Headlines from the Chronicle of Mt. Juliet and elsewhere

There really was a City Commission meeting on Monday, November 24th. There’s a two page story about the meeting in the November 26th Chronicle. But there’s no story in the Mt. Juliet News.

chron2008-11-26First step taken to rescind YMCA deal
The City Commission voted 3-1 to approve on first reading an ordinance to prohibit futher action towards purchasing the old MJES property from the county. A resolution, sponsored by Commissioner Bradshaw, to investigate the decision NOT to seat newly-elected D1 Commissioner Ted Floyd at the November 10th meeting died for lack of a second.

Land Use Plan approved, Red Lobster ok’d
At the planning commission meeting held on Thursday, November 20th.  A clarification was added to the site plan for Lowe’s stating that no area of the parking lot may be used as a sales area. The site plan for a “Sherwin Williams Pain Store” [sic] in Mt. Juliet Crossings was approved. Hey, typo’s happen. Still funny when they do. Site plan for Famous Jose’s restaurant on Lebanon Road in Coolview Commons was approved.

from the Mt. Juliet News:

Applications to MJPD hand gun safety course skyrocket
Waiting list now extends to April, 2009. Anticipating hope and change from the Obama administration

‘It’s an ugly eyesore’
A house, relocated from Davidson County, is sitting on a lot on Old Lebanon Dirt Road. Just outside the Mt. Juliet city limits, so it will be interesting to see how Wilson County officials deal with it.

Planners lift Red Lobster’s stop work order
The city’s zoning regulations call for 70% brick on the side facing the street and 50% on the other three sides. Red Lobster has 16% on the side facing the street and 77% on the other three sides. They’re switching from siding to red brick veneer on the street side which will increase the percentage to 45%. The Planning Commission granted them a waiver and allowed them to resume work. They have a projected opening date of Feb 2, 2009. But isn’t granting a variance from a zoning requirement supposed to be a function of the Board of Zoning Appeals?

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3 Comments

Filed under Planning Commission, YMCA

3 responses to “Headlines from the Chronicle of Mt. Juliet and elsewhere

  1. Butch Huber

    Seriously folks, can someone help me understand how the commission could have legally seated Ed and Linda and not seat Ted Floyd? I am simply not seeing a way that they could have done it without breaking a law, or at least an ordinance.

    Here is what the law and the ordinance say, you tell me how there isn’t some level of conflict with a law or ordinance..

    The law says that the new commissioners shall be seated at the first regular meeting after the “Date of Election”. Keep in mind, it doesn’t say “after the election”, “or after the results of the election are declared”, it says “after the DATE of election”. If it said “after the election”, it may be reasonable to include the part of the process that includes “Declaring the election”, which is a function of the election commission. And if the law said “the first regular meeting after the election is declared” it would a no brainer. However, because the law says “after the Date of election” you have to go with what that law says about the term “Date of election”. When you look up the definition of “date of election” in Tennessee State Law it says that the “Date of election” is “the first tuesday after the first monday in the month of November in even numbered years”. So, according to what the law says, using standard American, everyday English, the kind we all (except for lawyers) use in this country, the “Date of the election” this year was November 4th. I say that the “Date of the election” was November 4th because November 4th this year was the first tuesday after the first monday and this is an even numbered year. (I know, I know: “there you go using logic again, Butch”) So, now that we established the “Date of election”, we have to establish when the first meeting after the “Date of election” occurred. Turns out, it was held on the Tenth of November this year. That was the meeting during which the commission did not seat newly elected District One Commissioner Ted Floyd, but according to law, should have.

    Ted Floyd told the commission that he wouldn’t fight them over not seating him, but he did challenge how Linda and Ed could be seated if he wasn’t seated. You see, commissioners are elected to 4 year terms, not 4 years and so many days. There are provisions in the law to allow for the extension of terms under certain conditions, however, there are no provisions in the law for extension of terms under the conditions that existed at that meeting. The law does have a sentence in it that says that their terms will be for four years or until another commissioner is elected and “qualified”, but the term “qualified” does not mean the same thing as the term “Declared”. I see no provision under the law that would allow for the word “qualified” to be translated or ascribed to mean “declared”. The word “qualified” in reference to an elected person being “qualified for office” means, in my belief, that they are “qualified for office”, which is an entirely different matter than being “declared the winner of an election”. The oath of office is speaking of being “qualified” for the office a person is about to enter onto (into), and the law defines what “qualifications for office are”, in fact, it speaks more toward what would cause a person to be “disqualified” than it does toward what would allow them to be “qualified”. In other words, the city had no authority that I can find that would allow them to extend the terms of Ray Justice, Ed Hagerty, or Linda Elam. If I am right, and I believe I am, either Linda and Ed had a right to sit on the commission because they were newly elected and the law says that they should be seated, in which case Ted should have been seated with them “OR” Ed, Linda and Ray were seated illegally because their terms had expired already, and there wouldn’t have been a quorum at that meeting and the meetings shouldn’t have been held. (Bradshaw tried to do the right thing and postpone the meeting until after the election was declared. That way, the first regular meeting of the board of commissioners would have been after the election was declared.)

    Then there is that nasty little City Ordinance 97-3, which I believe to say that the terms of office for our commissioners is “until the election”. Now, that is a little vague, because it may allow them to wiggle and squirm, like only lawyers are able, and say “that means after the election is declared”, but it would be hard to convince me that is what was originally intended when the ordinance was drafted.

    I called the election commission and I spoke with Ms. Harris, and I asked her if she told the city Manager that the commissioners couldn’t be seated until after the election was declared. She told me that she told Mr. Robertson: “I don’t know how someone can be seated before they election is declared, but the law says that they are to be seated at the first meeting after the date of election”. She went on to say that she is not an attorney, and that she went as far as to call the attorney for the election commission (I believe that is the attorney she called) and that she could not give them advise as to whether to seat the newly elected or not, she simply pointed out what the law says and her personal opinion that she didn’t understand how a person could be seated before they are declared, but she agreed that the law says “the first meeting after the date of election”. Ms. Harris went on to tell me that this is a problem across Tennessee in all cities that are City Manager/Commissioner forms of government. You see, the law is different for our form of government than it is for the other forms of government across the state, and only in our form does the law cause such a conflict. This might lead you to believe that Mr. Holleman (our city attorney: the one with the law degree) is right for not having seated Ted Floyd, however, I say that it speaks very loudly to the position that he is wrong. I say that because, if the law regarding the City Manager/Commissioner form of government causes conflict, then it stands to reason that it causes conflict because it is “Different” than the others. If it is as Ms. Harris stated to me, that the rest of the forms of government don’t seat their newly elected until after the election is declared, then it stands to reason that the conflict is caused because we seat our commissioners before they are declared. I was told by a very prominent attorney that there is precedent for not seating the newly elected until after the election, however, I would say that, under our form of government, there is overwhelming precedent for “seating” the newly elected at the first meeting following the “date of election”, irregardless of when the election is declared. When you have overwhelming precedent for doing things exactly as a law is written, and you have perhaps one or two other cases where things are done another way, shouldn’t the basis for decision be the overwhelming majority?

    The city attorney, our city attorney (the one with a law degree) has said: where there are two statutes, and one is more vague than the other, the less vague statute prevails. This is an important distinction, because the law that the city used as a basis for their decision not to seat Ted Floyd only says that the “election commission shall declare the election. The person with the most votes shall be declared elected”. It doesn’t say a thing about seating the newly elected, it merely says that the election commission shall declare the election and the person with the most votes shall be declared elected. Isn’t that provision of the law more vague, when it says nothing at all regarding seating the elected, than the law that states exactly, in great detail, when the new commission will be seated, which is “at the first regular meeting after the DATE OF ELECTION?

    Now, if the law says that the term of office is four years, and considering the fact that as of the 10th of November Linda, Ray and Ed were beyond four years from the time they were seated, and considering that there is also an ordinance that says that their terms are for 4 years, and that their terms go UNTIL the election (Mind you, the City Attorney may be able to say with a straight face that the city ordinance is really saying “until the election is declared”, but that isn’t what it says, it says “until the election”. I could just as easily say that what the ordinance is really saying is “until the date of the election” so that it complies with what is stated in state law. I believe I am right and that the ordinance is saying exactly what the law says, and the law says “Date of Election”, even if the commission that passed ordinance 97-3 didn’t include those exact words.), and if the city had a right to not seat Ted Floyd, by what right or authority did they seat Ray, Linda and Ed? Can someone please explain that to me? Anyone? Anyone?

    Now, if you can’t answer that question, and explain your answer using the law as a basis for your explanation, (I don’t think you will be able to use the law for your explanation…however, if you’re a liberal you could explain it with feelings, emotions and opinions, but you certainly won’t be able to explain it using the law. I would be interested in how you would explain it with feelings, emotions and opinions, though, so fire away), then please tell me how, if the city has no authority to extend terms of office in this situation, and considering that Linda and Ed were seated in the November 10th meeting, how Ray could have been seated instead of Floyd? I am serious, please, someone, explain the answer to that question to me because my logical thinking brain can’t comprehend all of this! I think you have to practice voodoo law or liberal application of the law (meaning enforcement of laws based on feelings, emotions and opinion) in order to arrive at the place this city arrived at.

    As to Floyd not putting up a fuse about not being seated in the November 10th meeting, it isn’t his prerogative whether or not the commission seated him or not, or whether or not they extended the term of Justice. I am not harping on Floyd, he’s new and didn’t want to cause a fuse; he probably didn’t realize that by not fighting for his seat he was letting down the people who voted for him. After all, a lot of people voted for Floyd “BECAUSE” he wouldn’t have voted for this YMCA deal, and let’s be honest, the reason Randy Robertson and Jason Holleman pulled this little stunt was so that Ray Justice would be able to vote for it one more time.

    So, if you think I am wrong, please, so me the errors of my ways….I’m all ears.

    If I am right, then the city has to right the wrong. I think the law regarding when the elected are seated is wrong. I think they should be seated after the election is declared, but I don’t think that is what the law says, and you have to follow what the law says. I think the State Legislature should change the law so that it is more clear and appropriate, but until that happens the Boards of commissioners in all cities that operate under the City Manager-commission form of government should not schedule a regular meeting in November of all even numbered years until after the election has been declared.

    The city should pass an ordinance that repeals City Ordinance 97-3 and replace it with one that says that the city commission shall not schedule a regular meeting in November of even number years until after the election has been declared. Then, they should change the city charter under homerule so that we can change how the commission is seated. On top of that, they should challenge state legislature to fix the law so that it is appropriate. But regardless of what they do regarding the future, they have a moral, ethical and legal obligation to fix what they have done this year. Everything they voted on in the November 10th meeting is null and void and can be challenged in a court of law.

  2. Glen Linthicum

    Will Sellars replaced me at the next meeting after the election and there didn’t seem to be an issue. So why is there one now? Things that make you go hmmmmmmm……… I agree Butch we need to make use of the Home rule that was passed. Many worked hard to get this passed but yet we have done nothing with it. Maybe it is time.

  3. Butch Huber

    Doesn’t Lowes use their parking lot for sales at every location you have ever seen? Everywhere except Mt. Juliet I guess. It’s just like this city to ask businesses to locate here and then tell them they can’t do what makes them money. Lowes certainly isn’t in the business to clutter up a parking lot, but shouldn’t they be able to use their parking area in Mt. Juliet just like they do in Hermitage?

    The problem seems to be people being in charge of a process that don’t understand how business works.

    When I was in the Navy I had to build a soldering station. I was authorized to order the soldering gun, the holder, a magnifying glass, heat sinks, sponge, tweezers, solder, flux, and everything else I needed to build the soldering station, but I wasn’t authorized to order the electrical cord necessary to plug the soldering gun into the wall. The Navy even sent me to a special school were I could learn how to perform specialized soldering operations on high tech electronics…but I couldn’t order the cord that would supply the electricity that would power the soldering gun! That is the same logic that I see going on in this city. We will go through all of the motions, but we can’t seem to get out of our own way as a city.

    Linda, put some people on the planning commission who understand how business works. We need a planning commission that presents itself as very business friendly. Here’s a clue…without a property tax, sales tax is vital, sales taxes come from having cash registers ringing in our city limits, cash registers ring because businesses are successful, businesses are successful when they are allowed to do what makes them money. Let’s try it this way….ask businesspeople what they need and then do what you can to help them help themselves. If we aren’t going to treat them right, let’s not invite them to the party.

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