Today's Commercial Appeal has an editorial that contains a passage that steams me. It gets back to the point I've been making for a week now that while the CA is "investigating" developer Rusty Hyneman it has yet to make the case that there is a direct link between his beneficence and the actions of the City Council.
[OBLIGATORY "WATCH YOUR HEAD" WARNING: I am not sticking up for Hyneman. I am criticising the CA for not accomplishing the task they set out to do, which is to demonstrate and prove a link between what Hyneman does and what the Council does. Hyneman needs to be investigated, as well as other developers and businessmen, and the City Council and County Commission. It's all too cozy.]
In talking about City Attorney Allen Wade's deeply conflicted -- or incestuous, take your pick -- they take a moment to toot their own horn:
Hyneman is one of the community's most prolific developers, which means his projects frequently must be approved by the council. And as The Commercial Appeal has reported in stories this month, Hyneman has a well-documented habit of showering gifts and favors on various elected officials around town.Notice the construction here. Hyneman is a developer who depends on the City Council to approve his projects; he is very generous with his money to Council members That's all that says. But if you're not paying attention too closely it looks like: Hyneman is bribing the City Council. The CA has yet to prove that.
There's a lot of grunt work that must still be done here. Long boring hours of research into City Council records, Board of Planning records, and other City offices. What they haven't done is pretty damning:
(1) Is Hyneman the only guy showering the City Counil / County Commission? If he's alone, then it's newsworthy; or if he's more extravagant than others, same thing. But we don't know. I rather doubt it. We aren't given context and comparison.
(2) Does Hyneman have a higher or lower rate of acceptance for his projects than other developers? What is the rate of reversal? That is, how many of his projects are rejected by the Land Use Board only to be accepted when presented before the City Council?
(3) How many projects has he had accepted over neighborhood or peer objection? I can recall vaguely a lot of short news items about various project across the city and county being met with strenuous opposition but none stand out as Hyneman projects.
(4) Notice the Big Man isn't mentioned anywhere in the Hyneman stories -- Mayor Doctor Willie W. Herenton. Seems odd that Hyneman would cover his Council bases so thoroughly but utterly avoid the Fount of Cashflow himself. I'm betting there's something not being reported here. And I have to wonder why....
(5) The CA calls him the most prolific developer. Is he the most dollar-value developer? I'm guessing not. I have a feeling that when it comes to the big dollar projects, he's not near the top of the list. Who are those developers? What is their relationship with the City Council.
(6) Whenever some sport facility is being proposed we learn that City Council members, etc., have great box seats, or have access to skyboxes via some large business that bought a suite to "support" the project. That seems fertile ground for investigation as well.
You get the idea. The paper has made an insinuation cloaked as an accusation. "Hyneman is bribing the City Council." They have yet to prove the case they've alleged. I'm sure they can do it, but they haven't yet.
Get on the job, y'all.
[NOTE: This post was deleted and then reposted. That's why it moved.]