Mayor Willie Adams and other politicians beamed as they dug shovels in 2007 in east Albany to break ground for the Enclave at Oglethorpe, hailed as an Atlanta-like urban development for low- to middle-income residents. The taxpayer-subsidized project was to help redefine an otherwise depressed area by bringing residents of various income levels.
Today, the Enclave is a ghost area – overgrown and unsellable. Some condos were completed, and even furnished, but none were sold. University Gardens apartments, a sister project, never got off the ground. All taxpayers got for their investment was a staggering $500,000 bill for a loan that a bank would never have approved.
The city’s beneficiary/developer for the project was Adams’ campaign manager, Rod Mullice, who along with his partner went bankrupt, squandering $500,000 in taxpayer funds. It’s no telling what they actually did with the money; the developers continually ignored City Attorney Nathan Davis’ request for required documentation on how the loan was spent, while Adams and then-City Manager Alfred Lott – who were ever-so-eager in spending spend our money on the deal – refused to vet the truth.
In a perfect world, Adams would be behind bars and his cohorts – Lott and City Commission members who also approved the deal, would have been removed from office. From the beginning, the development gamble involved questionable players, lacked financial analysis, and faced major roadblocks from the start – or else taxpayers would have been brought in to foot the bill.
The recession had nothing to do with this train wreck. Rather, the mess was the creation of bad management that ignored appeals by this newspaper to just say no to corruption, for which residents have higher taxes to prepare for now.
This is a lesson that you should never trust anyone who doesn’t have something to lose. Adams and Lott had no skin in the Enclave at Oglethorpe/University Gardens game. They got paid just the same while the taxpayers got the shaft.
Albany residents seeking to fill our community’s leadership void in public and appointed offices will have our full support only if they denounce the villainous acts upon our citizens, such as the half-million-dollar Enclave robbery.
By Kevin Hogencamp