Headlines from The Chronicle & The Mt. Juliet News, September 24, 2008

The race is on. . .
There was a mayoral forum in Lebanon on Tuesday morning. Marlowe said, “he would not place a property tax until there was a clear understanding of needs and if they can be met with the current fund streams.”

No more signs in public rights of way
Report on the City Commission meeting from Monday, 9/22/2008
The City Commission substituted a new version of the sign ordinance between first and second reading and then passed it. By not voting twice on the substantially new version, the Commission’s action is null and void. Par for the course for this Commission. The major impact of the new sign ordinance is to completely ban ALL signs from the public right-of-way, effective Jan 1, 2009 – so as not to affect this year’s political campaign. The ordinance passed 4-1, with Commissioner Justice opposed. The pay raise for the Commission passed 3-2. Elam changed her vote from “for” to “abstain” between first and second reading. City Manager Randy Robertson was absent from the meeting.

MJ out of gas, MJPD saving on fuel bills
They’re using bicycles and doubling up (2 to a car) on the midnight shift. New chief commented that Lebanon has 83 police officers to Mt. Juliet’s 41 and Mt. Juliet “could use a few more officers.”

Bible Park could benefit MJ as well as Lebanon
Mt. Juliet City Manager Randy Robertson said, “We look forward to assisting Lebanon with securing the park and commend their citizens and leadership in this matter. An endeavor of this magnitude will certainly have positive economic and employment influences on Mt. Juliet.”

Lebanon mayor vetoes resolution to axe MJ fire service
Lebanon City Council’s resolution would have directed the city NOT to provide any mutual aid outside the city limits after April 1, 2009.

Cosby pleads not guilty after fired by MJPD
charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of aggravated perjury.

Elam still on administrative suspension
Law license, suspended on Aug 27, 2008 remains on suspension. “It was an administrative oversight,” she said. Elam added she is not currently practicing law but plans to keep her license current.


Firefighters speak out
Time for city to have its own fire service
WEMA paramedic and firefighter Brent Dyer, President of the Wilson County Firefighters Association addressed the City Commission: “I can’t think of any city the size of Mt. Juliet that doesn’t have its own fire department.” Mayor Elam believes “there is no reason to ask taxpayers to pay for a second command structure and dispatch. It’s a waste of money and duplicates,” she said. She added, “It’s unfortunate William Farmer is trying to win an election by appealing to the basest and most divisive instinct of Lebanon voters. This is nothing other than throwing gas on a fire.”
The MJ News reports in its story that “Last week, a home in Mt. Juliet burned while it took WEMA trucks 10 minutes to respond.” An inflammatory sentence, with a significant factual error. The house was not inside the city limits of Mt. Juliet – it was in unincorporated West Wilson Co.

City passes new signage law
Agrees to pay vacation buy-out in two lump sums

Completion of I-40 intersection calls for celebration
City Manager Randy Robertson called the special day “monumental.” “I’ve been here less than a year, and since I came, we’ve been fighting this traffic,” he said. “Someone had a vision a long way back.”

– Publius

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14 Comments

Filed under Fire Protection

14 responses to “Headlines from The Chronicle & The Mt. Juliet News, September 24, 2008

  1. Butch Huber

    I guess this is the best place to put this.

    In the current edition of the Mt. Juliet News, Mt. Juliet Mayor Linda Elam, when asked about the newest version of the ethics ordinance, referred to vindictive people associated with the previous administration (or some similar gobble-de-goop) as the need for the change to the ethics ordinance.

    First, let me make sure we are talking about the same thing when we use the word “vindictive”. My Webster’s Universal College Dictionary has the following definitions:

    Vindictive: 1. Disposed to revenge; Vengeful spirit. 2. Proceeding from or showing a vengeful spirit.

    Vengeful: Desiring or seeking vengeance: Vindictive. Characterized by or showing a vindictive spirit.

    Vengeance: 1. Infliction of injury, harm, humiliation, or the like in return for an injury or other offense received; revenge. 2. an opportunity for or an instance of this. 3. the desire for revenge; to be full of vengeance.

    Revenge: to exact punishment or exiation for a wrong on behalf of, esp. in a vindictive spirit; to revenge a murdered brother. 2. to inflict pain or harm for; take vengeance for; avenge. 3. the act of revenging; retaliation for injuries or wrongs; vengeance. 4 Something done in vengeance. 5. the desire to revenge; vindictiveness. 6. the opportunity to retaliate or gain satisfaction.

    Retaliation: to return like for like. esp. Evil for evil. To retaliate injury for injury. To requite or make return for (a wrong or injury) with the like.

    Requite: 4: to do or give in return.

    Reckoning. 2: settlement of accounts. 4: an accounting, as for things received or done: a day of reckoning. 5. Judgment.

    Now, keep in mind that Mayor Elam is a lawyer. She is trained in the importance of words. She knows that the words you use can mean the difference between conviction and acquittal. Notice that the word see used to describe the character of her so called attackers…”vindictive”. Now, go back and read the definition for “vindictive”. It says that a vindictive person is one seeking vengeance. Go back and re-read “Vengeance”. It says that a person seeking Vengeance is one who is looking to harm someone in retaliation for wrongs or harms done.

    Here is the trick to all of this…in order to be “vindictive” towards a person, in order to seek “vengeance” against a person, in order to obtain “revenge” regarding a persons actions, in order to “retaliate” against a person, that person has to have first wronged someone. Had Mayor Elam not “wronged” someone, she would have used another word. She knows in her heart that she has done wrong…it comes out in the words she uses. Now she characterizes those who seek justice as being “vindictive”.

    Fact: Kevin Mack was called by John Reitz, the husband of Cathy Reitz, after the complaint of sexual harassment Cathy Reitz had filed against Hatton Wright was determined to be Unfounded and dismissed. Kevin Mack filed a complaint of official misconduct against Mayor Elam for inappropriate involvement in that unfounded complaint, stating that Mr. Reitz had told him that they, he and his wife Cathy, felt “abandoned” by the mayor after the complaint was dismissed. Mr. Reitz showed up at the meeting during which they were dealing with Kevin Mack’s complaint and he stated that he had called Kevin, but that he didn’t know how Kevin had gotten the impression he had drawn from that conversation. The commission dismissed the complaint. Later, John Reitz called me and stated during a telephone conversation that Kevin Mack was right on in what he had put in his complaint and that not only did Linda tell Cathy Reitz “how” to write the complaint of sexual harassment against former public works director Hatton Wright, but that she told Cathy “what” to write. Mayor Elam is on video admitting that she “encouraged” Cathy Reitz to file a complaint of sexual harassment against Hatton Wright. You have to know that at that time Mayor Elam was extremely angry with Hatton Wright due to his embarrassing her in an illegal meeting she had called in an attempt to obtain illegal building permits for Pulte Homes. I think that speaks of “motive” on her part.

    Seeking justice in this matter is not “vindictiveness”, it is reckoning.

    Mayor Elam was censured for her attempt, under color of office, to persuade former City Planner Bobby Franklin to remove an agenda item from the technical review committee agenda. Removal of that agenda item would have helped her secret employer, CRS (a local developer) and it would have harmed another person, which could have set the city up for a massive lawsuit. Hatton Wright filed a complaint regarding this matter and Mayor Elam was censured for her actions. The city commission’s response to this complaint, because Mayor Elam was censured for a complaint brought by someone who didn’t “personally witness” the unethical activity, was to ensure that the new ethics ordinance doesn’t allow a person who doesn’t personally witness an unethical action to file an ethics complaint. You see, under the new ethics ordinance, Hatton wouldn’t have been able to complain about the Mayor’s abuse of office because he didn’t personally witness the call. Remember, the outcome of that investigation was that the mayor was censured! To her, that is “vindictiveness”, to me, that is reckoning.

    The former city manager included a “file to memo” in his deposition regarding his encounter with Mayor Elam in a meeting she requested and regarding the ensuing actions he took regarding the dialog of that meeting. According to his sworn testimony, Mayor Elam told him that it was time for him to resign, that there were two other commissioners who were ready to call a special meeting to fire him for cause, which would have meant no severance package for Rob, if he didn’t resign and that she would vote with them. Mind you that there was no cause for the termination of his employment, but rather it turns out that Rob wouldn’t force Hatton Wright to apologize to the mayor for embarrassing her in the illegal meeting she had called in her attempt to obtain illegal building permits for Pulte Homes so that she could get a six figure donation for a ladder truck (fire truck) for the city, a fire truck, that at the time would have only benefitted her, now not-so-secret employer/developer, and she was now ready to force Rob out of office because of it. Now, that “sounds” like vindictiveness on her part, but it isn’t. That, my fellow citizens, is “abusiveness”. There is a huge difference between “vindictiveness” and “abusiveness”.

    I filed a complaint against the entire commission, the former city attorney, and the acting city manager. They were all derelict in their duties, the Mayor had committed official misconduct on more than one occasion and in more than one manner. Vice Mayor Hagerty and Commissioner Justice had violated the state sunshine laws by deliberating city business outside a properly called meeting of the board of commissioners, as had Linda. Mine was a 29 page complaint that listed details and proof of my claims. They illegally dismissed it, surprise, surprise, but not because I was being “vindictive”, but because the city attorney sent me a letter stating that she saw no reason to initiate proceedings on her own initiative. You should know that the complaint I filed against the City Attorney was that she didn’t initiate proceedings on her own initiative when the violations were so apparent. Had she said anything except that she disagreed with me she would run the risk of an inquiry regarding her conduct by the ABA. Of course she was going to say that she felt I was wrong. However, no matter what she said, the commission had a duty under the ethics complaint to handle my complaint appropriately, which they didn’t, and therefore their actions were “illegal”. However, I was not being “vindictive”, I was seeking “justice”. There is a difference.

    Remember, on November 4th, as you enter the voting booth, that Mayor Elam said it best when she characterized us (those who are seeking justice) as being “vindictive”, and remember, to be vindictive, the person upon whom vengeance is being sought had to have first “Harmed another”.

  2. Chris Sorey

    Yes, it is known as the Huber act…

  3. Butch Huber

    Just like you to make jokes about something as important as political ethics and abuse of office. People have been seriously harmed by this mayor, people who had done nothing wrong to her or to anyone else. She has abused and misused her office again and again. She has brought shame and discredit to this community by going to work for a developer and trying to get the city planner to remove a condition that would help her employer while causing harm to another citizen. Yet you crack sarcastic wise-ass jokes. Keep being you, Chris.

  4. Living somewhere in MJ

    Butch,

    Thanks for all the information regarding the issues of the city. Can I ask are you working for the Mack Campaign? We are fairly new to town and you mention in a lot of posts that the Mack Administration is responsibile for all the growth that has occured and brought all the commercial and residential growth (include my family) to MJ. So with all the articles that has been put out about the issues with emergency services like this week in the MJ News, is former Mayor Mack responsible for not increasing the level of public safety while taking in all the money from us “new” residents? If you take the credit for the good, you must take the credit for things you left behind and didn’t address

  5. Lex Luther

    Living somewhere in MJ,

    You make a very good point. During the Mack administration Mt. Juliet’s ISO Fire Protection Insurance rating improved from a 7 to a 5.

    I remember that quite well because it saved me 120 dollars a year on my fire insurance rate.

    Just so you know, you pay property taxes to the county for WEMA. Fire Protection is, and has been, a county service for decades.

    The county has not kept up in providing better service as Mt. Juliet and West Wilson County has grown, but they have kept up in taking those extra tax dollars. The county does an excellent job taking more money!

    It seems odd to me that everyone is blaming Mt. Juliet for not doing a better job providing a county service. Blame should be focused on those currently taking all the money – the county.

  6. Living somewhere in MJ

    Never thought about it that way. Your right Lex. Now when I shop in Mt. Juliet does none of the money go to Mt. Juliet? I think people blame MJ because we have a police department that is public safety, but don’t provide fire protection when we pay for the sheriffs department along with WEMA. The systems are just confusing. Why would residents pay double for police protection, but not want to pay double for fire protection?? All the articles you read talk about all the growth and money coming in, but the city want’s to take all the sales tax revenue in but doesn’t offer the residents anymore services for shopping here.

    From reading reports about the ISO on the WEMA website the ISO rating was established in 2004, now when did all the commercial building start in places like Providence. It was 2005 wasn’t it? Do you think the ISO rating would be the same now that two new hotels are here, a huge shopping center, and a Walmart/Lowes coming in, and from the last census count another 5,000 people living here?

    Now if I’m understanding the process of planning in this area, is that MJ approves all this development and the county doesn’t have a say, but then the county is supposed to protect all the new growth that they never approved of? Just sounds like a screwy system. Lets add all this stuff and then say WEMA protect it, since your getting property taxes from it. Doesn’t seem fair to me when the county has to focus on the whole county.

    Am I wrong… if so please correct me because I’m learning this as I go

  7. Chris Sorey

    Butch, it is not a joke, it is known as the Huber Act! For what it is worth, you might try laughing every once in a while, or at least smile. What they did with the ethics ordinance is not right, but you’re not exactly “right” either are you Butch?

    Living somewhere in MJ,
    Give me a call and I can try to bring you up to speed and answer any questions you might have as far as the county side of things. We have had an ISO of 5 within 5 miles of a WEMA station for sometime, and nothing the city has done has changed the ISO rating. The station has been there for at least 30 years. Block your number if you prefer to remain anonymous.
    579-6068

  8. Butch Huber

    Living Somewhere in MJ:

    “working for the mack campaign” depends on what you term as working. I support Kevin Mack, but I am not being paid if that is what you mean. I make no secret that I support Kevin. I believe Kevin is the best person for the job. He is directly and/or indirectly personally responsible for the tremendous positive growth of this city. Mayor Elam may benefit by being in position to take all of the credit, but she knows in her heart that she takes credit where credit isn’t deserved. I would attempt to give her credit for the few things she has done right if she would stop trying to steal credit from people like Kevin Mack, Rob Shearer, Bobby Franklin, Debbie Moss, and even Mae Beavers.

    Living Somewhere where in Mt. Juliet,

    Lex is right, Kevin shouldn’t be harnessed with improper coverage because fire protection is a county issue, Kevin was Mayor of Mt. Juliet. After Kevin left office there was a debacle over fire protection in the city. He wasn’t the one on the throne when that issue hit the proverbial fan, Linda was…blame her if a Mayor is to be blamed.

    Somewhere;

    The county can solve the problem of Mt. Juliet growing and causing a strain on the fire department anytime it wants simply by developing proper fire tax districts. The county doesn’t “want” to develop fire tax districts. They want the money that comes from the growth of the city without having to improve fire protection here. We fund fire protection for the rest of the county, not the other way around. I believe that a fair and equitable fire protection service on a county wide basis is the best plan, but if the county wants to develop appropriate fire tax districts I am in on that plan, too.

    The fact that we have a police department is not the basis for an argument for a city fire department, it is a basis against it if anything. That argument would go like this; “we have already taken on our own police protection without the county having to give us a property tax offset, why on earth would we take on fire protection services without a corresponding property tax offset? Why should we have to pay twice for everything the county should be providing?” I believe you will find that police protection issues were one of the main issues that caused the incorporation of the city in the first place. Perhaps we need to look into whether or not we can get some property taxes back from the county to offset our costs for the police department. I suggest you examine the law regarding fire protection, I think you will see that the county is in the wrong regarding this issue.

    Chris,

    I do laugh every once in a while, in fact, I laugh a lot. However, I take what Mayor Elam has done to employees of this city very seriously, and you should too. I have given you opportunity after opportunity to prove me wrong, and time after time you have failed. I don’t want to be wrong, I want to be right, and I have no problem admitting I am wrong when someone proves it to me. But I am not in a habit of saying that I am wrong until I am convinced of it. Point out where I am wrong and I will examine your opinion. If I am wrong, I will admit it, this site has more than one occurrence of my admitting I was wrong.

    Please, understand how serious it is for an elected official to maliciously cause harm to an employee of the government. This is not a laughing matter. Linda gets a pass from the local media on this stuff, she shouldn’t get a pass on Radiofree.

    Let’s face it, the tax and spend crowd is for Marlowe. They want Marlowe because they know that Linda has done a terrible job as Mayor and they know that Mack will never vote for a property tax just because a group of people who stand to be enriched by a property tax want one. If Kevin were to have changed on that one position, property taxes, he would have had the entire development community on his side in this election…but Kevin has integrity, he knows that a property tax is a bad thing for Mt. Juliet unless it is dedicated to pay for a service that the citizens want. A property tax, to really change this city, would have to be very steep. Let’s look at the numbers. If there are 7,500 houses in Mt. Juliet, to raise even two million dollars in property taxes from residences we would have to pay $300 per year. To raise $10,000,000 would require $1,500. How much do we want to spend per year on property taxes? Do you realize that if you give this commission more money they will simply find a way to lose it in the budget?

    Kevin would support a property tax “if” the public voted for it in a referendum. He believes that you and I should be in control of the purse strings, not the government. I believe in that, too. I believe one of the great causes of the problems in this nation is that government has virtually un-limited taxing authority. If they had to work within a budget they would learn how, instead they take out loans, float bonds, and use other instruments to continue to burden the guys at the bottom of the heap. Ultimately it is the guys and gals at the bottom that hold the entire financial structure up, not the guys at the top.

  9. Living somewhere in MJ

    Thanks for the input Chris and Butch.

    So I think from what you noted that Mt. Juliet should basically do the same thing that Lebanon did with their perception of fire protection over-taxing. Do you suggest that the City Commission request payments to the city coffers for what is spent for police protection?

  10. Chris Sorey

    Butch, You misinterpreted what I was saying. I wasn’t talking about correct, I was saying you are not “right” and there is a difference. I am still waiting to see where it says that the county HAS to create fire tax districts as you have said on this forum a few times.

    Either way, I do not plan to argue with you on here or anywhere else. You have the desire to label me as a politician, and by that if you mean I took the risk, ran a campaign, and won an election so that I can get involved in decisions that need to be made, then I guess I am a politician in that sense of the word.

  11. Butch Huber

    Living somewhere in MJ,

    There is a saying that a “fox can whip a skunk, it just ain’t worth it”. I think that the best thing that Mt. Juliet can hope for is that it can use the fact that we pay for our own police protection as leverage to help forge better relations with the other governments.

    Its obvious that the way forward in Wilson County is cooperation and assistance. We need to find ways to consolidate government expenses while at the same time fostering responsible, equitable growth in this county as a whole. We shouldn’t be enemies, or competitors, we should be partners for progress and prosperity. But let’s not fool ourselves, we have many, many years of enmity and vitriol to overcome and it will take Reaganesk style to cross that divide…an olive branch in one hand and a baseball bat in the other. Remember, Reagan didn’t have to build SDI, he just had to convince the Russians he could and he would build it.

    The economic downturn that is expected is all the more reason for the governments of Wilson County, and perhaps even other counties and municipalities to begin to work hand-in-hand to develop strategic and comprehensive initiatives to save tax dollars and develop and foster programs and policy that leads to growth and prosperity through-out the region. What would be wrong with regional development meetings where the public is invited and encouraged to attend?

    The long answer to your question is that, we could probably win the battle about the police department, but it would probably be better for us in the long run to let that dog lie, but point to him so the others know our dog is in the room with us.

  12. Butch Huber

    Did you seem the “forum” tonight? I was there. Wow, did Kevin shine or what? But before I go there, I have to say that it was shameful how the Chamber of Commerce repeatedly tried to steer the forum toward property taxes at every turn. It is no secret that the Chamber Leadership is in favor of a property tax, it would have been better for them to announce that they were going to have a discussion over the efficacy and appropriateness of an increase in property taxes. Of course, in all fairness and propriety, they should have first stated their position.

    Now, I will get off my soapbox about the legitimacy of this “forum” and get on to the substance of the responses.

    Tonight was the first time I have met Marlowe. I have to say that I was surprised that there are people out there who are supporting him for mayor. I am not trying to be harsh, but he just wasn’t alive, he didn’t seem to want it bad enough. He wasn’t focus, he had to search for answers, he isn’t fully in tune with the public, and his answers were either “me too” or they were off-base. Although, I will admit, he woke up during his closing comments for a moment.

    Bradshaw,
    You gotta give him credit, he runs for everything in this county, and in spite of losing a lot, he keeps getting up to the plate. Other than his spirit, he doesn’t seem to offer much except that he wants to be mayor. There is no question about that. Bradshaw seems to have a real heart for Mt. Juliet, but he doesn’t have the solutions and he lacks the leadership skills to lead this city.

    Okay, Okay, I will concede that Linda Elam was mayor when all of the growth in Providence occurred. But that is like, as a friend of mine says, waking up on third and believing you hit a triple. She may have been mayor when it happened, but she didn’t “make” it happen. She knows she didn’t, and if you listened carefully as she spoke, you would have to agree with my assessment. She takes credit for it, but she knows she didn’t create it.

    Until tonight, I thought this race was going to be about Marlowe and Mack, but if enough people were watching tonight, I think Linda made a strong enough showing to split off enough of Marlowe’s vote to make it more of a race between Mack and Elam.

    That is exactly how I want it. I don’t believe that Linda is going to garner enough support to win the day against Mack, but she might have enabled Marlowe to win a split.

    Mack, is back! I don’t think he missed a beat tonight, and he is just warming up. Folks, he created a “me too” out of Linda Elam tonight. Watch the race, they all are following Mack! They are trying to land as close to him as they can…folks, there is only one original, and that is Mack. The rest are cheap knock-offs. Mayor Elam had to fall all over herself to come back and include herself in the Full-time Mayor pen. Mack was there first, and she is now trying to jump over the fence and claim credit for that as well. She is all of a sudden a TABOR (Tax payer bill of rights) fan. She all of a sudden is for home rule. She was against it before she was for it. I guess that should be the new buzz word, “Elam was against everything before she was for it”. Remember, this is the same woman that ran as a fiscal conservative until she got where she wanted to go with the city and then she made the hard left. You might think she changed from a conservative to a liberal, but the reality is she was a liberal in conservative clothing. She has shown her true colors and now she coming back claiming to be a fiscal conservative. Folks, you can’t tell me that you want to build a $20,000,000 facility, turn it over to the YMCA, and then call yourself a fiscal conservative and not lose my respect. It ain’t happening. I would have more respect for her if she would just admit that she is a liberal tax and spend radical that is only constrained here in Mt. Juliet by the pesky conservatives who live, shop, work, and play here.

    Folks, this campaign is really only just now kicking off and already they are all following Kevin. The reason why they follow him is clear, he is the leader. He led this city to the transformation that Linda likes to take credit for. He will lead us through the next four years and he will make up a lot of the lost ground that has been caused by the administration of the “Great Nothingness” of the last four years. It’s easy to take credit for what someone else does when they aren’t around to take the credit for their efforts themselves. Instead of honoring Kevin by continuing the advances he has made, she tried to hang a $20,000,000 aquatics center around our necks. If you put her back in she will call it a mandate to build the aquatics center. She all but admitted that she wasn’t for the YMCA project because it wasn’t the $20,000,000 aquatics center…did you hear it? I did. She said she can squeeze a penny as well as anyone. The budget has grown dramatically over the past several years, (thanks to Kevin, not her) yet the budget is extremely tight. In fact, if it were not for a one time $600,000 boost from some land swap deal, the city might have ended up in the red. In fact, it would be interesting to see where we are with the budget right now. Since the city has become very anti-public records it is hard to tell. However, I have gone over the budget, and it is very possible that by February we might be in the red. That is, unless you vote in Mack and either Floyd or Brydalski. They may be able to keep us afloat until the revenues pick up from the new business that are opening.

    I hope you TIVO’d the forum, if you did, go back and watch it to see if I am not right. Watch for things you have seen on this blog. I saw several. They, I believe, are watching this blog, taking cues from us, and then trying to claim them for themselves. Except Kevin has his own brain. He knows the right path and he is leading the way. They can’t help but follow because they don’t have a plan of their own. I am absolutely thrilled with how well Kevin did tonight.

  13. Lex Luther

    I was actually suprised that Marlowe did so bad. He doesn’t have a very firm grip on any of the issues. There is no way he could lead the existing Mt. Juliet Commission in any direction.

    Elam lost her temper and started preaching. She changed one of her positions between questions. Mack was the only canidate with any vision or ideas.

    I think Mack won, Elam second, Bradshaw third, with Marlowe last. Just my opinion.

  14. Butch Huber

    Lex,

    We agree

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