December 1, 2016
An open letter to JDA in response to their DEMAND letter.
I didn’t realize YOU had already made the decision that the $1.1 Billion of bonds were NOT secret. I guess I didn’t get that message, because I personally still believe they were secret. I base my opinion on the following facts.
Why do I say the $1.1 BILLION of JDA bonds were secret?
- There were no reports mentioning the amount of the bonds in any local paper in any of the 4 counties from 2012 to 2015 that I could find.
- There were no reports mentioning the amount of the bonds in the Atlanta Journal -AJC (regional) from 2012 to 2015 that I could find.
- There were no reports mentioning the amount of the bonds in Atlanta Business Chronicle (business) from 2012 to 2015 that I could find.
- The bonds were never mentioned in any of the JDA’s own annual financial compilations from 2012 to 2015. That is until the 2015 financials were released after the January 2016 revelation; then suddenly the $1.1 Billion of bonds were mentioned in the financial notes.
- The amount of the bonds were hidden in layers of documents. There were four or five documents (some with 100 pages or more) that had to be read, each one mentioning another document, before the bond amount of $1,136,600,000 was mentioned.
Maybe all the other citizens in the 4 counties except me knew about these bonds. However, if everyone else had known, it doesn’t seem likely the JDA would be so concerned that you had to send your lawyer to every BOC in the 4 counties to explain and assure them that the $1.1 Billion of bonds would never be the counties’ liability. If everyone already knew about the bonds, why was the JDA so upset when questions started arising, and why did you react with such intensity?
Andrea Gray, your lawyer, has contended that the bonds were revealed to the commissioners and school boards in 2012, but in reality only the tax incentives given to Baxter were openly revealed. Even the documents signed by the School Boards (I have copies of Newton’s and Walton’s) only mentioned tax incentives, not bonds. I was a commissioner at this time, and took very good notes at the Charlie Elliott meeting and every other meeting—no bonds were ever mentioned.
The JDA says the issue of the “secrecy” of the $1.1 Billion in bonds for Baxter was settled in January 2016 and DEMANDS a retraction of my statement that the bonds were secret and very, very few people knew about them. My opinion is based on the above facts, and I stand by it.
Mary Patrick, Chair
Taxpayer’s Watchdog Group, Inc.