I am no longer amazed at how Roanoke City Council can so brazenly ignore the wishes of Roanoke’s residents when it wants its way and so publically act to use Roanoke’s resources to enrich their friends, political donors and business connections. Often, they rub Roanoke’s nose in their misdeeds and like obedient dogs, Roanoke’s voters come back for more at every election. It’s called corruption and it is the new normal in Roanoke City.
Maybe you don’t believe their behavior is corruption. What would you call giving away land and buildings to their real estate developer friends with only a promise to “develop it”…and a payment of $10. Yes, Roanoke City Council actually “sells” these properties for $10.
Here is but one example of this type of behavior. There are many many others. This example is a recent incident where Roanoke City Council gave the old YMCA building to their friends for $10. To make matters even worse, they were offered $50,000 for it. But since that offer was not from one of their elite crony friend group, they turned it down. You don’t have to just trust this account of the story. Watch it for yourself right here.
Roanoke city acquired the old YMCA building by trading a parcel of land that would be the home of the new YMCA building. This is routine and without going too deep in to this practice, many of these types of transactions are more examples of corrupt activity, others are merely suspect and sometimes they may be appropriate.
Over the years, a number of “deals” to develop the old YMCA building fell through. The market crash in 2008-2009 did not help that situation. Mayor David Bowers tried to cover for their behavior when faced with a serious offer of $50,000 from Roger Malouf and a group of investors from R.E.I. by saying “I’m just not prepared to put this off any longer.” Of Course not. That would mean accepting the larger offer instead of giving it to their friends. The $10 “sale” went through despite that counter-offer of $50,000.
At the meeting of city council where the vote took place, a number of interesting revelations came out. First, there was an offer of $50,000 which any reasonable person would see as a better deal for the citizens of Roanoke than the $10 one that was accepted. Second, the Assistant City Manager, Brian Townsend, admitted that they never had any intention of selling the building for an appropriate sum of money. Yes, he actually says it. Third, they only tell a select group of people about these properties. Why are these buildings not publicized for public sale like any other property? I guess it would make it harder to carry on the practice of enriching their friends by giving them these special deals if there were an open process that allowed these properties to be sold to the highest bidder.
Why is this behavior allowed to continue? Because people actually accept the excuses given by Roanoke City Council. Why do people accept these excuses? Because CORRUPTION IS THE NEW NORMAL.
Again, don’t trust this account. Watch for yourself right here. It only takes three minutes. That’s not much more time than it would take to show up at a city council election and vote these corrupt crony capitalists out of office.