The reporter who conducted the interview with Industrial Authority Project Manager Allen Ricketts has been subsequently repeatedly contacted by Ricketts for what he deems “false reporting.” According to Ricketts, the timeline was never official and was only something the Industrial Authority threw together to appease the Times when given an official Open Records Request. Ricketts is apparently unaware that legally he cannot produce a document that does not exist to comply with said request. If he knowingly did so, as he now claims, that is a clear violation of the Open Records Act.Presumably that would be the “Project Critical Path time-line is attached” that wasn’t actually attached to documents returned for an open records request of 17 February 2011. Hm, since VLCIA did supply such a document to the VDT, presumably it is now a VLCIA document subject to open records request, even though it was not what VLCIA told VDT it was.
Back to the VDT editorial:
The Times refuses to print a retraction because there is nothing to retract. The timeline was provided to the newspaper in a full meeting with Ricketts, Industrial Authority director Brad Lofton, board member Mary Gooding, a vice president with Wiregrass, and three members of the editorial staff of the Times. At no point when repeatedly questioned about the timeline did anyone say it was not a binding document produced and provided as part of the Economic Development Agreement. At no point did anyone say “they made it up to make the Times happy.”I’ve been saying for some time that “In refusing debate, VLCIA staff are following orders from their board”. Since one of their board members was at the meeting with the VDT, apparently either
- VLCIA staff are following orders to make up fake documents
- or VLCIA board doesn’t know its staff is making up fake documents
Clearly, regardless of the fake timeline, the biomass plant has slipped a deadline, the 1 September 2010 original “commencement of construction and installation of the Project” that was spelled out in the Economic Development Agreement (EDA). Surely the EDA wasn’t also made up to please the VDT?
Add to this deadline-slipping and timeline-fabrication these other items:
- Brad Lofton’s repeated memory failures,
- Lofton’s reciting inaccurate history of previous events, which Brad Bergstrom accurately referred to as “unnecessary and very sad,”
- Lofton’s misrepresentation and ridicule of the local NAACP’s allegations of environmental racism that maybe the VLCIA board can’t ignore now that the local NAACP president has presented them directly to the board.
- VLCIA’s protracted misrepresentation of the Georgia Sierra Club’s position repeatedly pointed out by Leigh Touchton until Colleen Kiernan, Georgia Chapter Director, wrote a letter saying “we would appreciate it if our position was no longer misrepresented,”
- and for that matter Lofton and Ricketts trying to pass off a stack of powerpoint slides as peer-reviewed evidence of carbon neutrality.
Given such a track record, sceptical perceptions by members of the community are understandable.
Perhaps the Valdosta City Council should find out what’s going on before it agrees to sell wastewater to a plant with a fake timeline.
Perhaps the Lowndes County Commission should exercise its fiduciary responsibility and find out what’s going on over at the appointed board for which the Commission co-guarantees $15 million in debt.
Maybe the Commission should revisit the various documents submitted on behalf of the biomass plant at the 9 June 2009 rezoning hearing.
In any case, accusing the newspaper of record of “false reporting” after providing it with fake information may not have been a wise move. The VDT’s last word in that editorial:
If this project doesn’t break ground in two months, which is appearing to be less and less likely, the Industrial Authority employees and board members have only themselves to blame for woefully mishandling this project and anyone who dared to question it.