purchasers of the manufactured goods outside of Augusta, Richmond County and now are being replaced by your property taxes, if you live in Augusta-Richmond County. The manufacturers were not likely to leave Augusta over taxes they had been paying for years and “tax reform” means that new businesses won’t be paying new taxes, either. Theories and subsidized jobs excited the politicians but this was a DEAD LOSS to the people, if one looks at the only thing that counts with revenue – CASH FLOW!

The entire progression of events might not have turned to the public’s favor, but it was a wonderful chance to demonstrate how The AURELIUS PRINCIPLE works to identify millions of dollars of savings to clients who might just be interested in saving those millions rather than paying them out. Cost Recovery Works, Inc. has used these techniques to stunning effect for clients many times and the tax reform participation showed how they work to potentially effect tens of millions in savings.

Millions of dollars in savings come from projects like this one – Just not for the poor, tax-besieged citizens of Augusta.

Thank your politicians.

Equal Protection, Equal Accountability

Comments of Al M. Gray to the Augusta Commission
Equal Protection, Equal Accountability
March 1, 2016

Mayor Davis, lady and gentlemen of the commission, thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
The baseball great Yogi Berra once said “If you come to a fork in the road, take it” but after its last two meetings perhaps this body should stop, back up and try another fork before the wheels come off of Augusta’s government like one of those KME firetrucks. Citizens, officials, and observers far and wide have been taken aback by votes to remedy a pay-increase scandal which represents a horrendous breach of Constitutional equal protection for the one employee and the simultaneous dismissal of equal accountability for 3 others who arguably had more responsibility.

The vote and particularly the commentary during the last commission meeting filled me and most observers with dismay, not just because of the ugly tone, but because the transparency so loudly promised during the SPLOST campaign is obviously dead. A citizenry who saw its garbage collection service cut in half now sees, yet again, tomfoolery to shift money between accounts to cover benefits to the downtown.They see the time-consuming machinations this administration has undertaken to do it during a time in which new SPLOST controls were supposedly a priority.

The biggest scandal in Augusta history – the financially ruinous Tee Center/Laney Walker Development deal – wasted more $tens of millions than a convention of con artists could dream up. The principle TEE contract required extensive records to be kept until the year 2020, yet neither side of the ugliness of the last 2 weeks wants to empower Augusta by learning from its mistakes there. One faction wouldn’t want it out during the state Republican Party Convention at the Convention Center out of fear of embarrassing party officials and the city. The other seems to want to maintain the sloppiness to get tens of millions more in loot with assertions of “it’s our turn, now” or “we are getting our share.”

Politicians like to create a façade of controls to hide the looting, but not controls to stop the looting. With the TEE center Augusta wound up with the daisy chain of “expert” controllers costing a combined $1250 per hour who controlled almost nothing and rubberstamped nearly everything. The powerfully-written construction management contract that Augusta won was turned into mush at their hands. Why?

Your Gift From the Copenhaver

Another Yogism by Berra– “It is Déjà vu all over again” – fits my 40 year odyssey out of Augusta, back, and now into this chamber. The mid 1970’s found me at the Labor Department in Augusta working to administer the old 13 county CETA employment programs. Fury erupted among the mostly black program management in Augusta that Columbia County had preselected an overwhelmingly white contingent of ineligible folks, but then came the embarrassing find that Augusta’s enrollees were mostly black ineligible folks.

A poor blind black woman with a young lad in tow came into the Program Directors’ office to see the Reverend F. Francis Cook. “This is my grandson, Jonathan, who sees about me, the best he can, but he needs one of those CETA jobs you all are handing out,” she said. Deputy Director Cook was in tears. There were no jobs left for the eligible and deserving grandson. He got crowded out by black politics. F. Francis Cook made sure we quit running a program for cronies, to make room for his people and for ALL people.

Yes, you can use the system perfected by the last administration to loot the people and discriminatingly spread $millions but “They did it and we are too!” makes a twisted concept of equal protection, while hurting the wrong people -people in your community.

What happened over the last two weeks destroyed confidence that this commission desires the promised transparency and reform. Choose another fork, one of real reform; this one is a dead end for Augusta.

Thank you.

Here is the video

Mother (of) Goofs – The Convention Center that Rick Built

This is the Convention Center that Rick built.
Conference Harrison Bldg

This is the parcel
http://gismap.augustaga.gov/PropertyCard/Default.aspx?pin=037-3-
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

This is the Center Manager/Owner
paulssimon
That had the parcel
That lay under the Center that Rick built.

This is equipment the partnership deal said would be paid for by
Tilting Kettles
That Center Manager/Owner
That had the parcel
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

This is the Administrator who worked with Rick to bill the city for


That kitchen equipment that was going to be the cost of
That Center Manager/Owner
That had the parcel
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

This is the lawyer who looked in vain for the city commission-executed PARTNERSHIP CHANGE
permitting
Augusta Attorney Andrew McKenzie
That Administrator to work with Rick to bill the city for
That kitchen equipment that was going to be the cost of
That Center Manager/Owner
That had the parcel
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

This is the Architect paid to prevent contracting snafus
who got excluded from reviewing the purchase for which
That lawyer found no partnership change to allow
That Administrator to work with Rick to bill the city for
That kitchen equipment that was going to be the cost of
That Center Manager/Owner
That had the parcel
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

This is the land right Augusta found it had under its Convention Center after
Air Rights?
That Architect noted his exclusion from the purchase review that might have stopped
That which the lawyer found no partnership change to allow
That Administrator to work with Rick to bill the city for
That kitchen equipment that was going to be the cost of
That Center Manager/Owner
That had the parcel
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

This is the Manager/owners parcel value for which Augusta was forced to trade the equipment to use its own building
on
That empty land right Augusta found it had after
That Architect noted his exclusion from the purchase review that might have stopped
That which the lawyer found no partnership change to allow
That Administrator to work with Rick to bill the city for
That kitchen equipment that was going to be the cost of
That Center Manager/Owner
That had the parcel
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

These are the $8250 in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 campaign contributions from the Center Manager/Owner
paulssimon
Rick got after buying

That equipment value it became necessary to trade for
That empty land rights Augusta found it had after
That the Architect noted his exclusion from the purchase review that might have noted
That which the lawyer found no partnership change to allow
That Administrator to work with Rick to bill the city for
That kitchen equipment that was going to be the cost of
That Center Manager/Owner
That had the parcel
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

This is the rival donkey in Congress grinning like a mule eating briars

That Rick got those campaign contributions from the Center Manager/Owner seeing
That equipment value it became necessary to trade for
That land right Augusta found it had after
That Architect noted his exclusion from the purchase review that might have noted
That which the lawyer found no partnership change to allow
That Administrator to work with Rick to bill the city for
That kitchen equipment that was going to be the cost of
That Center Manager/Owner
That had the parcel
That lay under the Convention Center that Rick built.

Blame it on the Evans UFO

The first report in this series, Conflict in Columbia County, peered into the April 2010 vote to grant the mass banking contract of Columbia County, Georgia to GB&T, Georgia Bank and Trust, a bank in which 2 commissioners, Ron Cross and Charlie Allen held stock and a third, Ron Thigpen, serves as Chief Operating Officer.

The award came after an extensive Request for Proposal was issued to about a dozen local banks in January. Responses were due by February 18th. Four county employees were designated as evaluators of the proposals: Water Director Billy Clayton, Accounting Manager Debra North, Finance Director Lee Ann DeLoach (then Reece), and Phyllis Swain. After the evaluations were compiled and the scoring totaled, First Citizens Bank scored the highest of the responding banks, with GB&T in second place. First Citizens quoted a minimum interest rate on deposits of 1%, with DeLoach noting the lack of a floor with GB&T relative to First Citizens and Swain noting that First Citizens had the best rate. The initial recommendation was to award the agreement to First Citizens.

GB&T had quoted a variable rate with a floor of 0.75%, 0.25% less than First Citizens. This put the minimum interest rate income from First Citizens 33% higher than GB&T.

That is when the UFO landed and all sorts of communications were disrupted. In this case UFO means Unidentified Financial Official. Some member or members of the County Finance Committee put the award on hold and sought direction from Jeffries, the County’s sole-sourced Bond Underwriter. When asked the identity of the Finance Committee member(s) who initiated the request from Jeffries, the county administration could not provide it, not could it provide any correspondence from Jeffries other than an Analysis showing that the county would earn more with GB&T. That analysis became the basis for what came to the commission as “Option Two” and a revised recommendation to award the mass banking arrangement to GB&T.

Out of a Finance Committee comprised of then Chairman Scott Dean, who is now in prison on an unrelated conviction, commission chairman and GB&T shareholder Ron Cross and District one commissioner and GBT executive Ron Thigpen, who was the UFO? If the UFO landed in the commission chambers, why is there no video, no tracks and no sign of his coming and leaving, only a mystery document which turned out to be wrong, predicting higher interest rates that never materialized and costing the county dearly?

Citizens-activists working with agraynation.com also sought whether First Citizens or the other banks responding to the RFP were invited to rebid or comment on the Jeffries analysis.The county answered that there was no written contact found with First Citizens after notification that their bank was on the list of finalists.

Finally, a response to a Georgia Open Records request to Columbia County, shows that the county was paid the 0.75% minimum throughout 2011 and 2012 on nearly all of the accounts covered by the mass banking RFP, rather than the much higher rates expected when the deal was awarded to the three commissioners’ bank.

Doesn’t an old construction guy like Chairman Cross know that nothing produces more controversy and lawsuits in procurement than awarding bids based on new criteria that have been denied to the other bidders? Isn’t doing something like that and having it lose 33% more revenue than the recommended vendor even worse? How much of his net worth is in that bank stock and its related business ventures, anyhow?

A lot of answers are due Columbia County voters before May 20.

Here is a video presentation recorded in the waning days of April 2014.

Next up in the series – County Revenue Vaporized by the Evans UFO?

Conflict in Columbia County?

Would y’all just look what we have here! In April 2010 the award of Columbia County’s Major banking agreement was on the Columbia County Commission agenda. Uncomfortably, three Commissioners had stock in Georgia Bank in Trust at the time of this vote. The county attorney seemed concerned about the whole area of ethics but it looks from up here in the pine woods that the entire commission was prepped to put on ballerina slippers and tiptoe through the minefield of awarding the county’s mass banking agreement to, well, Georgia Bank and Trust.

District One Commissioner Ron Thigpen was Chief Operating Officer of GB&T (very recently promoted to President). The county attorney found he could avoid the technical definition of a “Conflict of Interest” by recusing himself from this, an official vote of the commission. The county attorney found that the other GB&T shareholders Ron Cross and Charles Allen, Jr., held less than 5% of the bank’s shares and the bank being publicly held fit another exception in the Ethics Ordinance. The final step in the fanciful footwork that carried them to apparent safety was getting the not-ensnared commissioners Scott Dean and Trey Allen to bless the choreography and allow Cross and Charlie Allen to vote, which they did, awarding the banking deal to their bank.

Did the commission gracefully tiptoe across the ethics minefield on gilded slippers, as they would have us believe? Or were they really tap-dancing across it wearing snowshoes?

One of the Rons sure looks like he stepped on one of those Vietnam -era “bouncing betty” mines with a slow trigger. After all, it has taken 4 years for the damage to pop up and show itself to the taxpayers of Columbia County.

The mine had “Appearance of a Conflict” written all over it. The shrapnel might just now be striking. Wasn’t the key issue for Cross and Allen really how much their stock made up of their total assets and how much they stood to gain? How could Thigpen make myriad impartial decisions, beyond just that commission vote, like whether to increase or pay down debt when his bank stood to gain or lose revenue from the county’s deposits there?

Coming up next in the series is “Blame it on the UFO!”

-AF

Lee Left the Gate Open – Tax Revenues Hoofed It

Back in 2011, during Lee Anderson’s last year in the Georgia House before his doomed attempt at the US House, your arrowflinging writer called and wrote him about the activities of the Tax Reform Council. Lee acted ignorant of the issues and directed me to his guy on the Council, plant nurseryman Skeeter McCorkle. He got back “Lee I know what McCorkle will do – he will get a whole new slew of agriculture exemptions!”

Anderson wasn’t in the Georgia House in 2012 when House Bill 386 passed containing all those costly new exemptions that real people are now having to make up.

Included in the bill was a provision giving nearly every farmer in Georgia, even home gardeners, what is now known at the GATE (Georgia Agricultural Tax Exemption) card. It looks like this.

Georgia GATE Card

Now when we used to visit Lee Anderson’s farm, each and every gate we passed through had to be closed and secured with a chain. So it used to be with Georgia Tax Exemptions.

What transpired was a comical statewide tax looting publicized heavily in the Atlanta Media, municipal publications, and even county papers like the Lincoln Journal. Some farming fellows tried to use their GATE card on the casket and vault for their fathers funeral. Others bought $100,000’s of lumber for home building. The carnage continues today at nearly every rural store in Georgia.

The tax losses exceeded 15% in many counties, causing property tax increases just like the 22% property tax Augustans got out of the same tax reform fiasco.

A Georgia Municipal Association map and chart depicted the damage statewide.GMA-map-for-blog

 

Another term, this time with Lee in the Senate, will be a real riot if the escaped money cows don’t come home.

Cow patties won’t fund education!

 

GOP Cookie Jar Lid Slams on Rep. Jodi Lott

LottJodi4879

 

The November 2014 race to fill Georgia House District 122 seat, vacated by retiring Representative Ben Harbin of Evans was the ugliest, most hotly contested election in the modern history of Columbia County. It saw 2 months of nonstop attacks by radio station talk show host Austin Rhodes on hapless candidate Joe Mullins conjoined with the collapse of the campaign of departing Columbia County District 3 commissioner Mack Taylor. Taylor’s efforts became mired in a nasty war with Mullins, complete with subterfuge, private investigators, and backdoor conniving with the radio talker.  Columbia County, sick of the carnage, chose political newcomer Jodi Lott in the December runoff.

Representative-elect Lott was probably giddy with excitement still when she was sworn in this January. Her refreshing enthusiasm, undiminished by the grinding  reality check of public life, was apparent to everyone in the area. Her primary campaign issue, a “fairtax” (a sales tax) to replace the state income tax, seemed unstoppable in the Georgia House of Representatives, as leadership and the membership voiced support.

Like the rest of us, Jodi Lott found the meaning of “lip service,” that when grizzled politicians like House leaders move their lips, you can count on it being in service to a lie. In this case her treasured tax relief met uncompromising doom at the hands of  Governor Nathan Deal, who cited the danger that moving from an income tax to a sales tax would pose to Georgia’s burgeoning film industry, which heavily benefits from income tax credits. The House leadership beat a retreat, citing the futility of going against the governor’s wishes.

That is the “official story.” Here is a much more accurate explanation. The reason that the citizenry of Georgia will never see their income taxes cut, or replaced by a sales tax, is that other income tax credits have been a back-door, almost totally-unaccounted for, stream of public funds to connected political donors from the Republican hierarchy in the legislative and executive branches.  They give away income taxes that have to be made up by increased income taxes on us. No income tax means that the payola scheme dies.

Our City Stink/Agraynation.com  collaborative effort uncovered the scandal in 2012, during investigation into the details of the Magnolia Trace subsidized housing development uproar.  After the public fury, this writer had traveled to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) offices and spent an afternoon pouring over records of the Magnolia Trace income tax credit applications in the company of DCA attorney Phyllis Carr.  The review did not uncover any smoking guns assignable to Columbia County Officials, but found a huge one wafting smoke toward the Georgia Republican Party and its senior officeholders in government.

You see, the availability of income tax credits, especially the low income housing tax credit, had been around for years. Most of these credits expired unused. That was until Missouri based Affordable Equity Partners got measures through the Georgia legislature allowing the credits to be exchanged, marketed and sold to taxpayers who could use the tax credits.  Affordable Equity and its sister Capital Health Management, Inc. funded a bevy of GOP-beneficent PACs and made direct contributions to nearly all of the important party office holders. To date, Governor Deal has received $10,000, House Speaker David Ralston has received $9,500, Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle has received more than $17,000 from this stable of companies and related PACs. The  GOP, its incumbents in the legislature and other supporting PACs have received another $240,000.

Magnolia Trace affair was also a scandal in its approval process and the political donation largesse was a deciding factor for approval in this writer’s opinion. How widespread are these failures and malpractices by DCA and how much is it costing the people of Georgia?

Representative Lott and tax reformers take note! To get tax reform for the people the path is directly through your leaders’ hefty campaign finances.

Let’s see if the candidates now running for Senate 24 and House 123 seats on passing a “fairtax” have that much tenacity.

 

R.W. Allen’s Guaranteed Money Pits

IMG_4374Owners like to use a contract delivery method called “Design Build” when they don’t know what the heck they are building, don’t want to take the time to design it before bidding it out, or have a site with too many unknown conditions.  Since they don’t know these things they put a fig leaf of protection against unlimited costs called a “Guaranteed Maximum Price” or GMP. Even in commercial or industrial construction, supposedly knowledgeable in cost controls and with fewer unknowns, GMP contracts are a challenge to administer, because the assumptions the contractor gives in quoting a GMP generally last only days or weeks. Owners would be better off with a pure cost-plus contract with great controls, but the owner’s internal politics command at least a fiction of a fixed price.

Imagine trying to catch a butterfly in a windstorm – that is how elusive the “guarantee” becomes.

In government there is no better money-hemorrhaging device than these contracts, hence perhaps GMP should automatically be understood by citizens as being “Guaranteed Money Pit.”

The City of Augusta, Georgia loves to squander money using GMP contracts, having thoroughly embarrassed itself with the things. Augusta  built a $30 million Convention Center across land the city didn’t own and then had to pay for it with Kitchen Equipment added by change order to a “guaranteed” price,  spent about $50 million on a Municipal Building Remodeling that was supposed to cost $20 million mostly covered by another GMP contract, and built houses in the Laney Walker district with maximum-price, not to exceed contracts that never were adjusted to actual cost.

There were only three finalists selected by Augusta for the Old Green Street Library remodeling, and two of the three had “Allen” in their name. The low bidder who didn’t have “Allen” in its name and who bid on the whole project in its bid, with a Guaranteed Price for all of the work, somehow didn’t get the award. RW Allen, LLC was awarded the work on a piecemeal basis, destroying any figment of a guarantee in this writer’s estimation.

John Allen, nephew and contributor to Congressman Richard W. Allen, is a principal in the Allen-Batchelor firm, which was also on the finalist listing.

District 8 Wayne Guilfoyle said it best “if all three firms are proposing this project the following including the proper scope, met the required schedule and fully capable of completing the RFP why are we selecting the highest bidder?” Then later Commissioner Guilfoyle said “So we’re approving something we don’t have a clue, only a partial.

It must be nice to be R.W. Allen LLC and to have Augusta push you into a yet another money pit where nothing is guaranteed but more profits.