Our honest responses to HUD —George Rhynes and John Robinson

Received today. -jsq

September 26, 2012
George Boston Rhynes
5004 Oak Street
Valdosta, Georgia 31605
TO: U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development
Valdosta City Government
Valdosta Housing Authority
Valdosta Industrial Authority

The following is our honest responses to HUD and in response to the City of Valdosta’s 8th Year of responding to HUD CPMP Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report. This includes Narrative Responses to CAPER questions in relations to and with the Consolidated Planning Regulations and questions from the general public as highlighted on page 5, paragraph 1.

CITIZENS VIEW POINT AND RESPONSES: {GEORGE BOSTON RHYNES AND JOHN ROBNISON} after reviewing all previous CAPTER’S and the city’s responses to them, I commend the City of Valdosta for responding to HUD in an extremely professional manner on paper. One can see and feel the professional prowess involved in providing these answers the City of Valdosta has placed on paper over the city’s (long) historic past. However, when one looks deeper into the problems facing our beloved community, one will find the following to be as Paul Harvey would say the rest of——-the story!

GENERAL QUESTIONS: The City of Valdosta’s response on the issues remains the same as reported in many other CAPERS such as:

  • City attained the goal of:
  • # of homes was brought up to code.
  • Worked in conjunction with——
  • to train, resident information sessions were held that yielded nearly 30 attendees etc.
  • Staff continues to…., Overall, the city is pleased with the second Consolidated Plan Submission.
  • (3.a) The city hosted several Section 3 Information Sessions and will continue to provide more information to…. Work with local community and faith-based organizations to identify and address.
  • I could go on and on with these highly professional lines of what some see as solutions to the real problems in the City of Valdosta, Georgia. However there is another side and forgive me for not going through the complete CAPER in the above manner. I am sure your time is valuable; therefore I will cut through the chase and provide the following in response to the City of Valdosta RESPONSES. Not only to this CAPER but others we have read and taken into consideration:

A recent meeting held in the Valdosta City Annex about Community Housing etc. perhaps exemplifies

how local citizens are treated; mistreated or overlooked throughout all levels of local governments please see the video of this meeting wherein citizens barely got a chance to say anything at this public meeting.

At present the head coordinator over the housing problem does not have a track record of working with any Metro City Housing Problems therefore citizens of concern have little to no confidence in the program from the top to the bottom, or from the onset it seems that the entire system is rigged because citizens have NOT been actual participants (community) in the process or received benefits from the federal program. We know this because all the people put in place have been removed from office. I (GEORGE BOSTON RHYNES) along with Mr. JOHN ROBINSON) was told by all involved that they themselves were inexperienced in the job. Mr. Harper Hunter told us repeatedly that he was inexperienced although he was given the position in the Metropolitan City of Valdosta, Georgia, and now the city seems to put VSEB with impediments problems that they have now.

Over a six month period we were constantly told that employees for the City of Valdosta did not have the experience or expertise to do the job for which they were assigned. Even Myra Register said that she was inexperienced in the area of making the necessary decisions and doing what was required to resolve the problems that we presented to the City of Valdosta. Moreover Ms. Ruby Resinger did not have the experience that was needed to get the job done for the good of the city and the low economically oppressed citizens. After Mr. Harper had departed for whatever reason Ms Ruby Resenger was placed in his position and the VSEB Program became a flop as seen by contractors and community that met on several occasions only to be let down.

Valdosta low income contractors and community leaders along with civil and human rights organizations were jerked around and led to believe that the City of Valdosta would include them into the economic pie of opportunity only to be let down in what has become a part of the local historic archival record of total failure. Former Mayor John Fretti brought a dark shadow over the city of Valdosta that involved issues that we will not mention here but this dark cloud overshadowed the city and Ms. Ruby Resinger was removed from the position and received a job at Valdosta State University. Many believe the normal process of applications; advertisement and getting the best qualified personnel for the position was avoided to accommodate someone that was in the circle of power

When Ruby was removed from the position the city put Sidney Graham in the position and this was another inexperienced person. It must be noted that all these people that were assigned to this position were removed and now Sidney Graham was assigned. Even more importantly and amazing is that no qualified Black could be given the opportunity to try and deal with the problems in this Metro City wherein Blacks are the majority. Even the city annex complex jobs and positions must be looked into and questioned along the lines of diversity and fairness during these hard economic times. This mentioned only because we see a pattern and practice of the city placing inexperienced people over major city programs, apparently to maintain the same old power structure that has existed from the founding of the City of Valdosta with no end in view.

While Ms. Vanessa has the respect and confidence of the community she does not have one small town or city that she can show the validity of her experience in resolving housing problems in a Metro City such as Valdosta. We speak only because for decades Valdosta has had serious problems, omissions and exclusions without solutions in dealing with HUD and repeated community impediments. This is not used as a negative reflection of Ms Vanessa but this question was asked for information purposes and Ms. Vanessa responded truthfully. Therefore this is the guessing game the City of Valdosta seems to be playing all over again although we met in good faith with all governmental officials on equal and fair access to the federal dollars coming into our beloved community. We met honestly and repeatedly with the City Manager, Assistant City Manager, Former Mayor, all Members of the City Council, Valdosta Housing Authority, HUD Offices in Atlanta; Lowndes County Industrial Authority, Lowndes County Board of Commissioners Chairman, Board of Commissioners and spoken with leaders over HUD in both Atlanta and in Washington DC.

We now believe that the federal government has been pouring money down into a deep hole that does little to nothing to help the people for which these federal funds were designed to help! As a result of the City of Valdosta Leaders feeding the HUD Office and the general public with the same responses (CAPER Responses) just resubmitting a different sheet of paper with the same letterhead says that the Federal Government have been hoodwinked, bamboozled, with little to no input; inclusion; say or income from the (very) people that these funds were intended to move forward (the game remains the same).

In addition, we believe other communities have the same problems but have completely given up on fighting the power of local governments and this lack of help and support from HUD allows the same people to continue getting the bids, jobs, subs and major contracts that were designed to help empower the impoverished and low economically oppressed people in these communities.

I have visited the HUD Offices in Atlanta twice, and Mr. John Robinson once, and we are in agreement that the leaders in Atlanta, Georgia HUD Offices; have become so bogged down into such a quagmire, that it does little to no good to visit them seeking answers to our monstrous problems. It seem that local governments are so connected to the HUD Leaders in Atlanta; that their relationship supersedes the valid complaints from the voices in our local community in relations to directing or redirecting of federal contract dollars in our communities.

We must understand that meetings have taken place due to our persistence in getting some of the federal dollars redirected into the low economic communities so our children will not continue to fill the jails, prisons and probations rolls—— while other parents get the federal dollars from bids; contracts and federally funded programs to maintain a good family structure. In addition, if HUD cannot get control over federal programs and insure federal dollars are benefitting the people they were intended to help. Then the entire HUD Program should be dismantled and let those working in those beautiful offices look for other jobs in the community. If there are no investigations of valid complaints and the rich continues to benefit while the economically oppress continues to suffer the HUD deserves to be dismantled.

I am thankful for people on the Valdosta City Council like Councilman James Wright who took a strong stand on behalf of the low income communities in Valdosta (Stood alone) while others just sat and said nothing. It has become apparent that South Georgia News Media are unwilling to publish the complete story of truth from local contractors about their suffering and it will not be included in this CAPER Report. Local contractors do have stories to tell dating back decades concerning Section 3, DOT Complaints and other federal subsistent programs that poured into the Valdosta community.

The City of Valdosta allows unrealistic bids to go through to the degree that many contractors of low income feel that there is no need to attend meetings held by Valdosta City Officials because nothing have; will or can be changed without the federal government stepping in and this has been something that HUD has failed to do for whatever reasons. Small Contractors do not have a voice although they have a story to tell but have no real news media to publish their complaints. Moreover if they speak out they fear being scrutinized and will not receive any work or loans from banking and loan institutions due to a power structure that have been identified in a video put together by professors at Valdosta State University called “A Chorus of Fear. ” This video is published on line for all to see. Yes! Local contractors are afraid to really respond to CAPERS due to fears that they could be totally LOCKED out from the process altogether (their Perception).

Local Contractors have a history of speaking about change orders that some have mastered and is easily obtained after the bidding process ends within our beloved community. While I am not a contractor but I am involved to a degree that I listen to contractors that speak openly at meetings that I frequent in our community. While at these meetings local contractors speak of bid rigging and trickery in the process of winning a bid to total exclusion.

We were presented proof that one small contractor had the lowest bid but according to him did not get the job. He also speaks of a second incident that was taken away from him and his workers from the low income community. We have accepted the fact; that Valdosta will ever change without litigation in the courts outside of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Middle District of Georgia. Then just maybe within 100 years Blacks and other low income contractor will benefit from the federal dollars coming into our beloved community that were designed to help the poor.

Had the powers that be wanted to do what was right and include the low income contractors all these programs would not be necessary such as VSEB, but it is because few people in our beloved community that want inclusion and equality wherein Blacks and other low income citizens are treated as equals when it comes to HUD dollars.

In conclusion: With all the words; plans; projections; fluff; puff and other stuff, the Valdosta City Leaders are not who they proclaim to be in their responses to HUD; but who thy prove themselves to be over a given period of time by respecting the citizens in the low to moderate income communities along with the contractors that receives nothing more than words and broken promises. We have the unpublished historic record on tape, CD, DVD and in writing along with contractors words with their untold stories and how they have been lied to over and over without inclusion into federally funded jobs.

The City of Valdosta must be questioned as to which radio stations did they publish the last community meeting. Was it published on stations that low income citizens listen to or just on the conservative radio stations that our elected governmental offices frequent but ignores the low income citizens and voters in our community to no end.

Myra Register said that the committee meeting was publicized on Lee Henderson program (see the video of the meeting) but this is a conservative radio station and does not reflect a real interest in notifying the low to moderate income citizens in Valdosta. Yet, we read in the; CAPERS “Citizens Participation” about requirem ents on page 5 of HUD CAPERS (Public notification).

Our local city and county government does not address or publicize information from public meetings equally on radio. Valdosta elected officials ignores the majority of citizens and gives a prelude and follow up on what goes on at governmental meetings but not to the total population. It seems to show favoritism and this favoritism apparently exists in the bidding of contracts at the expense of the same low income communities.

When we went to review the city answers to HUD Third Program CAPERS Responses there were only one copy available for citizens to review and Mr. Robinson and I had to share the same copy. We questioned Ms Vanessa about the need of having more copies available—— if more citizens came into the office to review the responses to HUD from the city. This is what we see throughout the HUD the process. Therefore we are asking that HUD Officials; look at the video of the last community meeting wherein citizens were almost TOTALLY IGNORED.

In addition, we were also told that we had to request copies under the Georgia Open Records Act and this was made known to Ms Theresa in the Mayors Office. Again, this is how citizens are treated throughout all levels of local government when it comes to citizens here in Valdosta interacting with local governments.

Even during public meetings throughout local governments; citizens to be heard are at the end of the agendas right before adjournment. (See the Video that will be forth coming to the HUD Office concerning a newly established committee). The committee mentioned in the CAPER ignored and excluded the very people from the committee that have been working for the “ECONOMICALLY OPPRESSED” for well over thre e years (they selected people who have never said a word publically about the low to moderate income citizens).

Once again not a single person that is called upon by contractors about their mistreatment was put on the committee for whatever reasons. It is as if certain people are TOTALLY locked out of the process concerning federal funded projects ass they relate to the economically oppressed communities as set forth by HUD so all can benefit and get their fair share of the economic pie.

CONCLUSION: The Valdosta Daily Times published an article on Friday, Sept 21, 2012 wherein the President of the United States to work together in a non-partisan partnership to develop a national deficit reduction plans. When I read our only news paper, I could not believe that our city government could take up a political issue that is a major focus point in taking sides in the Presidential Election of our beloved nation.

Once again, we must question if this ACTION is an ethics law concern within the state of Georgia or simply political grandstanding. Only Councilman James Wright abstained from this political process which should be an embarrassment to our Metro City. Had I been on the Valdosta City Council I would have voted NO—-period! This is much like the HUD Funding in our community it serves little no useful purpose along the lines of meeting the needs of the Economically Oppressed citizens in our beloved community.

We need help and words on paper will end Valdosta’s problems in relationship of excluding the very people that the federal government intended to help. Apparently our elected officials are working against the economically oppressed and HUD out of Atlanta keeps receiving the same information that local citizens are laughing at in dismay. A municipality can put anything down on paper in these reports that paints false picture of paradise. But I remind both the City of Valdosta and HUD of this one fact. “That we are NOT who we claim to be. But who we prove ourselves to be over a given period of time.”

It must be understood that as long as FEDERAL DOLLARS come into the City of Valdosta, we will not stop our quest to get the United States Government to put some teeth, grit and respectability into a failed HUD Program that was intended for those that continues to be locked out of the process by a power structure that does NOT take the poor and disenfranchised serious. They seem to ignore that we have been working for nearly 4 years for equal rights, justice and fairness in the process. The HUD Process must include Black and White low income people and contractors and local governments must STOP the unfairness, exclusion, ignoring, making people feel hopeless concerning the process thereby leaving our children out of the economic pie! While the parents of those that are not in the low economic arena continues to get the majority of funds (through bids, contracts and being politically connected) to provide for their children and families at the expense of the poor and a failed federal government program. These are real voices from the heart beat of the Southside of the Railroad Tracks of Social and Economic Divide. God bless American and all who will do justly before man and our God. Peace, love, and over standing in these hard economic times!

GEORGE BOSTON RHYNES Retired United States Armed Forces Military Veteran A concerned citizen and brother of all humanity JOHN H. ROBINSON Minister and Speaker of Truth Community Activist

*Community Participation from September 10-27 September 2012 as listed on the front page of the HUD CAPERS Package.