In response to (a second) open records request, County Clerk Paige Dukes
stated in writing that Lowndes County does not have a contract with the person
referred to in numerous minutes as “County Attorney”, and that
no bids have been entertained for legal services for the county.
According to the budget documents the Clerk referred to,
the county raised the County Attorney’s budget 20% to $300,000 for 2013.
Illustrations below (some with links) were added by me. -jsq
CC: firstname.lastname@example.org; JPritchard@lowndescounty.com;
Subject: Open Records Request
Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2013 13:22:08 +0000
The contract is with GADOT, and
the contractor is MIDS, Inc.
Per Commissioner Joyce Evans’ request of the previous morning,
County Engineer Joe Pritchard said there had been
12,322 trips with six buses over the past 5 months.
The County Engineer referred to
some discussion of the previous morning,
The Engineer said the federal government put in the first $220,000,
and while the county had to pick up any shortfalls,
there have been no shortfalls over the past twelve years.
This is different from County Manager Joe Pritchard’s
answer of the previous morning that it “has been budgeted”.
At least staff managed to come up with budget detail
after being asked in public by Commissioners.
Resolution-Proposed Amendment-March 2007 Greater Lowndes Solid Waste
County Planner, Jason Davenport, presented the resolution, adding that
the amendment was drafted due to a proposed expansion and reconfiguration
of the Evergreen landfill. Mr. Davenport added that the amendment had
been reviewed by staff, the Regional Commission and the Deep South Solid
Waste Authority. Mr. Davenport further stated that Mr. A.J. Rodgers, of
Veolia Environmental Services, was present to answer any questions the
Commission might have regarding the project. Commissioner Lee stated
that he was concerned that the contractual relationship that has been
in place for quite some time be accurately reflected and adequately
maintained in the future. Commissioner Lee then asked Mr. Rodgers if a
new cell had been created yet. Mr. Rodgers answered that construction
had begun in a cell that had already been approved.
the private prison site from a private landowner.
But who did that landowner get the site from?
The Industrial Authority!
And the sale prices involved are rather interesting: the landowner gets almost 100% profit in five years.
One person I showed them to immediately said, “sweetheart deal.”
What do you think?
The Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA)
bought the site back in 1998 for $1,243,200, and
sold it to the landowner in 2007 for 1,463,512, which is an increase of
in almost 10 years or about 2% per year.
CCA can buy it from the landowner in 2012 for $2,907,000,
for an increase of 99% in about five years or almost 20% per year.
Which is far more than the 20% in five years or about 4% per year shown by the assessed value.
And this remarkable surge in the price of that land
is during the worst real estate market since the Great Depression.
Just a quick recap of a meeting I had yesterday with VLCIA’s Andrea
Schruijer. When asked where we were with the private prison issue, she
responded, “we contractually agreed to a 3rd extension with a term of
365 and CCA has until March 13, 2012 to request that extension.” So I
asked,” if CCA doesn’t request a
3rd extension, then the issue is over,
right?” She replied, “If there’s no response from CCA, then it is up to
the board to determine how to move forward.” When I asked her why they
would even consider honoring a contract extension to CCA knowing some
of the controversy over CCA’s business practices, she replied, “because
there is a partnership between the VLCIA and CCA and we are
contractually bound to a 3rd extension.”
I pointed out that the private prison industry wasn’t interested in
public safety and rehabilitation they simply wanted to make a quick
buck off the lives of others. I informed her of the chronic employee
turnover, understaffing, high rates of violence and extreme cost
cutting which all have been attributed to CCA.
I told her that Lowndes County already had its own share of air
pollution and that amount of air pollution here is directly
proportionate to the amount of lung and bronchial caner in our area. I
encouraged her to consider sustainable businesses for the future
economic growth of our community, not smoke stack business. Her reply,
“so what you are saying is that you think the industrial should just
close its doors?” I actually hadn’t thought about that but the
question did make me ponder.
I left her with
a 91 page research report which takes a critical look
at the first twenty years of CCA’s operations. I requested an email
response of her thoughts about the report and am currently awaiting the
Biomass did come up in the conversation and Mrs. Schruijer was quick to
Thursday’s Industrial Authority
retreat and board meeting are both open meetings, which the
public can attend.
And at the 2PM board meeting apparently there will be news about
Project Excel, CCA’s private prison.
VLCIA Executive Director Andrea Schruijer clarified on the telephone just now
Thursday’s 9AM-2PM board retreat
is an open meeting; the public can attend.
She said the agenda was made by the facilitator, and she had not seen it.
The purpose of the retreat is for board members to talk about their experiences
and roles as board members.
The retreat is not for discussing specific projects.
Regarding the 2PM board meeting Thursday, she said she thought the agenda
was on VLCIA’s web pages.
When we looked and found it wasn’t there,
she said apparently there was some confusion due to the rescheduling
of the meeting, and the agenda would be there soon.
Our Valdosta/Lowndes County site quickly became our primary due to its
local and regional workforce, collaboration of local leadership, site
characteristics, proximity to necessary services and infrastructure,
and accessibility to name a few.
So who is this local leadership?
We look forward to working closely with Valdosta/Lowndes leadership as we move forward in the months to come.
Finally, I’d like to take a moment to recognize a few folks that have been essential to the project:
The Valdosta/Lowndes site became the primary due to the local and
regional workforce, collaboration of local leadership,
proximity to necessary services and infrastructure, accessibility, etc.
Nothing in there about
low poverty or high wages.
One could even read that the other way around,
as in a low-wage population looking for jobs.
Looks to me like our Industrial Authority didn’t do much due diligence
about private prisons.
Also note that the contract of 17 August 2010 between VLCIA and CCA
was signed after the announcement in July 2010 that CCA had selected
More about that in another post.
All the CCA documents VLCIA provided in response to Matt Flumerfelt’s Open Records Request
on the LAKE website.
I will continue posting what I see in them (in the category
CCA), but you may find things in them I don’t.
If you find something particularly interesting, please send it to the
LAKE blog submission address or comment on the blog so we can all see it.