Our thoughts Trans­parency and vet­ting

The Covington News - - OPINION -

Af­ter in­for­ma­tion on Green Hill P3 and East Ge­or­gia Land and De­vel­op­ment, Inc. came out this week it seems that the New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers still needs to im­prove on trans­parency and vet­ting.

The fact that James Baker, the CEO of East Ge­or­gia Land and De­vel­op­ment, is also the CEO of Na­tional Man­age­ment Com­pany Inc., the sole gen­eral part­ner in Green Hill lim­ited li­a­bil­ity lim­ited part­ner­ship, should come as no sur­prise. But it caused a bit of an up­roar Had this con­nec­tion been dis­closed early on, it would not have even con­sti­tuted a scan­dal. This has, from the be­gin­ning, as Mr. Baker pointed out, been a TRI-par­tite agree­ment—be­tween three par­ties. With hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars on the line, it makes sense that there would be a di­rect con­nec­tion be­tween East Ge­or­gia and Green Hill.

The sim­i­lar­i­ties com­ing out af­ter the fact brings up noth­ing but ques­tions.

Then why not say so up front? Why use Na­tional Man­age­ment Com­pany Inc. in­stead of East Ge­or­gia as the gen­eral part­ner, and why would nei­ther name ap­pear in any of the pro­mo­tional literature dis­trib­uted by Green Hill? Why did Green Hill fail to dis­close that East Ge­or­gia would re­ceive cash and eq­uity in the com­pany un­til its spokesman was asked di­rectly by our pa­per sev­eral months ago?

And come to think of it, where did Green Hill come from? Were they re­ally rec­om­mended by Robert Stein of RLS Con­sult­ing and In­vest­ments? How could he rec­om­mend a com­pany that didn’t ex­ist yet?

County At­tor­ney Tommy Craig has said he was “un­aware of the in­ter­nal struc­ture” of Green Hill.

This is not a “gen­tle­man’s agree­ment.” The county should never even con­sider sign­ing a mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar deal with such far reach­ing im­pli­ca­tions with­out know­ing ex­actly who they are deal­ing with. And we mean EX­ACTLY. All of New­ton County’s com­mis­sion­ers would have good rea­son to be an­gry at not know­ing this sooner.

We ask that New­ton County al­ways knows who it is do­ing busi­ness with, and that it knows ev­ery­thing about who it is do­ing busi­ness with. This is not a tech­ni­cal­ity; it is in­dica­tive of a much deeper prob­lem, and sim­ply put, doesn’t pass the smell test.

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