Mayor Hardie Davis posted a news release on the city’s website last week with the headline “Mayor Hardie Davis Holds Prescription Opiate Companies Accountable.”
Actually, Augusta Commission members agreed to join a lawsuit seeking compensation for damages from the prescription opiate companies responsible under federal law for monitoring distribution of the addictive drugs.
Davis announced that Augusta has filed suit against five of the largest manufacturers of opioids and the three largest wholesale drug distributors.
What he didn’t announce to the public or commissioners is that his campaign manager, Coliseum Authority Attorney Ed Enoch and Enoch’s law partner, Ed Tarver, who is also Davis’ mentor, stand to make almost as much money as the city if the plaintiffs win.
And the city’s lawyer, Andrew MacKenzie, didn’t mention that Enoch Tarver would be among 10 law firms representing cities and counties nationwide when he presented the lawsuit proposal, according to four commissioners with whom I spoke.
“We were under the impression it was our staff attorneys who’d be involved,” Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said. “When I asked Andrew about it, he said, ‘It was in the documents I gave you.’”
Guilfoyle said he didn’t think it was right for MacKenzie to discuss the proposed lawsuit with commissioners for about 20 minutes and then hand them an eight-page document to read with Enoch’s and Tarver’s names buried in it.
Mayor Pro Tem Mary Davis said MacKenzie told them he was approached by lawyers who thought the city would have a case.
Hmmm. Which lawyers were those?
Now, the next question is, “Has the mayor finally learned to let someone else carry his water?” Based on reactions to his other proposals, commissioners probably would have turned this one down, too.
And could it be that MacKenzie was trying to ingratiate himself with the mayor after siding with commissioners about reconvening a meeting that Davis had abruptly adjourned because he didn’t want to give them a chance to reconsider a vote concerning Regency Mall property.
MacKenzie is walking a fine line in trying to please the mayor while potentially angering commissioners by not telling them Enoch Tarver was in the suit.
I suppose the mayor and MacKenzie were counting on commissioners not reading the document, and by the time they found out about it, they’d be out of office.
The Anatomy of a Bad Deal: “Regency Mall,” Commissioner Sammie Sias said as he stood before a plat of the mall site on a screen during his District 4 town hall meeting Saturday. “I’m going to tell you line by line why I have a problem with that deal.
“When it first came up, I didn’t have a problem with putting the arena at Regency Mall. It’s a great view. But I’m stuck on something. We’re going to give away the bank and give away your tax money.”
The Gift – 10.1 acres: “This is the 10.1 acres that were supposed to be gifted to the city,” Sias continued, pointing to one of the four parcels. “A lot of folks thought we were doing the whole mall. That’s the wrong perception. The new building will take up at least two-thirds of that 10.1 acres.”
Sias then said that the 10.1-acre parcel facing Gordon Highway does not have a curb cut while mall owner Alan Cardinale’s other three parcels do. And with the divided highway, if there were to be a curb cut, once vehicles went in, they could turn only one way coming out.
The Triple Net Lease: “It next says we will enter into a 50-year triple net lease on 29 acres,” Sias said. “Now we’re going to get 29 acres out of that parcel and maybe a little piece out of another. I’d never heard of a triple net lease.”
A triple net lease is a lease agreement on a property where the tenant or leasee agrees to pay all real estate taxes, building insurance, maintenance on the property and any normal fees that are expected - utilities, etc.
“That’s a triple net lease for the next 50 years,” Sias said. “Now you know why I’m not in favor. And that’s just the beginning.”
The Parking Lots: The parking lot for the next five years and the next 45 years: The city/authority will maintain all existing parking areas in all four parcels that constitute Regency Mall for five years. Maintenance will initially include re-asphalting, re-lamping of all parking, providing drains, utilities, landscaping and all other maintenance, repairs, replacement as required.
After five years, the authority’s obligation is limited to two parking lots.
Cross Easements: “It says the grantor and us will enter into a cross easement for access and use of respective parking,” Sias said. “So if we don’t have enough parking with the 29 acres, plus 10, then guess what? We’ll have to enter into some agreements for parking. It ain’t necessarily free. It can be. But it ain’t necessarily free.”
The proposal also states that the authority will construct an entertainment/sports arena with a projected occupancy of 12,000 to 15,000 seats and sufficient parking without using any of the owner’s property.
“So if that’s in the agreement, and we get an easement to their property, we’re going to pay for it,” Sias said. “I admire these people. They’re smart. But I try to be half-smart myself.”
Tax Abatement and the Kitchen Sink: “Now we’re supposed to enter into an agreement with them for tax abatement, zoning, and low-interest financing and development of a portion of Regency Mall that they will continue to own,” Sias continued.
“We’re supposed to build an arena, finance everything that they’re doing and give them a tax abatement to pay for their parking. But I don’t have a problem with them. I have a problem with us.”
Some commissioners want to commit to build at Regency Mall and then work on the deal, Sias said.
“But you’ve lost your leverage. That’s baloney. I guess it’s easy when you’re playing with somebody else’s money. Right? Taxpayers’ money.”
Hunker Down You Hairy Dog: I’m still trying to figure out whether Joe got upset when the Georgia Bulldogs lost the championship to Alabama last Monday night because he hated to see the Dawgs lose or that he hated the noise - the loud TV and all.
I’m thinking it might be the latter because he hates loud noises and gets up off his cushion where he reigns supreme day and night and leaves the room the minute we turn on the vacuum cleaner.
On the other hand, he is a bulldog - a bull mastiff-Lab mix, all brindled orangey and black. I think he’s beautiful because he’s unique, but not everybody does.
My sister even went so far as to say, “He’s not a pretty dog.”
All she got for that was one real dirty look.
Anyway, as I’ve told you before, Joe turned up at our house about 15 years ago, and although we had the no vacancy sign out, he failed to heed it and kept hanging around until Ernie couldn’t take it anymore and fed him. He now resides on his orthopedic cushion in the middle of the living room.
Joe, that is, not Ernie.
Of all the dogs we’ve ever had, Joe’s the most frightening because of his deep bark and aggressive behavior. He scares the daylights out of deliverymen, construction workers, painters, exterminators and even Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Joe’s an old dog now, and like all us old dogs he has a few infirmities.
Anyway, when the Alabama player caught the touchdown pass, Joe started grumbling and growling and trying to talk and wouldn’t stop for the longest time.
“It’s OK, Joe,” I kept telling him. “Every dog has his day. Don’t worry. We’ll get ‘em next year.”
That seemed to help some.