Tag Archives: contract

No contract and no bids for County Attorney, yet 20% raise to $300,000

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

From: pdukes@lowndescounty.com
To: b-ahuntley@hotmail.com
CC: asmith@lowndescounty.com; JPritchard@lowndescounty.com; bswaller@bellsouth.net
Subject: Open Records Request
Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2013 13:22:08 +0000

Good Morning Mrs. Huntley,

In response to your open records request Continue reading

County bus system reapproved @ LCC 2013-06-25

Didn’t know the county had a bus system? It does; you can call 316-2153 and they’ll pick you up for a flat fee. The county’s contract with the state Department of Transportation and with the contractor MIDS, Inc. was reapproved at the 25 June Regular Session of the Lowndes County Commission.

7.b. Section 5311 Rural Transportation Operating Contracts

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. No questions. Unanimous approval.

Here’s Part 1 of 2:

Continue reading

Tipping fees vs. host fees from Veolia

What is this contract involving tipping fees that Lowndes County declined to produce a copy of? How can it be “adequately maintained in the future”, as former Commissioner Lee put it, if the county doesn’t know what it is?

The minutes for the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners Work Session 11 October 2010 say:

Resolution-Proposed Amendment-March 2007 Greater Lowndes Solid Waste Management Plan, 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.

Veolia spelled his name [Andrew] AJ Rogers and identified him as “area manager for Veolia ES Solid Waste Southeast, Inc.” in a 22 March 2011 press release.

But what is this “contractual relationship”? According to a letter from Walter G. Elliott, Lowndes County Attorney, Continue reading

Sweetheart deal for private prison site?

CCA has a contract to buy 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 about 18% 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.

Does this look like a sweetheart deal to you?

DatePrice$ Increase% Increase% /yearFromTo
2012? $2,907,000 $1,443,488 99% 20% N.L. Bassford JrCCA
2012 $1,756,320 $   292,808 20%   4% Assessed Value
2007 $1,463,512 $   220,312 18%   2% VLCIAN.L. Bassford Jr
1998 $1,243,200 Camellia Investment Co. VLCIA
Prices in this table are taken directly from the legal documents.
All percentages are rounded and approximate.
Images of the deeds and plats are on the LAKE website.

Here is a petition for VLCIA to reject the private prison.


Community activism had nothing to do with biomass plant not coming here —Andrea Schruijer to Bobbi A. Hancock

Received today. -jsq
Subject: Meeting with Andrea

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 response…

Biomass did come up in the conversation and Mrs. Schruijer was quick to assert that

Continue reading

News about CCA’s private prison Project Excel expected at Thursday’s VLCIA board meeting

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 that 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.

I asked her whether the Project Excel Project Excel, the CCA private prison, she said the Preliminary Specifications ( see section 1.6.1) had been received. She said they had been received, and they were simply a site diagram, a copy of which was hanging on VLCIA’s office wall. From discussion with her, it appears to be this site plan: Continue reading

Who are the “local leadership” who approved CCA’s private prison?

They’re even quieter about it than the Industrial Authority, but the Valdosta City and Lowndes County governments are in the private prison deal just as deep.

Jay Hollis, CCA’s Manager of Site Acquisition, in his Valdosta-Lowndes County, GA / CCA Partnership: Prepared Remarks of August 2010, wrote:

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:

Continue reading

Why did CCA pick Lowndes County for a private prison?

Apparently CCA picked Lowndes County for a private prison for reasons that were not what VLCIA’s consultant seemed to think would influence the selection.

According to Valdosta-Lowndes County, GA / CCA Partnership: Talking Points (undated, but it refers to “The agreement formalized by the Industrial Authority on 8/17”),

The Valdosta/Lowndes site became the primary due to the local and regional workforce, collaboration of local leadership, site characteristics, 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 Decatur County. More about that in another post.


Apparently VLCIA misunderstood what CCA was looking for

Apparently VLCIA, or one of its expert consultants, thought CCA was looking for a thriving county economy in choosing a private prison location. That doesn’t seem to be what happened.

Economic Impact of Project Excel by Clifford A. Lipscomb, Ph.D., 2 November 2009:

The VLCIA has noted that Project Excel is considering other locations. Below I provide a comparison of key economic indicators for these alternative counties — Grady and Decatur.
Table 1. Characteristics of Selected Counties
Population, 2008 28,82325,115104,583
% Pop w/ Bachelor’s degree 12.1%10.6%19.7%
Median HH Income, 2007 32,65033,06038,666
Persons below poverty, 2007 22.5%22.2%20.5%
Persons white non-Hispanic, 2008 54.8%60.6%60.0%
In closing, it appears that Project Excel is an excellent candidate for location in Lowndes County.
So which other county did CCA actually pick? Continue reading

CCA documents from VLCIA

All the CCA documents VLCIA provided in response to Matt Flumerfelt’s Open Records Request are 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.