Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 30, 2010 David Purkey Named Assistant Commissioner for Homeland Security

Former Hamblen County Mayor David Purkey has been named Assistant Commissioner for Homeland Security by Governor-elect Bill Haslam. Click here.

In 2008, David pretty much left his job as Hamblen County Mayor to Commision Chair Stancil Ford and started campaigning for Haslam.  David hoped to be Commissioner of Safety in Haslam's administration. 

Haslam, however, tapped Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons for that position.  With Purkey's appointment as Deputy Commissioner for Homeland Security, Purkey will have large amounts of taxpayer Homeland Security money at his disposal and wide access to personal information on citizens.

Hopefully, Gibbons and Haslam can keep David from putting the Homeland Security budget in the red like he put Hamblen County in the red in 2003 after 8 years as Mayor. For his multiple violations of law and general mishandling of county finances and driving the county to the brink of bankruptcy in 2003, click here, here, here, and here. Every single statement has been documented, and David has never attempted to refute any of the statements about his mishandling of county finances or putting a special friend on the county insurance plan even though he was not a county employee and not eligible for coverage.

Hopefully, Gibbons and Haslam can keep David from running around and ordering expensive shows of overwhelming force to shut down anti-illegal immigration rallies. For his use of Homeland Security, THP, and local enforcement in shutting down an anti-illegal immigration rally, click here and here.

Hopefully, Gibbons and Haslam can keep David from using Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers to assist him in violating election laws as David did in his 2006 run for County Mayor. 

And, hopefully, Gibbons and Haslam can keep David from lying about his illegal actions when he gets caught violating laws or obtaining and using personal information to get political opponents directly or through their families. 

He's out of Morristown/Hamblen County for now, but his use of state law enforcement and Homeland Security resources to stop an anti-illegal immigration rally in 2006, his bankrupting of the county in 2003, his accomplishment in having more audit findings than any other county in the state, his use of a Highway Patrol Trooper in 2006 to violate criminal election laws, his lying to a compliant press about his violation of criminal election laws in 2006, and his being given a pass by a district attorney for his criminal violations is a lasting, pitiful legacy to a man who plans to lead "Homeland Security" in Tennessee.

For someone who is going to be in a sensitive law enforcement position, the real kicker is Purkey's "use" of law enforcement trooper friends to violate election laws in 2006 followed by Purkey's blatant cover-up of his involvement in those violations by publicly denying any knowledge or involvement with an Election Eve postcard mailout in 2006-- a public statement that was later found to be false.

The "news"paper reported on the Election Eve postcard and published Purkey's strong denial of any involvement. The "news"paper also noted that an investigation had been ordered. Then there was total silence.

When the investigating District Attorney's letter/report was sent to Judge John Dugger in May 2007 stating that David was "apparently" involved in criminal election law violations related to the Election Eve postcard, the local "news"paper reporter (Bob Moore) ignored it.  Why? The initial story was reported. Why no concluding story?

The local "news"paper reporter also ignored the fact that David had lied to Moore in 2006 when David denied any involvement or knowledge about the Election Eve postcard mailout, a postcard that said it was paid for by a John R. Jones, who, as it turned out, was David's special Highway Patrol law enforcement friend. Why? The initial statement was reported? Why no follow-up at the conclusion of the investigation?

[The District Attorney's letter/report referenced a TBI investigation and the fact that David Purkey apparently violated criminal election laws. The DA then refused to prosecute. Why? Because Purkey might demand a jury trial and this would cost some money and, heck, it might be difficult to seat a jury in Hamblen County! 

Preliminary TBI reports gave the DA an early indication as to where the investigation was headed and the parties that were involved --David Purkey and his special friend Trooper John R. Jones.  If the DA was going to give David and his law enforcement friend John R. Jones a pass even though all the evidence, interviews, and witnesses pointed one way, he should have stopped the investigation at the start and saved the money for prosecution of some little unknown person somewhere where seating a jury would be "easy."]

Many things can seem trivial when viewed in isolation.  It's surprising that Haslam could not or did not attempt to find someone for this sensitive position who had not used law enforcement friends to help him break the law and had not then publicly lied about it.

It is David Purkey's use of law enforcement friends to assist him in breaking the law followed by his public lies to cover-up his actions and those of his THP law enforcement friends that make his selection for a sensitive position as Deputy Commissioner for Homeland Security singularly standout.

He used a Tennessee Highway Patrolmen in an election campaign in violation of criminal election laws and lied about it.  What could he do or attempt to do to political opponents, their families, and their friends with his power as Deputy Commissioner of Homeland Security?  Who watches the watchers?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 29, 2010 Millennium Bidding Postponed Again

The Millennium Square Project Bidding has been postponed again. The new bid date is tentatively February 1, 2011. Click herehere, and here for recent posts.

The original bid date was December 14, 2010.  However, on December 10, 2010, TDOT cancelled that bid date based on questions raised by contractors and information provided to TDOT by Councilman Gene Brooks about conflicts of interest and other contract-related issues. These issues still have to be addressed.

At about the same time, the architectural firm Brewer, Ingram & Fuller set a new bid date of 1/4/11.

Now, the Architects have set yet another new bid date of February 1, 2011, ostensibly at the request of the City of Morristown in order to work out contract-related items with TDOT (Tennessee Department of Transportation) and "others."

The conflicts and webs of relationships in this project are about as extensive as they can be. The Millennium Square owners are Tim and David Wild, James and Mira Craine, Tom Jones, Hiram Jones, Sid Boyd, and Bill Young. 

In addition, the Craines and the Joneses are principals in the city's auditing firm Craine, Thompson & Jones. The Wilds are also principals in Wild Building Contractors. Millennium Square Partners/Craine Thompson & Jones/Wild Building Contractors are tightly knit.

Now the Craines and Joneses and Wilds not only want the city's ($890,000-$1,200,000) grant money for improvements to their Millennium property, they also want the Wilds to be able to take off their Millennium Owner hat and put on their Wild Building Contractors hat and bid to perform the actual construction work. 

[Originally Millennium Partners/Wild Building Contractors wanted Wild to be "given" the contract for the construction work without any bidding. The plan was to have Wild designated as a "sole source" provider for the  construction  work. That plan didn't go very far, however, because construction work of this kind is NOT any type of specialty work that only Wild can do.

Had the attempt to pursue a "sole source" designation  for Wild been successful, it was designed to enable the City to "select" Wild as contractor without any competitive bidding and keep the project and all the grant money in the Millennium Partners' hands.]

Apparently getting lots of free improvements of  $890,000+ or - to their property and access to public parking that the Millennium employees could use is not enough for the Craines, Joneses, and Wilds.

Friday, December 10, 2010

December 10, 2010 Downtown Millennium (Un)Square Deal

The Downtown Millennium (Un)Square Grant Deal will be coming under tighter and more intense scrutiny in the coming days.

Long ago, I posted about the obvious and multiple conflicts of interest in this set-up. Recent posts are  here and here.  As more people are becoming aware of the conflicts, hard questions are being asked and those involved and those who approved this (un)square deal are being asked to explain what's going on.

With the bid date of 12/14/10 fast approaching, the bidding may be postponed for completion of certain work by the Architect or his consultants. Since there are many other reasons to postpone the bidding and look closely at this deal, a postponement for any reason is a positive sign.

Stay tuned. Others are picking up on the conflicts and irregularities in the Millennium (Un)Square Deal.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

December 9, 2010 Haslam Picks DA Bill Gibbons As Safety Commissioner

Governor-elect Bill Haslam has selected Memphis/Shelby County DA Bill Gibbons as Commissioner of Safety.

Click here for the News-Sentinel story.

Former Hamblen County Mayor David Purkey has missed out on his dream job where he could run across the state undercover, in a limo, or with blue lights flashing and sirens screaming. 

Lots of law enforcement gear and lots of personnel would have been at his disposal--from THP officers in riot gear, to THP helicopters, to rooftop snipers, to Homeland Security Command Centers.  

Yep, all the gear and personnel that he assisted in calling to Hamblen County to intimidate and disrupt local citizens at an anti-illegal immigration rally in June 2006 while he observed.

Maybe the dream job is not there any more, but another opportunity will be right around the corner. Wait and see. 

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

December 7, 2010 Alpha-Talbott Utility District Will Not Handle Morristown's New Garbage Billing

The gang that can't--or won't--shoot straight (City of Morristown) just got itself into another pickle over its belated efforts to have outside water utility districts include Morristown's $10/month garbage fee on the utility's water bills to city residents.

Yesterday, the Alpha-Talbott Utility District Board met and voted NOT to include the City of Morristown's $10/month garbage fee on AT water bills that go to city residents. AT won't do Morristown's dirty work--pun intended!

[Bobby Moore, "news"paper reporter/City of Morristown PR person, had reported on December 2: "Phillip Combs, Alpha-Talbott manager, said that if other utility districts don’t experience problems, he will start billing the 42 qualifying customers..."

Somebody missed the reporting boat or things took a dramatic turn from December 2 to December 6.  On December 6th--4 days after Moore's quote from Combs--the AT Board met and voted NOT to bill for Morristown's garbage. It looks like Alpha-Talbott wasn't basing its decision on what other utilities did nor was AT waiting to see if other utility districts had problems.]

Next comes Russellville-Whitesburg Utility District. The Russellville-Whitesburg Utility District Board is scheduled to vote toward the end of December on whether to include the City of Morristown's $10/month garbage fee on RV-WB water bills that go to city residents.

[RV-WB is leaning strongly toward joining AT in refusing to do Morristown's dirty work, but you never know what will happen when Morristown power players jump in and start to twist arms.]

So far, the only outside utility district that Morristown has convinced to do Morristown's garbage billing is Witt Utility District.  Coincidentally, Witt recently got an extension of its water contract with Morristown.

Now---is it legal to send some city residents a garbage fee bill while other city residents are not billed?

Who let this go for nearly four months before even giving these utility districts a billing list and officially asking them to do Morristown's garbage billings?

December 7, 2010 Pearl Harbor Day

To hear President Franklin D. Roosevelt address Congress after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, click here.  A day which will live in infamy...

December 7, 2010 City Council Meets With Attorneys Again...Still No Public Discussion of Lowland Sewer Plant Contract and Future Costs

City Administrator Tony Cox is playing it close to the vest as he works behind the scenes to save the Lowland Wastewater Plant contract. It's a $5 Million purchase, but that's just the tip of the money iceberg.

Wilbur Smith & Associates has estimated that it will take another $70 Million to complete a 5-phase construction program with force mains, gravity lines, pump stations, excavation, storm and water system repairs, etc.

So far Tony is making sure that discussions with or by City Council about the Lowland Wastewater Plant continue to take place in closed sessions with City Attorney Dick Jessee and recently-hired outside counsel Mark Mamantov of Knoxville. Tony is not scheduling any public discussions yet.

After today's 4:00 PM City Council meeting, the Mayor, councilmembers, and Tony Cox will retreat to the Mayor's conference room or will clear out the council chambers so they can hold yet another closed meeting with Jessee and Mamantov. The last announced closed meeting took place on November 16, 2010.

In my opinion, Tony is trying to get a consensus among enough councilmembers (4) to approve a few cosmetic changes to the contract--call it a "lease," add an "out" clause, and continue to pay MPLG (Mike Ball and Joe Fielden) $182,500 every year for 25 years to go along with the $750,000 already paid to Ball and Fielden.

Once the votes are in place,  Tony will schedule a perfunctory public vote at a public meeting but with as little public discussion as possible.

Tony has already made the decision---or, more likely, knows that he is to carry out the decision/wish of others.  Tony and others are more than happy to have the hard-pressed sewer customers of the City of Morristown pay even higher sewer fees to help pay for a dilapidated plant ($5M) and for all or part of the the additional millions ($70+ Million) needed for construction and upgrades to make this plant fully operational--even though the City has let its own sewer system go to pieces and is in the middle of a multi-million dollar repair process in that arena!

City of Morristown and Sewer:  Let what you have fall apart, raise sewer rates, and throw MILLIONS of other people's money at it.  And, while you're at it, buy a dilapidated plant, raise sewer rates, and throw MEGA-MILLIONS MORE of other people's money at it.

Monday, December 06, 2010

December 6, 2010 Some Attendees at the Millennium Square Project Pre-Bid Meeting

Tim Wild (Millennium Square Partner and principal in Wild Building Contractors); James Craine (Millennium Square Partner and principal in the auditing firm Craine, Thompson & Jones that performs the City of Morristown annual audit). For a previous post listing all attendees who signed in, click here.

Clint Harrison (foreground) Engineer and City of Morristown consultant for sewer for Millennium Square project. 

Lisa Hoskins (Brewer, Ingram & Fuller, Architects) and Todd Morgan (Program Director, City of Morristown Community Development Corporation). Ed Hale (Hale Construction) is also pictured in the background looking at Millennium plans.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

December 5, 2010 How's That City of Morristown Garbage Fee Working Out For City Residents?

We're going on 4 months now, and the City of Morristown continues to bill its new $10/month garbage fee to some city residents but not to others.

Failure to bill is no problem if you are one of the unbilled city residents.

Failure to bill is very unfair, however, if you are getting a bill and paying for a city service (garbage pick-up) while the City has not sent a single bill to other city residents.

Graciously, the City has said that it doesn't intend to go back and bill the "unbilled" for the four months (as of now) of free garbage service. That's certainly fair to the unbilled. 

But what's fair to those who have been paying for four months already?  The City needs to stop billing the City residents who have already been billed for four months of garbage pick-up until all city residents have been billed an equal number of months. That's fair and equitable to ALL city residents.

The whole garbage fee and garbage billing fiasco are classic examples of government mismanagement at its best. City leaders should have taken care of the financial mess they created without inventing a new way to take money out of  the wallets of the already suffering citizenry. But that's not the way things operate in the City "Taj Mahal" Center or in most any government building.

Instead of being accountable and trying to save money,  Mayor Barile and company just increased property taxes, increased sales taxes through a "pick-your-poison" sales tax referendum, put in red light cameras, illegally transferred/loaned money from one fund to the other, and then tacked on a garbage fee for a city service that had always been provided through tax payments until new City Administrator Tony Cox arrived.

Bobby Moore, who writes press releases in the "news"paper for the City of Morrist, oops, who writes "news" for the Citizen Tribune, recently ran a second article on December 2, 2010, trying to explain the City's failure to bill some city residents (those city residents who receive water from Alpha-Talbott, Witt, and Russellville-Whitesburg Utility Districts) while going on and billing others (those city residents who receive water from MUS).

In his most recent opus, Bobby explains that the City has now (November 29) sent garbage fee billing lists to the three surrounding utility districts and has asked the utilities to include Morristown's garbage fee on the utility's water bills. 

Bobby adds that the utility districts "could begin collecting Morristown's...$10/month garbage fee at the end of December."  Actually, it's the billings that "could" go out in December (or not) but the collection of any money by the utility districts can't take place until January 2011 at the earliest. And even that is not a sure thing.

When Bobby Moore was doing his first CMA (Cover Morristown's rear-end) article on November 18, he reported that the failure to bill all city residents stemmed from "billing difficulties" with the Utility Districts. For some reason, Bobby failed to explain then that actually the City hadn't even sent a billing list to the Utility Districts. 

I guess you could term not providing a list of city residents to the utility districts and not authorizing them to include Morristown garbage bills on the utility's water bills a "billing difficulty," but those certainly aren't billing difficulties created by the districts.

On November 24, I pointed out that the "billing difficulties" with the utility districts were that the City had not authorized the utility districts to bill the fee. Click here.  Now Bobby reports pretty much the same thing and adds that the City has finally given each utility a list of garbage fee customers and has asked/authorized the utility districts to send out garbage bills. 

Now that the City has given the Utility Districts a billing list and the go-ahead to bill, other problems have come out.  At least one utility, RV-WB, doesn't have software with the capability of handling yet another billing task for the City of Morristown. [RV-WB already bills its customers for RV-WB water and includes Morristown sewer and Morristown stormwater charges on the bills that go to Morristown residents.]

The RV-WB utility board will meet toward the end of December and vote on Morristown's request that RV-WB include yet another Morristown fee on RV-WB water bills. 

Since most customers look at their water bill as a lump sum, adding the $10/month Morristown garbage fee to RV-WB water bills may inadvertently create ill-will toward RV-WB, the billing agent, instead of ill-will toward the real culprit, the City of Morristown.

Watch for that RV-WB vote. Morristown power players will be applying behind-the-scenes pressure on RV-WB to go on and handle the Morristown garbage billings and not rock the boat.   We'll see if TPTB can apply enough pressure to get another utility to take flak for Morristown's financial failings and continued lack of accountability.

Friday, December 03, 2010

December 3, 2010 Millennium Project To Bid on December 14, 2010

Several months ago, the City of Morristown sought and got approval to transfer around $890,000 of former Morristown College grant money to a downtown project owned by Millennium Square partnership.

The partners in Millennium Square as of August 2010 are D&T Partners (Tim Wild, David Wild); C&J Partners (James Craine, Mira Jones Craine, Hiram Jones, Tom Jones); Sidney Boyd; and Bill Young.

Millennium Square Partners will get the $890,000+ in grant funds to build a shell for their retail building on West Main Street next to their Millennium Square Building.

What does the City get?  Some rooftop parking in downtown Morristown.  Yep. The roof of the retail shell will have 22 parking spaces that will be available for public parking for 25 years. 

A pre-bid construction meeting was held this past Tuesday at the City Center for prospective bidders.  Construction bids will be received on December 14, 2010.

Because of the economic situation and the depressed construction industry, many contractors were present  at the pre-bid meeting.  Messer Construction, Merit Construction, Southern Constructors, Inland Construction, Burwil Construction, Wild Building Contractors, Hale Construction, Joseph Construction, D&S Builders, and Trent Excavating. 

Wild Building Contractors? Yes, David and Tim Wild, who are partners in Millennium Square, are apparently planning to bid on the newest City/Millennium Square project.

Who else was present? James Craine. Craine, like David and Tim Wild, is a Millennium partner and is also a principal in the City's auditing firm Craine, Thompson & Jones.

So David and Tim Wild (Wild Building Contractors) will be bidding for the construction contract on a project where they benefit as the end owners (Millennium Square Partnership) of the finished retail shell.

Craine, Thompson & Jones, as the City's auditing firm, will audit the spending of the approimately $890,000 in grant money that benefits James & Mira Craine, Hiram Jones, and Tom Jones as end owners (Millennium Square Partnership) of the finished retail shell.

Sweet. The City gives the Wilds, Craines, and Joneses $890,000 of grant money to pay for construction of a downtown retail building for the Wilds, Craines, & Joneses. In return, the City gets some some rooftop parking for 25 years.

Oh, the City points out that it's all "grant money" and that the Millennium partners will graciously pay the city's 10% local grant match in order to get the other 90% free. That's nice. And that's a great deal for Millennium partners.

Did anyone else get offered this great deal? Did the City give any other local business people a chance to submit a proposal for building themselves a brand new store by paying just 10% and getting 90% "free"? No.