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

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.

Lincoln County Commission Gets a TSPLOST Blast

In June 2012, Georgia’s proposed Transportation Investment Act, called TSPLOST all over the state, was being debated before coming up on an election ballot.

The Lincoln County commissioners were drooling over the new tax money. They didn’t like this message.

The words of warning were played and replayed on Lincoln County’s cable television network which reaches nearly every household in the county.

The election was held and the people of Lincoln County turned TSPLOST down despite the support of the elected officials and the Chamber of Commerce.

Home rule died with the TSPLOST vote.

Al Gray Warns Rural County Leaders About ‘Shameful’ T-Splost

Originally posted on CityStink
Friday, June 22, 2012
Lincolnton, GA
ByAl 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.

Below is a presentation by tax activist Al Gray before the Lincoln County Commission on June 14, 2012, warning county leaders about the “shameful” T-SPLOST and its disastrous effects on the region, especially small rural counties like Lincoln, which can be easily outvoted and forced into this abominable regional government with little to no representation.
*Click Video to play (Fast forward to the 1:20 min mark for Mr Gray’s remarks)*

*Below is the text of Al Gray’s remarks to the Lincoln County Commission concerning T-SPLOST* (Graphs and charts referenced in the video are included below)
Chairman Johnson and Gentlemen of the Commission, thank you for allowing me to speak tonight. I have come to sound a warning about the proposed new 1% Transportation sales tax that comes before voters July 31st. Frankly, in all the years following public policy I have never seen anything this shameful.
The greater shame is on this county’s legislators – Bill Jackson, Lee Anderson, and Tom McCall for springing forth such an assault upon the people of this county. The bill that gave rise to this abomination was called the Transportation Investment Act. This bill set up a regional transportation roundtable for 13 counties, including Lincoln County. While it is true all had input, the law set up an executive committee of 5 to have the final vote for the 13 counties. They set it up so that Lincoln County is forced to be in this whole new level of regional government, whether we vote to pass or fail, so that our votes are diminished.
This is taxation without representation. Worst of all they committed EXTORTION against us all, by denying state funds if we say “No!” Beyond this, this is a 14.2% tax increase that they swore to never vote for. Nor were any options even offered, like dedicating the 1% to our county.
Yes the shame is upon them and tonight I come to ask you to stop embracing this nonsense lest you bring greater shame on yourselves and the Chamber of Commerce, a group that risks its reputation by hawking this tax.
Politicians and Chamber representatives have been going around the CSRA saying this tax will raise $841 million under a base case. This is a LIE and the Promoters’ own data shows that. Here is a chart showing the base case. It is built on wild income growth numbers – 8% next year – that are a fantasy. The real numbers knock holes in these projections!
*Click graphic below to enlarge*
Will we get only $650 million? Sales tax revenues are WAYYYYYYY down as the blue charts show over the last 5 years. Can we pretend our way back to prosperity?*Click graphic below to enlarge*
Gentlemen YOU HAVE BEEN HOODWINKED!!!!!!! What these real revenue numbers show is that area wide, revenues will probably only cover $500 million to $540 million of the investment list projects! This will mean that the ones in the last years of this deal won’t be funded. Incredibly $6.6 million of the $7.7 million of Lincoln’s projects are to be built in these final years.

*Click graphic below to enlarge*

 Source: Constrained List Spreadsheet from CSRA Regional Commission
The numbers say these projects will lack funding. You have been deceived and now are being asked to foist this deception upon the people of Lincoln County.
Beyond that, this is a terrible 14.2% increase in the sales tax. Frugal folks just cannot stand such an increase in any cost, for a 14.2% increase doubles living costs in 5 years. For this? This comes on top of a 23% sewer rate increase and several double-digit school tax increases. Look around! Who can afford that?
These deceivers have managed you get some of you excited over Lincoln County getting $722,000 a year in new discretionary funds. Well, based upon the data above this looks to be far less. This money is only coming to us because this scam makes Richmond and Columbia counties give up $7 million to bribe us into this wicked partnership with them. How is that right? A 1% new tax dedicated to Lincoln County would raise more revenue. Why are you excited about the same money or less with strings attached? Why are you willing to destroy your credibility for this?
Gov. Sonny Perdue said that DOT committed ENRON ACCOUNTING when it lost control of highway funds 4 years ago. Now they are all excited about getting their hands on this money. They want us to bail them out.
Mark Twain once said there were three kinds of lies….Lies….Damned lies and statistics……..now we can add a fourth lie – Tsplost.
My warning is this. Don’t go forth using these phony numbers after tonight. You know better and the people now know better.
Just vote no on T-splost. It is the only honorable thing to do.
A.G.
Join the Anti-T-SPLOST movement on facebook here–>  Vote NO to T-SPLOST