An illegal deal the council couldn't refuse?
With hardly the blink of an eye, the City Council Tuesday forked over $160,000 in public funds in a conspiracy with the federal government to purchase only the swampy part of a housing development on the brink of going sour. (See: Graphic showing area purchased) The developer is keeping the more valuable, high ground for construction of profitable expensive single-family homes.
As its part of the conspiratorial raid on public funds, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) likewise kicked in $2.77M as its share.
The action by both agencies represents the epitome of arrogance in buying property the developers could never have developed anyway. $2.93M in public dollars were paid for property the city had assessed at less than $500,000. By law, the city is required to assess property at its full market value. But in this case the city had a special 'appraiser' value the property (to inflate the value, obviously, to justify its proposed payment) at over $3M.
In addition, the company to which all the money was paid, was a tax scofflaw, refusing for more than 3 years to pay its real estate tax bill that had grown to more than $211,995. The $160,000 given Lotus Creek Associates will go a long way in the city paying itself taxes due the public treasury.
If anything, the council's action in giving away the public's money to a group which didn't even have a claim against the city, according to court testimony, apparently hadn't even asked for any money from the city, is nothing less than a criminal act. (Or the managing partner lied on the witness stand.)
City Manager James K. Spore, in a complex, convoluted, under-the-table deal that was twice ruled illegal by Virginia Beach Circuit Court Patricia West, originally wanted to give away the public's ownership of the right-of-way for the proposed Ferrell Parkway that has been in the planning for 20 years.
Spore, known for rewarding his high friends in low places, justified the giveaway because if he didn't, FWS Manager John Stasko would obstruct plans to build a new, safe, modern road to the city's southern beaches.
FWS's master plan, going back to the 1970s, was to control all future development around the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
FWS lied to the public originally when it sought public support to close the refuge beaches to vehicular traffic.
Once it got that authorization, FWS reneged on what access it would allow and has become more restrictive in blocking any public use. FWS broke its word and it's public trust.
The whole deal involves a cast of political characters with conflicting interests with City Councilman Louis Jones and other city projects. (See: Chart showing web of characters and their conflicting relationships).
The only members opposing the deal was Reba McClanan, Margaret Eure, and Rosemary Wilson. Rest of the good ole boys, girls and Mayor Oberndorf (Nightmare Meyera*) with ties to those listed in the chart, swallowed hard, bit the bullet and anteed up.
*Until a opponents made an issue of the fact that if elected they would move council meetings from day to night, Oberndorf vigorously opposed such a change because the afternoon meetings inconvenienced citizens more and limited participation on controversial issues. After the election, Oberndorf quickly adopted the night meeting concept as her own - thus the term Nightmayor Meyera.
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