The Mystery of the Missing Manger Scene

MangerSceneFor seven Christmases (from Christmas 2000 through Christmas 2006), the City of Mt. Juliet displayed a Manger Scene as a part of its Christmas decorations in front of City Hall. This year’s decorations have gone up. There’s a lighted Christmas tree in front of the parking lot north of City Hall, and there are wreaths with red bows on the sign in front of City Hall — but there is no Manger Scene this year.

The rationale behind a Manger Scene at City Hall is easy to understand. Christmas is the annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus. Its the recognition of a historical fact, rather than an attempt to “establish religion.” We decorate, shop, exchange gifts, visit family, send cards, and cook holiday meals in an annual celebration of Jesus’ birth. Its silly to pretend that the holidays have nothing to do with Jesus. City Hall will be closed on Christmas Day. If a Manger Scene is not appropriate in front of City Hall, then by the same logic, December 25th ought to be just another business day.

Sadly, the discarding of the Manger Scene in Mt. Juliet is symptomatic of the culture. We want the “fun” without being reminded of the meaning. While Mayor Elam may not have gotten her first choice as city manager (remember Keith Bergman, Massachusetts champion of gay marriage and global warming?), it appears she was able to find a city manager who would get rid of that embarrassing old Manger Scene.

The irony is that other cities have found ways to continue to officially recognize Christmas as having something to do with Jesus. Even in Chicago, they continue to put up a Manger Scene in Daley Center Plaza every year.

When a dispute arose in Berkley, Michigan over the legality of a Manger Scene in front of City Hall, the Thomas More Law Center offered to defend the City for free.

According to Edward L. White III, trial counsel with the Thomas More Law Center, who sent the letter to the City, “Christmas is a National Holiday. The City of Berkley may legally display the nativity scene in the context of celebrating this holiday. There is no legal prohibition against the display of the nativity scene. The absence of the nativity scene would only demonstrate Berkley’s hostility toward religion and toward Christians.”

Wonder what explanation Mayor Elam and her new city manager have for ending the Manger Scene in front of Mt. Juliet’s City Hall?

– Publius

Mangerscene2007UPDATE 11/30/2007: We can now report that the City of Mt. Juliet has reversed its earlier decision, and has now placed the Manger Scene outside, along with its other Christmas decorations. The location of the Manger Scene is new this year. In previous years, the Manger Scene was directly in front of City Hall. This year, it is across Caldwell St, in front of the city parking lot, next to the Christmas tree. But it is up. Your calls, emails, and messages made a difference!

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28 responses to “The Mystery of the Missing Manger Scene

  1. Butch Huber

    Supreme Court Case Lynch v Donnelly overturned a District Court Decision that enjoined a town from displaying a Nativity Scene. In other words, the Supreme Court of the United States says that their interpretation of the Constitution allows for the erection of a public display of the Nativity Scene!

    The city of Mt. Juliet has a Supreme Court Decision to defend a decision to erect a Nativity Scene, so the decision not to erect the Nativity Scene is not about fear that the ACLU or some other liberal organization will successfully sue the city, but rather it is a decision not to recognize the central figure of the purpose of the Holiday….Christ Jesus.

    Not representing Jesus as the cause of the holiday is on one level the same as not including Martin Luther King Jr. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, or the Presidents on President’s Day, or the Flag on Flag Day, or the Veterans on Veteran’s Day, or Columbus on Columbus Day, or the Declaration of Independence on Independence Day, or Mothers on Mother’s Day, or Fathers on Father’s Day. But on another level it is an afront to all believers of Christ. Since Christmas is about Christ, and since the government gives its employees the day off to celebrate the purpose of the holiday, and since the city adorns its offices with lights, trees, wreaths, and other representations of “Christmas”, yet it neglects to represent “Christ”, I take their actions as being an afront to Christ! It is not fitting for the city to recognize this holiday, erect symbols that are supposed to represent the holiday, and yet snub Christ and tell Him He isn’t welcome to His own celebration. If the city isn’t going to repesent Christ it shouldn’t have any decorations at all. Christmas is about Christ!

    The world would like to Cross out Christ by using the word Xmas, but it actually means the same thing. The X in Xmas is a Roman abbreviation for the word “Christ”. You simply can’t take Christ out of Christmas. On one level taking Christ out of Christmas would be like taking the ball out of Baseball , it would be like taking the apple out of apple pie, it would be like taking the Dog out of Hot dog, it would be UN-American.

    The establishment clause does not prevent the depiction of the central historical figure. There is more evidence of the birth if Christ than any other person of that period, and perhaps any other period. He was born in a manger, and as we celebrate that day, it makes logical sense to depict that scene just like it makes sense to display items or characterize other figures that represent the causes of other holidays.

    If we don’t celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ, then what is the day really about? Wouldn’t it be a misuse of government funds to allow millions of employees to have a day off just because? Think of how wasteful that day is if there is no central meaning to the day.

    But, all my ramblings fall short of what I feel in my heart. Christ is my Savior. He pulled me out of a lost world and saved me from Hell. He laid down his position, His power, His everything, and He came to earth on that day some 2000 years ago to save a lost people from eternal damnation…I am one of those people. To me, this is personal. He made me His joint heir! He gave me the gift of eternal life in Heaven! He is The Gift of Christmas, He is The Gift that everyone can receive if only they will open their heart. I was an atheist, I denounced the very existence of Christ for almost thirty years, I tried to convince people that there was no God, that there was no Christ, and then I had my road to Damascus event. Christ revealed Himself to me and saved me from myself. I wasn’t looking for Him…I didn’t want Him, I didn’t know that I needed Him, but He chose me as someone He wanted to restore, to save, to heal, to bless! What an awesome Gift! Christmas is not about toys and material gifts, it is not about lights, it isn’t about spruce trees or fur trees, it isn’t about turkeys and cranberry sauce. It certainly isn’t about Santa Clause (A lie that is even to this day fostered by the church as they refuse to dispel this terrible lie to our children.) Christmas isn’t about a child being born to a Virgin, as much of a miracle and as important as that was. It isn’t about the fulfillment of Prophecy, even though He fulfilled a lot of Prophecy even through His birthing event. It isn’t about three wise men. It is about how on that night, whatever night it really occurred, the Son of God was born to fulfill the plan of Salvation that His Father in Heaven had planned even before the foundation of the world! His birth, life, death and resurrection was the consummation of a love affair God has had with us since the day Adam was formed from the dust of the earth!

    This isn’t about the Supreme Court, the ACLU, the Fourteenth Amendment, or any other thing…Christmas is a celebration of the birth of the Savior of the world! The essence of this issue is the question; “Do we see the manger in the eyes of our hearts?” It is not enough that we should erect a manger scene on public grounds, we need to erect a manger scene in our hearts, in our minds and in our spirits. We cannot rely on symbolism as a proxy for what Christ really represents. If we have Christ in our hearts then no government administration has the ability or the right not to allow us to erect the manger scene, if only in our hearts.

    I say we take this issue out of the hands of the Government. Who are they to determine if we are able as a community to erect a manger? Sure, they may have a legal right to disallow the erection of a manger scene on public property, but the community of Churches, the community of believers, those of us who call ourselves “Christians” have an inalienable right to erect a manger as a recognition of what we know in our hearts to be True….”that Christ is the Son of the One and only True God, that he came to earth fully God and fully man, that he lived a sinless life, that He died upon a cross to take away our sins, that He was resurrected, that He ascended into Heaven, and that through His life on earth and through His obedience and His sacrifice, and through the sacrifice of His Father in Heaven, we are able to have eternal life in Heaven, we are free from Sin, and we have the ability to walk daily with Christ! I have Christmas 365 days a year and 366 on leap year, how about you?

    I am not suggesting that we violate the law, but I am suggesting that the believers in this community band together to deliver a strong message to this city government that we intend to observe Christmas as it was intended to be observed by making Christ the center of the holiday, not some fat old guy in a red suit! That may mean filling up the next commission meeting with a thousand believers or simply deciding on a centrally located, private piece of property where we can erect a Nativity Scene as a collective body, but whatever we do, it requires “Action”, not just words or emotions.

    I am glad that the Supreme Court has ruled that a Nativity Scene is not a First Amendment Rights violation, but I don’t need a constitution for this one…I have permission from God to observe my faith in Him wherever, and whenever, I choose…no government, no earthly authority, and no person has the right or the ability to infringe on that right!

    I am sick and tired of hearing that my God and my Savior are not welcome!

    Commissioner Justice, you were speaking very loudly at Lakeview Elementary about the “see you at the pole” issue, I hope you will take an even stronger stand on this issue. Commissioner Haggerty, I know that you can’t possibly remain quiet on this issue.

    Folks, Christ “is” the Gift of Christmas, but if you don’t or won’t believe in Christ, don’t be a hypocrite, go to work on December 25th, leave the celebration of the birth of Christ to those who believe. Christmas is about Christ!

  2. Ed Hagerty

    To all:

    If the Nativity scene is not set up within 48 hours, I intend to call a special meeting of the Board of Commissioners for the express purpose of considering a resolution instructing the city manager to prominently erect the display.

    Thank you to all of you who have called and written to notify me of this situation.

    Merry Christmas and God Bless,

    Ed Hagerty
    Commissioner, District 3

  3. Bobby Franklin

    Thank you Vice Mayor Hagerty. I bet the city displays the Nativity scene today.

    Those who are slowly destroying this city behind the scene will never allow your resolution to come to the table.

    Perhaps this exercise will also help to educate the new city manager.

    Thanks again!

    Merry Christmas

  4. Ray

    I have also made a couple of calls and it seems the situation has been taken care of and the Nativity scene will be in place within 48 hours. I want to thank Ed Hagerty for his quick action. I would ask that those who are posting on this blog not be quite as critical of the new city manager unless you have talked to him personally about some of these issues. As it read in an earlier post, he doesn’t know the history and is learning the process. Lets not condemn him to 21 days in the electric chair because Linda Elam voted to hire him. Hope everybody has a Merry Christmas.

  5. Glen Linthicum

    Thank you Ed! Let me know if you need folks there at the meeting.

    Glen

  6. Common Sense

    Just went by a little while ago, and the manger scene as well as Frosty the Snowman are now on display beside City Hall. I think it is important to note that Frosty is up in case the ACLU wants to represent any anonymous parents who may feel that Frosty is an abominable snowman 🙂

  7. Man of the People!

    I agree with Ray-don’t put this regrettable incident at the feet of the new City Manager. And Linda Elam is not the only person to vote to hire him or obviously he wouldn’t be there (remember “Bowtie” Bergman?).

    For that matter is there any evidence that the Mayor took any action to keep the Manger scene from being displayed?

  8. liberty

    No, there is only assumption and you know what they say about assuming……….

  9. Butch Huber

    Over time we will see from what stuff this city manager is made, until that time has passed there will be scrutiny and observation…as there should be. I believe that it would be prudent of the new city manager to get out and meet the people in this community and get a flavor of how this city ticks.

    There are three ways this new city manager can direct this city:
    1) He can kowtow to the commissioners and allow them to direct him in how he runs city government. That would obviously be abdication of his power as city manager and would leave this city in a much worse situation than it already is in. (I am not going to believe this is the way a senior retired military officer would go until I see it with my own eyes.)
    2) He can rule with an iron fist and run the government according to his own philosophy and beliefs. (If I were a betting man, I would bet that his natural bent after having spent so much time in the military would be to run the government under option 2)
    3) He could get out, meet the people, ask a lot of questions, and learn what Mt. Juliet is about. He should not observe the city commission and assume that they are a good representation of the feelings, emotions, beliefs, and opinions of the citizenry. While the commission is not something that he should dismiss, he really needs the support of the citizenry if he wants to accomplish much. Had he spent the time out among the people prior to making the decision not to put the Nativity Scene out, he would clearly have realized that this is a community that is still largely comprised of strong believers. He would easily have discerned that to make a decision to omit the Nativity Scene from the Christmas decorations would be a grave mistake. The city manager is responsible for decisions like this. Even if he were prompted by someone else to act in a certain manner, he is ultimately the final authority in this matter. There is no ordinance to prohibit the Nativity Scene, there is a Supreme Court decision to back him up in the event he would have elected to put the Nativity Scene out, and considering that he has a master’s degree in city management, you would think that he would know his powers and duties and he would know how to use them. No folks, putting all assumptions aside, this one is on his shoulders.
    No passing the buck, no blaming the old city manager, no sweeping it under the rug. The city employees know that the Nativity Scene goes out every year. The only people who have left the city are the city manager, the city planner, the zoning administrator, and the Public Works Director, everyone else knows the drill.
    I am not sure who is actually responsible for putting out the decorations, but I would bet that it is public works. If I am right, Cajun is acting Public Works Director…I am quite certain that he didn’t make the decision not to put the Nativity Scene out. No folks, I don’t think there is a hiding place for this decision, the responsibility for this is on the city manager’s shoulders alone. Considering the sensitivity of this particular mistake, I would say this is strike one.

    Mr. Robertson, if you are reading this post, I can’t implore you enough to embrace the citizenry here in Mt. Juliet and distance yourself from the city commission. Those folks on the city commission fight each other and stab each other in the back and a couple in particular seem to stir the pot constantly. There will be a day when you need “us” to have your back. Don’t believe what they tell you about the old city manager and how he left and what he did. There is a lot of passing the blame onto Rob going on right now. You and I know that this is typical change of command stuff…it only works for the first 6 months, then you have to either hold your own or fall on your own sword. You are in the honeymoon period right now. There are politicians crowing right now trying to justify what they did to Rob Shearer and Bobby and Hatton and Debbie. They are trying to smear Rob’s name and drag him through the dirt. Observe, for the fate he has endured will one day be your own unless law and order are established in this city…good luck trying to establish law in order here. There will be a day when you need to duck and cover and allow those of us who are not beholden to the commission for a job to stand in for you…learn what we are made of and how we tick before you step on any more toes.

  10. Ray

    Butch I am amazed that you would tell the city manager not to listen or “kowtow” to the city commission and then in the same breath tell all the world the city should be run legally. The city commission employees the city manager. He runs the city, just like a CEO of a company, abiding by the policies set by the city commission and within the budget parameters set by the city commission. It seems that your hatred for all of us on the city commission have overwhelmed your positions. You need to know your facts before putting yourself out there. The city manager never told anyone at city hall NOT to put out the nativity scene. He only said if we’re putting it out lets do it right. That in itself should make you feel better. I have always had faith the items you put in print are verified and have merit. Unfortunately, this time I was disappointed. Again, to my knowledge, very few have gone to the new city manager and asked to meet him. He is one man and the citizens of Mt. Juliet are many. Until you have met the man and gotten to know him try not to judge him solely on the basis that he is not your friend Rob. Any man/woman deserves better than that.
    I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas.

    Ray

  11. Commissioner Justice:

    Just out of curiosity, what would be the “wrong way” to put out a manger scene?

    – Publius

  12. Butch Huber

    Folks, you might want to grab a cup of coffee.

    Ray, it appears that I have punched your buttons.

    Let’s dissect your post, shall we?
    You say:
    “Butch I am amazed that you would tell the city manager not to listen or “kowtow” to the city commission and then in the same breath tell all the world the city should be run legally. The city commission employees the city manager. He runs the city, just like a CEO of a company, abiding by the policies set by the city commission and within the budget parameters set by the city commission.”

    Response:
    Ray, I never once told Mr. Robertson not to “listen” to the commission. The act of listening to you and the act of obeying your orders in areas you have no authority are two separate issues, Ray. And by the way, let’s set something straight right now! I and the 20,000 or so other citizens in Mt. Juliet ultimately “employ” the city manager….the commission may select “who” we will employ as city manager, but let’s not forget for whom he works.
    You seem to know the protocol, but seem to have problems with application of the concept, Ray. Just as Mr. Darden told you commissioners in a commission meeting, the city manager runs the government…not the commission. If you all would ever grasp that concept you would have so few problems and there would be a lot more accomplishment in this city. Let me try again…you, Ray Justice, nor the commission as a body, have “any” authority to direct the day-to-day operations of the government, you can’t tell Mr. Robertson “how” to do his job, you can’t tell him whom to hire or whom to fire. Any time you attempt to direct the actions of the city manager in the way that I am speaking of you are in direct violation of the city charter. I know that it frustrates all of you that you are not in charge of the city, but you aren’t. The duties of the commission are merely to pass ordinances, resolutions, adopt budgets, etc. There is no provision for you to direct the city manager’s actions in the way that you seem to constantly attempt to direct. For the thousandth time…the city manager is the administrative head of the city government…not the commission. And it is more like the President and Congress than it is a CEO and the Board of Directors. You can impeach him so to speak, and he has to work within the confines of law, but you have no authority to tell him “how” to run the government. Your only recourse if you do not like the way he is running government is to fire him and find another manager. Of course that is a quirk in the law that you attempted to exploit once before isn’t it, Ray. Because you failed in that attempt you took advantage of an opportunity when Mayor Elam called you and asked if your would be willing to call a special meeting to fire the city manager, didn’t you, Ray? That is exactly why Rob Shearer is out and Randy is in…don’t you think Randy should know the truth, Ray? Seeing as he moved here for the position of city manager, don’t you think he should at least know the true score? Wouldn’t that be fair, Ray?

    And no, I could have no respect for him if he “Kowtowed” to the commission. I know that what you folks really want to have as a city manager is a sycophant , but that is certainly not what you need. If you had such a person you would find yourself in such a deep pile of you-know-what that we would need to hire a crane to pull you out of it. This city needs a city manager who will stand up for law and order, one who will not cower to the city commission, we need a city manager who will not be moved by threats and intimidation. You folks tried for years to order Rob around in areas he was clearly responsible for controlling, and because he would not let you push him around, you found a way to push him out the door. You finally got your way didn’t you, Ray. But are you satisfied? No; you continue to try to smear his good name and drag him through the mud. Your most recent attempt was to cast blame for your current financial crisis on him when you know fully well that he was out the door when your budget was developed. What you are doing now is just shameless.

    Mayor Elam went into the planning commission and caused a great stir on the Caldwell Business Park issue even though by all appearances they had met the requirements the planning commission placed on them and had cleared every hurdle. The issue that was able to hold things back was that the building apparently “appeared” not to be more than one building. The architect had developed the project to “appear” as more than one building, but the mayor was able to win enough support from the commission that she appointed to say that it didn’t. It appears to me that there was a lot of room for subjective opinion on that issue rather than concrete terms. The developer had met the conditions and then suddenly they hadn’t. The mayor was falling all over herself to pull this one out of the fire in the special meeting to discuss this issue. She had stepped on some toes and in an attempt to pull her backside out of the fire, she came up with a brilliant solution, move the boundaries of the village overlay district one lot. If the city follows her lead on this there will be exactly two houses on that side of the road that remain in the village overlay district. That makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? Perhaps it would be best to remove the restrictions on that side of the street altogether as was suggested by a planning commissioner. But then at the end of the meeting, there it was again….unbelievably, on public television, in front of the public attending the meeting, in front of an attorney working for the city, the mayor deliberated about city business that only the city commission can discuss in a properly called meeting. She was clearly in violation of the state’s sunshine law…and she involved Commissioner Haggerty as she was doing it! In the press the mayor has publicly blamed this whole debacle on a “prior” administration when in fact it had nothing to do with the “prior” administration.
    You see, Ray, you may not get this yet, but Randy is watching you. He knows that Rob had nothing to do with the current budget crisis (By the way, I see this as just an opening shot in a battle over property taxes) and he knows that Rob had nothing to do with the Caldwell Business Park debacle. He is watching you try to tear down Rob’s character, integrity and value, while you are at the same time you are trying to protect the new boy (Randy) and build him up as much as possible. How do you think that comes across to Randy? Do you think he doesn’t know what you are doing? Do you think he is stupid? He is watching what you are doing to Rob and he is storing it up in his memory banks. Even if he is participating in the mudslinging that is going on right now, over time he will recall these moments and his subconscious will continue to gnaw at him because he knows that something is out of place. This thought will constantly plague him: “If they did this to a city manager who, without a property tax, ran this city under budget and returned surpluses every year, a city manager who managed the city government during times of unprecedented growth, who managed the city while it grossly understaffed, and who ran the government in the face of tremendous conflicts within the several different factions of this community (Including within the city government)…what will become of me? What will they say about me? What will they do to me?”

    You have can’t protect him from the citizens, Ray, and you have no need to protect him. He needs to be protected from the commission! He has to rise and fall by his own actions. You need to simply get out of the way and let him do his job. You will do more harm acting as his saviour than you will help. I can’t speak for the rest of the community, but I am giving Randy a chance. I didn’t say this debacle over the Nativity was strike three, I said that it was strike “one”.

    I know that when you are able to say something publicly that would cast concern or doubt about Rob Shearer it makes you feel vindicated for your involvement in the events that led to Rob’s exit from his position, but when you do what you are doing you only make yourself look small and petty and lacking of class. You are trying to mount a case to justify your complicity in the activities that led to his exit from city government, but there is no justification. What was done to Rob is reprehensible! I suggest you stop trying to smear his good name….you can’t imagine how it makes you look to those in the public that know the truth.

    Ray, you wrote:
    “It seems that your hatred for all of us on the city commission have overwhelmed your positions.”

    Ray, I don’t “hate” any of you. If you think that I hate you, you simply don’t know what it feels like to be hated by someone who really knows how to hate. Just as I can hate prostitution without hating the prostitute and I can hate murder without hating the murderer and I can hate thievery without hating the thief, I can hate politics without hating the politician. I have stopped hating people in my life. I am someone who has a lot of real reasons to hate a lot of people, but I have forgiven everyone I have ever hated and now all I have for them is compassion. Ray, can you say the same? Your words and actions that you have taken, things that I have personally witnessed, conversations that I have personally heard, betray your feelings toward Rob Shearer. I have maintained all along that Rob needs to stand on his record, good or bad, and if he has done something wrong he needs to answer for it, but if he has done right he needs to be praised for it. There is no doubt in my mind how you feel about Rob, but for you to continue to use your public platform to attack him is unacceptable, petty and callous, and all you are really doing is revealing a base character within you that you need to deal with.

    You say:
    “You need to know your facts before putting yourself out there. The city manager never told anyone at city hall NOT to put out the nativity scene. He only said if we’re putting it out lets do it right. That in itself should make you feel better. I have always had faith the items you put in print are verified and have merit. Unfortunately, this time I was disappointed.”
    Oh, please! Folks, this is an elementary attempt, whether consciously or subconsciously made, to try to negate all that I have ever said by intimating that I said that “Randy said not to put the Nativity Scene up” and that my statement was untrue and unfounded. I never said that Randy said “don’t put up the Nativity Scene”. However, he is responsible for the decision, no matter who made it.

    Words that people say seem to stick out at me sometimes, Ray. I pick up on little nuances that most people seem to miss. Nuances like when President Clinton said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”. The word “relations” stuck out at me. I told my wife; “He is lying.” I knew immediately that the use of the word “relations” was a twist on words in an attempt to conceal the truth. Turns out that I was right.

    Here is a word from your statement that sticks out to me, Ray…”If”. The “If” in your quote of Mr. Robertson means there was debate. In fact, it gives the appearance that he was against putting the Nativity Scene out and was then “persuaded” to put it out. With whom and when did Mr. Robertson have such a debate? We will probably never know.
    Here is another word from the same quote that sticks out, Ray….”Right”. Perhaps we should call on the pastors and ministers of the community to discern the “Right” way to put out a Nativity scene and then compare their version of “Right” to the version Mr. Robertson came up with. By “right” do you mean putting it in company with frosty the snowman? Is that the “right” way, Ray? Is my saviour is nothing more than another children’s fairytale? Is that the version of “right” Mr. Robertson had in mind, Ray? No Ray, it doesn’t make me feel better to know that my government doesn’t take my Saviour seriously and that it relegates my Lord to a children’s idol, does it make you feel better? Guards in Gitmo can’t touch the Koran with their flesh because they will “defile” it, but my Savior has to keep company with a snowman!

    You say:
    “Again, to my knowledge, very few have gone to the new city manager and asked to meet him. He is one man and the citizens of Mt. Juliet are many. Until you have met the man and gotten to know him try not to judge him solely on the basis that he is not your friend Rob. Any man/woman deserves better than that.”

    My Response:

    You are right, I have not gone to talk to the city manager. In fact, I have yet to meet the man. I don’t know that I ever made a personal visit to Rob while he was city manager, either. I knew Rob through the church we both attend…not through his position as city manager. It is not my job to get to know the city manager, it is his job to get to know the citizenry. The onus is on him, Ray, not the citizens. Please, get out of the way and let him become what he naturally is, if he doesn’t want to meet the citizens than it will reveal more about him, if he does want to meet the citizens then that will reveal more about him as well. You are just getting in the way.

    No Ray, I am not “judging Mr. Robertson solely on the basis that he is not my friend Rob.” This is another attempt to negate the value of my input and opinion by framing my views through my friendship with Rob. I have made it no secret that I am Rob’s friend. For the record, Rob is my friend, he is one of my best friends. I have gotten to know Rob over the past 6 years, and I have found him to be a good man, a man of virtue, a sound Christian, an honest man, a man of integrity, a man of good character, a wise man, an intelligent man, a man with great insight, a man of great understanding, and a man that any man would be proud to call their “friend”….but to try to intimate that the depth of my interest in all of this is merely because Rob is my friend is an affront to me.

    Ray, I served nine years in the military and I served with honor…when did you serve in the military? I, and other veterans in the community take it very seriously when politicians play games with what we served to defend. No, Ray, this has much more meaning to me than just being about Rob Shearer, this whole matter is personal. It is personal to me and it is personal to every person who ever wore a military uniform….something you can’t really understand…even though you wear a police uniform. It is something that only men like Sonny Griffin can understand. That is not to say that others don’t value virtue in Government, it is simply to say that until a person has put on their uniform and stood their post, they can’t understand what it means to people who have. Doesn’t make one better than the other, it just makes them different. When you know from personal experience the price that has been paid for our freedoms and the sacrifice that has been given for our liberty and our way of life and then you see someone monkeying around with what you hold sacred, it gets under your skin. Rob is my friend, but my friendship with Rob can never mean as much to me as my patriotism, my loyalty to the country, and my deep love for this nation and the value I place on what we stand for. No, Ray, if all you think is that I am in this because of my friendship with Rob, you grossly underestimate me.

    Even though I despise “how” Randy ended up as the city manager, Randy has my support. Even though it appears that he has made a great mistake with the Nativity Scene, he has my support. In fact, he has Rob Shearer’s support. Why do you think I implored him to reach out to the community? I wouldn’t have done that if he didn’t have my support. I reached out to Randy because I know that in the environment of politics by ambush that is Mt. Juliet, Randy will need people of the community, citizens, to have his back. Randy is a fellow serviceman, that gets him a vote of confidence with me right out of the gate. But I am watching him and observing his actions. I know that Linda Elam had private meetings with Randy Robertson before the vote to accept him as the city manager. I don’t know what was said in that meeting or what was agreed to or disagreed to. I do know that after her private meetings with Randy the mayor was advocating giving Randy more money than was allowed under the city’s compensation plan. I can’t help but wonder why a commission that was fighting so hard not to give Rob a raise was so readily willing to blow the top off the pay schedule for an virtually untried and unproven city manager that was fired after only six months in office in his previous position. Don’t you think that is cause for question?
    I was also in the room when you and the other commissioners virtually voted him in before the official commission meeting. I also noticed that, in violation of the sunshine laws, before the public workshop to discuss the possible candidates and narrow the choices, you and the other commissioners held a closed door session. I don’t know what happened in that closed door meeting, but once the dialog in the public meeting began it was readily apparent that you had already collectively decided that Randy was your man. Even in the workshop there were blatant violations of the sunshine laws! Again, when politicians violate the sunshine laws of the state and conduct public business in private, and operate outside the law, it casts a dark shadow over the veracity of the actions of government.

    Ray, I can’t help but believe that it is time for the city of Mt. Juliet to have a new commission. This commission is so tainted with vitriol and acrimony, hatred, distrust, enmity, and agenda that it cannot function properly. Changing city managers hasn’t solved a thing, has it? The problems will remain until there is an authority that is willing to hold politicians accountable for their actions and until there are people sitting in the commission chairs that have the best interests of the citizens as their only agenda.

    How can this commission have any level of respect when there are so many skeletons in the closet?

    It is time for the five members of the city commission to step down and clear the way for another city commission to be formed; I know that deep down in your heart you know that I am right. I know that you know that the only way that the city will have a chance to have a truly functional city commission is to replace everyone on the commission. I know that you don’t think you have been doing anything wrong, but I also know that your heart of hearts knows that we need a radical change in local politics.

    It is time for the agendas to go away. It is time for a commission that acts according to law, ordinance, and resolution. It is time for a commission that conducts its business in public. It is time for change.

    Randy, I stand by what I have said. I don’t condemn you for anything that the commissioners have done. I support you and I want you to know that I will be there for you just as I have been there for Rob if they start to attack you like they attacked Rob. But I also want you to know that I subscribe to the military saying that you stand for your actions and, if you fall, you fall on your own sword. You are in charge of the day-to-day operations of the city government, not the commissioners or the mayor. I make no secret of my disdain of the process that brought you here, but I have no disdain for you personally. I don’t believe you should be here because I believe Rob should be the city manager. But now that you are here you have my full support as a citizen…a position that I take very seriously. I am open most anytime to go crack open a bottle of coke and talk to you. I am sure you can get word to me if you would like a visit…but I will not presume you do. (Make you feel better, Ray?)

  13. liberty

    One point of clarifacation— 3 of the current planning commisioners were appointed by Mayor Mack or before. One is the Mayor’s representative and one sits to represent the city commision. So to be correct the Mayor has only appointed 4. The positions are an appointed for 5 year terms. As I read more of your post, I feel the need to comment. I too did not speak with Mr. Robertson about the Nativity scene but was told by someone that the reason that it didn’t go up with the tree was because of a man power management issue. It seems the other displays were old and worn. New ones were purchased and in order to manage man hours effectively, all displays were put up at the same time. Personally, I like the new location. It is easier to see the Nativity scene where it is. As far as “MY” Saviour sharing space, I believe that He would welcome the oppurtunity to bring more people to Him (those looking at the snowman and santa). The last comment I wish to make is personal. I was very offended at the comments that you made to Ray concerning implied patriotism. I feel very blessed that you and others (my friends and family members both men and women included) have served in or are serving in the armed forces. However, that does not give anyone more or less patriotism. If I miss read your comments I apologize. That is the trouble with email–things don’t always come out the we mean them.

  14. Bobby Franklin

    Liberty, the mayor has appointed five. The same person sits in Elam’s seat that sat there for Mack.

    When Linda Elam was elected mayor I asked her who she wanted to sit in her seat. She chose the same person. A reappointment is still an appointment.

  15. Butch Huber

    I too was told something that I have kept to myself, something that would indicate that it was in fact the City Manager’s directive not to erect the Nativity Scene. I don’t wish to cause others harm, so I have refrained from further disclosure.

    I am sorry, but God does not need the help of Santa or frosty as part of a show to draw people to Him. This season is not about fairy tales…it is about God, and God’s gift to the world, Christ Jesus. It is about the consummation of a plan for the salvation of humanity, a plan that is more than ten thousand years old!
    Liberty, having been an atheist for the majority of my life I can certainly understand and respect the desire of those who don’t believe to limit the influence of religion in society, for I felt the same way. I was wrong. God should have an influence on society, in fact, He should be at the very center of society. What’s more, society should be a reflection of God in the world. I am sensitive to those who don’t believe, but this is more important than it appears. We are either going to be a God fearing, God trusting culture or we are not. The current crisis in the middle east is about religion, some say it is about oil, but that position is short sighted. They have their God as the center of their society and they hate us because we as a country serve a different God, the God of Israel. We protect Israel and we helped to establish it as a state and as a result we are hated by those who hate Israel. The men and women who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are there because we were attacked due to our beliefs as a culture. There are sacrifices going on right now so that we can continue to enjoy our way of life. Actual blood is being spilled to protect our right to serve whatever God we choose. Christmas is a celebration about the birth of Christ…so it would seem only fitting that if we are going to honor and celebrate His life as a city we should really do it right and give Him a symbolic place in the center of the city, and not place Him in a sideshow. Christ deserves better than to be placed as an extra in a menagerie of Christmas fables.
    As far as your concern about my statement about patriotism, one does not have to be a veteran to be a patriot, and every veteran is not necessarily a patriot. So, if I offended you somehow, I apologize. However, I think you missed the main point. Ray was trying, as so many others have, to intimate that my interest in what is happening in my community is simply because Rob is my friend. Too often people overlook the spirit of the fighting man or woman and the philosophy and mindset of the American Sailor and Soldier. We served because we had a sense of duty to our country. You see, it matters to us when politicians abuse their power. It affects us when a politician uses his or her power to cause harm to a citizen. It means something when wrongs are perpetrated and justice is not served. And finally, it is an insult to insinuate that I am so shallow as a human being that I would spend so much time on this issue simply because Rob is a friend of mine. Yes, he is a friend and a very good friend at that…but that is the tip of the iceberg for me…my involvement in this is because I am watching politicians violate the law, harm and abuse others, and they are reducing the offices that they hold to the equivalent of a Jerry Springer show! There is not an authority in this county that is willing to bring justice when politicians violate the law, and that my friend is an affront to every man and woman who has ever served in the military from the inception of our country to the present. A lot of blood has been spilled to give them the right to run for public office and to treat their offices with anything less than the respect that is due is an insult. It has become cliche to say patriotic phrases in public addresses, but I lived it, and others have lived it; it is not cliche to us….it means something….the words honor, dignity, sacrifice, service, honesty, commitment, loyalty, dedication to country, brotherhood, duty, trustworthiness, and courage are more than words that you use to make speeches sound good…they are words we live by. But, that having been said, I hope that those words do not describe the virtues of veterans alone, Liberty, I hope they are words that you live by as well.

    And finally, while you should be extremely aggravated that local politicians are violating the law, that your rights are being violated, and that your government is being reduced to a slapstick comedy, you chose to challenge me…interesting.

  16. liberty

    Mr. Franklin
    I stand corrected.. Thank-you

    Mr. Huber
    I didn’t realize that I was challenging anyone. I thought this was a forum for the exchange of ideas – both similar and different. If I offended you that was not my intent.

  17. Butch Huber

    Liberty, you did not offend me. By “challenge” I was referring to the following part of your post: “I was very offended at the comments that you made to Ray concerning implied patriotism. I feel very blessed that you and others (my friends and family members both men and women included) have served in or are serving in the armed forces. However, that does not give anyone more or less patriotism.”
    Liberty, you were letting me know that I offended you and as such you were “Challenging” me over the words that I spoke. Let me try another word to describe what I meant by “Challenging me”…you were “Admonishing” me.
    I take a firm stand on what I believe, and that firmness shines through in what I write. I can’t help it, I believe what I believe with passion.
    However, your most recent post caused me to reread your previous post. Liberty, a man or woman serving in the armed forces should in someway indicate they are a patriot. In fact, until they prove otherwise, I would give them the benefit of the doubt that they are a “Patriot”, wouldn’t you? You made a statement about “Implied” patriotism. There is nothing implied about a man or woman being a patriot when they sacrifice (or have sacrificed) their time, their efforts, their liberty so that we can enjoy ours. The sailor out in the ocean steaming around in a 100 mile square for weeks on end, at the ready, away from home, standing guard, in a very risky job, or a soldier in a desert, standing his or her post, in the heat and the cold, dirty, dusty, dehydrated, tired, worn-out, in direct danger of being shot by the enemy, Liberty, they automatically get my belief in their patriotism, while those who walk the street here in America who have never served in the Military, who have never sacrificed, never given up anything for their country in any way or manner whatever, well they haven’t shown me anything to indicate that they are or aren’t a patriot…until they show me a sign or do something to prove their patriotism the jury is still out on those people as far as I am concerned…and if that offends you, well, I guess you will be offended. I will say this, those who have never given up anything, sacrificed a thing, never done anything for their country and yet sit around and complain about how the government doesn’t do this for them or doesn’t do that for them….I have serious questions about those people and their patriotism, I couldn’t call them patriot, could you?

    But once again, you missed the point, Liberty. This local government is thumbing its nose at the law! And it is thumbing its nose at you and I! It violates “your” rights every time it holds closed door sessions during which is conducts city business (Except in extremely rare and very specific circumstances that are exempt from the state sunshine laws. Even when those circumstances arise there are strict guidelines they must adhere to.) They really don’t care much about following the law because they already know that General Thompson, the District Attorney, has made it abundantly clear that he is not interested in getting involved in the politics of Mt. Juliet. People are being personally harmed by the antics of this commission. Their actions as a board in general have reduced the positions they hold to a level that is downright shameful. I have been very clear about the things that I know about and I have posted most of them on this site to ensure that the public knows about it as well….hence Mr. Justice’s comment “Butch I am amazed that you would tell the city manager not to listen or “kowtow” to the city commission and then in the same breath tell all the world the city should be run legally. ” He is fully aware that I have no problem whatever shouting to the whole world when I see the government violating our rights. Oh, and shouldn’t your local government be run “Legally”, Liberty. (Re-read Ray’s statement over and over and see what shines through in your mind. Read between the lines, what does it say?) That is my exact focus, Liberty, to ensure that my local government comes to realize that “what” they do as a body and as officials matters, but “how” they conduct themselves matters even more. When someone enters upon public office they enter into a sacred position. How many lives have been given to allow them to serve in that position? I will tell you the number is in the millions, liberty, millions! They will make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes, but it is never okay to use a public office to hurt others for your own personal gain…and that is exactly what has happened here, Liberty.
    Liberty, people have been harmed by these folks, damage to reputations has been caused by these folks, they ignore the law, when someone brings a complaint they refuse to honor the law regarding the complaint and illegally dismiss it knowing that there is no legal entity that is willing to enforce the law regarding their misdeeds, (I have heard more than one of them actually admit that they know that General Thompson will not prosecute! And more than one of them have personally told me that the Governor will not do anything to prosecute the Mayor because she is on one of his panels or something!), the city attorney illegally protects them by withholding information that we as citizens have a right to access and by refusing to prosecute what are flagrant violations of the law. A recent example of what is going on in your local politics is the stark contrast in the mayor’s actions. Example: the mayor illegally tries to get special dispensation for a developer (Pulte Homes) who was offering to put money into a ladder truck fund (The mayor would have won a political victory if she could have gotten that truck and I am sure a ladder truck in the city would have been a help to her then developer/employer) yet is later in a planning commission calling a halt to another project that had already received permission to go ahead and was down to simple formalities! Liberty, do the police have to find a body somewhere before you will agree with me that they have gone to far and that they are out of line? What will it take for you to accept that your government is out of order? You were offended over what you believed was an implication that perhaps you were not a patriot because you didn’t serve in the military, but you are not offended that there are commissioners that are destroying the institution they are elected to administrate? I am sorry if I offended you, but it greatly distresses me that instead of addressing the issue of a government run amok, there seem to be people who focus on trying to divert or redirect the main points of what I write (Not saying necessarily that that is what you are doing here)…the point here is that your local government is doing things that it shouldn’t be doing and isn’t doing things it should. They ignore the law and they harm others to get their way. Be offended, Liberty, but be offended at them…you seem to fashion yourself as a patriot; a patriot would not so easily admonish the person who is trying to right the wrongs that have been perpetrated by elected officials without, having been made aware of wrongdoing, even once addressing the wrongs him or herself. Can you not see what they are doing? Have you not read what I have posted all these months. Have you not read the paper? You certainly should be offended, Liberty, but not by me, by them! Don’t you care that your local government is out of order…or do you think everything is just fine?

    Folks, Ray admonished me (And the rest of the world) for judging the new city manager without having talked to him, gotten to meet him. I say, if you really want to know what is going on in your local government you might want to talk to Former public works director Hatton Wright, former Zoning Administrator Debbie Moss, former City Planner Bobby Franklin, and Former City Manager Rob Shearer. There seems to be a gaping hole in the city government right now folks….wonder who caused it? Any guesses? Today, we have a virtually untested, untried City Manager (Who will probably do a fine job, but the jury is still out.), I don’t believe we have a city planner, and we have an Acting Public Works Director (I am sure Cajun will do fine, but he is probably doing two full-time jobs right now.). I am telling you that I believe this was all caused because of personal vengeance being taken out on innocent people by one or more elected officials. This becomes especially apparent when you hold up their (Rob Shearer, Bobby Franklin, Hatton Wright, and Debbie Moss) supposed wrongs along side of some of the people on the city commission’s deeds. Yes, Liberty, be offended, be very, very offended…but be offended that your rights and the constitutions of the Nation and the State of Tennessee, the City Charter, and Local Ordinances are being trampled upon by those who were elected to up hold them…in fact be offended that they entered upon their offices without taking the proper oath and, having had it brought to their attention, they elect not to correct the matter! BE OFFENDED, LIBERTY, BE GREATLY OFFENDED!
    Almost everything that I have written here has been documented in public record. I would be glad to walk you through it piece by piece, action by action, word for word. What has happened, and is continuing to happen, in Mt. Juliet needs to be brought to account. The wrongs need to be made right.

    I will say it again…this city needs a new start, a new commission. There will never be a chance for respect and dignity to be restored to this commission unless it is dismantled and re-assembled with new commissioners. The District Attorney and those others who hold authority to bring correction seem unwilling to correct them, so if not the authorities, then who? It takes patriots like you and I to bring order, Liberty, people like you and I!

  18. Found your site tonight while browsing all the articles on Berkley, MI nativity battle. While I am glad your city decided to put the nativity(not like my city) up I am wondering why they felt like it could not go in front of city hall where it had been before? There is not legal reason to ban the nativity away from city hall property.

  19. Apolitical Observer

    Ms. Halloran, I believe the nativity scene is still on city property, although I personally preferred the former location.

    Mr. Huber, I don’t always agree with Commissioner Justice but he is out there in a Sheriff’s Deputy’s uniform while you are blogging, so your comments along the lines of ‘wearing the uniform’ are inappropriate. Also, you need to do more research on Caldwell and other Planning Commission issues before inserting yourself into the debate. Let me guess, you saw a Chronicle article that seemed to criticize the mayor’s position and used it as another opportunity to take potshots.

    To all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  20. Butch Huber

    Apolitical Observer,

    I can certainly receive admonishment and words of correction if they are words of truth, however I have to consider the source of my admonishment and words of correction before I receive them. Having known who you are for some time now I have had reason to be cautious about your posts. Now, having recently learned even more about you I have cause for even more caution. Not that I think you are a bad person, its just that I am fully aware that you have an enlightened self-interest in the Linda Elam’s continued reign as mayor. Some of your earlier posts threw me off because I couldn’t understand your connections…now I do.

    Your continued attempts to protect the mayor regarding actions she takes, actions that are clearly wrong, are nothing more to me than attempts at preservation of your own self-interests.

    You admonished me in your post for what I said regarding Ray Justice’s post where he too was admonishing me. However, in Ray’s post he says the following: “The city manager never told anyone at city hall NOT to put out the nativity scene.” I have now been informed from more than one source that the truth of the matter is that the city manager indeed say not to put up the Nativity Scene and that Ray is fully aware of that fact. I was not there when the directive was issued, but as I understand it, it was in fact given. I don’t know whether or not Ray was aware of that fact when he posted here, however I am under the understanding that Ray is now aware of that fact and that he is aware of even more issues that have occurred. He was quick to admonish me to protect the city manager but hasn’t been quick to retract what he has said or correct his posts.

    Everything that I post about what is going on in this city are, to the best of my knowledge, true and honest statements. However, the mayor that you defend cannot say the same about what she reports in the papers, can she? I would never lie, I may be misinformed or unintentionally incomplete in what I say, but I would never debase myself to intentionally lie about another human being.

    As far as Ray wearing a police uniform, I think that policemen and firemen are patriots, as was evidenced during the 9/11 attacks, and I don’t think that my post said otherwise. However, a policemen or a fireman cannot understand what it means to wear the uniform of a militiamen unless they have done so themselves, and I believe that is what my post points out, Apolitical Observer, not that he isn’t a patriot. The reverse holds true as well….I can guess what it feels like to wear a uniform of a police uniform, but until I do so myself I will never really know, will I?

    Again, Apolitical Observer, you avoid the real issues and try to redirect focus. Let’s keep our eye on the ball here. The ball is a dysfunctional local government body that is rife with personal agendas, bitter rivalry, political courtesy, back-room politics, favors, attacks against innocent people, dishonesty, subterfuge, and a myriad of other issues.

    As I remember it your only real counter-point to what I have written is that I should tread softly because “we don’t want to return to the days before Kevin Mack”. In other words, I should choose between the lesser of two evils rather than vie for a government that is void of evil. In light of my most recent revelation concerning you I can now understand why you project yourself as being in both Mack’s and Elam’s camp.

    I voted for Linda Elam, I don’t hate Linda, I just am ashamed of how she has conducted herself as mayor and wish she would step down. She has disgraced her position and denigrated the institution of government by her actions. She has caused harm to innocent people in pursuit of her political ambitions and has bullied people with the power that was endowed upon her by the citizens of the city…she has abused my vote and I want reconciliation…I want her resignation. If she is not honorable enough to step down than I have no choice but to continue to point out what she does, both bad and good, to whomever will listen. By they way, thanks for reading my posts.

    As far as your words of correction about not doing my research and just relying on the Chronicle is concerned…you are wrong. I did in fact read the piece in the Chronicle, but I also listened to the public meeting concerning the issue. You and I both know that this was not an issue that should have been tied to the “previous administration”. I don’t believe it is the “administration’s” responsibility to approve the appearance of a building, however, I do believe it is the planning commission’s responsibility to approve or disapprove the appearance of a building. In any event, the city staff does not have the authority to approve or disapprove the appearance of a building, Right? Apolitical Observer, I know that you are in a position to enlighten all of us as to what is really going on with this project, why not tell the full truth here? Would that reveal too much about your friend the mayor?

    Ray got what he deserved and the mayor gets what she deserves. I post with clarity and with openness. I do not believe that there is anyone who posts here or reports in any paper who is more honest, open and clear about what they know or feel than I am, Apolitical Observer, I wish that I could say the same about you. You have a person agenda that you hide from the readers; an agenda that taints your position. There is a constant thread that goes on between those of you who oppose my posts that would try to persuade the reader that my only interest in this is due to my friendship with Rob Shearer. I have been very open and honest about my friendship with Rob. I don’t hide that fact. I have nothing to gain from Rob, and I am not running for local office, so I have nothing to gain from trying to run them out of office; except that perhaps we could get a functional government for the city. I am about as transparent as I can be, however, Ray’s post once again attempted to connect my posts to my friendship with Rob when he knows that not to be the case. That is deceptive and deception is dishonest.

    Thanks for your input, but your position is too tainted by your self-interests for me to consider it to be accurate.

  21. Bobby Franklin

    Apolitical Observer,

    I too do not always agree with Ray Justice or Butch Huber. I do respect those gentlemen for posting comments using their real names. Criticizing people anonymously is neither courageous or patriotic.

    The Mayor’s actions concerning the Caldwell Business Park have not been productive. She has demonstrated once again a lack of understanding of the city charter, zoning ordinance, and the approval process in general. Her actions may have made it more difficult for the city to prevail in court if litigated.

    Mt. Juliet’s ordinance does not give the Mayor the authority to place things on, or remove things from, the Planning Commission agenda. She does not have the authority to repeal, or coerce a repeal, of a Planning Commission approval. Frankly, I am surprised both the Zoning Administrator and Planning Commission Chairman have let this happen. They should know better.

    The Planning Commission conditionally approved the Caldwell Business Park. If the Mayor truly believed that approval violated the zoning ordinance she should have taken it to the Board of Zoning Appeal and made her case. Who knows? She may have prevailed – but the BOZA interprets the zoning ordinance, not the Mayor.

    Bobby Franklin

  22. Paul Deyo

    One of the ‘conditions’ of the conditional approval was that the elevation meet the guidelines of the Village Overlay. I think a case can be made that as of the 11/26 special meeting it did not.

    Hopefully some meeting of the minds will occur to satisfy all parties, including those Planning Commissioners who want to see the Town Center Overlay succeed. The entire Planning Commission voted for the overlay and some members served on the steering committee.

    I have read many of Mr. Huber’s posts. While the length and verbosity indicate a strong intellect, they show a lack of understanding of the real world of making budgets and planning growth. And make assumptions and grandiose statements based on opinion rather than fact. And inevitably they all end up saying the same thing. Over and over.

    Wasn’t this thread about the nativity display?

  23. Bobby Franklin

    If memory serves, the conditional approval required that all aspects of the Village Town Center Overlay District be satisfied prior to a building permit being issued.

    If the developer doesn’t satisfy all conditions staff should just refuse the permit – its simple.

    If the developer refuses to satisfy a condition of a conditional approval – he has no approval anyway!

    My point is that there was no need for staff to place this back on a Planning Commission agenda. If the developer wanted relief from a condition in the form of a variance – the developer should have paid the fees to be placed on a future agenda. (remember Cobblestone?)

    It is important now if this is litigated because the Chancellor will ask why it went back to the Planning Commission. What will you say? The Mayor made us do it? Good Luck..

  24. Paul Deyo

    Bobby, I am not disagreeing with you. I was merely attempting to give Mr. Huber some information he obviously didn’t have.

  25. Butch Huber

    Paul,

    There is a common thread to what I post, I make no secret of that fact. I am attempting to expose the improper conduct of this commission.

    I admit that I know little about the planning process for developments, however, I do have a keen sense of right and wrong, Paul. Paul, I am being as honest with the readers of my posts as I can be, when I don’t have strong evidence of something I allow the reader to know that my position is weak, when I have strong evidence to back up what I am saying I inform the reader of my evidence. I don’t speak in innuendo or through vague statements, at least I try not to. I typically don’t make statements that are not substantiated by some level of fact or basis. I have no intention to deceive anyone. And while my posts seem to be “Grandiose” to you, from my vantage point they simply are not grand enough. This community should be outraged. There should be a packed house every commission meeting, with citizens calling for the Mayor’s resignation.

    Paul, it is easy to say things like
    “I have read many of Mr. Huber’s posts. While the length and verbosity indicate a strong intellect, they show a lack of understanding of the real world of making budgets and planning growth. And make assumptions and grandiose statements based on opinion rather than fact. And inevitably they all end up saying the same thing. Over and over.” This is a statement geared to try to tear at my credibility. Once a statement like that is made I have to go back and cover it and dilute its effect. It requires a lot more writing to undo a statement like that than it takes to make it.

    While I don’t think you and I have a personal battle going on, I do believe that you are misguided in your attempt to protect the mayor’s image. For example ,Paul, what she did to Hatton was wrong.
    Paul, Mayor Elam received a six page complaint from Cathy Reitz that implicated many people in city staff. The mayor, rather than giving the complaint to the city manager as is required under the personnel manual, she called the city attorney regarding the matter. The city attorney and the Mayor communicated back and forth, and the Mayor and Cathy Reitz communicated back and forth. In the end, Cathy Reitz submitted a one page complaint naming Hatton Wright for sexual harassment to the city manager. (Skip to the end) The investigating attorney, (Chosen by Paula Flowers…the city attorney whose findings in the investigation into Hatton’s complaint against the mayor was characterize by at least two of our city commissioners as a statement for the defense rather than findings in an investigation, and an attorney that is blocking me from access to information that I clearly have a right to access) indicated in the findings in the complaint against Hatton that it didn’t make sense that Hatton was the target of the complaint. Kevin Mack came into a city commission meeting with a complaint that stated that Mr. Reitz called him saying that he and his wife (Cathy Reitz) felt abandoned by the Mayor over the matter. (Mr. Reitz didn’t deny the phone call, but did say that Kevin must have misunderstood him. I give a great vote of confidence to Kevin as far as clarity of focus is concerned. He is as sharp as two razorblades….I don’t believe he “Misunderstood” the conversation.)
    There are some who would like to characterize my involvement in all of this over my friendship with Rob, but let’s consider Hatton for a moment. I hardly know Hatton. I consider Hatton a friend, but there is very little we know about each other and we have never had a social engagement together. I say that to say this…my concern is what my government is doing, not who it is doing it to, well, as far as what I post and the actions I take. It does annoy me that my friends are being harmed by the actions of elected officials, but that annoyance does not cause me to take the actions I take.
    (Back to Hatton)…The Mayor knew that there was nothing in the six page complaint (That she personally characterized as a bunch of dribble) that would constitute “sexual harassment” on Hatton’s part, yet she blasted Hatton in a public meeting, in violation of the sexual harassment policy, and exposed him as the target of the complaint. She championed the cause of launching an investigation against him knowing that there was nothing to it. Folks, Hatton was dealing with a seriously ailing wife at the time, and the mayor knew it. This attack was not just a political attack, it was personal. But it wasn’t just personal, it was mean and vicious . Turns out that Hatton had “embarrassed” the mayor when she called an illegal meeting to champion getting illegal building permits for Pulte Homes. Read the depositions from the investigations. You will see that one person stated that the mayor slammed her hand on the table and said that “we need to give these people (Pulte homes) their permits”. The attorney had to reign in the mayor! There is strong basis to believe that she was in fact trying to force the city to issue illegal permits. When push came to shove, Hatton apparently defended his position with a statement that couched his position based on a previous issue the city had with Pulte homes. Hatton’s statements, as evidenced in the depositions, seemed like a very reasonable response based on the environment he was in and what was being asked of him. Turns out that the mayor had an “incentive” to get those permits for Pulte Homes…in fact, she had 100,000 reasons! Pulte had offered to put another 100,000 or 120,000 dollars toward a ladder truck fund if she could persuade Hatton (I say Hatton because it was his department that would issue the permits) to issue the permits. When the mayor was unsuccessful she went on a tirade over trying to force the city manager to force a public apology from Hatton. It is clear that this was an attack against Hatton. How Cathy Reitz’s complaint was initiated I don’t know, I can speculate, but I can substantiate. That it was drug out into the public, in the way that it was drug out in public, was a clear case of retribution. To do the things the mayor did regarding Hatton Wright is detestable, mean spirited, and simply wrong. How a human being do such a thing to a person in Hatton’s circumstances is beyond me, Paul. It boggles the mind. She didn’t “need” to target him in public…she chose to!

    Paul, considering your position, her actions in this and in other situations should be of keen interest to you. If I were in your position I would be very, very concerned with regard to her actions regarding all these developments. Your lack of regard for this matters causes me to question your position. I should think you would be gravely concerned, Paul.

    Paul, you can protect the mayor all you want…but you and I both know that she is completely out of line in what she does.

    The people that I am trying to expose are not people who have made innocent, innocuous mistakes, Paul, they are people who made volitional decisions to cause harm to another person for their own personal interests. You say that I am saying the same thing over and over…Really, all I am doing is pointing out the repeated violations of the law and reminding the reader of past violations of the law that have not been properly handled. If Commissioner Sellers, a new commissioner, makes an unintentional blunder, it is understandable…nobody is perfect. However, that is not the case with Linda, Ray, Jim and/or Ed. These folks have been around for a long time and they know the rules. Most of the time, if they violate the law, it is intentional. When they make a blunder it is most likely a decision to ignore the law and do as they please. The fact that my posts seem to be a constant drone to you should be more alarming to you than they are a source of irritation.

    Please answer this question…why do you try so hard to protect the mayor? What is going on here? You appear to also be a pretty smart fella, you have to see what she has done as being “wrong”, so why on earth do you strive to protect her? What is your motivation?

    You made the statement that I don’t understand the “real world of making budgets and planning growth. And make assumptions and grandiose statements based on opinion rather than fact”

    Paul, I don’t want to be wrong, I want to be right. I don’t have a problem in the world with someone stepping in and showing me the errs of my way. Please, prove me wrong. Take the time to make a full and complete post and, point-by-point, show me where I am wrong and what is right. Paul, I am sure you have heard the phrase “Put up or shut up”, so I say, Paul, if you can’t (or won’t) put-up, shouldn’t you shut-up.

    Paul…at some point you are going to realize that the mayor has attacked people for her own benefit…if you keep defending her how will you look then? Paul, keep this in mind…Mr. Reitz supposedly called Kevin and said he felt abandoned by the mayor. Rob was in a meeting where the mayor was signing his praises just two days prior to the mayor strong-arming a resignation from him. Bobby was just doing his job when Mayor Elam called him for the benefit of her employer…now Bobby is on the outside looking in (Lakeview wasn’t fooled by what happened). Hatton was just doing his job in that meeting over pulte homes, now Hatton is on the outside looking in. These are people who had the mayor’s back and were in her camp.
    Remember the story about the frog and the scorpion. The scorpion needed to get across a river. He went to a frog and asked the frog to carry him across the river. The frog said, no, if I do you will sting me and kill me. The scorpion said, “no I won’t” if I do that it you will die and I will drown. It sounding reasonable to the frog so he agreed to take the scorpion across the river. About half-way across the scorpion stung the frog. The frog said, “why did you do that? Now we are both going to die?” The scorpion said, “Its my nature, I can’t help it.” Paul, take a cue from what has happened to the others…

  26. Butch Huber

    Paul,

    I believe that in the special meeting that was held to discuss this it was stated that the city staff was responsible for approval of the appearance of the building.

    Paul, let me ask you this…if it is conditional for the building to have an appearance of being more than one building “before” the planning commission can give approval, and the planning commission is the approval authority, how can the responsibility of final approval be relegated to city staff? This would leave a very subjective decision to someone who is not really accountable for the decision. It appears as though the planning commission was passing the buck to city staff on this one, and when the mayor raised the issue, an attempt was being made to blame the “prior administration”.

  27. Paul Deyo

    Butch, Mr. Franklin’s above post should answer some of your question. No one on the Planning Commission attempted to blame anyone for anything. This matter was referred to Ms. Ford when the developer requested a ‘point person’ to consult with. This is due in part to her extensive experience in planning and zoning and the fact that she is accessible at City Hall during the workday. With the exception of Mr. Cameli commission members are not professional planners, although some of us have attended many planning classes. We also have full time jobs doing something else somewhere else and would not be able to offer the accessibility and time that this issue deserves.

    Regarding your prior post, I will not offer a reply as your post only proves what my post said. It is pointless for us to argue online- as you stated we probably have some areas of agreement on philosophy of government . And right now I’m wading through a large packet of submitted plans after a twelve hour workday and I don’t really have the free time.

    Some people had recently suggested I check in here to look at comments about planning issues but I think it’s time to check back out.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and all who visit here.

  28. Butch Huber

    Paul,
    I don’t think I ever said that anyone on the planning commission was blaming anything on anyone…What occurred is that the “Mayor” blamed the whole debacle on a prior administration.

    What I saw in the special meeting was that the final decision on whether or not the plans for the Caldwell Business Park met the village Architecture overlay restrictions was delegated to city staff. I see several problems with the idea of putting the final authorization for compliance on city staff. One is the way that the City Commission tends to eat its own. If a city staffer made a decision that was wrong, or was contrary to the personal agenda of a commission member, the next thing you know they would be drug out in public and ridiculed and harassed like Hatton was. Secondly, it leaves the decision of approval or disapproval of a very subjective matter in the hands of someone that is not accountable or authorized in city ordinances to make the decision. I know that Ms. Ford was appointed the point person on this matter, but what I am talking about was what was going on when Mr. Oliver was speaking. He said that because the building was longer than 150 it had to be designed to appear to be more than one building. He said that the planning commission had the authority to approve a building that did not meet the restrictions, but in order for a building that is over 150 to be approved it had to be designed to appear as being more than one building. I heard the attorney for the developer (or perhaps it was the architect) say that they had designed the building to use different color brick to give the building the appearance of more than one building. I have seen a building that has been done that way and it does somewhat give the appearance of being more than one building. I don’t know that I would do it that way, but it does achieve the stated goal. So, from my vantage point, it appears that this decision was very subjective and the stipulations and key conditions were quite nebulous. “Appear as more than one building” can mean many things to many people. The attorney (Mr. Oliver, attorney for the city) went on to say that the planning commission had approved the plan as long as city staff verified that the final plans met the village architecture overlay restrictions. Apparently, those drawings “had” met the approval of city staff because city staff was about to issue building permits until the mayor stepped in. So, either the system was working and the permits should have been given “or” the system is broken and needs to be fixed. In either case, this is in no way the fault of the city staff and it is certainly not the fault of the prior administration as the mayor stated.
    Paul, there are a few reasons I have my nose in this issue.
    1) I believe the mayor did what she did more to use it as a platform to attack Rob and Bobby again and to smear their names so that she can come back later and use this case as a justification for her previous actions. The media seems more than willing to give her a bully-pulpit to wage her war against these men, it is good that this site is here for people to get the rest of the story. I may not always be accurate, but I am never intentionally in-accurate, however, the mayor knows the system and how it works and she knows that this matter has nothing to do with a “prior administration”. In the future, I would suggest however that you and the rest of the planning commission not put the city staff in a predicament like this one and ensure that the planning commission give all final authorization on matter such as this. Remember that the city staff is always treated like pawns by this city commission. Please consider that they rely on their jobs as a means of providing for their families and that putting them in a predicament like this can cost them their jobs.

    2) These business people don’t deserve to be treated like pawns in Mayor Elam’s game of political and personal chess. From what I can tell, they (The developers) were waiting for permits. They had been given a list of things that they needed to address prior to being issued permits and they addressed those issues and fixed them. Now, if you give me a list of things that I need to do prior to being authorized to do something, and I subsequently accomplish all the tasks you put on the list, it should be reasonable to anticipate that you will then do your part and give me the authorization. So why would the developer have a reason to suspect that his permits would not be issued? We should all be concerned with things like this are going on in our city.

    3) This type of thing makes the city look less appealing to developers. While I think that government should be neutral in matters of development (maintaining a posture of a disinterested third party that wields approval power for new development), I think that doing things to developers like what has happened here sends the wrong message. It can hamper future development efforts. Business people that could and would support this city might not want to become involved in Mt. Juliet because they don’t know where the next punch in this battle will land.

    Paul, if I have given you the impression that I think that the planning commission has done anything malicious or sinister in this matter I apologize. I don’t suspect any wrongdoing on the planning commission, well, not intentional anyway. I do however suspect a lot of loyalty toward the mayor from several of the people on the commission because she appointed them.
    I also recognize that she can remove you from the board and replace you if she is not pleased with your decisions (or at least I believe she can), which puts the entire commission in the palm of her hand, doesn’t it?
    Further, I acknowledge that you and the other commissioners must have a personal reason to want to be on the planning commission, otherwise why would you put so much time into it for so little money? That makes be feel like you would “lose something” if she were to replace you. That sense of fear of loss, coupled with your (their) desire to be a part of the planning commission, sets the stage for the Mayor to get her way in matters such as this. Because of the unique relationship the Planning commission has to the mayor and the mayor only, I see you folks as being beholden to the mayor in a way that you are not beholden to the rest of the commission, and I see that as totally unbalanced power at the commission level. As I see it, the most prevalent issues, and most heated, in this city are over land development (almost every issue they (the city commission) deal with eventually has its roots in development), and the mayor seems to hold most of the cards, and in a lot of ways is the dealer, in this high stakes game. I personally have witnessed the mayor, talking in casual conversations, using words and making statements that left no doubt that she felt that Rob owed his allegiance to her and that she aimed to have it. I can only imagine that she does the same to the planning commission members as well. I also believe there is a possibility that there are a few on the planning commission that will do her bidding. Not saying that there is, just saying that there is a real possibility that there could be. At this point, I have absolutely no reason to trust anything she does and everything she does is suspect. You can’t go about life hurting others for your own personal agenda and expect anything less than to have your every action looked at under a microscope.

    To those of you who led Paul back to this site, if you are on the commission and I have wrongly offended you, I apologize.

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