Friday, March 2, 2012

Deke's Award Collection Rests on a Mountain of Hubris

The Boy Con's Purloined Award Collection
Channeling His Inner Bush and Obama?

March 2, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Brad Owens

The history books almost certainly will label these days The Era of Hubris, a period in which stunning achievements were claimed by a generation politico's built entirely on massive debt. Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize and Ben Bernanke's Man of the Year come to mind on the national stage. Here in Augusta we have their kinsman, Ironman Deke Copenhaver, whose profile has recently graced Southern Living, Georgia Trend, Georgia Planning Association, and Harvard University Student Journal of Real Estate for achievements in the Laney Walker neighborhood. Copenhaver and sidekick Chester Wheeler, Augusta's Housing Director have been picking up awards and citations by the boatload.

Are these awards really backed by principles of iron, free market economics, public-private cooperation, and  genuine revitalization? Or were they the produce of $millions in stimulus funds, trampling on property rights, a captive media propaganda campaign, and a hidden web of shaky, unsustainable finance?

Mayor Copenhaver truly deserves our plaudits for authoring a stunningly successful strategy. Let's call it the Copenhaver Award Winning Trail to Glory and Honor. Join us as we embark on the merry trail.

Step One – When, on August 21, 2007, the city commission fails to pass a motion approving your coveted Tee Center, bring it back at the end of the meeting for “unanimous” passage after black commissioners are coerced with promises of $tens of  millions in funding for their community.

Step Two – Use creative accounting to make $12 million look like $37.5 million. You do this by taking $750,000 over an incredible fifty years! You then hope nobody finds the City of Augusta analysis showing all but $12 million eaten up by bond repayments and a stunning $11 million of interest. (See Funding Summary Document Here)

Step Three – When the $37.5 million proves to be nowhere in sight, you borrow against future borrowings by $1 million, which you also hope nobody notices in the City's finances. When that abruptly runs out, you borrow more emergency funds in chunks of $150,000. (See Emergency Funds Document here)

Step Four– Claim that private investment in Laney Walker will be 5:1 what public investment spending is. (See Leveraging Claim Document Here). Ignore the fact that the City got stimulus and other federal funds to provide land, street improvements, and infrastructure upgrades to the “private” developers for free. Hope nobody notices that you actually tried to get and spend $60 million, of which the inverse was true at $5:1 public to private funds. (See Neighborhood Stabilization II Document here)

Step Five – Entice suburban real estate development firms who were damaged by the 2008 real estate meltdown into Laney Walker with “cannot lose” propositions. Shovel money into politically connected inner city construction firms, even to the extent of advancing them their overhead and profit. Ignore huge errors in the budgets used to justify funding. (See Neighborhood Stabilization II Document here)

Step Six – Have your contracted consulting firm, APD, apply for overlay zoning for all of Laney Walker when it only has the legal right to apply for a small corner at Dent and Wrightsboro. After activists call attention to the illegalities in the application in the first public meeting, change it in mid-stream to the smaller node in time for the second public meeting. When the smaller node passes the planners, put it on the agenda for the city commission as being the much bigger “Laney Walker Bethlehem Overlay Zone” anyway. When the motion runs into trouble on the floor, trot out proponents who are not on the agenda and give them twice the time to present as opponents on the agenda. (See Article "Deke Plays Favorites here)

Step Seven – When fooling the public and the commission fails, rehear and pass an amended application for the smaller Foundry node, but use influence with the local daily newspaper to have them proclaim that the  Augusta Commission approves Laney-Walker overlay zoning district. This creates the public perception that the greater Laney Walker Overlay got approved. It didn't.

Step Eight – When the new urbanist acolytes in the state and national development community find Augusta's stunning assault on property rights appealing have them characterize the process thusly: "Augusta's 'one-of-a-kind' role as master developer could be a 'game-changing' national model for public-private partnerships." Yes, throwing out a couple of centuries of constitutional rights is absolutely “Game Changing.”

Step Nine – When your new overlay zoning even in the tiny node proves unworkable, hold a standard rezoning hearing hoping the public and media don't notice. (See Planning Commission Agenda here)

Step Ten – Smile for the camera while trying not to be overshadowed by Chester's sartorial splendor.

Deke "Iron Man" Copenhaver, the "Mandate" mayor, never misses a chance to promote himself, errrr... I mean the citizens. So I thought I would enumerate the steps in his amazing success, errrr, I mean Augusta's amazing success under his "visionary" leadership.

Lt. Col. Brad "Bradfly" Owens

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