The Mt. Juliet City Commission (or, more accurately five individuals purporting to be the Mt. Juliet City Commission) met on Monday night at City Hall and approved a Master Development Agreement and Lease with the YMCA for eight acres of the old Mt. Juliet Elementary School site.
The action on Monday night is ridiculous and wrong-headed to start with. The County probably won’t sell the land to the City on the terms proposed, but aside from that the City Commission has once again revealed itself to be reckless and willing to violate state law, Roberts’ Rules, and common sense.
Why Ed “Davy Crockett” Hagerty (Commissioner-YMCA) has suddenly decided to park all of his small-government principles and lead the charge to approve this ridiculous deal is but one of many mysteries.
Former Commissioner Ray “Some people just shouldn’t be arrested” Justice (Commissioner-Little League) at least can claim to have consistently supported every hare-brained scheme to build a park in Mt. Juliet that has ever been presented to the Commission.
Will “I did NOT say ‘worry'” Sellers’ (Commissioner-Linda Elam) support for the project is another mystery.
But the action purportedly taken on Monday night is invalid for at least the following five reasons:
- The failure to seat newly elected D1 Commissioner Ted Floyd renders any vote cast by Ray justice at the meeting void. See City Ordinance 97-03 where the terms of City Commissioners are set by ordinance to be “UNTIL the regular Federal November election.”
- Failing to have written certification from either the City Manager or the Finance Director that the funds are available to undertake the expenditures authorized in the ordinance renders it void. See TCA 6-22-128.
- Considering, on second reading, a version of the lease which restored language which had been amended out at the first reading renders the ordinance void. Mayor Elam tried to remind the Commission that they had deleted 6.1(i) and 6.1(ii) at the previous meeting by amendment. A review of the video of the October 27th meeting shows they did amend the agreement, by a vote of 5-0. Yet, the language which had been deleted at the previous meeting was still in the version of the lease that they debated and voted on on Nov 10th. Here’s what they voted on:
Here’s the section of the minutes showing where the highlighted text was amended out at the Oct 27th meeting:
In spite of this, the commission considered and voted on a version of the lease where the highlighted sections had NOT been amended out.
- Amending an ordinance on second reading resets the consideration of the ordinance to first reading – meaning the action taken on Monday night is incomplete at best.
- Approving a lease with a liquidation clause that states “In the event the YMCA willfully refuses to close this Agreement by failing to enter into the Ground Lease, then the YMCA, as its sole and exclusive remedy, may be reimbursed by the YMCA for . . . actual documented costs incurred by the City . . .” may not render the ordinance void, but it certainly ought to embarrass everyone who had anything to do with approving the lease. The City Attorney, the City Manager, and the City Commission are all either grossly negligent, or incompetent, or both.
The full text of the proposed Lease and Master Development Agreement has been posted on the City Website. It’s not pretty.
The City Attorney has (allegedly) carefully reviewed this lease before submitting it to the City Commission.
The City Manager has (allegedly) carefully reviewed this lease before submitting it to the City Commission.
The City Commission has (allegedly) carefully reviewed this lease before voting on it.
Lots of egg on lots of faces.