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Mornings unPHILtered - Looking at the local economy
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    This morning's first guest on the “Mornings unPhiltered” show was Edward H. Sibbald. Host Phil Boyum introduced Sibbald, who was named the interim director of the Bureau of Business Research and Economic Development in July at Georgia Southern. Sibbald is now the Director for the Center for Financial Excellence.
    Sibbald has spent some 30 years in the national banking industry. He stated that in Georgia, and particularly Chatham County and the surrounding area, banks have extended more money to residential properties. It is the largest national banks that have overextended themselves through speculative real estate loans.
    Sibbald stated that commercial real-estate properties have now gone into default and are beginning to further aggravate the financial stability of those banks which are experiencing a much larger number of delinquencies and charge-offs. Local banks, he said, are at the break-even point because they have taken extra large provisions and made equity investments whose failure caused a multi million-dollar loss.
    Sea Island Bank, however, lost money for the first six months. Sibbald said it was primarily due to a “well-considered strategy” on the part of its parent company, Synovus, to flush out delinquent commercial real estate loans now. He said he expects that the banks will have removed the bad loans from their sheets by the end of 2010. He stated that there are also some banks in the Brunswick area that are very week right now.
    He said that there is a good deal of refinancing going on right now. Refinancing under these market conditions, he said, would allow you to greatly reduce the time needed to recover the upfront expenses. In fact, he announced he personally had just refinanced his own mortgage last week.
    Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of our national economy, and people are taking what money they have to pay off their debt instead of making more purchases. Before economists declared we were in a recession, people had realized things were getting very tight.
    Next on the show, Boyum welcomed Benji Lewis, a teacher at the Charter Conservatory for Arts and Technology. Lewis is one of three people running for the Statesboro City Council District One seat. Asked about consolidation, he said he would need to sit down and get all the facts before making up his mind. He stated that any consolidation must ensure that Statesboro residents still have the same voice in what happens to them economically and otherwise.
    Concerning alcohol laws, and the idea of changing them, Lewis said before he could extend any support for this idea he would need to know just what kind of economic benefit it would offer the community. As a family man, he said, you can drink six days of the week, and pondered why people would need to drink on the seventh.
    Lewis has said previously “I want to see the city move forward and want to see the city's infrastructure keep up with economic development. I've been here 32 years and (running for council) is something I've always wanted to do. I've been a recipient of what the community has to offer and I just want to give something back.”
    Concerning the role of the city in hiring and firing city employees, Lewis said he believes the city manager must have the authority to deal with personnel issue and not worry about whether or not he would be supported in what he did. He feels the Judy McCorkle issue should have gone to the courts, and not been s3ttled outside of that venue.
     “Mornings unPHILtered” airs live Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on and also simulcast on WWNS-AM 1240 on the radio. You also can listen anytime at on
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