Vice Mayor Hagerty challenges Mayor Elam’s right to “shred” ordinance

In an email to the City Recorder, City Attorney, and City Manager, Vice Mayor Ed Hagerty has challenged the right of Mayor Elam to have an ordinance “shredded.” Click here to read the full text of the email.

Here’s the relevant portion:

Despite her directive below to alter the ordinance, my opinion is that the
ordinance cannot be changed to read the way she would like. In fact, the
recent vote regarding the Paddocks with its major amendment would probably supercede the 2006 ordinance anyway.

The Mayor is welcome to bring it to the table for a vote. I do not
believe she has the authority nor power to direct the city recorder to
alter the ordinance.

There IS a discrepancy between the text of the ordinance and the description of the conditions as contained in the minutes. And that discrepancy probably should be resolved. Someone should watch and carefully listen to the videotape of the meeting from April 10, 2006. Oh and as an aside, the Mayor and Vice Mayor don’t really have to be “pack rats.” The ordinance and minutes have been available all along on the City’s website – that’s where the two links in this paragraph will take you.

But are the minutes right and the ordinance wrong? Or is the ordinance right and the minutes wrong?

If the ordinance is in error, it would seem that the only proper way to correct it would be for the commission to vote on amending the ordinance. The Mayor certainly doesn’t have the right to have an ordinance “shredded.” In fact, the Mayor doesn’t have the right to direct staff to do anything on her own. (See TCA 6-20-206.) The Mayor, like the other Commissioners, can exercise her power ONLY when the City Commission is meeting. Neither the Mayor, nor the Commissioners run the day-to-day operations of the City. The City Manager does. But try telling that to the Mayor.

And there’s another troubling aspect to this entire affair. Why is Mayor Elam fighting to reduce the amount of land to be donated by the developer? Why is Mayor Elam fighting harder on this issue than the developer is? The developer’s attorney conceded at the meeting Monday night and said, “Fine, we’ll donate eight acres.”

The Developer has stopped fighting and is willing to donate eight acres. Why is the Mayor fighting harder on his behalf than he is?

– Publius

btw: Wasn’t Vice-Mayor Hagerty censured for directing city staff to do something, when he had no authority to do so? How does the Mayor’s action differ from the Vice Mayor’s?

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32 Comments

Filed under ethics

32 responses to “Vice Mayor Hagerty challenges Mayor Elam’s right to “shred” ordinance

  1. Butch Huber

    I believe I posted on this site a while back stating that bad things get worse before they get better. When I was in the Navy I had a negative situation with someone who greatly outranked me. I wrote him up, (Brought charges against him) even though he outranked me, which as you can imagine, caused quite a stir…nobody there had ever heard of a junior person writing up a senior person. Didn’t matter what they thought, I was right and I stood my ground…and a lot of very cold mid-watches (Midnight to four am) watching parking lots in North Chicago in the winter time (Brrr)…my penalty for having the gull to stand up for my rights. They slapped the senior person on the hand…after all…he was wrong and I got the deep freeze: my name was Mudd…for a while. Over the next few months the senior person continued his games…all the while I was informing my chain of command of his antics; only to be told to shut-up and to be ignored. One day, the man went crazy, just simply lost it…they ended up putting him out of the Navy…I told the chain of command this man was out of control and that it would only get worse…they didn’t listen to me and I and a lot of other people (and tax payers) paid the price for their inaction regarding this man. If they would have acted appropriately from the beginning it wouldn’t have been so bad…but they wouldn’t listen.

    What does that have to do with Mt. Juliet? I will tell you. I have tried for three or four years to let the powers that be know that there needs to be correction in this city…but they wouldn’t listen. Perhaps they will listen now. (BTW…I don’t think we have heard the half of this situation yet.)

    People with wrong ethics don’t know they have wrong ethics…so they don’t realize they need correction or that they have done anything wrong. When you allow people of bad ethics to get away with bad behavior it simply reinforces their bad behavior…they get worse and worse.

    This commission has for quite some time, perhaps from the beginning, had some bad element to it that needs to be corrected….but it just keeps being overlooked because “it’s just politics”…but, it isn’t “just politics”!…these are men and women who sit in those seats…they are flesh and blood. Their actions can and have caused great harm to others. If these were accidential glitches in a system it would be one thing…the issue we face are being conducted with volitional intent…and those actions are causing harm to real, live human beings! This stuff is real!

    If this city doesn’t right itself the issues we are facing will get worse and worse…and they will multiply….until their is nothing left except utter chaos…then some type of governing body will have to step in and take over.

    Mr. Haggerty, I applaud your willingness to take a stand…it is time for Mayor Elam to take as graceful a bow as she can and exit the commission. It is time for a full investigation into the goings on of this commission and those surrounding it and bring everything out into the open. It is time for this city to heal the wounds, cut out the cancer, and re-establish law, order and justice in this city. We need a fresh start. Thank you for calling into question what is being done here.

  2. Bobby Franklin

    Be careful Sheila; remember what happened to the last Department Head who spoke out about the Mayor’s ethical lapses?

  3. Ray Justice

    We recently established an ethics commission to look into this type of item. An official investigation may be sent to this committee if someone feels that is necessary.

    Ray

  4. Aunt Bea

    To Ray:

    HA! Good one.

    Aunt Bea

  5. Glen Linthicum

    Ray,

    I would hope that both you and Ed would feel it necessary to do so. What has happend over there? How has it gotten so out of control? Has adding “Mini-me” (Will) really made that much of a difference?

  6. Butch huber

    Ray,

    Let’s face it, it really is going to take the other commissioners to contact the District Attorney General and the TBI and request an investigation into the goings on of this commission. I am certain that if the commission were to ask for a full investigation into all that has happened the citizens of this community would stand behind you…I think you know that I would support you as much as I can. That is what needs to happen and that is what “should” happen. There really isn’t any other way to rectify things and put things in order short of replacing the entire commission and starting over…even then, there needs to be a reckoning. You and the other commissioners were elected to lead…so lead.

  7. Chris Sorey

    Is it really necessary to send this to the ethics committee? I don’t think so. Read the email that was posted here from Hagerty, and that says far more than any ethics committee that was appointed by the commission would ever say.

    If you need someone to say it out loud, then I will. At minimum, a censure is in order. If that isn’t enough, there are other options. Either way, the mayor has done a lot for the city. Problem is, some of what was done was behind closed doors.

    Since Paula Flowers is gone, no need to have 4/5 of the commission to approve this time when things don’t go the way some might want.

  8. Butch Huber

    The damage the mayor has caused in the past year and a half far overshadows any good that she has done.

    This is not the only issue that needs to be dealt with. Members of this commission and the former city attorney have tried to sweep issues under the rug…but I won’t leave them there! Ed Hagerty and Ray Justice were willing to launch an investigation into my complaint…Will Sellers, Jim Bradshaw, and Mayor Elam were not willing….Will Sellers erroneously acted on a letter the city attorney sent me, a letter that didn’t say that there was “no merit” to my complaint, but rather that she saw no basis for her launching an investigation on her own initiative…Jim stuck his head in the sand and simply said that the citizens wanted the ethics issues to stop…ironic that he didn’t mean that the citizens wanted elected officials to stop creating ethics issues. My complaint was valid and should have been acted on….the evidence was overwhelming. Stay tuned….

  9. Butch Huber

    Commissioner Justice,

    Were I to want to file a complaint, to whom would I file…the city attorney as the appointed ethics officer as per the ethical standards policy the city adopted by ordinance and filed with the state ethics commission “or” the city’s ethics commission for which the city has not filed an amendment to its ethics ordinance allowing the formation of an ethics commission with the state ethics commission? This gets really touchy, Commissioner, because if the city were to have someone who is unauthorized by law become involved in an official investigation into a criminal matter it would be a very bad thing I should think.

    Please read the following:

    8-17-104. Standards open to public inspection — Filing standards and amendments with ethics commission. —

    Each entity covered by this chapter shall maintain, for public inspection, the ethical standards of such entity and shall cause a copy of the adopted standards to be filed with the ethics commission. Any amendments or other modifications to the ethical standards shall also be filed with the commission as soon as practical after adoption by the governing body.

    How long is “practical”?

    This city commission was so anxious to stop citizens from being able to take appropriate action to hold elected officials accountable for their misdeeds that the entire commission is now potentially in violation of this state law. See, it just gets worse and worse…doesn’t it?

    Now, here is a Bill Clintonizm for you…what does the term “adopt” mean. My dictionary has a couple of different meanings that could be interpreted as being applicable in this case…one definition is where you take a vote to pass an ordinance, policy, or resolution and that is about all that it says (so I guess you could pass the ordinance and cross the hurdle of the mandated “adoption” of an issue by the mere passing of the ordinance, even though you have no intention of following the mandates of the policy itself and even though you subsequently alter the substance of the ordinance.)….the second definition is where you choose a policy and determine to continue to adhere to it and follow the guidelines under the mandate causing the need for adoption…which do you think was the intention of the next item?

    8-17-106. Removal from office for failure to adopt ethical standards — Violations of standards. —

    (a) Members of a governing body of an entity covered by this chapter who fail to adopt ethical standards as provided in this chapter shall be subject to removal from office as provided in chapter 47 of this title.

    Hmmmm. Do you think that what they were driving at when they were passing these laws was that they wanted the city to vote to pass an ordinance and then completely change it after they pass it without filing an amendment to the ordinance for approval and/or acceptance with the state ethics commission and then do business anyway the city wants to from then on…or…do you think what they were driving at was that they wanted the city to pass an ordinance taking on an ethics policy, file such policy with the state ethics commission, and then follow that policy until such time as the city amends the policy and provides proper notification to, and receives notification of acceptance from, the state ethics commission?

    8-17-106. Removal from office for failure to adopt ethical standards — Violations of standards. —

    (a) Members of a governing body of an entity covered by this chapter who fail to adopt ethical standards as provided in this chapter shall be subject to removal from office as provided in chapter 47 of this title.

    What do you think they mean by removal from office? I get the sense that they are very, very serious about this issue…don’t you? I can only imagine that they intended exactly what they said…the city was to adopt a policy, file that policy with the state ethics commission, and then “adhere” to the policy the city has on file and if any public official or entity violates the mandate they shall be subject to removal from office…I think they are very serious about this….but I could be wrong.

    Now, here is where things really get tricky…if a person files a complaint with the city’s ethics commission, which from what I can tell by looking at the TCA and other items is an illegal entity, at the direction of the commission or a commissioner, wouldn’t that be an inappropriate act? If the ethics commission acts on such a complaint wouldn’t the city be in a heap of trouble? Then there is the issue of Confidentiality: how can an illegal commission be held accountable for not maintaining confidentiality when the very act of submitting a complaint to them would create an exposure? Hmmm, sounds like a catch-22 to me.

    No, I think that since the city commission has not notified the state ethics commission about the city’s ethics commission and its new ordinance regarding the city ethics commission and ethics policy, the old ordinance which adopted MTAS’s ethics policy remains in full force and effect. So, I believe, the appropriate person to handle ethics complaints is the city attorney as per the legal ordinance adopted by the commission. So, it would seem that the city is back to square one…only, it could be argued that the city commission failed to adopt an ethics policy in the sense that the city did not continue to follow established and approved policy when it passed an ordinance appointing an ethics commission for the city and then failed to notify the state ethics commission, which I believe is a violation of state law…but then, I guess the state congress was just fooling when they mandated the adoption of an ethics policy in the first place, right? Besides, I am sure the commission could convince the state ethics commission that it just hasn’t been “practical” to notify them just yet, after all, it has only been about four or five months since the commission passed the ordinance enacting a city ethics commission.

    So, Commissioner Justice, to who would you suggest I submit a complaint in the event I were so inclined?

  10. Ray Justice

    We passed a revised ethics ordinance. It was done lawfully and, to my knowledge, all appropriate entities have been notified of its existence and its content. Again, if any citizen feels there are issues to be discussed or investigated there is an ethics commission that will look into the matter appropriately and relay its findings to the city commission for a final decision. That is the ordinance that was passed by the city commission. I’m not sure what the vote was but I know it was a majority!
    Butch, if you feel you have a complaint then file your complaint with the city manager and he will see it goes through the proper channels.

    Ray

  11. Butch Huber

    Ray,Please observe 39-16-402 Section a (1), Section a (2), Section b, section d, and Section a (4) below then read on:

    39-16-402. Official misconduct. —

    (a) A public servant commits an offense who, with intent to obtain a benefit or to harm another, intentionally or knowingly:

    (1) Commits an act relating to the servant’s office or employment that constitutes an unauthorized exercise of official power;

    (2) Commits an act under color of office or employment that exceeds the servant’s official power;

    (3) Refrains from performing a duty that is imposed by law or that is clearly inherent in the nature of the public servant’s office or employment;

    (4) Violates a law relating to the public servant’s office or employment; or

    (5) Receives any benefit not otherwise authorized by law.

    (b) For purposes of subdivision (a)(2), a public servant commits an act under color of office or employment who acts or purports to act in an official capacity or takes advantage of the actual or purported capacity.

    (c) It is a defense to prosecution for this offense that the benefit involved was a trivial benefit incidental to personal, professional or business contact, and involved no substantial risk of undermining official impartiality.

    (d) An offense under this section is a Class E felony.

    (e) Charges for official misconduct may be brought only by indictment, presentment or criminal information; provided, that nothing in this section shall deny a person from pursuing other criminal charges by affidavit of complaint.

    [Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 1; 1990, ch. 980, § 10.]

    Now, please go back up and read 39-16-402 a (3). I will be pointing out some relevant things regarding your responsibility and how TCA 39-16-402 relates later on…just keep 39-16-402 section a (3) in the back of your mind for a little while, Please.

    Now, Please read the following:

    8-47-101. Officers subject to removal — Grounds. —

    Every person holding any office of trust or profit, under and by virtue of any of the laws of the state, either state, county, or municipal, except such officers as are by the constitution removable only and exclusively by methods other than those provided in this chapter, who shall knowingly or willfully commit misconduct in office, or who shall knowingly or willfully neglect to perform any duty enjoined upon such officer by any of the laws of the state, or who shall in any public place be in a state of intoxication produced by strong drink voluntarily taken, or who shall engage in any form of illegal gambling, or who shall commit any act constituting a violation of any penal statute involving moral turpitude, shall forfeit such office and shall be ousted from such office in the manner hereinafter provided.

    [Acts 1915, ch. 11, § 1; Shan., § 1135a1; Code 1932, § 1877; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 8-2701; Acts 2004, ch. 621, § 1.]

    Now, please note two things from 8-47-101:

    1) It says that any person who willfully commits official misconduct in office shall be ousted from office….it doesn’t say “May be” or “should be”, it says “shall be”, and what did we learn about the offense of Official Misconduct? We learned that any public official who exceeds his or her authority, when such action is intended to obtain a benefit or harm another, is guilty of official misconduct, right? We also learned that any public official who “Commits an act relating to the servant’s office or employment that constitutes an unauthorized exercise of official power”, when such action is intended to obtain a benefit or harm another, is guilty of official misconduct. We will come back to this in just a little while.

    2) It says that any public official who knowingly or willfully neglects to perform any duty enjoined upon such officer by any of the laws of the state shall be ousted from office. Again, it doesn’t say “may be” or “should be” ousted, it says “shall be” ousted from office. Again, we will come back to this in just a little while.

    Now, please read 6-20-206

    6-20-206. Exercise of board’s powers. —

    The board shall exercise its powers in session duly assembled, and no member or group of members thereof shall exercise or attempt to exercise the powers conferred upon the board, except through proceedings adopted at some regular or special session.
    What that is saying is that you are not allowed to exercise or attempt to exercise your powers as commissioner or mayor outside a regular or special meeting. So, if you attempt to exercise your power any other place you are exceeding your authority if by exceeding your authority you intend to obtain a benefit or harm another. This would mean that when the mayor met with the developer of the Paddocks, and as I believe she put it…”Negotiated with the developer as Mayor of the city”, she was exceeding her authority because she was intending to obtain a benefit (The law does not say that the benefit has to be personal…it just says benefit.)

    I guess we should cover 39-16-402 section (c): TCA 39-16-402 (C) says: “It is a defense to prosecution for this offense that the benefit involved was a trivial benefit incidental to personal, professional or business contact, and involved no substantial risk of undermining official impartiality.” Ray, an 8 acre tract of land that is arguably worth more than 2 million dollars is hardly “trivial”, wouldn’t you say?

    Now, Let’s go back up and reread 39-16-402 a (1), a (2), a (4) and b. Get the point? She is guilty of official misconduct…nobody appointed her to “negotiate” on behalf of the city as Mayor…and unless she was appointed by the commission through an official vote and signed resolution she exceeded her authority. If you still doubt me read 6-20-213 below.

    6-20-213. Powers of mayor. —

    The mayor shall preside at all meetings of the board of commissioners and perform such other duties consistent with the mayor’s office as may be imposed by it, and the mayor shall have a seat, a voice and a vote, but no veto. The mayor shall sign the journal of the board and all ordinances on their final passage, execute all deeds, bonds, and contracts made in the name of the city, and the mayor may introduce ordinances to the board of commissioners.

    [Acts 1921, ch. 173, art. 6, § 1; Shan. Supp., § 1997a154; Code 1932, § 3551; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 6-2024.]

    Please show me where it names the mayor to negotiate with developers. I know, you might bring up 6-20-219…which you can read below…

    6-20-219. Mayoral duties required by ordinance. —

    The mayor has the power and it is hereby made the mayor’s duty to perform all acts that may be required of the mayor by any ordinance duly enacted by the board of commissioners, not in conflict with any of the provisions of this charter.

    [Acts 1921, ch. 173, art. 6, § 2; Shan. Supp., § 1997a155; Code 1932, § 3552; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 6-2030.]

    But the commission didn’t adopt an ordinance directing the mayor to negotiate with developers on behalf of the city…did it? Now, the important thing to note is that some government body, I suppose the general assembly, determined it necessary to include the verbiage contained in 6-20-219 in the TCA. Now, why do you suppose they did that? My guess is that they wanted to make sure that the commission had the latitude to conduct appropriate business, and they foresaw a need for a point person in special situations, and they foresaw the possibility that a mayor might be inclined to act unilaterally. They knew that opening the door for a person to act unilaterally would be a bad idea…so they included 6-20-219 to ensure that no mayor could act on his or her own volition, but rather would need full commission authority to act outside the limits of 6-20-213…at least that would be my guess. You see, 6-20-213 and 6-20-219 act in concert with one another to give the commission latitude to do business, but on the most restricted basis practicable.

    Now, please read Article X of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee:

    ARTICLE X. Oaths, Bribery of Electors, New Counties.

    Section 1. Every person who shall be chosen or appointed to any office of trust or profit under this Constitution, or any law made in pursuance thereof, shall, before entering on the duties thereof, take an oath to support the Constitution of this State, and of the United States, and an oath of office.

    Now please read 6-21-103 below:

    6-21-103. Oath of office. —

    Every officer, agent, and employee holding a position upon an annual salary shall, before entering upon such person’s duties, take and subscribe and file with the recorder, an oath or affirmation that such person has all the qualifications named in this charter for the office or employment such person is about to assume, that such person will support the constitutions of the United States and of this state and the charter and ordinances of the city and will faithfully discharge the duties of the office or employment.

    [Acts 1921, ch. 173, art. 7, § 3; Shan. Supp., § 1997a159; Code 1932, § 3556; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 6-2103.]

    Now, I read those two oath of office requirements and I get the clear mental image that you are required as a commissioner, a duly elected official, to take action when you have been made aware of a violation…at least that is what I think they meant when they said ” support the constitutions of the United States and of this state and the charter and ordinances of the city and will faithfully discharge the duties of the office or employment”.

    Now, if I am right…and you know I believe I am…you are required by law to take action, Ray. Now, let’s go back and reread 39-16-402 section a (3): ( I included it below to make it easier.)

    39-16-402 section (3) Refrains from performing a duty that is imposed by law or that is clearly inherent in the nature of the public servant’s office or employment;

    I take that to mean that if you don’t act on knowledge or information that a violation has occurred you are guilty of Official Misconduct, Ray, unless of course you could make the case that you didn’t intend to obtain a benefit or harm another…but then, how is it not harming the owner of the Paddocks to have 8 acres of land taken from him?

    Even so, let’s look on…let’s go back and reread 8-47-101:

    8-47-101. Officers subject to removal — Grounds. —

    Every person holding any office of trust or profit, under and by virtue of any of the laws of the state, either state, county, or municipal, except such officers as are by the constitution removable only and exclusively by methods other than those provided in this chapter, who shall knowingly or willfully commit misconduct in office, or who shall knowingly or willfully neglect to perform any duty enjoined upon such officer by any of the laws of the state, or who shall in any public place be in a state of intoxication produced by strong drink voluntarily taken, or who shall engage in any form of illegal gambling, or who shall commit any act constituting a violation of any penal statute involving moral turpitude, shall forfeit such office and shall be ousted from such office in the manner hereinafter provided.

    Remember where I pointed out the following: “or who shall knowingly or willfully neglect to perform any duty enjoined upon such officer by any of the laws of the state”,

    Even if you were not guilty of official misconduct if you turn your head and don’t do your duty as per your oath of office, you would still be subject to removal from office under 8-47-101.

    Now, let’s turn our focus toward the matters involving shredgate for a moment:

    I think we have proven here that none of the commissioners, nor the mayor, have any power or authority outside a properly called regular or special meeting…Unless of course the mayor has been given additional powers and authority by ordinance of the commission, which I don’t believe she has. So, please explain to me how the e-mail the mayor sent to the city manager, city attorney and city recorder directing them to revise the ordinance regarding the Paddocks and, according to what was in the paper, shred the original signed ordinance is not an example of exceeding her authority (None less tampering with evidence and attempting to destroy a public document.). Please explain that to me, Ray. If you can’t explain it away then she must have exceeded her authority in much the same way that Ed supposedly exceeded his authority when he signed the letter for which he was censured. Exceeding one’s authority, when intended to obtain a benefit (which this order clearly does) is an act of official misconduct….need we go back through the TCA again? And if I am right, and you know I think I am, and you don’t take appropriate action then you are in the very least guilty of knowingly or willfully neglecting to perform a duty enjoined upon you by the laws of the state…which, according to 8-47-101, requires that you be removed from office.

    But don’t worry, Ray, the rest of the commission is in the same boat. You see, we rely on you and the other commissioners to uphold and enforce the law, and when you neglect to do so you create an environment for pandemonium and chaos in local government…much as we now have in Mt. Juliet.

    That having been said, I would be glad to submit a complaint…but if I were to submit a complaint now it would require that I submit a complaint against the entire commission as a body and file a complaint against the Mayor individually. However, you and the other commissioners could just do your jobs and self-discipline and self-regulate the commission (as you are expected to), and I can go about my business. (Well, not quite, there are other issues that need to be settled as well.) Of course, if I have to submit a compliant I will have to start with submitting a complaint with the state ethics commission because you and the other commissioners who voted to amend the city’s ethics ordinance modified the city’s ethics ordinance without properly notifying the state’s ethics commission…which could potentially cause removal from office of the entire commission…or at least that is my take on it anyway. Regardless, considering the way my last complaint was illegally dismissed, I wouldn’t want to leave anything to chance this time around…I would want to make certain the right person got my complaint.

    Now, Ray, I formally request that you and the rest of this commission take what you deem to be appropriate action regarding these matters on your own volition. Perhaps I need to send a formal request to each of you registered mail, return receipt requested.

    Sorry to be so hard, Ray, but I am getting tired of watching this commission violate the law and squash people’s rights with reckless abandon. Ray, you shouldn’t be inviting us to file a complaint…you should take the lead and file your own complaint.

    I don’t want to have to be involved in this anymore than necessary, Ray. I mean you no harm. I am only asking that you stand up and do the right thing. If you think I am wrong then perhaps I will have to submit a complaint…that is certainly not what I want. You are in a much better position to take care of this matter than I am, Ray.

    On a side note, Ray, Official Misconduct is a class “E” felony…are you certain you want to take the chance that your ethics commission is properly trained and authorized to handle such a matter? Besides, I am not sure a violation of the TCA is a matter for an ethics commission anyway…wouldn’t that be handled by the city attorney and/or distict attorney/TBI?

  12. Butch Huber

    Hey folks,

    Just thought you would be interested in seeing some evidence of the mayor violating the sunshine law and other antics that have occurred in this city.

    It is against the law for commissioners to communicate with one another about business before the city unless they are in a properly called regular or special meeting.

    The mayor blatantly disregarded the law when she sent the following e-mail. Also, when she gets to the part about Rob Shearer having been asked to resign…keep that in mind…I will have more in a moment.

    Please read this e-mail and then read the commentary below. Notice who she sent this e-mail to as well.

    —– Original Message —–
    From:
    To: “Ray Justice” ; “Will Sellers”
    ; “Ed Hagerty” ; “Jim
    Bradshaw”
    Cc: “Sheila Luckett” ; “Paula A. Flowers”
    ; “Laurie Everett”
    Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2007 2:05 PM
    Subject: Sonny Griffin’s Complaint

    > To all,
    >
    > I was distressed to learn on Friday of Mr. Griffin’s allegations. These
    > are in addition to Butch Huber’s latest rant.
    >
    > The citizens of Mt. Juliet elected each of us to represent them to the
    > best of our ability in making Mt Juliet the best city we can make it. They
    > did not elect us to have our time wasted again and again with these
    > unfounded and ridiculous charges by people with political and personal
    > axes to grind.
    >
    > Then Mayor Mack installed Rob Shearer as city manager in a very
    > questionable process in 2001. When Mr. Shearer was requested to, and did,
    > resign earlier this year, that should have been the end of it. Instead,
    > he, Mr. Mack, and their cabal have instigated spurious charge after
    > spurious charge against me since April.
    >
    > The original charges were fully investigated and properly dismissed. In
    > fact, if you read the sworn testimony of Hatton Wright, the person filing
    > the complaint, and Rob Shearer, the author of the complaint, you’ll see
    > that both of them had to admit under oath that they didn’t know of any
    > facts to support the charges. Yet, Mr. Huber again wishes to go back over
    > well plowed ground. We do not have the luxury of wasting more time and
    > money just to humor Butch Huber. Remember, every dollar spent on such
    > investigations came directly out of the pocket of taxpayers. I’m sure
    > they’d prefer their hard earned money be spent constructing roads and
    > parks rather than investigating each other for blatantly political or
    > personal purposes. I ask that these charges be given the weight they
    > deserve, which is none, and be dismissed immediately.
    >
    > As to the Kenny Martin situation, perhaps a little background would be
    > helpful in seeing how misguided Mr. Griffin is.
    >
    > I was on my way to a MJHS football game one Friday night in 2005. Mr.
    > Shearer and I talked on the phone during my drive to the home game. He
    > told me that Kenny Martin was in his office and they were discussing Kenny
    > becoming the City’s economic development director and citizen liasion.
    >
    > Mr. Shearer told me that they’d been talking for quite a while and that
    > Kenny was asking him for reassurance in case the new position didn’t work
    > out for some reason. Mr. Shearer asked if I could stop by city hall before
    > going to the football game so that I might join the conversation. I
    > agreed.
    >
    > Upon arriving at city hall Mr. Shearer and Martin filled me in on their
    > discussions. Mr. Martin then began asking me the same questions he’d posed
    > to Mr. Shearer. Evidently our answers were sufficiently in line with each
    > other to put his mind at ease, and he made the final decision to accept
    > the new job Mr. Shearer had offered him after interviewing various
    > applicants.
    >
    > I was thrilled, as I thought Mr. Martin would be a terrific representative
    > for the city.
    >
    > Mr. Martin then requested that Mr. Shearer put what they’d talked about on
    > paper. Rob typed up the letter on his office computer and signed it. At
    > some point Mr. Martin also requested that I sign it. I told him I didn’t
    > see any point in doing so since as Mayor I have no authority over
    > personnel. He said it’d make him feel better, since I had a four year term
    > and city manager’s may change from time to time. I ageed to sign it just
    > to ease Kenny’s mind and to make sure we all remembered his duiscussion
    > with Rob correctly later.
    >
    > Kenny asked me if he should get an attorney to review the letter. I asked
    > him why he’d want to do so. He said to make sure it was a legal contract.
    > I told him he was free to consult an attorney if he wished, buit I could
    > tell him right then that it wasn’t a binding contract. I told him that it
    > was what he’d asked for, a written record of his discussion with Mr.
    > Shearer, and nothing more.
    >
    > At that point the discussion turned to a press release announcing Mr.
    > Martin’s acceptance of the new position and I proceeded on to the football
    > game. I conveyed this same story to Mrs. Luckett and Flowers when Mr.
    > Martin applied for a position in the police department in 2007. I was not
    > involved in the decision making about that application other than to
    > provide background and context.
    >
    > I hope this clears up any questions you may have so that we may use our
    > time in office productively to help this City and its citizens grow and
    > prosper in the best manner possible. As Commissioners, that is our duty.
    > As Mayor, I will accept no less than our collective best. I know each of
    > you join me in that sentiment.
    >
    > Yours,
    >
    > Mayor Elam
    > Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

    Wow…I was on my latest rant…that is what she calls it when a citizen tries to hold a public official accountable…a “rant”. Don’t challenge her or you will be guilty of being on a “rant”!

    Before I go on with other things please rest assured that the mayor’s allegation that I am wanting to just go over plowed ground is inaccurate…in fact, there was page after page of new information and different violations in my complaint that had never been brought forward before my complaint was filed.

    If I remember properly, I believe the mayor denied asking for Rob Shearer’s resignation during a regular meeting back in April or May. I had just made a statement that the events leading up to Rob’s resignation were not as the mayor had stated to the press. She later accused me of making “wildly defamatory” or “wildly inflammatory” remarks. She admits in her e-mail above that Rob was asked to resign…but she also made a press release stating that Rob had decided to resign to pursue teaching and publishing. And I believe, if I am not mistaken, she denied having even met with Rob on the Thursday when he resigned.

    I have spoken to Ray and Ed about the matter of Rob’s resignation…they both have told me that they didn’t authorize the Mayor to address Rob and ask for his resignation…however, according to Rob’s testimony that she not only asked for his resignation, she blackmailed him into resigning! The mayor was not authorized by ordinance to negotiate Rob’s resignation. This is just another case of the mayor violating the law. (Read Rob’s memo to post in his testimony in the investigation into the complaint brought against the mayor by Hatton Wright if you don’t believe me.)

    Here are some other e-mails I think you will enjoy:

    This is from Ray Justice:

    Hi Butch

    I have read the complaint. Which facts are incorrect? It sounded fairly
    accurate to me. The jurisdiction issue is not one I’m familiar with. Truth
    be know, I shouldn’t be corresponding with the other commissioners but I
    don’t see how this complaint can be dismissed without the city commission,
    through the city manager, finding there is no merit.

    Ray

    —– Original Message —–
    From: “Butch Huber”
    To: “Will Sellers” ; “Ed Hagerty”
    ; “Ray Justice” ;

    Sent: Sunday, October 07, 2007 9:24 PM
    Subject: Re:

    >
    > The letter I received from the city attorney states:
    >
    > Dear Mr. Huber
    >
    > I have reviewed your complaint, dated August 27, 2007, which you
    > hand-delivered to me during the meeting of the Board of Commissioners on
    > that date. Even assuming your recitation of “facts” is correct and
    > complete, which it is not, I have concluded that your reliance on cited
    > statutes is erroneous.
    >
    > I have considered your allegations, and I have concluded, in accordance
    > with my duties under Tennessee Code Annotated 8-47-103, that no misconduct
    > or neglect has occurred which is actionable under Tennessee Code Annotated
    > 8-47-101 and case law interpreting cited statutes. Your complaints of
    > criminal violations are not within my jurisdiction as City Attorney so
    > response to those allegations, however inaccurate they may be, is not
    > appropriate.
    >
    > Sincerely yours,
    >
    > Paula A. Flowers.
    >
    > cc: Acting City Manager Sheila S. Luckett
    > Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners
    >

    >
    > Gentlemen,
    >
    > Have you read my complaint?
    >
    > Butch Huber
    >
    >
    > —– Original Message —–
    > From: “Will Sellers”
    > To: “Ed Hagerty” ; “Butch Huber”
    > ;
    > “Ray Justice” ; “Jim Bradshaw”
    >
    > Sent: Thursday, September 06, 2007 9:05 PM
    > Subject: RE:
    >
    >
    > I have not received anything either.
    >
    > ________________________________
    >
    > From: Ed Hagerty [mailto:EHagerty@comcast.net]
    > Sent: Thu 9/6/2007 9:04 PM
    > To: Butch Huber; Ray Justice; Will Sellers; Jim Bradshaw
    > Subject: Re:
    >
    >
    > I have NOT received any correspondence from the city attorney. Has anyone
    > else?
    >
    > —– Original Message —–
    > From: Butch Huber
    > To: Ed Hagerty ; Ray Justice
    > ; Will Sellers
    > ; jbradshaw@cityofmtjuliet.org
    > Sent: Sunday, October 07, 2007 1:12 PM
    >
    > Gentlemen,
    >
    > I just received a letter from the city attorney. I find it interesting
    > that
    > the city attorney is making the determination of the merrit of the
    > complaint
    > against herself. That is like a person being the judge in his own trial,
    > isn’t it? You will be getting a copy of the letter if you haven’t
    > already
    > gotten it.
    >
    > I find it interesting that my complaint was not handled as an ethics
    > complaint when the complaint against Vice-Mayor Hagerty was. The
    > anonymous
    > complaint filed against Ed Hagerty was very basic when compared to my
    > complaint, yet it comes before the Board of Commissioners for the board to
    > determine if it has merrit, has no merrit, or needs further investigation.
    >
    > Have you read my complaint? Need I go back through all the depositions
    > and
    > pull out the issues piece by piece? Are you satisfied with how this
    > complaint was handled?
    >
    >
    >
    > Butch Huber
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > —
    > Internal Virus Database is out-of-date.
    > Checked by AVG Free Edition.
    > Version: 7.5.485 / Virus Database: 269.13.7/992 – Release Date: 9/6/07
    > 8:36
    > AM
    >
    >


    Internal Virus Database is out-of-date.
    Checked by AVG Free Edition.
    Version: 7.5.485 / Virus Database: 269.13.7/992 – Release Date: 9/6/07 8:36 AM

    Folks,

    When the city attorney pointed out that she saw no merit that was actionable under TCA 8-47-101 what she was referring to was the following:

    8-47-101. Officers subject to removal — Grounds. —

    Every person holding any office of trust or profit, under and by virtue of any of the laws of the state, either state, county, or municipal, except such officers as are by the constitution removable only and exclusively by methods other than those provided in this chapter, who shall knowingly or willfully commit misconduct in office, or who shall knowingly or willfully neglect to perform any duty enjoined upon such officer by any of the laws of the state, or who shall in any public place be in a state of intoxication produced by strong drink voluntarily taken, or who shall engage in any form of illegal gambling, or who shall commit any act constituting a violation of any penal statute involving moral turpitude, shall forfeit such office and shall be ousted from such office in the manner hereinafter provided.

    [Acts 1915, ch. 11, § 1; Shan., § 1135a1; Code 1932, § 1877; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 8-2701; Acts 2004, ch. 621, § 1.]

    When the city attorney speaks of 8-47-103 she is speaking of the following:

    8-47-103. Investigation and institution of proceedings. —

    It is the duty of the attorney general and reporter, the district attorneys general, county attorneys, and city attorneys, within their respective jurisdictions, upon notice being received by them in writing that any officer herein mentioned has been guilty of any of the acts, omissions, or offenses set out in § 8-47-101, forthwith to investigate such complaint; and, if upon investigation such person finds that there is reasonable cause for such complaint, such person shall forthwith institute proceedings in the circuit, chancery, or criminal court of the proper county, to oust such officer from office.

    [Acts 1915, ch. 11, § 2; Shan., § 1135a2; Code 1932, § 1878; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 8-2703.]

    Let me read that back to you. What the city attorney is saying is that she saw no merit in my complaint that would prompt her as city attorney to institute proceedings under 8-47-101 to remove the mayor from office on her own initiative. But go back and read 8-47-103… observe where it says; “upon notice being received by them in writing that any officer herein mentioned has been guilty of any of the acts, omissions, or offenses set out in § 8-47-101, forthwith to investigate such complaint”. She never investigated my complaint…I was never deposed, there was never an inquiry of any sort. Perhaps I will post my entire complaint on Radiofree, but I assure you there were many issues that rose to the level of official misconduct, including the mayor’s involvement in forcing Rob Shearer to resign as city manager.

    Now, reread Ray Justice’s e-mail….it says; ” Hi Butch

    I have read the complaint. Which facts are incorrect? It sounded fairly
    accurate to me.”

    Here is what I am telling you…I took the time to write a complaint, I believe about an 80 page complaint (about 70,000 words long) through which I pointed out violation after violation, in intricate detail with evidence to back up my position…and my complaint was dismissed without an investigation of any type whatsoever.

    What the attorney was saying in her letter to me was that she was not interested in investigating my complaint on her own initiative… not that the complaint did not have merit or sufficient merit to warrant further investigation as an ethics complaint.
    My complaint was designed as both a complaint under TCA guidelines and as a complaint under the ethics ordinance.

    Here is why is say my complaint was illegally handled and illegally dismissed. For one, the city attorney cannot investigate herself when she is named in an official complaint, I am sorry, but even a child would understand that is not right! For another, The city attorney was not present at the commission meeting during which the commission discussed my complaint. Will Sellers, who never read my complaint, used the letter the attorney sent to me as a basis for his vote to dismiss my complaint…however, the city attorney never stated that my complaint didn’t have merit or sufficient merit under the ethics ordinance to warrant an investigation, she simply stated that she saw no reason to investigate my complaint under 8-47-103…I disagree with her opinion…but regardless, that has nothing to do with the ethics portion of my complaint. You see, an ethics complaint has a much lower bar than one might think…to have merit an ethics complaint need only cite things that have an appearance to a reasonable person that a violation has occurred. The city attorney never rendered a recommendation to the commission as to whether or not my complaint has merit or sufficient merit to warrant further investigation as an ethics complaint…She wasn’t even in the room when the vote was taken!

    Folks, Ray Justice was named in that complaint as a defendant….and even he says that what I wrote seemed accurate! He voted for an investigation that would have required he be investigated as well! That takes guts!

    Ed Haggerty was named in my complaint…he voted for an investigation that would have required an investigation against him as well. Again, that take guts!

    Jim Bradshaw was also named in the complaint and he voted not to investigate saying that the citizens want these ethics complaints to go away. Can you say; “ostrich”?

    Will Sellers was named in the complaint and he erroneously cited the city attorney’s letter to me as being a recommendation for dismissal of the ethics portion of my complaint. Can you say; “incompetent”? How about; “mini me”?

    The mayor was named in the complaint and she voted to dismiss my complaint. Can you say; “self-serving”?

    The city attorney was named in my complaint and she was the investigating attorney….talk about the fox being in charge of the chicken house! Is there any wonder she returned an opinion that there was no basis for an investigation under 8-47-103? She would have been required to direct an investigation into herself!

    Before I submitted my complaint to the commission I informed the commission that the city attorney and all the commissioners, as well as the acting city manager, were named in my complaint. I asked whom the appropriate person to hand my complaint to was and the mayor named the city attorney. (none of the other commissioners intervened to say that my complaint should go elsewhere.)

    Don’t you think she should have recused herself from the investigation and ask that the city appoint a different attorney to handle my complaint?

    You see, Ray, my complaint was illegally dismissed. Now, what would change if I submitted another complaint?

  13. Ray Justice

    For some reason you seem to have missed the entire point of my last post. IF ANY CITIZEN HAS AN ISSUE THAT HE/SHE FEELS NEEDS TO BE INVESTIGATED THEY CAN TURN THEIR COMPLAINT INTO THE CITY MANAGER AND ALLOW HIM TO DIRECT THAT COMPLAINT TO THE NEWLY FORMED ETHICS COMMITTEE. THIS COMMITTEE WAS FORMED TO TAKE THE POLITICS OUT OF THE ETHICS ISSUES. Give it a chance to work, or not, it’s entirely up to you. You asked what is new, that is new. Don’t gripe if you don’t try it. Something that you should know…these issues you raise have been adjudicated before and case law determines their validity. If you would look into Westlaw you would find what the supreme court of our state and our country says about these same issues you raise.

  14. Butch Huber

    Ray, you seem to have missed the entire point of my post…the city never has notified the Ethics commission of Mt. Juliet’s modification of the ordinance it passed accepting the MTAS model for its ethical standards. I don’t believe your ethics commission is a bona fide or legal entity. There are very strict guidelines regarding the ethics issues…and I don’t think that Mt. Juliet has followed those guidelines.

    Therefore, I don’t believe that there is a proper channel right now for handling a complaint were someone to be so inclined as to desire to submit a complaint.

    You are suggesting that I try a channel that I don’t believe is legal…not that I don’t think it would work, but that I don’t believe is legal.

    I have already submitted a complaint through proper channels once before and my complaint was handled illegally, there is no reason for me to believe that an illegal entity could or would handle my complaint properly were I to submit one.

  15. Butch Huber

    Ray,

    You and I both know that there were so many issues brought forward with my complaint that case law can’t wipe them all away…besides, case law doesn’t allow for the improper handling of a complaint…and that is what is at issue here.

  16. Common Sense

    Don’t let him get to you Ray, the first part of the Official Misconduct law that he keeps quoting says that it can only be brought about by indictment. He is simply asking for directions to where they hand those indictments out.

  17. Uncommon Sense

    It completely amazes me how some people cannot see the importance of honesty in municipal government. I hear people say that government should run efficiently, like the private sector. Most of the commissioners in Mt. Juliet even campaigned to set policies that encourage streamlined operations, much like the private sector has, if elected.

    I have a question. Can you name a private business that tries to rehabilitate an employee, any employee, who is caught stealing, embezzling, or doing anything unethical?

    You can’t can you?

    The Mt. Juliet City Commission looks like they have something to hide. The City relies on MTAS all the time. I read somewhere that the city is bringing in a MTAS study group to make management suggestions to help the city streamline operations. It was also widely reported that MTAS was used to screen City Manager applications. The Commission obviously has a lot of confidence in the Municipal Technical Advisory Service. So why did the City Commission almost immediately amend the Ethics Ordinance recommended by MTAS? The one adopted by Mt. Juliet along with 98% of the cities in this state?
    Why hasn’t the city reported the amendment to the State Ethics Commission and asked for approval? Law requires it.

  18. Ray Justice

    I have stated the proper procedure for any complaint. The ethics ordinance has been reported by the city to the state and was actually one of the first in the state to do so. The procedure is what it is. As for indictments…Butch, the direction of travel would lead to the DA’s door. If he doesn’t adhere to your version of the law it could mean your version’s wrong. Ever thought about that?
    Please have a nice day.
    Ray

  19. Uncommon Sense

    Mr. Justice,

    You may believe what you say, you may have been told that the City reported the amendment to the State Ethics Commission. I called the State Ethics Commission February 15th and the the Mt. Juliet amendment had not been reported as of that time.

    You may be confusing the City’s original report to the State when it adopted the MTAS version in its entirety. Here is what TCA requires:

    8-17-104. Standards open to public inspection — Filing standards and amendments with ethics commission. —

    Each entity covered by this chapter shall maintain, for public inspection, the ethical standards of such entity and shall cause a copy of the adopted standards to be filed with the ethics commission.

    Any amendments or other modifications to the ethical standards shall also be filed with the commission as soon as practical after adoption by the governing body.

    Now Mt. Juliet amended its adopted Ethics Ordinance after 3 complaints had been filed and never reported that to the State. It was said during debate of that amendment that too many frivolous complaints were being filed and wasting the Commission’s time! But 2 of the 3 complaints resulted in action by the Commission – the Mayor and the Vice-Mayor were both censured. A .667 batting average will put you in the Hall of Fame in baseball.

    So, the City’s reaction was to change the ordinance because it workd 67 percent of the time? Right

  20. Common Sense

    Hey Butch,

    Maybe you should file a complaint about Elam violating the sign ordinance when her cat was lost too! After all, fair is fair!

    Seriously, you ramble on about so much that most of us skip over it unless we are really bored, but the MTAS comments sucked me in. MTAS is there to advise municipalities. Surely by now YOU should realize that when you give advice, it doesn’t always get taken. For what it is worth, MTAS hates to do the studies you were posting about, because most of the time the municipality shelves it and takes little if any of what the study says to heart.

    I do appreciate the flattery by changing your name to Uncommon Sense. Should I start posting under The Anti-Butch???

  21. Butch Huber

    Common Sense,

    Not that I make it a habit to respond to your dribble, but in this case I will make an exception.

    My posts are not for your consumption, common sense…they are for people who actually want to see their government work the way it is supposed to work. I wouldn’t want to interrupt your game of jacks.

    I too noticed her signs…I found them quite ironic…but I hadn’t said anything out of compassion…but I noticed that you mentioned it.

    Common Sense…I am not Uncommon Sense….and everyone knows you as the Anti-Butch anyway, so go ahead…it would be more accurate than to call yourself “common Sense”.

    However, what you are not recognizing is that MTAS developed a set of ethical standards that cities were allowed to adopt or they could develop their own ethical standards. Almost every government entity in the state adopted the MTAS model and made it their ethical standards ordinance. So much for your position about MTAS and its work, Anti-Butch. Once the city of Mt. Juliet filed its ethics ordinance with the ethics commission they soon went back and amended the ordinance….without informing the Ethics commission of the amendment. From what I understand, when the city met with the state over this issue the city was told that it could adopt the MTAS model or they could develop their own standards, but if the city developed their own standards, or if the city subsequently modified the MTAS model, the city would have to notify the ethics commission of the change as soon as practical. Seems like the state is serious about this to me…how about you Anti-Butch?

  22. Uncommon Sense

    Common Sense.

    I am not Butch Huber so your criticisms of him do not bother me. I am a concerned citizen posting anonymously – like you.

    It does concern me that the Mt. Juliet City Commission changed their Ethics Ordinance so quickly. No other city in the state has amended theirs. It concerns me that the city has not reported that amendment to the State Ethics Commission, as required by law.

    It also concerns me that the Mt. Juliet City Commission has had more ethical problems than any City Commission in this state. Three of five Mt. Juliet elected officials have been publicly censured for unethical behavior. The Mayor recently directed the City Recorder to trash an adopted ordinance that she herself had signed!

    It also concerns me that Mt. Juliet leans on MTAS advice for everything except ethical advice – the advice this Commission is in most need of.

  23. Butch Huber

    Anti-Butch, I made a mistake in my last post…what I meant to say is that the city was told that if they didn’t adopt the MTAS model or if they amended the MTAS model they would have to submit their new version for “approval” by the Ethics Commission.

  24. Butch Huber

    Boy, Radiofree is hoppin tonight!

  25. Butch Huber

    Hidden new Taxes and how they affect you:

    Folks, I just want to point out how our government creates a hidden new tax revenue stream through deals like the Paddocks and how those new taxes cost us twice.

    Every government entity has to have a certain amount of money just to function. That is no different for government than it is for business. Now, government is going to get its money one way or another.

    The city of Mt. Juliet is in the red…so one way to raise money is to take property from developers who want to do business in Mt. Juliet and either sell that land or use it for parks. Either way they go, taking property from developers helps the city offset their cost of doing business.

    However, though some would believe this doesn’t hurt us I assure you it does. Developers are going to make their money or they are not going to do business with the city…that is just good business. So, they raise the cost of their rent to offset their payoff money they have to pay the city. Business owners who rent those spaces are going to make their money as well, or they won’t open shop in Mt. Juliet. So, they raise their prices. We shop in Mt. Juliet, so we get to pay the inflated prices. So there you have it…the city may be extorting property from Mr. Gipson…but you and I are ultimately going to pay for it.

    One of the many problems with this form of taxation is that we don’t get to see the numbers…they are hidden deep in the reports and in such a way that you would have to be a numbers guru to be able to extract them. This is a neat way for government to operate below the radar.

    Another thing that would stand to reason is that developers might become gun shy of doing business here…(That is if you assume that other governments are not corrupt like ours.)…if they don’t come what happens to land values here? You guessed it…they go down. We all saw how things blew up in Mt. Juliet when retail showed up on the scene…our property values went up very quickly as a result. Now, we might not notice a drop in land values…but what is to say that they don’t stop going up a fast as they could have if this government wasn’t corrupt?

    I believe in open and honest government…anything else comes at a great cost to you and I.

  26. Aunt Bea

    Ethics in city government is a strange, strange thing. Mt Juliet city commission members seem to wear censure like a Daytona Beach t-shirt. Ain’t a REAL commissioner until you been caught…..

    As Uncommon Sense has noted, “Three of five Mt. Juliet elected officials have been publicly censured for unethical behavior.” (That would, of course, be Commissioners Justice and Haggerty, and the good Mayor, herself.) But it is worth noting that Commissioner Justice is the only one of three to vote to censure himself.

    Now I don’t get out much, but seems to me that in your average court of law, that would be called a confession.

    Just wondering. how that works.

  27. Butch Huber

    How do you begin to clean up government? We read on RadiofreeMJ of some of the issues we face here, but are the problems isolated to Mt. Juliet? I tend to doubt that they are. In fact, I know that they aren’t. If we only knew the things that our government, at all levels, was up to we would be outraged. I think we all know that corruption exists at all levels of government, but we seldom get a clear picture of the corruption and inequity…but rather a mere shadow of it.

    There was recently a Tom Hanks movie about a United States Congressman who didn’t follow the rules and how his efforts led to the defeat of the Russians in Afghanistan. Perhaps the outcome was favorable, but the means to achieve the outcome were never-the-less illegal.

    As ordinary citizens, as if being an American is ordinary, we have no right to gasp or be outraged when politicians conduct themselves improperly or illegally if at the same time we are unwilling to take a stand against corrupt government. That would be like being angry at the fox because he keeps stealing our chickens, but yet never doing anything to stop him…he is just doing what comes natural to him.

    So, how do you clean up government? I say you clean up government from the bottom up on the national level and, at the same time, from top down on a local level.

    What do I mean? Well, the Mt. Juliet City Commission is right here where we can get to it. We have easy access. We know the things that go on in the open are only the tip of the iceberg…that is typically the way it is with everything, right? As goes the head, so goes the body, right?

    In other words, if the leadership is corrupt then the whole government has to respond to that corruption, and since the commission wields such power, who in city government has the will to stand against them? In fact, we have seen what happens to people who stand against corruption in Mt. Juliet politics…they get fired, forced to resign, and they have unfounded sexual harassment complaints brought against them. (Remember how involved the mayor was with the sexual harassment complaint brought against Hatton Wright? There is more to the story than the public knows. The former city attorney and the mayor have illegally suppressed what is obviously public information in that case…but that is another story.)

    So, if we are ever going to have an non-corrupt government it has to start somewhere, right? To clean up government requires citizen action. Lots of citizen action. But the action cannot be isolated to the voting booth…when you use the power of the vote as a tool for cleaning up political corruption you may be simply trading one crook for another. Not to say that there aren’t some good people who run for public office, but they are far and few between…that is why honest politicians stick out so much when you are lucky enough to get one. We marvel at the sight of an honest politician when it should hardly get noticed…after all, that is exactly what they should be!

    I have recently heard of some things that are going on below the level of the Mt. Juliet City Commission, that if any of it is true, is very, very unsettling. However, if there are leaders at the top of an organization that are corrupt there will, in time, certainly be corruption throughout the entire organization…so, considering what we have seen coming out of the Mt. Juliet City Commission, it should come as no surprise that there could be corruption at the lower levels as well.

    Have you ever heard the expression, “Those two are as thick as thieves”? That is how corrupt people are…they tend to stick together…they become a group…a gang…a good ol’ boy club…a band of thieves. They say opposites attract….and there is some truth to that…but when it comes to thieves and crooks…they are more like vultures to a rotting body…they flock together and devour the carcass.

    Now, have you ever heard of “guilt by association”…I know you have. That is why our momma and daddy always told us to stay away from the bad guy down the street…you become known by the company you keep. I don’t know how deep or wide the corruption in our city government is…but I do know this…there is no way that this city will ever be set right, fully right, unless there is a brand new set of commissioners sitting at that table…commissioners who cannot be connected to the corruption that currently exists (No skeletons in their closet) and commissioners that are not beholden to anyone. Then and only then can justice and order be established in Mt Juliet.

    Here is why we need a new government in Mt. Juliet. If you were a commissioner in Mt. Juliet and you wanted to clean things up how could you do it? Well, you would hope that you could go to the District Attorney if you saw corruption and you could get him to prosecute. If need be you could go to the TBI and seek help, Right? Certainly you could enlist the help of the non-corrupt commissioners, right? Let’s examine that for a moment.

    In politics there is always this little game called “you scratch my back and I will scratch yours” going on. Sounds kind of innocent on the surface…however, what is really going on is “if you will violate the law for me, I will violate the law for you”. In order to get anything done in a corrupt environment you almost have to play that game! At first it is a little thing…like telling a white lie or looking the other way. That is how they hook otherwise honest people in their scheme. After your first sexual encounter you can never again say with honesty “I am a virgin” and once you violate your integrity as a politician you can never say you are an honest politician again…you always have that incident hanging over you like a skeleton in your closet. That is at least until you come clean about your misdeed…if a public official comes clean about what they have done, and the public forgives him or her, then they can go on and say “I am” an honest politician…but what they can never honestly say from the day they commit a corrupt act on is “I have always been an honest politician”.

    So, that is how the game is played…corrupt politicians, in a corrupt government, create an atmosphere where honest politicians cannot accomplish nearly what they otherwise would unless they too become corrupt. You see, the antithesis of “You scratch my back and I will scratch yours” is “you don’t play ball with us, we won’t play ball with you”…or in other words, if you ever hope to accomplish anything you have to play by our rules.

    Now, if the people elected to enforce the rules over corrupt public officials refuse to become involved in the process of cleaning up government it is like shutting the fox up in the chicken house! You know what he is going to do when you shut him up in there, so don’t be surprised when you see feathers sticking out of his snout! Folks, that is exactly what we have in Mt. Juliet.

    Ray Justice has said with his own mouth that General Thompson is not going to get involved in the politics of Mt. Juliet….I believe I remember hearing the same from Ed Haggerty. I know you have read about my conversation with the District Attorney. So what am I saying? I am saying that these five commissioners work under a cloak…they know that they don’t have to fear the District Attorney, (Unless they do something so overtly illegal he has no choice but to become involved.) and without the backing of the District Attorney the TBI is not going to get involved…Folks the TBI told me during a phone conversation that unless General Thompson is going to prosecute if they find something there is no use in conducting an investigation! Here in the city of Mt. Juliet we have the proverbial fox locked up in the chicken coop!

    I say it is time for us chickens to figure a way to open the door and run the foxes out of the coop! In doing so we will become an example for other cities to follow. We can have an honest government if we really want an honest government…the only thing it takes is a little courage and lot of work. Once the top of our government is brought into correction the rest of the body of government will naturally follow. Most people want to be good…there is a saying that “locks are to keep honest people honest”. What that is saying is that honest people tend to remain honest if they operate in a system of boundaries. We need boundaries in our government. The people who work for us need to know that they have a safe environment in which to go to work and they don’t have to worry about their boss, or their bosses boss, getting mad at them and costing them their job because they wouldn’t violate the law or look the other way. The people who work for us in government need to know that they can do the right thing, and that if and when they make the fox angry because they wouldn’t look the other way or do something illegal, somebody will have their back. That somebody has to be “us”…they have nobody else to turn to at this point. The employees of any government should be able to appeal to the public if crime and corruption exists in their workplace. We are their supposed to provide cover for them…and if we fail to provide that cover we are inviting corruption to take over our government. We have already seen what happens to a city manager who stands up to this commission…what chance does Randy Robertson have to bring this government under control?

    Say what you want about Rob Shearer, but I can tell you that those who worked under his direction, and who wanted to hold politicians accountable, knew that he had their backs…so did the commissioners and that is why they got rid of Rob. I think that Rob proved his resolve to stand up for the employees when Ray Justice launched an effort to fire Rob because Rob wouldn’t listen to Ray and fire Bobby Franklin. Rob used the law to stand between the commissioners and the employees. He provided a level of security for the employees of Mt. Juliet. That is not to say that there wasn’t corruption or dissension in his organization…there could have been…but you would be hard pressed to prove to me that he had anything to do with the corruption and you would be hard pressed to prove to me that he ever overlooked corruption in the rank and file of city government. He may not have known about corruption that might have existed in his administration, and he may not have believed it if someone tried to point it out (if it existed), but you would be hard pressed to convince me that Rob Shearer was aware of corruption and yet did nothing about it.

    So, how do you clean up local government? You install new leadership. Obviously getting a new city manager didn’t solve a thing…because the problem wasn’t the city manager. But what getting rid of Rob did do is expose the corruptness of the city commission…now the spotlight is on them.

    There may be 30,000 degrees of darkness, but darkness of any degree is still dark. If a politician volitionally forsakes his or her integrity it is a degree of darkness…it opens the door for corruption to take command of their administration. They all of a sudden have a skeleton in their closet. What is the best thing a politician can do when faced with such a situation? Come clean immediately. Go to the public and admit their mistake….much like Jim Bradshaw did when he said he would take back his vote if he could…he allowed his integrity to be tarnished and later regretted his actions and then appealed to the public. It was to late for him to take it back, but he at least closed the door to corruption. I don’t believe that even one of the commissioners on that commission believe they ever could corrupt Jim Bradshaw with his cooperation. So they belittle him, make fun of him behind his back, make jokes about him, make him look ridiculous, chide him, and attempt to make him look small and insignificant so that they can marginalize him, make him inconsequential. I lost a lot of respect for Jim Bradshaw when he illegally voted to dismiss my complaint, but he didn’t intend to be corrupt…he was weak, but not corrupt.

    Am I saying that the rest of them are corrupt? No. I am saying that the actions of one or two are absolutely corrupt in my opinion and that it is possible that some of the rest have either violated their integrity or they have succumbed to the influences of others who are corrupt and now have skeletons in their closet. They can’t clean up government without being exposed themselves.

    So, what I believe we have here is a system that is hopelessly out of order unless we as citizens step in and use legal and proper means to establish order and justice. The mayor calls it a “Cabal”. According to Webster’s a Cabal is a small group of secret plotters, as against the government or authority. Well, we may be a small group but we are growing in number daily, Mayor Elam. But not much in our so called “Cabal” is done secret, and we are not against government or authority…we are against corrupt government and corrupt authority. But then, I guess you would call the signers of the Declaration of Independence a “Cabal” wouldn’t you, Mayor Elam?

    The way to clean up the national government is simple…it only requires that we clean up about 30,000 local, regional, and state governments first…after all, it is in the local, regional and state governments that the national leaders learn their craft in the first place.

    The time is now, the place is here, and who is you…and me. Let’s fix this problem.

  28. Butch Huber

    Have you read the Chronicle today?

    There is an article where the city manager is blaming Leslie Newman for the error regarding the Paddocks.

    Let’s not hang Leslie out to dry, after all, the commissioners signed this ordinance…Leslie may have or may not have made a mistake…but the commission is responsible…they are the one’s we elected to pass ordinances and when they sign an ordinance they should know what it says. This is just a case of negligence on the part of the commission…or am I to believe that 5 commissioners can’t read?

  29. Uncommon Sense

    The new City Manager might want to read Tennessee Code Annotated 6-21-403. City Recorder – Functions at board meeting. —

    It is the duty of the recorder to be present at all meetings of the board of commissioners, and to keep a full and accurate record of all business transacted by the same, to be preserved in permanent book form.

    Mr. Robertson also might want to educate himself who Leslie Newman is before blaming her for his Recorder’s possible mistake(s).

    She is Tennessee’s Commissioner of Commerce & Insurance and possibly the top legal mind in this State – and absolutely the best City Attorney Mt. Juliet ever had.

    Of course the whole problem here could just be the Mayor catering to developers again.

    Nah.. lets blame this on the Governor’s Cabinet Member.

  30. Common Sense

    The Commissioner of Commerce and Insurance job is a political appointment, and there have been some attorneys in the past who have held that position that were not exactly the greatest legal minds.

    Any guesses who that might have been?

  31. Uncommon Sense

    Well okay, Paula Flowers was no prize in either position but the Governor did show her the door.

    Swapping Paula Flowers for Leslie Newman was like trading a tenth round draft pick for Tom Brady.

    I guess thats the difference in a two-term Governor and a one-term Mayor – draft picks..

  32. Common Sense

    I like the analogy ^^

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