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Terry Echols is the Chairman of the Henry County Zoning Advisory Board (ZAB). He was first appointed by District 3 Commissioner Randy Stamey in 2008 upon the resignation of the previous District 3 member. Stamey reappointed him to the Board in 2009 and then again in 2011.
Randy Stamey works with Terry Echols who is the owner of Echols Enterprises, Inc. , an auction company. According to the company website, Stamey is apparently the sole real estate broker for Echols Enterprises.
On November 17, 2009 the Henry County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution to purchase the property located at 526 Industrial Boulevard in McDonough. It was formerly an RV sales center that had been foreclosed on.
In the BOC’s discussion of this property, there was no mention of how it would be used or its intended purpose. It seems their sole purpose for buying it was because it was located adjacent to the current administration building and the county jail. In other words, they wanted to grow government. The resolution simply directed the County Manger to “determine the best source of funds necessary to acquire the property”
One of the Commissioners, however, did have a plan for that property. Randy Stamey was voting to give himself and his pal Terry Echols a $34,500 payday on the sale of this property in the form of a real estate commission.
Page 2 of the above HUD 1 purchase contract clearly shows a $34,500.00 real estate commission was paid to Echols Enterprises, Inc. Since, according to Echols own website, Randy Stamey is the sole broker for that company, it stands to reason that Stamey himself was, at least in part, also a recipient of that payment.
Here is the video of that meeting. Commissioner Holder made the motion to purchase the property and it passed 4-0. You can see in this screen shot at the 1:30:08 minute mark Randy Stamey. seated third from the left, voting in favor of it.
The problem here is not so much that Stamey should have recused himself from this vote. He absolutely should have due to his business ties with Echols. The Henry County, Georgia Code of Ordinances reads in part (emphasis added):
5) Conflict of interest.
(a) A county official may not participate in a vote or decision on a matter affecting the official personally, an immediate family member or any person, entity, or property in which the official has a substantial interest. In such cases, the county official must:
1. Immediately publicly disclose the fact and nature of the interest on the record; and
2. Refrain from any discussion or vote concerning such matter or otherwise attempting to influence the vote, discussion or decision of the county regarding such matter.
(b) A county official shall avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. An appearance of a conflict of interest exists when a reasonable person would conclude from the surrounding circumstances that the ability of the official to protect the public interest or impartially perform a public duty is compromised by financial or personal interests in the matter or transaction not generally shared by the public at large. The appearance of a conflict of interest can exist even in the absence of an actual conflict of interest. In such cases, the county official shall have the same public disclosure and recusal requirements as required in subparagraphs (a)1. and 2. above.
But the real problem here is that Terry Echols, as the Chairman of the Zoning Advisory Board, should not have been allowed to profit from Henry County Tax dollars in the first place.
Henry County, Georgia – Code of Ordinances Sec. 3-2-4. – Conflicts of interest.
(a) No company shall sell any supplies, equipment, goods, or any type of personal property in which a board member, commission member, or authority board member has any financial interest to the county.
So, here we have a sitting Henry County Commissioner along with the sitting Chairman of the Henry County Zoning Advisory Board profiting from the County’s purchase of a piece of real estate in which they netted $34,500.00 in tax payer money. Every Commissioner who voted in favor of buying this property knew that, too.
How in the world was this allowed happen, and what will it take for SOME investigative body out there to put a stop to this blatant corruption? Oh, that’s right, I almost forgot. Attorney General Sam Olen’s is best friends with Commission Chairman BJ Mathis.
Terry Echols should immediately resign his position on the zoning board. For that matter, since Randy Stamey cannot be trusted to disclose his conflicts of interests or to act honestly in the stewardship of tax payers money, he too, should be forced to resign his seat as Commissioner of District Three. If they refuse to do so, the only way we’ll be able to get rid of these crooks is to vote them out of office on July 31st.
Every. Single. One.
UPDATE 4/23/2012 8:50 p.m.: The Scrub Has Begun.
As evidenced by the above screen shot of the Echols Enterprises, Inc. website which I captured yesterday, Terry Echols was advertising “Real Estate brokered by Randy Stamey, GA Real Estate Commission #170022”.
But, as of this afternoon, Echols is now saying his brother (cousin?), Whit Echols, is his broker.
That might be because, according to the Georgia Real Estate Commission (GREC) website, Randy Stamey is not an authorized real estate broker, but only a licensed salesperson, whereas Whit Echols is in fact a licensed real estate broker. Apparently there’s a difference. Who knew?
And it appears Echols Enterprise, Inc., who received the $34,500.00 commission shown in the above HUD 1 purchase contract, is not a licensed as a real estate firm either. Using the search function of the GREC website, there is however a licensed company by the name of Echols Services, Inc. which is owned by Whit Echols.
Nor was Terry Echols a licensed real estate agent in 2009 when this transaction occurred as evidenced by his GREC listing which shows he did not obtain a real estate license until 2011.
I’m no authority on real estate law but isn’t it a violation to sell real estate without a license? And, if Terry Echols wasn’t even a licensed real estate agent in 2009 and his company was not a licensed real estate firm when this transaction occurred, wouldn’t it stand to reason that Randy Stamey acted for him since he was advertised as the companies broker? And if that was the case, was Stamey falsely marketing himself as a broker when he is not licensed to do so?
I’m guessing the Georgia Real Estate Commission would be interested in the answers to those questions.