cor·rup·tion [kuh-ruhp-shuhn] – noun
1. the act of corrupting or state of being corrupt.
2. moral perversion; depravity.
3. perversion of integrity.
4. corrupt or dishonest proceedings.
This fall’s Albany City Commission races aren’t any more critical than any other, really; indeed, every local election is and has been important to a community’s success and failures.
Still, the opportunity to reverse the culture of corruption, mismanagement, cronyism and waste that is occurring on the watch of the current commission and city manager seems to be at an optimum level. That’s because – thanks largely to the blatantly vile shenanigans occurring in the city manager’s office and police department in recent years – citizens throughout the community are more engaged than they’ve been since Willie Adams was first-elected mayor in 2004.
At stake when voters go to the polls on Nov. 3 are the community’s desperate economic condition, the municipal government’s burgeoning budget, and criminal activity that is so rampant in Albany that it is even occurring with regularity and blatancy on the fifth floor of city hall without consequence.
Indeed, we submit that City Manager Alfred Lott’s mismanagement of downtown redevelopment, including having a convicted felon on the job as manager and criminal conspirator for 18 months, isn’t an anomaly, by any means. Indeed, corruption is largely – but not exclusively – the status quo at city hall. We would even classify city government as a criminal enterprise.
In addition to former downtown manager Don Buie illegally giving taxpayer money to one of his bosses and to selected business owners, here are some examples of corrupt activities in Albany city government:
- Albany City Commissioner Tommie Postell and Lott schemed to spend $40,000 of taxpayer funds on a private development project – Curtis Davis Personal Care Home – to bring it up to code. When the scheme was revealed in the newspaper, the city decided instead to allow the personal care home to open in spite of it violating building code.
- Postell took a $2,500 campaign donation from Lajuana Woods and, within a month, had her appointed to the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority. Woods later accepted a secret $50,000 taxpayer-funded “grant” from Buie.
- The Albany City Commission plotted in an illegal meeting to abolish the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission. The conspiracy ended when it was revealed in the newspaper.
- * Without declaring a conflict of interest, Mayor Willie Adams violated state and local law by voting to spend federal funds administered by the city on a housing project developed by the mayor’s campaign manager. Adams later supported the developer’s request to rezone the development property; after none of the housing units sold, the developer declared bankruptcy, leaving taxpayers with a $500,000 bill.
- Adams’ 2004 campaign debt has been reduced by contributors who subsequently received city consulting jobs, including but not limited to Adams’ campaign manager and an Atlanta insurance executive whose company began providing services to the City of Albany after Dr. Adams was elected.
- Contrary to city law and in spite of City Attorney Nathan Davis’ advice, Adams donates public funds to churches, sororities, fraternities, service organizations and charities.
- * The Albany City Commission illegally spent $1 million of special-purpose local option sales tax funds on an environmental cleanup. The money wasn’t allocated by Albany Dougherty County voters to be used for the cleanup; besides, state regulations prohibit it being used for that purpose.
- Lott’s violations of federal wage and hour law have cost taxpayers more than $500,000.
- When Lott publicly declared that the only way to award Christopher King a liquor license to open an East Albany nightspot would be to break the law because of its close proximity to another club, who would have known that – five weeks later — the city would do just that? At Adams’ urging, Lott broke the law and King got his license to open Club Fahrenheit.
- Former District Attorney Ken Hodges told WALB-TV that as a matter of practice, former Police Chief James Younger’s officers deliberately manipulated crime statistics by reporting felony crimes as misdemeanors. Lott and the City Commission’s response: There was no response; later, Lott gave Younger $40,000 of taxpayer funds to resign.
- Systematically, Lott and his staff commit misdemeanor crimes by withholding information from the public.
- Buie testified in court that the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority board of directors has negotiated privately with a developer in executive session. Such a meeting would be a violation of the Georgia’s open meetings law.
- The City of Albany’s rules prohibiting some members from the public from addressing the City Commission violates the city charter and the U.S. Constitution’s First and 14th amendments.
Qualifying for the city elections for Wards 2, 3 and 5 begins Monday and ends Sept. 4. We hope that at least one of the winners has a direct line to the Federal Bureau of Investigation; there’s a municipal government in need of some serious policing.
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