More Deception in Parking Gate?

Once again a majority of commissioners have egg on their face

Monday, Feb. 13, 2012
Augusta, GA
By The Outsider

Well it appears that there may be no deal after all to release the liens on the property where the $12 million TEE Center Parking Deck sits, nor does there appear to be any deal in place for the property to be acquired by the city’s land bank.

So it looks like instead of coming up with a last ditch effort to solve Parking Gate, what we have is merely more subterfuge and deception. And the mission of the city’s land bank is to acquire blighted properties that are often delinquent in property taxes. The property where the TEE Center Parking Deck sits hardly qualifies. So it appears we are back to square one. But the question must be asked… what exactly happened at last Tuesday’s commission meeting? Were commissioners deceived yet again over this parking deck saga? It certainly appears that way.

Al Gray and Lori Davis presented compelling evidence at last Tuesday’s commission meeting as to why the motion to approve the parking deck management contract with Augusta Riverfront, LLC should be defeated. Mr Gray made the point that commissioners should use this as an opportunity to exercise some leverage to demand more transparency and the right to audit all of the city’s financial relationships with Augusta Riverfront, LLC. That demand sent Augusta Riverfront, LLC and their protectors on the commission into panic mode, and at the last minute in what seemed to be a Hail Mary Pass, commissioner Jerry Brigham said that he had an agreement with Augusta Riverfront, LLC, that Wells Fargo had agreed to release all liens and have the land transferred to the city’s land bank. It had appeared that a solution had been reached, and a majority of commissioners, splitting along racial lines approved the management agreement with Augusta Riverfront, LLC. The four black commissioners said that Tuesday’s commission meeting was the first that they had heard of this deal. But it appears this solution was all a ruse, and nothing but an attempt to thwart the efforts to open up the books to the other contracts the city has with Augusta Riverfront, LLC.

So What’s Really Going On Here?

Did Commissioner Brigham really have an agreement with Augusta Riverfront, LLC before last Tuesday’s commission meeting? Commissioner Bowles says it all came together the afternoon before Tuesday’s vote. It seems to us that Commissioner Brigham should be able to produce something in writing from the bank that they had agreed to release the liens and consulted with the land bank that they could take the property before presenting this as a solution to commissioners. Was there anything in writing from the bank confirming release of the liens? We also have to question the judgement of the other five commissioners who voted for this “deal” last Tuesday. Now they all have egg all over their faces. There is no documentation that shows the bank has agreed to release the liens. So we have to ask. What’s really going on here? Was this really a good faith effort to find a last minute solution to put the land under city ownership free of all liens or was this a ruse to rush a management agreement through to cover all of this up?***


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