Bunch described the growing controversy as unnecessary and unfounded “havoc and chaos.”
“The people that bought the building (LNG) are all very good human beings and good citizens of Hancock County. These are businessmen and what they did – they didn’t go to the school board, from what I understand, the school board came to them. … These allegations are baseless. These guys bought that building. They re-sold that building. That’s what they do.
I was reminded of the Miranda warning when I read the Sea Coast Echo’s second try at poorly telling the stinky story of the Bay Waveland School District’s purchase of the Bay Tech Building from 3 politically connected local business people because as this drama plays out, I guarantee certain people will wish they had kept mouths shut as we visit next with local businessman Gerald Rigby and get his take on this unfolding scandal:
LNG President Jerry Rigby said Friday that any allegations of wrong-doing are completely false. Rigby said it may have been a short while between the time LNG closed on the property and then sold it to the school board, but his company had actually been working on a couple of different development deals at the Bay Tech site since at least last December.
“We contacted (Magnolia Group) through the realtor. … We proceeded with a normal real estate acquisition. We offered a number. They came back with a counter offer. They countered our counter and they accepted (our next offer) very quickly. … I don’t think we had any power to compel them to accept the offer.”
Slabbed has obtained certain documents with the help of the local Alliance for Good Government, a citizens group the Sea Coast Echo regularly paints as loons in their beat reporting on the school district. Worth noting is the editor of the Echo, Randy Ponder is married to School Board Prez Sherry Ponder, thus the lack of integrity in said beat reporting but that subject is best fleshed out in a dedicated post.
What documents did I obtain? For purposes of this post I’m going to zero in on three: One page from the deed related to the sale of the building by LNG to School Board, one of the two appraisal reports that were ordered by the School District and the following letter from the AFGG to School Board Prez Sherry Ponder dated September 6, 2011: Continue reading “School District records suggest collusion in Bay Waveland’s School District’s purchase of Bay Tech Building”
Earlier today I linked the Sea Coast Echo report on the Bay Waveland School Board’s purchase of the Bay Tech Building encouraging our readers to read it as reporter Geoff Belcher attempted to frame the story as a business spat between realtors. I beg to differ and as I examined his story critically, especially the quotes from Mary Bunch, Avra O’Dwyer and School Board Attorney Ronnie Artigues, I ended up with more questions than answers. Luckily for everyone I did some interviewing of my own so maybe I can answer some of these questions.
Belcher compartmentalizes the topic into “two major components to the controversy” but he missed a few components in the spin cycle so we need to first examine what we know and compare that to the quotes he snagged and the assertions he made. Since I bring my day job skills to the blogging scene I’ll warn my new readers this won’t read like a newspaper guy wrote this story but I bet I can make everything understandable thus we begin with the disclosure of the people I interviewed for this post: Bill Washburn, former owner of the Bay Tech Building via his company Magnolia Group LLC, Lana Noonan with the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government, and Ms Avra O’Dwyer, owner of O’Dwyer Realty. Before I get to their remarks I’d like to make a couple of observations so let’s quote from the end of the story, specifically the attributed remarks of School Board Attorney Ronnie Artigues with Butler Snow:
Artigues likened the process to the district’s recent purchase of two properties near Waveland Elementary to make room for road expansion there.
“We had to offer them the appraised value,” he said. “It’s no different, it doesn’t matter who the owner is.”
Mississippi is considered a non-disclosure state. Property owners are not required to reveal what theythemselves paid for the property to a prospective new buyer.
The $325,000 figure did not become public until Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a nation-wide real estate listing, added it to the Bay Tech description page.
“We got it for the lowest possible number based on the appraisal,” Artigues said, adding that the district was quite pleased with the price, at the time of the sale.
The assertion a govermnet has to offer “appraised value” in a privately negotiated real estate transaction is absurd. I’m not sure of the context of the reporters statement regarding the late date the transaction was entered into the MLS or how it fits. For instance is the reporter trying to hint at the fact the last sale of the building was not considered in the appraisal report the school district paid for after the August School Board meeting? It simply isn’t clear. Continue reading “Sea Coast Echo story on Bay Waveland Schools buying Bay Tech building raises additional questions (UPDATED)“