Buie's backroom deals revealed - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Buie's backroom deals revealed

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - We're learning more about backroom deals fired ADICA director Don Buie made with downtown businesses. Wednesday night, one store owner openly admitted he had a secret deal with Buie that would allow him to pay a total of $24 to rent a storefront for two years... Even though the official public contract indicated he would pay $700 a month.

In an admission that stunned ADICA board members, downtown business owner Tim Washington admitted to the board he knowingly engaged in deceitful activity with taxpayer money.  He said, "The $700 will be shown to the public. In case the public wants to know what this guy is paying, they can pull public record. That's done all over the country. It's done right here in Albany, Georgia."

This time done at Don Buie's direction, according to Washington. He says the two worked out a secret deal by email, where he only had to pay $1/month for 24 months. Otherwise, he says, he never would have moved downtown. "This is the whole reason I came here."

And Buie made deals with others. An Alltel representative told the ADICA board that Buie promised free rent, and that he would pay for the build out of her store, then stock it with computers and other equipment, and she says she had every reason to trust him.

She said, "I would never think that he was not being honest.  I mean, he was a city official, or a city employee." An employee who made deals behind closed doors without informing the board he was supposed to report to.

Now, they must sort through the promises he made, that they can't deliver, like that Dollar Square lease.   Does Interim Director James Taylor think that can even be negotiated?  "If his position is that he can pay no rent, I do not," he said.

But the board is also being eyed for their role in allowing Buie to do whatever he wanted with your tax money. "It is my duty to inform you that you have individually, and as a body, lost the faith and trust of the citizens of Albany," said Richard Thomas, who chairs the Dougherty County Taxpayers Association.

Thomas reminded the board of their duties outlined in the legislation that founded ADICA.  He quoted it saying "and the authority shall keep suitable books and records of all its obligations, contracts, transactions and undertakings, and of all income and receipts of every nature and all expenditures of every kind."

But the authority wasn't watching over their books. Now, Thomas questions their ability to serve.  He said, "It would seem to us that immediate resignation would be the most dignified and responsible act of your tenure on this Board."

A board that remains in place tonight, and that must continue to put the pieces back together. As for the other promises Buie made, the board asked interim ADICA CEO James Taylor to negotiate with those business owners and bring back recommendations to the board to try to work out deals.

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