Austin Rhodes’ Wag the Dog Strategy on Pam Tucker

Opinion by The Arrowflinger

When things got too hot for Bill and Hillary Clinton with the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1998, they trotted out a time-tested diversion – attack a defenseless made-up “Enemy” to divert public attention away from them! It was a classic Wag the Dog effort with one bombing made on a Sudanese aspirin factory.

As Election season 2018 neared, Augusta Radio Talk Show Host Austin Rhodes needed to Wag the Dog too. With a father in Law, later mother in law, who foisted a financially ruinous school bond in Lincoln County to fund a oversized new high school built under one of those nefarious Guaranteed Maximum Price Contracts by R.W. Allen approaching property tax revolt proportions, Rhodes must have fretted it would come up. Beyond that, with a daughter employed by Congressman Rick Allen and a Brother-in-Law county Engineering Director, with an amusing history of political gamesmanship himself, in the mix of an upcoming hot Columbia County Chairman’s race, Austin Rhodes picked an old opponent, former Columbia County Georgia House candidate Joe Mullins, to be his Wag the Dog victim of the hour, minute, week and month. Rhodes went out incessantly for weeks tearing into Mullin’s personal life, intruding into a Florida political race Mullins had entered, and basically acting crazy in doing it.

He had to do something to occupy dead air and too many issues could hit on Friends and Family, while he awaited in the grass to ambush Pam Tucker’s race for the Columbia County Chairmanship while heaping glory on the Establishment’s choice, first District Commissioner Doug Duncan.

The Columbia County Banking scandal is a NATIONAL STORY because the bank involved was the flagship bank of the American Banking Association (ABA). Another bank, the winning bank and an ABA member itself, got tricked out of getting the business. There was an obvious coverup and when it was challenged on the air by yours truly in 2014, the Bank ran a whole slew of ads braying “Doing the RIGHT THING!” Austin and his employer Beasley Broadcast Group must have made a fortune! Just Friday afternoon, Austin Rhodes started his attack on your old arrowflinger in an epic call in, that many wish he would replay.

Says here he doesn’t have the guts.

Remember this term out of the Arrowflinger School of Political Theory – DODI. If you are Friends and Family of Austin Rhodes, you get a do over. If you are not, you get DONE IN.

All of Austin’s politically active, public figure relatives mentioned above are public figures with accessible records. Austin draws financial benefit and security in ways that can, and will, be shown. Over here is an old construction auditor who has heard every insult invented with a thick hide and quiver full of ideas. Meanwhile, Rhodes attacks aimed this way can, and will redirect to impact his cronies tenfold.

And for the cronies feeding money and rhetorical “ammunition” for Austin to sling, be very, very careful. What you think is an “Gotcha Al!” might ricochet into a “Aiieee…that HURT!…..Somebody make it STOP!”

This ain’t an illusion. It is the key to many vaults and even more laughs. It is time to laugh and worry about money later.

Carry on.

Columbia County B.Y.O.B. Finances

OPINION by The Arrowflinger

What you are about to hear in this poor quality audio recording is the last three minutes of The Austin Rhodes Show of Friday, May 18, 2018. Your arrowflinging protector shook things up, more than a little, one might think.

When GB&T bank board members Rick Allen and James G. Blanchard were mentioned in the present tense, it was in the context of a meeting with law enforcement several years ago, before the bank merged with South State Bank and that Board of Directors was disbanded. Also, neither was a voting member of the Board with management oversight.

As to former Columbia County Commissioner Scott Dean, who was the acting chairman of the county finance committee, he actually did not object AT THE AWARD MEETING, but just listen to what he said in making the astounding motion to let Ron Cross and Charlie Allen vote!

Dean’s conviction was on charges unrelated to this banking vote. Judge Blanchard being the judge who put him in prison and would not grant a retrial despite recanted testimony is more a demonstration of how weird events get twisted in Columbia County. The Arrowflinger tried to get Judge Blanchard, a former family business partner, to discuss this ugly banking matter back in 2014, but somehow we had trouble connecting. There is more there, perhaps, for a later date.

With respect to Edward J. Tarver, he was a member of the GB&T Audit Committee in 2008 and 2009, before becoming the US Attorney on December 17, 2009. Tarver had audit responsibility for the 2008 Financial Statements, which later became the basis for the Columbia County bank selection in April 2010. About a month before his nomination, The United States Securities and Exchange Commission sent the GB&T Chief Financial Officer Darrell Raines a letter expressing questions, possibly requiring a restatement of those 2008 financials.

Imagine that! A sitting US Attorney’s immediately preceding bank Audit Committee work was questioned by the SEC! None of this seems to have dawned on Columbia County Finance. Or did they know? Or did one of them know?

As for Rick Allen, perhaps he can confer with his cousins who owned 40% of GB&T and his brother, the GB&T shareholder who delivered the bank a timely $100 million cash infusion and draft a banking bill like he wrote about in the Augusta Chronicle last year. We have the perfect title. We can call it the Rick Allen B.Y.O.B bill…..BAIL OUT YOUR OWN BANK bill.

-AF

 

The Boardroom Trail to the Talisman

OPINION BY The Arrowflinger

Talisman – an object held to act as a charm to avert evil and bring good fortune.

The revelation to the American public that its establishment media is biased, lazy, and protective of their turf surely by now must extend to the Augusta contingent of “recognized” media. After all, activists brandishing Georgia Open Records Requests and publishing their own stories reinforced by documents offering obvious proof got too big to ignore between 2011 and 2013.

By 2014, you might think their “professional” inquisitiveness would have taken hold, but the Metro Spirit took resolute opposition to perceived competition to extremes. When the reformers started investigating the Reynolds Street Parking Deck boondoggle the Metro Spirit cover was one of black helicopters over the deck. Somehow, they later were acknowledging the discovery of liens on the property under the parking deck as common news. There is no way they would admit that the City Stink blog systematically awoke Augusta to such a ridiculous circumstance without THEM! The exception was Metro Spirit Writer and radio talk show host Austin Rhodes occasionally would provide some coverage to the alternative media, most recently with the absurd Tractorgate Scandal that saw Augusta men and Equipment secreted three counties away for work on private property of an ex-Augusta contractor.

The Columbia County Commission meeting of May 6, 2014 was covered by Spirit reporter Eric Johnson, who promptly disregarded the directly presented challenge to then Finance Committee Chairman Ron Thigpen’s bonus with Georgia Bank and Trust. That bank was awarded a highly irregular mass banking deal with the county, with Thigpen recusing himself from the commission vote.

Instead Johnson decided to interject his own bias and implied that the real subject was instead Chairman Ron Cross, then up for reelection. The acknowledgement of all of our enhanced “time and attention on this stuff” was very true, however. He even got handed key documents in the hope that he would pick up on the story. No way Jose.

Collateral Metro Bank

Astounding. Georgia was number one in mortgage fraud in the USA for 5 years from 2000 to 2004, leading to a tsunami of bank failures in 2008 through 2010, losing 1/5 of the state’s banks, yet NOBODY can come to suspect any alligators in their local banking swamp. The “media” ad sales blindfold “reporters.” “Their” advertisers cannot be corrupt because they pay the media’s way.

What the Spirit’s Johnson blew off was a chance to investigate how Columbia County’s cash infusion into his bank may have boosted Thigpen’s bank bonus. Had he pursued it he might have found the Talisman. From there an epic of financial gamesmanship might have been his prize!

In this burgeoning saga, the Talisman is a man, recently the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, Mr. Edward J. Tarver. When the bank executive compensation contracts were changed for 2008 and 2009, before his appointment as US Attorney, Tarver sat on Georgia Bank and Trust’s Audit Committee. (Page 23)

For the bank, Tarver had to do absolutely nothing to ward off scrutiny from investigators. All he had to do was sit in his office. Mr. Tarver is a fine man by all accounts and is respected but the simple fact is that he could be a cross between Nelson Mandela and Billy Graham and be the Talisman. Common sense says that one look at documents signed by Tarver or approved by his bank audit committee would make federal agents turn away. That is just how things are in the real world.

He wasn’t the only well-positioned protector of the bank, either. Someone in Authority upon seeing this picture of the Bank Board in 2007, the year before the financial world came unraveled might have whistled and exclaimed with eyes as large as saucers, “these are the most powerful people in Augusta!”

The story almost sounds straight out of Washington DC and the recent news bombshells over the conflicts between the FBI and Department of Justice up there.

In Columbia County’s banking controversy, the bankers are off enjoying their stock sale proceeds but the county finance department and the finance committee of the County Commission will now have to explain why they have been incompetent, or far worse.

May be no Talisman for District One Commissioner Doug Duncan, who is running for the Chairmanship of the Columbia County Commission with the backing of those same bankers. He had the chance to investigate 3 years ago, shortly after taking his seat, but dropped the ball. Former GB&T Chairman Robert Pollard, Former GB&T Chief Operating Officer Ron Thigpen, and Former GB&T Voting Board Member Larry Prather are listed as Duncan Supporters.Former GB&T shareholder and current Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross, who voted for the suspect award of the county primary banking contract to GB&T, is said to be a Duncan contributor.

Law enforcement on three levels of government has the greater responsibility of having turned a blind eye until the Statute of Limitations expired, possibly allowing financial thieves to escape prosecution.

There are no Pulitzer Prizes that will be awarded to Augusta “journalists” from this scandal, either. The artwork was nice, though!

-AF

Banking Hard Right into a Wrong Place

OPINION by the Arrowflinger

Well, Well, Well Scott Johnson, What an interesting set of developments since we last talked. Back then, y’all couldn’t identify the Commission Finance committee member who essentially redirected a huge 5 year Columbia County banking contract to Georgia Bank and Trust after First Citizens Bank won that bid, but lately you have gotten really good at finding and disclosing facts about Pam Tucker. Austin has insinuated that you were “looking for dirt” on Ms. Tucker during her vacation, her conversation got very efficiently recorded and replayed, and there was a further dust-up involving a banker. Heaven knows that wasn’t one of the GB&T bankers. No one dare do that back when the banking contract went down. A majority of the commissioners, including 2 out of three on the Finance Committee, were GB&T shareholders then, including one who was the Chief Operating Officer of the bank!

What are the new Developments?

Well, that bank wound up being the 2016 flagship of the whole American Banking Association, when its CEO Dan Blanton became chairman of ALL of the bankers. The ABA was regaled with a story we all heard, GB&T’s claimed focus of “Doing the Right Thing.” Based upon What I have seen there is absolutely no question the executives of that bank were doing the right thing – for themselves! Your doings are trickier, because your finance committee and finance department were “Doing Tha’ Thang Right!”

In the last 15 months the United States Attorney of the Southern District of Georgia very arguably an unwitting protector of the entire mess, left his post after 8 years and was replaced just 6 months ago.

In the last 15 months GB&T sold out at a premium of around $49 per share, up from the dark $9 per share days of 2009, just before your secret finance committee member swung over $100 million of Columbia County’s money into rescuing them.

Meanwhile, the employees of 83 percent of area banks who didn’t work for that bank, many who lost everything in 2009 and got no rescue from you all, and the 100 GB&T employees who lost their jobs after years of propaganda will read this with keen interest. What is worse, we read that you are quoted promising retaliation against one of them for questioning not only Tucker’s departure but that of another departed division director as well.

This was and is a national scandal and you are sitting in the middle of it.

Columbia County Finance got caught “Doin’ Tha’ Thang Right” but the taxpayers didn’t even get a peck on the cheek.

They ain’t gonna be happy with YOU!

An Ice Storm Came to Columbia County Government

OPINION by The Arrowflinger

July 22, 2014 found Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson in the studio of Augusta radio station WGAC for an hour on the Austin Rhodes Show. The general topic of discussion that day was the upcoming Special Purpose Local Option Sales tax or SPLOST. An Arrowflinger called in to discuss the SPLOST projects and to opine that discussion was needed as to how secure the bank accounts into which SPLOST funds would be deposited were. (More on that to come.)

Toward the end of the show talk shifted to praising long-time Columbia County Emergency Management Director, Pam Tucker for her astute planning and the county’s superb response to the Winter 2014 ice Storm. Listen and admire the warmth, for these days the only warmth is emitting from anger, as Administrator Johnson and now Former Director Tucker are in the midst of a political war being fought by Columbia County District 1 Commissioner Doug Duncan against Tucker. Both are running for the Chair of the Columbia County Board of Commissioners, along with Developer Mark Herbert.

The way Columbia County has gravitated toward rank cronyism, perhaps we should call it the Columbia County Board of Collusioners.

May 22 is Election Day. May Columbia County elect the best candidate, or,more providently, the least damaging one. An emergency management professional has the training to do that.

Maybe Columbia County should hear how highly her current antagonists once regarded Pam Tucker.