Saturday, June 24, 2017

South Elm Redevelopment Project Study

Some months ago I was contacted by Tim Leisman a UNCG Masters student who was doing a case study on Greensboro's South Elm Street Redevelopment Project. He was frustrated because the City of Greensboro wouldn't speak with him about the project, went online and found my various blog posts about the project. I agreed to give Mr Leisman the info I had provided he send me a copy of his results.

I also promised to share his results no matter what he wrote.

A little while ago I received the following e-mail from Tim:


I’ve finally gotten around to finishing this paper. Please see attached. It may not answer all of your questions but I hope it helps provide a thorough and accurate description of the South Elm Redevelopment Project, its challenges, and the social/academic context. Please do let me know if you spot anything that’s inaccurate (I’ve asked a staff member from the city to do the same).

After speaking with city staff and reviewing the documents that you provided me, which were the same as what they provided me, I’m convinced that a thorough audit would not reveal any evidence of corruption or inappropriate spending. I think, as noted in the paper, that most of the blame for slow progress on implementation lies somewhere between the contracting process and specific challenges it posed for the city, SEDG’s attitude, and the economy tanking.

One thought I had while reflecting on our conversation and your inquiries into the city’s spending: I saw in Tom Carruthers’ response to you in 2016 that he said the city would be able to respond to public records requests for specific line item expenditures that you had questions about from the Transaction Report spreadsheet. Did you ever follow up with that? I would be interested in what you would find from those public records requests that would verify answers to questions about the expenditures that you raised in your blog posts. At least, I think that’s the case from how I understand Tom Carruthers’ response.

Please let me know your thoughts about the paper. Thanks!"

I posted the study to Facebook for those who wish to read it. Unfortunately my Google Docs no longer allows me to share.

My reply to Tim:

"Thank you Tim,

Unfortunately I am suffering from Pulmonary Fibrosis, a terminal lung disease, and simply no longer have to energy nor the patience to file, wait for, and drive downtown to pick up what would amount to hundreds of public information requests. Therefore I am no longer perusing the SERP.

But I did post the results of your study online as promised.


I don't know what I think of Tim's study. He had all the information I had and came to a completely different conclusion. Was I wrong? Maybe. But without seeing what the money was actually spent for I don't know how we can know for certain.

Correction: This happens every time I rely on memory. My bad. Tim sends me the following correction:

"Thanks as well for posting my paper to your blog! Although if you wouldn't mind, could you please make a slight correction? It wasn't that the City of Greensboro wouldn't speak with me; I had spoken with several current and former city employees by the time I reached out to you. I couldn't get a response from anyone on the private developer side of the project and was frustrated trying to get information about what was going on with the project from their side."

There you have it, it was developers and not the City who wouldn't speak with Tim.