Originally Posted By CityStink
Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012
By The Outsider
Contributions were made to this article by Al M. Gray, President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns.
Austin Rhodes started his radio program off yesterday by issuing a challenge to the members of the citizens local government watchdog group on Facebook called Augusta Today: Hire a lawyer! It’s not because that Augusta Today is in any sort of legal trouble, but rather Rhodes contends that ultimately it will take legal action for the citizens activist group to get real action on their goals of government reform at the Marble Palace.
Augusta’s government is kind of like a meth addict. Their behavior is often highly inappropriate, but they don’t think they have a problem. They’ve been doing things this way for so long that to them it’s just the normal way of operating. In addiction psychology, that’s known as DENIAL. You can’t just politely ask them to change their ways. Sometimes there has to be an INTERVENTION. And that’s where the lawyers come in. So far, members of Augusta Today have been presenting the evidence of the bad deal the city got suckered into over the TEE Center and Parking deck hoping that commissioners would “see the light,” and change course. But over the course of the 13 weeks since we broke the ParkingGate scandal, there’s been very little action from the commission. In fact, some of them have even tried to marginalize members of Augusta Today as just grumpygadflies.
On December 20th, 2011 six commissioners did finally approve a forensic audit to examine any possible improprieties involved in land transactions involved in the TEE CenterParking Deck, but since then there has been no further action on the audit and now at least a couple of commissioners are trying to torpedo it. But members of Augusta Today press on, believing that in the end they will be vindicated because the facts are on their side.
Legal counsel could be helpful to the group though, and it is an idea that has been discussed before.. even at the very beginning of its formation..which evolved out of ACAVE. Citizen activists can make a lot of noise, get information out there before the public by getting the media involved; they can pack commission meetings, call commissioners, write letters and emails, send letters to the editors, request public records and even start their own political news blog! But in the end the decisions are in the hands of the elected officials, and in the case of Augusta, the politicians have been in denial for so long that they often just ignore the public they are supposed to serve.. no matter how valid their arguments are or how loudly they make them.
Enter the lawyers. Legal counsel has the power of the courts at their disposal to force the commission’s hand, just like a court can order a repeat drug offender into rehab. It’s called a Writ of mandamus. It’s when a court forces a lower court or government officer to perform a duty. In the case of ParkingGate, it could be forcing the commission to move forward with the forensic audit……they did vote to approve it after all. Awrit of mandamus could also possibly be used to force a public referendum on any new ballpark.. that some elected officials are doing their darndest to get around.
But some of you may say: “But Woody Merry and his group filed lawsuits against the city all of the time and that got no where.”
True. But Woody Merry would usually file a lawsuit about any and everything and he often didn’t have the evidence to back up his claims. That’s counterproductive and in the end just costs the taxpayers more in legal fees.
Augusta Today is different; they do their homework. They’ve done exhaustive research on the parking deck and TEE Center, as well as the Laney-Walker/Bethlehem redevelopment overlay, submitting open records requests for hundreds of pages of public records. And that doesn’t come cheap. Individual members have dug into their own pockets shelling out hundreds of dollars to get these records. Another appeal of retaining legal counsel would be that it would cover obtaining most of the necessary legal documents and public records to move forward on a particular project. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.
The upper echelon of Augusta Today tell City Stink that they are taking a serious look at Robert Mullins and his track record. But first the group has to raise the money. Austin Rhodes quickly pledged $100 to the effort on the air yesterday. Then former Augusta Commissioner Andy Cheek called in and pledged $100 of his own. Members of Augusta Today are telling us that work is being done now to file the right paperwork so that they can form a legal fund and begin taking donations and start the process of retaining an attorney.
Once that happens the group will add a donation button to their Facebook page. We will also add it to CityStink.net as well. Stay tuned.***
UPDATE: We just learned that the city’s procurement department has begun the process of issuing requests for proposals from forensic auditing firms.
Originally posted on Citystink
Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012
By Al Gray
It’s hard to be humble when you are a Georgia legislator. The Arrowflinger Al tackles the hot topic of Ethics in the Georgia Legislature – There aren’t any. So he decided to put his frustrations over Georgia Gold-Domers to song. See his video serenade below. You can see more Arrow Flinger videos at: www.agraynation.com
After Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson went down in flames of scandal and personal ruin in late 2009, in the early days of 2010 Arrowflinger Al went on a local talk radio program, the Austin Rhodes Show, on WGAC in Augusta, Georgia to endorse David Ralston as a “Reformer.”
That summer Ralston took a $17,000 European vacation courtesy of lobbyists. More recently he received $5,000 from Affordable Equity Partners of Missouri who plopped down a public housing development, Magnolia Trace, in the middle of a sedate part of Columbia County.
There is also the matter of Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols, also touted by the Arrowflinger on the Austin Rhodes Show as a “reformer.” Then he went about soliciting sporting event tickets on PSC letterhead!
Then some months ago, old Al confronted Representative Tom McCall about the lack of ethics at a Concerned Citizens of Lincoln County meeting and got blown off. The newspaper reporter failed to report what was a heated discussion.
This seemed to be an appropriate response.
If the good men and women of the Georgia General Assembly don’t do something and fast, they will be laughed out of the state and shunned at home.
The Arrowflinger has been let down by politicians more often than a practice dummy at funeral training school.
The original footage was shady and a mite crooked. That is PERFECT!