Mt. Juliet Planner Resigns Suddenly

The Chronicle of Mt. Juliet has it as the lead story on their website. The print edition has a front page headline that reads, “Why did MJ planner Keylon suddenly resign?” with a story on page 9.

The Chronicle story includes this sentence:

“Sources inside City Hall wishing to remain anonymous said Tuesday that Keylon was on the verge of termination when she submitted her resignation Monday.”

There’s obviously more to this story than what has appeared in print.

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13 Comments

Filed under Planning Commission

13 responses to “Mt. Juliet Planner Resigns Suddenly

  1. One of the good things that came out of my 2008 mayoral candidacy was calling attention to, and ultimately forcing Mayor Linda Elam to disavow, Planner Lisa Keylon’s attempt to revise our Land Use Plan to make Mt. Juliet look more like Antioch. I suspect this created a fracture in the Elam/Keylon relationship that eventually led to Keylon’s resignation.

    Having recently settled a lawsuit for $166,000 for wrongfully firing previous Planner Bobby Franklin, I wonder if Elam now thinks Keylon was worth the money?

  2. Paul Deyo

    Whatever ‘book smarts’ Ms. Keylon may have had, she was not a good fit for Mt. Juliet. In my experiences working with her, she worked hard and had considerable knowledge, and seemed completely honest. Perhaps that honesty was out of step with the way the Mayor is accustomed to doing business.

    However that honesty is not why Ms. Keylon was not a good fit here. Mt. Juliet has been moving in the right direction largely as a result of Mr. Mack’s work as Mayor as well as the Land Use Plan revision implemented in 2002. I am proud to have served on the committee that initiated it and watched as it weathered torpedoes fired at it from inside and outside of the City Hall meeting room to ultimately take effect.

    Despite the fact that the plan was largely working, it was revisited at great expense to the citizens and in the closing stages was hijacked by Ms. Keylon as a vehicle for her utopian concepts of affordable housing and multifamily/commercial villages and zones. We have all seen how well that model worked at Hickory Hollow as Providence continues to welcome that area’s fleeing stores.

    Why those stores moved here is a simple matter of looking at the quality of housing opportunities that came about with the revision of the Land Use Plan in 2002. After much work at the Planning Commssion level, the Land Use Plan revision of 2008 is better than it could have been but not as good as it should have been.

    I wish Ms. Keylon a happy and productive future elsewhere.

  3. Butch Huber

    Publius,

    You are missing the bigger story here.

    Mt. Juliet News Managing Editor Laurie Everett wrote a story in this week’s Mt. Juliet News with the following headline:
    “New City Judge’s conviction rate and who controls docket discussed at special city commission meeting Monday”.

    From that story I infer that there has been an informal meeting between Mt. Juliet Police Chief Andy Garrett, City Manager Randy Robertson, City Judge Stephen Grauberger, and “others” (I’m not quite sure who “others” might have been, but that is all the story says.) During that informal meeting these gentlemen, and “others”, tried to discern three things; who controlled the court docket, how to steam-line the docket, and then there is the most alarming part, the part that should have everyone pulling at their clothing….they wanted to figure out the cause of Judge Grauberger’s low conviction rate, if in fact it is “low”!!!!!!

    From the story it appears that Judge Grauberger has dismissed or retired a lot of cases rather than rule an outright “not guilty”. The story goes on to say that Police Chief Garret stated that “in a review of about 361 people and 467 charges, there were no outright “not guilty’s’, but rather a low percentage of guilty and the rest dismissed or retired.”

    It appears that Chief Garret is dealing with officers who are upset with the new judge and who don’t feel it is worth going to court anymore because he isn’t convicting enough of the people who are brought before him. The story says that Chief Garret wanted to know if his officers were presenting enough evidence for conviction and if they needed more equipment, or what.

    Apparently, Grauberger wanted to have the initial meeting with the city and police to discern who controlled the docket. The article quotes Judge Grauberger as saying that “as the discussion progressed he felt he was being told he wasn’t ‘convicting enough'”.

    The Story says that Grauberger stated “No, it wasn’t discussed, but was referred to, and in hindsight, I was irritated. I was trying to figure out who has control over the docket, and I suggested we even them out”. (I believe what he meant was to even out the cases between the separate dockets)

    This appears to be the first time Judge Grauberger has been a judge, and it shows (not because he isn’t good, but because Judge Grauberger still has the naive belief that a person is innocent until proven guilty, and that in a case where the evidence is even, meaning it could go either way, the citizen wins!) Folks, I liked Judge Gwin, I thought he did a great job for this city and I was sad to see him go, and I told him so, but it is unfair of this city to compare the new judge to the old judge. It is unfair to judge him against Judge Gwin, but not because he is “new”, but because he is “different”. It appears that Judge Grauberger isn’t likely to convict a person just because an officer says they are guilty, but because there is ample evidence to support their assertions. It appears that his relationship to the police is not a factor in his decision. Perhaps that was a problem in Mt. Juliet all along and nobody realized it. Perhaps the police knew what they could get a guilty ruling on and what they couldn’t and they only did enough to get a conviction rather than put forward cases that were thorough. Maybe they were relying on their “credibility” with Judge Gwin a little too much. (I am not saying Judge Gwin did anything wrong, but perhaps he just “judged” things differently than Judge Grauberger. Perhaps Judge Grauberger has a higher threshold than the Mt. Juliet police department is used to having to meet.) Judge Grauberger is quoted as having said, “when it is even, the citizen wins, when the scales are tipped I go that way, I don’t presume an officer is right, or wrong.”

    Now, apparently, during the informal discussion the Chief and the City Manager didn’t get the resolution they were seeking so a special session of the board of commissioners was held to hash this out further.

    Commissioner Sellers is quoted in the article as having said, “It’s like there was this bar, and all of a sudden there’s a new plunge, everything bottoms out. What has changed?” Oh please, “everything bottoms out?” Really? No conviction at all? Really? Judge Grauberger is just letting all of the offenders go with no convictions whatsoever? Really?

    Get this, this is the real kicker, I can’t believe what I am reading. The story says that Mayor Linda Elam said, (quoting from the article) “the credibility the new judge would learn about the officers would “come over time”. “It’s the judge’s obligation to hear the evidence, part of it, he has to determine credibility of each side and that comes with time.” Really? Sure, he can hang out at city hall, get to know the police officers, realize they are a bunch of really great guys and gals (which I don’t doubt they are), figure out they are basically a bunch of honest people (which I believe they are), but what of the citizens? Will he have time to “learn of their credibility”?

    Judge Grauberger, for the record, I want you to know that I too am a really great guy and I am honest….there, now the scales of justice are back in balance! Folks, the mayor is an attorney, she should know better than to suggest that the judge will get to know the officers over time and that he will weigh his opinion of the officers over defendants. A judge is to weigh the merits of a case based on the evidence and testimony presented, not based on personal relationships! Linda Elam must have been out on a campaign trail or militant liberal strategic and tactical training school the day that taught that in law school! If the judge is basing his decision on the credibility of the officers, and if he doesn’t trust their veracity now, does that indicate that he has cause not to trust them? Does he know something we don’t know? (I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with out police force, I am simply saying that it is absurd to use the credibility of the police force as an indicator of why Judge Grauberger isn’t convicting people.)

    Folks, the bottom-line here is that Judge Grauberger is apparently being grilled by the city over his “low conviction rate”. This is a travesty! They wouldn’t say a word if his conviction rate were “too high”! (There is no “Too high” when it comes to conviction rates because convictions mean more money to the city.) This is an example of the government working against the people! The judge has his standards, and apparently those standards are pretty high, as they should be, and the city doesn’t seem to like it. I have so many times thought about how, in traffic court, you are guilty before being proven innocent. Who among us doesn’t believe that when you go to traffic court you have already lost? Isn’t that how it is? I in no means believe that about Judge Gwinn, I found him to be a very fair judge, but I love it that the new judge is saying to the police department, “don’t come in here thinking that just because you are police officers I am automatically going to take your side of the case and convict them, you are going to have to prove to me that they are guilty before I am going to hand out a guilty verdict”! I have waited all my adult life and a little longer to see this day! Judge Grauberger has it right! The police (meaning police nationwide) do need to stop relying on their “Credibility” and start doing sound investigative work and prepare their cases properly so that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused. Too many innocent people are going to jail and too many guilty people are going free because of the reliance on “Credibility of the officer”.

    Please take a moment to think about this situation. I could take the time to go back through TCA, pull out all the relevant sections and subsections, figure out who controls the judge, who can hire him and who can fire him, who controls the docket and the number of cases, and all the other relevant information, but it isn’t necessary in this case. The city attorney said that TCA states that the Judge controls the docket and the number of cases on it, which I believe to be true and I will accept that answer (as political as the city attorney is he wouldn’t give that power to the judge if it wasn’t already his to start with). As far as who can hire and fire the judge, well, when you have the city manager and the commission in a room, you definitely have the judge’s boss or bosses in the room, so there is no need to look further on that point. Here you have a Judge, in a room with his boss or bosses, being grilled over his conviction rate, an issue that should certainly be sacrosanct! His reputation, his income, his security, and his honor are being threatened by such a meeting!!!! This is no small matter, there couldn’t be a matter of more importance to us in this country, our very way of life is guarded by Judges! If we can’t trust judges to judge fairly and to run their courts fairly, without the influence of politicians and police, we have no set checks and balances in this country. Without fair judges there is no need for a constitution because it would be useless. If politicians and police can influence Judges and their rulings and if they can Judge the Judges and can fire them for not returning “enough” convictions, then how can we have fairness in our judicial system?

    Now that I think about it, on a national scale, we deal with the same thing. A major goal of the liberals, and in fairness probably conservatives as well, is to control the judiciary in this country. Conservatives and Liberals alike want to control who sits on the Supreme Court (mainly so they can either overturn Roe v Wade or uphold it, depending on the side of the isle they sit on). They want to be able to use the judiciary to enforce their conservative or liberal agenda. This needs to stop on all levels. Judges need to go into a court room assuming that the defendant is innocent until the preponderance of the evidence proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, or in some cases beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person is guilty. As long as politicians play games with the judge’s livelihood, as long as they are able to rake them over the coals if they “don’t convict enough”, as long as they can castigate or embarrass a judge over his conviction rate, especially in the public eye, it is unlikely that we will have true justice in this city.

    I don’t know if they have figured this out yet, but now that they have made it public knowledge that they are pressuring the judge to convict more people, every case that comes before this city is now in question. I will say that again, “every case that comes before this city is now in question”. A strong case could be made in every conviction that the conviction is tainted by the inappropriate pressure applied to the judge by those who control his job. A person could say that, “the only reason that judge convicted me was because he was trying to please his bosses by getting his conviction rate up”. I am not suggesting that Judge Grauberger would do such a thing, I am only saying that this whole episode has created a situation where a person could legitimately make the case that he was wrongly found guilty in an effort to appease the police and the city leaders. That is what happens when you step on something that is sacrosanct, which is exactly what has occurred here.
    The other side of that same coin would suggest there is a possibility (although I don’t believe it to be so) that Judge Gwin inappropriately convicted people. You simply can’t have it both ways. They are saying that before Judge Grauberger became Judge they were getting convictions on what they now aren’t getting convictions for. How are they saying that? Using deductive reasoning, you have to infer that they are either saying that they believe Judge Grauberger is allowing people to get off without punishment when they should be punished, or Judge Gwin punished people who shouldn’t have been punished. Why do I say that? Because they are the same police. Only the judge has changed. Sure, Chief Garrett is relatively new, but the police have been doing business here for a long time now, so they are probably doing things the way they have always done them. That means that what they are “really” saying is there is a definite difference between how Judge Grauberger judges a case and how Judge Gwin judges a case. What they are also saying, based on the complaining they are doing about Judge Grauberger, is that he is too hard on them. So, if you used that as a basis for a position, either Judge Grauberger “is” too hard on them, or Judge Gwin must have been too “easy” on them, Right? Wrong. You see, it isn’t for us to “judge”….or at least it shouldn’t be. Who among all the people involved is qualified to Judge a Judge? The Chief of police and his officers aren’t qualified. The Mayor certainly isn’t qualified. The commissioners aren’t “qualified” to judge a judge. I am not qualified to Judge a judge (although I have a right to an opinion, after all, I am a citizen). It takes a bunch of people who have been judges for a long time, in my opinion, to have a qualified group of people who can fairly judge a judge.

    Judge Grauberger, I hope with all sincerity that you will continue to hold the police to a very high standard. I am not suggesting that any guilty person be let off, just that we be sure they are guilty before we convict them. We need to have judges that make us feel we have a fair shake when we enter a courtroom, not judges who are going to lean toward the desires of those who sign their paycheck, because, after all, although we don’t sign the judges paycheck, it is “we” who pay the judge.

    Will Sellers, perhaps the bar you should be concerned with is not the conviction rate bar, but rather the evidence bar. Apparently, Judge Grauberger has raised the “evidence bar”, which has caused the “conviction rate bar” as you call it to plunge. This is a good thing, not a bad thing, now police officers are going to have to rise to the occasion and go into court with sufficient evidence to convict. I believe that is very healthy for society. I for one am glad to see that some people are going free, it shows that government (At least in one little place and time) doesn’t believe that Police Officers are perfect. It says, “Do your job and don’t rely on the fact that you are a police officer for a conviction:.

    The rest of the story in this issue is the docket. I was in court one night when Judge Gwin discussed the court docket with us (I wasn’t the one with the ticket). Judge Gwin explained that when he took the job there were a certain number of cases per docket and so many dockets (he gave the numbers, but I can’t remember them). Over time, because of the growth of the city and other causes, the number of cases have gone through the roof but the city hasn’t increased the number of dockets to match it. The Courtroom was filled to overflowing with people who were there to face the music. There was no way that Judge Gwin could have handled all of those cases, and the city wasn’t willing to give him more dockets (which would have paid the Judge more money), so he had no choice but to let some people go. He began to call people forward whose tickets were for specific violations and then dismissed them with a warning not to repeat the offense. He dismissed people until he had a manageable docket.

    Now the Mayor is talking about paying the judge on a monthly basis rather than per docket. Okay, the judge controls the docket, and the number of cases on the docket, so just how far into the future do you want to see cases being handled? I mean, a judge needs to be paid fairly just like the rest of us. To pay him on a monthly basis so that he can handle more cases without costing the city more money is insane. This just proves that Linda Elam doesn’t know how things get done in this world. Her statement just shows that the city wants the judge to hear all these cases without increasing the amount of money they are paying him. The answer to the problem of the number of cases and the number of dockets is to raise the bar on what is required to get a conviction and increase the number of dockets that the city is willing to pay for. By raising the bar on what is required to get a conviction police will stop bringing people to court unless they have very strong evidence to support their claim against the citizen, which will cut down on the number of tickets and citations being issued and will cut down on the number of people being wrongly convicted in this city if such a problem exists. By increasing the number of dockets the judge will have the time to hear the cases properly and the city and the defendant will have time to plead their cases. This sharpens the police force, ensures proper convictions, and protects the citizenry from abuse. Why is this so hard for them, this is like child’s play?

  4. Insider

    They have fired another inspector. Everyone is dancing around at city hall and they have turned off the camera’s they use to keep on her. How shameful
    this city has become. The people that tell the truth are cast out. I hear them talking about how they destroyed this person and they laughed at Her deposition. What evil has come over this city.

  5. Tennessee Jed

    Employees say Robertson and Elam have fallen out of love.

    She cannot continue to make believe he is competent as long as he continues to make believe he is really running the city.

    So he is going to fire all of her buddies one by one.

    This will be fun but not inexpensive.

  6. Butch Huber

    It just gets worse and worse. Just like I said it would from the very beginning. When people are elected to political office and then start acting like politicians it is only a matter of time before things start falling apart.

    Perhaps Randy Robertson will finally realize what I have been saying all along is true. He saw me as the enemy and did everything he could to block my efforts to expose the truth, perhaps he will soon wish he would have stayed out of my way.

    Randy, I wish you well in your next assignment.

  7. Insider

    I read today about the inspector that was fired. What was interesting was Randy Robertson’s comment , on how the depositions were going well.
    There has only been one and that’s where our city manager and our beloved city attorney laughed at Bobbie McDonald when they badgered her to tears.
    I guess that’s what Randy calls going well. That’s beyond shame.

  8. Bobbie McDonald

    I have always looked out for the safety and welfare of the Citizens of Mt. Juliet, whether it be Residential or Commercial. I have always enforced provisions of the International Building Codes. I have always acted in good faith and without malice in the duties required by the code. As the IBC states 102.1 Where there is conflicts between general and specific codes the specific shall be applicable. 102.2 The provision of this code shall not be deemed to nullify any provisions of local,state and federal law. I have took a special interest in Life Safety and Welfare (which included ADA Compliance & Fire-Codes) in assuring homes and buildings are deemed safe. I loved my job and took it seriously. I have been very grateful to be a part of the growth in the City of Mt. Juliet. I am very dissapointed and concerned that the City of Mt. Juliet has chose to terminate me because I cannot do part of my job as a building inspector do to being assaulted by a contractor. I do know if my boss Gary Branham had backed me up in the field prior to the assault, with consistancy in the code, the assault would of never happened. I pray this happens to no one else, and I pray Randy Robertson can sleep at night knowing I am telling the truth and the “past” is not the past and I cannot move forward as he suggested, for I have no job and I have no insurance for medical treatment for doing my job for the city, especially getting hurt on the job. I was told by my boss Gary Branham I was the best inspector they had. What happened that they (the city) would fire me if they said “I was a good employee” I went by policy as they changed so many times, as they demanded to do so. I did what I was told as they threatened. I was never insubordinate or recieved oral or written reprimands. So why????? I am in no way asking for pity, I know the city desires to have respect from the community but it has to come within before it will filter out. Laurie Everett with the Mt Juliet News asked me if I will appeal the termination? The city sent police officers to my house out of their jurisdiction while I was on medical leave for stress temporarily, to issue me a letter of termination. The city runs a tight ship, they always succeed in whatever they wish to accomplish, theres no use to appeal. There decision is made.

  9. Butch Huber

    I have no idea where the truth lies in the situation with Bobbie McDonald, but I do remember a similar situation that Rob Shearer was faced with. A city employee had filed what was found to be an unfounded sexual harassment complaint against the public works director, and Rob had to figure out what to do with that employee. He had basically three options: 1) Leave her in an environment where she could claim that the sexual harassment continued and that she was being retaliated against because she filed her complaint. 2) Move her to the only other position available in the city, a position that was similar in pay-grade to the one she had filled in public works. 3) Let her go, in other words, fire her, without stating a reason for her termination and risk a lawsuit for “Retaliation for past action”. He made, what I believe to be the only reasonable decision….he moved he out of public works and to another position within the city. The woman quit because the new position required that she take turns with other employees cleaning toilets. She then sued the city and received a settlement. Had Rob fired her she probably would have sued for retaliation for past action. Had he left her in the same place she probably would have sued for hostile work environment.

    Randy had an employee who no longer could perform the functions of her job. He could fire her, which would most likely have added fuel to her already existing lawsuit against the city. He could have moved her to another position within the government (which would have been the intelligent thing to do), or he could have left her in her position and have someone in a paid position who could not perform the task required of that position.

    Bobbie, to you I say, if you feel that you have a justifiable reason to appeal your firing you should, but I am not sure who you would appeal to…the labor board? The board of Commissioners? The courts? It sounds to me like you are going to have to slug it out in court for lost wages and retaliation for past action. Bobby Franklin seemed to have the right attorney, perhaps you should contact him and get the guy’s number. From where I am standing, it seems the city will pay any price not to allow the goings on inside the iron curtain to become public knowledge….they will settle because if they don’t, and everything goes public, their house of cards comes crumbling down.

    In the end they will turn on each other and start stabbing each other in the back, the only question is….who will be the last man standing….Linda or Randy? There is only room for one bull in any pen, which one will remain and which one will go?

  10. Bobbie McDonald

    Butch,

    Thank you for your post. They fired me on May 13th, I recieved the letter hand delivered on the 15th. Depositions were on the 18th. By policy, you only have 5 days to appeal. Even if I could, time had lapsed. Thats the way the city plans any circumstance with any citizen or employee. There are many heads in the pot, I am only one. I have been through all the firings and all the hirings at the city. Both bulls in the pin knew all about this in the beginning. They chose to ignore it as if it would go away. I can assure you and the city, it will not go away. I have done nothing wrong here, I have chosen to stand up for what’s right. If this had been one of the guy’s, (inspectors) I know it wouldn’t of ended this way. I was told, I was too throrough at my job, that codes were meant to be broken than were less severe. I was told that I was too good at my job. This was by management. I am being punished because I demanded those houses in Providence to be built to code with Fire-walls. That was the code as well as local ordinance. The city Public Works is the reason those houses aren’t built to code. I have nothing to lose anymore, so I will tell anyone what the truth is and how it really was in Public Works and City Hall. Thats a Fact!

  11. Bobby Franklin

    Butch is right. I had a very good attorney.

  12. Paul Deyo

    Didn’t this happen two weeks ago?

  13. Butch Huber

    I don’t know for sure, but I have to wonder….”could all this firing people for being ill or having injuries have anything to do with the blunder of “self-insuring” deal that the city manager convinced the city board of directors to buy into?” Nahhhh. Must be a coincidence. But then again, the city of Mt. Juliet government organization doesn’t look like a safe place to get sick anymore. The city seems to have great benefits as long as you don’t try to use them. If I worked for the city right now I would have to think long and hard before I took a sick day or saw a doctor.

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