Thursday, January 15, 2015

SCOTT D. YOST; "Crooked Deal Still Angering Commissioners Years Later" while John Hammer advocates for more crooked deals for Roy elsewhere

"...the purchase of the building [at 325 E. Russell Ave] was a scandalous act that unquestionably lined the pockets of some.

...Commissioner Alan Branson ...said, “So what you’re saying is some people made some money.”

To which Commissioner Carolyn Coleman clarified, “So what you’re saying is that some Republicans made some money.”

Six years ago, Guilford County paid over $8 million for the building that was worth a fraction of that price.  At that time, former Guilford County Commissioner Steve Arnold, a Republican, managed to push the deal through – a deal that paid his good friend and business associate, High Point developer Wayne McDonald, over $8 million for a building that had a tax value of $1.6 million.

Arnold and McDonald, who were both under great financial pressure at the time and have since both declared bankruptcy, were aided greatly in the deal by former Guilford County Manager Brenda Jones Fox, also a Republican, who left the county in early 2013 after being at the center of countless scandals involving county money and county property, including this scandal.

Since the county’s purchase of the Russell Avenue building six years ago, Guilford County has put a great deal of work and money into the structure...

...Guilford County Facilities, Parks and Property Management Director Robert McNiece told the commissioners that, if the board chose to sell the building today, it would likely bring between $2.5 million and $2.9 million.

...The building was purchased by furniture company Jake Inc. for $40,000 in 1994 and by McDonald for $1 million just over a decade ago.

So the commissioners, hearing that with luck the building might sell for a third of what they paid for it, wanted to know where the other $7 million or $8 million went.

Guilford County Commissioner Justin Conrad ...was clearly disturbed by what he was hearing.

“That’s a travesty!” Conrad said at one point in the presentation.

...Commissioner Jeff Phillips said at one point, “It would be an understatement to say that we overpaid for this building.”

The commissioners also asked McNiece about underground contamination at the building.  Though the information was suppressed at the time the building was purchased in order to push the deal through, the Russell Avenue site was the location of major ground contamination from two large underground fuel tanks put there decades ago.

...Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing said county staff has been looking into an explanation for the purchase of the building as well as seeing if there were any recourse for the county.

...Lawing said, “My understanding is that there was not an appraisal.”

“There was no appraisal and no environmental ” McNiece said, adding that other typical due diligence was missing as well from the transaction.

...Former Guilford County Property Manager David Grantham told the Rhino Times several years ago that, when he heard McDonald’s asking price, he planned to negotiate that starting price downward as he always did.  But in this case he said Fox and Arnold instructed him not to attempt to negotiate because they said the price sounded fair to them.  At that time, Grantham told the Rhino Times that he’d never seen anything like it in his 30-plus years working in the county’s real estate office.  And when an angry Grantham wanted to conduct an environmental study of the ground before the purchase, Grantham was told there was no need for that despite the known contamination..."
Meanwhile, in Carroll Companies propaganda land;

Partnership  Wants State To Open Its Purse Strings

Historic Economic Development Draft Agreement Released