When government at any level gets in the business of "economic development", a sure bet is that corruption will follow.
During their 2005 campaigns for mayor, Ron Littlefield and Dan Johnson questioned the way some of Chattanooga's premiere waterfront property was sold by the city for projects associated with former City Hall and River-City Co. officials.
Now some are questioning the way Mr. Littlefield, who was elected mayor, and Mr. Johnson, who became the mayor's chief of staff, handled the city's sale of a downtown block to a development group that includes one of the mayor's former campaign managers.
Last year, Mr. Johnson negotiated and the mayor ultimately approved a sales contract to former Littlefield campaign manager Dale Mabee and others that turned out to be more favorable for the developers than what was initially advertised.
Unlike previous property sales offered by RiverCity for the city's Chattanooga Downtown Redevelopment Corp., Mr. Mabee's real estate group is getting an interest-free loan from the city to finance much of its $1.07 million land purchase for 22 luxury condominiums being built on the block bounded by Cherry, Walnut, Second and Third streets.
According to the sales contract signed by Mr. Mabee, the city also gave the developers an option to buy more land in the block even though such property wasn't included in the original sale offer and wasn't initially sought by the developers. Although not included in the original request for proposal, or RFP, the city also is providing an alley for access to the luxury condominiums at no initial cost to the developer even though the property is valued at $96,000.