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Jekyll Island: Jewel in the loop!

Introduction to radio podcast by Wilson Smith: What Is Goin’ On. January 5, 2009.

You may not care about Jekyll Island, and you may wonder why I do so many interviews about this Jewel of Georgia. If you don’t live on Jekyll or visit it regularly or vacation there, you may not even be aware of the sorry saga of greed and power being played out on the beaches of this barrier island.

I own Jekyll Island! Yep, that’s right. As a citizen of Georgia, I own the right to go play on the beaches of Jekyll anytime I want. The State bought Jekyll back in the late 1940s. That was good. They established the Jekyll Island Authority to manage it. That was good, until recently. Now, it is bad.

The legislation authorizing the purchase of Jekyll issued a mandate that all the income and revenue generated by Jekyll Island would be used “…for the sole purpose of beautifying, improving, developing, enlarging, maintaining, administering, managing, and promoting Jekyll Island State Park at the lowest rates reasonable and possible for the benefit of the people of the State of Georgia.”

In a year or two, you can buy a condo at Jekyll for the lowest rates possible, but you won’t find many cheap motel rooms.

So what is the beef? It is a lot of things, but mainly it is about bad government as evidenced by the arrogant shenanigans of the Jekyll Island Authority that doesn’t even make an effort to appear concerned about what the people (People: Everyone other than land developers and others who would personally profit from Jekyll.) want.

A few weeks ago the JIA voted to approve the contract between the JIA and Linger Longer, the revitalization partner owned by Mercer Reynolds (Reynolds Plantation). In case you are not aware of it, Mercer is a big contributor to Republican candidates. Supposedly, approval of the contract was to take place in a public meeting, but to avoid any possibility that someone from the public might show up, the JIA held this public meeting by phone conference. If a phone conference is a public meeting, I am the Republican candidate for governor in 2010.

A phone conference is one thing, but what if you were Senator Jeff Chapman who represents the people in the Brunswick area, including Jekyll? In this interview Senator Chapman details his struggle to simply get information from these scions of perfidy. Senator Chapman is a good, honest, Christian who refrains from saying bad things about people. That’s all right, that’s what i am here for. If I had been trying for weeks to get a copy of this contract to review and provide comments to the JIA before they voted on it, if I had been told I would have an opportunity to be at the public meeting and then not been told about it, if I had found out that there were emails advising members of the JIA not to tell anyone about the public meeting, if all this had happened to me, I would be in jail right now. (Terroristic threats are not that hard to come up with!)

But, if you were Senator Chapman, you would be even more determined to stop the JIA from giving away Jekyll.
If you were me, you would just be pissed. But I am not pissed at the JIA, a petty little authority packed with political appointees who are enjoying their moment of power. Those guys on the JIA are pawns is a game of money and power and are doing nothing other than obeying their masters, Governor Perdue (Mr. Development) and the Republican leadership (Mrs. Development).

And what are the instructions? Give Linger Longer and Mercer Reynolds a sweetheart deal. Let them make hundreds of millions of dollars and pay the state a pittance. Develop Jekyll to the fullest extent possible and give the money to pirates of development, at the expense of the people of Georgia.
Example: Linger Longer sells the condominiums and pockets $100,000,000. The State of Georgia gets 1%: $1,000,000.

Example: Refuse to pay Linger Longer more than $300,000 in fees to manage the project and then cave in at the last moment and agree to pay almost double.

Example: Negotiate a contract with Linger Longer that relieves them from paying 3.5% of revenues on food and rooms for 2 or 3 times longer than other motels that are spending millions on their own revitalization efforts.

And these are just a few examples. Listen to the interview for more.

Okay, so what do you care? Do you care that the JIA isn’t even attempting to operate Jekyll responsibly? Do you care that a few individuals and companies will make an obscene amount of money out of the revitalization project, while the state gets a hell of a lot less than it should. If you or I or the members of the JIA owned a jewel, we would not give it away, but would insist on getting its fair value.

So if you think everything is fine with all this, you must either be stupid or a developer. If you think this crap stinks, I suggest you get off your butt and call you senator or representative because there is only one way to stop this rape, and that is in the 2009 legislative session, which begins next week. The legislature can undo what the JIA is attempting to do. The legislature can act responsibly since the JIA is a foolish child. Casey Cagle can prove that when he runs for governor in 2010 he wants to be elected by the people and not developers. Call them!!! Cuss them!!! Watch them!!!!!

Oh, by the way. I can prove this is a rape. How? Just listen to the next interview with Senator Tommie Williams.