Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Joe Jackson escapes rocky government ship

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Editor's Note: Due to a reporter's error, District 6 Commissioner-elect Ben Hasan was misidentified in this article as A.K. Hasan. The Chronicle regrets the error. 

You picked a fine time to leave them, Joe Jack­son, with commissioners trying to set the millage and minority bond underwriters working to hustle the city’s multimillion utility bond deal away from the “all-white” firms.

I would say “steal” because it rhymes with “mill,” but “hustle” is more apt.

We don’t blame Jackson for leaving with four months left on his second term to focus on his business and three children who lost their mother, Mary Bea Jackson, in April after a long battle with cancer.

“I can either let the world raise my kids, or I can raise them,” Jackson said last week.

He’s looking for a job with regular hours that will allow him to do that. His business, Kirby Locksmith, is doing OK, he said, but he needs something with benefits.

“I’m looking on Web sites,” he said. “I’ve put in applications at several places. My background is industrial electrical. I’ve been a maintenance guy all my life. I’m going to do what I’ve got to do to take care of my kids.” He said he didn’t have time to sit in commission meetings and listen to stuff “that’s going to bankrupt this county.”

“And going out with this minority firm with this guy that’s done federal time is crazy,” Jackson added, referring to Craig Walker, the vice president of IFS Securities, the firm doing the hustle. “People don’t want to do what (Commis­sioner) Marion Williams wants to do – take from our enterprise fund and spend it somewhere else. This county is almost bankrupt.”

Jackson was referring to IFS Securities President Alex McKenzie’s “adjusted proposal” at Tuesday’s meeting, which was for the city to take the total $22.5 million of bond savings in upfront cash and spend it anywhere they want to. He said his company’s lawyers said they could do that, although the city’s bond counsel might not agree.

IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY ISN’T: IFS came on the Augusta scene at a June commission meeting and made a pitch for minority inclusion in the upcoming refinancing. Company owner Angela Avery and Walker at first said they could save the city $30 million on the refinancing through a negotiated process instead of a competitive process, which they said excludes minority firms.

Avery noted that the city’s current financial advisor, PFM Inc.; bond counsel McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP; and disclosure counsel Mur­ray Barnes Finister LLP are all white firms.

Since then, IFS has lobbied commissioners and other elected officials, playing the race card and accusing the city’s financial advisor, Dianne McNabb, of charging inflated fees and a conflict of interest. And so far, it’s worked. Several votes to refinance the debt with the above-mentioned team have failed, including one last week.

Before that vote, McNabb tried to defend herself from what she contends are libelous attacks on her personal and professional reputation, but Walker, McKenzie and Wil­liams kept interrupting her.

THE HARD SELL: In an Aug. 4 e-mail to Mayor Deke Copenhaver, Mayor-elect Hardie Davis, District 6 Commissioner-elect Ben Hasan, commissioners and others, Walker says that since being hired by the city in 2007, McNabb “has been in charge of fees that average nearly double the amount before her appointment.”

“The fees for FA, Bond Coun­sel and Special Coun­sel, all of which we have found no record of a procurement process for, are extremely high in comparison to other transactions of similar size and rating,” he states.

Walker concludes the lengthy e-mail that examines the city’s bond issues since 2000 by stating that Au­gusta has never used a black firm as a prime contractor with a black population of over 50 percent.

“Here the City has the perfect opportunity to end the troubled track record of economic apartheid, and we urge the Commissioners who believe in fairness and inclusion that the time for minority firm inclusion is now! I have been spending time in Augusta, I have met people, I have prayed in Au­gusta Churches with the people of this community. The psychological and devastating impact this historic economic apartheid has had on black people of Augusta is tremendous.”

LETTING THE HAMMER DOWN: “We have included on this e-mail community members who are championing the cause of a Minority Prime Con­tractor with the City through this bond issue,” Walker continued. “We want these community members and the incoming Com­­mis­sion members to see, when presented with a completely legitimate opportunity to incorporate inclusion of minority-owned firms, how this current commission responds.”

WOULD YOU TRUST YOUR MONEY WITH SOMEBODY WHO’S BEEN CONVICTED OF MAIL FRAUD? Especially if they say the check’s in the mail?

A jury convicted Walker of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy to obstruct justice and subornation of perjury in March 1996. He was sentenced to 33 months in prison and two years of supervised probation, according to federal court records. He appealed, but a federal appeals court affirmed the conviction. He was out of the brokering business from 1995 through 2008.

Financial advisors are obligated to disclose any events that might influence their professional conduct or ability to advise their clients. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority indicates that Walker reported a criminal misconduct in 1995; a bankruptcy in 2005 and a judgment/lien in 2008.

In 2009, the regulatory group expelled SBK-Brooks Investment Corp., a firm Walker was associated with.

THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO FALL PREY TO SNAKE OIL SALESMEN: The only other unsolicited bond bid I recall Augusta officials enmeshing themselves in were utility bond swaps, or derivatives, the kind of unregulated financial voodoo that nobody understands but the ones selling them.

Augusta did two swaps, and lost big on the first one before it was refunded.

On the second one, an agent for Gardnyr Michael Capital Inc. convinced then-Commissioner Richard Colclough that a $160 million bond swap would be the best thing for Augusta since buttered bread.

Col­clough, with the help of slick consultants, convinced a majority of commissioners to vote for the swap. Soon after the deal was consummated, interest rates fell.

Implementing the swap cost the city about $3 million in fees to broker Gardnyr Michael; Deutsche Bank; IMAGE Consulting, a Pottstown, Pa., firm; and Kilpatrick Stockton, which split $75,000 with then-city Attorney Stephen Shepard.

So the attorneys took home big fat paychecks, and Augusta seemed such a fertile field to keep plowing, Gardnyr Michael set up an office on Courthouse Lane. But then Commissioners Don Grantham and Jerry Brig­ham, the only ones who voted against the swap, convinced their colleagues to get out of it in 2007, and with McNabb’s assistance, they did.

Comments (25) Add comment
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Riverman1
90653
Points
Riverman1 08/23/14 - 06:59 pm
18
1
I'll predict...

I'll predict the minority firm with the ex-con in charge will get the deal sooner or later.

Gage Creed
18915
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Gage Creed 08/23/14 - 07:52 pm
11
0
Craig Walker

I wonder if IFS is paying the salary of Matt Kwatinetz (Urban Art Entrepreneur Extraordinaire?)

(eyeroll)

Lori Davis
968
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Lori Davis 08/23/14 - 08:30 pm
14
3
I am flummoxed

Wow Sylvia! I sat three seats down from you at the public hearing where 200 angry citizens showed up for a public discussion of the proposed raise in the millage rate. Why were you there, if you had no intent on covering this story? This public hearing for those of you who do not know lasted two and a half hours. I am extremely disappointed in this turn of political events. REALLY?…..I guess you really can't report on what you want to. SAD, SAD, SAD. …..We need all who are able to attend to show up Monday morning at 11:30 a.m. for the next special called meeting to discuss this issue once again. The Commission will try to set a millage rate. No need to make this one, Sylvia.

wildman
1195
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wildman 08/23/14 - 08:42 pm
18
0
Smart Man

It's obvious to me Joe is smarter than the rest stacked together. I have never met the man but he has his heart and mind in the right place. God, family and then country(county). Joe will have no problem finding a job.

dichotomy
36282
Points
dichotomy 08/23/14 - 09:23 pm
17
1
Stay away from these snake

Stay away from these snake oil bond refinancing salespeople playing the race card. They are fly by night crooks and con artists.

No credible, legitimate company would come here and use the apartheid word or any other racial connotation to sell themselves.

Graymare
3620
Points
Graymare 08/23/14 - 09:48 pm
11
0
Hmmmm

Perhaps the millage rate story wasn't covered because the handwriting is on the wall. Once again, it's time for us property tax payers to bend over.

deestafford
30432
Points
deestafford 08/23/14 - 11:42 pm
14
1
The race card is already started and the blacks...

The race card is already started and the blacks ain't even got their majority installed yet.

It's coming, "Whitey's been gittin' his long 'nough and it's time for us to git ours now."

I hope that I'm wrong but the race baiting and hustle will lead the county on a downward path to ruin as it has with every liberal, majority black-run city outfit in the country.

No Democratic, liberal, black run city in the country is being run efficiently and not in financial trouble. We may not be far behind.

Pops
12472
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Pops 08/24/14 - 12:46 am
8
0
Needs a correction

The District 6 Commissioner-elect is Ben Hasan, not A.K. Hasan as the article states.

Riverman1
90653
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Riverman1 08/24/14 - 03:44 am
14
0
Translation

"I have been spending time in Augusta, I have met people, I have prayed in Au­gusta Churches with the people of this community."

Translated that means: "I'm here greasing the skids. If you think Heery has a big bucket of grease, we've got enough Crisco to fry chicken for the whole neighborhood."

See why I said this will happen sooner or later?

geecheeriverman
3744
Points
geecheeriverman 08/24/14 - 04:34 am
12
0
Uninformed

The ones who are getting shafted are the ones who will never hear about this, because they are to busy on their cellphones, partying, watching some garbage on TV, not caring one whit about what is going on in politics. They are the ones we call the Dumb Masses. They do not vote and they will complain about everything. Until the electorate in this country become informed on what is happening and stand up and VOTE we will continue down the road of destruction!

seenitB4
93730
Points
seenitB4 08/24/14 - 05:37 am
12
1
This county is almost bankrupt.”

That might have something to do with the lost of outlet malls--Basspro shops--5 guys---etc...& many taxpayers...ya think!

corgimom
36770
Points
corgimom 08/24/14 - 06:27 am
10
1
Riverman and Dichotomy, oh

Riverman and Dichotomy, oh yeah!

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 08/24/14 - 09:01 am
0
0
Show me a
Unpublished

black "run" gubmint that has succeeded and I'll show you a pink elephant.

bohica
459
Points
bohica 08/24/14 - 09:17 am
8
0
1. Wait a minute. Who's the

1. Wait a minute. Who's the minority in Richmond Cty?
2. Who pays the majority of the tax base?
3. Who wants to control the spending?
4. Can someone answer these before I get sensored again?

Dixieman
16595
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Dixieman 08/24/14 - 10:26 am
6
0
Sylvia nails it.

Again.
I stand in awe. Great writing and great analysis.
Please never retire!!

Conservative Man
5577
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Conservative Man 08/24/14 - 11:12 am
10
0
While Sylvia nails what …..

…she chooses to comment on, I too am surprised there was not ONE single mention of the outpouring of citizen involvement at Tuesday's Commission meeting…

AutumnLeaves
9635
Points
AutumnLeaves 08/24/14 - 12:01 pm
7
0
I wouldn't be surprised if

I wouldn't be surprised if Joe Jackson decides he wants to raise his children somewhere else. He can see farther than his nose, unlike about 1/2 the people on the commission.

jwilliams
1032
Points
jwilliams 08/24/14 - 03:06 pm
6
1
As stated by Joe Jackson in

As stated by Joe Jackson in this article, “People don’t want to do what (Commis¬sioner) Marion Williams wants to do – take from our enterprise fund and spend it somewhere else. This county is almost bankrupt.” Jackson, just because you’ve gotten off of the “Rocky Government Ship,” early, does not mean that you are not also responsible for the fate of the “Ship.” You’ve been there on the commission for seven years plus now and have been a part of this debacle just as much as any of the other commissioners or commissions, even the one that consisted of Bowles, Brigham, Aitken, Guilfoyle, Grady Smith, and yourself. Why didn’t this majority of commissioners fix the problem? This impending threat of bankruptcy that is being discussed just didn’t start today.

corgimom
36770
Points
corgimom 08/24/14 - 02:08 pm
5
0
jwilliams, the only way to

jwilliams, the only way to fix this is to 1) stop funding useless "studies" 2) get rid of Matt K 3) get rid of Walter Sprouse 4) close the TEE Center 5) get spending under control

And none of those 5 things are going to happen. The BK is coming, it's just a question of "when".

And then people like me are told that we hate Augusta. No, we don't hate Augusta, but it's terrible to watch a formerly great city just spiral down and down and down.

jwilliams
1032
Points
jwilliams 08/24/14 - 03:26 pm
2
3
Corgimom, I agree with you

Corgimom, I agree with you something has to be done, but I do not know if the five things that you listed are going to happen; but I know that they haven’t happened during Joe Jackson’s term. I don’t think it’s fair for Jackson to throw his past colleagues under the bus now that he has stepped down. He didn’t have any solutions, so he too was part of the problem. So if this county goes into bankruptcy (I hope not) he’s just as much too blame as “ANY” commissioner that he is blaming or has ever served with.

redfish
784
Points
redfish 08/24/14 - 04:34 pm
3
0
Time to go ahead and change the name...

We might as well go ahead and rename Augusta "South Detroit".

raul
5535
Points
raul 08/24/14 - 04:37 pm
2
0
Hey Joe, bunch of houses and

Hey Joe, bunch of houses and cars in col cty that need locksmith work too.

Connor Threlkeld
943
Points
Connor Threlkeld 08/24/14 - 06:17 pm
2
0
Pops, thank you for pointing

Pops, thank you for pointing out the error. I've let our editors know and will be correcting the mistake online shortly.

Pops
12472
Points
Pops 08/24/14 - 06:35 pm
3
1
That's ok.....

It would be easy to mix up the two brothers. A.K. Hasan was the one lone African-American BOE official that called for the firing of Charles Larke. Pretty much doomed any further support A.K. would get as an African-American politician in this town.......

corgimom
36770
Points
corgimom 08/24/14 - 07:30 pm
0
0
jwilliams, the incompetent

jwilliams, the incompetent commissioners couldn't solve a crossword puzzle if they all put their minds to it, let alone save RC from bankruptcy.

I think that the terrible state of RC was also a factor in his decision to resign. He got off the Titanic before it hit the iceberg.

flipa1
2755
Points
flipa1 08/24/14 - 09:11 pm
1
0
After they bankrupt it let's

After they bankrupt it let's call it Science City....Because Young Earth Science is here along with some of the best scientist. This is how it can happen.
bohica wrote

1. Wait a minute. Who's the minority in Richmond Cty?
2. Who pays the majority of the tax base?
3. Who wants to control the spending?
4. Can someone answer these before I get sensored again?

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