Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Who Got The South Elm Street Redevelopment Money: Part 5

When I first began writing  Who Got The South Elm Street Redevelopment Money I had no idea what I might find and while my opinion is subject to change, what I believe I'm finding is a bunch of payments to companies that for the most part didn't know the money was dirty. The City Staff was hiring these companies for jobs all over town then telling the City accounting apartment it was for the South Elm Street Redevelopment Project when in-fact it was used somewhere else. The private companies don't know which account they are being paid from and the City's accounting department doesn't know where the work is really taking place. But some Council members and City Staffers somewhere in-between know where the money was all spent.

Here's why I believe that to be true.

As you can see in this snipped from the July 16, 2003 City of Greensboro BEDI Grant Proposal the South Elm Street Redevelopment Project only included 15 properties on approximately 10 acres.

But in going through the  Transaction Report as provided to me by City of Greensboro Attorney Thomas Carruthers I counted no less that 60 payments to the following real estate appraisal firms for appraisals of 15 lots:

Taylor Pope & Herring Inc,
 Messick and Company,
McNairy & Associates,
Michael Watts MAI SRA,
William L Herbert

Interestingly, a check of the Guilford County GIS System confirms that no less than 13 of the 15 properties still belong to the Redevelopment Commission of Greensboro despite numerous media reports that the other properties are being developed by various developers who have released so-called letters of intent.

One property, the old mill, belongs to Eric Robert. The other property where Union Square is being built belongs to a company called UNION SQUARE CAMPUS INC which, according to the NC Secretary of State, is run by a man named J Patrick Danahy. The address listed at the Register of Deeds for Mr Danahy's company is 2901 East Lee Street, Greensboro, which also happens to be the address of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, aka Gateway South.

Wouldn't you know that some how, some way the Greensboro Partnership would somehow be involved. I mean, Folks, I don't go looking for these connections, they jump out from behind the meta-pixel bushes and grab me.

And I'm still holding back secrets as I try to piece these things together.

There was a July 11, 2007 payment of $1,500 to a company called Steel In The Air, Inc. They are in the business of leasing cell phone towers. Are there any cell phone towers in the 10 acre South Elm Redevelopment Project? As luck would have it, Ken Schmidt, President of Steel In The Air, Inc., is also on the faculty at the Institute of Religion here in Greensboro.

Don't worry, I got screen grabs just in case the links disappear.

And then there were lots of payments of several hundred dollars each to Barbara Harris who just so happens to be an employee of the City of Greensboro. Didn't some city employee get fired not long back for operating a business that contracted to the City of Greensboro? Anyone remember the Mel's Pressure Washing incident? The last payment to Ms Harris that I found was a May 11, 2011 payment for $1,178.96. Ms Harris was apparently hired as a city employee in 2005 but had worked closely with the City for several years before.

Maybe that's the answer to the question Tom Carruthers never bothered to reply to.

Of course, maybe these things aren't what they seem to be but when I asked for receipts the City of Greensboro delayed for months, gave me only this stinking Transaction Report to go by and said I'd have to come up with $4,000 cash to get the public information I first asked for.

Stay tuned for Who Got The South Elm Street Redevelopment Money: Part 6 as I recently got my hands on the second set of depositions and court documents from the Eric Robert vs the City of Greensboro trial. What the media told you and what really happened were very different things.