Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19, 2013 Another Clue in the Kalitta Hangar Deal

It's the deal that has been on the City's agenda twice recently. There has been discussion at council but never with any public mention of the people involved.

It's the Airport-Kalitta contract, termination, buyout-- it has been described in lots of different ways.

Soon the revised deal and the name(s) of the people involved in the new hangar lease at the Morristown Airport will be public.

Since Councilmember Chesney started giving clues on his Facebook website a few weeks ago, I gave a clue yesterday morning.

Here's another clue: RJ

As an aside, Chesney's Facebook page is very nice. You can click here to see his City Hall site,



Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18, 2013 Chesney's Guessing Game

At the last city council meeting, there was discussion, sort of, about a person or persons (never named) who were interested in taking over the airport hangar lease between the City and Kalitta Air.

It seems City leaders approved a contract with Kalitta years ago without reading it or asking questions of the City attorney.

Evidently, council decided they had to pass the contract to find out what was in it!

Fast forward to today. Kalitta decided to pack up and move on and sent the City a huge bill for getting out of/buying out the contract.

Presumably, tough negotiations followed and the City decided several weeks ago to settle the matter and buy the hangar from Kalitta for $975,000.

At the last council meeting before a vote was to be taken on approval to take the $975,000 out of fund balance to pay Kalitta, it was revealed that a third party was interested in taking over the lease. The vote was postponed to see if a new lease can be worked out.

That's all well and good. 

But no one at the City would mention the name of the persons with whom the Airport Commission was negotiating. Never mind that this was a city contract and public business. The public will be told what's going on----sometime-----usually right before or after it's a done deal.

On Councilman Gary Chesney's City Hall Facebook page someone asked about the secrecy. Gary said "some" people already know and then he decided to turn it into a guessing game with a clue for his reader: "...it is a local person who has an office near the airport and has a vested interest in air travel."

Well, let me throw out another clue: LM

Soon, very soon, we'll know.

And maybe Gary will give another clue about this and other public business.

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11, 2013 VETERANS DAY


History of Veterans Day

Excerpts from U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs website
 
World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France.
 
Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities.  This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

On May 13, 1938, a Congressional Act was passed making the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day."

In 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history and after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

For more on the history of Veterans Day, click here.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 10, 2013 Captain Justice Wins Over General Rettig

This is too good!

The Government's attorney doesn't want to be referred to as the government's attorney because such a reference might "inflame" the jury! The prosecutor files a motion asking the Judge to order that she be referred to by only four "acceptable" (to her) names.

The reply by the attorney for the Defendant has made news in Tennessee and beyond. Click on each image and see if you can keep a straight face as Captain Justice responds.





Wondering how it all came out?

Well, the Judge tossed General Rettig's motion in the trash--figuratively speaking, of course.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

October 1, 2013 Councilmembers Violate Open Meetings Act at Kingsport Retreat

The City Council held a special workshop or "retreat" at the luxurious Meadowview Convention Center in Kingsport on Friday, September 13, and Saturday, September 14. Six councilmembers attended the retreat. [Mayor Thomas was present briefly on Friday but left and did not return.]

It appears that the six councilmembers attending the Kingsport retreat violated the Open Meetings Act by discussing, deliberating, and actually making a decision to give City Administrator Tony Cox a $7,000 increase to his deferred compensation package.

When you hold a "special" called meeting or workshop, there are special requirements for the public notice that is provided. The notice must include the agenda for the meeting and each item that will be deliberated on or on which a decision will be made.

According to the September 6, 2013, public notice for this special workshop/retreat, the council was going to Kingsport to work on "strategic planning" with MTAS facilitator Pat Hardy. 

Apparently, they did more than just strategize in Kingsport. In this video taken at the Finance Committee meeting on September 17, 2013, Councilmember Gary Chesney, who is chairman of the Finance Committee, admits that the six councilmembers discussed and deliberated and reached a decision on additional compensation for the City Administrator--even though this was not an agenda item on the public notice for the special workshop meeting.



You might ask whether council could have amended the published agenda to add the deferred compensation item for discussion and deliberation. The short answer is "no." A special called meeting is just that---it is called for a special and specific purpose. The public must be notified of the purpose or purposes and no other item(s) may be considered. [At a regular meeting, agendas typically can be amended to add items but special called meetings are different]

There is another irony to this violation of the open meetings act. Chesney has recently been posting on his City Hall website about being a "firm believer" in Tennessee's Sunshine laws. (1) The Open Meetings Act which calls for open meetings and adequate public notice of those meetings, and (2) the Public Records Act which requires that public records be available to the public. 

Click here to see what Mr. Chesney had to say about Tennessee's Sunshine laws right before he violated the Open Meetings Act as admitted in the video. 

Mr. Chesney was not alone in this violation. Councilmembers Kay Senter, Paul LeBel, Chris Bivens, Bob Garrett, and Dennis Alvis were present in Kingsport as well and, according to Chesney, all discussed and "agreed" on the additional compensation.

Today, the full council will try to "cure" this particular violation by taking up the deferred compensation issue at its regular council meeting.

[As a sidenote, I find Mr. Chesney's City Hall website very informative. I recently commended him at a public meeting for taking the time to post about city business and meetings. I wish other councilmembers would do the same and, as always, I continue to ask that the council put its council packets online so that the public can see the contracts, the resolutions, the ordinances, and background information for council actions]

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

August 21, 2013 Council Approves Mayor's Nomination of Bryan Dickerson to MUS Board

There is a new member on the five-person MUS Board of Commissioners.

After councilmembers rejected the first two mayoral nominations (Max Biery and Jim Sexton) to the Morristown Utility System Board of Commissioners,  Mayor Thomas made a third pick yesterday, and the full council then approved his appointment of Bryan Dickerson to the MUS Board in a 7-0 vote.

Dickerson will take the seat currently held by Max Biery who was nominated by the Mayor from a list of three persons provided to him by MUS but whose re-appointment to the MUS Board was rejected by a majority of councilmembers (Garrett, LeBel, Alvis, and Bivens) on July 16.



Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19, 2013 MUS Sends Another Slate of Three Names to the Mayor to Replace Max Biery on the MUS Board of Commissioners

The MUS Board of Commissioners met last Friday, August 16, to prepare a third slate of names to submit to Mayor Danny Thomas for his recommendation of one of those individuals to the full council to replace MUS Commissioner Max Biery.  [Biery's re-appointment to the MUS Board by the Mayor was rejected on July 16 by the council.]
 
The five MUS Commissioners recommended that the names of Bryan Dickerson, Steve Isaacs, and Wally Long be submitted to the Mayor.
 
 
BACKGROUND
The Mayor nominated Biery for re-appointment back on July 16, 2013, but four members of the council voted to reject the re-appointment. Those opposed to Biery's nomination were councilmembers Bob Garrett, former head of the MUS Water Department; Paul LeBel; Dennis Alvis; and Chris Bivens. The video and vote is here
 
MUS submitted another list of three names, and five councilmembers then rejected the mayor's nomination of Jim Sexton of MAHLE to the MUS Board on August 6, 2013. Voting to reject Sexton's nomination were Bob Garrett, former head of the MUS Water Department; Dennis Alvis; Chris Bivens; Kay Senter; and Gary Chesney. The video and vote is here
 
There is a power struggle for control of the MUS Board of Commissioners--especially with steps being taken ever more rapidly to transfer city sewer operations to MUS.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

August 7. 2013 Five Councilmembers Vote To Reject the Appointment of Jim Sexton of MAHLE to the Morristown Utility Systems Board

And the rejection beat goes on...

On July 26, the five-member MUS (Morristown Utility Systems) Board chose a (second) slate of three individuals for appointment to the Board of Commissioners and sent the list to the Mayor. The list was comprised of Bryan Dickerson, Jim Sexton, and Glenn Thompson.

As the law requires, the Mayor presented the name of one of the MUS nominees to the council yesterday--Jim Sexton of MAHLE.

Bob Garrett immediately made a motion to reject Sexton. Garrett is a former longtime employee of MUS and headed the Water Department for many, many years.

The vote to reject was 5-1. Garrett, Kay Senter, Chris Bivens, Dennis Alvis, and Gary Chesney voted to reject Sexton (Paul LeBel was absent).  Mayor Danny Thomas supported Sexton.



No one said anything during the public portion of the meeting as to why he or she opposed Sexton. 

All that is publicly evident at this time is the power struggle to control the MUS Board and that a majority of council do not want Max Biery or Jim Sexton on the Board or maybe they just don't want anyone that the Mayor nominates---even though the Mayor is simply selecting from the list provided to him by the MUS Board of Commissioners.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Back on July 16 four councilmembers (Garrett, Bivens, Alvis, and LeBel) voted to reject the mayor's nomination of sitting MUS commissioner Max Biery---who was on the previous slate of three individuals recommended to the Mayor by the MUS Board of Commissioners.

Click here to go to the post with video of the rejection of Biery by council.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

August 3, 2013 Max Biery Nominates Three for His MUS Commission Position

Max Biery, former head of JTEKT, has served as a Morristown Utility Commissioner for about 12 years.

His current term on the MUS Board expires this year. In June, the MUS Board prepared a slate of three nominees, including Biery, for the Mayor's selection and council's confirmation or rejection in July. That slate consisted of Biery, Steve Isaacs, and Terry Brimer.

On July 16, 2013, the Mayor nominated Biery from that slate, but the Morristown City Council in a 4-3 vote rejected Biery's nomination for another term as a utility commissioner. The votes to reject Biery's nomination came from Dennis Alvis, Bob Garrett, Paul LeBel, and Chris Bivens.

 

On July 26, 2013, the MUS Board met and Biery, leaving off the names of Isaacs and Brimer, proposed a completely new slate of three nominees to send to the Mayor: Bryan Dickerson, Jim Sexton, and Glenn Thompson.

That video is here:



Earlier in the same meeting, Biery alluded to the fact that this meeting could be his last when he asked Clark Rucker for one "last" explanation of a degree day.

The Mayor's nomination of an individual to take Biery's place followed by a "yes" or "no" vote by the full council will likely take place at the Council's August 6, 2013, meeting.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July 17, 2013 In 4-3 Vote, Council Rejects Max Biery's Re-Appointment to MUS Board

There is a power struggle going on.  It involves several boards appointed by city council. Many of these boards have control over city infrastructure and/or make recommendations to council regarding city development, tax increment financing awards, and other important issues.

At yesterday's city council meeting, an appointment to one of the most powerful boards in Morristown--the Morristown Utility Commission--was on the agenda.

The Morristown Utility Commission voted on June 27 on three names to send to the Mayor (current MUC member Max Biery, Steve Isaacs, and Terry Brimer). The Mayor then  recommends one name for a full council vote. The MUS video is here:


Yesterday, Mayor Thomas recommended that Max Biery be re-appointed to the Morristown Utility Commission.

Bob Garrett, a 40+ year former employee and former head of the Water Department at MUS, immediately moved to reject Biery's nomination. He was then joined by three other councilmembers who rejected Biery by a 4-3 vote. Those voting to reject Biery were Garett, Paul LeBel, Chris Bivens, and Dennis Alvis. Voting for Biery were Mayor Thomas, Gary Chesney, and Kay Senter.


None of the four stated why they were opposed to Biery or who they have in mind for the position. Biery has served as a Morristown Utility Board Commissioner since 2001 when the Board was expanded to five-members. Biery is a retired head of J-TEKT and his initial appointment was seen as placing a representative of industrial interests on the MUS Board.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

July 4, 2013 The Declaration of Independence

 
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
 
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
 
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. - Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
 
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
 
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
 
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
 
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
 
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
 
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
 
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
 
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
 
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
 
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
 
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
 
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
 
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
 
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
 
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
 
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
 
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
 
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
 
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
 
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
 
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the
Forms of our Governments:
 
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
 
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
 
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
 
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
 
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
 
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
 
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
 
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
 
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. - And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Friday, June 14, 2013

June 14, 2013 Industrial Board Recommends Another One-Year Extension for Freedom Energy Diesel Project

At Wednesday's Industrial Board meeting, the Board voted to recommend that City Council give another one year extension to Freedom Energy Diesel to develop a coal-to-gas plant at the East Tennessee Progress Center.


In June 2011, 116 acres in the ETPC was sold at a deeply discounted price to D4 Capital Holdings, LLC which transferred the property to Freedom Energy Diesel, LLC for construction of a $405 Million dollar plant that would use new technology to convert coal into gas/diesel. The head of FED is David Wild of Morristown.

The IDB named FED "Project Victory."

Despite D4 and/or FED assurances that round-the-clock construction of the plant would begin, the City included in its June 2011 deed that if construction had not begun within one year, then the property would revert to the City of Morristown.

One year later, June 2012, grading had taken place but no construction of the facility had begun and no product was being shipped. FED asked for and was granted a one-year extension to go "overseas" for financing. David Wild spoke at that IDB meeting. See the council and IDB video here.

Now another year later, June 2013, no construction of the facility has begun and no product is being shipped. FED has asked for another extension. The second one-year extension is broken into two phases---6 months (December 31, 2013) to obtain and present proof that it has the financing in place for the project and then another 6 months (June 30, 2014) to begin construction.

No member of the IDB asked FED representative David Wild any questions about the status of the project before voting on the extension.  [IDB Chairman Jack Fishman said City Council had requested that the IDB make a recommendation.]

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June 11, 2013 Industrial Development Board Meeting Tomorrow

The Industrial Development Board (IDB) of the City of Morristown meets tomorrow at 1 PM for a called meeting at the Chamber of Commerce building at 825 West First North Street.

The meetings are typically in the basement of the Chamber building.

Notice of IDB meetings is not usually found in the public notice section of the local "news"paper."

To find out about these meetings, you have to go to the Chamber building and check the bulletin board every day or you have to go to City Hall to see if notice of an IDB meeting has been posted on the city bulletin board or you can check the city website to see if a meeting is listed on the city calendar of events.

IDB meetings are open to the public.
Tomorrow's meeting begins at 1 PM.
[Most recent IDB "public meetings" have begun at 7:30 AM or 8:00 AM.]

According to the City website, the IDB agenda is as follows:

Approval of summarization of May 8, 2013, meeting.
Consider approval of grading in ETPC (East Tennessee Progress Center).
ETPC property agreement discussion.
Consider request for TIF exclusions.
"Any and all other business that may properly come before the Board."

Friday, June 07, 2013

June 7, 2013 Judge Kurtz "Stacks" Thomas' Two Life Sentences

After convicting George Thomas in connection with the murder of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom, the jury in the George Thomas re-trial meted out two life sentences with the possibility of parole.

On June 4, Judge Walter Kurtz stacked those two life sentences and added on another 25 years for the rape conviction, leaving Thomas to serve approximately 120 years in prison before he is eligible for parole. 

[Thomas' first conviction in the Christian-Newsom case was thrown out and a re-trial granted when the presiding Judge, Richard Baumgartner, was charged in connection with a pill scandal. Baumgartner made a plea deal in state court and resigned but was later convicted in federal court of lying to investigators.]

During Tuesday's sentencing, Kurtz expressed dismay at the extreme violence and "gratuitous depravity" shown in commission of the crimes. He also noted the unimaginable suffering that the victims endured in the last hours of their life.

Kurtz then "stacked" the two life sentences with parole that the jury had meted out and tacked on another 25 years for the rapes of both victims, effectively ensuring that Thomas will never live to apply for "parole."


Thursday, June 06, 2013

June 6, 2013 D-Day and Dwight D. Eisenhower

                                                             Dwight David Eisenhower

Click here and read Eisenhower's famous D-Day speech. Better yet, click on the "play" button at the website and hear Eisenhower deliver the speech to men who would give their all on June 6, 1944, for their fellow countrymen and for oppressed peoples in Europe.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

June 4, 2013 Bid Results for the Fourth Downtown Millennium Bid Opening

The Downtown Millennium Square Parking Garage pre-bid meeting was held on May 2, 2013.

Several potential bidders, including at least two local contractors, showed up.

Only two contractors actually bid on May 22.

Southern Constructors (Knoxville) bid $1,524,620.00
Merit Construction (Knoxville) bid $1,625,754.43

A TDOT Transportation Enhancement grant will provide most of the funding to build the Millennium parking garage on the property of the Millennium Square Partners (MSP).  MSP has to make up the difference between the grant funding and the cost of construction.

The Millennium Square Partners are James and Mira Craine, David and Tim Wild, Hiram Jones, Tom Jones, Sid Boyd, and Bill Young. 

While the City, TDOT, MSP, and architects Brewer, Ingram & Fuller appear to be having plenty of discussions about this fourth bidding, there are few public comments and few/no reports in the "news"paper at this time.

Here is the pre-bid video:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

May 30, 2013 Former Knox Judge Richard Baumgartner Reports to Federal Prison

Disgraced Knox County Judge Criminal Judge Richard Baumgartner has reported to a minimum security federal prison in West Virginia to serve a six-month sentence following his conviction in federal court for lying to investigators to cover up pill-buys from his mistress.

The News-Sentinel story is here.

Baumgartner presided over a series of trials in connection with the carjacking, torture, rape, and murder of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom.  State charges were brought when the TBI came in and investigated his pill-usage and purchases from his mistress Deena Castleman who was a "graduate" of the Drug Court established by Baumgartner.

Baumgartner negotiated a plea deal on the state charges where he pled guilty to official misconduct, resigned from the bench, and received diversion.

Federal charges were then brought and Baumgartner was convicted in federal court of misprision. He is appealing that conviction but elected to go on and serve his sentence while the appeals process  moves forward.

In a related story, former DA Al Schmutzer expressed relief over the recent conviction of George Thomas following his re-trial in the Christian-Newsom case. Schmutzer was not involved in the Christian-Newsom trials but acted as the special prosecutor in the state case against Baumgartner and negotiated a plea deal where Baumgartner would resign from the bench, plea guilty to official misconduct, and receive diversion which would allow his record to be wiped clean if his record remained out of trouble for two years. The interview with Schmutzer is here.

Previous blog posts and links to stories about Baumgartner are here.



Thursday, May 23, 2013

May 23, 2013 LeBel Questions James Craine on East End Food City TIF and Masengill Springs Food City TIF

On May 21, the Morristown City Council approved a $2.5 TIF (tax incremental financing) for the Masengill Springs Food City by a 4-3 vote. In favor were Alvis, Bivens, Chesney, and Thomas and opposed were Garrett, LeBel, and Senter.

These videos show what took place before the vote on the Masengill Springs TIF.

James Craine, vice-chairman of the IDB, stated that he performed the Masengill Springs economic impact study that is the basis for the IDB's recommendation of a TIF. Craine said that he was requested to perform the study by the IDB of which he is a member. He added that he was paid approximately $5,000.00 for his work. [Apologies for the poor video but the audio is clear]



LeBel then grilled Craine about the IDB's handling of the only currently active TIF--the east end Barton Springs Food City TIF.



LeBel also questioned Craine about the Masengill Springs TIF that was on the council's agenda and that was later approved by a 4-3 vote.


 




Tuesday, May 21, 2013

May 21, 2013 George Thomas Convicted in Christian-Newsom Re-trial

George Thomas got a re-trial in the Christian-Newsom carjacking, kidnapping, torture, rape, and murder case.

And he was convicted again on multiple counts and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

The NS story is here.

There is also an article in yesterday's NS providing a re-cap of this six-year saga with the unbelievable horror of the crimes, the trials, the pill-popping Judge, and the re-trials. Click here.

.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

May 8, 2013 And The Ones Who Got The Most Votes Are...

May 1, 2013 City Election

Alvis, Chesney, Senter, and Garrett