Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 26, 2014 Morristown-Hamblen Humane Society Cancels Today's Meeting WIth Little or No Notice

With a mid-morning call to County Mayor Bill Brittain's office, Morristown-Hamblen Humane Society President Christine Coley cancelled today's monthly meeting of the Executive Board of the beleaguered group.

The meeting had been scheduled for today in the West Wing Conference Room of the Courthouse. The Executive Board was expected to vote on accepting or rejecting the animal control and fiscal accountability contract drafted by the City of Morristown and Hamblen County and approved last Thursday by the County.

I was planning to attend and found out about the cancellation when I called the Mayor's office a little after 9:30 to check on the meeting time.

Hopefully, most of the other people who were going to attend also called or found out by word of mouth that the meeting was cancelled.

I asked the lady at the Mayor's office if Christine Coley. the president of the MH Humane Society, had given a reset date. No. 

The only thing that the Mayor's office knew or would say was that the meeting was "off."

Monday, August 25, 2014

August 25, 2014 Morristown City Council Spends Taxpayer Dollars for 2-day Workshop Get-Away in Gatlinburg

The Morristown City Council met at the Edgewater Hotel and Convention Center in Gatlinburg on Friday, August 22 and Saturday, August 23.

Lots of interesting discussions and comments from the Mayor and councilmembers.

Zero "press" present.

For some reason, the local "news"paper chooses to give the councilmembers privacy in these retreat meetings--even though these meetings, called strategic planning workshops, are public meetings in which public business is discussed.

It is a shame that the council often chooses to meet away from Morristown for these workshops. Mr. Cox has previously scheduled overnight workshops at the Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City and at the Meadowview Resort Center in Kingsport.

There will be more on the "retreat," but here is a starter video where the council--that has been condemning and demolishing substandard houses for several years now--discusses two downtown eyesores that have been ignored.  

Click on the link for the video of LeBel discusses giving TIFs (tax increment financing) to the owners as an economic incentive; Chesney proposes new city "Belk and Bradley's" city ordinances; and Garrett mentions the city condemning and tearing the buildings down.


Friday, August 22, 2014

August 22, 2014 The Industrial Board Elects Officers--New City Landowner Marshall Ramsey Becomes Secretary-Treasurer

At Wednesday's special called meeting of the Industrial Development Board of the City of Morristown, the previous officers were re-elected.

Jack Fishman will continue as chairman.
James Craine continues as vice-chairman.
Marshall Ramsey was elected as secretary-treasurer.
Anderson Smith apparently continues as "assistant" secretary treasurer.

Prior to July 1, 2014, Marshall Ramsey acted as secretary-treasurer of the IDB and signed documents on behalf of the Board although he was not qualified to serve on the Board.

He was not qualified to serve on or be an officer of the Industrial Board of the City of Morristown because he did not live in the City of Morristown nor did he own property in the City of Morristown.

Luckily, Ramsey had friends in high places.

Ramsey finally became a "legal" member of the Industrial Board on July 1, 2014, when George (MUS) McGuffin, Don "TIF" Bunch, and Wayman Skelton deeded him a city lot in Hampton West Subdivision and a few hours later the City Council appointed him to the IDB.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August 20, 2014 City Council Unanimously Approves the Mayor's Appointment of Rod Isaacs to the MUS Board To Replace Gene Jolley

The latest MUS appointment saga/fiasco is over.

Yesterday, Mayor Thomas nominated Rod Isaacs to the MUS Board. Bob Garrett seconded the appointment, and the full council unanimously voted "yes."

Previously, the council rejected the Mayor's nomination of Max Biery and Jack Kennerly from three-person slates sent to the Mayor by MUS.

Then the MUS Board (George McGuffin, Harold Nichols, Gene Jolley, Lynn Elkins, and Bryan Dickerson) sent two slates to the Mayor that included individuals who were not qualified to serve on the MUS Board because they served on other city boards.

Finally, MUS figured out the qualifications for service on the MUS Board and sent the three-person slate of Jolley, Rod Isaacs, and Jay Smith to the Mayor.

On the surface yesterday, the six city councilmembers (LeBel, Garrett, Bivens, Senter, Chesney, and Alvis) had a different attitude and tone toward the Mayor and in regard to the Mayor's nomination of Isaacs.

Just a few weeks ago, these same six rejected the Mayor's nomination of Jack Kennerly.  LeBel then asked all those in favor of Glenn Thompson to raise their hands. Six hands went up. LeBel asked City Administrator Tony Cox to send a letter to MUS telling them that council supports and wants MUS to include Glenn Thompson on its slate of MUS nominees.

MUS ignored LeBel's suggestion--or maybe Thompson didn't want to be involved in the whole MUS mess and declined to let his name be included.

August 20, 2014 Industrial Board Elects Officers Today

At the Morristown Industrial Development Board meeting this morning, the IDB will be electing "officers."

The current officers are Chairman Jack Fishman, Vice-chairman James Craine, and Secretary Marshall Ramsey.

It appears that the IDB is holding an election right now because one of its current officers (Marshall Ramsey) has been serving on the Board and has been signing legal documents for the Board for nearly two years without even being qualified to serve on the Board.

The most basic qualification for IDB membership is that an individual has to be a city voter--i. e. they reside in the City or they live outside the city but own property in the city. [This came from a discussion I had with IDB Attorney Bill Foutch about IDB qualifications several months ago]

Another requirement is that an IDB member can't serve on any other city board.

Ramsey lives in the county.

When questions about Ramsey not meeting IDB qualifications were raised recently, George McGuffin (of MUS and McGuffin Law fame), Don "TIF" Bunch, and Wayman Skelton came to Ramsey's rescue. They deeded a city lot in Hampton West to Ramsey on July 1, 2014, which made Ramsey a city property owner. With that freshly-signed July 1, 2014, deed in hand, Ramsey was re-appointed by city council to the IDB on---yep---July 1, 2014.

Now to tidy things up, the IDB is electing officers so its newly-qualified member Marshall Ramsey can be officially elected as secretary to the Board and can legally sign IDB documents.

And, yes, it is possible that someone else could be elected secretary or to any of the other offices today.

Another item of interest for future posts: Ramsey was not the only member of the 16-person Industrial Board who had been serving without being qualified to serve on the Board...more on the others later.

Monday, August 18, 2014

August 18, 2014 Industrial Board Meets This Wednesday (8/20/14)

This week, the Industrial Board holds a special meeting on Wednesday, August 20, at 7:30, in the basement of the Chamber building.

On the City website, it says the meeting is for the election of officers, more action on the TIF at Popkin Center (the Food City on part of the Berkline site), and any other business that may properly come before the Board.

In addition to placing notice of this meeting on the City website, the Industrial Board put notice of this meeting in the "news"paper owned by the Industrial Board Chair Jack Fishman.

Let's see if the "news"paper changes its practice and sends one of Jack's reporters to cover this meeting.

More on the Industrial Board later---what you don't see in the "news"paper that is controlled by the IDB Chair Jack Fishman.

It was interesting to read the "news"paper's report on the special MUS meeting last week. The meeting was described as being the "second revision" of the third list of nominees for the Board seat currently held by Gene Jolley last week. Why an original list followed  by two revisions?

Because the MUS Board with five members with over 80 years experience apparently didn't know that MUS Board members can't serve on any other city board and/or didn't bother to check (TWICE) whether its nominees were on other Boards.

Scroll down for the two posts on the MUS nominees. The second revision of the third list goes to the Mayor and council tomorrow.

Friday, August 15, 2014

August 15, 2014 Hopefully, MUS Now Understands the Qualifications for MUS Board Membership

The Morristown Utilities Systems (MUS) Board held a special called meeting yesterday (see post below) and nominated Gene Jolley, Rod Isaacs, and Jay Smith for the Board seat currently held by Gene Jolley.

Four members were present (McGuffin, Jolley, Nichols, and Dickerson). Jolley abstained from the vote, and Lynn Elkins was absent.

These names will be sent to Mayor Danny Thomas who will submit one of the names to the full city council for approval or rejection.

The MUS Gang That Can't Shoot Straight thinks it finally has a three-person slate where all three are qualified to serve.

The next hurdle for any nominee is city council which has the ultimate decision on approval or disapproval. 

In a council meeting weeks ago, Councilman Paul LeBel stated that Glenn Thompson was council's choice. LeBel then asked for a "show of hands" of those in favor of Thompson. Six hands went up--LeBel, Senter, Bivens, Alvis, Garrett, and Chesney. 

The Council Gang of Six asked City Administrator Tony Cox to send a letter to the MUS Gang of Five letting MUS know of council's preference. Apparently, the Gang of Five didn't get the memo from the Gang of Six or decided to ignore it.

That leads us to another twist to the MUS saga. This is MUS' third submittal of three qualified names to the Mayor. The 2012 (George) McGuffin Law provides that if Council rejects the Mayor's third nominee, then MUS and the Mayor are out of the picture, and Council can make its own nominations.

So, if the Gang of Six really wants Glenn Thompson, the Gang just has to reject the nominee that the Mayor selects, and then the Gang can nominate and appoint Thompson.

[Scroll down for yesterday's post on how the self-nominating MUS Board twice nominated unqualified persons for the Board and had to back up and revise its slate of candidates.]

Thursday, August 14, 2014

August 14, 2014 Morristown Gang of Five That Can't Shoot Straight

Thank you to the many people who kept coming to the blog during the past 9-month hiatus and who called periodically and asked when I would post again.

It's time to start posting again and we'll start with The Gang That Can't Shoot Straight (aka the Morristown Utilities System Board). The 5-member MUS Board is having a special called meeting today at 11:30.

They have to have a special called meeting to see if they can finally come up with THREE names of QUALIFIED individuals to nominate for the board seat now occupied by Gene Jolley whose term expired a few weeks ago.

You would think that would be easy. Not for MUS. In their previous two attempts at the three-person nomination process, they have selected two qualified individuals and one unqualified individual.

The nominees have to meet the very simple and basic qualifications to serve on the MUS Board, but the MUS Board (a) doesn't know that you can't serve on the MUS Board if you are on any other City Board and/or (b) doesn't bother to ask their proposed nominees if they serve on any other Board.


Especially since the MUS Board is made up of 5 individuals who have collectively served on the Board for over 80 years and the nominees they are proposing are friends and business associates.

The five current members are Chairman George McGuffin (with 40 years on the MUS Board) along with Harold Nichols (over 20 years on the MUS Board), Gene Jolley, Lynn Elkins, and Bryan Dickerson.

In their previous two strike outs:

1) MUS nominated Gene Jolley, Ray Campbell, and Jerry Isaacs. Problem: Isaacs serves on a City Board and so was not able to serve on the MUS Board, too. New meeting required.

2) MUS then held a special meeting with its attorney Dick Jessee present and nominated Gene Jolley, Rod Isaacs, and Joel Hice. Problem: Hice serves on the Industrial Board for the City and was ineligible to serve on the MUS Board, too. [Jessee is also the City attorney and is McGuffin's brother-in-law.]

So, MUS is holding another special called meeting today to see if they can possibly come up with three nominees--all of whom are not serving on another City Board--to send to the Mayor who will then select one name for consideration by the full City Council.

It's good to be back...Enjoy!