Brown: Chairman Smith misleads on ties with developer-driven bank, mass transit

Several key points were made at the last candidates’ forum that distinguishes me from the incumbent Jack Smith. I will offer a few of those points in this correspondence. Video clips from the forum are available on my campaign website at www.sb4faycom.com.

Smith’s theme for the entire forum was something akin to “Steve Brown is just playing with your emotions.” I really do not think that is going to work. So many people are angry at the West Fayetteville Bypass he chose to build, the pork-filled SPLOST he tried to convince us to vote for and his votes in favor of bringing mass transit into Fayette County that the “playing on your emotions” argument probably will not pass.

The incumbent Smith made a point that I refuted which was his bank board position with the Bank of Georgia and their developer-friendly lending policies would not conflict with his county commissioner position where he votes on all kinds of land use and rezoning issues.

Smith told the gentleman asking the question that the Bank of Georgia did most of its lending “outside Fayette County.” However, the media archives are full of stories contradicting Smith’s claim.

Here is what the AJC had to say, “Like many of its peers, Bank of Georgia lent heavily to home builders and developers during the boom years, especially in Fayette and Coweta counties,” (AJC, Aug. 29, 2009). The AJC also reported the alarming news that “more than 80 percent of the bank’s total loan portfolio” was in loans to home builders and developers.

Commissioner Smith tried to cover his tracks by saying he would excuse himself from the portions of bank board meetings when there was a conflict of interest. The problem with that is neither the public nor the news media is allowed in the private Bank of Georgia board meetings.

I know how this works firsthand from when the Peachtree City government was trying to obtain records from Peachtree National Bank after finding out three of the Development Authority members who were pumping under-the-table loans into authority accounts were also on the board of Peachtree National Bank. The bank tried to block the local government’s every move.

Of course, there has not been a lot of development lending this year or last with the bad economy, but do we really want commission members in such conflicting positions when things crank back up? Almost every director on that bank’s board has some kind of link to land speculation, development or home construction.

Another issue with the incumbent Jack Smith is his voting in favor of mass transit buses and rail for Fayette County. Publicly he had always claimed to oppose mass transit in Fayette County. Common sense would dictate if you adamantly opposed something for your county that you would be expected not to vote in favor of it. An audience member asked Smith if he would vote the same way given another chance and he replied he “would vote the exact same way.”

Smith went on to explain how flawed the regional mass transit plan was and the person who asked the question followed-up by asking, “So you voted ‘yes?’” Smith attempted to make it look like he did not vote on anything related to Fayette County by saying, “I voted for the plan for metro Atlanta.”

Of course, the Fayette County bus routes, like the one from Riverdale to Fayetteville, and the rail routes are part of the “plan for metro Atlanta” Smith voted for every time it was up for a vote.

Another section where I really disagreed with the incumbent Jack Smith is how they handle high-ranking contract employees. At the forum, Smith said, “There are two people in the county who are contractual employees. The county attorney is one and the county manager is the other one.” He followed with, “That those two positions are the two that are independent, in effect, of the rest of the governing structure”

The distress signal was pulled when Smith admitted that the county manager’s contract read that he would not receive any type of formal performance review unless he, the county manager, asked for one. What possible reason would justify Smith setting up this type of contractual arrangement for the county manager?

If all of the county employees are subject to annual review then, the county manager should be also. The county manager, Jack Krakeel, is a nice guy, but why does he receive such special treatment? How are the citizens to trust such a process where there is no accountability for the highest ranking non-elected official in the county?

Another person from the audience said the county’s in-house attorney Scott Bennett has in his contract that he receive a performance review every year, but a review has never been performed. Commissioner Smith acknowledged what the woman was saying was true. Smith also said his colleagues on the County Board of Commissioners appointed him the person to do the evaluations.

Commissioner Smith’s nonchalant attitude toward creating official documentation and performance review is a serious matter. When accountability is lost, things begin to breakdown, scandals ensue.

One of the main things the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and our state agency criticized Smith’s Bank of Georgia Board of Directors for was “operating with a board of directors (‘Board’) whose supervision over and direction to the management of the Bank has not been adequate.”

The FDIC also criticized the bank for “operating with inadequate management whose policies and practices are detrimental to the Bank and jeopardize the safety of its deposits.” Another in the list of critical points was “operating with an ineffective loan review program.”

Honestly, do we want the same failure that happened at the Bank of Georgia to occur in our county government using the same type of weak policies?

I will serve you conflict-free, giving all employees the same fair treatment, demanding accountability at all levels. I oppose mass transit in Fayette County and I will move to terminate the wasteful West Fayetteville Bypass.

Early voting starts June 7, [voting at] PTC/Tyrone libraries starts July 12, Election Day is July 20. I would appreciate your vote. Special thanks to all who have served in our Armed Forces!

You can read the FDIC’s Order To Cease And Desist for Jack Smith’s bank Board of Directors at www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/enforcement/2009-06-06.pdf.

Steve Brown, candidate

Post 4, County Commission

stevebrownfayette@gmail.com

Peachtree City, Ga.

Spear Road Guy
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Sany gets more tax breaks and the B-52's at the Fred

My gosh people!!! How much have those 120 jobs cost the taxpayers??? It's looking like about $20,000 each. Were the jobs going away if the city council didn't give them another bucket of cash?

I'm marking that one right up there with the West Fayetteville Bypass. Stop wasting our tax dollars!

Last comment. The B-52's were dried up two decades ago. I didn't like them when my kid listened to them, so I'm not going to the Fred much anymore.

Mike King
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Spear,

I must agree. This Council has less spine than the last when it comes to holding any standard. Just sit back and enjoy the coming tax increase that will do nothing to offset the city's escalating debt.

Spyglass
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One thing Spear...

IF Logsdon had voted for reducing those fees to Sany, this board would have gone NUTS. Me thinks many have a double standard.

That said, re the Fred...Cheap Trick put on one WHALE of a show last Saturday night...They are more my style than the B-52's...who I saw in Athens when they were just getting started..Private Idaho is a good little tune.

Steve Brown
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This is what Dufresne does not want you to read ... the truth

When you have a sitting commissioner voting on land use and zoning and he is also on the board of a bank cited for carrying 80-percent of its loans in local homebuilding and development, we have a huge problem. What is the incentive here: sound government or profit potential?

On the mass transit in the county, Commissioner Smith says "no, no, no," but votes "yes, yes, yes." Look at the actions not the words.

As far as the review and oversight process for the top county employees, take a look at what the FDIC cited Smith and his board for and you will see those policies are not only unfair to the hundreds of other employees, but also dangerous.

Spyglass
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Both of you candidates

and your mud slinging is quite a put off to me. Can we have another choice? You two act like spoiled kids.

Steve Brown
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Oh come on Spyglass

Cite an example of my mudslinging. You have all the letters right here on this site. Show us.

Spyglass
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So now, you want to argue..

One candidate claims the other left their children for the City to take care of. You use the word "developer" like it's an all around bad word.

Are you really with a straight face going to claim ALL the letters to the paper from you two sound like they were written by responsible adults? Folks that we in Fayette County want to be on the Commission?

I've tried to have serious talks with you here on issues such as traffic etc...you will not speak to the problems. You seem to only speak of what you disagree with the other Candidates on.

All I've asked for is some half way intelligent ideas from you two. I'm not the one running for office, I shouldn't have to explain it to you. The letter above is a good start, much more intelligent in my opinion.

ginga1414
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mudcat and mbest, sugarfoot is right!

mudcat and mbest, sugarfoot is right when she says we have all been served up on a silver platter. Jack, Eric and the rest of the commission did serve us up on a silver platter when it came to their developer bypass/parkway. I say "their" because they are the commissioners who decided to spend our money on a project they can't or won't try to justify. The connection is very clear. What are some of the first questions a prospective home buyer asks a realtor when they are considering buying a home? Where is the closest school? Well, if you have several brand new schools sitting in the middle of housing developments, what more could any parent want? When you have a Bank Board of Directors member who is also a County Commissioner, what more could that DEVELOPER DRIVEN BANK WANT? When you have a Board of Education Chairman who's husband is a developer, with a DEVELOPER DRIVEN BANK, with hundreds of acres of DEVELOPER LAND, with new schools in the middle of DEVELOPER LAND, adjacent to THE ROAD THAT JACK BUILT, WHAT MORE COULD ANYONE WANT? Yep, we were served up on a silver platter. The Bank and the developers owned the platter.

Not only were the people of Fayette County served up on a silver platter, we were sold out to the Atlanta Regional Commission and MARTA. Jack Smith seems to love serving on Boards. He served/serves on the ARC Transportation Board. Low and behold, Jack starts building Phase I of the West Fayetteville Bypass. He can't/won't justify building Phase II of the Bypass but he continues on with it anyway. The Bypass supposedly ends in a direct line with MARTA. All the while, Jack is voting "yes" to the ARC Transportation Plan that would bring MARTA buses and trains into Fayette County. Then he denies that he wants MARTA buses and trains in Fayette County. When questioned about that, he said that he voted for an ARC plan. Well, duh! That ARC Transportation Plan included bringing MARTA buses and trains into Fayette County. He said that he "fought like a dog" to keep us out of the plan. However, he must have been fighting like a Chihuahua because it is documented that he voted "yes" to the plan.

Yep, the citizens of Fayette County have been served up on a silver platter to the developers all the while we were being sold out to the Atlanta Regional Commission and MARTA. As I said before, Jack loves serving on Boards.

Steve Brown
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Mike King on Incumbents and the AJC

Mike, if it will make you feel any better, here are some other quoted related to the banks activity in Fayette County quoting top bank staff:

(1) http://archive.thecitizen.com/node/38509

http://archive.thecitizen.com/node/38460

"Gable and Shepherd said since that the bank’s inception nearly a decade ago loans went primarily to support the local residential housing market that has been thriving for years.

They said the BOG loan business was geared primarily to support the front-end of the building and construction industry in Fayette and Coweta counties rather than the back end where home mortgages are purchased."

(2) Published Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Local Deposits are safe, says Bank of Georgia president
BY JEFF BISHOP
THE TIMES-HERALD
"In our market, which is Fayette and Coweta, we are a reflection of those communities that we serve, and the builders and developers have been hit by this economy, so we have had to repossess quite a few of the homes they built and the lot inventories.” – Pat Shepherd

The Atlanta Business Chronicle also has a similar story.

Mike King
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Steve, Steve, Steve....

You're making it awfully difficult for those of us who really don't want to retain an incumbent. Do you actually believe Fayette Countians place creedence in an article from the AJC? And your 'alarming ' quote about a bank established in a fast developing market at 80% to developers and builders is of no consequence except to an unseated Mayor trying to rewrite his record.

I do agree with you on the mass transit fiasco and the WFB stoppage, but please don't try discussing contract employees. After all, was it not you who hired our city manager?

ginga1414
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Just Asking, I Agree

Brown definitely does his homework. That is called credibility. I admire and respect credibility in public officials and anyone, for that matter. Twisted and skewed pontifications are just that, twisted and skewed.

By the way, I loved your quote from the other piece.

Just Asking
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Brown cites credible sources

Do you have any knowledge of the AJC at all? Of course it is considered a credible source. The staff has received at least 10 Pulitizer prizes over the years in addition to many, many other journalistic awards. Please do not attempt to speak for others in the community about what we find credible.

pips1414
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Robert W. Morgan, Ask Mr. Maxwell To Support His Position

Mr. Morgan can get the facts simply by asking his buddy, Eric Maxwell to come clean with the voters on why he won't divert the Bypass funds to other SPLOST projects when they have hoards of angry voters against the project. Mr. Smith would be well served to also explain why he has chosen to go down with his ship by saying "only a court order can stop the bypass". In an election year with so many opposed to the project, this, you don't do. Sooner or later, both commissioners will paint themselves so far into the corner, they won't be able to get out.

When Chairman Smith stated that his Bank of Georgia did very little business in Fayette County, its CEO, Pat Shepherd, said that most of the business was done in Fayette and Coweta counties.

Neither commissioner has any raw data that will support the bypass as anything other than pork. When it comes to the taxpayers, it's spoiled pork.

Smith and Maxwell are getting desperate to attack those who speak the truth, but we have yet to see either one of them send in an article about why MARTA and the bypass are in the best interest of Fayette County.

ginga1414
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Jack Smith and Eric Maxwell Need To Document

So if you really want the truth about what Jack Smith and Eric Maxwell said during the Town All Meetiing last week, all of the questions and answers can be viewed at the www.tbfaco.com website. Even though Jack Smith doesn't document his job reviews of the county manager and the county attorney, our people have documented last week's meeting so the public can see for themselves.

Pay close attention to what Eric Maxwell said about a judgeship position. It sounds to me like he is just waiting to see who will present the best offer. Which will come first; a judgeship position or county commissioner? I guess he is keeping his options open. Well, Mr. Maxwell, the voters of this county have options, too. We do have the power to vote you out. It doesn't sound as if you are really committed to the position of commissioner.

Steve Brown tells the public where his information can be found such as the FDIC's Order To Cease And Desist. If anyone would like to see for themselves what kind of job Jack Smith and the other Bank of Georgia's Board of Directors are doing, just go to www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/enforcement/2009-06-06.pdf. I guess we could consider that a job review, so to speak, for Jack Smith.

Exactly what reason would Jack Smith have for not documenting his job review of the county manager and the county attorney? I have never heard of a job review not being documented.

ginga1414
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Jack Smith and Eric Maxwell Need To Document

So if you really want the truth about what Jack Smith and Eric Maxwell said during the Town All Meetiing last week, all of the questions and answers can be viewed at the www.tbfaco.com website. Even though Jack Smith doesn't document his job reviews of the county manager and the county attorney, our people have documented last week's meeting so the public can see for themselves.

Pay close attention to what Eric Maxwell said about a judgeship position. It sounds to me like he is just waiting to see who will present the best offer. Which will come first; a judgeship position or county commissioner? I guess he is keeping his options open. Well, Mr. Maxwell, the voters of this county have options, too. We do have the power to vote you out. It doesn't sound as if you are really committed to the position of commissioner.

Steve Brown tells the public where his information can be found such as the FDIC's Order To Cease And Desist. If anyone would like to see for themselves what kind of job Jack Smith and the other Bank of Georgia's Board of Directors are doing, just go to www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/enforcement/2009-06-06.pdf. I guess we could consider that a job review, so to speak, for Jack Smith.

Exactly what reason would Jack Smith have for not documenting his job review of the county manager and the county attorney? I have never heard of a job review not being documented.

grassroots
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Jack Smith's Accounting

Moving money around from one average project to one bad project but saves money is bad accounting that appears to look good. Just ask the boys on Wall Street where Jack must've learned his accounting. Pay the rich and fool the public. So standard operating procedures. See his Bank's Cease and Desist Order (that's what you get before they come in on Friday night and take the keys) at www.SPLOSTPOLL.com

bringinabroom
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Jack Smith's taking care of Jack and

Jack Smith's taking care of Jack and all his Chamber buddies. That's how incumbents play the game, telling how they're tight with our money while taking care of their crowd. What has Jack done in the way of community service? Serving on the Developers Bank Board? Ha... Throw the bums out.

johenry
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Wow! It's about the issues (take notes Smith and Maxwell)

Jack Smith can't compete with this. The last thing Jack Smith want in this race is the facts.

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