Saturday, July 18, 2020

Same Song, Second Verse?

Surprise, surprise, more Phil Bryant special treatment emerges.  Tax opportunity zones meant for poor areas instead went to the rich folks and well-connected.  The Clarion-Ledger reported July 2:

Under a federal program intended to help poor Mississippians, then-Gov. Phil Bryant awarded investment incentives in 2018 potentially worth millions of dollars in tax breaks to already prosperous areas where major developments were ongoing. ....

The investigation reviewed four areas that were awarded Opportunity Zones:
  • A neighborhood of Flowood where a $500 million development centered around a bank headquarters was already planned;
  • an area of D’Iberville on the Gulf Coast where a retail development has been in the works since 2013 and had already been awarded local and state tax breaks;
  • a section of the Golden Triangle in Lowndes County and an industrial area in Marshall County near Memphis where several large corporations already exist.
None of these areas are considered low-income under the federal program,yet they all received Opportunity Zone designations.....
Meanwhile, poor areas received no consideration.  The state newspaper reported Yazoo City submitted no less than four applications to the Governor yet none were passed on to the federal government.  One of the Governor's former employees told the newspaper the majority of applications were for poor areas and met the guidelines.  The program provides capital gains tax breaks for investing in poor areas.  

The Clarion-Ledger also reported the $500 million Waterpointe development in Flowood received the tax break.  The development is centered around a new Community Bank headquarters.  Governor Bryant's wife was an employee of the bank at the time but the bank assured the reporter that her employment was merely a coincidence.  Only 11% of the population in that census tract was below the poverty line.  Such demographics should have disqualified the application but one teeny-weeny tip of the tract abutted a low-income census tract so it snuck through the loophole.  

What is curious is the lawyer for the company behind the development said it did not ask for the tax break.  Flowood Mayor Gary Rhoads supported his claim.  Hmmmm........ why would a development get a tax break for which it didn't apply?

Hmmmmm...... the newspaper reports a familiar name: Chris Gouras. 

Gouras is a very sharp fellow in Ridgeland who has the whole tax break thing figured out.  TIF's, Gozone bonds, sales tax rebates, Opportunity Zones, you name it, he is the guru for such programs in Mississippi.  He puts together packages and approaches cities.  Notice all those Jackson businesses relocating to Madison County that are getting tax breaks? Chances are Gouras put those deals together.  He has done quite well for himself in plundering Jackson.  Remember when this website reported on consultants who steered new economic development projects to various states? Earlier post.

Gouras delved into the weeds of the Opportunity Zone program and sure enough, he started submitting applications for various projects around the state.  One such "zone" was a proposed development in D'Iberville (damn near wrote "parish.").    The newspaper reported: 

With a poverty rate below 12%, it is not a low-income tract. Gouras filed the application on behalf of a retail shopping center that Robert Mandal has been trying to get off the ground for years.

The Galleria was expected to bring 2,500 jobs to D’Iberville when it opened in 2015, according to a June 2013 article in the Sun Herald.

The city and state have spent millions of dollars building roads around the proposed shopping center, according to the Associated Press and Sun Herald, and MDA awarded it a sales tax credit in 2014 potentially worth $96.3 million.

Despite the government assistance — and repeated proclamations from Mandal — the Galleria did not open.

So in 2018, Gouras submitted an Opportunity Zone application for the census tract that encompasses the Galleria, writing that it would "provide much-needed incentives to spur private development in the area."

It didn't.

Gouras said that the Galleria does not have Opportunity Zone investors — and it has not sought any.

When asked about the status of the Galleria, Gouras gave no date when it might open. “There’s an ongoing effort to build that project,” he said.
Uh-huh.  Developers touted the project as attracting high-end retail establishments such as Macy's when it was first announced way back in the dark ages.  However, the project languished... and languished.  The project then began trying to cannibalize stores from other local developments.  The project is achieving Harborwalk status.

Two applications were submitted for projects in Marshall and Lowndes counties that had poverty rates of 13% and 15%.  Meanwhile, Yazoo City submitted applications for areas that had a 43% poverty rate but received no consideration. 

Read the rest of the article at the Clarion-Ledger website.

Kingfish note: Same ole, same ole.


Anonymous said...

Lord Snow is somewhere. I just know it.

Anonymous said...

It's now who you know, it's who you bl**w.

Anonymous said...

No such incentive programs can possibly make it through the halls of congress unless loopholes and backdoors are inserted so that the "rich and well-connected" can become the ultimate beneficiary. That way the blame for the inevitable waste will be attributed to handouts and "social experiments" for the poor while the rich get richer. Nothing gets through congress merely because it will benefit poor and blighted communities. There is a very lucrative trade in identifying and accessing those loopholes and backdoors for potential investors. Not so much for helping po' folks.

Anonymous said...

The rich get richer, the poorer get poorer while the Republican governor helped steer development tax dollars to his friends and donors while blaming Bennie Thompson for the lack of progress in the delta. His base buys it. And Mississippi stays on the bottom of most list. Those dollars are designed to create jobs in areas that need them. So poor individuals(many African American) are left behind while conservatives push the false narrative that everybody has the same opportunities to get ahead in life to justify their flawed position on many relevant subjects.

Anonymous said...

These facts are no less surprising than a Hinds County Judge releasing a murder suspect.

Phil liked pressers about his chainsaws,
pickup trucks and tornado victims.

Haley liked to tell the news cameras he was "hitching up" his britches on the way to whatever disaster.

I honest to Gawd still don't now what "hitching up britches" means.

Anonymous said...

The law is for people of good conscience and no influence.

Anonymous said...

That SOB graduate from Millsaps or USM?

Anonymous said...

5:57, probably because you never had to hitch yours up. Growing up in a generation where you drove your new car to an expensive 9th grade classroom; spending summers playing travel ball rather than having a job to earn your spending money.........

Some of us Haley's age understood it well and know exactly what it means.

Yes, this has nothing to do with the post, just like your comment didn't. But you opened the door and I just couldn't pass up walking on in.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone in jail for Harbor Walk by the way?

Anonymous said...

If Frontier Strategies don’t get paid, nobody gets paid.

Anonymous said...

I for one don’t care. Was anything illegal done? I don’t think so.

Good for those cities. They are well run and are fiscally responsible. Jackson would have pissed away opportunities, as they always have.

Let Bennie Thompson take care of “his” people.

Anonymous said...

Phil Bryant was honestly the worst Governor elected in Mississippi, that I can ever remember! And, not only did the voters elect him one time; they elected him twice! I just can’t believe what Mississippi voters are thinking sometimes when they go to the ballot box!

Anonymous said...

Hitchin' your britches is when your belt buckle grazes the area between your nipples.

Anonymous said...

Follow the money.

Anonymous said...

Under Haley B our state rose in every metric. 50 to 48 was a huge gain. Too bad we crapped that away with the next one...

This state will remain at the bottom (and fall further behind) until we all realize the potential of educating children raised in poverty to grow up and succeed. Most kids raised in poverty remain there because there’s no hope of anything better.

for the record. 50 year old white guy raised on the government dole. got the job, house, wife , fancy truck and living the American Dream. all possible thanks to uncle sams helping hand

Anonymous said...

Phil is corrupt as the day is long.

Anonymous said...

We are not number 50, we are somewhere in the Top 5, at minimum. This state is packed with experts, per postings I have read. If we were number 50 all of these posters would have vacated this state years ago.

Anonymous said...

What 9:37 said.

Anonymous said...

When is Phil going to be investigated by Auditor Shad White? If he is the true auditor he says he is, he will investigate Phil Bryant and his wife. Not only is this criminal, so was him looking the other way on the Corrections scandal, so was his looking the other way and profiting off of the grant dollars from the federal government grants with the department of human services. You can start by looking at companies that made money off of it and how the money got to Phil Bryant and what boards he serves on. your job!!!!!

Anonymous said...

2:58 - you don't seem to understand. Just don't understand.

Yes, Shad has been going after some folks after he got appointed to be Auditor, but you gotta remember who appointed him to be the Auditor. You think his failure to call in the Feds (i.e. Mike Hurst, who don't stop at anybody's doorstep) when he was doing his investigation over at DHS was not trusting the Feds?
Couldn't have possibly been trying to make sure it stops at the DHS office and didn't move over to the 20th floor of Sillers, or to that nice house over on Capitol Street, could it?

Shad ain't about to touch the golden hand that gave him what he hopes to be a stepping stone up the political ladder. Its a shame though - he could have done it on his own and not have this debt hanging over him.

Anonymous said...

" Some of us Haley's age understood it well and know exactly what it means.

Yes, this has nothing to do with the post, just like your comment didn't. But you opened the door and I just couldn't pass up walking on in."

Well 7:15. let me enlighten ya for a second.

Haley did not exactly grow up a poor boy in Yazoo .

Phil wasn't as privileged as Haley, but he learned very quickly. So . . . I'm not surprised by any of Phil's actions.

By the way, 10:09 is correct.

I seriously doubt any belt buckle grazed Haley's nipples.

Anonymous said...

Why didnt Phil register as a lobbyist? Word is - he is making $25K a month from several clients of his to lobby in MS.

Anonymous said...

Farish Street is in a zone. Put your money where your mouth is. Anyone? Didn't think so.

There is a limit to the benefit of these programs. This was designed to entice those with capital gains to invest....and earn new gains in these areas. Nobody in their right mind will invest in a project just because of this one benefit when the project itself is a stupid investment.

Anonymous said...

Hey 8:13am...enlighten us...

Anonymous said...

Phil isn’t corrupt, just dumb as post. Those around him took full advantage of that.

Anonymous said...

We are now beginning to capture a glimpse into the depths of Feel's incompetence.

Anonymous said...

If those currently in state power would do a full and honest investigation into Phil Bryant, they would absolutely discover that he is indeed one of the more corrupt Governor’s that Mississippi has had in a while. One needs to look no further than the recent situations involving DHS and MDOC. This situation involving the tax opportunity zones is no surprise at all. Hell, look at all of Bryant’s international travel over the course of his last two years in office. He was flying his pals all over the world, and not in Coach seats. I am sure those efforts were for the Great State of Mississippi and not future benefits for Bryant, Songy, Snell, right?

Phil was good at two things: pandering to his base and lining up scape goats. Phil would use folks to his benefit and then throw them straight under the bus. If Mississippi truly wanted to clean itself up, it would go after Phil and those in his inner circle. Instead, fall guys (and gals) are lined up to take the fall and create a smoke screen for those in power. The situation at DHS and MDOC are the perfect examples.

The Auditor knows who butters his biscuit and he takes things just as far as he needs to in order to cover Phil, and line up folks to take the fall. People like Phil Bryant don’t get in trouble because there are those lined up at the trough to follow in his footsteps and do the same things. These folks are protected by those in office claiming to be watching out for all Mississippians. Nothing will happen to Phil, and someone else will take the fall for the tax opportunity zones awards for sure.

Anonymous said...

You folks are conflicted. You hammer Phil and think he's a crook and a fraud (and, I agree), yet you treat the Auditor like the Second Coming (which I disagree). They're all the same players in the same game, each with his or her different role. The Auditor knows who Phil is and should know what he's done. He just conveniently chooses to look the other way. He'll keep hammering away at County Deputy Clerks and racing towards every camera he can find to tell you about it and let others deal with the Deputy if they so choose.

Anonymous said...

Phil and Philly, Jr. are knee deep in the third Madison County landfill.

As to the poster at 10:05...White seems to go where the fraud is. Whatchu bitchin' about? You have recommendations...state them.

Anonymous said...

10:05 - You sound unhappy. What's wrong? Was your resume rejected? If you wanta turn the Auditor's office around, re-submit your qualifications. Maybe this time it won't be vetted.

Anonymous said...

Sillers only has 19 floors.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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