Franklin

The Saga of City Planner Bobby Franklin
(a farce in two three acts)

ACT ONE

Letter from City Planner Bobby Franklin to City Attorney Paula Flowers May 15, 2007
(he points out two instances where the Mayor has failed to follow Roberts’ Rules and the City Attorney failed to correct her)

Click here to watch video of the first incident.

Click here to watch video of the second incident. The motion and ruling begin at 4:28 into the video.

Reply from City Attorney Paula Flowers to City Planner Bobby Franklin May 17, 2007
(she admits that both occasions were “procedural errors” by the Mayor, but says it was not her place to correct the Mayor)

ACT TWO

Termination Letter given to Bobby Franklin by acting City Manager Sheila Luckett on July 13, 2007
(when he asked what the grounds were, she said that, “on several occasions, the maps provided to the City Commission along with rezoning requests had been shaded wrong.” At which point, the City Attorney told her she didn’t need to say any more.

Certified letter mailed on July 18, 2007 to Bobby Franklin by acting City Manager Sheila Luckett stating six reasons for his termination, including “of most concern was your attempt to deliberately deceive the State of Tennessee by submitting a grant application containing grossly understated population figures. . .”

Email message sent on July 22, 2007 by Bobby Franklin to the Mt. Juliet City Commission in which he requests that the letter be withdrawn and that he be reinstated.

Letter dated July 26, 2007 from Jill Johnson stating that the termination letter of July 13, 2007 was in error and that the City will NOT, after all pay him his accrued sick leave.

Mr. Franklin has informed RFMJ that he has now received an offer from the City of an additional month’s severance if he will waive all claims he might have against the City in connection with his employment, “from the beginning of the world.”

We’re not kidding.

The settlement offer actually asks him to waive claims, “from the beginning of the world.”

Should more fascinating documents from this case become available, we’ll add them to this page.

Of course, you might also want to read the sworn statement given by Mr. Franklin in connection with the ethics complaint filed against Mayor Elam. Mayor Elam was eventually censured by the City Commission based upon the information provided by Bobby Franklin. That statement and all related documents and videos are on this page: Ethics1

Read them all . . . and draw your own conclusions.

ACT THREE

UPDATE: One of the most despicable things the City did was to attempt to deny Mr. Franklin any unemployment benefits. They notified the State of Tennessee that Mr. Franklin was discharged for “attempting to deceive the State of TN for grant funding.” This was a lie. It was not a mistake. It was a lie. The City — in particular, Linda Elam, Paula Flowers, and Sheila Luckett — knew it was a lie. But they told it anyway, in a malicious attempt to deprive Mr. Franklin of unemployment benefits and to further assassinate his character.

Mr. Franklin appealed the denial of benefits, and won quite easily. He called as a witness the GNRC employee who had completed the grant application under dispute. She testified on his behalf and utterly refuted the City’s claim that there had been fraud. What is truly appalling is that the City withdrew from the proceedings and Acting City Manager Sheila Luckett ignored a subpoena compelling her to attend.

You can review the documents from Mr. Franklin’s unemployment case by clicking here. Note especially the Finding of Fact from page 7 of the file:

“The accusation was not true. The claimant did not prepare the application. He did not submit any false information, and he did not direct anyone to submit any false information to obtain the State grant. Consequently the claimant vehemently denied the accusations. Despite the claimant’s denial, the claimant was terminated from his job.”

This does not bode well for the City in its attempt to defend against Mr. Franklin’s lawsuit (see below).

UPDATE2: Mr. Franklin has now filed a Federal lawsuit against Mayor Linda Elam, Sheila Luckett, and the City of Mt. Juliet. You can read the text of that lawsuit by clicking here.

-Publius

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3 responses to “Franklin

  1. Butch Huber

    I would like to draw your attention to a part of the city attorney’s response to Bobby Franklin’s letter. At the end of the city attorney’s response it says….I am disappointed with the tone of your letter, and your decision to publish this letter to a member of the public…(Then latter in the response)….”my role is solely to provide the legal counsel requested by the city manager, board of commissioners, and department directors in accordance with the city’s charter”….(and finally) “but if you are uncomfortable with this arrangement please notify me and the city manager so we may collectively decide what arrangement is in the city’s best interests.”

    The city attorney’s disappointment with Bobby’s “tone” is irrelevant. Her job is not to admonish Bobby for his tone. Her disappointment with Bobby for publishing his letter to a member of the public is very interesting to me. I do not know who he published his letter to, but I know that it is his choice who he sends information of this nature to, and according to the city attorney, her sole role is to provide legal counsel, not employee discipline. Who is she to be “disappointed” in Bobby Franklin? I think we will find out in just a moment folks!
    But before I tell you the rest of the story….

    The city attorney is flat wrong when she asserts that her Sole Role is to provide legal counsel. I feel that the city attorney does not know her job. She should review the TCA and determine her duties. They are certainly more than “just providing legal counsel when requested”…One of her duties is to launch investigations on her own initiative when she discovers someone has broken the law. Another duty is to take action when she is made aware of a violation by a member of the public or a member of the government.

    Here is the rest of the story…observe the very end of her response to Bobby. It says, “If you are uncomfortable with this arrangement please notify me and the city manager so SO WE MAY COLLECTIVELY DECIDE WHAT ARRANGEMENT IS IN THE CITY’S BEST INTERESTS. First of all, if the city attorney really believes her sole role is to provide legal counsel, how does she enter into the DECISION PATH????? The word “collectively” means SHE is included in the decision path! Interestingly, the use of the words “City’s Best Interests” are used here and in Bobby’s termination letter.

    I believe what we have here folks is a triumvirate, a coalition of three city government officials (Mayor Elam, the city attorney, and the acting city manager) acting in the best interests of the city mayor and the city attorney. I guess the city attorney’s “disappointment” with Bobby really matters after all.

    Folks, the city commission is completely lost. The city is a city manager-commission form of government. The city manager is the administrative head of the city, which means that the city manager is responsible for running the city. The board of commissioners only have power while they are sitting at the commission table. The city attorney has no business being included in any decision path for the city, she should merely provide insight into the law, not decide anything.

    Seeing how easily Bobby Franklin dismantled the accusations against him, and by observing that some of the allegations brought against him by the acting city manager are actually “her” responsibility or the responsibility of others under “her” command, I have to come to the conclusion that the acting city manager should be allowed to resume her duty as city recorder, and the former city manager should be reinstated, (I believe he has to be re-instated anyway because his resignation was acquired under what I believe are illegal means), the city attorney should be relieved of her duties and replaced with someone who will actually look out for the interests of the public instead of the mayor’s interests, I believe Hatton Wright and Bobby Franklin should be re-instated, and perhaps most importantly, I believe it is time for the city to begin working on replacing our entire city commission in one fell swoop. We need a house-cleaning, but the problem is not an employee problem. The problem is that city commissioners, and especially the mayor, seem to feel that they have the power and right to run the daily affairs of the city. Those who don’t feel this way have a responsibility to correct the behavior of those that are interfering with the proper operation of the city government. There has been no objection to this behavior by any commissioner, yet everyone knows what is going on. Therefore, the only solution that I can see that will rid the city of the corrupt and inappropriate behavior that is occurring is to disassemble the city commission and rebuild it from scratch. We need good and honest people in the positions now being filled by either apathetic or incompetent people. There may be a lot of problems within the rank and file members of the city government, but those will never be corrected until the city has a “Civil” commission.

    These are my thoughts and opinions (I am not an attorney)

    Butch Huber

    Butch Huber

  2. Butch Huber

    Wow, Bobby, I just read your lawsuit, this is going to be interesting because it will bring everything out into the open.

    I listened to the video links above and this is what I heard:

    During the video of the commission meeting, the meeting where she wouldn’t let you speak, even though you had a right to speak, Mayor Elam was discussing the depositions taken during the investigation into the complaint against her , when she said:

    “Everyone agreed, with the assistance of Tom White, one of the most respected land use attorneys in all of Tennessee, who I had engaged for that very purpose, so that I did not have to speak to staff again on the matter agreed was an unconstitutional taking without compensation.”

    First, “who” agreed the matter was unconstitutional taking without compensation? According to Vice Mayor Hagerty, who stated later in the commission meeting, that even Tom White agreed that the code Bobby stated that he read to the mayor during the infamous phone call authorized the city to do what it was attempting to do. In other words, the mayor was wrong, it wasn’t an unconstitutional taking without compensation, this is apparently the position that one of the most respected land use attorneys in all of Tennessee was taking…doesn’t that make it legal?

    Secondly, notice where she says that she engaged Tom White so that she wouldn’t have to speak to staff again on the matter agreed was an unconstitutional taking without compensation.

    I believe the mayor has publicly stated that she called Bobby Franklin as Mayor, (Rather than as attorney for CRS) because she was concerned that the city was about to commit an act that was an unconstitutional taking without compensation. However, if you read the depositions, and listen to her statement here, notice who she called when she failed to get Mr. Franklin to do what she was asking of him….Tom White, who according to her own statement, “is one of the most respected land use attorneys in all of Tennessee; If she were calling Mr. Franklin as “mayor”, shouldn’t her next call have been to the city manager, the Chairman of the Planning Commission, or the City Planning Attorney?

    For anyone that didn’t catch what I just said…the mayor called then City Planner Bobby Franklin regarding a matter that was being put on the planning commission agenda that would have an impact on her employer/developer’s property and possible future plans to purchase an adjacent property. According to her, the matter of concern was an unconstitutional taking without compensation. What she is speaking of is a requirement that CRS extend a road (or right-of-way, I am having a hard time figuring out exactly which was on the planning commission agenda) to the edge of Mt. Juliet Crossing’s property line so that it could be joined at a later date to a possible and eventual development on the adjacent property. I can only assume by what has been stated that the mayor was concerned that the developer could end up suing the city for an illegal taking of that land unless the city compensated the developer for his land. I will leave that alone for now, but it reminds me of an 8 acre piece of land over near the Paddocks.

    Prior to or at the time she made that infamous phone call to Mr. Franklin, the mayor had not yet let it be known to Mr. Franklin, to the rest of city government or to the general public that she had taken a position of employment with CRS (The developer of the property in question). So Mr. Franklin would have naturally thought he was speaking to Mayor Elam, and not attorney for CRS. The mayor states in subsequent meetings and depositions that she made that call as “mayor” of the city; during that call Bobby thinks he is speaking to the mayor of the city; however, when she gets off the phone with him, she calls land use attorney Tom White, “ONE OF THE MOST RESPECTED LAND USE ATTORNEYS IN ALL OF TENNESSEE” and not the city manager, Chairman of the planning commission, or the City Planning Attorney.

    Does that mean that Linda Elam, acting as our mayor, called Land Use Attorney Tom White, to engage him, so that she didn’t have to speak to city staff again on the matter agreed was an unconstitutional taking without compensation “or” does that mean that Linda Elam, attorney for CRS, was calling Land Use Attorney Tom White, for the benefit of her employer, so that she, Linda Elam, Attorney for CRS, did not have to speak to city staff again on the matter agreed was an unconstitutional taking without compensation? And if, she was calling Tom White as mayor, to which entity was he engaged, the city or CRS? Obviously, she was engaging him as attorney for CRS, because the city didn’t pay him, so is it normal for the mayor of a city to be able to engage an attorney for a developer?

    You see, there is an important distinction there. If in fact she really was calling Mr. Franklin as Mayor, and was not in any way talking to him as “attorney for CRS” then it is inconsistent that she would call Tom White, one of the most respected land use attorneys in all of Tennessee. However, it would be consistent for her to call either the city manager, the chairman of the planning commission, or the city planning attorney, which she apparently did not do.

    If she called Bobby Franklin as “Attorney for CRS”, and not as mayor of the city, it would be consistent, when she was unsuccessful in persuading Mr. Franklin to remove the condition on her employer’s property, for her to call Tom White, one of the most respected land use attorneys in all of Tennessee, which she states she did, and not to call the city manager, chairman of the planning commission, or the city planning attorney, which she apparently did not do.

    Can someone show me how this is not a conflict of interest? Can someone show me how this is not a case where she allowed Mr. Franklin to believe he was speaking to the mayor during this conversation so that she (Attorney for CRS) could effect her desired result, and when the conversation did not yield her desired result, to use the official information and knowledge gained in that conversation for the purposes of her employer? Can someone show me how this is not a violation of the Tennessee Law? If no one can show me who the law was actually not broken, then can someone show me why it is not required by law for her to be officially charged and removed from office?

    With a Federal Lawsuit having been filed against the city regarding matters surrounding this phone call you would think the city would be scrambling to take appropriate remedial action regarding these issues rather than continuing to ignore their duty under the law. This commission has been formally presented with knowledge and information regarding these issues and they have ignored them. Although they have censured the Mayor for her actions, I don’t think that they have fully done what is required under the law. I have informed them of their discrepancy, and have provided them with the appropriate laws and requirements that they must follow, yet they continue to ignore the law.

    The mayor has violated a public trust by taking employment with a developer who has dealings in this city without divulging that information to the public, without informing city staff of her interests in her employer’s enterprise during conversations about matters that involve her employer’s project, and by claiming that she was acting in the best interest of the city during that call and was acting as mayor when, having failed to effect the desired result of that call, she engaged a land use attorney to perform a function that was against the desires and intentions of the city rather than bring the matter to the attention of the city manager, chairman of the planning commission, or city planning attorney. As mayor, what could she hope to gain by calling a land use attorney for the developer involved? Contrary to what she stated was her concern, she could potentially have caused a lawsuit with her actions rather than avoid a lawsuit. I consider her actions to be a gross violation of public trust.

  3. Pingback: Special meeting of the Mt. Juliet City Commission « Radio Free Mt. Juliet

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