And this group is still meeting to decide how to spend millions of our dollars? You have got to be kidding me. It is one of three things; the powers that really run things downtown are either corrupt, ignorant, or apathetic. Actually, I believe it is all three.
The Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority will be using their entire bank roll of $400,000 on hand, plus another $100,000 off their new line of “credit” through a $6 million bond, not to spur business, or attract residents and visitors to our city, but simply to pay back the city. ADICA has a mission to aid in the progressive improvement of the downtown Albany area, but it seems that all they do is cut checks, then cut more checks to cover the misspent funds from previous checks. Even if it were their own money, this would seem like a foolish process and a waste of effort toward the stated goals of the group, but it’s not their money; it’s yours, so it’s a bit more serious than that.
I challenge anyone that believes ADICA has served this community well, to show some specifics to back up that claim. Even Albany Tomorrow Inc., an organization that was not without controversy itself, knew how to manage a simple facade improvement program. They contracted with a designer to establish a certain style for a particular area, accepted applications and filing fees from any downtown business that wanted to be involved in the facade upgrade, and then took care of the work. True, there are some questions about this particular contract or that in the ATI program, but everything done was for facade work, not ground-up development, computer systems, merchandise, and internal upgrades that were common in the ADICA “façade” plan.
Instead of managing the program, ADICA simply asked businesses to supply invoices and requests so they could do what they do best; cut checks without a lot of that pesky and bothersome thing called oversight. This was blood in the water to a man with a history of financial fraud like Don Buie. You can only imagine the claims that were staked out for some of your tax money. I think they called theirs a facade grant program because it was to cover all sorts of expenditures that we were never to know about. Had Buie not been exposed by a handful of citizens and media, it would have worked. The only obvious facade work done in the ADICA plan, was $50,000 dollars worth for a restaurant on Radium Springs Road, well outside the territory authorized for the grant money.
And this group is still meeting to decide how to spend millions of our dollars? You have got to be kidding me. It is one of three things; the powers that really run things downtown are either corrupt, ignorant, or apathetic. Actually, I believe it is all three. The best thing for Albany right now is for all of the meetings, public and private, all the budgeting and planning, all the debates and the activity that seems to go on regardless of the obvious lack of practical thinking and common sense, to come to a grinding halt.
Just think of the money we could save for more police on the streets, more emergency services, more meals for our hungry, tax breaks for residents and private businesses to move in, and programs for our children, if these folks just shut up for six months, decided nothing, and spent not one more dollar. For all their efforts and check writing, any real movement forward in the downtown area is microscopic. Real progress has waited this long, it can wait a little longer. I’ll be willing to bet that if ADICA and the city were to simply back off and let the natural flow of business and residential development grow unhindered by their “service to the community”, downtown Albany would find new life and a new future that we cannot even imagine today.
Written by Lon McNeil. Mr. McNeil is an Albany independent marketing consultant. Find him online at AlbanyOnPoint.