Good morning. It’s Monday, August 2nd, 2021. Over the weekend, I got a letter from the County Attorney, Ben Jackson, of Lincoln County,
(video is interrupted by Lily, the ever-vigilant beagle!)
It’s Monday, August 2nd, 2021. Over the weekend, I got a letter on his own letterhead, from Ben Jackson, attorney at law, who also happens to be the county attorney, but it didn’t reference that fact. So I don’t think the letter should have even been opened. When I saw it I kind of laughed.
You see, I didn’t send a letter to Chairman Norman, I sent an appeal via certified mail, care of the Planning Department of Lincoln County, to the Planning Commission Chairman. That’s what a citizen is entitled to according to the ordinances of Lincoln County, Georgia. So, the letter he wrote was not from the Planning Commission Chairman. It didn’t set up an appeal time, which is supposed to be 15 days, but therein lies the problem, doesn’t it? Because last month, the Planning Commission met on Tuesday, and the County Commission voted on the subject matter, the Crooked Bridge subdivision, on Thursday.
So how you fit a 15 day appeal time into two or three days is a little bit interesting. I don’t think that a judge can fit 15 days into two or three.
So that’s the matter at hand: what are the rights of appeal of a citizen, when the public works director makes an adverse decision? Now, for the Planning Commission members that see this video, I’d like to call your attention to your minutes of the June meeting, in which a citizen showed up at the meeting and had a complaint against the Public Works Department and its Director, and was told by that Director that she did not have any right to speak, that any complaints against his office would have to go to the Lincoln County Commission. But that’s not what the ordinances of Lincoln County say. It says any citizen has the right to appeal to the Planning Commission Chairman. So I hope that the Planning Commission will take a good look at this video, go back and look at your ordinances, and see what they say.
For another thing that I shouldn’t even discuss here, I guess, because of the inadequacy of that letter to meet my appeal, is this: in his letter, the County Attorney made special reference that I was wrong because the exemption that they were citing would occur when you were zoning or subdividing non-residential lots into multiple residential lots. But he’s got a little bit of a problem, because there’s a table in there that specifically lists the residential districts. The residential districts include A1, A2, A3, R1, R2, and R3. So, Mr. County Attorney, I suggest that you might read the ordinances and maybe you’ll see what I’m talking about when I’m saying Lincoln County needs to overhaul the whole book of ordinances and do something right for its people for a change.
Columbia County Commission Chairman candidate Doug Duncan best try to hide the high profile state officials who are trying to lord over Columbia County politics with their endorsements from on high. They might smell up his coronation before he gets there.
First up, we have to address the lamentable Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, who should be a lighting rod of opposition among women.
Hudgeons was speaking at a GOP rally at Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in Cumming, when he spied Nydia Tisdale on the front row videoing him. He called her out, whereupon a beefy off-duty officer forcibly removed Tisdale from the meeting, as Labor Commissioner Mark Butler was speaking (another Duncan proxy with issues – more later). Tisdale had permission to be there.
“Nydia Tisdale, a citizen journalist, was invited to a GOP rally in Atlanta, but State Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens demanded that she (and not other, more friendly press) stop recording his speech. When she refused, he summoned a deputy who violently arrested her and then charged her with felony obstruction after she elbowed him while he was bending her over and pressing his groin into her buttocks.”
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 neighbor’s 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.
On Thursday, May 25, 2017 citizens of Augusta, Georgia and surrounding counties were shocked to learn that City of Augusta personnel, vehicles, materials and construction equipment had been found deployed and operating on private land in Lincoln County, Georgia, 40 miles from their assigned work site at the Augusta Solid Waste Facility on Deans Bridge Road.
This week the resulting uproar concluded with the resignation of Augusta Solid Waste Director Mark Johnson. Will the Johnson resignation calm the turmoil surrounding a botched investigation by a conflicted Augusta Richmond County Sheriff Department, who turned out to be the custodian of an excavator used in the misbegotten affair, the apparently imprudent white commissioners defending Johnson against evidence, black commissioners defending an Administrator who bungled accountability, and a District Attorney who remains to be kept clueless of the events?
Stay tuned. What happens in Augusta, should stay in Augusta. This time it didn’t and the repercussions look to be immense.
Here is the first hand account of the events from March 15, 2017 through May 28, 2017. Names have been replaced by Pseudonyms.
Wednesday March 15, 2017
THE ARROWFLINGER reaches the top of a hill on an easement road between lands of Cox, Kitchens, bank and partners Troy Meeks and Landowner O of Statesboro, sees construction equipment and stone pile. Stops to video beagle. Joined by neighbor and Informant.
THE ARROWFLINGER meets Informant going back to get serial numbers and photos of an equipment trailer he claims is City of Augusta owned. Informant wants to know who bought the property where the stone pile is. THE ARROWFLINGER states he has met Landowner O, but not his partner.
Texts Between THE ARROWFLINGER and Informant
2017-03-15 19:01:29 Informant Phone Number Redacted
I got confirmation it’s county equipment.
2017-03-15 19:09:41 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Do you have a guess about when it was bought?
2017-03-15 19:14:26 Informant Phone Number Redacted
I can find out.
2017-03-15 19:44:20 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
You know, if they are not alerted and they are getting rock for free, they will be at it for days because that road has to be rocked all the way to Booths Branch Road. They excavated and installed a 30 or 36 inch pipe in the creek bed last week.
2017-03-15 19:50:06 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Your bud who is talking to you might/probably spill the beans, but if we just observe for a few days and take pictures we will have a better picture. The land was bought by Landowner O (guy I met) and Landowner M of Statesboro. We need the serial number off the equipment and the ARCSWD inventory or purchase record. If it looks strong, then state investigators should be called.
2017-03-15 19:55:49 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Landowner M used to work with Director as a contractor.
2017-03-15 19:57:10 Informant Phone Number Redacted
The trailer was purchased by the county and I took pic of the VIN number. The escalator was seized by the county and falls under the Sheriff.
2017-03-15 19:58:16 Informant Phone Number Redacted
I will go back early tomorrow and photo the VIN of the track hoe.
2017-03-15 20:04:11 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
I am gonna go out early on my walk. Probably find a good spot on Booth branch near the gate to observe.
2017-03-15 20:12:31 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Sounds like the Boyz came to play in our backyards! I am amazed.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Texts of March 16, 2017 Between THE ARROWFLINGER and Informant
2017-03-16 09:40:44 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Good morning! A dump truck left about 10 minutes ago. Let’s observe today. They plan on ditching the low spot inside the gate. So they don’t plan on stopping today. I think another rock truck might be coming.
2017-03-16 09:43:09 Informant Phone Number Redacted
2017-03-16 09:44:30 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
I think if you want to do this up right, we need to notify Sheriff Beggs, followed shortly by Roundtree. The pols will just f**k it up. So will we if we go for a big ‘got you’, as delicious and tempting as that might be.
2017-03-16 09:45:40 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Get the pros in. If they f**k it up then I or we can raise hell.
2017-03-16 09:48:38 Informant Phone Number Redacted
2017-03-16 09:51:26 Informant Phone Number Redacted
I got a conference call, T 10. I will get with you after that.
2017-03-16 09:53:06 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
They dropped a load at the second wet spot between the gate and creek.
2017-03-16 10:46:00 THE ARROWFLINGER
Two dump trucks videoed entering gate and then leaving after dumping loads at stone stockpile on hill.
2017-03-16 11:08:00 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Two trucks came and dumped. Got some video.
2017-03-16 11:08:08 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
2017-03-16 11:08:33 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Got names of haulers, I think.
2017-03-16 11:51:58 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Got pix and video of all equipment with serial numbers.
2017-03-16 13:12:45 Informant Phone Number Redacted
I can call Augusta Commissioner MW and just talk to him. He can’t stand the Director.
2017-03-16 13:30:11 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Yes, but anything Augusta Commissioner MW can do can be done if law enforcement drops the ball. Law enforcement can remove these people. Augusta Commissioner MW can only fire them.
2017-03-16 13:31:30 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Law enforcement can surveillance them when they bring in dozers and graders.
2017-03-16 13:36:09 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Ok, I will stand by. You know more than me.
2017-03-16 13:37:07 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Also, I don’t see permits posted.
2017-03-16 13:38:47 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
I am going to call Sheriff Beggs in a bit.
2017-03-16 13:39:04 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Knitter is doing research.
2017-03-16 13:40:15 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
On Augusta database. Knitter is a systems person.
Knitter emails THE ARROWFLINGER a .pdf showing that Landowner M attended a prebid conference for landfill work at the ARC Solid Waste Facility on 1/20/2017.
2017-03-16 Around 14:00:00
THE ARROWFLINGER calls ARC Chief Deputy, with whom he had conversed about contract mismanagement and fraud during the Augusta SPLOST 7b campaign in 2015. Tells that 2 pieces of equipment are reported to be operating in Lincoln County and one of them is assigned to the ARC Sheriff Department Shooting Range at the Deans Bridge Road landfill. Chief Deputy denies that Sheriff Department has any equipment.
THE ARROWFLINGER is texted the email address of Augusta Richmond County Chief Deputy by same for purpose of uploading pictures and serial numbers from Canon camera that is not net-connected.
THE ARROWFLINGER sends ARC Chief Deputy summary of situation, events, observations and equipment serial numbers.
Chief Deputy requests pictures be emailed, saying he will, “…get to the bottom of this.”
THE ARROWFLINGER suggests that ARC Chief Deputy hold off until following Monday, based upon information from inside Solid Waste Department that additional ARC assets would be deployed to Lincoln County site. It was noted that even heavier equipment would be needed to place the stone.
Texts of March 16, 2017 between THE ARROWFLINGER and InformantResume
2017-03-16 18:48:07 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
ARC Chief Deputy Redacted is now interested. Told him waiting til Monday to pursue is advised. Told him I now believe this is a real deal. Suggested CID come up under coordination and advice of Sheriff Bruce Beggs.
2017-03-16 19:07:53 Informant Phone Number Redacted
2017-03-16 19:29:50 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
I suggested that. Told him I will be here.
2017-03-16 19:32:42 Informant Phone Number Redacted
THE ARROWFLINGER called back by Lincoln Sheriff Beggs, who indicates he has discussed with ARC Chief Deputy.
THE ARROWFLINGER takes his dog, Lilly, for a tour of fields and then down Booth Branch Road. There was a navy blue 3/4 ton, long wheelbase pickup pulled into a 4-wheeler path onto Corps Land about 80 yards from the red gate into the combined properties and grading project. Did not get license plate.
Friday, March 17, 2017
Texts of March 17, 2017 between THE ARROWFLINGER and Informant
THE ARROWFLINGER awakens during interlude when heating system was off. Hears heavy truck in the distance. Goes outside and finds the sound coming from Booths Branch Road. Quickly dons insulated coverall, grabs automatic pistol and digital camcorder. Calls Informant. Gets no answer. Jumps in truck. Drives to red gate at properties/ grading site. Waits and listens. Concludes that the truck was leaving, not entering.
2017-03-17 09:43:08 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
All equipment was removed in the middle of the night.
2017-03-17 09:45:06 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
No stone deliveries this morning?
2017-03-17 09:46:57 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Long trailer and excavator are GONE.
2017-03-17 09:47:46 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Well it might be back on Monday.
2017-03-17 09:48:29 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Unless someone said something to them.
2017-03-17 09:49:05 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
I think the latter. Sold out. Again.
2017-03-17 09:50:03 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
They should be delivering more rock at the standing water spots.
2017-03-17 09:50:12 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
2017-03-17 09:52:27 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Yea well we have proof they have county equipment out here.
2017-03-17 09:55:53 Informant Phone Number Redacted
I am with you. I think someone tipped them off.
2017-03-17 10:01:28 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Can’t talk anymore. We might have given the right people what they need.
2017-03-17 10:10:22 Informant Phone Number Redacted
I just got a call (from Inside Source at ARC Landfill). We should talk.
2017-03-16 About 10:20
THE ARROWFLINGER calls Landowner K, with whom Landowners O and M have an easement agreement with cost-sharing provisions to discuss the condiserable part of the construction on her land. She states she is not paying anything and that Landowner M told her that they can repair the easement road at least cost because they have connections in Richmond and Columbia Counties. Also discussed was the new culvert installation and the work done on US Army Corps of Engineers lands.
2017-03-17 12:42:21 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
I have a visitor (ARCSD Investigator) at 3 who may want to come talk to you, if you are open.
2017-03-17 12:48:39 Informant Phone Number Redacted
2017-03-17 15:04:34 Informant Phone Number Redacted
You coming to my place or yours?
2017-03-17 16:09:08 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
They (investigators) are headed back to you.
2017-03-17 16:09:40 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Ok, I am telling them everything I know.
2017-03-17 16:10:16 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Tell them the truth. They will want your source.
2017-03-17 16:10:37 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
We went out to the site.
Informant calls THE ARROWFLINGER and reports an automobile parked at entrance gate to the combined properties where the work was going on.
2017-03-17 20:09:24 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Should I call the investigator?
2017-03-17 20:10:28 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
2017-03-17 20:11:17 Informant Phone Number Redacted
And tell them what?
2017-03-17 20:17:42 Informant Phone Number Redacted
I called the shield (Sheriff?) number. They sending someone out.
2017-03-17 20:30:00 to 20:50:00
THE ARROWFLINGER spots Director emerging from around posted gate. Augusta Director explains that he came to check on one of his contractor’s pieces of equipment, as Bobcat Rentals had called his contractor concerned when an ARCSD investigator called earlier in the day. Shows text and photo sent.
2017-03-17 22:09:00 THE ARROWFLINGER
Transmits video of Director to ARCSD Investigator.
2017-03-17 22:35:39 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
(Pictures of Director)
2017-03-17 22:53:48 Informant Phone Number Redacted
2017-03-17 22:55:22 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Sent to investigator and our Sheriff.
2017-03-17 22:55:47 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Send short video, too.
2017-03-17 22:55:54 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
2017-03-17 22:56:03 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Texts of March 18, 2017 between THE ARROWFLINGER and Informant
2017-03-18 01:12:04 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Director’s name is not on the property. His equipment’s showed up there and he drives out here to check. Why?
2017-03-18 01:13:58 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Monday I will tell CID he was out here.
2017-03-18 01:17:23 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
He knew where it was!
2017-03-18 01:18:16 Informant Phone Number Redacted
2017-03-18 01:18:31 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Probably 500 yards inside gate?
2017-03-18 01:28:24 Informant Phone Number Redacted
The Bobcat belongs to Bobcat Renter, which is anther contractor who works for the landfill.
2017-03-18 01:32:31 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Yes, that was the name. Bobcat (of Augusta) gave Redacted LEI.
2017-03-18 01:33:24 Informant Phone Number Redacted
See, it’s all dirty.
2017-03-18 07:18:27 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
And it is why I have been looking to just leave. I have been fighting it like nobody else in this state for five years, except for hunting seasons, and have only lost “friends” who are on the gravy train. Knitter and I have been looking in McCormick and Abbeville Counties, but now I am thinking northern Mississippi or North Carolina. Yeah, it is like this all over, but any place else I don’t know about them and I damned sure won’t look again. I seesaw between going apes**t exposing how utterly crooked the Augusta area is, making fun of the ridiculous fakery, and just leaving. I think this deal is the last straw.
2017-03-18 12:49:37 Informant Phone Number Redacted
A white Silverado just pulled out with a Bobcat. I think it was Bobcat Renter.
2017-03-18 12:49:59 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
2017-03-18 21:02:18 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
When we ride Lilly to tour fields for deer we will ride down Booths Branch Road to the gates and back. Probably in the next 30 minutes.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Texts of March 19, 2017 between THE ARROWFLINGER and Informant
2017-03-19 09:51:08 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Yesterday they hand dug a drainage ditch to drain the mud puddles ten yards inside the gate. They also unloaded three rolls of geotextile fabric at the rock stockpile.
2017-03-19 09:51:24 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Monday, March 20, 2017
2017-03-20 06:16:34 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Heavy truck just went down Booth Branch Road. I am going to see what’s going on.
2017-03-20 06:19:36 Informant Phone Number Redacted
2017-03-20 06:36:55 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Drove Ranger out last 4-wheeler trail to left on Corps Land just before gate. Gonna walk Booth Branch past Landowner K.
2017-03-20 11:02:14 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Well, my early morning hike was a quiet one. No turkeys seen or heard.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
2017-03-21 10:10:55 Informant Phone Number Redacted
A big truck just went down.
2017-03-21 10:11:51 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
2017-03-21 10:12:34 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Landowner O probably will keep on plan to finish.
2017-03-21 10:13:22 Informant Phone Number Redacted
It was the trash truck.
2017-03-21 10:15:37 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
2017-03-21 10:16:18 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Filled my roller can up an hour ago.
THE ARROWFLINGER researches Grantor and Grantee Indices of the Clerk Of Superior Court of Lincoln County to ascertain if Landowner O and Landowner M had transferred any property interests to Director. Finds no evidence of that. Finds easement agreement from Landowner K to Landowners O and M after a $5000 payment which settled the access rights of the parties. Noted that all landowners bear maintenance and improvement costs.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
2017-03-22 08:11:29 Informant Phone Number Redacted
I’ve been in the woods since sun up. Haven’t heard any turkeys.
2017-03-22 08:30:11 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
They have been in hiding. I did see a gobbler on the side of a road in McCormick County Sunday.
2017-03-22 12:37:34 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Hey, I am sorry about this morning. I wasn’t trying to be rude.
2017-03-22 20:41:07 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
I know. No problem. I want to talk over how you work from the house.
2017-03-22 20:41:56 Informant Phone Number Redacted
2017-03-22 20:45:55 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
I thought I heard turkeys this morning on my walk back down below the houses on Bamboo Trail.
2017-03-22 20:46:22 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
2017-03-22 20:46:24 Informant Phone Number Redacted
2017-03-22 20:46:43 Informant Phone Number Redacted
We can chat in the morning.
2017-03-22 20:46:57 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Thursday, April 27, 2017
THE ARROWFLINGER calls ARCSD Investigator looking for update and leaves message requesting a return call.
Friday, April 28, 2017
THE ARROWFLINGER calls Lincoln County Sheriff and leaves message asking him to prod ARCSD into giving an update citing uncertainty over personal status with respect to activity in the public eye.
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
ARCSD Investigator calls THE ARROWFLINGER, apologizes for delay in responding, then says that the investigation was completed and turned over to the Augusta District Attorney and to the Augusta Administrator for an audit. Knitter hears the conversation because the Bluetooth truck phone grabbed the call and it was broadcast in the yard.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
THE ARROWFLINGER texts Commissioner G to suggest that he look out for special audit funds for Administrator’s Office. No Response.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
THE ARROWFLINGER turns over pictures and summary of events as they existed March 15 through March 20, 2017 to Osprey. Osprey is an Augusta resident with contacts who might discuss.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
2017-05-20 09:32:09 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Those Statesboro guys are up here for the first time in ages. They are boring perk test holes with an auger.
2017-05-20 12:01:36 Informant Phone Number Redacted
2017-05-20 12:03:12 Informant Phone Number Redacted
I thought those guys would squirm their way out of any trouble.
2017-05-20 12:06:31 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Does Landowner O even know? Landowner M is SCI and was with Dabbs… but is Landowner O an ARC contractor, too?
2017-05-20 12:08:48 Informant Phone Number Redacted
I think Landowner O is a contractor.
2017-05-20 12:24:35 Informant Phone Number Redacted
It’s awful funny they ran out of money and had to move all the equipment out at 3 am.
THE ARROWFLINGER calls Commissioner MW, leaves message to please call.
Monday, May 22, 2017
THE ARROWFLINGER texts Commissioner G to relay that Osprey has pictures and video of Lincoln County events. Concludes with, “Its Y’all’s Hellhole.”
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
THE ARROWFLINGER calls Commissioner H, leaves message to please call.
THE ARROWFLINGER calls Commissioner MW, leaves message to please call.
2017-05-24 19:29:20 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Well, you were right. They are blaming the guy who retired two days into the investigation, saying it was a mistake that the equipment got sent.
Thursday, May 25, 2017
THE ARROWFLINGER called Osprey. Both agreed that more commissioner angles needed than Commissioner G and Commissioner F, with whom Osprey had communicated.
THE ARROWFLINGER gets call from Commissioner MW, explains background and the developments to that point. Agrees to forward the unchanged, original questions and information of 3/15 to 3/20/2017 to ARC Clerk of Commission.
THE ARROWFLINGER emails information sent to Osprey on 05/18/2017 to ARC Clerk of Commission.
THE ARROWFLINGER confers with Osprey, who had talked with Director earlier, and who recommended that THE ARROWFLINGER call Director directly with issues and questions.
THE ARROWFLINGER called Director. Asked if Landowner M, Landowner O, or Bobcat Lessee are Augusta Contractors, and if he knows any of them. He said no. Asked if DW of Stateboro was a contractor. He said they were but had not done any work since 2013. Said that Landowner M’s firm was not awarded landfill contract after he was on bid documents at January 2017 bid meeting. (Confirmed by THE ARROWFLINGER) Award contested and work might be rebid. (THE ARROWFLINGER agreed, as it had been in the newspaper). Director asked about stone purchases and stated that Augusta purchases aggregates under annual bulk purchase agreement and stockpiles various stone products at landfill. (Known in advance by THE ARROWFLINGER). When asked how Director knew where Bobcat Lessee’s equipment was when Director and THE ARROWFLINGER met at the gate to the combined properties at 8:16 PM on March 16, 2017, Director stated that he was directed to follow the power line and that the equipment was parked under the power line.
Director asserted that the reason he could find his way in the dark when spotted coming out of the gate to the combined properties at 8:22 PM on March 16, 2017, was that he arrived in the daylight. (Official sunset was 7:37 PM, but conditions at his exit were clearly past darkness).
Director repeated his purpose for coming out of the gate to the combined properties at 8:22 PM on March 16, 2017 was that a contractor at his facility called him, after being unable to contact Director’s subordinate employee, and was concerned about verifying the location of the Bobcat and cutter, so he drove out to the site in Lincoln County to locate the equipment and report back to the contractor, which he had done.
Director queried THE ARROWFLINGER about why he was not called earlier into the process of determining the status of the investigation. THE ARROWFLINGER said that the investigation was in the hands of ARCSD and that he was told that it was turned over to the DA. THE ARROWFLINGER turned to Osprey, an Augusta citizen, to investigate, because Augusta is his city. THE ARROWFLINGER had performed considerable free work for Augusta and insisted on better contract controls since 2011, and did not feel compelled to conduct an investigation based upon GORA requests, because that cost money and the Augusta Commission had failed to act to provide a solution to that obstacle when it had been proposed.
Director suggested that he had answered all questions truthfully and that THE ARROWFLINGER should accept that, to which THE ARROWFLINGER responded that there were too many inconsistencies in how the work was sequenced and suddenly halted when the investigators arrived at the Augusta Solid Waste Facility on 3/16/17. Director asked if THE ARROWFLINGER had approached the landowners, to which THE ARROWFLINGER responded that the investigation should have done that and no report had been issued.
Director asserted that Administrator’s office and ARCSD had determined that there were no criminal violations, but that one of his supervisors had retired as planned, but moved up during the investigation. Director admitted that said supervisor had done work at the Lincoln site. THE ARROWFLINGER asked for a copy of that investigator’s report, but Director said he could not provide it.
THE ARROWFLINGER reminded Director of THE ARROWFLINGER’s powerful defense of Director in a commission meeting presentation on another matter.
THE ARROWFLINGER agreed to forward an accounting of the conversation to all who had gotten questions and information from THE ARROWFLINGER regarding the Lincoln County matter, and he did.
THE ARROWFLINGER emails ARC Clerk of Commission that he talked to Director and provided a summary of points upon which there was agreement, but not points of disagreement, which had been previously sent.
THE ARROWFLINGER agrees to discuss the March events in Lincoln County in an on-air conversation with Most Dangerous Man in Augusta Politics, Austin Rhodes of radio Station WGAC.
THE ARROWFLINGER goes on the Austin Rhodes program to discuss the March events in Lincoln County.
2017-05-25 23:47:35 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Three weeks ago, the investigator said it was referred to the DA and to City Administrator for an audit, but the DA has nothing. When the guy called that day that my new truck grabbed the audio and output it on the speaker, so Knitter heard him say it. They are trying to duck and cover, but I am satisfied I have it covered with enough proof. It would be helpful to show how Landowner M has recently been working there. They didn’t apparently get the contract, and Dabbs Williams did work in 2011, I found. The equipment they have conceded and also that the supervisor who was moonlighting retired 2 days into the investigation. Your info was spot on. The heat is on and some of them are spinning deeper. Hope your trip is productive. We got rain!
2017-05-25 23:50:28 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Nice. I heard some of it through the internet on the radio show. Good job.
2017-05-25 23:51:17 Informant Phone Number Redacted
If he was moonlighting, why was he driving a county truck out there? That’s the word I got from Inside Source.
Friday, May 26, 2017
2017-05-26 00:13:44 out Phone Number Redacted
I wish I had walked up the hill when the Bobcat brush cutter was being used and seen the truck. Pretty sure he was there on a weekday morning.
2017-05-26 00:31:49 Informant Phone Number Redacted
2017-05-26 18:12:36 out Phone Number Redacted
Can you tell me who got retired?
2017-05-26 18:13:13 Informant Phone Number Redacted
2017-05-28 00:35:00 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Also, McKinley has worked there so long and knows all the equipment I can’t imagine he would make a mistake. I think he is just covering for Director.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
2017-05-28 00:35:45 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Did Director contact you? If he did, he his trying to cover himself.
2017-05-28 00:39:21 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
I was told to call him. I did.
2017-05-28 00:40:39 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Oh, well, he is a snake with a lot of political connections.
2017-05-28 00:41:11 Informant Phone Number Redacted
That’s based on my experience.
2017-05-28 00:44:39 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
He said he did not know Landowner M or Landowner O… the landowners. Said he did not know Bobcat Renter… the Bobcat lessee. Said DW has not worked there since 2014. Said stone is bought under annual contract and stockpiled. Got on my case for not calling him until after sending out claims (emails to ARC Commissioners).
2017-05-28 00:47:22 Informant Phone Number Redacted
That’s a lie. Bobcat Renter was out there last year helping extend the sides of the land fill to meet the air space. Landowner M was out there all the time. Him and Director went to lunch several times.
2017-05-28 00:48:03 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Said he got up here before dark, is why he had no flash light, and found the equipment because it was under the power line easement… Trouble with that is my video is time stamped 8:48 pm (exit time).
2017-05-28 00:48:40 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Augusta Commissioner G is barbequed.
2017-05-28 00:48:55 Informant Phone Number Redacted
2017-05-28 00:50:38 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
I have Commissioners. Augusta Commissioner W and Augusta Commissioner G FURIOUS AND LOADED FOR BEAR for Tuesday’s Commission meeting.
2017-05-28 00:51:01 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Administrator in deep S**t.
2017-05-28 00:51:20 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
2017-05-28 00:51:42 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
2017-05-28 00:52:29 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
I am going to have all their a$$es.
2017-05-28 00:54:14 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Good, if Director told you he didn’t know those guys he is lying. Why did he tell his staff he had property on the lake?
2017-05-28 00:55:47 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
That excavator has a small backward reflex clam-shell or scoop. Small blade. Not suited for moving stone piles. The loaders at landfill ARE.
2017-05-28 00:57:14 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Everyone out there knows the mini excavator, everyone used it, including McKinley.
2017-05-28 00:58:31 Informant Phone Number Redacted
What about the trailer the county just purchased, did he make a mistake with that, too?
2017-05-28 00:58:33 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
(I am hearing) Commissioner G says landfill doesn’t use that sort of stone. However, it is too fine to use for road without geotextile underlayment. There are four (actually three) rolls of that there.
2017-05-28 01:00:16 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Bull s**t. We use crush and run all the time. Look at the camp sites at the Sheriff range. They have three sites up there for campers. I know because I was told I could park mine there.
2017-05-28 01:00:29 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Sounds like McKinley was the Bobcat operator up here. Isn’t that what you found out?
2017-05-28 01:01:29 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Yes, I know he ran that for sure.
2017-05-28 01:02:18 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Well, that means an ARC employee destroyed US government property.
2017-05-28 01:02:45 Informant Phone Number Redacted
The landfill owns John Deere skid steers, not Bobcats.
2017-05-28 01:03:29 Informant Phone Number Redacted
McKinley loves Director and will cover until it’s his a$$.
2017-05-28 01:04:29 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
I am gonna fry some a$$. Yes, Bobcat was rented to Bobcat Renter by Bobcat Augusta. Director was concerned about it because Bobcat called him.
2017-05-28 01:05:49 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Yea, brother he knew what was going on, he just wants to take his own or parents’ Winnebago out there.
2017-05-28 01:06:20 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
So Director was concerned about the Bobcat that destroyed Corps woodland. And his supervisor ran it. Perfect.
Footage from March 16, 2016 as events were unfolding.
2017-05-28 01:07:07 Informant Phone Number Redacted
You keep asking questions and I’ll keep giving information they can’t hide from us.
2017-05-28 01:07:32 Informant Phone Number Redacted
What about the trailer?
2017-05-28 01:08:18 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
The press and politicians want my hide. After five years you handed me something to tear Augusta apart with.
2017-05-28 01:08:19 Informant Phone Number Redacted
That was county property. No one made a mistake with that.
2017-05-28 01:08:44 Informant Phone Number Redacted
They brought it to me.
2017-05-28 01:09:14 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
It does not have property tag or number on it.
2017-05-28 01:10:09 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Oh, they are conceding that the trailer and excavator are Augusta assets.
2017-05-28 01:10:51 Informant Phone Number Redacted
2017-05-28 01:11:26 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
The landfill does have loaders and graders, right?
2017-05-28 01:11:47 Informant Phone Number Redacted
I would like to see Director gone. I want to live out there in peace.
2017-05-28 01:12:31 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
I am pretty sure that will happen.
2017-05-28 01:12:59 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Oh yea, Komatsu 320 front loaders, and they use Roads Department grader. They also have a CAT roller.
2017-05-28 01:13:43 in Phone Number Redacted
I know because I have worked on all of it.
2017-05-28 01:15:43 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Ok. Good. So you are sure others saw Director with Landowner M and know that Bobcat Renter did work there?
2017-05-28 01:16:49 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
The investigator did not turn over anything to the DA like he said. It was his bad luck that his call to me telling me that came on over my car speakerphone so everyone in my yard could hear it.
2017-05-28 01:17:37 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Buddy is ready to testify that he saw him up here. In fact, I was in the back seat (actually the passenger seat) of the investigator’s car, and Buddy did not see me when he stopped them in the road and demanded to know who they were.
2017-05-28 01:18:00 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
The Sheriff’s Department is screwed about as bad as Commissioner G and Director.
2017-05-28 01:22:21 Informant Phone Number Redacted
You can ask anyone who works at the landfill. When I quit, Bobcat Renter was working out there, and that was April last year.
2017-05-28 01:23:29 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Commissioner G called you a disgruntled employee. I am gonna make him rue those words. (Because it was a smokescreen. Informant had nothing to do with the perpetrator’s actions.)
2017-05-28 01:23:38 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Talk to ****. He was a supervisor and he just got hired back.
2017-05-28 01:24:57 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Sorry, I meant James ******.
2017-05-28 01:25:17 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Why would he say that when I resigned?
2017-05-28 01:26:19 Informant Phone Number Redacted
I went to lunch with him and Director and I said grace before the meal. Dirty people.
2017-05-28 01:26:30 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Don’t worry about that. You are gonna love it.
2017-05-28 01:27:07 Informant Phone Number Redacted
2017-05-28 01:28:24 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Gonna go back to bed. Good night!
2017-05-28 01:29:23 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Good night from California.
THE ARROWFLINGER calls Landowner K and learns that no investigators contacted her after the mid-March incidents. Conversation lasts 39 minutes. Topics beside social updating of family and friends include the easement road work. Three times Landowner K reiterates that Landowners M and O kept saying that they had connections to get the work done. No mention was made of Columbia or Richmond Counties in that context, as was the case in the mid-March conversation.
2017-05-28 15:36:00 THE ARROWFLINGER Phone Number Redacted
Investigators did not contact you or Landowner K.
2017-05-28 15:37:00 Informant Phone Number Redacted
Nope, I talked to them once. The day you were with them.
Thursday, June 1, 2017
Augusta Administrator calls THE ARROWFLINGER on his land line phone (no logs) and a Q&A session resulted that lasted about 30 to 40 minutes. THE ARROWFLINGER called the Informant while the Administrator was on the other line to ascertain that the Informant would allow her to have his number. Later, Informant called to state that he and the Administrator had talked and would continue the next day.
Commissioner H calls to verify that the Administrator had talked to Informant.
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 eight subdivisions in five 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 addition 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. RW 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 insurers. 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 extraordinarily 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.
On Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 the Lincoln County Republican Party held a candidate forum at the public library. Your Arrowflinger was there and asked the candidates very tough questions. Former House District 117 Representative Lee Anderson, now running for the Senate District 24 seat, and his wife Donna were seated the next row in front. When Lee got up to speak my questions were pointed at his previous record of voting for double digit fee, rate, and tax increases on us. Donna turned and called me a “jerk” numerous times, although the only clearly audible one was at the end, when I loudly challenged Lee to take further questioning.
Now, the point being made is that we go broke very fast paying double digit cost increases when our incomes are increasing less than 2%. Lee and Donna have a solution to this dilemma, though. You see, Lee’s first cousin Superior Court Judge David Roper heads the guardian ad litem program in Augusta which became a national scandal because of the guardians’ ad looting. Now Donna is in that stable of ad lootems, supplementing their family income. We don’t have that option, do we?
None of the other candidates or their parties reacted with anger at my tough questions, only the one person divorcing parents would expect to stay calm.
Usually the phrase, “grab the wife and kids”, is hyperbole in a political season, but can you families of the 24th risk having a rogue judge, rubber-stamp lawmaker, and angry guardian ad lootem wife all aligned against you in the event of divorce?
Think about it.
Watch and listen, as Arrowflinger Al gets tagged with yet another insulting label to join many other such Badges of Honor.
Back in 2011, during Lee Anderson’s last year in the Georgia House before his doomed attempt at the US House, your arrowflinging writer called and wrote him about the activities of the Tax Reform Council. Lee acted ignorant of the issues and directed me to his guy on the Council, plant nurseryman Skeeter McCorkle. He got back, “Lee, I know what McCorkle will do – he will get a whole new slew of agriculture exemptions!”
Anderson wasn’t in the Georgia House in 2012 when House Bill 386 passed, containing all those costly new exemptions that real people are now having to make up.
Included in the bill was a provision giving nearly every farmer in Georgia, even home gardeners, what is now known at the GATE (Georgia Agricultural Tax Exemption) card. It looks like this:
Now when we used to visit Lee Anderson’s farm, each and every gate we passed through had to be closed and secured with a chain. So it used to be with Georgia Tax Exemptions.
What transpired was a comical statewide tax looting publicized heavily in the Atlanta Media, municipal publications, and even county papers like the Lincoln Journal. Some farming fellows tried to use their GATE card on the casket and vault for their father’s funeral. Others bought $100,000’s of lumber for home building. The carnage continues today at nearly every rural store in Georgia.
The tax losses exceeded 15% in many counties, causing property tax increases just like the 22% property tax Augustans got out of the same tax reform fiasco.
A Georgia Municipal Association map and chart depicted the damage statewide.
Another term, this time with Lee in the Senate, will be a real riot if the escaped money cows don’t come home.
When your humble flinger of arrows climbed into his pickup truck one afternoon in the late summer of 2010, it was not dreamed that the trip was worth $4 million to $5 million to the people of Augusta Richmond County, Georgia, yet it was.
The Georgia General Assembly had empaneled a Tax Reform Council, chaired by former Atlanta Olympic Games chairman A.D. Frazier, and charged it with recommending a tax reform plan. Earlier, in 2008, the legislature had wisely rejected disgraced House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s G.R.E.A.T. (Georgia Repeal Every Ad valorem Tax) plan, but still held the notion of “tax reform” dear, spurred on by the Georgia Traditional Manufacturers Association and others. Manufacturers wanted relief from Georgia’s sales-tax-exemption-limiting “Direct Use” requirements. Agricultural interests wanted sales tax relief, too.
The Tax Reform Council met in cities across Georgia. The meeting in Augusta came within 3 weeks of a furious Republican Party runoff for governor, which diverted attention from what was at risk. The Council convened at the Doubletree Hotel on August 30, 2010. A number of presenters had prepared remarks which were posted on the Tax Council website. This writer had not come to speak, but rose and gave an impromptu talk in opposition, based upon the enormous revenue loss that appeared to be in the making, including a critique of surviving elements of G.R.E.A.T. A sitting member of the Georgia House of Representatives, Don Parsons, was not paying attention enough to catch the name and dismissed the talk as uninformed.
The frightening thing was that the Tax Council withheld its report, despite promises it would be published in November, until the start of the 2011 session, and the stated intent was for the plan to rocket through the General Assembly for a straight “up or down” vote.
The Augusta presentations included one that tipped off how draconian the sales and use tax losses would be for Augusta. An email to a key member of the Augusta Commission warned of the losses. Another to an organization promoting the bad tax deal laid out the reasons that killing it in 2011 were good.
Lobbyists didn’t care.
The Augusta Chronicle reported, “Twice panel members asked how to replace the revenue from new tax breaks such as elimination of the inventory tax. John Krueger, senior vice president of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, replied that he hadn’t polled his members about that.
“To be honest, I really don’t have an answer to that,” he said.”
The next year tax reform returned and passed. Not one of the location legislative delegation voted against it, not even “conservative” Representative Barbara Sims or Senator Bill Jackson. Just as night follows day, the tax losses hit Augusta Richmond County so hard that in 2014 the Augusta Commission had to pass a 22% property tax increase to compensate for them.
The Augusta Commission got the blame, but the damage was clearly inflicted by the General Assembly, with the local delegation going right along with it.
The sales taxes given up were were being passed on to purchasers of the manufactured goods outside of Augusta, Richmond County, and now are being replaced by your property taxes, if you live in Augusta-Richmond County. The manufacturers were not likely to leave Augusta over taxes they had been paying for years, and “tax reform” means that new businesses won’t be paying new taxes, either. Theories and subsidized jobs excited the politicians, but this was a DEAD LOSS to the people, if one looks at the only thing that counts with revenue – CASH FLOW!
The entire progression of events might not have turned to the public’s favor, but it was a wonderful chance to demonstrate how The AURELIUS PRINCIPLE works to identify millions of dollars of savings to clients who might just be interested in saving those millions rather than paying them out. Cost Recovery Works, Inc. has used these techniques to stunning effect for clients many times, and the tax reform participation showed how they work to potentially effect tens of millions in savings.
Millions of dollars in savings come from projects like this one – Just not for the poor, tax-besieged citizens of Augusta.
The November 2014 race to fill Georgia’s House District 122 seat, vacated by retiring Representative Ben Harbin of Evans, was the ugliest, most hotly contested election in the modern history of Columbia County. It saw 2 months of nonstop attacks by radio station talk show host Austin Rhodes on hapless candidate Joe Mullins conjoined with the collapse of the campaign of departing Columbia County District 3 Commissioner Mack Taylor. Taylor’s efforts became mired in a nasty war with Mullins, complete with subterfuge, private investigators, and backdoor conniving with the radio talker. Columbia County, sick of the carnage, chose political newcomer Jodi Lott in the December runoff.
Representative-elect Lott was probably giddy with excitement still when she was sworn in this January. Her refreshing enthusiasm, undiminished by the grinding reality check of public life, was apparent to everyone in the area. Her primary campaign issue, a “fairtax” (a sales tax) to replace the state income tax, seemed unstoppable in the Georgia House of Representatives, as leadership and the membership voiced support.
Like the rest of us, Jodi Lott found the meaning of “lip service,” that when grizzled politicians like House leaders move their lips, you can count on it being in service to a lie. In this case her treasured tax relief met uncompromising doom at the hands of Governor Nathan Deal, who cited the danger that moving from an income tax to a sales tax would pose to Georgia’s burgeoning film industry, which heavily benefits from income tax credits. The House leadership beat a retreat, citing the futility of going against the governor’s wishes.
That is the “official story.” Here is a much more accurate explanation. The reason that the citizenry of Georgia will never see their income taxes cut, or replaced by a sales tax, is that other income tax credits have been a back-door, almost totally-unaccounted for, stream of public funds to connected political donors from the Republican hierarchy in the legislative and executive branches. They give away income taxes that have to be made up by increased income taxes on us. No income tax means that the payola scheme dies.
Our City Stink/Agraynation.com collaborative effort uncovered the scandal in 2012, during investigation into the details of the Magnolia Trace subsidized housing development uproar. After the public fury, this writer had traveled to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) offices and spent an afternoon pouring over records of the Magnolia Trace income tax credit applications in the company of DCA attorney Phyllis Carr. The review did not uncover any smoking guns assignable to Columbia County Officials, but found a huge one wafting smoke toward the Georgia Republican Party and its senior officeholders in government.
You see, the availability of income tax credits, especially the low income housing tax credit, had been around for years. Most of these credits expired unused. That was until Missouri based Affordable Equity Partners got measures through the Georgia legislature allowing the credits to be exchanged, marketed and sold to taxpayers, who could use the tax credits. Affordable Equity and its sister Capital Health Management, Inc. funded a bevy of GOP-beneficent PACs and made direct contributions to nearly all of the important party office holders. To date, Governor Deal has received $10,000, House Speaker David Ralston has received $9,500, and Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle has received more than $17,000 from this stable of companies and related PACs. The GOP, its incumbents in the legislature, and other supporting PACs have received another $240,000.
The Magnolia Trace affair was also a scandal in its approval process and the political donation largess was a deciding factor for approval, in this writer’s opinion. How widespread are these failures and malpractices by DCA and how much is it costing the people of Georgia?
Representative Lott and tax reformers, take note! To get tax reform for the people the path is directly through your leaders’ hefty campaign finances.
Let’s see if the candidates now running for Senate 24 and House 123 seats on passing a “fairtax” have that much tenacity.
You got your demons, you got desires, well I’ve got a few of my own – Don Henley
Four years ago, a loose coalition of citizens came together to bring a powerful blend of research, online publication, media presence, and reform to Augusta, Georgia and East Central Georgia. One started a blog named City Stink, that moniker being a statement of admiration for long-time Augusta Chronicle columnist Sylvia Cooper and her column City Ink, yet impishly labeling the town as the source for all manner of unsavory things. Augusta wasn’t the sole target, either. The archives of Agraynation are amply populated with the City Stink posts, which retain power and utility for change.
As with all human endeavors, members grew weary, lost stomach for the political idiocy, and allowed personal differences to intercede in what was a wonderful community effort. During a nearly two year hiatus, individuals in the group ventured out on various initiatives, successfully defeating SPLOST 7a in Augusta and forcing SPLOST 7b proponents to slash waste, while promising reforms. Members of the Facebook groups Augusta Today and Augusta Political Watch, along with old participants in the City Stink effort, have used the interruption in the fray to observe what transpired in the vacuum and how positive developments proceeded from those action-filled 30 months.
The methods were proven. Mistakes were made, but those were instructive. Glenn Frey, the late Eagle and co-writer of, “One of these Nights,” said, “We all have our dreams, a vision we hope will come true someday. When that ‘someday’ will come is up to each of us.” Yes, our demons and desires got in the way of continued success, but the need for action has never been greater.
America has lost nearly every institution with direct responsibility to control financial matters and the Rule of Law. The foundation of social stability is, for all practical matters, dead. The Accountants have abandoned financial standards that protected us for decades. The Lawmakers have rewritten the Law to legalize fraud. The Ministry has thrown, “THOU SHALT NOT STEAL,” out of the Ten Commandments. The Bankers have destroyed one of the two functions that make the United States Dollar, “money,” and are on the brink of killing the other. The Media have been either silenced or captivated.
We have the tools to overcome it all. The Augusta reformers proved several important techniques and strategies. As great as the challenges are, the technology and methods are here to overcome them all. All that is missing is desire to make it happen.
Laughter is the best medicine and there are bounteous sources of outrageous humor that only need a little attention to have everyone laughing on the way to restoring our cities, counties, states and America. We are in the midst of the greatest transformation and transition in 400 years, if not all of human history.
“Agraynation” perhaps sounds a lot like “aggravation” to some. The subscribers list is stale, yet there are many in the community and state included in the automatic notification feature. Posts may be coming faster than you like via your email account. If so, please UNSUBSCRIBE if you get one notification too many. Please accept my apology if notification that accompanies this post is that, “one too many.”
Thanks to everyone for you encouragement, support, and participation. And… … … welcome back to the fray.