Headlines from the Mt. Juliet News and The Chronicle 1/30/2008

Its a target-rich environment this week.

from the Mt. Juliet News:

Officials eye Easter Seals camp up for sale
[100 acres, on the lake, asking price: $8.5 million – two problems. The city doesn’t have $8.5 million. The camp is not in Mt. Juliet. Its not even in the city’s 20-year urban growth area. The City Commission is fiddling with park land while traffic backs up further & further . . .]

Commission gives final nod to Paddocks
[but the Mayor got caught collaborating with the developer]

Getting fair concessions for the city
[the shocking turn of events Monday as Paddocks was approved apparently prompted this editorial]

Retreat fosters ‘air of collaboration and cooperation’ for commission
Mission statement, ‘vision’ revealed during Henry Horton retreat

[actual text of the vision statement not available yet. We can hardly wait. “revealed?”]

City hires finance and legal directors
[New city attorney is Jason Holleman, who is also an elected official serving on the Metro Nashville city council. New finance director is Kimberly Vollet who was the Tax Administrator with the city of Loveland, OH. Looks like they’ve pro-actively gotten someone who knows how to administer a city property tax.]

Dozens make bid for police chief post
[article has a very interesting quote from City Manager Robertson. See if you can tell what it is.]

from The Chronicle:

Special MJ commission meeting retreat a ‘success’

Kelsey Glen advancement approved
MJ commisioners approve Kelsey Glen plans despite citizen concerns

Commissioners make visionary plans at retreat
Retreat a success in spite of citizen disapproval

There’s more that can and should be said, but this will get the ball rolling.
– Publius

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2 Comments

Filed under Open Meetings Law

2 responses to “Headlines from the Mt. Juliet News and The Chronicle 1/30/2008

  1. Butch Huber

    Cu-dos to Commissioner Bradshaw for having the integrity not to attend the retreat!

    In reference to the Paddocks…can you say contract zoning? Contract Zoning is illegal and immoral. In my opinion, what happened with the paddocks property is tantamount to the Mayor blackmailing the owners of that property….she “Negotiated” the owners’ “Donation” of up to 8 acres of property. Folks, how do you negotiate a “donation”? “Negotiating a donation” is an oxymoron if you ask me. What you really are doing when you “negotiate a donation” in a situation like this is you are negotiating for your vote! As I remember it, the owners of this property needed Mayor Elam’s vote in order to get the project approved. I believe it was about to be disapproved until the mayor announced just before the final vote that the owners of the property had “Graciously” offered to donate up to 8 acres of land to the city. Folks, the terms “Graciously offered” and “Negotiated” don’t belong in the same category. They either “graciously offered to give the city up to 8 acres of land” or “Mayor Elam negotiated a deal with them for her vote for the project”, but not both.
    Let’s look at another item.
    When you look at how things are structured in a deal and how things are said it tells you something about the posture of the people making the deal. Here is what I mean. The way I analyze this deal is this: It is said that the owners of the property are willing to “Donate” “up to 8 acres”. It doesn’t say that they will “donate” 8 acres, it says that they will donate “up to” 8 acres. I read that this way…”we need to get this project approved, Mayor Elam, and we know we need your vote in order to get our approval. You are holding us over a barrel, strong-arming us, wanting us to give you our property in return for your vote. We realize that in order to get this approved have to give in to your demand, so, we will give you as little of our property as we absolutely have to give you in order to win your vote. If you will stop twisting our arms, and if you can get this project approved for us, we will give you up to 8 acres of land. We don’t “want” to give you anything, but it appears, based on what we are seeing and what you are telling us, that our project is going to be disapproved if we don’t bow to your demands. So, so if we have to give you something for this to move forward, we will give you up to 8 acres.” You might read that a different way, but that is how I read it. Had they wanted to give the city 8 acres of land in a simple altruistic gesture or as a “gracious” gift, I believe they would have simply said “We want to be good partners with the city of Mt. Juliet. We know the city needs land to build a police station on, so we would like to help. We are giving the city 8 acres of land to use as the city determines to be in the best interest of the city.” no strings attached. I don’t think it would have said “Up to” 8 acres and I don’t think it would have been attached to an approval for the project.

    I see this as “votes for sale to the highest bidder”.

    Here is another key question: “Was Mayor Elam affiliated in any way, shape, or manner, with CRS when she “negotiated” this deal with the owners of the Paddocks?” This is important because if CRS had any interest in that property or interest in developing a similar project, and if the mayor knew of that interest when she was “negotiating” with the owners of the Paddocks, she would have been engaged in highly improper dealings.

    Government should approve or disapprove property based on the merit of the project…not based on what the land owner is willing to “donate” to the city in return for votes. That type of dealing means that those who already have a lot of wealth are a lock to have even more because they are playing with a stacked deck. You should be angry…very, very angry…that this city has approved a project based on the purchase of a vote (or votes) and not based on the merit of the project itself.

    This is why there are open meetings laws. I can’t be for sure what exactly happened in the meeting between Mayor Elam and the owners of the Paddocks property because they did their dealings “behind closed doors”. All we got from that meeting is that they are willing to “Donate” up to 8 acres of land. Part of my job as a citizen is to watch our public officials to ensure that they are not up to mischief…if they do their dealings in private how can I do my job?

    If the mayor wants to negotiate with a builder the time and place to do it is in a commission meeting (Where we can see what is taking place). The only place where the commissioners have any power or authority is in a properly called meeting. When the commissioners act on matters outside a regularly called meeting they are exceeding their authority.

    Exceeding one’s authority is an abuse of one’s office.

  2. Raytears

    I agree with you 100%

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