Becoming Homeless While Developer Reaps Millions

by Lewis Loflin

The above is in regard to the $100 million in 2015 Shopping Center that Bristol, Virginia taxpayers are funding for a private developer. This was once again done in back rooms and the public is not allowed to know anything until after the City Council approves the deal. Another travesty of this deal is the destruction of about dozen small existing businesses whose owners claims they can't afford the massive rent increases in the new shopping center.

Like the Clear Creek Trailer Court disaster when 50 poor families were thrown into the street from another taxpayer funded shopping center at Exit 7, here we go again. The City held public information session AFTER they made their decision to fund this nightmare. This included a women with two young sons and her fiancé that just purchased a mobile home four months ago and were never told what was going to happen.

Because the trailer is older and they have limited income, they can't afford to move it even if there was a trailer court to move it to. There's a severe shortage of trailer spaces and local government won't allow any new ones. Ms. Wright's huge "investment" will likely be torn down and her family left homeless.

They don't want "those people" in the community. I could just throw up at the sick criminal indifference the local elite show towards low-income people even when they try and maintain their dignity. The following is an extract from Bristol Herald Courier.

Brook Wright couldn't contain her tears while contemplating being collateral damage...Wright and her fiancé Benjamin Bonds bought a mobile home in the serene Lee Highway park a mile from Interstate 81's Exit 5 ...

"Nobody told us anything about this when we were buying. I've lived here my whole life. We bought that to be close to my mother and father who are older and not in good health. And I have two sons. We want to live here ... I don't qualify for government assistance and we're not moving to Rice Terrace apartments*. I would be terrified, and what about my kids?"

Resident Calvin Robinson has owned his mobile home for about 15 years and said he likely couldn't qualify for any housing assistance. "Mine is one of the trailers that probably could be moved but a lot of them can't. They're old and not in good shape. You can move a house but a lot of these trailers will probably have to be torn down," Robinson said. "I'd like to see the city provide some moving expenses."

* Rice Terrace Apartments is the crime and drug ridden public housing area in Bristol, Virginia, which is in reality a dumping ground for the unwanted. It's not likely any of these people will receive one penny in assistance from Bristol, Virginia, which simply cares nothing about low-income people. That's why I call it social apartheid.

The following was posted by Brook and Ben Bonds on Facebook:

Permission? Forgiveness? We were asked for neither. We are home owners currently located at exit five. We weren't asked for forgiveness. We were told that we had a year to relocate. A year to change a lifetime investment. Why? We asked. Because these businesses would bring revenue. Is what we were told. I don't know about everyone else, but my revenue will not go to these businesses.

I see the short investment and the piqued curiosity that may be good for the first year or so but me and my family will gladly wait for these places to open so we can boycott their business. This is our home. My children's home. My wife spent her entire life on this very land and we aren't just gonna have it taken away without a fight. I am currently. Investigating which properties will be opening in this area and I will contact each one and consult the CEO to discuss the fact that their business is displacing good tax payers, home owners, and potential customers.

Maybe the mayor thinks it is ok to tell us to move on but for most of us he was not the mayor when we moved in. Home is where you make it. Not where you are "allowed" to sleep. Many POWs and prisoners will gladly tell you they did not feel they were at home when they were forced to go somewhere they didn't want to be.

This is not imminent domain. Our country is not at war. Our government should have consulted us and gave us a heads up before a decision is made. We never would've purchased our home. They should've informed home and landowners not to sell any properties. We were told to sell our property to someone at the meeting. Who wants to buy a mobile home in the path of a bulldozer? LOL. Are you serious?

Exit 5 plan raises eyebrows

If I lived in Bristol, VA., I would be mad. And I would be insulted.

I would be mad because the mayor, City Council and city manager chose to borrow $25 million (just to purchase the land), for which the taxpayers are responsible for a "Pie in the Sky" development. All done without citizen input, comment, or knowledge.

Had some pesky citizen known of this plan, they might have objected or howled loudly. Then the "Pie in the Sky" might have flopped due to citizen expression and opinion (which is apparently not wanted in Bristol, VA.) by those elected and hired to represent the citizens. But there was no howling because there was no knowledge, and the mayor, council and city manager did what they wanted and obligated $25 million of taxpayer money.

The insult comes from the indifferent remarks from the mayor and city manager. The mayor said, "I think everybody in that community should have been notified." Really, what a novel idea. "I think we've failed," said the mayor.

I think they did a great job of keeping involved individuals in the dark, until they took their desired action. But the city manager saves the day by saying, "There will soon be meetings with business owners and residents."

Nothing like a meeting with the government, where they tell you what they are going to do to you that directly affects your business, home, plans and future.

The Bristol Herald Courier should be commended for "waving the flag" on this issue. Deals "done in the dark" are not right. The old saying, "It is better to ask forgiveness, than permission" is alive and well in Bristol, VA.

David H. Beams Damascus, VA. August 04, 2012.

Comment: they don't care what you think.

Bristol, Va., trying to shaft taxpayer lemmings again

by Paull Anderson

Here we go again, as those who have forgotten the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them. Because nothing was learned from those painful and expensive past debacles: the Clear Creek Golf Course, landfill ticking time bomb, Exit 7 giveaways (Red Lobster, etc.), Spangler golden parachute, Alpha excessive land giveaway, Bristol Virginia Utilities asset giveaway and autonomous monopolization - all to the detriment of the lemming taxpayers of Bristol, Va.

This council's rose-colored glasses are reflecting what we successful businessmen readily recognize as "developers' mentality and euphoria." They rely on their naively expressed hopes and expectations that "things come to fruition like we think ... once the sales tax starts flowing we'll see our revenues improve and our general fund reserve come up ... expectations of attracting 1 million visitors annually, etc."

They say nothing of relying on supportive beta ratios derived from proven algorithms based on solid beta factors, as we in the business world do. Indeed, I dare say that the council members and their subjective, well-paid enablers are hardly aware of the practice, let alone employed them in the instant case.

A few astute, concerned Bristolians have expressed excellent caveats to this fool's ploy in letters to the editor and the one that should be the most dramatically obvious: "if this was such a no brainer project why hasn't someone already bought and developed at least a portion of it?"

Simple answer is that we astute businessmen in the private sector are successful because we avoid such foolhardy debacles that governmental entities, of all sizes, are quick to embark upon with taxpayers' money.

So once again sit back, do nothing, and get ready for another shafting you apathetic Bristol lemmings.

August 02, 2012. Mr. Anderson is a local Bristol businessman.

This letter was printed in the Bristol Herald Courier August 17, 2012.

Development fiasco predicted long ago

Kudos to Paull Anderson on "apathetic Bristol lemmings," regarding the proposed development at Exit 5.

I stood alone before the Bristol City Council in December 2003 objecting to the abuse of public funds for the Nicewonder fiasco, the property where Cracker Barrel sits at Exit 7, and predicted just what happened.

This next fiasco could cost $70 million.

I was embroiled in the Clear Creek Trailer Court travesty that cost the Bristol and Washington County lemmings more than $10 million for the Target strip mall. That included $7 million in corporate welfare; over $2 million in court costs with Washington County and Bristol fighting like spoiled brats; $1 million-$2 million from the Virginia Department of Transportation; and millions in interest and subsidies.

The same callous treatment inflicted on the Clear Creek residents will be inflicted on those at Exit 5.

Fifty families were thrown into the street without notice or money. Only one donation from Charlottesville saved the home of one family whose father died in Iraq. Local officials and the public displayed complete criminal indifference and did nothing. The same will happen to the latest "collateral damage," though I hope I'm wrong.

Why is this corruption allowed to occur in Bristol and Washington County?

Where are those tea party and Republican hypocrites who railed about Solyndra? Where are the liberal loudmouths railing over some truck stop? They love the planet, but care nothing about human "collateral damage."

Politicians fill the pockets of consultants, contractors and friends with tax dollars because they believe most of the local sheeple are stupid and will fall for it again. This culture of social apartheid and corporate socialism has destroyed any integrity this community once had.

This is what a welfare state mentality creates, and they deserve what they get.

Lewis Loflin Bristol, VA.

Also see Nicewonder Fiasco of 2003 Again, if it's such a great deal why is the developer not paying for it? Why the secrecy?

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