In today’s Roanoke Times, Laurence Hammack quotes from an internal Virginia Economic Development Partnership e-mail about “Project Goode” back in October of 2003:
Congressman [Goode] suggests/requests that Martinsville be allowed to stand for the [Governor’s Opportunity Fund grant money], and that they be allowed to accept responsibility for the performance agreement.
The notion that Goode established the terms of this agreement by working directly with the state and Martinsville is nothing new — in their exposé about Goode’s relationship with MZM, USA Today uncovered this via a FOIA request of VEDP e-mails back in November of 2005:
Goode later urged local and state officials to help MZM open the center in Martinsville, a down-on-its-luck former textile center in his district. Records released under Virginia’s open-records law show Goode contacted state economic development officials about the plans on Oct. 1, 2003, the first day of the fiscal year in which the FSAC was to be opened.
Goode says the negotiations were between MZM and Martinsville officials. But the records tell a different story.
The state records say Goode acted as a go-between during negotiations between Wade and MZM on one side and Martinsville and Virginia officials on the other.
The congressman was so involved that officials of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership referred to it in e-mails as “Project Goode.”
MZM demanded that it be exempt from property taxes for five years.
Throughout the process…Goode backed Wade and MZM, including when their requests fell “outside normal procedures.”
In response to today’s Times article, Rep. Goode said that “I never recall talking with…anyone in VEDP,” which the paper rebuts by pointing out that “documents related to the proposal contain numerous references to Goode’s involvement in discussions with both local and VEDP officials.”
Goode’s not necessarily lying, if his comment is taken literally — he may truly not remember it, he may not remember speaking with anybody at VEDP (as opposed to other state officials), or he may not remember “talking,” as opposed to other means of communications. (As with Martinsville’s weird denial that Goode had anything to do with “drafting [the] performance agreement,” a possibility that nobody had suggested.) Those are perhaps the kindest interpretations for his denials, because, taken at face value, they simply don’t jibe with the state’s own extensive records on the matter.
Finally, Hammack also points out that the figures are now in, and Martinsville owes the state $150k for MZM’s failure to perform as promised, as was forecast. This is the first time in state history that a locality has needed to pay back the state for a private corporation’s non-performance. City officials say they can pay back the money, but what with continued layoffs and the loss of employers — like MZM itself — this bill has come at a particularly bad time.