Guest Editorial on Jonesboro's Agenda 21 "Village"

Public-Private Partnerships Complete With Fraud and Wrongdoing

Introduction Note: There was a top front page story on the same day in the Jonesboro Sun as the guest editorial below with Mayor Perrin and Gary Harpole’s pictures side by side  (Harpole is one of  the developers that formerly worked for Mayor Perrin).  The story was about Mayor Perrin & the city council and MAPC commissioners all being provided a trip by developers to go to Nashville to observe another “village” similar to the Agenda 21  "Greensborough village" being proposed in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

A city council member, Mayor Perrin, and a MAPC commissioner all pointed out that the proposed "village" development was private, and no city funds would be allocated to it.  But the city does not have to fund the project for it to be a public/private partnership described in the guest editorial below.  For example, not many developers could afford to invite about 25 people (city council members and MAPC commissioners and charter a bus)  in order to observe another similar "village" in Nashville to show them how their planned "village"   has "supposedly been such a success there. And not many developers have ties to the Mayor like Gary Harpole who formerly worked for the Mayor and who directed both the Vision 2030 process and the Moratorium on Multifamily Study that reported no limit should be imposed on new multifamily housing in Jonesboro.  The Vision 2030 (which mirrors Agenda 21)  was so controversial that the Mayor did not even have the city council to vote on it, but they are implementing it as fast as if it had been given approval. And there was no trip planned to visit those similar projects that were left 90% and 50% uncompleted and abandoned, as pointed out by a citizen at the MAPC meeting!

And when you have six of the nine MAPC members (mandated by the federal government)  appointed by the Mayor who approved this plan unanimously and sent it on to the city council,  a city planner Otis Spriggs as its  main cheer leader, and a city grant writer enthusiastic about these projects, it can still be a full fledged public/private partnership with city officials able to say that no city funds will go to the project. 

Another example of the city's involvement is the transit system. The developers' representative says the "village" needs public transit to make the "village" successful.  Would you believe that the city has just started running a route (that has been in the works for 2 years and about the same time the "village" started its planning) that will make it very easy to service this "village." City planner, Otis Spriggs, had this to say at the MAPC meeting:  "The applicant has also made provisions for transit consideration in which our JETS transportation director is involved with that process and he attended and fielded some questions to the applicant as related to any burden financially on the city and they have notified him that that it is not the intent initially that the city would have to budget anything as it relates to getting people on or through this particular site." (Note the word initially, and ask yourselves how many other developers would have this kind of clout?)

Then there is the five-lane lane street running through the village on the developers' map of the village.  It appears the state will be responsible for that street; and it appears from the developers' map of the village that they are going to abandon where the old 351 was and run it through the "village." At the MAPC meeting a gentleman asked one of the developers, Jerry Halsey, "Are you going to ask them to abandon where 351 is and put 351 through there?  Halsey answered:  "That is not our decision."  But the developers' representative had already stated, "We also have exceptional road access to this piece of property to help diffuse and disseminate traffic around the property and the development that happens within." A huge traffic problem already exists in this area.

So there are many ways to partner with a developer behind the scenes. These are just a few of them. The federal and state government interaction with the developers will be noted as the development unfolds. The federal and state government love to give money to Agenda 21 projects so there are many ways to partner with a developer behind the scenes.

Guest editorial published in the Jonesboro Sun, August 30, 2014, page A4, written by a retired attorney who in his job evaluated multi million & billion dollar developments.

‘Village’ improprieties

"Public-Private Partnerships," called "PPPs, 3Ps or P3s," are complex arrangements with beneficial potential, unfortunately replete with fraud and wrongdoing.


Scandals involving 3P cronyism, corporate favoritism, hush money, bribes, kickbacks and unauthorized government guarantees, spending and debt are being discovered all across the U.S. as 3Ps become more widely used and disclosures of impropriety are being reported. Some indictments for 3P fraud are now being prosecuted. 3P structure makes wrongdoing easy to hide; most people don't understand them and unjustifiably rely upon government officials for protection.


3Ps started in the United Kingdom in 1992, the year U.N. Agenda 21 was adopted. 3Ps' political ties run deep, open the door for, and encourage misconduct of government officials and individuals owning (direct or indirect) interests in "preferred partner private investor entities" ("Preferred Partners").


3Ps have been, can be and are being more frequently used by unethical people within government and private entities to:


* Secretly implement U.N. Agenda 21 to the detriment of U.S. citizens' personal freedom and/or property rights by: using tax breaks, regulatory easing and taxpayer subsidies to Preferred Partners (i.e., "corporate welfare"); and unjustly, usually excessively, rewarding Preferred Partners and their owners in return for implementing Agenda 21 projects.


* Build facilities that cannot prudently be financed by governmental entities, circumventing public approval and hiding (unrecorded and unfunded) government spending and debt.


* Avoid competitive bidding and encourage "return favors."


* Guarantee future income to pay off Preferred Partners and make discovery and disclosure of questionable governmental spending and operational practices very difficult.


* "Lock out" legitimate private investors who don't, and won't, agree to socialistic project components in order to become Preferred Partners.


* Deny public access to information, because records become Preferred Partners' private property.


* Circumvent voter approval of taxation, funding and decisions regarding cost and implementation through use of appointed "MPOs," such as Jonesboro's Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (MAPC).


The exceedingly high cost per square foot and failure to disclose even one factor mitigating against implementation of Jonesboro's Greensborough Village ("the Village") in planning documents, standing alone, is enough to raise significant questions about improprieties in the Village.


From the standpoint of the Village's Preferred Partners it's a perfect, risk-free project. Nothing is risk free in private industry unless the risks are shifted to others (e.g., taxpayers). Further, failure to identify Village drawbacks is a strong indication that information has been, and is being, intentionally withheld from Jonesboro's citizens.


Because legitimate private investors typically try to avoid government participation in their operations, it should be obvious that 3Ps were part of the U.N.'s plan to implement Agenda 21. Unfortunately, greed has resulted in adaptation and transformation of 3Ps into ways for unethical government and private industry individuals to use taxpayer dollars to fund personal gain. 3P projects are usually exceedingly high cost with unusually high rates of failure.


Most Jonesboro residents can't afford to pay $300 per square foot to buy or rent a Village unit, and prudent people won't pay $300 when they can get the same thing for $100 or less. Once Preferred Partners receive their target return, often before completion, their corporations become bankrupt, leaving taxpayers with a large debt to pay through increased taxes. Is the Village a "planned failure?"


Gross conflicts of interest in the Village have already been disclosed, tainting the Village and all parties involved. On Aug. 17, a former city employee in charge of much of Jonesboro's Vision 2030 was identified as a partner in the company marketing Village property and recruiting investors for businesses to be located within the Village.


If true, that former employee's actions are a gross conflict of interest using inside information, and possibly city contacts, for personal gain. That individual reportedly denied knowledge of Agenda 21 even though Vision 2030 text was U.N. Agenda 21 word-for-word — marginal credibility at best. Right or wrong, his actions implicate all MAPC members, the city council and all Preferred Partners associated with that individual and the Village. Unanswered questions regarding the Village abound. Jonesboro citizens are obviously rightfully very much concerned about Village improprieties. It doesn't look, sound, feel or smell right. The secretive nature and hurried MAPC Village implementation notwithstanding valid objections manifests impropriety, whether it exists or not. One of several recommended solutions to prevent 3P fraud and corruption across the U.S. states: "3Ps should not be allowed for funding housing projects or mass transit systems without clear disclosure of costs and taxpayer obligations over 40 years and full vote of approval by citizens."


Jonesboro's MAPC did the opposite, making their rushed decision over valid objections highly suspicious. The Village is filled with 3P earmarks of impropriety.


Jonesboro's citizens cannot determine whether the Village involves impropriety because information city officials and Village Preferred Partners have selectively chosen to provide is clearly not full disclosure. It's time Jonesboro's citizens demanded a full independent investigation of the Village. If there are no improprieties city officials and Village Preferred Partners shouldn't object; ethical individuals guilty of no wrongdoing would welcome such an investigation.


With time the truth will be discovered — hopefully before Jonesboro's taxpayers incur losses.

Remember, where there's smoke, there's fire!

Tom Reeves is a resident of Jonesboro.

Posted by Women Action Group September 2, 2014