Hush-Hush Rush-Rush

“It’s absolutely not anyone’s business!” So said cityhood Grifter-in-Chief Joe Gavalis to former advisory committee member Joe O’Connor when asked where’s the money coming from.

When I was in first grade we’d say, “none of your beeswax.” I’m reasonably sure we outgrew that by second grade, third tops. But doesn’t “none of your beeswax” seem a little juvenile for a cityhood spokesman, especially given what’s at stake? And what’s at stake is your right to continue enjoying your property as you see fit without additional regulations, fees and taxes.

Even a first-grader knows that if you hide what you’re doing it must be wrong. So here we have a cityhood mouthpiece with the moral compass of a kindergartener. Even these days, “my house, my rules” seems reasonable enough. But “your house, my rules?” No thanks.

Why are the promoters of the cityhood scam so scared of letting us in on their secrets? Simply this: they’ve got hundreds of millions of dollars in development, kickbacks and pay-to-play riding on this pitiable swindle and they aim to collect. The pie’s already been baked. Now it’s just a matter of each insider getting their slice.

Here’s what flim-flammer and real estate investor David Birdwell says: “There’s not going to be new development, but there’s going to be redevelopment.” There it is plain as the nose on your face. The cityhood hustle is a naked land grab by a secretive bunch of connivers licking their chops at the prospect of turning our community into their personal ATM.

The power structure is already in place. Commissioner Ott will be the mayor. Jerry Quan will be police commissioner. The real estate guys will write land use policies to their benefit. And the whole mess will be dumped on us to pay for. They’ll walk away with the cash and we’ll be left holding the bag. No wonder they’re afraid to let us know what they’re up to.

Fraudster Bob Eble, who works alongside David Birdwell at Slalom Consulting, did a nice impression of a pretzel when interviewed by the Marietta Daily Journal. “It’s funny, you know, we keep hearing the “secretive group,” and I can tell you a couple of things that this thing is not. It’s not a secretive group. We will be releasing the names to you all this week.” Huh?

Basically, Mr. Eble said, sure, it may be a secret now but once it’s not a secret in the future it won’t be a secret in the past, when it was a secret. Got that?

Well, guess what. They did release the names! Only problem is that they somehow neglected to include one scrap of background or bio about any of them. In other words, OK, you guys forced us to tell you who’s cooking this scheme up, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna tell you what they do. None of your beeswax!

It doesn’t take the proverbial rocket scientist to begin to connect the dots. Heck, even I can do it. But doesn’t it seem just the slightest bit odd that a group promoting a new city has been fighting so hard to keep us in the dark? As is said, past is prologue. So it’s reasonable to assume that how these secret finaglers have acted in the past is exactly how they’re going to act should they hoodwink us with their preposterous proposal. A leopard doesn’t change its spots, does it?

So with all the hush-hush, now you understand the rush-rush. If it’s such a good idea today, it’ll be a good idea a few years down the road, after all of us have had the opportunity to examine the fundamental assumptions, the potential range of outcomes, the nuts and bolts of financing, the clearly-articulated development and preservation plans, and a fully-developed city charter. Instead, these sneaks are saying “trust us, we know what’s best for you.”

A good poker player can win by bluffing. But this isn’t a poker game. It’s our homes, our community, our property rights and our money that’s at stake, and the cityhood shysters are keeping their cards close to the vest.

Before the State Legislature ended its last session, the cityhood mess was shoehorned in during the final hours by Representative Matt Dollar. In all likelihood, the cityhood bill will be presented to us for a vote in 2020. By then we may well be on the cusp of a recession, which would undermine all the rosy assumptions of the bare-bones feasibility study paid for by a secretive bunch of insiders who stand to benefit regardless.

Not to gussy up the language, but this is a textbook example of “pulling a fast one.” (In fairness, “pulling a fast one” wasn’t in any of my textbooks, but then I didn’t go to grad school.) But you don’t even need a high school diploma to know when you’re being bamboozled. Could you imagine signing a blank contract? “Don’t worry about the details. We’ll fill those in later.” Well, the Devil is in the details, and that’s who we’re dealing with.

I don’t have a name for the proposed city, but I do have a motto that sums things up nicely: “It’s absolutely not anyone’s business!”