Sep 212007
 

Water Tower Regardless of the issue, it seems that Union County’s ‘Developer-Friendly’ Commissioners find a way of placing needs of a fellow developer or club member ahead of taxpayers. The placement of the new water tower in Weddington is just another case in point.

Those of us with dead or dying lawns, shrubs and trees know first hand how the lack of water supply and infrastructure has adversely effected our homes. The current water restrictions is the result 20 million gallons a day (MGD) demand and a 18 MGD supply contract and a plumbing system that is barely adequate.

The envelope please!

This past Monday night, Union County Commissioners selected a site for the new Weddington water tower. The site they choose was not the consultant engineers first choice, nor was it their second choice.

It was obvious to those in the audience last Monday night, that Commissioner Mills favored the Reaview school site and later the Cox Road school site, which might be acceptable except those options come at millions more in cost to the taxpayers.

So in the end, the Board voted 3-2 for Site 1A, as recommended by the new Public Works Advisory Committee, when they reviewed the site choices earlier this summer.

Consultants Engineers: Site recommendations

Senator Pittenger need not worry

It was painfully apparent, that Commissioners Baucom, Mills and Pressley were dead set against entertaining the consultant engineers first choice for the tower. You would have thought it was radioactive. Chairman Pressley was quick to stifle the discussion as Mr. Openshaw revealed that the best site, was owned by a group led by Mecklenburg State Senator Robert Pittenger.

The good senator has been a very active land speculator in western Union County. One of the most lucrative was the satellite annexation into Waxhaw arranged by NC Legislature, so Senator Pittenger’s property would enjoy much higher home density than county zoning. That resulting ‘school busting’ development is known as Lawson. There are others.

Mr. Openshaw suggested that since the Senator has been so successful in Union County, perhaps his sense of civic responsibility would give him pause and he’d consider selling less than 3 acres of his 81 acre track to Citizens of Union County who so desperately need water.

The Senator, represented by his son, answered Mr. Openshaw’s interrogatory, stating that ALL the property was available for $300,000 per acre.

The reader should know that going rate for all the residentially zoned land for that area of western county is appoximately $100,000 per acre. Land specifically for commercial use goes for $300,000 an acre, so one could draw the conclusion that there is more to this story. 😉 In the ‘Developers’ paradise of Union County, there always is.

Water Tower Sites

It’s always easy to bully the little guy and a church

We’re told the property owner of Water Tower Site 1A, is not a ‘willing’ seller, so a condemnation lawsuit will be required to wrest this property away, unless facing the legal might of Union County is more persuasive.

That same hammer is evidentially less persuasive when opposed by a bigger hammer in Raleigh.

 Posted by at 7:49 pm
Jan 172007
 

Last Sunday’s Charlotte Observer story (link below), focused on the extraordinary amount of campaign contributions donated to the coffers of winning County Commissioner candidates, Allan Baucom and Parker Mills.

Charlotte Observer: Campaign analysis: Union commissioners
Observer takes a detailed look at where they got their funding

    From the article:

    About 88 percent of donations larger than $100 to the campaigns of both Allan Baucom and Parker Mills came from either prominent county farmers or people in the real estate and building industries. In each case, the amount from those groups totaled around $40,000.

    Baucom and Mills also had much more money at their disposal during the 2006 campaign than Lanny Openshaw, who got no money from developers and also won a seat. Baucom had about $100,000 to spend and Mills about $67,000, including significant amounts of their own money. Openshaw, by contrast, had almost $13,000.

2006 Election Contributions

It’s important to note the disparity between campaign contributions to the developer candidates and the seemly paltry contributions that Lanny Openshaw received.

Look at the numbers:

Candidate Total Contributions Votes Won Donation per Vote
Allan Baucom

$100,675.00 ~

3124*

$32.23 per vote

Parker Mills

$78,838.00 ~

3963

$19.89 per vote

Lanny Openshaw

$12,836.00

3691

$3.48 per vote

*Mr. Baucom won in the primary, Mills and Openshaw won in runoff election
~Mr. Mills & Baucoms total contributions include personal loans the were repaid

Mr. Baucom received $32 for every vote he won compared to Mr. Openshaw’s $3.50 – almost 10 to one difference.

What can justify this kind of money in a ‘Republican Only’ race?

Contribution or Buying Influence

The Observer story tells the ‘what’ and ‘who’ made the big contributions, but don’t overlook the most dramatic issue, the ‘when’.

Examine the following time-line graphic, based on the Mr. Baucom’s campaign finance reports. His campaign was initially financed by personal loans of $40,000 through the primary election (May 3, 2006) where he actually won office, but the bulk of $60,240 in contributions came after he was elected. In fact, $36,550 was donated after July, of that, almost $25,000 in the 4th quarter of 2006 — 8 months after being elected.

Allan Baucom Campaign Contribution Time Line
Click Chart to enlarge

Most of us think a candidate seeks contributions and support before the election, having fund raisers, canvasing for money and support is typical the way local elections work.

‘Contributors’ making campaign donations after the election is won is analogous to placing a bet on a horse, after the race is over.

The other advantage is masking the identity of the contributers before the election. Candidates simply ‘loan’ their campaigns operating funds and then pay it back from contributions after the election. They call it ‘retiring the debt’.

Imagine the backlash, had voters known that the developer, realtor and large landowner special interest groups were bankrolling candidates to the tune of $50,000 and $60,000 per candidate. What better way for a grass-roots candidate to propel their campaign than exposing the ‘special interest’ money of the opponents.

Quoted from Observer article, referring to developer contributions:

“Their money has no influence on any decision I make,” Mills said.

“Nothing compromises me,” said Baucom. “… My obligation is to the taxpayers of Union County.”

If the actions of the ‘developer’ majority since taking office is any indication, how can you help but be skeptical. Connect the dots.


Commissioners earn approximately $8000 per year, plus expenses.

Lanny Openshaw will at least break even after in his second year.

 Posted by at 9:07 pm
Apr 202006
 
History and the record can’t be denied.

By Rick Becker
April 5, 2006

Columnist Fern Shubert has dedicated an awful lot of space to sewer (and recently, water) issues in recent editions of The County Edge. Since she brought my position on sewer approval (accurately) into her March 24 column, my interest was piqued.

Shubert writes a lot about Larry Helms and Aaron Plyler, but neither of them is running for anything right now. She goes on to suggest that voters might want to examine current candidates’ positions on sewer issues, but neglects to provide any information on these positions. I am in complete agreement with Shubert that these are important issues. There seems to be a lot of ‘sound and fury signifying nothing’ (with apologies to Shakespeare) by several candidates for county commissioner. Considering that installation of sewer lines over the past twelve years has been perhaps the single greatest contributor to Union County’s disastrous over-development, voters should know more.

Perhaps I can fill readers in.

Without a doubt, Clayton Loflin is the ‘Sewer King’. From his first day as a county commissioner in 1992, he has dedicated himself to ensuring that no developer was left behind when it came to having sewer service available to create maximum housing density and maximum tax burden on citizens. Even before his election in 1992, he stated that the ‘commissioners should preserve all available funds for other pressing needs like schools and water/sewer expansion’ (rather than dealing with a jail/court problem that was rapidly becoming a public-safety menace) [The Enquirer-Journal, 3/31/92]. After his election, he got right to work for his developer buddies. In August 1994, he was part of the board of commissioners that arranged to move a package sewer plant to the banks of Six Mile Creek near Marvin, ‘much to developers’ pleasure the Marvin plant is part of a county effort to boost sewage-treatment capacity and encourage further development in the county’s burgeoning western section’ [Union Observer, 8/11/94]. Shortly later, in November 1994, Loflin and his fellow commissioners voted to build the Twelve Mile Creek sewer plant to serve a 76-square-mile area and, once and for all, condemn county residents to a future of school overcrowding and massive tax increases. ‘We’re going to be generating growth beyond our wildest expectations over the next 20 years’, gushed Loflin [U.O., 11/2/94].
Continue reading »

 Posted by at 8:05 am
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