Monday, June 14, 2010

Has the sneaky leopard really changed his spots?

I had forgotten about this until a supporter reminded me. In 2004, when Gary Blount was a one-term St. Marys city councilman, there was a particularly disturbing episode when Blount recruited two other councilmen, Brian Fewox, and L.J. Williams, and staged a "boycott" of city council meetings.

Here's the story. There was a proposal on the table to make Cumberland Harbor a "special tax district." That is to say that in addition to all of the usual city taxes everyone else pays, they would pay an extra tax to pay for a new fire station and a water tower. Everyone who bought a lot on the property - and remember, many of the lots were bought on spec to flip - would be subject to the tax immediately, whether they built a house on it immediately or not. Blount did not want that. What he wanted was for new residents to "promise" to pay part of their homeowners' association dues to the city, but only once they had actually built a house.

Now, I don't know for a fact that Gary personally owned lots there at the time, but I suspect that his major client, Stan Smith, the then owner of Underground Contractors who put in the major underground utilities and did the paving and excavating there most certainly did. No telling how many of Gary's accounting clients and real estate and developer pals also did.

When Blount realized that the "other side" had four votes (counting the mayor's tie breaker) and would vote in the tax district at the next meeting, he literally walked out of the meeting then organized the boycott to deny them a quorum. Well, not only did that prevent council's voting on the tax district, it caused a crippling cessation of ALL CITY BUSINESS! The stoppage went on for a month!

There were a couple of more called meetings immediately thereafter. The three, led by Blount, still refused to show up, creating a crisis of governance in St. Marys all because the vote was not going to go Mr. Blount's way.

There was so much strife and public outcry that Mr. Fewox ended up resigning and causing the need of a special election at considerable cost to the taxpayers.

After several weeks of city governmental paralysis, the crisis ended only when the then mayor, Mayor
Hase, sent police out to simulatnaeously hand-deliver letters from her to Blount and Williams telling them that, IAW the city charter, if they did not show at the next meeting, their seats would be declared vacant and they too would be replaced in a special election. They caved and came back.

It gets worse. Somehow - I don't remember, but I'll look it up - in the end, Blount prevailed. His pals got their sweetheart deal wherein they got their fire station and water tower with a promise to pay from the HOA dues rather than from binding tax obligations.

The rest is history. The city was left holding the bag for the fire station and water tower.

Do we really want to give Gary Blount the opportunity to pull that kind of crap in another public office in Camden County?

This is but one more example of Blount seeking public office to do private favors. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that this sneaky leopard has changed his spots.

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