Poor Mt. Juliet. The City administration has been hamstrung and all but paralyzed by conflicting direction and legal advice on whether vacation bible school signs are legal or not.
Mayor Linda Elam is trying to blame the whole thing on former Mayor Kevin Mack. She’s quoted in today’s Lebanon Democrat (its free to access online, but you do have to register) as saying that the city’s current sign ordinance was none of her doing, that it was “written by Mack’s then attorney, someone who she said, ‘had no business doing it.'”
It looks to us like that’s three lies and two character assasinations in one quote. Mayor Elam apparently doesn’t believe she has to be accurate, or tell the truth when she’s trying to shift blame for Mt. Juliet’s current woes. She thinks she can just make stuff up – or, in the vernacular, lie. The problem is, as we’ve observed before, the internet never forgets.
The City’s website is a wonderful resource. All of the city’s ordinances, resolutions, and minutes, are available online. We’re betting that Mayor Elam wishes they weren’t.
You see, in December of 2001, when she was vice-chairman of the planning commission, Linda Elam voted to recommend passage of the current sign ordinance to the Mt. Juliet City Commission. It seems she was FOR the sign ordinance before she was opposed to it.
Then, in October of 2005, when an amendment to the sign ordinance was proposed, Linda Elam is quoted in the minutes (see page 13) as saying, “the sign ordinance is sacrosanct and should not be amended.”
Only now, when there is a public outcry over how the sign ordinance is being enforced, does Linda Elam suddenly announce that it’s not her fault, it was all done by Kevin Mack and his incompetent attorney.
Except it wasn’t. The current sign ordinance, adopted in 2002, is derived from the previous version, which was adopted in 1997. The records don’t show who drafted it, but that was before Kevin Mack was elected to the City Commission. The changes made in 2002 were to eliminate portable signs and restrict signs on Mt. Juliet Road to “monument style signs.” The revised version was presented to the planning commission in 2002 by the City’s planning attorney, Louis Oliver – who is still the City’s planning attorney.
So, the sign ordinance wasn’t “written by Mack’s attorney.” And it was endorsed and recommended by Linda Elam when it was passed. In fact, she later called it “sacrosanct.”
Some would call that sloppy. Some would call that negligent. Some would call it lying.
The problem is not the sign ordinance. The current sign ordinance has been on the books for five years. The problem is the inconsistent, incompetent direction being given to the public works department by the current City Attorney Paula Flowers and the acting City Manager Sheila Luckett. And who’s responsible for them being in charge?