Senate leaders object to Oaky Woods deal

Turns out not everybody at the Capitol was happy with the state’s decision this week to spend almost $29 million buying part of the  Oaky Woods wilderness from Middle Georgia developers.

Republican leaders of the State Senate sent the State Properties Commission a letter asking them to delay their decision to spend $28.7 million in taxpayer money on 10,015 acres of Oaky Woods.

Oaky Woods is near land Gov. Sonny Perdue bought in 2003. The value of the governor’s land doubled after he bought it. Perdue, who leaves office next month,  is chairman of the properties commission.

Bert Brantley, his spokesman, said the state Senate leadership’s letter didn’t arrive until Monday’s meeting was underway and that it had no impact. The panel unanimously approved the deal.

The Senate letter, listing among others Senate President Pro-Tem Tommie Williams (R-Lyons) and Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) as authors, said, “As appropriators, we are concerned with a land purchase by state government at this time and in the proposed amount.”

“Given current real estate market conditions, we believe a delay will give taxpayers an opportunity to voice their opinion without jeopardizing the opportunity to purchase this property at true fair market value if it is determined to be in the state’s best interest.

“Now, more than ever, we must treat every tax dollar we spend as if it were our own. Moreover, we must prioritize every expenditure to ensure we first meet the proper functions of government.”

The panel voted to buy part of Oaky Woods  at $2,874 per acre. In comparison, Oaky Woods Properties bought the entire tract earlier in the decade for $1,600 an acre.

Oaky Woods Properties had planned to develop the tract with shops, offices and thousands of homes before the real estate market deteriorated.

Most of the money for the purchase is coming from a $25 million bond sale approved by lawmakers earlier in the year. At the time, the bond was listed as being  for “conservation,”  but state officials said it was not designated specifically to buy Oaky Woods.

The Oaky Woods tract could have been purchased much more cheaply in 2004, but state officials said at the time that they didn’t have enough money.

Lawmakers have pointed out that the state’s fiscal situation is far worse today than it was in 2004.

When the General Assembly convenes next week, lawmakers could face a $1.8 billion to $2 billion budget hole for the upcoming year. They have cut the budget more than $3 billion in the past few years, and state employees and teachers have had to take days off without pay to help the state stay in the black.

116 comments Add your comment

Toby

December 16th, 2010
3:09 pm

Can’t stop em can you.

Bobby

December 16th, 2010
3:25 pm

Good Christian Perdue only had our best interests at heart in the Oaky Woods deal. No wonder a crooked Deal follows him as Governor.

gene

December 16th, 2010
3:25 pm

SONNY SHOULD LEAVE OFFICE AND GO STRAIGHT TO PRISON.

jblog

December 16th, 2010
3:29 pm

They did the same in Paulding, and the land was not valued right, and family made good money. So this is the second time this has been pulled. Guess Sonny got all the property bought for him and his buddies in Paulding….

Let the Big Dawg Eat

December 16th, 2010
3:29 pm

Sonny has lined his own pockets as governor. Do anyone really expect that Deal will do otherwise?

Wish I was Sonny's friend

December 16th, 2010
3:30 pm

Then maybe I could get the state to buy some land I bought just before the burst. Must be nice to gamble on land, lose your A&& and then sell part of the land to the State for what you spent on all of it to begin with…. and still end up with a LOT OF LAND. Sonny and his friends are grinning all the way to the bank….
SOme might say the last thing Sonny did was rob the state till before he moved out of the BIG HOUSE. No Deal might want to inventory everthing in the house before he moves in…. Then will know what he can steal when he leaves….

nypeach

December 16th, 2010
3:31 pm

This is just another example of good old Republican leadership. We can expect more of this from Deal. How ironic that he announces state cuts at the same time that Perdue is robbing Georgia blind. Nice.

Biggums

December 16th, 2010
3:32 pm

I smell something

bart

December 16th, 2010
3:32 pm

Why do we keep electing crooks to office?

Biggums

December 16th, 2010
3:35 pm

Where Wikileaks when you need them?

Winfield J. Abbe

December 16th, 2010
3:37 pm

Governor Deal and the Legislature should demonstrate some leadership and backbone and still revoke this corrupt, improper, illegal transaction. Failure to do so only undermines all their hot air about how broke this corrupt government is. No appraiser would sign off on this corrupt transaction.
Please “leaders” of Georgia stand up for something, for the taxpayers just this one time. Stand up for principle for a change, rather than corrupt back room dealing you are so well known for.

Covers Dixie like the Dew

December 16th, 2010
3:37 pm

STOP this transaction . . . . . . . somehow.

Spiff

December 16th, 2010
3:38 pm

So after appointing a cousin to chair the Port Authority, cutting educational funding, giving raises to his friends before leaving office, and finding it reasonable to double the amount of money in this land deal why is Perdue still making rounds as though he has done this state a favor? People, unless we decide to vote against and out the “Sonny Perdue’s and Nathan Deals” Democrats, Republicans, and whoever else is diminishing the value of what our state has to offer it will continue. I look forward to the day that we will hold our leadership/elected officials accountable the same way that they have done to those who oppose them. Enough with the earmarks, pork-belly spending, and sweetheart deals. Let’s decide now, collectively, that we will empower others and remain empowered to change the face of what has become a political wasteland!

darkside

December 16th, 2010
3:40 pm

Another fishing lake deal they want to spend another 30 million on this and then say we have to cut education again to pay for crap like this well you all voted them and when your kids have get there education in an alley them maybe you will learn stop electing just cause they have R by there name and lie and say they are conservative not true they say that to get elected then due what they want anyways cause they were bought before the got elected can;t you all figure that out. geez you ask for you got it now stop complaing

will

December 16th, 2010
3:40 pm

You people voicing opposition to this and speaking out against Perdue are doing so out of ignorance of the facts, AND a poorly reported story. Read the story again. Perdue owns property NEAR the tract of land. This simply gives him a nearby real estate comp to work with if he can find a buyer for his tract. Perdue didn’t profit directly from this deal. The purchase makes sense from a long term standpoint. Much like the Paulding purchase mentioned above, the property was already being leased by the state for recreational purposes, for which the state profits from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. The outdoorsmen of the state will be the ones who pay this tab. Get your facts straight before passing judgement.

darkside

December 16th, 2010
3:41 pm

Another fishing lake deal they want to spend another 30 million on this and then say we have to cut education again to pay for crap like this well you all voted them and when your kids have get there education in an alley them maybe you will learn stop electing just cause they have R by there name and lie and say they are conservative not true they say that to get elected then due what they want anyways cause they were bought before the got elected can;t you all figure that out. geez you ask for you got it now stop complaining

will

December 16th, 2010
3:43 pm

To clarify – No welfare babies will be harmed by this transaction in any way.

darkside

December 16th, 2010
3:44 pm

do you really think they tried to stop it lol if so they why was this letter to late they said they got it to late yea right this was said so they could say oh we tried but were to late so they can lie to you again and get reelected next time cause they know you are sheep follow them where ever lead you cause they have R by there name so they must be telling the truth WAKE UP PEOPLE

Tim

December 16th, 2010
3:44 pm

With this type of corruption in Georgia, we need a strong editorial page.

Seriously, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution needs to start back doing daily Editorials in the print edition and online. It’s pathetic that the AJC is the state’s largest newspaper, and yet we must go to the Macon Telegraph or Athens-Banner Herald to read daily editorials. The AJC only does editorials on Sundays- ONE DAY A WEEK. The number of letters to the editor has also decreased. With a region as large as metro Atlanta, how can the AJC only publish 3 letters to the editor?

We need an editorial every day, blogs are not enough.

For instance, what does the AJC Editorial Board think about these issues:

1. The Prison Protest– Prisoners in Georgia have been protesting poor food, living conditions, lack of pay for work, a lack of educational opportunities,etc. In Georgia, prisoners can only get a GED. In most other states they can earn a high-school diploma while incarcerated. What does the editorial board think about the deprivation and exploitation that Georgia prisoners must endure every day?

2. The 29 MILLION Oaky Woods Purchase. While Republicans claim that Georgia is broke and must continue to furlough teachers, close state parks, cut back on the HOPE scholarship, decrease funding to colleges, etc, they somehow found 29 MILLION to purchase Oaky Woods.

The state paid twice as much as the property was worth! What about the corruption in this deal? Governor Perdue passed on this deal in 2004 because he said the state didn’t have the money. And yet, we have the money six years later, so that he could enrich his developer buddies down in Houston County. Why doesn’t the Editorial Board attack this corruption and graft with the same zeal that they went after Atlanta School Superintendent Beverly Hall?

3. What about the Republican scam to shift the burden on the poor by lowering income and corporate taxes, and then raising the sales tax? They’re even talking about taxing groceries.

Where is the AJC editorial board on these important issues? The largest paper in the state should have Daily Editorials. Blogs should be a supplement to the editorials and columns, they shouldn’t be a replacement. There is no excuse for smaller newspapers in Georgia writing daily editorials, while the AJC only has them on Sundays. It’s truly pathetic.

darkside

December 16th, 2010
3:45 pm

BEFORE WE BECOME THE STATE OF GEORGIA POWER OR SOME OTHER BIG COMPANY NAME

Old Bird Fan

December 16th, 2010
3:46 pm

Oh Good Grief. This is such a SHAM. Gov Perdue is chairman of the State Properties Commission. They approve. The land is near his land. The price is highly inflated. Gov to be Deal is already talking lay offs and GA has a huge debt. Some state workers cannot even order printer ink for their printers. Looks like Perdue is the RAT. He and his band of low-downs have no shame. I’m sure the property is nice and in better times would be grand for the state to have as a preserve. But PEOPLE…. we are in heep big trouble; allowing this to go through is just WRONG. Those in power and us taxpayers that just stand by and let it happen…. are no better than the robbing crew.

zanesmith's teeth

December 16th, 2010
3:47 pm

Hey, at least we didn’t elect no Socialist liberal!

The people get the government they deserve. The vast majority of Georgians don’t care enough or don’t know enough to actually try and make appropriate choices for their government. Mark my words, Deal is going to rape this state like no one before.

James Carville

December 16th, 2010
3:48 pm

SCANDAL in the making…..Perdue will make a killing on the Savannah Port deal with his trucking company. That’s why he put so many of his appointees on that board too. Are you listening AJC, WP, NYT, 20/20,?

Eddie0

December 16th, 2010
3:49 pm

I am continually amazed at the level of blatant disregard Georgia State officals have for common sense. Why would you approve the purchase of overly priced land when the State of Georgia is experiencing a budget shortfall, State Employee reductions and denial of pay raises for State of Georgia employees. We deserve what we elect, oops, I mean what the right minded citizens of Georgia elected.

Spiff

December 16th, 2010
3:50 pm

So I am assuming that Will is either the direct or indirect beneficiary of one of the land deals, a friend of Perdue, or a very detached individual. One thing I have learned in life is that right is right and wrong is wrong. With our state in the position that it is in financially, who does it benefit to spend taxpayer dollars in this way? You mean to tell me that the profits from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses produce a greater ROI than the amount of money going towards this sale? Well, I guess everyone finds their own reality to make things palatable. If you are convincing anyone else to believe this imbecilic logic, our state will find itself not only in the red but with a bare bones educational system but a failing economy for all of us. Not passing judgement, definitely stating facts. Oh, I might add that as a recent graduate from a state school I have seen first hand what the cuts are doing to the ability of professors, administrators, students, and corporations to plot a sustainable course that benefits everyone.

pet

December 16th, 2010
3:51 pm

Enter your comments here

chris

December 16th, 2010
3:54 pm

who raped georgia before leaving office? Sonny did.

pet

December 16th, 2010
3:56 pm

HERE WE GO ,DOWN THAT LONG WRONG WAY ROAD TO NO RETURN FOR THE TAX PAYE OF GEORGIA WAY TO GO PERDUE AND JUST WAIT AND SEE WHAT IN STORE WITH THE DEAL TURN AROUND TEAM, U ASK FOR THIS.,

thomas

December 16th, 2010
3:59 pm

We can’t buy beer on Sunday, but we can take in the shorts everyday from Reverend Perdue. Atleast he was a great leader on water and transportation issues. And no, I’m not bashing Republicans (of which I am one); just the accident of history we (unfortunately) elected twice. Thanks Roy for being such an arrogant a..hole and giving us the midget from Bonaire.

bill

December 16th, 2010
4:00 pm

Needs and Wants Folks…………..Needs and Wants…………the crowd we have now and the crowd coming in are both as crooked as a dog’s hind leg………….

Booger Fling

December 16th, 2010
4:01 pm

Real nice… All this in the same week they say we are 1-2 billion in the dump. Guess they will balance the budget on the backs of state workers.

bill

December 16th, 2010
4:02 pm

Will, you have to feel like a red-headed stepchild at the family reunion!!! No reason in the world this deal should have happened. I know they don’t have to justify this but you would think they would try………….what a bunch of thieves!!!

Nick

December 16th, 2010
4:03 pm

GOP = Crook. It’s that simple, folks, so why do you keep voting for crooks? You lie down with dogs; you get up with fleas.

BTW: Great comment by Tim about the once-a-week editorials. Really shameful, AJC.

TG

December 16th, 2010
4:04 pm

Why in the world isn’t any of the TV, radio stations and newspapers covering this waste, fraud and abuse of power. This properties commission was appointed by Sonny. This is corruption at the very top of state gov’t. Down in Houston County the foreign languages were cut out of the middle schools and teachers lost their jobs. Now the state can spend 29M on half the land (10,000) acres it could have bought in 2004 for 26M (20,000) acres. I believe Gov. Perdue has some involvment in the Oakey Woods Properties LLc which consist of 4 people. I think these state Reps and senators need to rebuke this thing. The taxpayers are fed up with all this corruption.

double

December 16th, 2010
4:09 pm

Lakes we got to have to lessen the water conflicts.Oaky woods is not suitable for this,and when Mr. Deal lays off state workers and allows this deal to go through he and members of his party should be remembered.We need term limits.Possibly can work with mr.Haslam ,and tap the Tn. river.

Dawgbone

December 16th, 2010
4:10 pm

I say, “Something stinks” and they say, “Let ‘em eat cake”….Gotta love Ga politics…I sure do wish we could have had someone to vote for this time….

NGArepub

December 16th, 2010
4:10 pm

Will is the only one with sense on here. Tommie Williams and all those guys are just taking shots at Sonny because they know he’s leaving. All they do when they do this is side with the minorities who want more money for welfare. We won’t forget whose side your on Tommie and the others! Your not on ours!

howard

December 16th, 2010
4:10 pm

Buying this property at this price should be considered criminal…why not condemn it and pay fair market value…that should save about 10-15 million dollars. Governor Perdue should be ashamed of his greed when so many are hurting. Christian, my a…..

freidenker

December 16th, 2010
4:14 pm

As a Tennessean I haven’t seen anything like the corruption in this state since the days of Blanton and Butcher (dems). A guy thumps his bible and everyone votes for him only to get their pockets picked. Just THINK, REASON, people. It’s not that difficult.

nothing seems to matter

December 16th, 2010
4:17 pm

Citizens of Georgia…you are about to witness the GOP “dream state” of smaller government.
Trouble is….services in this state are already on life support. Now, you will reap what you sow.
The party of no government will be the talk of America in a few years…not about any good they accomplished, but how NOT to run a state.
Sure glad I retired.

Don

December 16th, 2010
4:17 pm

Crooks, Sonny and Deal. Greedy m-fers. Both make me wanna puke. Why did you people vote for them????

michael

December 16th, 2010
4:18 pm

Where is your Tea Party Now and it Looks like you’ve made a DEAL!

Pablo

December 16th, 2010
4:21 pm

I know the WikiLeaks comment above was in jest, but that’s the really sad part here – there is no need for a whistleblower in this case because the participants made no effort to hide it! Plan A – Sonny pleads poverty so his pals can make a bundle on the development deal. When the real estate market tanks, go to Plan B – the state will bail out the pals by paying twice the price for half the land. Shameless, broad-daylight cronyism, and they’re laughing all the way to the bank..

luis jones

December 16th, 2010
4:21 pm

try to have a big fish fry !!

Why?

December 16th, 2010
4:21 pm

Because we have another CROOK coming in & people get to keep their jobs,No rocking the boat at this time!It will be a SUNNY day when this fat azz goes to prison.

rip

December 16th, 2010
4:29 pm

I have some property in drought stricken south georgia desperately in need of fire breaks plowed by the Forestry Commission. The gentleman I spoke to at Forestry said they are short 4-5 people and there are only 2 people to cover several counties and do everything that needs done. What sort of lunatic government would cut back FIREFIGHTERS?? I hope these dudes in the legislature don’t have any property at risk for BURNING UP in a wildfire, because thanks to Sonny and the gang of “kill government” crazies in the legislature, everyone is at critical risk now in this desperately dry year.
Oaky Woods may burn up before it’s sold.

markie mark

December 16th, 2010
4:29 pm

Dang Tim, are going to every blog on the paper today and posting that editorial rant? I will post the same answer here I posted on Bookmans an hour ago….

I think the AJC quit doing editorials because, typically, they were so far to the left that people kept dropping the paper out of disgust that only the left side was represented….but thats just my opinion.

As for point # 1, prisoners are where they are due to their own actions. I think they should be fairly treated and fed, but other than that, BS. They repay the cost to society for being segregated from us with their labor, whether it be road work or whatever and I strongly support that. And when we are talking about cutting back on HOPE for lack of funds, damn if I will endorse the state giving them a college education. That is ludicrious.

2. Agreed, but every leftist environmentalist in the state swallowed and said do the deal, just dont let this virgin property get away, at any cost. I dont think this was just to help the governor with his own piddly 100 or so acres; however, I agree this was virtual robbery by the owners….

3. sorry, but we have different philosophies on this, so I will pass on this argument….

Last Man Standing

December 16th, 2010
4:31 pm

will @ 3:40 pm

You are on target with your post. Unfortunately, most people don’t read what is written but read what they WANT to see written.

clyde crommett

December 16th, 2010
4:38 pm

O well, voters jus love crooks. Just voted in another one. What else is important?

tom mitchell

December 16th, 2010
4:38 pm

Last Man Standing…so the Oaky Woods deal was a great opportunity for the State?

Anon

December 16th, 2010
4:41 pm

Who cares about the facts? You can wave as much evidence of blatant corruption around as you want. That won’t keep the electorate down here from voting Red.

Sam I Am

December 16th, 2010
4:42 pm

Republicans voters enjoy getting screwed by their elected officials.

rip

December 16th, 2010
4:47 pm

I also agree with Tim about the editorial responsibility of the AJC.
For decades the AJC has focused public attention on the evil-doing at the Capitol. Now they have backed off to a large degree, with just a very few exceptional reporters and commentator/blogger/editorialists willing to speak truth to power.
I am starting to think that every corporate owned media outlet in the country is doing a lock step march to the drum beat of Rupert Murdoch and his evil empire of Fox News, Wall St. Journal, etc.
I long for the days of muckraking independent journalism at AJC.

Sam I Am

December 16th, 2010
4:50 pm

Thats a kicker about voting “RED”, it appears that the state gov’t books always seems to end up in the “RED”

Sam I Am

December 16th, 2010
4:53 pm

Good to see “W” and the ex-first lady in town today!!!

Robert Reeves

December 16th, 2010
4:54 pm

Shame on you, Sonny Perdue. Shame on your cronies on this State Properties Commission. I’ll say it: You’re corrupt and without a conscience. You belong in jail.

we the people

December 16th, 2010
4:59 pm

Someone stand up and say this is not right and stop this nonsense. It is not what we need to do now and especially at the price we are being forced to pay. It really smells crooked, because anyone that has dabbled in land knows it is worth less than before.

bart

December 16th, 2010
5:03 pm

Tim, you right about the AJC needing to become a good paper again and doing investigative reporting and editorializing. We have had and do have a bunch of crooks in office, and the AJC would be the logical source to keep the public informed of all the illegalities, ethics violations, and immoralities that our public officials are participating in.

strom

December 16th, 2010
5:04 pm

You can tell by Sonny,s nose that he is a closet drinker. Front row Baptist. Sonny,s claim to fame is when he was a democrat he deregulated gas. I hope I am working the gate if he gets there..

Keith

December 16th, 2010
5:05 pm

This Libertarian thinks it’s a bad deal but this is a piece of the state that is priceless in it’s long-term value and should remain wild. God put the bears and other wild things here, let’s keep a place for them to live.

Read Between the lines

December 16th, 2010
5:07 pm

“Bert Brantley, his spokesman, said the state Senate leadership’s letter didn’t arrive until Monday’s meeting was underway and that it had no impact. The panel unanimously approved the deal.”

Folks, get real here — the Senate leadership KNEW already their letter would have no impact – it was sent for one purpose and one purpose only, to give them political cover. If you can’t see that you are BLIND.

Interestingly, I’ve looked through the entirety of Title 50, Chapter 16 — and nowehere in the establishment and empowerment of this “Commission” does it give them unilateral authority to spend state money to BUY property — they are empowered to do it on the request of state agencies but that money has to come from the agency’s own budget. Even modifications to leases from the State have to go back to the legislature for review and approval. And those agency heads are policitians who can be booted. Can anyone (read AJC) find where a state agency actually asked for this and what authority they have from the legislature to do this? Can someone please figure out where this money is coming from and hwere it’s been sitting all this time? What agency will actually be required to pay for this?

This wreaks of something that was pushed through without there being any actual legal basis for it to happen this way — and everyone is sort of posturing in such a way as to make it look like — “well we didn’t have anything to do with it” — sort of like my kids when something gets broken and everyone of them yells “I don’t know” — this is political sleight of hand at its very worst. If the incoming Governor and existing legislative leadership REALLY wanted to stop this they DAMN WELL COULD.

Sorry “state” of affairs around here….. my home state I love so much is heading for the proverbial “handbasket” quickly.

DannyX

December 16th, 2010
5:13 pm

Oh my God everyone! We tried. Oh yeah, we tried so hard to stop this theft, Gosh, wow, things didn’t work out. Shucks everyone, us Republican leaders tried to halt it. Trust us.

They didn’t get our letter????? We need some of that new email.. What…No letter? Geeze you gotta be kidding me. Probably stuck in holiday mail traffic.

Do we get points for trying??????????????

Sarcasm 101

December 16th, 2010
5:22 pm

This is Obama’s fault. He is a Socialist liberal, just like the other dems. We cannot have a dem for a leader in Georgia. I will vote for a murderous, pedophile before I vote for a dem. Dems want to enhance education, help the unemployed and other socialist thingies at the expense of REAL tax-paying americans. And we can’t have that. If Obama weren’t the prezo, we wouldn’t have had to elect Deal. So, this is his fault. Personal responsibility, and what not. God Bless America, and no one else.

zanesmith's teeth

December 16th, 2010
5:26 pm

Tuesday, October 31, 2006Oaky Woods has Perdue in a sticky wicket
Sonny the land mogul
A 19,000-acre tract in Middle Georgia – described by experts as one of the richest nature preserves and hunting grounds in the Southeast – may shortly be filled with 17,000 homes and become a closed private city.
You can thank Gov. Sonny Perdue for making it happen – and for making himself richer.
In 2004, Perdue effectively blocked a $25 million offer from the national Nature Conservancy to buy for Georgia’s public use the Oaky Woods property in Houston County. Oaky Woods was envisioned as a permanent natural area similar to Sapelo Island on the coast and the Smithgall Woods Conservation Area in Northeast Georgia. The Oaky Woods land would have been set aside for the use of Georgia hunters.
Perdue refused to issue a letter to the conservancy to declare that the state had an interest in acquiring Oaky Woods for conservation purposes at an unspecified date, perhaps years in the future. Perdue’s refusal resulted in the conservancy withdrawing its offer to lend the Georgia chapter of the Nature Conservancy $25 million to buy the property for public use.
Instead, Perdue acquired for himself 100 acres adjacent to Oaky Woods for slightly more than $300,000, the value of which has soared to more than $750,000 in a mere 18 months.
A group of Middle Georgia developers, led by politically plugged-in Charles McGlamary, purchased the wildlife-management preserve from Weyerhaeuser Co. The Houston County Board of Education reports in official minutes that the Oaky Woods property will be used to accommodate 17,000 houses.
The investors have said they hope to turn the giant subdivision into a so-called private city in which developers are allowed to levy taxes and operate utilities in a special government entity exempted from Georgia’s sunshine laws.
Earlier this year, the Georgia Legislature scuttled a bill to permit private cities (similar to ones in Florida), but Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson has promised to reintroduce the legislation next year.
The Oaky Woods deal emerged in February 2004 when conservation-minded Weyerhaeuser announced plans to sell off huge tracts throughout Georgia and suggested the state might be interested in having Oaky Woods.
The Georgia chapter of the Nature Conservancy immediately began negotiations to secure Oaky Woods, said to be one of the largest black-bear habitats in the South. Officials of the state Natural Resources Department declared that Oaky Woods could become one of most important conservation acquisitions in Georgia’s history.
The national Nature Conservancy shared the enthusiasm and offered to put up the money for the property for Georgia – if Gov. Perdue would just assert in writing that Georgia government had an interest in buying it one of these days. Perdue said no.
The governor’s involvement in the Oaky Woods transaction is the latest revelation regarding Sonny and his land/tax deals. Other arrangements involved multimillion-dollar sales in Houston County and an acquisition near Disney World in Florida – plus a special $100,000 backdated tax break on one of the Georgia deals.
State Rep. Larry O’Neal, Perdue’s lawyer and tax adviser, counseled the governor on these transactions and shepherded passage of the tax exemption. O’Neal is chairman of the state House Ways and Means Committee, which writes tax laws. In addition, O’Neal sits on the board of the Columbus Bank & Trust Co., which provided a $23 million loan for the Oaky Woods development. CB&T executives are hefty contributors to Perdue’s political kitty.
When Perdue won election in 2002, he declined to place his business interests in a private trust, as his predecessors had done. He said he needed to tend personally to his private businesses. Hardly anybody at the time dreamed those interests included becoming a real estate mogul.
Perdue is expected to be re-elected governor without much trouble on Nov. 7. No one has again mentioned the possibility of a blind trust to protect the governor in his second term from the appearance of conflicts of interest between his public duties and his private businesses. In fact, such an idea in the current atmosphere is laughable.

You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 440755, Kennesaw, Ga., 30160, or e-mail: shipp1@bellsouth.net.

Sarcasm 101

December 16th, 2010
5:27 pm

Why not cut the teachers’ pay to help this nice man prosper?! Besides, teachers are evil-doers who refuse to babysit my kids and take my rants with glee. To hell with them, and to hell with welfarey HOPE! I pay taxes and therefore I want my $$ going to good, Christian GOPers not some pansy liberal looking for a handout i.e TEACHERS and college kids :-|

Sonnys to do list

December 16th, 2010
5:34 pm

My fellow Georgians ha-ha….My work is completed,30 million for land next to mine,10 million for the college football hall of fame,unknown amount for the little league hdqs near my home,and go fish amount does not MATTER! LOVE you guys have to go to the bank and make a deposit before christmas. God Bless.

God Hates Conservatives

December 16th, 2010
5:34 pm

So what was wrong with John Monds if Deal and Barnes were so horrible? Why didn’t he win by a landslide?!?! Glad I’m outta here at the first of the year. YOU VOTERS GET WHAT YOU DESERVE.

God Hates Conservatives

December 16th, 2010
5:36 pm

CNN losing ratings to Fox News is more important to the AJC than this story. :-|

Has Murdoch bought this paper out, too????

south georgia possum

December 16th, 2010
5:38 pm

Mypeach…What do you expect the new incoming governor to do. Don’t you get it…there’s no money..the state is going broke and it’s not his fault. unfortunately he’s the one that’s gotta try and fix it. And if you recall…during the campaign he warned he was not going to make a lot of wild promises about a lot of great things he would do when elected because he knew things were gonna be tough. And for all you others…Deal had nothing to do with this Oak Oak forest or whatever the hell it is. Give the guy a chance. He’s got a lot of tough decisions to make and will have to cut some state positions because of the lack of funds. At least he’s not trying to mislead us into thinking everything’s fine. Folks…what it is is what it is…NOT REAL GOOD.

zanesmith's teeth

December 16th, 2010
5:47 pm

Possum,

The state’s tax collections have been going up for the past 6 months. Yes, things are not at the levels before the great recession, but we are on the way up. If WE THE PEOPLE don’t start demanding some accoutability out of our elected officials, they are just going to do the same things as always. “There’s no money so we have to cut areas that I don’t agree with, don’t like, didn’t support me or my cronies, etc..” WAKE UP. Kentucky is also a Republican controlled state (Mitch McConnell…etc..) they had a huge budget defecit. What did the Kentucky Republicans do instead of gutting education and other needed areas??? They increased the tobacco tax! Imagine that…raising revenue on a product that costs the state millions in associated health care costs. Education budget shortfall resolved! This was a Republican legislature that did that.
The people get the government that they deserve.

God Hates Conservatives

December 16th, 2010
5:49 pm

“Give the guy a chance.”
__________________________

NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

God Hates Conservatives

December 16th, 2010
5:50 pm

Why not sell liquor on Sundays?!?!? Even Jesus took libations! Hypocrites, the whole lot of ya’s…

RSC

December 16th, 2010
6:31 pm

Wow, this would have to be the unimproved piece of real estate and in the entire state that is worth more today than it was in 2004!!

RSC

December 16th, 2010
6:31 pm

Wow, this would have to be the only unimproved piece of real estate and in the entire state that is worth more today than it was in 2004!!

ATF

December 16th, 2010
6:43 pm

At least some Republicans tried to stop it. Purdue will go down in history as the most inept governor of our time. He will be rich, so he probably won’t care. He did a lot of economic good for his buddies, but the rest of us paid for it and will keep on paying for it until the bonds are paid off.

Is there any reason to believe Deal is any different?

BitterEXdemocrackkk

December 16th, 2010
7:19 pm

WHY do states think they have to buy properties like this? its NOT a function of government!

PRIVITIZE IT!!!

Jason

December 16th, 2010
7:21 pm

In a down real estate, market where the value of all taxpayers homes have gone down, why are we considering buying a piece of real estate where Oaky Woods Properties will make a $13,000,000 profit. How many of the senators own a piece of Oaky Woods Properties

Vince

December 16th, 2010
7:25 pm

We have more than enough state workers anyway. Half of you lazy asses should be terminated. THERE is where the problem lies!

WestOfAthens

December 16th, 2010
7:27 pm

According to common math perception, if the panel approved a “cost per acre” of $2,874, how in the world does the value skyrocket 100 fold?

Something is wrong with this state and it’s decision makers, i seem to find myself being ashamed to brag upon the great State of Georgia oh so many times in the past….

Billy

December 16th, 2010
7:28 pm

So when will all of you Georgia Republicans stop voting these crooks into office. Just look at the nation as a whole, the rich Republicans are fleecing the public. Hey for that matter the rich period. Republican or Democrat. Silly voters getting what they deserve.

Too naive

December 16th, 2010
7:29 pm

Who’s staff is Will on? The only people who are in line to PROFIT from this classic insider deal are politicians. How obtuse to you have to be to believe this deal is on the up and up? The only people who would defend this are people on the payrolls of the offenders or have personal relationships with the crooked politicians involved. Too many rednecks run this state and too many rednecks keep voting in fat cat politicians that just keep getting richer as time goes by. How did Purdue more than double his net worth while in office at a time when everyone else in the country lost a third to half of their life savings? I’ll tell you, cuz he cheats. Just like all his good ol boy buddies. And their laughing at you trailer park GOPers that keep voting for them.

pn

December 16th, 2010
7:30 pm

Don’t forget the similar hanky-panky re: Jekyll Island State Park. A 50 million dollar bond issue to tear down the perfectly serviceable convention center and build a new one. Many if not most of the conventions going to Jekyll over the past few decades were state or local government (or church) sponsored. If the Republicans succeed in completely gutting state government agencies, and their employees, which seems to be their ultimate goal, who will be left to attend conventions on Jekyll and pay for high-priced hotel rooms next to that nice brown water?
How far would that $50 million go to keep teachers and forestry firefighters from being furloughed and laid off?

DaveDawg

December 16th, 2010
7:32 pm

I agree with the comment about the AJC. Their coverage of the icy roads was as thin as the ice itself. A blog with a sentence-or-two entry every few hours? Really, that’s it? The smaller papers ran circles around this media giant. But the AJC can tell us all about the Real Housewives of Atlanta, Gucci Mane, Maria Carey and all the other tabloid trash.

retireds

December 16th, 2010
7:32 pm

Republicans, the family values group, at its best. The voters have been duped.

Ima Crook Too

December 16th, 2010
7:43 pm

Ok, the Nature Conservancy tells our crooked Guv that they will BUY the property and save it for us until the state can pay for it. Our crooked Guv says “no way’ ,Ga can’t afford it. Then 4 of our crooked Guvs political hack cronies buy it and the bottom falls out of the real estate market, esp vacant land. Suddenly our crooked Guv says “oh, we can afford it” AT DOUBLE WHAT THE POLITICAL HACK CROOKED CRONIE FRIENDS PAID FOR IT!!! Now, tell me if that is’nt a wholesale scam towards the taxpayers of Georgia!!!!

I want to join a citizen lawsuit now against the crooks!!!! I want to see them go to jail!!!!

hoping not to get fired

December 16th, 2010
7:49 pm

So let me get this straight…Governor elect Deal stands in front of 700 business leaders today and says we are going to have to cut the 104,000 person state work force because we are broke but hey we are going to buy 10000 acres of land for 29 million dollars. Well if we are cutting workforce who will patrol the new acreage youu got there governor elect? Someone needs to wake up and realize there is some sketchy politics going on with the old going out and the new coming in. Maybe the Inspector General can take a quick look at this.

Sam the Sham

December 16th, 2010
7:53 pm

It seems that every governor that gets elected in Illinois winds up under indictment, but in Georgia it seems that our governors are far to smart for the fed’s to catch.

Bob McElwee

December 16th, 2010
8:00 pm

The people are tired of the thieves that we have in office it is time to rise and start hanging people like Perdue-Deal-Barnes all from the highest trees and take our country back.I have watched and voted for 35 years and nothing changes except who is stealing from the people.

Robert

December 16th, 2010
8:02 pm

You call sending a letter over DURING a meeting as having “fought” the transaction? I can’t stop laughing at whatever editor wrote that.

RATM

December 16th, 2010
8:12 pm

It won’t end until we take it back from these fools.

Sonny should run in Gwinnett

December 16th, 2010
8:18 pm

Good ole Sonny would fit right in over here with Gwinnett County “leadership” (believe me, I coughing something up as I use that word with Gwinnett)–hey, he could even show our bunch a thing or two. Seems some of ours get indicted for their shady land deals. Not Sonny though, he even managed to keep it under wraps until he was on his way out. He’s a man that does corruption right!!!

Embarrassed In Houston

December 16th, 2010
8:24 pm

I am so ashamed of Sonny and what he has done while in office. I once had a great deal of respect for him, before he raped K-12 education and cheated the tax payers for his own personal gain. His dear mother who was a fantastic public school teacher would not be very proud of her son now. He is a crook and an embarrassement to all who used to think he was someone we could trust.

eatmotacos

December 16th, 2010
8:25 pm

By the act of electing the last two governors, the majority of voters in Georgia have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they aren’t smart enough to participate in a democracy. For their own good, they should voluntarily abstain from voting in future elections.

Hmmmmmmm

December 16th, 2010
8:29 pm

Sonny needs to go to JAIL, along with every other politician that had a hand in this JOKE!

td

December 16th, 2010
8:30 pm

RSC

December 16th, 2010
6:31 pm
Wow, this would have to be the unimproved piece of real estate and in the entire state that is worth more today than it was in 2004!!

I can guarantee you that I know of two pieces of property that are up for sale right now that are worth more than their 2004 assessed value.

Hmmmmmmm

December 16th, 2010
8:34 pm

But we will still have idiots argue about which party is WORSE…… Let me give you a clue eatmotacos, BOTH parties are CRIMINAL. People take your heads out of your A$$es and take your government back!

L Singleton

December 16th, 2010
8:34 pm

Once Dem always a Dem … Once a Republican always a Democrat … Until we have term limits … this continues until the Great Recession becomes the Great Revolt … and from certain individuals, I can see armed revolt against our government … remember … you read my op ed opinion here first … I’m just sayin :/

Grady Gram no more

December 16th, 2010
8:37 pm

They do it, and will continue to do it, because they can. We the people cannot stop them. They think they are so above it all, and can do whatever they please. And what can we the people do? Fuss all we want…they laugh at us, all the way to the bank.

Lulu

December 16th, 2010
8:39 pm

To be as crude as those who approved this purchase, smells like PUKE to me. Sorry but that’s the truth! Can the taxpayers file a class action lawsuit against such brazen incompetence and corruption?
Proud to be an INDEPENDENT

Good Cop Bad Cop

December 16th, 2010
8:41 pm

Dems and Republicans play GOOD COP BAD COP but somehow they all end up benefitting. They yell and scream at each other on TV and in the newspapers then run off to the country club to smoke cigars and drink brandy together. We’re all sheep. Our system is nebulous to say the least. If you think your side is RIGHT, you’re wrong. Both sides constantly throwing off the scent of the real issues. Lawyers and Judges tell you to take it up with your legislatures but the folks we vote in are either like Glenn Richardson or Sen Larry Craig of MN. This country and state are upside down. Look at the quality of the individuals we’ve recently elected President and Governor. That’s what you’re left with…….the bottom of the barrell.

eatmotacos

December 16th, 2010
8:50 pm

Georgia now has all of the elements of a Banana Republic – open and sustained political corruption – a drug distribution hub – third world traffic – unhampered violence on the streets – overrun with third world illegal aliens…….

Are you kidding

December 16th, 2010
8:53 pm

The sooner we can get Purdue out of Atlanta the better- he has been feathering his nest the whole time he has been governor apparently. And we have Deal now coming in behind him??? God help this state- and it’s ignorant voters.

Are you kidding

December 16th, 2010
8:55 pm

Sonny Purdue has been a complete joke as a governor. But he has certainly done well financially while in office. I know all you Purdue voters must be so proud!!!

Ken Payne

December 16th, 2010
8:57 pm

You would never have seen things like this going on when Speaker Thomas Murphy was in Charge. Roll all the Republicans in the Capitol together & they wouldn’t have the integrity of one Speaker Murphy. God Bless You Soul, You always did what was BEST for Georgia 1st.

Hmmmmmmm

December 16th, 2010
9:01 pm

eatmotacos
You can also thank your washington politicians for all this crap… I mean what is it going to take people…. We need to storm DC throw every last piece of garbage out….. Republican and Democrat!

rural education

December 16th, 2010
9:06 pm

Georgia has the weakest ethics laws in the nation so we should not be surprised by any of this. Deal was cheered enthusiastically by the business leaders today when he stated his desire to eliminate state jobs and be a pro-business Gov., who will count on those men to create jobs. We can eliminate the corporate tax rate and not one single job will be created. The “haves” are determined to take it all and leave nothing left. Anyone remember the “blue collar” middle class, ah those were the days.

Dee T

December 16th, 2010
9:24 pm

As long as the people of Ga. continue to vote AGAINST their own economic interests, we will have crooked governors like Shady Perdue and Nathan Deal.

eatmotacos

December 16th, 2010
9:40 pm

Anyone know what happened to Sonny’s 21 million dollar undercollateralized loan that was coming due last March? Makes one wonder how a man who only makes $137,000 a year got out of that one – must be a real Rumpelstiltskin.

Old Bird Fan

December 16th, 2010
11:54 pm

Oh yea eatmotacos… what did happen to that loan? Makes me sick that he is such a crooked man and flashes that donkey eatin briars smile; while all along laughing over how he and his cronies have run scams on the state that profited them.
Another sham is the whole privitizing of the IT (computer systems, networks, leases, technical assistance, etc) work for the State of GA. One can bet Perdue is set to profit personal gain and likely has a buddy in that mix also.
Interesting how none of these “deals” has ever been throughly investigated by an investigative reporter and the facts shown to the people.

Old Bird Fan

December 17th, 2010
12:01 am

Comeon AJC, be a voice for the people. Get Jane O.Hansen to work the investigative report. I just bet this go around (20 years later) she would be awaded the Prize.

County Francine

December 17th, 2010
12:29 am

This is what the good ol’ confederate boys wanted. Deal was in the senate for nearly 20 years and during his campaign he never once mentioned anything that he accomplished during that time frame. It was all about fighting “Obama”. I am a state employee and it will be real interesting to see how this layoff thing works. I work for DFCS and we can’t even afford to drug test these parents but we found 28 million dollars to buy some land. Where is the tea party??

Cutty

December 17th, 2010
12:33 am

Tea Party was just a bunch of racist out to get Obama. IF they were so concerned about our “tax money” being wasted they would have been all over this. We see now what they were really all about.

rufus

December 17th, 2010
7:14 am

Sonny and Mary should be ashamed…………………claim to be christians and actually they are thieves!!!!! If it was a good deal why so much hush hush………….ie bond for conservation, not the purchase of oaky woods that would have been easy to understand!!! Hope Sonny and
Mary choke on it……………..Sonny stay in Atlanta with the rest of the thieves!!! Mcglamery, Williams, Free and of course that scum bag Charles Ayers are laughing at the state and the taxpayers………..I’m ashamed i voted for you…………….but Ross Tolleson and Larry O’neal will never get my vote again,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,they stood by and never voiced an objection……….laying off state workers, unemployment over 10%, people hungry,,,,,,,,,,,losing home and families……..wonder if they go to oaky woods and watch the black bears that will make it better……………..and why did the land these 4 scumbags own double in value and everbody elses dropped drastically!!! I hope somehow this deal can be stopped………….ITS WRONG we don’t have the money what about our teachers??? How much is enough money Sonny? Read that bible your always carrying around with you, what a joke………….can’t wait for the port authority debacle starts lol the taxpayers just think you screwed them!!! your just getting started aren’t you Sonny DON’T SHOP AT THE SPORTS CENTER THAT SCUMBAG IS LAUGHING AT US

pn

December 17th, 2010
11:07 am

Doesn’t the U.S. Attorney have a responsibility here? Isn’t this an obvious conflict of interest by a public official? If Perdue participated in arranging the initial sale from the lumber company to his buddies and big time campaign donors, while at the same time secretly buying adjacent land, it is an outright unequivocal conflict of interest and using public office for personal gain. If this is considered standard and acceptable behavior by a public official in Georgia, we might as well be living in Russia, where wealthy insiders and politicians pillage the public at will, the is no law enforcement, and all the institutions of government are collapsing from corruption and unconstrained self-dealing.

happy jack

December 17th, 2010
8:40 pm

is that land in gwinnett county?

Bart

December 20th, 2010
2:08 pm

Sonny is corrupt!