The new IT Director for the City of Mt. Juliet has a conflict of interest

We know this sounds like a broken record (see earlier post on The new City Attorney has a conflict of interest), but what is the City Manager doing?

The new IT Director for the City of Mt. Juliet, Brian Snyder, also proudly lists himself publicly as an affiliate broker with the Keller Williams Realty office in Mt. Juliet. Here’s his info from Linkedin.com:

Brian Snyder’s Summary

I am currently the IT director for the City in which I live, my commute is all of 4 minutes! I also work at Keller William – Mt. Juliet as an affiliate Broker.

He also has a personal web site touting his services as a realtor to the public, http://www.briansnyderrealestate.com. The site conveniently lists his cell phone number as a contact. Wonder how many calls he’s getting during the week while working for the city?

What could the City Manager be thinking?

There is a huge potential conflict of interest. The City IT Director has access to all the PC’s, access to the City file server, and access to all city employee’s emails. He can read the City Planner’s emails. He can read the City Manager’s emails. He can read the City Attorney’s emails. He can read the Mayor’s emails. And with a city where developers are evaluating land deals and development projects every day, would there be any advantage to a realtor to be plugged in at City Hall and having access to all that information?

Does the City Manager not know that the City of Lebanon went through months of headlines and turmoil because Mayor Don Fox’s secretary had a second job as a realtor?

Here’s a an excerpt from story in the Lebanon Democrat from September, 2007 (District Attorney won’t indict Jessen) in which District Attorney Tommy Thompson strongly criticized the city of Lebanon:

Tuesday, the District Attorney confirmed he will not seek indictments against Lebanon Mayor’s Assistant Debbie Jessen, but he did describe the upper levels of the city government as “fraught with conflict.”

Jessen’s involvement as a real estate agent with some high-profile, and high-dollar, developments sparked controversy late last year. . .

We’re sure there are personnel regulations and rules that have something to say about city employees working second jobs. Did the City Manager KNOW his IT Director was working a second job as a realtor? Did the City Manager APPROVE the City IT Director working a second job as a realtor?

– Publius

[news outlets: MUST credit website:Radio Free Mt. Juliet as the source on this story!]

Background
Here are links to Lebanon Democrat stories available online (free registration required):

Jun 20 2006 DA, TBI investigates city
Jul 04 2006 TBI probe sparks ethics reform
Dec 11 2006 AG asks Council for help
Dec 13 2006 Councilors react to AG’s ethics request
Dec 21 2006 Jessen’s role in land deal under scrutiny
May 03 2007 Investigation deems Jessen, Akins-Siens innocent
Sep 26 2007 District Attorney won’t indict Jessen

Advertisements

20 Comments

Filed under ethics

20 responses to “The new IT Director for the City of Mt. Juliet has a conflict of interest

  1. Butch huber

    This city government has lost its collective mind!

    These folks are headed for an investigation, I really thought that I was going to have to lay down in front of a tank or something in order to bring justice in this city, but by the look of things, the elected officials and appointed officials in this city are falling all over one another in a stupid dance that is going to get create a situation where the people who have been protecting them so far will have to distance themselves politically. Without the political cover they have enjoyed so far they will eventually bring an investigation down upon themselves. Perhaps all I have to do is get out of the way. (Remember when I told you that bad things get worse?….they’re getting worse!)

    To the commission, keep up the quality of work you have been producing for a few more months….please! I may get my wish for a brand new commission after all!

    Oh, yeah, Mayor Elam, Ed Hagerty, and Ray Justice, you really solved a lot by illegally forcing Rob Shearer to resign, great work on that one!

  2. Butch huber

    Okay, I went and read the links to the Lebanon Democrat regarding District Attorney General Tommy Thompson’s investigation into Mayor Fox’s assistant’s involvement in real estate deals in Lebanon. I get the impression that he was very displeased with what was going on in Lebanon, so why didn’t we hear from him regarding the Mayor and CRS?

    BTW, if you were watching the commission meeting Monday night you would have seen Jim Bradshaw ask if anybody on the commission had a personal interest in the matter before them. Interestingly, it was Will Sellers who started yelping. Somebody told me of a saying: “If you throw a rock over a fence, and you hit something, it’s the hit dog that yelps.” (I might have screwed that saying up, but the meaning is the same.) I was intrigued by Will Seller’s response to Jim’s question. I knew that the question wasn’t directed at Will Sellers, and I am not “saying” that he has any self-dealing going on, but boy did he yelp. Obviously, with all that has been going on, and considering just how insane it is to borrow $2,000,000 dollars so the city can give the YMCA $1.3 Million dollars, I think Jim’s question was fair. Will Sellers didn’t…he started yelping. HMMM.
    BTW, Ed, doesn’t your daughter teach swimming lessons for the YMCA? HMMM.

  3. Brian Snyder

    Either consitently spell my name right, or wrong… I get less hits on Google when you can’t spell it correctly.

  4. Pingback: Ethics. How To.

  5. Glen Linthicum

    That’s Funny Brian! Welcome to the party. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the conflict of interest issue surrounding your new position. Sometimes we need to agree to disagree so fair warning to all please do not personally attack Brian if he posts. An Brain do not take it personally if we disagree with your thoughts.

    Hey Common Sense! I have heard you are going to run for Ken Holland’s seat. Be careful what you wish for ! But I am glad to see you willing to step up. I may not always agree with your positions on issues but good luck to you.

    I do not know what Chris Sorey’s motivation is for bringing up the assault but, I did chuckle a bit that Butch and he may very well be on the same side of this issue.

  6. Common Sense

    Glen, I was approached Monday night and said thanks, but no thanks. I then talked to someone on Tuesday and decided I will run for the COUNTY district 2 seat. I picked up the petition at the election commission on Tuesday afternoon. Now we just need to get Butch to run for Mayor!

    It is somewhat comical, that a few of us who have posted on here are more or less trying to raise the awareness on what may or may not be the same issues. I think with some it may be personal, maybe not, but either way I just want them to do the right thing, and on some issues, it is not subjective. I think I should also point out that I informed both Robertson and Holleman on the previous Thursday of what was going on, and neither wanted to take any action. I did not want to read the statement to the commission, and had hoped that would take the ball and run with it. I knew better, but gave them the opportunity.

    I realize that a lot of people are curious what my motivation was for bringing up the assault. Ask anyone who has known me, and I think they will tell you, that I don’t need a personal interest to get involved in something that was so blatantly wrong, and given that not one person who was connected with the city followed up, I felt someone should. Again, I informed the city manager and attorney a few days prior to speaking to the commission, and nothing was done. What other options were there to bring this to the “court of public opinion” and get the ball rolling?

  7. Butch huber

    Common Sense,

    According to what has been stated in depositions and in other places, it appears that once Hatton Wright found out what had happened he took action, whether or not he took “appropriate action” is up for judgement, but as I understand it he took some form of action.

    As I understand it the person working for the developer grabbed a city employee by the throat. The term “grabbed her by the throat” of and by itself leaves a lot to the imagination. Did the man leave bruises? Did he cause damage? Did he leave red marks? or was it a soft grip on her throat? Was it actually her throat or her neck? Was it an attack or a grab like one man might grab another by the neck in rough housing? For the record, I believe it was an attack…I believe that what the employee reported was an attack in which a person tightly and forcefully grabbed her by the throat and took control of her body through force. That is what I believe to have happened, but I have never heard, to the best of my memory, any description of exactly what occurred.

    Since I first heard of this attack I have never quite felt comfortable with the outcome of the situation, but in light of the fact that the employee who was attacked never took any further action I felt that she must have believed that it was handled to her satisfaction. Since Chris Sorey stated that he had never met the person attacked or the attacker I can only assume that he feels that more should be done. I asked him what he hopes to see the city do about the situation, but haven’t received an answer.

    No, Chris, I am not running for any local political office…not now, and probably never. Chris, I hope you get what you are looking for on this issue. No man should be allowed to attack a woman and get away with it, and if you think more should be done than has already been done, than I say good luck.

  8. Brian Snyder

    Some party… I feel like I already have a hangover.

    So – let me say this up front – I have only been with the city since December, I know nothing about the things that have gone on prior to my arrival and I don’t know enough to comment on any of it.
    Second thing – As a REALTOR, I took an ethical oath, an oath that I don’t take lightly. I was upfront and honest with every person I interviewed with that I hold a real estate license, and I work part time as a Realtor. As an IT professional, with more than 15 years administrative access and duties – I subscribe to a code of ethics as well. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you do, or even will. I feel like I was portrayed Guilty until proven innocent… is that the way my accuser would run the City? Seems like a very bitter person’s writings…and that was the best thing you could come up with that day? of all the things going on in the City, you could only come up with a working class guy who has to work 2-3 jobs to support his family? Didn’t Rob have two jobs when he worked for the City? With his access and public contact – I think that was a conflict of interest too, how in the world did RFMJ miss that one?
    It would equate the same as me saying that Since Publius has internet access, he must visit adult web sites. It’s flawed and calls into question a person’s character, ethical value, and morale values. I live in Mt. Juliet. I moved here from California, partially because Californians just are not as friendly as those in the Southern states, and the moral values have rapidly declined there. I have two young daughters who live and go to school in this town.
    With that said – do you think I would jeopardize my ability to live in this town by creating public records that could and would be tracked back to City Hall involvement? I have been in meetings where the help of a Real Estate agent came in handy (looking for a property owners phone number), and once I helped with that – I informed my coworkers that although I could do research on a property for the City, it’s not ethical or appropriate, and I referred him to several other agents (Both within Keller Williams and outside KW).

    Let me (try and be more brief than Mr. Huber) point out a few things:
    1. My time cards are public record, I work 45 – 60 hours a week, and do not get OT. At least 3 days a month – I don’t get to see my children or wife because I work from 8am – 11pm broadcasting Commission meetings.
    2. I have so much work to do between creating Census commercials, creating slides for Channel 3, working on our firewall, working on the police camera system, replacing city computers and building new systems, rebuilding old systems, creating an inventory of equipment, creating presentations for City Leaders and Departments, restoring backed up files, moving computer systems during building maintenance, building a new city web structure and site, working with resource groups trying to save money on the city utility bills, negotiating better contracts for copiers, negotiating better contracts for telecom and cellular for 110 employees, supporting Mr. Bradshaw, searching for offsite emergency data recovery options, installing new e-mail content filtering software, broadcasting BOC and PC meetings, and then also taking service and support calls for those 110 employees and the 5 commissioners, that I don’t have time or interest in snooping through network files and folders, and snooping through e-mail. I have been doing this too long – it’s not that interesting to me. I’m the reason you can sit home, and watch the commission meetings, and actually see and hear them now.
    3. Real Estate Sales are public information, and the sales standings are highly sought after for Realtors. Do some research – I have 1 listing, and I have had that prior to coming to the City. I have no sales. Not something I am particularly proud of, but the market conditions have been less than kind.

    It was mentioned about a story in Lebanon involving a realtor and choices they made. So – again I am guilty by association until proven innocent.

    I told the retired Police Chief this afternoon, that besides being attacked on this site, I did gain some valuable suggestions and comments. I didn’t know about having to have the agenda published a week ahead. I am working on that now. I was trying to get the agenda up on the web last week, but it was constantly in a state of flux, as you could tell by the Mayor’s challenges in keeping the correct order.
    I met and spoke with Mr. Common Sense at a City offsite – and I asked him to call me if he had any suggestions, and I told him them that I am working on revamping the cities web site in order to make as much information available to the public, as easily as possible. I think our new design will be a model other localities might want to model – maybe Lakeview could learn something from our new site.
    Now from an insider’s perspective – many departments in City Hall are understaffed. I am actually doing about 2/3rds of the work of a second position, that was vacated in City Hall and not likely to be filled. I don’t know that I have ever had this much work to do, and for about 60% of the salary.
    We don’t work for the City to get wealthy or even comfortable, we work there to help people. I know – a tough idea to swallow. I truly believe every person that is employed for this City, truly wants to help and make life here better.
    Those of you that post here – I believe likely live here. Be part of the Solution. Take a happy pill, let the bitterness of unemployment dissipate, and help move forward. My church has a motto:

    Laugh at it. Learn from it. Let it go.

    I think it’s time that a couple of ya just let it go. Help make Mt. Juliet a better place. If you have a question for me, or a suggestion on how I can improve communication, or Channel 3, drop me a note. I have a lot on my plate – but I am willing to help where I can.

    (Brian stepping off his soap box… mumbling something about Bob Sagat)

  9. Common Sense

    Brian is a stand up guy and the conflict of interest piece on this site is really stretching to find something to post about…

    Butch, even if the victim has not told me that she wants something done, she has told others. If it were your wife, would she tell the people she knows about what happened? Would they tell other people? Of course they would and that is how I got wind of this. As far as who the person was that told me, it was a builder who does not live in MJ. I really doubt she is happy with the outcome of it given that the EEOC is involved. Again, I can only speak for myself, but actions speak for themselves as well.

    What do I want done about this issue? I would hope that we all would want the same thing. It should never happen again, and until we know what actually did happen, and who if anyone acted improperly (which I think from the facts shouldn’t be to hard to figure out that someone acted improperly) how do we make sure that it does not happen again? What’s the old saying, those that don’t know history are doomed to repeat it?

    So Butch, does this mean we are going to play nice now?

  10. Brian:

    Appreciate the restrained tone of your post – which cannot have been easy. For the record, no one has accused you of doing anything wrong. So far as we know, there is no absolute prohibition on city employees having secondary employment. Lots of them do.

    The problem is one of appearances and conflict of interest. The City Manager and Department Heads have the responsibility to insure that there are no conflicts of interest. This is their problem to deal with.

    Also for the record: One result of the investigation in Lebanon was to clear the employees there of any wrong-doing. But a second result was a recommendation by the Attorney General that the city’s ethics code be strengthened so as not to allow the kinds of conflicts of interest that occurred (or even the appearance of conflicts of interest).

    SOME kinds of secondary employment ought not to be allowed because of the appearance of a conflict or the potential for a conflict. You may have to make a choice.

    – Publius

  11. Brian Snyder

    I would agree – some types MAY have or appear to have a conflict. If your really bored and can find nothing noteworthy – then I suppose you can stretch and make suppositions and “what if’s”.

    And I believe the Code of Ethics for the City may already under review… but I’m not involved in that type of business, so I don’t know for sure.

    As far as the choice – it costs me over $212\a month to keep my license, and I’m making no money. The choice would be an easy one.

    I do challenge you to find a positive point to chat on. Find a redeaming quality of our city government, and there are actually many. Play a positive role and help make things better. Working for the City in any capacity is difficult and challenging, let’s not make it more difficult for those of us in the trenches.
    I’m excited that Lowes is coming to town. Traffic may be a challenge – but there will be more than 1,000,000 square feet of retail there. There is also a new campus across from Providence with another 1,000,000 square feet of retail coming I believe. Look how much this small town is growing! It’s exciting. Help be a positive force in our development. Be critical of your government to help improve it – not simply to crush people feelings.
    I don’t like the lime light, that’s why I work in the Server room, and in the control room, and behind cameras. BUT – I’m proud to be here, working towards a better tomorrow for this community. I’m proud to be a positive force. I’m proud the Web site is improving. I’m proud of the comments on quality of the Channel 3 broadcasts. I know I’m having a positive impact. I help people every day. Not everyone can say that.

  12. Butch huber

    Brian,

    I Just read your post from 8:12. We are making a positive change in this city, you just don’t see it. We have tried to clean up this city and set things right using the proper channels. Unfortunately, the proper channels don’t work. If you are looking for some sort of pat on the back for doing your job you might want to get in line. There are a lot of really great people working for this city that have been serving this city and marching in those trenches way longer than you and they have carried many barrels more water up the hill than you. Those people are being supported by what we are doing. Common Sense has his group of people he is standing up for, and I think he is right. Publius is doing what he thinks is right. Uncommon Sense tries to make sure that the commission doesn’t pull a fast one. We are all doing what we think is right and we are all trying to make a positive impact. Just because we don’t talk about rose petals doesn’t mean we don’t recognize what goodness there is in this city. Would you want us to look the other way if you were harmed by this government? I don’t think so. People have suffered harm at the hands of this government, should we just turn our heads, Brian?

  13. Butch huber

    Common Sense,

    We probably won’t be taking any warm showers together any time soon, so don’t take my posts today to mean its time to get the soap.

  14. Butch huber

    Common Sense,

    You’re right about standing up against the city not properly and fully handling the issue with the employee being manhandled by a worker for a developer. Although I think she should have filed charges if she felt that she was improperly treated, you are right that the city should have dealt with it anyway so that the behavior wasn’t repeated.

  15. Brian Snyder

    “Uncommon Sense tries to make sure that the commission doesn’t pull a fast one.”
    Well – in 4 months I have yet to see anything move through the commission meetings with break neck speed. Kind of an oxymoron there… but they are trying.

    “Those people are being supported by what we are doing. ”

    Wow – I failed to recognize that Don Quixote was here. Don’t fool yourself. Your comments and negativity in no way supports all of those hard working people here in town. You simply cause distress and anxiety. I recognize that I will not sway your thinking, I now just find it amusing.

    “There are a lot of really great people working for this city that have been serving this city and marching in those trenches way longer than you and they have carried many barrels more water up the hill than you. ”
    Those same people are showing up, in person at commission meetings to voice their concerns and objections. They show up, and support their cause. I might have to go back through the last few months and review your comments at the meetings, Butch, I’m certain you must have taken some constructive action.

    “Would you want us to look the other way if you were harmed by this government?”

    I guess if I were harmed – I’d stand up for myself. I wouldn’t need you to leave postings on RFMJ to help me… which I don’t really understand how it helps, but I’m certain it must.

    I’m glad you acknowledge the hard work of this Cities employees. They all deserve some additional recognition. On that, we can agree.

  16. Butch huber

    Brian, you are way behind if you think that I haven’t shown up at commission meetings, you obviously don’t know me. Just because I haven’t been there in the past few months doesn’t mean that I haven’t been there ever. Just because you haven’t seen me do anything official doesn’t mean it isn’t coming. Constructive action comes in many forms, Brian. Timing is everything in politics, and since law enforcement won’t hold these politicians accountable, politics is all that’s left…for now.

  17. Glen Linthicum

    Wonderful debate! Brian thanks for posting. Yes, sometimes Butch can be prolific in his posts (War and Peace prolific!) hee hee! And I guarantee you he does come to the meetings and voice both support for and against issues before the Commission. I know first hand that Butch has worked closely with many of the employees down at City hall. You must admit Brian at first blush with all that has transpired in the last year that many are skeptical when we see a possible conflict of interest we probably are quick to point it out. I think it is a great idea to revamp the Cities webpage and make it more user friendly. I am glad to see that you take your oaths seriously and always remember sometimes it is the appearance of impropriate behavior that can be damaging. Just be mindful of that Brian as you make decisions and I am sure you will be a addition to the City staff.

  18. Larry Whitney

    Butch states: “BTW, Ed, doesn’t your daughter teach swimming lessons for the YMCA? HMMM.”

    Ed who?

  19. Brian Snyder

    Ed hagerty.
    Vice Mayor. And I kinow nothing either way.

  20. Butch huber

    Ed Haggerty.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s