VDT says VLCIA illegally made up a document

Today’s editorial in the VDT is Another Industrial Authority misstep refers to the VDT article and editorial of Sunday, and continues:
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
  1. VLCIA staff are following orders to make up fake documents
  2. or VLCIA board doesn’t know its staff is making up fake documents
If it’s number (2), did the VLCIA board believe the fake timeline? Or did they just not care whether there was a timeline?

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:

If we were to get into the chronically ignored community concerns about health effects of biomass, such as those raised by Wiregrass Activists for Clean Energy (WACE), Students Against Violating the Environment (SAVE), and others, we could compose a much longer list.

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.


2 thoughts on “VDT says VLCIA illegally made up a document

  1. Thank You

    Thank you, Mr. Quarterman, for this excellent coverage. Valdosta citizens are indebted to you. Thank you.

  2. Ethics in Government

    The entire Industrial Authority Board needs to be removed because they:
    1. Hired Brad Lofton even though there were serious questions related to his firing from Effingham County
    2. Erroneously maintained their website to reflect that Lofton was “employed” when in fact he had been fired by Effingham
    3. Hired Allan Ricketts whom the Valdosta Daily Times publicly questioned as to whether he provided false documents in answer to their Open Records Request.
    I think it’s outrageous that Mr. Ricketts accused the Valdosta Daily Times’ reporter of “false reporting.”
    I’m particularly disgusted that one of the Industrial Authority board members is a local attorney (Roy Copeland) who ought to know some basics about Open Records Requests if Steve Gupton (the Industrial Authority attorney of record) doesn’t know what it means when a newspaper publicly questions whether a government agency produced false documents.
    We need to call in the Georgia Attorney General for an investigation. Shame on all of the Industrial Authority, SHAME.
    And what’s up with Mary Gooding? She works at Valdosta State University which has a Code of Ethics and she’s involved in this mess? If I were Mary Gooding, I’d be resigning and abandoning this sinking ship, because the next thing is they are going to start pointing their fingers at each other trying to blame someone other than him or herself for this mess.
    I bet next there will be some crazy story about who did what and why they left…you know, like what the Effingham newspaper reported when Lofton was fired from that job.
    Shame on all of them.
    PS. Tom Call, if I were you, I’d get out NOW. Why stay associated with this mess? Save your reputation, resign and tell them and Valdosta citizens that you want no part of this mess.

Comments are closed.