Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November 18, 2014 Tony Cox Uses Taxpayer Dollars to Push Jay Moore Out with a "Settlement"

The City agenda today includes a settlement reached between Tony Cox and longtime City Building Inspector Jay Moore.

Moore "retired" and got $12,000.00 plus his accrued benefits to the date of retirement.

With the payout of $12,000.00 tax dollars, Tony Cox then gets to pick Moore's replacement.

Moore requested to be considered for the City Administrator position back in 2009 when Cox was selected to replace Jim Crumley.

There were a lot of "oddities" in the selection of the four finalists at that time. Click here.

Today's agenda is here.

Monday, November 03, 2014

November 3, 2014 Food CIty Popkin Beer Permit: City Creates Special Measurement Rule To Get Around 150' Distance Requirement

The City Council will meet as the "Beer Board" tomorrow afternoon immediately after the 5 PM council meeting at the City Center.

On the Beer Board agenda are numerous changes to the city Beer Ordinance--the most significant of which is removing the distance requirement from a park, school, or church if there is a four-lane highway between the store selling beer and the property line of the park, school, or church.

Why did the City decide to change the beer ordinance to remove the 150' distance requirement when there is a four-lane roadway?

Because Food City Popkin--despite knowing that the City Beer Ordinance required 150' from its store and Popkin Little League Park--went ahead and built its store less than 150' from the Little League Park.

Why would Food City do this? Because Food City knew that council would turn around and change the beer ordinance so Food City Popkin could get a beer permit. And that's exactly what is happening.

Click on the image below to enlarge it, and you will see that Food City had a copy of the City Beer Ordinance on September 19, 2014, and thus KNEW that the City Beer Ordinance required a store selling beer to be 150' from any park, school, or church. Click here for a prior post on this issue when City Council passed the new "Food City Popkin" beer ordinance on first reading.

But Food City also knew that it could build its building wherever it wanted to and then get council to change the ordinance. And that is what Food City and Council did. Food City told the City that the beer ordinance would have to be changed, and council will be voting today to make some general changes to the beer ordinance, but the primary change is to say that a store selling beer CAN be within 150' of a school, church, or park if there is a four-lane roadway. 

Special change in the beer ordinance for Food City Popkin. The only councilperson to vote against this special "Food City Popkin" change on first reading was Dennis Alvis.  Mayor Thomas, Vice-mayor Gary Chesney, Bob Garrett, Key Senter, Chris Bivens. and councilman Paul LeBel voted for the "Food City Popkin" change. Tuesday is the second and final reading.

If Joe Smith had built a small store at the same location as Food City Popkin, do you think councilmembers would have passed a new beer ordinance to make Joe Smith's store eligible for a beer permit?


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 21, 2014 New Humane Society Board Elects Officers and Appoints Nancy Phillips as Interim Director

The MH Humane Society Board with its eight newly-elected members present met at 7 PM yesterday and elected Dr. Daniel Parks, local veterinarian, as its new president.[Scroll down to the October 15 post for the list of the new members and recent election]

Nancy Phillips was named interim shelter director until a new director can be hired. Former director Steven Eldridge abruptly left the shelter after the eight new board members were announced last Tuesday.

Phillips stated unequivocally that she is accepting the interim position only and does not want and will not seek the position on a permanent basis. The director position will be advertised and a committee was appointed to review applications.

Parks reported that the shelter is overflowing and that two parvo cases were recently discovered. Parks stated that with the current conditions at the shelter, there are two options: euthanize or try to get animals out of the shelter and into rescue. The Board voted to hire a full-time rescue operations director on a temporary basis.

In addition to the regular audit, the Board will obtain a financial audit and inventory listing up to the date that the new Board came in.

The Board will meet again next Tuesday in a regular meeting to begin tackling some of the many other issues facing the shelter.

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20, 2014 City Council Set To Vote on Changing Distance Requirement for Beer Sales

The Morristown City Council agenda for tomorrow includes a reduction in the distance requirement between businesses selling beer and schools, churches, and parks.

This latest change comes after the Popkin Food City (on part of the old Berkline property) was built and then "suddenly" Food City discovered that the building was too close to the City's Popkin Park to get a beer permit under the city's current distance guidelines.

No problem. Whenever a law inconveniences the City or certain well-heeled companies or  councilmembers, the solution is always the same: change the law.

[Remember the George McGuffin Law that LeBel, Senter, Bivens, Garrett, and Jinks passed overturning a referendum to help the LeBel Five put George McGuffin back on the MUS Board. Click here or here or on the label "McGuffin Law" at the side of this blog]

Now some of the changes being made tomorrow are general changes that need to be made. But the change in the distance requirement is specifically for Food City. 

Whether the distance requirement should be changed or not should not come up suddenly--particularly in response to a situation where a corporation that is very knowledgeable about beer permitting in localities throughout Tennessee and designs and builds a store in Morristown that is too close to a city park to qualify for a beer permit.

Food City already has numerous stores in Morristown that sell beer. Food City knows and knew the beer permit distance requirements when they bought the Popkin property (with City Councilman Paul LeBel involved in the sale) and when they located and began construction on the store.

So let's not act like, golly-gee, we're shocked and need to do something (change the law) to help these poor souls.

There will be lots of posturing tomorrow--and lots of claims about needing to take this action to "create jobs" or to help a business/corporate/friend. Plus there will be claims that the old distance requirements are "suddenly" out-of-date. See Gary Chesney's October 17 Facebook post here.

Job creation is extremely important, but there are some who say that "job creation by Food City" in Morristown is largely smoke and mirrors as Food City is opening two new stores (Masengill Springs on W.A.J. and Popkin on E. Morris Boulevard) with great fanfare---and with the help of millions of local tax increment dollars (TIF) used on each site--and then with far less fanfare Food City will quietly close down one or more of its other Morristown stores.

Watch what Councilmember LeBel, who was involved in the sale of the property to Food City and who profited by that sale, says and does.

Watch them all as they skirt around the fact that the major change being made tomorrow is a change to the beer permit distance requirement to accommodate Food City at Popkin Center--a corporate business that knows the local beer permit law, built its building too close to a park to get a beer permit under the existing law, and then turned to LeBel and company to have the law changed.

And when the law is changed tomorrow and customized for Food City, it is changed for all businesses. And if. in the future, another favored business builds its building too close to a school, church, or park to get a beer permit, we will go through this same customized change to the law, the same political charade.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 15, 2014 Eight New Members Elected to Humane Society

In a two-minute meeting yesterday at high noon, Morristown-Hamblen Humane Society president Christine Coley announced the results of the recent special election for eight members of the Humane Society Board of Directors.

Newly-elected members of the Humane Society Board of Directors are: Susan Allen and Dr. Daniel Parks (one-year term); Dr. Michael Bratton, Bette Crawford, and Diane Lovejoy (two-year term); and Robin Robinson, Judy Stockard, and Susan Widener (three-year term).

It was a clean sweep for the eight new members as incumbents/those nominated by the prior board's nominating committee were defeated: Larry Baker, Christine Coley, Ruth Frederick, Diane Fox, Charlotte Long, Wally Long, Eddie Davis, and Frank McGuffin.

A number of issues loom before the eight new Board members who will be joining the full Board.

The Humane Society has had numerous financial issues over the past years, including alleged employee embezzlement and failure to maintain worker's compensation insurance. These problems resulted in substantial loss/reduction of available operating monies.

In addition to the above problems, there was the recent hiring of former Board member Larry Baker's friend as Director--an individual with lots of baggage who never should have been proposed or hired as the face of the Humane Society.  This individual may decide to pack up and leave/resign with the election of the new Board members.

Hopefully, there will be a smooth transition to a new Board that is accountable, that operates in a fiscally transparent manner, that works vigorously to promote low-cost spay and neuter clinics, that encourages local adoption as well as rescue adoption, and that supports fostering and volunteer activities.

The Humane Society receives its primary funding from the City and County governments--about $270,000 total per year.

An all-out effort to get the Humane Society back on track in caring for the animals of this community is needed. The new Board has a great opportunity--and many challenges--in front of it.