Editor’s note: This news analysis was published in The Albany Journal on Jan. 3, 2008
When the Albany Journal reported in August that Albany’s city manager and City Commissioner Tommie Postell had brokered a deal to pay for a constituent’s work with taxpayer funds, we theorized that Postell’s motivation was political clout – “if nothing else.”
Well, as it turns out, there was something else.
A couple hundred dollars, to be precise.
Public records show that the beneficiary of the scheme – businessman Curtis
Davis – contributed $200 to Commissioner Tommie Postell’s re-election campaign
fund in October.
When Mr. Davis’ project on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive failed a life safety code inspection because of inadequate electrical work, Postell went to Lott, who decided that if Davis secured two bids – no matter the amount – taxpayers would pay half the cost.
Lott is only allowed to spend $40,000 of taxpayers’ money without first getting the City Commission’s approval; that’s the precise amount Lott agree to spend. But the deal dissolved after the Journal exposed it; instead, Lott overturned his inspectors’ ruling that the new personal care home must adhere the national electrical codes required for medical facilities.
So, what are the consequences in Albany of such graft?
Nothing, usually — and it’s highly unlikely that the Albany Ethics Board will look into the matter.
First, the board is appointed by the City Commission.
Second, the ethics panel has never met – not even when City Commissioner was accused of taking a $300 kickback, for which he is spending 2½ years in federal prison.
Doesn’t someone have the Feds’ number?