Headlines from the Mt. Juliet News, July 23, 2008

Corker visits Mt. Juliet Rotary
Discusses health care, energy and finance

Hagerty announces plan to seek re-election
[Elam still won’t commit to another bid for mayor]
[Justice said he intends to fight for a third term]

City purchase of old MJES site hits snags
“Three city commission seats are up for grabs in the November election. There’s a chance the complexion of the city commission will change dramatically.”

– Publius



Filed under YMCA

7 responses to “Headlines from the Mt. Juliet News, July 23, 2008

  1. Joe Fleenor

    Remind me again … who all is running for Mayor of Mt. Juliet?

    Is it just Wendell Marlowe and Kevin Mack?

  2. Unknown soldier

    Inside info Linda Elam is running.

  3. Butch Huber

    This is going be a lot of fun. She is going to face a lot of very, very hard questions if she does run. Count on it.

  4. Butch Huber

    It appears that the article says they “hit a snag” (I haven’t read the article myself)…if the leaders of this city keep it up the snag will become a political noose, and perhaps a set of very real handcuffs.

    For those who are just joining us, and from what I understand, there are an awful lot of you, there is more to this story than meets the eye; although I am glad to finally see some of this is going into the paper. I have not read the story yet, but I am quite surprised that I was not called about it by the editor considering that I have be hammering on this for months now and she knows it…I offered to bring her up to speed on it.

    I want to make sure that everyone is up-to-date:

    At the intersection of Mt. Juliet Road and Division there used to be a school on the vacant property located at the south-east quadrant of that intersection.

    That school had a mold problem and it had an “old” problem in that it was a fairly old building. The county built the new elementary school on division outside Willoughby Station for the purpose of replacing the Old Mt. Juliet Elementary School (Old MJES) old school. The board of education owned that property at that time, and as I remember, they also owed the county a couple million dollars. I believe they made a swap, the land transferred to the county and the county forgave the debt. Now, the county is in control of the property.

    As I remember, the county (or perhaps it was the board of education) first put the property on the market for $3.1 million. They had a couple bites on the deal, but those deals ultimately fell through. Then, in order to make the land more enticing, they scraped the school building, I believe at a cost of over $900k. Then they ended up putting the land on the market for $2,000,000. Why they didn’t just put the property on the market for $1,100,000 with the school on it I don’t know.

    Ray Justice started talking about how the city should purchase that property (which I believe would have been a great idea.), but his reasoning for purchasing it didn’t seem sound (we didn’t yet know of the land swap deal he was arranging with a local developer….he left that part out.)

    Next thing you know, we have an offer from the county (December 2007.) for the city to purchase that land from them for $2,000,000. They would take $1,050,000 in cash paid over five years and they would take a credit “From” the city to the county for the county’s contribution toward the cost to construct the enhancements to Curd Road at the new high school. The city would have to indemnify the county of any further costs for that project as a part of the land deal as well.

    As all this was going on the city floated a $10,000,000 bond offering for the purpose of building the eastern connector road and to build the new animal shelter. (The bond offering had serious flaws and mistakes on it, and hopefully the SEC is investigating that…I brought them into the loop.)

    At first it appeared to me that the city was trying to use part of the bond money to offset the credit the county would get from the land deal, but then the city leaders were acting like they actually believed the county was “giving” (“donating”) the $950,000 to the city instead of that being a “Credit” toward the construction costs of Curd Road. How in hell they came to that conclusion I will never know, but that is what they were saying. (I’m not saying that I am buying what they are shoveling out, I am just telling you what they were saying.)

    When asked how they were going to make the annual payments to the county, meaning from what money, Ray Justice chimed in and said “the new hotel tax”. Never mind that it wasn’t legal yet for them to use that money that way, the money from the hotel tax won’t be sufficient to pay that bill! (They enacted a hotel tax for the purpose of funding city owned parks and recreation. Then, once they got the tax enacted, they made a shape “left” turn and changed what they were going to use the money for…no smoke and mirrors here folks, just 5 people trying to do an honest and completely transparent job as your city commissioners! Yeah, right!)

    I raised cain over the whole issue. You see, the only way that they could put this deal together was to illegally use bond money to do it. I told them that they couldn’t use bond money for that purpose. They acted like they didn’t know what the heck I was talking about. So, I made sure to let the FBI and the SEC know what was about to take place if they accepted the county’s offer. (The county wasn’t trying to do anything illegal…at least from what I can see. In fact, the county commissioners and the county employees have been nothing but professional in how they have dealt with me. I have nothing to suspect them of because they are very open and they give me any information I ask for.)

    The city commission passed an ordinance directing the city manager to purchase the old Mt. Juliet Elementary School Site and gave specific terms and conditions on how the deal was to be drafted. I contacted the county a couple weeks ago and up to that point nobody had received the city’s offer. HMMM. Never mind that the county resolution offering the land was dead before the city even acted to accept it, the city never formally notified the county that they were interested in the purchase of that land. Folks, several months have passed since the city commission ordered Mr. Robertson to make that offer…why hasn’t he made the offer or at least come back to the commission in a properly called meeting to let the commission and the public know what he is doing? Oh, I remember, you and I aren’t an important part of the process and they talk behind the scenes, I remember now. Our only part in the process is to pay the bill, right?

    Then, I start hearing about some land lease/purchase deal they have been cooking up.

    Folks, we are investing money in this deal, at least in terms of Mr. Robertson’s and Mr. Holleman’s time…which we pay for…to put this deal together so that we can “give” the land to the YMCA.

    I made sure to call enough of the county commissioners to ensure that know that the county resolution to sell the city the property is dead, terminated, expired, extinct, kaput, killed, and no longer valid, and that if they still wanted to sell the city the property there would have to be a new resolution to offer the land or to accept an offer to purchase. I also made sure that they understood that the city was acting like the county was just giving the city a $950,000 donation…they were shocked and assured me that they would not approve anything that didn’t obligate the city to take on the responsibility to pay for the construction costs to enhance the county portion of Curd Road and that the city accept deadlines.

    Now, in order for the city to make this deal happen, they will have to use bond funds to offset any portion of the purchase price of the Old MJES site that is not paid for with cash. The city doesn’t have the money to pay for the land in cash, they can’t obligate the next commission financially on the deal, and they are trying to get some crazy land lease/purchase through the county commission. Fortunately, there are enough people on the county commission that are against the YMCA deal the city is trying to do and that are frustrated with the city because the city commissioners don’t want to take on certain responsibilities the county wants the city to take on, yet the city seems to be willing to give away $1.3 million to the YMCA.

    If they use one red cent of bond money to purchase the old MJES site, especially since I have made sure that they know that would be illegal, they should go to jail. There you go, Ray, I said it. I will be as clear as I can be…if you vote to approve any measure that would use any bond money to pay for any portion of the purchase of the Old MJES site, whether directly through cash payment or through some other contrivance, you should be put in jail. It would constitute the commission of the crime of bond fraud, and if I were to do that I would go to jail, so if you do that you should go to jail….along with anyone else who would vote for such a deal. If you wanted the $10,000,000 bond to pay for the land, you should have included it in the purpose of the bond.

    Folks, it is time for this city to stop playing around with this deal. It was a bad deal from the beginning, and it is still a bad deal. They are going to fool around with this until someone gets arrested over it. This thing is a booby trap just waiting to go off. If they want to purchase the land, and they can find a way to come up with the money legally, fine….let’s buy the property. (But let’s not give it away!)

    We can’t afford it, even if we wanted to purchase it for government uses….unless they want to make changes in the city infrastructure.

    While all of this was going on, the YMCA was made an offer by a very generous Doctor in the city to donate 12 acres of his and his wife’s land located at the Beckwith Road interchange to the Y. I bet the offer still stands.

    The city stole 8 acres of land from the owner of the Paddocks, if the city won’t give him back his land, and if they absolutely have to donate land to the YMCA, perhaps they could give them those 8 acres of land…ironic that they were going to give 8 acres of land at the old MJES site and they stole the same amount of land from the developer of the Paddocks, isn’t it. Would the paddocks be that much more inconvenient than the intersection of Mt. Juliet Road and Division?

    I think they should give the 8 acres back to the developer, and I always will, but if they won’t, they could use it for putting in a sports center…but if they do, they should ensure that citizens of Mt. Juliet get free admission or at the very least, greatly reduced admission…these rookie greenhorns aren’t getting us anything! The very least they should do is ensure that the business owners at Paddocks get free admission for themselves, their families, and the employees that work there and their families. At least the owner of the Paddocks could use that as a perk of doing business with him…shouldn’t he get something out of the deal considering that he paid for it?

  5. Butch Huber

    I have finally read the Mt. Juliet News article regarding the YMCA. Folks, the city is lying to you. I mean they are blatantly lying to you. The article says that the county offered to sell the city the land for $1,050,000. I have read the county resolution that offers the land for sale to the city and I can tell you first hand that it doesn’t say that they are going to sell the land to the city for $1,050,000, it says that they are willing to sell the property to the city for $2,000,000!

    I have taken the resolution to the city attorney, who is quoted in the paper, and I have personally read it to him. He disagreed with my interpretation of what it says. I have taken it to Commissioner Sellers and Commissioner Hagerty and read it to them as well, and they too disagreed with my interpretation. So, I began making phone calls. I called county commissioner after county commissioner. I called the County Executive’s office and I called the County Attorney’s office. I figured that by calling the people who actually voted on the resolution and the person who has to approve the resolution as to form I would be able to find out who is right and who is wrong. I assure you that I am right and the city is wrong. Without exception, every person associated with the county stated that the offer to the city was $2,000,000, not $1,050,000.

    Forget for a moment that the city commission cannot incumber the next commission with a five year loan, the city doesn’t have the difference between what they would pay in cash over 5 years, which is the $1,050,000 and the full price of the purchase, which is $2,000,000. Folks, it is what I have been saying all along…the city will have to pay an additional $950,000, the difference between $1,050,000 and $2,000,000, in the form of an offset, or credit, that is to be applied toward the portion of Curd Road that the county is responsible for enhancing. Every County Commissioner I spoke to agreed with my assessment, as did the county attorney. In fact, they have all agreed that any purchase agreement would include verbiage stating that the city must obligate itself to enhance the Reverse L portion of Curd Road, the county’s responsibility currently, as a condition of the sale and that the city must complete construction by a certain date or they city would have to pay the full $2,000,000! The city cannot enter into any agreement that takes on the responsibility to enhance the reverse L portion of Curd Road because the only way that the city could afford to enhance that portion of the road is to use bond funds to pay for it. If they use bond funds they are going to be committing bond fraud! I have explained this to them over and over, I have asked them where they will come up with the $950,000 to pay down the credit and they sat there silent, refusing to answer me.

    The city is playing some sort of game. But what they are really doing is poking the county in the eye. The county made a good faith gesture to sell the city the property for $2,000,000, when the land is probably worth more like $2.8 to $3.8 million, they agreed to allow the city to pay back $1,050,000 of the price over a five year period with no interest, and they (the county) would assign the remaining $950,000 toward their obligation to enhance the road outside the new high school and that $950,000 assignment would be made in the form of a credit from the city to the county. Now, the city is acting like the county offered the land to the city for $1,050,000 with no other condition! Not only is that deceptive, it is a slap in the face of the county commission. Now, having the county angry at Ray Justice, Linda Elam, Will Sellers, Ed Hagerty, Jim Bradshaw, Randy Robertson, and Jason Holleman is not of concern to me, I could careless about that. But to have the county angry at Mt. Juliet is of concern to me. I am a citizen of Mt. Juliet, but I am also a citizen of Wilson County. If the city alienates the county (as if they haven’t done that already), they put the county at odds with me. This is a case of the city not serving my best interests. I am all for the city standing its ground in the fire protection issue, as long as the city is looking for an “equitable” solution, but to turn around like this and slap the county in the face by lying about the nature of the offer, after the county has made this offer as a good faith gesture to the city, is simply unacceptable.
    The article in the Mt. Juliet News contains a quote from the city saying that “we are going to get this deal done”….I say; “good luck with that one Mr. Robertson”. The city slaps the county in the face and still expects them to want to do the contortions and manipulations necessary for the city to be able to give land to the YMCA?! Yeah, right! Your going to be lucky if the county will even talk to you now.

    Mr. Robertson, you and your staff are spending so much time and energy on this, trying to find a way where there is no way…how about spending that kind of time and energy on building roads instead. We don’t want to give money to the YMCA, we want roads! You were directed by the city commission to offer a specific deal to the county. You haven’t done that. If the deal that was supposed to be offered to the county would be illegal, you have a duty and an obligation to come back to the full commission in a properly called meeting and tell them so. Then they should either vote to continue to pursue the issue further or drop it. But your unilateral (and it must be unilateral, because if you called each commissioner and asked them what they thought you should do, it would still by your decision because they have no power or authority outside a regularly called meeting) decision to continue to develop a manipulation that would allow the city to “make this happen”, is improper, if not illegal.

    I have rights, and one of those rights is to be able to see what my government is doing. When the city manager and the city commissioners do business behind closed doors, there is no way that I can tell if they are doing things properly. Take this issue for example. If the city were to bring this issue into a commission meeting again, lay out the facts for the public to observe, and then vote on what to do from that point, perhaps there wouldn’t be enough votes to continue. Then, rather than Mr. Holleman wasting the tax payer’s money trying to come up with some manipulation that would allow them to construct this deal, a deal that about 99% of the citizens are against, he could spend his time working on how to build roads, or perhaps he could use that time to compile the public records request I asked for.

    Mr. Holleman, have you considered that if the city can’t obligate the next commission, that the county can’t commit their next commission, either? Have you considered that any instrument you and Mr. Jennings might come up with that would allow the city to donate this land to the YMCA, even if you got it through the county commission (Which I assure you that won’t happen…unless you include a $2,000,000 check.) will have to obligate the county’s next commission? I am warning this city that if they do anything illegal to construct this deal there will be an investigation (this goes federal if they do what I believe they will have to do in order to get this deal put through, so they won’t be able to hide behind their amnesty they enjoy here in Tennessee). The county commission has to vote on any measure to offer the land to the city, and if there is anything illegal in it, the county commission would also be culpable in the crime (if they knew in advance of the vote that the measure is illegal). Folks, the county is not going to risk getting itself in hot water so the city can donate land to the YMCA.

    I guess it is now time to start working on the YMCA. I have not made any calls to the YMCA yet, but I guess I am going to have to considering the city won’t relent and use their time to serve the citizens of Mt. Juliet. If the YMCA enters into any deal, when they know that the deal is illegal, or that any instrument or construct that makes up the opportunity is illegal, they will be culpable as well. Let me explain; if you go to buy a car from someone and you know that the person who is selling the car stole the car, you would be guilty of receiving stolen goods if you knew that the guy stole the car, right? However, what if you knew that the guy you are buying the car from actually bought the car from his friend, but that his friend reported the car stolen to collect the insurance money? Would you be guilty of anything if you purchased that car when you knew that it was involved in an insurance scam? Of course you would!
    The YMCA will be guilty of wrongdoing if they enter into any deal that is illegally constructed (If some concerned citizen makes them aware of the illegal nature of the deal…I wonder who might snitch on the city…Hmmmm) I am certain that the YMCA would be more comfortable on the 12 free acres of land that has been offered to them by the good doctor rather than end up embroiled in a legal battle because this city commission and city leadership are just so damned determined to spend our tax money on this land donation! Also, I wonder how they will feel knowing that about 99% of the tax payers are not happy about this deal? Is slapping the very people the YMCA wants to serve the best business deal they can come up on the way into town? I don’t think so…perhaps I need to pay a visit with the YMCA. If I can’t stop the city from doing this very stupid deal, perhaps I can stop the YMCA from wanting to go through with it.

    However, if I can’t get the City to relent, and if by some strange manipulation the city attorney is able to come up with a contortion that makes it past the county commission, and if I can’t get the YMCA to pull out of the deal, I am quite certain I can tie the deal up in court until the next commission is seated…perhaps they will put an end to this. Three months and counting! If there is any element of this deal that is illegal, I will be in front of the grand jury pleading my case and asking them to investigate…I assure you.

    Folks, call your county commissioners and city commissioners and tell them to stop this non-sense here and now. Tell the city commissioners to focus on roads. Tell them to stop trying to spend tax payer money on fixing up city hall, putting up flag poles, and making donations to private non-profit entities and focus on things that serve the public at large, like roads! You can find the county commissioner’ s phone numbers by googling “wilson county Commission”, and you can find your city commissioner’s phone number by going to Cityofmtjuliet.org

    Help restore sanity…make the call.

  6. Joe Fleenor

    The Tennessean just launched a new Wilson County site on http://www.tennessean.com. They’re also launching a Wilson A.M. print section that will be inside the paper every Wednesday. The first day for the Wilson A.M. will be August 20.

  7. Joe Fleenor

    Butch, can you send me your email and phone number? Send it to joefleenor@hotmail.com.

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