Senator Ed Boshears Dismissed from the JIA Board
On September 22, 2008 Gov. Sonny Perdue announced that Senator Ed Boshears would be dismissed from his position on the JIA board of directors. As many of you know, Sen. Boshears has been the voice of reason—the people’s voice—on the JIA board for the past two years, repeatedly standing up for the principles the Jekyll Island State Park was founded upon, and urging the board’s leadership to honor those principles in their efforts to redevelop the park.
It is to the discredit of Gov. Perdue to have removed from the board a man of Sen. Boshears integrity, particularly at this critical point in the history of Jekyll Island State Park. Furthermore, the timing of the Governor’s decision is raising some eyebrows, as the JIA is in the final stages of its contract negotiations for its long-term partnership with Linger Longer Communities (LLC), and LLC’s revised proposal for the controversial Jekyll town center project is expected to be released soon. Add to this, the upcoming examination of the recently issued “Analysis of the Long-Term Impacts of Development on Jekyll Island,” written for the JIA by the Bleakly Advisory Group’s, and we can see that the Governor may have concluded that the board would function “more smoothly” without Sen. Boshears as a member.
Below is a statement released by Sen. Boshears regarding some his more troublesome experiences on the JIA board. As you will see, Sen. Boshears has raised some critically important issues and has called for an official investigation before the JIA takes any further steps toward park revitalization.
Note: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution opened a discussion forum regarding the firing of Sen. Boshears and the criticisms he has voiced against the JIA board's leaders, Gov. Perdue, and developer Linger Longer Communities/Mercer Reynolds. If you would like to read what the AJC's "Political Insider" had to say on this issue and responses from the public to the announcement of Boshears being taken off the board go to the link below.
I was advised on Monday, September 22, 2008, by Governor Perdue’s office that he was going to remove me from my position as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Jekyll Island State Park Authority. My term on the Board had expired at the end of June, and I have been continuing on the Board as provided by law. Interestingly, the terms of two other Board Members have also expired yet they are not being removed.
The obvious reason for this action is to prevent me from raising questions about the impending approval of a contract to turn over large sections of Jekyll Island to a politically-connected private developer, Linger Longer. I fully support the revitalization and rejuvenation of Jekyll Island. We need new hotels, a new convention center, and other new and revitalized facilities. However, what we do not need is 1500 expensive condominiums built along the beach. The sole purpose of such condo development is to create exorbitant profits for politically-connected developers. The original Linger Longer plan would have given away to the developer beachfront property worth hundreds of millions of dollars. And what would Linger Longer have paid for this property? Nothing!. Not one cent! Not only that, but the taxpayers of this State would have paid the cost of the infrastructure necessary for Linger Longer to build their condos. This was intended to be a massive give-away of State property to Mercer Reynolds, Finance Chairman for John McCain’s presidential campaign. This would have amounted to the greatest theft of State property since the Yazoo land frauds 200 years ago. Now, when Reynolds and his group are preparing to offer a new plan, the Governor has decided to remove me from the Jekyll Board. The reasons for that are obvious. The present Chairman of the Board, Mr. Krueger, and the immediate Past Chairman, Mr. Porter, have conducted secret negotiations with Linger Longer over this agreement. These gentlemen, in violation of State law concerning the duties and responsibilities of the Board, have sought to prevent me from knowing the details of these negotiations. My sincere belief is that they are attempting to ramrod through another “sweetheart deal” to enrich Linger Longer and to deprive the citizens of the State of Georgia of their right of access to Jekyll Island State Park. The Governor is clearly a full participant in these efforts to change Jekyll Island from public park into a get-rich scheme for condominium developers. Since I have been on this Board, I have been appalled by the unethical and down-right illegal actions of those who desire, in the interest of private greed, to change forever the nature of Jekyll Island. I have remained quiet about most of these things because I thought I could accomplish more by staying on the Board. Since I am now being removed from this position, the Governor has freed me to reveal the facts as I see them. Jekyll Island was purchased by the State sixty (60) years ago with the intention that it would give the average people of Georgia access to a beautiful barrier island and its beach. Unfortunately, the Governor and certain other politicians and politically-connected developers want to turn Jekyll Island into a high-end real estate development crammed with expensive condominiums. I will cite the following examples of what I consider to be unethical and, in part, illegal actions. Governor Perdue came up with the idea of turning large parts of Jekyll over to a so-called “Private Sector Partner”. The State invited developers to become applicants for this position. One of the people who applied for this position was a man named Wade Shealy, who previously developed a private, gated, luxury resort property in Liberty County called Hampton Island. Mr. Shealy was seeking to develop luxury condos on Jekyll, a contract easily worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Governor Perdue accepted presumably free vacations from Mr. Shealy on Hampton Island while knowing that Shealy was attempting to obtain the Jekyll contract. Ben Porter, a coastal land developer, was appointed Chairman of the Board of the Jekyll Island State Park Authority, by Governor Perdue. In this position, he was directly involved in picking the Private Sector Partner. Mr. Porter had loaned large sums of money to Mr. Shealy’s Hampton Island development. Even though Mr. Shealy had transferred his interests in Hampton Island to some other individuals in an extremely complex business transaction, Mr. Porter was well aware that Mr. Shealy still claimed an interest in Hampton Island and was trying to regain control of it. At the same time that Mr. Porter was supposed to be acting as a trustee for the people of Georgia in deciding whether Mr. Shealy was to be selected as the Jekyll Private Sector Partner, Mr. Porter was demanding that Mr. Shealy repay him hundreds of thousands of dollars. This was grossly unethical conduct on the part of Mr. Porter. Mr. Porter did not tell the Board about this clear ethical violation until he found out that I knew about it. H did it then only when the Board was in Executive Session and that in itself was a violation of the law. I warned Governor Perdue six (6) months ago that Mr. Porter had committed this ethics violation and Governor Perdue chose to do nothing about it. Our consultants, Bleakly Associates, have estimated that the Authority faces a $100,000,000.00 budget deficit over the next ten (10) plus years. Last year, Mr. Porter and Mr. Krueger secretly negotiated a “sweetheart” deal with the purchasers of the Buccaneer Hotel property. These developers, like Linger Longer, have close political connections to the Republican Party. Mr. Porter and Mr. Krueger sought to prevent me from finding out about the terms of this agreement. Another new hotel being built will be paying 4% of gross revenue to the Authority as rent while these developers of the Buccaneer site will be paying 0% of revenue to the Authority. This “sweetheart” deal will cost the Authority $10,000,000.00 that we desperately need. When I raised questions about this $10,000,000.00 giveaway, Chairman Porter scheduled an illegal Board meeting in clear violation of the open meetings law. At that illegal secret meeting, he also conducted an illegal secret vote. In the last several months, while Mr. Porter was Chairman of the Board, Authority personnel were directed to violate the Open Records Law, acts which are misdemeanors under the law. These are examples of a long series of ethical violations by those in control of the Board. I believe that from the very beginning Mr. Porter, Mr. Krueger and Governor Perdue were determined to make Linger Longer, which is owned by the Reynolds family, the so-called “Private Sector Partner” for Jekyll Island. I further believe that the plan is and always has been for Linger Longer and the Reynolds family to make several hundred million dollars off of selling expensive condos on Jekyll Island and in return for the Reynolds family to bankroll the political campaigns of certain selected political candidates. The losers in this sleazy deal will be the average people of Georgia who will be deprived of the full enjoyment of Jekyll Island. No significant decision concerning Jekyll Island has been made in the time I have been on the Board without the knowledge and participation of Governor Perdue. He more than any other single person is responsible for what this gang is trying to do to Jekyll Island. Several things need to be done to deal with this situation. First, an independent outside agency, such as a Grand Jury, should be brought in to investigate the situation. Second, Governor Perdue should cease any involvement at all in the management and control of Jekyll Island. Third, any action on any agreement between the Authority and Linger Longer should be deferred until the completion of the investigation. Fourth, Mr. Porter and Mr. Krueger should be removed from the Board for unethical conduct. Mercer Reynolds of Linger Longer is Finance Chairman of the John McCain campaign. I support John McCain for President. In light of the questionable relationships between Linger Longer, Governor Perdue, and various members of the Jekyll Authority Board, Mercer Reynolds should resign from his position in the McCain Campaign. I deeply regret having to make this statement. However, I took an oath to be a trustee for the people of Georgia on the Jekyll Board. My loyalty is to the people of Georgia, and I believe that I have a duty to make these facts known.