Greensboro city council’s breach of ethics
January 19, 2013 5 Comments
An Economic Incentive Grant in the amount of $238,422 was approved for the SoutheasternBuilding in downtown Greensboro. Of considerable interest is the commercial real estate broker that leases space in the building– NAI Piedmont Triad, Mayor Robbie Perkins’ agency. (hat tip: TriadWatch)
It is a major problem for the city council to vote on an item from which the mayor stands to gain financially. Any council member who considers voting against such a proposal would have to pause and wonder whether he or she would be subject to political retaliation of some type.
It is not enough for Robbie to recuse himself. This type of vote simply should not be brought before the council if he stands to gain financially– directly or indirectly.
Moreover, a person in Robbie’s profession should not even be serving on the city council. It is a built-in conflict of interest because so much of the council’s activities consist of decisions regarding zoning and development.
Most of us know how long and hard we would have to work in order to earn $238,000. But in Robbie’s world, it is a financial gift gained with little effort expended, granted freely and instantaneously by the taxpayers for the gain of inside players.
Downtown development, of course, is a political sacred cow that enjoys an endless source of taxpayer subsidies; and some obviously stand to gain mightily.
Meanwhile, much of the city’s media is utterly silent. This is a city council utterly bereft of ethical and moral sense. But during the 2011 election season, the media lined up dutifully to tear down incumbent conservatives serving on the city council– and elect Robbie and his minions. The media was entirely aware of his business activities; but it was more important to them that he gleefully acquiesced with the city’s institutionalized identity politics.
We should not take any comfort in Robbie’s recusals. They are a sign that something is terribly amiss.
Meanwhile, another developer scores a huge loan from the city to rehabilitate a shopping center. Why are we doing these things? Why can’t the market be allowed to work on its own?
Dr. Joe Guarino is a Guardian columnist.