January 25, 2016
Is what TWG said about the $1,136,600,000 in JDA bonds the “reckless disregard for the truth” and false as JDA members contend, or did TWG expose something no one knew about and caught the JDA in their own web of secrecy and deceit? You decide.
The JDA –no name attached—circulated a “response to Mary Patrick’s accusations” referring to the TWG 1/20/16 article-– NINE (9) MEN LIED & DECEIVED THE FOUR COUNTIES OF JASPER, NEWTON, MORGAN, AND WALTON last Tuesday before the Newton County BOC meeting took place to approve a resolution taking on the Bank of Madison note for JDA.
Please read this response by JDA then read the facts below.
This blog will only cover items #1, #3, and #5 concerning the $1,136,600,000 bond issue. Forthcoming blogs will cover the other items.
JDA item #1 says that the $1,136,600,000 bond issue was not in “secret.”
TWG contends that no one, other than JDA members, their attorney, State EcDev people, and possibly TPA members and a few others knew about these bonds until they were exposed last week. Other Commissioners in the 4 counties did not know about these bonds and most of all, the public did not know about these bonds.
JDA says the “inducement agreement dated 4/19/12” was widely distributed. A copy of that agreement was received today in answer to an open records request last week. I have not read it yet; however, any and all newspaper articles that were seen and read at the time (2012) never mentioned $1,136,600,000 of bonds taken on by JDA for Baxter. JDA says “there were numerous newspaper articles reporting the details of the transaction with Baxter.” This statement may be true on its face, but it does not address the statement by TWG that the bonds were issued without the public knowing about them or the amount of the bonds. Here are two articles that lay out the incentives.
- article in Newton Citizen outlining what taxpayers via State and Local governments were giving away.
- article in the AJC also outlining all the incentives.
However, there is No mention of $1B in bonds in either article, other than “JDA could issue bonds” or “unknown cost of issuing Industrial Development Bonds.”
Since JDA says they can pull the “numerous” articles about $1B in bonds, we are asking them to provide any articles in any of the 4 county’s newspapers or even in the AJC where it is stated that JDA was issuing $1,136,600,000 of Industrial Development Bonds for Baxter.
JDA item #3 denies there was “Lack of information presented at the May 2, 2012 meeting at Charlie Elliott”
It is hard to believe that whoever wrote this response would write that Mary Patrick asked about “the lease structure” –something that was not even discussed at the meeting–and her questions were answered. The lease and bond were not discussed at this meeting; if that had been true people would have known about it shortly thereafter. All that was discussed at this meeting was how much tax money was projected to be received from Baxter and when. This item also says that Mary Patrick “misconstrued” what Paul Michael of TPA said. Nothing could be further from the truth. Paul Michael stood up in the middle of the aisle and plainly said, “The 4 counties will not have to put in any more money to this project. You have already put in all the money to make this happen.”
JDA item #5 says TWG claimed “the bond validation proceedings were not advertised properly.”
This statement is blatantly false. TWG even had a link to the legal ad in the Morgan County Citizen. What TWG did question was the fact that there was no notice in any Newton County paper. There was no notice in any Walton County paper. There was no notice in any Jasper County paper. The only notice was published in the Morgan County Citizen in the legal ads on 6/28/12 and 7/5/12.
JDA claims that the offices of the JDA/Four County Development Authority are in Morgan County and that is why the bond hearing was held there. That is news to everyone that has kept up with JDA because everything about JDA has always gone through Tommy Craig and his office (College St., Covington) address has been used on everything, which happens to be in Newton County.
No other county had to be notified, legally, but ethically is another story.
Wouldn’t it seem more open and transparent, which JDA tries to prove they are in their response to item #1, to have published the legal ad in Newton County which comprises almost half (46.4%) of the 4 county population? Or better yet in all 4 counties affected? No, because that might have alerted people like Sam Hay who tried to stop the JDA from paying double the market value for land back in 1998/1999 by filing a lawsuit.
So, you decide what is true. And if anyone reading this knew about these bonds before now, please let us know. If anyone can send us any article showing the name of the publication and date published where it states $1,136,600,000 of bonds were to be issued for JDA and/or Baxter, please do so.
Until the next blog, addressing the Bond and Lease and how this works, you may want to read the JDA/Baxter lease agreement for yourself.
Here it is—only 72 pages.
Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.