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Filed under ethics, Public Records
Tagged as City Manager, Ed Hagerty, Jim Bradshaw, Mayor Linda Elam, Mt. Juliet, Randy Robertson
Folks, I know I said I would work on keeping things brief…I am still working on it…sorry.
I found it interesting how Mayor Elam is reclassifying her involvement with regard to the Paddock’s “donation” of land to the city as “Arranging” for the donation of land to the city; Too late Mayor Elam…you already admitted to having “negotiated on behalf of the city as mayor”!
During commissioner comments Ray Justice states that nobody at this table (The board of commissioners) has the right to negotiate on his or her own on behalf of the city. But what they can do is arrange things to present to the full commission. Ray, you are half-right. You in fact may be authorized to negotiate on behalf of the city…but the mayor is not! (Got your attention now, don’t I, Ray?)
Justice went on to espouse that what Mayor Elam had done in relation to the issue with the Paddocks is to “arrange” for the donation of the 8 acres and for that he backs her up. Paleeaze!
Then, during Mayor Elam’s commissioner comments she characterized her involvement as “negotiating” with the developer, then, after what seemed to be prompting by Commissioner Justice (He was off screen, but it sounds like there was a comment from someone and the mayor turned her attention toward Commissioner Justice and mentioned something about Commissioner Justice and that he wants her to use the word “arranged”.)
The mayor talked about Commissioner Justice’s question to the developer in the meeting during which the developer agreed to donate land to the city…The developer supposedly stated that he was willing to give enough land to put a police station or fire station on.
The mayor also described her dialog with the developer when she negotiated this deal….She stated that the developer had said that he was willing to donate enough land to put a fire station or police department on and that he felt that two or three acres would be sufficient…then the mayor countered his offer and went for up to 8 acres.
Folks, when the mayor countered the developers offer of two or three acres and “arranged” for there to be up to 8 acres of land….she “negotiated”.
Here is why I say she “negotiated” rather than “arranged”. Had the developer simply wanted to give the city land and had the Mayor visited with him to discuss this matter, she would have simply taken in the information he had to convey to the city and then report it back to the city commission. But when she describes her dialog with the Developer during their “arranging” of this deal she counters his offer. (Please ask yourself how this meeting was arranged in the first place. Did the developer call the mayor to arrange a meeting and was it his idea to “donate” land to the city or did Mayor Elam call the developer to arrange the meeting and was it mayor Elam’s idea for the developer to “donate” land to the city. If it was the mayor’s idea for the donation, and considering that the developer only wanted to give as much land as was necessary to build a police station, three or four acres, and the mayor countered his offer, it cannot be classified as anything other than a “negotiation”! Also, please consider that the ordinance that was approved “required” the developer donate 8 acres of land to the city. It can’t be a donation if it is required. If the developer now goes back and claims this as a donation he could possibly be in violation of federal law…couldn’t he? If the city reports this as a “donation” wouldn’t it be falsifying a public document? I don’t know, I am not an attorney…but consider this…if you or I make a donation to a charity and we recieve a benefit from the charity we cannot claim the value of our donation for which we recieved a benefit or we are violation federal law. If this developer is required to “donate” land to the city than it is not a donation but rather it is a “fee”. Get’s really hairy, doesn’t it? Now, if this is really a fee there has to be justification for the fee…doesn’t there? I mean, the city can’t just arbitrarily charge different developers different fees without justification, can it? Remember Mr. Haggerty’s statement about this developer being from “Atlanta”, his statement establishes prejudice. Getting very hairy now, isn’t it?)
Now, if the developer really wanted to “donate” this land to the city than fine….as long as he wasn’t buying votes and as long as the city wasn’t twisting his arm. However, if the developer donated this land through some prearranged deal to buy votes I say that the deal was illegal….now, I don’t think the developer did anything wrong…I think the city is wrong…I just have to leave open the possibility that the developer could be in the wrong here as well. I believe that the mayor did exactly what she has said she has done…she negotiated on behalf of the city and she did so without authorization by ordinance. You see, the commissioners can’t just say…go negotiate with the developer and provide her with authority to negotiate on behalf of the city…they have to do so by passing an ordinance allowing her to do so…it has to be official. It appears, from what has been presented so far, that the mayor and the developer met together to discuss the developer’s project. It appears that during that conversation the topic of the developer “donating” land came up. It appears that the developer was willing to give the city enough land to put a fire station or police station on and that was all he was willing to donate. The developer’s estimate of the land required to meet this condition was two or three acres. (Keep in mind…this man is a developer…he knows what he is talking about.) His position is backed up on the video of the last meeting, and apparently in the minutes of the meeting during which there was a second reading for approval of the project.
Now, please put yourself in the developer’s shoes…you probably would be willing to donate a few acres of land to the city if you were to believe that the land was to be used as a police station or fire department…it would be a benefit to you to have a fire department and/or police department adjoin your commercial development…you get to write off the value of the land, you get added security for your development, you get to look good to the public, and you get your project approved…sounds like a win-win-win when presented that way. However, if you later find out, after you have invested a lot of money, that you have to give 8 acres of land to the city and you find out that you have to give it without restriction, well, that is a horse of a different color. Wouldn’t you be angry?
Mr. Justice…I know that you feel you can “arrange” deals without authorization…and I would agree that there probably is “some” latitude as long as you do things right…but you are skating on thin ice when you get involved like this. The city manager and city staff are the appropriate people to be involved in deals like what is going on here (if at all)…the city manager is the administrative head of the city…when you get involved in his affairs you open yourself up to a lot of potentially nasty issues…including being sued by the city manager!
Also, Ray, when you start poking your head around in things like this you open yourself personally for a major lawsuit by the developer if things go wrong. When you take it upon yourself to “Arrange” deals behind the scene you are working without a net…it is questionable whether your insurance would cover you in a lawsuit if you screw up.
For instance…Let’s imagine (Pretend) that I were a developer and you approached me to “arrange” for me to donate land to the city. Let’s pretend that you stated that the purpose of my donation was so the city could place a city hall on it. Now, let’s pretend that I was willing to donate thee acres of land for this purpose. Now, let’s pretend that I somehow got the “impression” during our conversation that unless I “Donated” land to the city my project would not be approved…let’s pretend. Now, let’s pretend that later on in the process what I intended as a “donation” (wink-wink) of three acres of land…just enough to build a city hall on (Which is what you told me it would be used for, and for which I agreed to donate the land, and for which is in my best interest)…was thrown up in my face and I was now “required” to “donate” 10 acres of land to the city! Now, let’s pretend that instead of building a city hall on the land that I “Donate” to the city, there are no restrictions on what the city can do with the land. I go from “donating” (wink-wink) three acres of land so the city can put a city hall on it to having to give up 10 prime acres of land without restriction! Now, in our little pretend example you are right smack dab in the middle of it…you “arranged” the deal without proper authorization from the city…that means you are peronally on the hook. Now, do you think that I am going to sit back and take it? No, what I would do is I would agree to “donate” (wink-wink) the land to the city so my project can move forward and so that I don’t loose a fortune and then I would sue you in court. I would sue the city and I would sue you personally. Now, what would complicate things for you and for the city is if you were to go into commission meetings and talk about how the deal was “negotiated” and admit to “Negotiating as a public official on behalf of the city”. You see, if you did make that statement you would connect your involvement as a public official with your involvement as a private citizen. If you are involved in anything outside a public meeting the only way you can legally be involved is as a citizen (unless you are appointed to a special committee by resolution or ordinance, and even then you are negotitating as a member of that committee rather than as a commissioner.), but when you make a public statement in a public meeting that you “Negotiated as a commissioner on behalf of the city”, and the city doesn’t distance itself from you, the city becomes liable for your screw-up as well. See, that is how I could sue the city, because it didn’t take action against you for your misdeed. If the city doesn’t say: “Ray Justice, you were not authorized to arrange such a deal on behalf of the city” and then go back to the developer and set things right the city is “involved”. If I were the developer in this pretend deal the very least that I would do is sue for my 10 acres back.
(Note: the example above is purely fictional, any similarity to a real situation is by accident. The example above is for illustration purposes only.)
As for Shredgate…and I am not sure where the word “shred” came from…I heard “trash”…but, perhaps it came out somewhere else in the process. I couldn’t believe my ears…well, I am lying…I could believe them…I am getting to a point where I will believe just about anything about this commission. The mayor, in a public meeting, directs Sheila Luckett to trash an official ordinance and revise it! I know that there was an e-mail, but there it is in living color! Thank you Jim Bradshaw for standing up to her and telling her she is not allowed to “trash” an official ordinance! I found it ironic that the mayor later rebuked Mr. Bradshaw and went on a rant about following Robert’s rules of order and not talking over one another when she just got done directing a city employee to violate the laws of the state! Jim was stepping in and stopping an illegal action that the mayor was directing and she has a problem with him talking over her…what an ego!
Ray, I suppose you would be authorized to negotiate or arrange deals for a regional park because you have been appointed to a special committee to do exactly that…however, the mayor is not appointed to negotiate with developers…therein lies the difference.
You might want to rethink your position about backing the mayor…don’t let your anamosity toward me and others who are trying to hold this government accountable cloud your judgment. (BTW, citing case law doesn’t exhonerate one from having broken a law…case law may mitigate the consequences for having broken a law, and they may point out certain situations to which the law does not apply…but if something is against the law it is against the law. I am sure you are not saying that you and the other commissioners…and the mayor…are above the law…are you?)
You need to stop your pathetic attempts to bait people into conversation with you. If you feel I have broken the law then go the judicial commissioner and get a warrant. Otherwise, you should follow the proper procedures outlined to you. If you refuse to follow those procedures then please stop your incessant whining. You’ve actually managed to hijack what used to be a good site.
Ray, this isn’t about you…how did you get to a point where this is about you? For the record, Ray, I don’t want to file a complaint against you or file charges against you. I know that is hard for you to believe, but I really, really don’t want to file a complaint or charges against you. Yes, I did file a complaint against you in the summer, but I only included you and the rest of the commissioners because I had to…I can’t play favorites or I am a hypocrite…and what I filed against you was very tame. Ray, I think you know by now that I really don’t care how you feel about me or what you think about me…but you have your back up about all of this and you don’t need to…all I am saying is that “if” you don’t do your job I will be forced, IF I file a complaint, to include the fact that you did not take appropriate action in my complaint…it will be you who caused it…not me. (Remember, you asked for this job.) Fact is, I am simply trying to goad you to do your job. YOU were the one on here inviting people to file their complaint…I responded to your post. Again, this isn’t about you, Ray…this isn’t about the other commissioners, either. This is about the mayor’s involvement in something she had no business being involved in and her continued actions to try to remedy her blunder.
But since you want to come on here and say that I am wrong and that I am “whining”, perhaps you would be man enough to prove me wrong. It is easy to post saying that I am wrong, you would be hard press to prove it, Ray.
It is interesting that you are now protecting the Mayor when just a few months ago you were looking for sufficient evidence to bring charges against her that would stick. Makes me question what is going on in the background.
As far as the District Attorney, Ray, I have heard you say from your own lips that General Thompson will not get involved in the politics of Mt. Juliet. I have been told, by a very reliable source, that the District Attorney has the option not to prosecute if he doesn’t want to…I believe this to be true. I don’t agree with it completely, but I don’t doubt my source.
I have personally been told by the District Attorney himself that he has no interest in getting involved in the politics of Mt. Juliet. Ironically, he told me this when I was trying to bring an investigation into your actions four of five years ago. Ray, you know that I cannot persuade the District Attorney to do anything to bring order in this city…so why do you make such silly posts. It has been explained to me personally by the District Attorney and by one of his main people, and I believe by you personally, that his philosophy is that the voters have a chance every four years to fix their political problems. I half agree with him….shocking isn’t it? If the problem is trivial, then it probably is best to let the voters fix the problem…however, these are not trivial matters. I have decided to list the issues one after another on this site so everyone can understand the full magnitude of the issues in this city…look for them soon.
Ray, yes, I can be wrong…contrary to how you think, I am open to the possibility that I could be wrong…not being open to the possibility that one is wrong is a sign of immaturity and lack of intelligence, Ray. But if I am wrong about something it won’t be because you say I am wrong and it won’t be because you want me to be wrong…if I am wrong it will be simply because I am wrong…and shocking as it may seem to you, Ray, I have been wrong before, I lived though it then and I will probably live through it if I am wrong again. If I find that I am wrong about something I will be the first to come on here, as I believe I have in the past, and admit it and apologize. On the other hand, Ray, you are too stubborn, or too up-to-your neck in this whole matter, to admit that you are wrong. (By the way, you are showing signs of someone who is involved…are you, Ray? Did you have something to do with all of this? I wasn’t looking at you before…but now that I think about how you are acting about all of this…perhaps I should look a little deeper. How does the saying go…”me thinks the gentleman protests too much!” or something like that?)
Ray, you can’t tarnish me by your words because all I am after is truth, justice, honor, honesty, integrity, equity and fairness in this city. Anyone who reads my posts and who knows me knows that about me. If what I say stings a little perhaps you should examine yourself and figure out “why” it stings so much.
Let’s examine just one issue, Ray:
This is the fix the city appears to be in at this moment as a result of this deal.
How can this developer file his taxes now? Can he file that the transfer of land to the city is a “gift” to the city of Mt. Juliet? I don’t think so because the commission forced him to give 8 acres of land to the city by ordinance. If the donation was a condition of the ordinance, so how can it be considered to be a donation for tax purposes? I don’t think the developer would intentionally evade or defraud our federal government on purpose, but if he files this as a gift his taxes might be filed incorrectly.
Can the city fill out the paperwork for the transfer of title as a “gift”? I can’t see how it can considering that the city required the “donation” as a condition for approval in the body of the ordinance. If the city doesn’t file the paperwork in a way that would indicate the land transfer was some type of fee then wouldn’t the city be filing fraudulent paperwork? Seems I remember one of the reasons Bobby Franklin was given for having been fired was that he committed fraud (Which he did not) on some grant paperwork (that he didn’t even fill out none-less!)…so if the city manager files paperwork on this property as a “gift”, wouldn’t that be fraud? (Seems I remember that the Mayor and you were both hot on Bobby’s trail over that one.)
If either the city or the developer files the transfer of the property as a “gift” and the other entity files it as a “fee” wouldn’t that spell trouble?
If the city files the paperwork as a fee, and the developer files his taxes indicating that the transfer of the property was a fee, then, for federal tax purposes it would probably be nice and legal…however, that would create another conundrum…what measure or basis would the city use to justify charging a fee of 8 acres to this particular builder on this particular property? (If you can’t justify it, and you take Commissioner Haggerty’s statement about “this developer coming in here from Atlanta and making a gazillion dollars” into consideration, then I believe the developer has a basis for suing for prejudiced (Unequal) application of the law.) Additionally, it would be very hard to go back now and find a way to “justify” the charge of 8 acres as a fee…how suspicious would that be? And if you admit that it isn’t a “donation” then you are at the same time admitting that the mayor “negotiated” this deal with the developer, in other words, if it truly wasn’t a donation then it probably wasn’t the developer’s idea in the first place. (I can’t imagine a developer saying to himself one day, “I think the city of Mt. Juliet needs to charge me a fee of 8 acres of my prime land as a condition for approval of my project.”, can you? Well, perhaps you could imagine it, but I can’t.) That would mean that the city approached him, or the mayor approached him, and demanded this property as a condition of approval! And seeing that the attorney for the developer was trying to make this a four acre gift with conditions, and the commission came back and seemed to insist on the full 8 acres, it would be hard to prove that it wasn’t “required” for the developer to turn over his property to the city.
If the transfer of this property was placed on the ordinance as a condition for approval in error, then you need to go back and revise the ordinance and exclude the donation as a condition for approval…but wait…if you did that the developer might not “donate” his land!
If you want this to remain a donation rather than a fee I believe the only way that can be done is by amending the ordinance to remove the condition for the donation of the 8 acres of land, otherwise, I believe there are some potential serious implications. Sounds to me like you have a real mess on your hands as a commission. What is a commissioner to do?
As far as me hi-jacking this site…haven’t you been paying attention, Ray. I took a long break from posting on this site a while back because others were accusing me of hi-jacking this site…hardly anything happened on this site during that break. No, Ray, accusing me of hi-jacking this site is just something people say to try to persuade me not to post on here…and they do that when what I am saying is getting to them and they don’t like it.
As far as following the proper procedures, Ray…again, when you modified the ethics ordinance and formed the ethics commission you fundamentally changed the ethics ordinance. When you change the city’s ethics ordinance you are required by law to notify the state ethics commission as quickly as practicable. The commission and the city government have not done that, Ray. The amendment to the ethics ordinance is not on file with the state, and you continuing to say that the ethics ordinance has been filed with the state won’t change that fact. Yes, Ray, the city’s ethics ordinance was filed with the state…but then you modified it without notifying the state…which, unless four or five months is considered to be “as soon as practicable”, is a violation of the law! Therefore, there are no proper channels for an ethics complaint. So, IF, I were to file an ethics complaint I would first have to file a complaint against the board of commissioners with the state ethics commission…if I did that then they would be required to take appropriate action (whatever that would be) against this board of commissioners. Is that really what you want me to do, Ray? Why is it so hard for you all to say: “Hey, we screwed up, we didn’t file our paperwork properly” and then remedy the situation? Instead you all try to hide things and sweep them under the rug and act like nothing is wrong; which only makes you look guilty! Continued failure on the part of the city to file the amendment now that you are aware of this lends credence to an assertion that you are thumbing your noses at the state ethics commission…a gesture I would not recommend, Ray.
I will make a deal with you, Ray…call the state ethics commission tomorrow and ask if the amendment to the city’s ethics ordinance had been filed by the time I started posting about it, let’s say, last Thursday. If they say they had it on file my sources and I will verify that fact…if I am wrong I will come on here and apologize for being wrong in my posts…if they had not received it by then you come on here and apologize for being wrong. Again, word of warning…this has already been verified…but you simply won’t accept it…so go ahead and check this for yourself. I trust my sources, Ray. Of course, if you don’t do what I am saying you are admitting by default that I am right and you just don’t want to publicly say you are sorry.
Ray, do you know how silly you look coming on this site and saying that I am wrong without anything to back up your position? I cite law after law, ordinance after ordinance, resolution after resolution, to back up what I say and all you do is come on here and say: “you are wrong.” Is that all you have to contribute? If you think I am wrong bring forth the evidence to prove your position…I certainly am willing to debate you, Ray…bring it on.
I tried to bring the matters that concern me through proper channels so they can be dealt with properly…I was spurned by the commission…now, I am going to bring everything out in the open on this site, Ray. This commission will now be judged in the court of popular opinion and we will let the voters have a crack at it. Perhaps when we get some honorable, honest, and faithful men and/or women on this commission, who have courage and integrity, we will see justice in this city.
This is hilarious!
You can’t watch the Commission meeting on the City’s website, but you can watch it on Radio Free Mt. Juliet. hahahahaha…..
You can’t find the original Ethics Ordinance on the City’s website either, but it is listed on Radio Free Mt. Juliet.
Amazing isn’t it?
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