Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The $7 Billion Dollar 'Plan' from Brent Buchanan of Public Strategy Associates, Ameri-Metro and Alabama Toll Facilties, Inc

*Updated 9/22
In a story that ran on September 20th, in north Alabama's Decatur Daily, Shah Mathias CEO of Ameri-Metro (AM) "working with a well-known Montgomery political consultant, Brent Buchanan" issued a press release for a "$7 billion dollar highway and rail project" connecting Orange Beach, Alabama to the Tennessee state line. The contract for the project was claimed to be "awarded by Alabama Toll Facilities, Inc. to an AM subsidiary, Global Transportation and Infrastructure, Inc."

Alabama Toll Facilities was granted rights to build the 300 mile road by the Alabama legislature through a Senate Joint Resolution-SJR56 signed by Governor Riley on June 15, 2007.

The news stories on AM's proposal are chock full of visions of grandeur that bear an uncanny resemblance to another similar April 2000 scheme from Alabama's past: Motivity, Inc.

That pie-in-sky-idea, exposed by the Mobile Press-Register's Connie Baggett, claimed to be capable of constructing a "multi-billion dollar transportation corridor connecting Chicago to the Alabama coast by toll road and high speed rail." Motivity assured officials they wouldn't require any money from state or federal sources and would "fund the project through bonds" and backing from "unnamed European investors."

Former Alabama Governor Siegleman went along with the idea initially, in addition to the legislature, who passed a resolution allowing private toll road companies to enter into projects with the state.

It turned out to be a "hazy dream" scheme.

To Alabama's credit, they did catch on to the ruse and Motivity, Inc. moved on to Tennessee where they left officials there "shaking their heads" about the "unusual consortium of little known-businesses" involved in a M3 superconductor plant they claimed they were near completion on in 2001.

Similar to the AM project, a small town LLC from Scotsboro, Alabama was involved by way of Motivity, Inc. Did Mr. Buchanan, AM and Jack Garrison, owner of Alabama Toll Faculties, Inc. come up with this brand-new-same-old shell game ploy on their own, or are they simply trying the same trick again with a different approach?

Jeff Amy, from the Press-Register, writes in a September 21 news story that "Alabama Toll Facilities secured a nonbinding state legislative resolution supporting the project in 2007" during the Riley administration.

Nothing about this project makes a lick of sense, but it has appearances of the smoke and mirrors moves that we would expect from Alabama governmental relations agencies like the Public Strategy Associates and its founding partner Mr. Buchanan.

According to GuideStar, it's a small company run out of a house located in Hartselle, Alabama (see below pic) that hasn't got very much in the way of assets and capital according to the last three IRS filings under a 501 (c)(3) status:
Where are the subsequent years filings for 2009 and 2010? How much money is being donated to this company and by whose authority are they able to "award a $7 billion dollar contract" to anyone? 

Mr. Garrison tried this ploy once before, according to a story in the Times Daily by Bernie Delinski from August 26,1993. Garrison was aided by then state Representative Johnny Mack Morrow-D Russellville in his push for a statewide toll road that would have "run from Huntsville to Mobile."
"The entire project is expected to create about 150,000 construction jobs, as well as 2,000-3,000 permanent jobs, Garrison said. "Imagine all the businesses springing up from this," he said.
It never materialized.

We wonder what Mr. Buchanan's take in all of this is. Alabama republicans are so desperate to adhere to their "handshake with Alabama" and privatize everything in sight that they often forget to exercise basic sound judgement in their zeal to rebuild the state economy. Buchanan's pedigree puts him smack in the center of the Alabama Republican machine according to LinkedIn:
Business Council of Alabama, Alabama Broadcasters Association, EMERGE Montgomery, Young Montgomerians' Business Club, Capital City Young Republicans, Alabama Council of Association Executives, Alabama Republican Party, State Lobbyists and Government Relations Professional Networking Group
This project could be one of those do anything to make the public think we're doing something right for unemployment and economic development despite red flags aplenty, but so far, most state officials are standing on the 'Who and what are you talking about?' platform.

If this proposal is on the up and up, then fine, be more transparent about it Buchanan and company. If it's not, and we suspect it isn't, then how do you explain your deep involvement? Since PSA considers itself a "top tier" organization of professionals one would think your "experienced professionals" would spend more time researching your clients and projects before becoming so intimately involved with their business proposals.

Considering who PSA has helped elect to public office in Alabama that may be a bit too much to hope for granted.

How do you gentlemen propose to acquire the vast amount of land the highway and rail lines would require? Eminent domain perhaps? That should float with all the buoyancy of a lead-filled balloon over the heads of the affected populace.

From where we sit, this has all the trappings of a scheme to fleece the people of Alabama (and probably federal taxpayers too) to the tune of billions. It looks more like the work of a flim-flam man in cahoots with an unusual emporium of shady characters than men with a clear vision of reality.

(to be continued as additional details emerge) 

So Say We The Opinion Board Of The Vincent Alabama Confidential

*Update 9/22--Ameri-Metro underfunded--CEO Mathias accused of child sex offenses in Pennsylvania
Toll Roads News--"300 mile $7B Alabama pike gets dream publicity--but is it a dream?"
9/26--Mobile PR's George Talbot's Political Skinny: "Buchanan distances himself from toll road builder" "Toll road a 'fantasy'

Editor’s notewe’ve received emails from someone representing themselves as Brent Buchanan who takes issue with our opinions on this scam project. Mr. Buchanan accuses us of “falsehoods” and requests that we “remove accusations about me from your blog” and stands behind his involvement as “just the guy who hit send” on the press release saying that "If the Ameri Metro project actually happens, good.  If not, it’s a good idea for the future that started a good conversation.”
We’re allowed an opinion on issues in the public’s interest Mr. Buchanan. Which part of the story did we get wrong exactly? The conversation was “good” for whom in your opinion?
The first email from the alleged Mr. Buchanan came in a@ 5:24 PM yesterday. One minute before that transmission, another email came in @ 5:23 PM with an attachment that contained a virus with a surveillance program embedded in the download. We didn’t open either and sent it on to our tech guru who discovered the issue. Are these two events connected? We’re not sure, but the timing is odd.
If Mr. Buchanan is so gung ho about the toll road fiasco and remains comfortable continuing his involvement with the shady group proposing this project, then perhaps he can go onto the comment boards in the newspapers and defend the idea. We don’t expect he’ll do that because the public, judging from the overwhelming comments declaring the whole idea one big scam, would have a field day with him.
In light of the new information emerging about Ameri Metro, perhaps the “Christ follower(s)” time would be better spent praying for the whole thing to just go away.

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  1. So glad to see the team of Max Shelby back into the full-time business of exposing the crimes of Alabama's elite & politicians to the light of day!! Such a shame that mainstream media choses to hide its light under the bushel basket instead of carrying it proudly and openly. I was begining to wonder if the team was not working in August, or if maybe the crimes were not overly prevalant. Its good see the team publishing, but its a sad day that there is so much that needs exposing. Glad we have Max & his team right on the ball!

  2. Why is Buchanan's name suspiciously absent from the Al.com stories? Too many politicos in Montgomery wanting to protect him perhaps?

  3. Why indeed. Excellent question and great catch Confidential. Montgomery is quite cozy with PSA.

  4. According to a recent Ameri-Metro SEC filing it looks like they are on the money hunt just like Alabama Toll Facilities. Well, they've come to the right place-Aladumba the land of the corrupt and stupid.

    Form S-1 Decemnber 31, 2010

  5. Hey noise didn't you mean too many Al.com reporters wanting to protect him?
    This is a farce of an idea if ever I heard one!

  6. Mathias said “I also feel confident in saying the route will likely include Selma.”
    That was enough to bag our windbag Senator Hank Sanders and his band of slimy legislative buddies in fast order I bet.

  7. Public Strategy worked with Riley, Sanford, French, Gerald Dial, Ag Commish John McMillan and Cam Ward just to name a few.
    If I remember correctly it was through their helpfulness that Senator Paul Sanford stated he was able to figure out who was offering him an alleged $250,000 bribe in the bingo scandal.
    Every politician in Montgomery and Shelby County has ties to them practically.
    What the hell are they doing in this boondoggle?
    Never mind.
    I withdraw the question because I know the answer.

  8. "The Highwaymen"

    Mother Jones 2007

    "Why you could soon be paying Wall Street investors, Australian bankers, and Spanish builders for the privilege of driving on American roads?"

    ....Goldman Sachs, the huge Wall Street firm that has played a remarkable role advising states on how to structure privatization deals—even while positioning itself to invest in the toll road market.

    Goldman Sachs' role has not been lost on skeptics, who accuse the firm of playing both sides of the fence. "In essence, they're double-dipping," says Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a truckers' group that opposes toll road privatization. "They're basically in the middle, playing one side against the other, and it's really, really lucrative."

    Despite such concerns, the privatization model has the full backing of the Bush administration. Tyler Duvall, the U.S. Department of Transportation's assistant secretary for transportation policy, says dot has raised the idea with "almost every state" government and is working on sample legislation that states can use for such projects. "This is a ground battle in the United States right now," he says. "States just need to be convinced that this is basically something they should be considering."


  9. Now there's the important point flying under the radar about toll roads: another massive revenue stream for Wall Street to exploit combined with the opportunity to feed off the public similar to the housing crisis.
    Wake up to this people.

  10. Some of the commenters on the Press Register stories have been merciless on the author and this big pile of bs touted as the "next big thing."
    HA! It's big alright and quite odoriferous.
    So much for vetting the information before running with with it AGAIN Al.com.

  11. I can't decide if he looks like more George Jetson or Mr. Spacely.
    How about we keep it simple and just call him SPACEY!

  12. Who's responsible for this email being distributed en mass to numerous recipients? Mr. Buchanan, Ameri-Metro or both?

    I didn't sign up for any email alerts from these people!

    Dear Alabama Friend,
    I am writing to you today because I want you to be entirely in the know about what I think you will soon agree is of the most exciting projects in Alabama history.
    I am talking about the new 300-mile toll-road, railway, and transportation complex my company, Ameri Metro, is set to build in your wonderful state!
    You may have already heard about it from the news media, but I want to personally provide you with the exciting details -- because I have a feeling that the more you know, the more you’re going to be able to enjoy all that is about to unfold in the weeks, months, and, yes, years ahead.
    The “Alabama Toll Road Project” (as we call it for short in my office) will bring the state:
    $7 billion in private sector investment (that’s right: no tax money!)
    120,000 new private sector jobs
    new industries from throughout the US and overseas
    new business opportunities for entrepreneurs (including, hopefully, you!)
    a new airport and train station second to none anywhere else in the US
    much, much more (as outlined below in the news release we sent out yesterday to Alabama media)
    As I said, I want you to share in the excitement. So, not only am I writing you this brief note with my personal greetings, I promise to provide you updates, alerts, and more, as the proceeds.
    My team at Ameri Metro, and I, are as proud as we can be to be “Alabamy Bound.” Hopefully we will get to meet you personally at the many gatherings we intend to hold as the Alabama Toll Road Project turns dreams into realities!
    Blessings to you and yours.
    Shah Mathias
    CEO Ameri Metro
    PS: I encourage you to stay in touch with my staff and me through the new Ameri-Metro Facebook page we will have up and running within the next two weeks. Your feedback can help make sure the Alabama Toll Road Project meets your needs from day one on!

  13. Jeff Amy is in overdrive redeeming himself today by delving deeper into the Ameri Metro sham. While I applaud the more informative coverage on the matter, the details he released in a follow-up story today were the same details that were available to him before he wrote the first story on the proposed project.
    Vet first write second.
    Just my thoughts Jeff.

  14. Thanks for the interesting update Max.
    I guess the guy who hits send might know a thing or two about the unwanted email from Ameri Metro myself and 7 others I know of have gotten.
    Hey Brent, now that you've returned from your Texas twisting maybe you can cut out the BS!!!!!!!

  15. Men of God in cahoots with sex offenders and crooks.
    Typical republican MOI. Who has to make things up about conservatives? Real life once again much more interesting than fiction.

  16. Buck up and take your lumps PSA boy. The press is covering for you but Max and his group outed you for what you are, which is one of two things:

    1. Completely and utterly inept
    2. Up to some serious no good

    Maybe both.

    Cry me a river.

  17. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is and if it looks slick it is most likely slippery and I doubt the boasting of what this can do for the state is true on any level.

    My concerns - build this toll road by hook or crook, the state will continue to slack in highway upkeep and voila, here you have a remedy for the state responsibility plus I am sure there would be some cash in the till for such a deal.

    We the people will pick up the tab coming and going, and going and going.

    None of this seems feasible at this time, however states have been selling off infrastructure for quite a while. Whether this deal making from the city, county or state public corporation is legal is another matter.

  18. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1842&dat=19930826&id=rV0eAAAAIBAJ&sjid=VcgEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5867,3537819

  19. WAFF-TV interviews Mathias

    The man obviously has zero credibility. Shame on you Brent Buchanan.

  20. Take a look at the Florence AL Times Daily August 26, 1993 issue. It's on Google. The article on page B1 and B2 titled "Area officials hear details of toll road proposal" tells of Jack Garrison pushing his idea that he has been working on since 1984 of a toll road in North Alabama. My, my. It's hard to let go of a good pipe dream. This idea is like a Disney movie that's released again when there is a new generation of children who haven't seen the original showing.

  21. PETER & COMMENTER #20---

    Thanks for the tip, your catch is included in the article.

    And a special thanks to Ensley for linking the 2010 SEC filing early yesterday morning before the media printed anything about it.

    Power to the people indeed. You guys are sharp!


  22. Details on this gets weirder and weirder the more I hear about it. No one even tried to make it look believable. Well, almost no one.

  23. Here's a link to an October 1995 Times Daily article "North-south toll road has backing". http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1842&dat=19951012&id=HYU0AAAAIBAJ&sjid=k8gEAAAAIBAJ&pg=1296,1631461

    In this article, Jack Garrison claims that he has $3 billion in financing lined up if the governor will approve a toll road from Huntsville to the gulf. Garrison states that the toll road would allow people to travel north from the Gulf quicker in the event of hurricane evacuations than they can using the existing roads.

  24. Ameri Metro is an outside player.
    Alabama Toll Facilities and Public Strategy Associates are home grown devils.
    How did all three of these snake oil salesmen find each other?


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