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The county commissioners' meeting got right testy Monday night, with commissioners exchanging sharp words about "statements  and accusations" after Commissioner Becky Heron called for her colleagues to fess up about any "commissioners receiving gifts,  this that and the other from the developers" of 751 South, Southern Durham Development Inc.

As the discussion went along, Commissioner Joe Bowser said he had been misrepresented in the press.

"They have tried to claim me individually as one who has taken money from the developers. I didn’t even know the developers  when I was running for this office. Didn’t even know who they were. They have never given me a dollar. Go look on my  campaign finance reports. You’ll see it, not one dollar."

Since he made the suggestion, Bull's Eye went to look and found that, indeed, Bowser's finance reports show no contributions  from Alex Mitchell or Tyler Morris, principals in Southern Durham Development Inc.

However, they do show that, in his unsuccessful 2004 campaign for re-election to the Board of Commissioners, Bowser  received $2,000 from Neal Hunter, who sold the 751 South site to Southern Durham and now owns a minority share in the  company.

OK, that doesn't make Hunter one of the developers, but you'd think he's at least an interested party.

(As Southern Durham President Alex Mitchell explained the arrangement with Hunter, he and Morris paid $18 million for the  land: $8 million up front to Hunter, who agreed to finance the rest for interest and a partial, non-voting share in the company.

("Neal Hunter is not the developer," Mitchell said. "Tyler and I are the only people on the bank loan.")

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Hey, it may not pass the

Hey, it may not pass the smell test. But it's legal.

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About the blogger

Jim Wise is a Durham News/N&O reporter and columnist who follows city and county government land-use and neighborhood issues. He's author of "Durham: A Bull City Story" and "Durham Tales: The Morris Street Maple, the Plastic Cow, the Durham Day That Was and More ... "
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