"A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jackson County Park Board--Violation of Open Meetings Law During Recess

The Jackson County Park Board meets on the 4th Wednesday of each month.

Mr. Clemmons, Park Board Member and County Commissioner seated at table end attempts to cover his face with documents. Mr Clemmons presence on the Park Board did bring out the press. The Daily Sentinel and The Clarion reporters were present. Related story concerning County Commission actions related to Mr. Clemmons: http://arklite.blogspot.com/2010/07/county-commission-county-park-saga.html

I met with Mr. Clemmons and Mr. Whisnant prior to the Park Board meeting suggesting to them the County Park Board issue could be resolved if they wanted. I suggested a moderated, not mediated, session where the County Park Board and the County Commission participates in a non-traditional but structured problem solving session with the public present in a setting such as Goosepond Civic Center. They were informed this type of setting could work if all would participate. Mr. Clemmons rejected the idea, Mr. Whisnant stated he thought that was what the mediation was about. Unfortunately some do not wish to resolve this problem without further costing the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in attorneys fees. Information on problem solving: http://www.thwink.org/sustain/deadlock/VirtuousPolitician.htm http://www.businessballs.com/brainstorming.htm http://www.qualitydigest.com/sept02/articles/02_article.shtml

The Jackson County Park Board meets every 4th Wednesday. The financial report was accepted and approved as submitted. Old Business and Mangers Report: 1) The Park Manager, Mr. Carl Barnes, reported that the shoreline repair along with other repairs would require a permit from the TVA. It was recommended that all permits for projects be combined so as to pay for only 1 permit fee which costs $1000. 2) Mr. Barnes reported there is a need to purchase a new lawn mower. 3) Discussion was made concerning the need for electrical repairs on "A" Dock.

New Business: 1) Approval was given to refund money to campers which had been held in escrow for those campers who had paid for camp spots not available due to the April 2009 storm. 2) Approval was given to place Speed Bumps in areas where safety concerns are evident to slow speeding vehicles. 3) Scotty Overdear was elected Secretary-Treasurer, Park Manager Carl Barnes was voted the authority to sign checks.

Scheduled speakers to the board on the published agenda: 1) Ms. Diamond Woodworth, discuss restaurant contract. The Jackson County Park Board adjourned for a recess to discuss in private the issues of a contract with Ms. Woodworth.

Mr. Whisnant, Park Board Chairman appointed park board members to discuss issues in secret and behind closed doors in regards to the restaurant contract. This secret meeting was not conducted in an Executive Session, the session was conducted during a break, a recess declared by Mr. Whisnant. The Park Board Memebers followed the instructions of Mr. Whisnant without questioning him on the legality of a secret meeting outside of an Executive Session, Mr. Clemmons was one of the Board Memebers adjourning into the secret session. The Board Attorney was present and said nothing. The Meeting reconvened after approximately 15 minutes, returning from the "recess." After the recess a discussion ensued concerning an audit and inventory of Restaurant Property. It was decided an audit would be conducted at the end of the fiscal year, September 2010. Commentary: It is obvious to this observer and writer the Open Meetings Act of Alabama was violated during the recess adjournment. There was no declared Executive Session as should have occurred, at least 2 Park Board Members participated in the secret meeting with Ms. Woodworth concerning the restaurant. Ms. Woodworth was scheduled on the published agenda.

2) Mr. Reb Engle spoke on behalf of the boaters and campers. He expressed their support and appreciation of the Jackson County Park Board.

Monday, July 26, 2010

County Commission County Park Saga Continues, More Dog & Pony show Politics.

The tax payer money tree for attorneys representing the Jackson County Commission. More Dog & Pony Show Politics

Big news for today's County Commission meeting is Mr. Horrace Clemmons nominates himself and with one other vote he is elected to the Jackson County Park Board with a total of 2, TWO, votes, Mr. Jack Smith and Mr. Horrace Clemmons were the only 2 votes. Mr. Jack Allen and Mr. Gaylen Stone abstained from the vote. The interesting situation concerning this act is the Jackson County Commission terminated the Jackson County Park Boards authority to "oversee, maintain, direct, or control the public park known as the Jackson County Park." The commission having abolished all authority of the park board now votes a Commissioner to the Park Board. All with no explanation or reason explained to the public. Some on the Jackson County Commission seem to have forgotten they are public servants and not managing a private corporation for their personal amusement. I hope the Court takes note of this action. It almost seems the Jackson County Commission is playing "games" with the people of Jackson County.

Another big issue was the $9400 plus in attorney fees. Not counting the attorney fees being paid for the Park Boards attorney.

The County Commission adjourned once more into an Executive Session returning 20 minutes later and stated a decision had been made that the County Park will pay for an Electrical Engineer for the County Park. due to storm damage. The commission conducts more business in secret than they do in public. If only Alabama had a meaningful Open Meetings Law instead of a law that supports secrecy such as practiced by the Jackson County Commission.

Some of our distinguished leaders on the county commission seem to relish wasting money!

Scottsboro City Council

Tonight was a regular meeting of the City Council. Old Business: New Zoning Ordinance was approved. Ordinance #558 will be published in The Daily Sentinel before the ordinance becomes effective. New Business: 1) 3 vacancies were announced for the Scottsboro IDB, Industrial Development Board. Terms of Mr. Ashmore, Mr. Benson and Mr. Porch expire. Applications for the IDB must be turned into the City Clerk prior to 4:30PM on August 13, 2010. 2) Mr. James Roberts was appointed to a 5 year term on the Museum Commission. 3) Polymide Industrial Road Bid Opening. No bids were received, City Engineer has authority to negotiate with contractors. 4) Mr. Jeff Hill was appointed to Zoning Board of Adjustment. 5) Annexation Ordinance approved for lots 2 & 3 in the Driftwood Shores sub-division; procedural rules were set aside prior to the issue being passed. 6) Drainage Bids for Cedar Hill Cemetery were rejected due to them being excessive and not in the best interests of the city. 7) Resolution approved to assess taxes within the Police Jurisdiction of Scottsboro. 8) Resolution approved to pay election workers on August 24, 2010 election. 9) Off sale Beer & Wine License approved for Sabers, 1713 S. Broad St. 10) $5500 approved for election supplies.

Reports: 1) Mayor in Washington, DC; 2) CDA Special Call Meeting Aug. 3, 2010; 3) Mr. Smith requested discussion of funding for CDA. 3) Mr. Thomas mentioned Collegiate Bass Tournament was won by the University of Alabama.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Scottsboro City Council--What is the CDA Mission?

I will start this report on last nights City Council Meeting with a commentary concerning Scottsboro's Commercial Development Authority issue (CDA). This issue concerns how our current city council views the CDA mission. Related to item 3 below in the outline of the City council work session relating to the planning of access/service roads adjacent to John T. Reid Parkway.

Mr. Smith has indicated the CDA should be involved in the planning of the parallel access streets as it pertains to their development on John T Reid Parkway. Mr. Smith's question to the city council was, "why are we not involving the CDA?" He further commented, "this is why we created them...we need to devise plans for them to have money so they may work on this planning project."

Mr. Bell and Mr. Speers commented they thought it was a CDA function to be involved in the planning of the streets adjacent to John T. Reid Parkway. Mr. Smith also commented in relationship to the planning, "Individual property owners must pay their own way." He further commented, "Mr Boatner came before the city council requesting that planning action must be accomplished now, he did not do anything when he was on the city council, what is the hurry now?"

Mr. Thomas commented, "The city will stand behind debt of the CDA." Will the city stand behind the debt? Maybe, maybe not, depends on if the CITY COUNCIL approves debt of the CDA.

Mr. Hodges wisely abstained from the "Lemming like" movement toward expansion of CDA powers which seemingly includes street planning.

We have a PLANNING COMMISSION. It is difficult enough for businesses attempting to locate in Scottsboro or existing business attempting to relocate to an area of higher visibility. The city does not need to create more bureaucracy complicating an already difficult process. The process of planning and the process of commercial development must be a process based on facilitating business growth not a process of complicating an already complicated bureaucratic process.

PLANNING OF STREETS AND THE PROCESS OF ACCESS ROAD PLANNING IS NOT THE FUNCTION OF THE CDA!! Should the CDA have input in the process, absolutely. It would be my suggestion that the City of Scottsboro pay close attention to what has been accomplished in the City of Gadsden, Alabama in relationship to the CDA. http://www.gadsdencommercial.com/about.htm Make note of the line that reads, "guidance from Auburn University’s Economic Development Institute." It is not necessary to invent a rectangular wheel that does not function properly. There are folks that are available to assist in guiding the city down a path of informed decision making as it involves the CDA.

Take note of the mission of Gadsden's CDA, it involves existing business, "retain community wealth" and creating an environment "conducive to commercial business growth" are key standards for existing business financial growth. "The mission of the Gadsden Commercial Development Authority is to create and retain community wealth and improve Gadsden’s quality of life by creating an environment conducive to commercial business growth and attracting new retail and commercial business. " If there is any roll of the CDA it must be to facilitate all business growth and serve to assist business in the planning and development process. Serving as a liaison between city planners and business would be a needed role to insure "Scottsboro is a Business Friendly City."
UPDATE (July 21): The Daily Sentinel article: http://www.thedailysentinel.com/story.lasso?ewcd=1306cfc6533c8524

The July 12, 2010 regular City Council meeting was continued for the purpose of approving the RZED (Recovery Zone Economic Development) Bond issue, the bond issue was approved and will be utilized to build and improve Scottsboro's Recreation field Complex, the addition of Tennis courts, Soccer Fields and a handicap ball field has been discussed. This bond issue was made available through the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money. The Jackson County Commission had acquired the initial funding approval for the City of Scottsboro and Stevenson. The amount of the bonds for Scottsboro are $4.145 million. Mr. Larry Ward of Morgan and Keegan's Birmingham office stated, "Scottsboro's Bond issue sold quickly... due to high demand the rate for the bonds are 3.475%. Scottsboro's Bond rating is A+ Stable...this is a 30 year bond issue."

July 19,2010 Work Session. 1) A discussion concerning increases in criminal case court costs. It was suggested that in addition to the states increase in criminal case court costs the City of Scottsboro raise their fees by $5.00 with the money to be utilized by the courts and police department. 2) Thomas Davis concerning Taxi Service was a no show. 3) Charles King spoke on the frontage and access road planning along John T Reid Parkway, Hwy. 72. Mr. Charles King, City Engineer, stated there has been no planning completed for any expansion concerning service/access roads along John T. Reid Parkway. See my comments in red above related to this discussion. 4) Discussion concerning the Cemetery Drainage Bids. The Bid committee recommended all bids be rejected due to extreme costs as the bids received were not in the best interests of the city, the project will be rebid. 5) No smoking ban in public places, presentation was scheduled by a Mr. William Dugger, he was a no show. 6) Discussion concerning the annexation into the city of 2 lots belonging to Rudder Williams and Gerald Paulk.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Jackson County Commission-County Park Mediation Fails. Mediation Request Disclosed.

Jackson County Courthouse.
Jackson County Park.

Once again the Jackson County Commission adjourned to go into a very lengthy Executive Session at meetings end Monday. Meeting time of the Executive Session was longer than the regular council meeting. Shh, we have secrets and we do not want the citizens to know what is happening, particularly with the County Park.

My sources tell me the 2 Commissioners present walked out on the mediation session with the Jackson County Park Board during last Thursday's Mediation at the County Park Boards Attorneys Office in Scottsboro. The following list was presented to the County Commission from the Jackson County Park Board: "1) Resend[Rescind] prior resolution passed by County Commission, working under an ominous board. 2) Abstain from interfering with day to day operations of Jackson County Park. If a Commissioner needs to address the Park Board, they should get on the agenda and address all park board members. 3) If a Commissioner wishes to speak to a [park] board member outside of his or her district, he or she should have that commissioner present. 4) Park Board will abide by all ADECA and TVA Rules. 5) Park Board wishes to continue operating with "Quick Books" and to have audits done by the Sate Examiner. 6) Park Board wishes to have same respect and be treated like all other Jackson county Boards. 7) Park Board would like to collect all titles on FEMA Campers that the commission has possession. 8) Park Board will assume responsibility of North Sand Mountain and Princeton Parks if necessary."

It appears the case will proceed to trial after legal review by the Court.

Other County Commission Business. Consent Agenda: 1) $6637.50 to Tennessee Valley Family Services for June 2010 approved. 2) $12753.40 was approved to pay Ladd Environmental Consultants for services during June 2010for the Jackson County Park.

Old Business: A motion was made and approved to Table a Park Board nomination by Commissioner Clemmons.

New Business: 1) Johnson Controls was awarded HVAC bid. 2) August 23,2010 Commission meeting was moved to August 19, 2010. 3) Approval for Back to School Sales Tax Holiday was approved. 4) Advertising was approved for the position of Heavy Equipment Mechanic for Public Works. 5) Lambert Construction was awarded bid for Jackson County Industrial Park Utility Project. 6) Jack Smiths Park Board nomination was tabled.

Executive Session was approved, I left for the City Council Meeting at 5:45, they were still in the Executive Session and had been there for 45 minutes. The County Attorney stated the reason for the Executive Session was for Good Name and Character.

Scottsboro City Council Meeting

Chrome lithograph postcard of the first automobiles in Scottsboro. This is in front of the old "Bank Building" and the Scottsboro Post Office, circa 1912.

Little known fact: The record of these first old vehicle's registration was found buried in the the old Boiler Room of the Jackson county Court House in 1993. The records were cleaned and restored, permission was obtained to remove and store the records at the Heritage Center where they are located at this time in the "Little Court House." Found buried with the old first auto registration records were the First Civil War Pension records describing in detail the battles and wounds received of our local Civil War Confederate Veterans. Early Property Tax Records were found dating back until 1875. An additional find was the jail feeding records documenting those people arrested and housed in the Jackson county Jail from 1930-1935. Documented were all people arrested during the Scottsboro Boys trials including those people on the train at when it was stopped at Paint Rock. The Civil War Pension Records and the Tax Records were returned to the Tax Assessors office in 1993. Mr. Crawford secured the documents in his safe when they were returned. The Jackson County Jail Feeding Records were taken to the Heritage Center permission for removal being granted by Judge Gentry.

Monday night was a work session, regular meeting and a public hearing concerning the new zoning ordinance. I will cover the outline of the regular meeting since all items in the regular meeting were discussed in the work session.
Public Hearing for new zoning ordinance. No one spoke for or against the issue of the zoning ordinance. The contractor, KTS, did give a brief discussion about changes. There will be an Institutional District added and 2 Planned Development areas added. No other zoning changes were made.

New Business: 1) Voting machine custodian approved for Aug 24, 2010 city election. 2) Election Officials pay resolution approved. 3) Absentee Manager pay resolution approved. 4) Mayor's appointment to the airport Advisory board, Mr. Tim Kennison was named as a replacement due to a resignation. 5) Petition to vacate Right of Way on property belonging to a Ms. Campbell in Larkinsville approved. 6) Bid opening and approval for purchase goes to Lee Smith Inc. of Chattanooga, Tn. in the amount of $124,101.00 7) Bid opening and approval of a 7000lb rated Fork Lift for the Solid Waste Department, Barlo world was awarded the bid in the amount of $25,513.00 8) Bid opening for the purchase of 2 Knuckle Boom Trucks from Southland International of Huntsville, Al. for $134,650. It was reported that the State of Alabama was with holding FEMA money for the purchase of these vehicles. It was stated there was a hold up due to Archaeological Concerns over tree stump removal. My Comments: Only entrenched bureaucrats on Monkey Hill, better known as the Montgomery statehouse, can come up with bogus ideology such as tree stump archaeological concerns to prevent the issue of FEMA money so stipulated for Scottsboro. It was stated Senator Barron was addressing the issue, more South Alabama Republican skulduggery? 9) Board of Zoning Adjustment, Mr Phillip Moore was appointed as a member. 10) Barge Wagoner was appointed as Engineer for the Recreation Field Project per recommendation of the Recreation Committee. 11) Access Road Engineer Planning Project discussed. Project to develop plans for access road from Hwy 35 to County Park Road. City Engineer presented estimate of $85,000 for costs of engineer planning if accomplished at this time. Council member Smith asked, "why now, we have waited all this time. It is not fair if the city pays for these costs when prior business have been required to pay the costs in the past." Another council member stated that we will pay now and the business can reimburse us for the cost of street planning. My comment: Business having to pay for a service the city should have already planned and paid is ludicrous. This is but one of the factors which causes business to think of Scottsboro as an unfriendly place to conduct business. Street planning is a function of government, it is government not business which should be paying for the planning of our streets, including the access street parallel to U.S. 72, John T. Reid Parkway. Make Scottsboro Business Friendly, don't run business off with bureaucratic red tape costing business tens of thousands of dollars for designing and planning a large access road which many businesses will use next to a major highway! 12) Approval to fund $2000 for the University of Alabama Bass Tournament called the "Fish Bowl." It was reported that 22 teams from throughout the SEC will participate in this 2 day event on July 24-25, 2010 at Goosepond Colony. Funding will be provided to the Chamber of Commerce.

Reports: 1)Mr. Thomas reported that the Dixie Youth 13-14 year old boys Baseball Teams will be holding a tournament in Scottsboro from July 16-20th. 2) Mr. Hodges has reported the old Police Station property auction will be postponed until after the Access Road is completed in front of the building.

The meeting was adjourned, to be continued on July 19, 2010.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sensible Leadership for Scottsboro's Future, Elect Garry Morgan Scottsboro City Council Place 4

Scottsboro City Council early qualifiers; story in Scottsboro's Daily Sentinel: http://thedailysentinel.com/story.lasso?ewcd=bb9fe22509962864

Update: The Daily Sentinel, " quiet week:" http://www.thedailysentinel.com/story.lasso?ewcd=d02829b6609585a8
I'm Garry Morgan of Scottsboro, Alabama and I am asking you for your vote in the August 24th Election to the Scottsboro City Council, Place 4 position. For more information please go to my new blog created for this purpose. http://garrylmorgan.blogspot.com/
"SENSIBLE LEADERSHIP FOR SCOTTSBORO'S FUTURE." http://garrylmorgan.blogspot.com/
Political advertisement, Garry Morgan, P.O.Box 241, Scottsboro, Al., 35768