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4-16-09 Life’s Ups & Downs – Economy downturn and changes in positions of wealth and fame

Mark Beardsley in Commerce News 3-20-09- “…there is a lesson for every elected official. No matter your level of competence, how popular you are or how long you’ve held an office, you stand to be held accountable for lapses in character or judgment — or even the appearance of lapses. No elected official is of more importance than the office he or she holds, whether it’s a president or a city councilman.”

AVOC

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April 16, 2009

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Life’s Ups & Downs – Economy downturn and changes in positions of wealth and fame

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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REAL FRIENDS

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When I announced my retirement as Chairman of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners, a longtime attorney friend said, “You’ll now find out who your real friends are”!    I knew what he meant but felt at 60 and being an insurance adjustor in my early career, an attorney who litigated and with 30 years in local government (16 as an elected official), I had developed a pretty good insight into real friendship.  

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Oh, a few who had been BOC groupies or wanted something stopped coming around.   But I knew they were never real friends.   The “groupies” are not lasting friends of other incumbents either.   They only seek attention and celebrity.

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Early on, I learned that no matter what you do, some folks won’t like you for whatever reason (positions, jealousy or just plain hate).   I learned that you cannot win over everyone in life.   My position was always to do what was “right” as I understood it.  In my career, I did learn that some “friends” did not necessarily want you to do “right” but to do for them.   Those relationships were of short duration.   Some tried to influence action by flattery and others by intimidation.

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POST PUBLIC LIFE

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Since retirement from public office, I have found much satisfaction in my private pursuits free of daily demands and stress.   From time to time, a reduced law practice can bring some stress.   However, I have more time to spend on things I missed while running on ‘12 cylinders’.

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Recent developments have demonstrated how fleeting fame and fortune can be.  Three persons who I knew in different capacities have hit on “challenging times”.    Two were friends and people I respected.  One was an acquaintance who I felt was only “selling” himself and his wares and I never quite trusted him.   Activities involving them have been reported in the press and appear in the public record.


WALTER DAN ARNOLD

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Dan Arnold

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Dan Arnold, a builder and developer, was always complimentary of our County growth strategy – moderate and steady in the 90’s.   My office did legal work for him.   In his early building years in Oconee, he seemed to be independent of the builder club.   The County, at my suggestion, hired him to give some advice and to help William White, County Project Coordinator, in renovating the Government Annex on GA Hwy 15 for a temporary courthouse in the mid-nineties.

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After I left office, I saw Dan less and less.   He got involved in MPD development, particularly off Lenru Road.MPDs led to many of the county’s problems with sewer, water and lot capacity.   Many never did make it.   Later Arnold’s name was associated with several other large developments.    He was a member of the Planning Commission and became Chairman after more builders were put on the Planning Commission in my successor’s administration.    Media reports and rezone controversies have not always cast Dan in a good light.   To many folks, there were apparent conflicts in his profession and his position as chair of the planning commission.     5-10-04 Oconee's "Pot of Gold" Fuels MPDs & Land Rush

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In recent months, Mr. Arnold’s projects have stalled as have those of other builder-developers.   In December 2008, Bank South at Lake Oconee filed suit against him for damages claimed in excess of $ 1 Million.  While I do not know about the merits of the case, the court pleadings are interesting and revealing to read.  They give some insight into borrowing during the boom times.   Race and gender are mentioned.   One can surmise that some minority participation was involved for loan purposes.   It is not known if this was related to the Federal Law encouraging affordable housing but some minority personalities seemed to be popular with several developments in Oconee County.

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THE ARNOLD COURT PLEADINGS ARE INTERESTING READING:

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Banksouth V Arnold Ocne Sup Ct 12 08.pdf x
Banksouth.Vs.Arnold.Resp.Pldgs.Jan.O9.RED.pdf x

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Dan Arnold is a principal in P&A Ventures, Inc that has been involved in a number of rezoning issues over the last several years.

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P&A VENTURES, INC.

http://corp.sos.state.ga.us/corp/soskb/Corp.asp?137598

Name

Name Type

P&A VENTURES, INC.

Current Name


Profit Corporation - Domestic - Information

Control No.:

0224444

Status:

Active/Owes Current Year AR

Entity Creation Date:

5/9/2002

Jurisdiction:

GA

Principal Office Address:

2171 BARNETT SHOALS RD
WATKINSVILLE GA 30677-2245

Last Annual Registration Filed Date:

4/9/2008

Last Annual Registration Filed:

2008


Registered Agent

Agent Name:

DAN ARNOLD

Office Address:

2171 BARNETT SHOALS ROAD
WATKINSVILLE GA 30677

Agent County:

OCONEE


COMMERCE’S BOB SOSEBEE

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Bob Sosebee, Commerce

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Bob Sosebee was a longtime member of the Commerce City Council.   He was active for years in regional and state government involving local affairs.   I served on some regional and state level committees with him. In the late 90’s, Bob served as President of the Georgia Municipal Association.   He was well liked, respected and was very influential.    Bob Sosebee History in GA Local Govenrment.09.pdfx

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Recently Bob resigned abruptly from his long-time position on the Commerce City Council.   Media reports in Jackson County dealt with reasons and some ethical questions that arose.   Reportedly, his home was being foreclosed and he was behind on his taxes.   This effectively ended a long and respected public career.   Mark Beardsley, Editor of the Commerce News and a journalist, I greatly respect, wrote a poignant editorial about the situation.

IT IS A GOOD ARTICLE:  Tough job for mayor in ethics matter

Facing ethics complaint, Bob Sosebee resigns

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The Commerce News  March 18, 2009

http://www.commercenewstoday.com/archives/2030-Facing-ethics-complaint,-Bob-Sosebee-resigns.html


EDMUND WALL

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Edmund Wall

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Edmund Wall was big in financing and municipal bond business in the 1990’s.  He was a real salesman who got a lot of bond business in this area, including the local and Barrow School Systems.   When we were looking at bond financing with Bear Creek Reservoir, he made contact with me.   I discussed candidates with a long-time legal associate experienced in the business.    We did not go with Mr. Wall’s Company.

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After that decision was made, I became the target of negative articles in newspapers in Barrow and Jackson Counties.   One rumor was that I went on a hunting trip to Alabama with the winning firm.   I don’t even hunt!   While others were trying to influence Authority decisions, it seemed to have some encouragement from some folks who had been allies of Mr. Wall.

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With the declining economy, Mr. Wall has lost some of his financial positions.   He has had a lot of Atlanta Media negative publicity about an incident at the airport.    While surprised at the Airport charges, I am not surprised that his career may have hit some bumps in the road.


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - March 24, 2009

http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/clayton/stories/2009/03/24/marta_wall_airport_sex.html

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Ex-Marta exec pleads not guilty to bathroom sex charge

By MEGAN MATTEUCCI


11 Alive.Com

http://www.11alive.com/news/article_news.aspx?storyid=93946

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March 18, 2007

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MARTA Chair Ed Wall Steps Down

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MARTA Chairman Ed Wall has stepped down in the wake of a scandal where he was accused of engaging in sexual activity in an airport bathroom stall.


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