After Lee Anderson Blew Off Clark Howard….

By The Arrowflinger

In 2010 Georgia House District 117 Representative Lee Anderson was getting calls from constituents with concerns about the upcoming House vote on Senate Bill 31, the infamous law that delighted more than seventy  Southern Company  lobbyists by giving the company’s Georgia Power Company over $1 billion in advance profits and a guaranteed 11% return on nuclear plant Units 3 and 4 at the Vogtle generating complex near Waynesboro. Famous consumer advocate Clark Howard begged Lee and the rest of the legislators to vote no and he did so repeatedly.


Seventy Lobbyists? With Lee it was the 71st lobbyist, his Southern Company-employed daughter, who mattered more than the folks back home.

Anderson of the 117th voted AYE.

These days Lee is campaigning for the vacated Georgia Senate District 24 seat waving his phone promising voters that he will answer the phone and call them back. He isn’t saying when. He called this constituent after his vote for SB 31.

Now where are we? Unit 3 was to have begun operation last month, but recent updates have the unit only 26% complete with a $900 Million Cost Overrun to be paid by ratepayers when Georgia Power gets its way after the May elections.

Contractors have been paid out to the 60% completion level, despite the unit being only 26% complete. This is the tight construction cost control the 70 lobbyists touted?

Clark Howard was right, but Lee Anderson’s 71st lobbyist home economics were the sizzle in the bacon for House District 117 residents, who got $109 a year higher invoices.

He isn’t much good at writing bills but is wonderful at raising them.

After Lee Anderson blew off Clark Howard, how are you going to pay your power bill and what is that hay farmer going to toss in next?

Columbia County Tax Dollars Fuel a Banker’s Bonus???

You just have to laugh when the politicians in two urban counties down the road resort to hiding videos, switching meeting times, and cutting debate time in half to thwart an old busybody and his gang of reformers. Their latest trick play came between Tuesday May 6 and Thursday May 15, 2014 down in Evans. Columbia County has a pledge to post its commission meeting video within 48 hours of its Tuesday meetings, but it took 9 days for this one to see daylight.

Agraynation.com has been in the habit of bringing videographers to ensure that a video record is secured, but in a previous Columbia County meeting Chairman Ron Cross admonished that having video shot was unnecessary because the county provides it with so reliably. Not this time. This speaker had a most unpleasant message and an even tougher question but obviously had no prepared text to post later. Rather than let the explosive video and information out, the administration sat on it.

Metro Spirit reporter Eric Johnson observed and wrote a wonderful piece on the Commissioner Ron Thigpen bonus presentation titled “Collateral Damage.” The title was pure brilliance, because the collateral damage from the Columbia County banking scandal will range far, wide and deep.

Johnson implied that the talk was long-winded, overlooking that it was 8 minutes before a body that allowed 10 minutes until this campaign season began. He was also puzzled. The key exhibits were not shown to the public, because their sensitive nature commanded the decency to allow the Rons, Thigpen and Cross, to respond to the deep concern of this old supporter and friend.

To summarize, the county entered into a mass banking agreement with the Ron’s bank in 2010 after a series of recusals, mystery documents, a vote to allow 2 commissioners to even vote on it, and more irregularity than comes after a trip to a filthy restaurant. About the same time Ron Thigpen, who is President of the bank, got a new bonus that looks to have doubled because of the massive Columbia County money deposited in his bank.

Thigpen Bonus 2010 Change

The media around these parts whines that just about any issue involving money is too complex. This one isn’t. It is third grade math. If you have 1 over 2 (1/2), you double the result if you subtract 1 from the bottom number. That is how Ron Thigpen’s bonus was set up. After Columbia County’s $1 (hundred million) is applied at December 31st of that year, the equity denominator falls to $1(hundred million) from $2(hundred million). Sources of the county monies are an open records response and the bank equity figures are from the FDIC.

When all factors are taken into account, it would appear that the $22,000 cash bonus paid to Thigpen was 2.2 times higher than it would have been without the county deal.

Thigpen Bonus Received 2010

Last week Ron Thigpen was overheard in an ad for Chairman Cross’ reelection saying how “comfortable’ he was with Ron Cross.

We all can be comfortable along with him that fellow bank stockholder Cross did the right thing to enhance their wealth.

Collateral Damage, Mr. Johnson? That was very, very well done! Next up Cat Burglars and Cat bankers – the $12 million heist.

This is Arrowflinger Al reporting on a cloudy day from points west. Stick around for the missing video.

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

Rick, You Forgot to Call

In 2012 when you made a run for the Republican nomination for the 12th Congressional seat, the radio talker Austin Rhodes immediately attacked you for a long-ago donation to the infamous Champ Walker, a Democrat. I called in that day to defend you, recalling your teen years as a Republican.

Then Brad Owens of the Augusta Today group wrote a City Stink piece questioning added overhead charges on RW Allen LLC’s partial bill to Augusta for the Tee Center y’all were building. The contract said those costs were capped. You were incensed and maybe with justification because it wasn’t the final bill.

You and I had a lot of discussions during the 2012 primary season, but there is one worthy of recounting. We reminisced about our frequent childhood gatherings at Uncle Land and Aunt Carols’. I told you that, despite having created constructionaudits.com, I stayed out of Augusta because RW Allen had such a presence there that your company was unavoidable. A warning was that RWA operated in a cloistered environment of Augusta for decades, building complacency. Rising to executive status as you did meant not really knowing what was in the contracts RWA signed, but those would become campaign issues. We talked about the one Augusta project that my firm did at Reid Church, where RWA was contractor, doing an admirable job under tough circumstances. Finally, we got to how the epidemic of financial corruption decimating my retirement savings forced me to use Augusta as a lab to see if the old skills were still good enough to produce.

After 2 years of stunning results, that question has been answered.

Before that call concluded, this was said and is still meant. You are a very fine man, Rick Allen, and America and Georgia need fine men to step forward. There was an offer to work with you to develop positions that the people truly need, not the old tired Republican Party rhetoric. Finally there was an offer to prepare you for greater things -a run for the US Senate.

The words of warning remain the same. You have long alliances with people in whom you trust, but the people don’t. There is a record of commitments in those RWA contracts that you are oblivious to, but the two Johns, Stone and Barrow, won’t be. You have major contributors with interests in the Augusta Tee Center scam that the Augusta Chronicle can’t hide much longer. You are tied to banking in a state that was and is the epicenter of global bank fraud decimating responsible people. Perhaps the entire 12th is reluctant to yield representation and their children’s futures to the Augusta bluebloods, perhaps the most aggressively greedy plutocrats on earth
.
My promise was to help you understand and rectify those things. We last talked just before the Tee Center budget meeting in February of last year. You said the political future was undecided. You were going to call before launching another run at the 12th. That call never came.

Good luck Rick. You are going to need it.

Enron Accounting Revisits DOT

On February 5 of this year the time of the groundbreaking for the Riverwatch Parkway Extension Project, WAGT TV26, WJBF Channel 6, and the Columbia County News-Times all incorrectly reported that the $34 million project was being funded wholly out of TIA-2010 funds, also known as TSPLOST.

The TIA funds for the project came out of the 75% funding level list approved by voters within the Constrained Projects List. There is a project cost estimate found in the details. That paints a truthful picture. Nearly $11 million for the project is reserved out of DOT highway and fuel taxes and there is a $3.3 million cost overrun already, leaving $20 million in TSPLOST funding.

You know there is something screwy when that many news outlets get it wrong and are all using the same number.

Well it didn’t take long to find the source. It was DOT, who came into the TSPLOST debate tarnished and smarting from Governor Sonny Perdue accusing them of “Enron Accounting,” but seems back to their bad habits by putting out a webpage showing TIA spending that looks to be TIA, alright – Totally In-Accurate. A Lincoln County project is only $1 million of TIA funding, but DOT listed it as $4 million. Wrightsboro Road in Augusta is shown as $19 million TIA funding, but it is only $2 million.

If DOT wants to reestablish its credibility after its flirtation with Enron Accounting they sure have a funny way of showing it.

How they are going to fund the huge cost increases with revenues collected so woefully low would make an Enron Accountant strain.

The Bounty Trace to Magnolia Trace

Originally posted on CityStink
Friday, September 21, 2012
Evans, GA
By Al Gray
The author, Al M. Gray is 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.
The fury in and surrounding the Columbia County Commission Chambers on December 6, 2011 sizzled and seethed. Citizens packed the room and the overflow could have surrounded the building. An incongruous and unwelcome subsidized housing development, to be known as Magnolia Trace, was coming to their midst. The county commission had invited the intruder in. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA)was funding it. The only notice had been the real estate closing and starting of the building permit process. Revelations that the project’s limited partner, Affordable Equity Partners(AEP) of Columbia, Missouri, had – through subsidiaries, related entities, and PAC’s – liberally provided campaign donations to Georgia’s governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the house and local state legislators added to the combustible mix. Capping it off later was the discovery that the county attorney also had worn the hat of closing attorney for the developers.
Inside, the commission chairman, three commissioners, and that county attorney were stoic, but their white faces and knuckles spoke fear.  Their position was one of relative comfort juxtaposed to the District Three commissioner, a man inopportunely appointed to the offending Department of Community Affairs board (albeit after DCA had approved the tax credit funding to AEP) and who had voted for the county’s resolution to endorse the project. His business had been picketed, his phone ceaselessly chattered, a local talk radio show with 60,000 listeners was hostile, and real pressure was on. He was beet red and seemed to be near break down.
An epic meeting ensued that concluded an hour and a half later with the commission engaging an outside attorney charged with seeing whether there were avenues to void the deal.  It was a fig leaf and seen that way. The project was too carefully planned and orchestrated for citizens to have a realistic chance of canceling it. After all, Affordable Equity Partners boasts of its long history of doing tax credit projects in multiple states and its role in encouraging states to provide the tax credits.  From the company website: “By forging strong relationships with key government entities, AEP ensures a secure and favorable investment environment for our investor partners.”
Who Done It?
The first stage in the development and investment process for a Low Income Housing Tax Credit project is said by AEP to be this: “A developer of an affordable property will admit AEP as its limited partner..” This portrays the circumstance of a group of local property developers gaining control of land, then engaging the AEP companies to structure the deal as a LIHTC financing. Who are the principals behind Magnolia Trace? They are hidden by the LLP structure, so that remains a mystery.
The birth pangs for this project came when an AEP entity named Peach Way Holdings LLC obtained an option on March 24, 2010 to purchase the land. Later the option would be exercised by Magnolia Trace LLP. Immediately the process began to submit an application to DCA for tax credits used to finance the project. Peach Way Holdings was the first entity publicly involved out of an AEP interconnected stable of companies who are very adept at carving out a lucrative niche.
Extraordinarily High Costs Meet a Stunning Reversal
The Magnolia Trace project was so astonishingly lucrative that the DCA staff initially refused to approve the application on December 14, 2010 (click link to view document) based on that fact and a host of other financial criteria. “Total development costs for this project are over $10 million dollars which translates into almost $141.24 (author used round numbers) per square foot. A similar project had total development costs of only $7,561,982. This translates to almost $2.5 million more of total development costs.”, DCA wrote. Despite having slammed the numbers as entirely too high and the applicant being barred from updating or modifying anything upon appeal, DCA  approved the credits for MagnoliaTrace in a letter dated March 14, 2011 (click link to view approval document) .Incredibly the approval notification letter has a DCA documents date stamp of January 7, 2011, 66 days before the document was dated!
A need to call upon AEP’s “strong relationships” within government to gain approval before December 31, 2010 lay in the expiration of a key contract with Peach Way Financial Services. The vaunted “genuine advocacy for both developers and investors” worked wonders to speed approval, evidenced by what looks like an obvious post dating episode, over a period interrupted by Christmas and New Years.
Who might Magnolia Trace LLP/Affordable Equity Partners have called upon for help in this time of emergency? Lt. Governor Casey Cagle’s campaign got $882.50 from AEP going back to 2008. Sister company Capital Health Management Inc. gave Cagle another $10, 453.50.Capital Health Management in October 2006 had given $40,000 out of the $40,500 total of The Fund for Georgia’s Future (Filer # NC2006000414 ) who gave Cagle another $10,000 that same month. Capital Health Management in 2008 gave a whopping $100,000 to The Fund for Georgia’s Future, who dispersed it to a raft of legislators. and the Republican Party.
Capital Health had also given the campaigns of Speaker David Ralston $5,000, Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers $5,500 and Nathan Deal $6,300. Another PAC that AEP contributes to, albeit not as the dominant contributor, is the Committee for Affordable Workforce Housing (GAHC-PAC – Filer NC2008000070). This PAC gave another $6,100 to the Deal campaign in September 2010, $1000 to Ralston in December 2010, $5,973 for Deal in December 2011,  and $3,000 for Cagle in March, 2012.
Nearly $200,000 in campaign funds wins friends. In this case did it reverse a project rejection and move a date?
Magnolia Trace under construction
 A Masked Partner?
The DCA application process requires disclosure of all related and controlled entities. Peach Way Financial Services, LLC , the Development Consultant, seems to fall within this category, as William A. Markel, Executive Vice President of AEP, is listed as Peach Way’s Agent for its business registration with the Georgia Secretary of State with the listed mailing address in Missouri coinciding with AEP’s office address. However, in the tax credit application filed with DCA, Peach Way Financial, the project Developer Consultant, was listed with an Atlanta address and was reported to  “not have an identity of interest with any other entity in this chart.”  *(Click here to view Magnolia Trace parties document). It is noted that the “identity of interest” question applied to each and every entity in the chart.
A side note is that Peach Way Financial Services, LLC  is shown to have filed its business registration with the Secretary of State for 2011, when the application process remained in play, but is reported to be in a state of noncompliance for 2012. According to its contract, Peach Way Financial Services gets fee payments in 2012 from Magnolia Trace.
“Inefficient financial structure”
Before Magnolia Trace LLP’s sudden change in fortune, DCA had written this about the project: “….the financial structure is not an effective or efficient use of DCA resources.” What might be the reason that the “financial structure is not an effective use…?” Could it be that multiple layers of AEP affiliated companies produced the $2.5 million more in costs cited by DCA?
Arguably the largest money tree in the AEP stable is that the tax credit financing process allows “AEP’s ability to insert an experienced affiliate into every step of the tax credit process provides added security to AEP’s investors.” With Magnolia Trace, Peach Way Holdings secured the land option. Magnolia Trace LLP became the owner.  MACO Development Company, LLC is the Developer. AEP itself is the State and Federal Limited Partner. MACO Properties, LLC is the Managing Partner. Peach Way Financial Services LLC is the Development consultant. Fairway Construction Co. Inc. is the General Contractor. Fairway Management is the management company. All are related and most stood to gain fees, directly or indirectly.
How much  of the $2.5 million excess cost that DCA objected to might be found in having so many AEP companies involved? The land acquisition and construction ‘costs’ totaled $6,986,826, or a whopping $100 per square foot. The total development  ‘costs’ of $10,152,634 were $145.45 per square foot. Of the roughly $3.2 million difference, fees, overhead, and profit of the AEP stable of companies were about $2.1 million, or 66%.
A Lot More than A Trace of Money
Once a subdivision is complete, the AEP companies begin to draw management fees from leasing operations. Magnolia Trace will join 17 previous AEP company developments in Georgia. Projected management fees to be generated from the Martinez complex are estimated at $1,160,885.
The approved tax credits were $1,065,849. If the DCA’s figures and objections ifrom December 2010 are correct, the excess of tax credits over the norms would be about 25% or more than $250,000.
Magical Words to an Auditor’s Ears
The application contained the language “Certification of Actual Cost” and the authorizing provisions in Chapter 42 of the tax code preserve the rights and capabilities of audit before the tax credits are issued. This could prove providential in protecting state and federal tax revenues, as there are new homes for sale in similar neighborhoods for sales prices in the low $70’s per square foot. Upon audit can the $145 per square foot price supplied by the AEP companies be sustained?
The larger question is whether anyone will ever be allowed to audit this transaction.
Summary

 

Citizens of suburban, Republican Martinez, Georgia got an unwelcome subsidized housing project courtesy of unknown developers. If there is solace in this story it is that Martinez county commissioner Trey Allen got the Department of Community Affairs to reform its policy so that future locales will be notified beforehand of low income projects. The politicians got nearly $200,000 of campaign donations. The AEP stable of companies look to have secured a backdated approval of a project that DCA deemed excessive on the way to winning more than $1.5 million in development fees, $1.1 million in tax credits, and $1.1 million in management fees. Along the way, one entity looks to have been undisclosed as a related party and has fallen into noncompliance with Georgia’s business registration unit.
The identities of the parties who launched this controversial project will be hidden behind opaque partnership structures, while a cash-strapped state government sees its revenues drained, not only by very lucrative tax give-aways, but also by layered on costs that the state agency found to be excessive.
Can this really be government by and for the people?***
Al Gray

11th Hour for the 12th District

GOP About to be Reformed, One Way or Another
Originally posted by CityStink
Tuesday,August 21, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray
The author, Al M. Gray is 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.
 
A perfect storm has struck the ossified, corrupt political power structure in Augusta, the CSRA, and Georgia. The first harbinger of the maelstrom emerged a year ago when Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver attempted to bring a publicly funded baseball stadium to the riverfront, prompting the formation of a loose coalition of Augustans, area residents, and former citizens.  This is Augusta Today.
The opening pitch for that stadium by Mayor Deke was in the dirt.
Then came the Laney Walker Overlay debacle, where the Mayor was eager to run all over city ordinances and the constitutional property rights of the poorest people to get on the cover of Southern Living.
After that has been a blizzard of revelations, sourced in the city’s own documents, that shows a pattern of deception, mismanagement, incompetence, and probably rampant fraud centered in Augusta’s contracts.
Then along came TSPLOST, supposedly a regional collaboration, which instead has blown the CSRA apart and separated it from the 75% of the state that rejected the tax.
Augusta is a renegade government that endangers its citizens. In the parlance of former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, this is a known known. Things will never be the same again in Augusta and beyond.
The Republican Party in the 12th Congressional District of Georgia is in the midst of reform, too.
This spring the Liberty Movement seized control of the Richmond County GOP convention. They nearly did it at the district convention.
The Columbia County GOP is in pure turmoil from years of shenanigans, deposed chairmen, party establishment ruin, and is totally irrelevant.
A core cadre of GOP legislators named Barbara Sims, Ben Harbin, Lee Anderson, Bill Jackson, and Tom McCall joined together behind beleaguered Nathan Deal to foist TSPLOST, the largest tax increase in Georgia history, on the voters.  The GOP havens Columbia County and Lincoln County rejected them and it.
This same cadre of GOP legislators is wrapped all up in the ASU name change to GRU fiasco. Deal’s Board of Regents Chairman Ben Tarbutton has contributed to Lee Anderson’s congressional campaign and Sims has been supportive of the detested Georgia Regents University name.
John Barrow, the last blue dog Democrat in the South, looms with a war chest that will probably exceed $2 million. Barrow has shown a streak of independence from the Obama Administration and his voting record in terms of fiscal conservatism is on a par with GOP Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan. His office has rock solid constituent service.
Reform is about to be visited upon the GOP.  The party establishment hates it, but now knows it stands before an avalanche of public revulsion, anger, and determination.  TSPLOST is about to be stopped cold. CSRA politicos will find themselves in a totally untenable position if they don’t reverse course and join this action.
With respect to the 12th district race, the path to reform is either going to be aboard a bullet train or it is going to occur on an even greater scale over 2 years. The former will come with a Rick Allen victory. The later will come with a Lee Anderson victory.
Some might see Allen’s alliances with the mavens of Morris Communications, the Augusta blueblood elites, the Copenhaver-Russell administration, and his own ties to the party establishment all the way to Washington, DC as diametrically opposed to reform. It won’t work that way. Precisely because of those alliances and the many contracts that his business has had with government, Rick Allen will have absolutely no choice but to embrace openness and reform. There simply will be no way to dodge questions. Instead of reform activists having to laboriously go through open records requests, questions will have to be quickly answered and issues resolved. The key to taking Augusta from worst to first lies in its contracting. Rick Allen knows this. Rick Allen will bring the reformers to the table because John Barrow will force him to.
Beyond the things that will force the issue, there is the knowledge that Rick Allen has the intelligence, openness, curiosity, financial background and moral code to bring back the rule of law, the Constitution, and fiscal responsibility to government. He knows the score with far better acumen than most. He knows that the people who send him to Washington won’t be those connected folks.
It was said that only Nixon could have gone to China. Maybe only Allen can visit reform on Augusta.
Reform will come in slower, broader, plainer, and yet more spectacular style if Lee Anderson is the GOP nominee. Then the party will be pinned hopelessly to a candidate with a record hostile to the hurting, threatened, middle class. Barrow will pounce all over it. Anderson went along to get along in the most unethical state government in America. He has pushed sales taxes on groceries, both with the ridiculous GREAT “tax reform” of the disgraced Georgia Speaker Glenn Richardson and with TSPLOST. Anderson’s TSPLOST did away with home rule, subverting Columbia Countians votes to those of welfare statists in neighboring Augusta.. His subservience to Nathan Deal brings its own baggage. Then, there is the matter of his willingness to read and comprehend legislation.  It just isn’t there. Neither is there substantial debating skill.
Lee is relying on four things to sweep him into office after Tuesday, while he disappears into a cocoon of silence.
  1. One is Obamaphobia.
  2. Two is the promise of $950,000 of Republican Congressional Campaign Committee funds to unseat John Barrow.
  3. Three is that voters uninformed of his record are drawn to vote for “the nice man with the tractor.”
  4. Four is that folks don’t notice that the discredited Georgia establishment is behind him.
It might happen. Obamaphobia very well may mean an Anderson seat in Congress. That would be the sum of all fears for the GOP. It would mean that the party openly supported a known-to-be flawed candidate into the US House of Representatives, one who might deliver more embarrassment and bad policy than a John Deere tractor can haul.
Reform now, GOP. You can pay a nominal price now or a capitol one later.
Tractor pulls are dangerous.***
Al Gray

Furor Over University Name a Gift for Lee Anderson?

Originally posted on CityStink
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Augusta, GA
By The Outsider
Al M. Gray, President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc. contributed multidisciplinary review techniques in support of this article.
With the local outrage over the new name for the new merged university dominating the front page of the daily paper, the evening news, and the talk radio shows, you’d almost have forgotten that there is a run-off in a week for the Georgia 12th congressional district GOP race.
Lee Anderson, who is now in a runoff with Augusta construction contractor Rick Allen for the 12th district GOP nomination,  ought to send Dr. Ricardo Azziz and the Georgia Board of Regents bouquets of flowers.
The furor over the university name change has successfully diverted local attention away from Anderson’s voting record in the state legislature and most importantly his support of T-SPLOST. There was a noticeable backlash against Anderson in his home base of Columbia County in the immediate aftermath of the T-SPLOST vote on July 31st. Despite failing in 75% of the regions throughout Georgia and being soundly rejected by more than 58% of voters in Columbia County, the tax still passed in the CSRA region, largely because of the voters in neighboring Richmond County. That means that Columbia County residents will still be forced into this new tax region despite voting against it.
We heard reports in the days following the T-SPLOST vote that some Lee Anderson signs were being taken down from yards across  Columbia County in protest of his support for the tax and  voting for it in the Georgia General Assembly. But T-SPLOST was not the only tax Anderson supported in the legislature that is disproportionately hitting middle and lower income residents. He also voted in favor of a $500 million hospital bed tax and Georgia Power’s advance billing of $1 billion in profits, hidden as “construction costs,” which lead to double digit rate increases for the average  customer. Voters in Columbia County were finally starting to pay attention to Anderson’s anti middle class voting record, and this presented an opening for Rick Allen in the run-off.
And then came the announcement from the Georgia Board of Regents last week that the name for the new consolidated university in Augusta would be named Georgia Regents University. All Hell broke loose. It’s been dominating the headlines for the entire week and there is no sign that the outrage will die down any time soon. William S Morris III even had a self-penned letter on Sunday’s front page of his Augusta Chronicle newspaper where he announced his resignation from the  board of GHSU over the name flap. Articles on the name controversy on The  Chronicle website have been getting by far the most comments, and callers to local radio talk shows have also been fixated on the name change.  More protests are planned for this week. We’ve noticed here that web searches for the congressional race and T-SPLOST have fallen off considerably in the last week. All of the interest seems to be on the name for the new university.
The timing could not be worse for Rick Allen. A recount request by Wright McLeod last week that yielded one vote had  delayed the inevitable show-down between Anderson and Allen. And during the uncertainty of the recount,  the announcement of the new name of the university came out, and got everyone talking.. Any momentum that Allen could have capitalized on over T-SPLOST seemed to be slipping away with the clock counting down to August 21.
To win the run-off next week, Allen will have to win Columbia County. The furor over T-SPLOST and tying Lee Anderson to it looked like it would be the winning strategy that could deliver victory to Allen. But now the furor has shifted to something else… the name of the new university. Will there still be enough outrage over T-SPLOST in Columbia County next Tuesday to sway the run-off election in Allen’s favor? That remains to be seen.
Allen is already handicapped by a depressed GOP voter turnout in Richmond County because of the Sheriff’s race. All of those republican cross-overs who took a democratic ballot in order to vote for Scott Peebles are not allowed to cross back over to vote in the congressional run-off on August 21st. Anderson did rather poorly in Richmond County in the July 31st general primary, in fact it was his worst showing in all of the counties in the 12th district. Allen could have been able to win Richmond County by a big margin and run up the vote tally and offset Anderson’s advantage in the rural southern counties next Tuesday, but because of the depressed turnout, Allen’s advantage in Richmond County will be negated and thus the largest county in the district will end up having a negligible impact on the race. That means Columbia County will decide this.
If Rick Allen can win Columbia County by the same margin as it rejected T-SPLOST, he will be the candidate facing John Barrow this fall instead of Lee Anderson. But for this to happen, Allen will have to position himself back to his Columbia County roots and distance himself from the political elites in Augusta-Richmond County, who have for the most part forsaken him anyway for the Sheriff’s race and have become more of a political liability. If Allen has any chance for a victory against Anderson, it will be found in Columbia County.
Linking Anderson to the unpopular T-SPLOST appears to be the winning strategy to take Columbia County. The key is to make sure the voters are still as outraged over T-SPLOST next Tuesday as they were a week and a half ago. One way this could be accomplished is to link the red hot outrage over the university name change to the outrage over T-SPLOST. They both have one common denominator: an overbearing state political body out of touch with the wishes of locals.
T-SPLOST failed in Columbia County, but  the Georgia General Assembly engineered the bill in such a way, that their wishes could be outvoted by people in other counties.. and that is exactly what happened. The legislature also sought fit to penalize regions that voted against the tax by withholding a large portion of state transportation matching funds. The voters were not really being given a real choice by the politicians under the Gold Dome in Atlanta. T-SPLOST was more like an act of extortion: vote for it — or else.
Lee Anderson was one of the state legislators who voted in favor of this flawed bill that took local control away from individual counties and gave it to a new regional government. Similarly, the wishes of many local residents and leaders were outvoted by another state body known as the Georgia Board of Regents when it came to naming the new consolidated university in Augusta. The case could be made that an overbearing state government  gave us the hideously flawed T-SPLOST and the extremely unpopular name for the new university abbreviated as GRU. Some can say that  T-SPLOST and the new university name are GRUesome, and Rick Allen would be wise to make that argument and continue to link Lee Anderson to the overbearing and out of touch state government  that gave us both.***
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