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Cleveland mayor, Bradley County tea party chief defend roles in flier dispute

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2012 at 7:18 AM

published Wednesday, August 15th, 2012
Cleveland mayor, Bradley County tea party chief defend roles in flier dispute
By Randall Higgins
http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/aug/15/mayor-tea-party-chief-defend-roles-in-flier/?local

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Mayor Tom Rowland says the city has no reason to apologize for asking for a police investigation into who was distributing fliers to south Cleveland homes in June.

The fliers, which stated the city was planning to use eminent domain to take more than 300 homes in the name of development, were untrue, Rowland said Monday.

It is the Tea Party of Bradley County that needs to apologize for upsetting families, some of whom have lived in their homes for two generations or more, he said.

“They were in tears,” Rowland said.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, a lively, but civil, debate took place between council members and members of the Tea Party of Bradley County. In the end, the only common ground was that no one will apologize.

Donny Harwood, president of the Tea Party of Bradley County, said his organization has no reason to apologize, either. At the time they were distributed, the fliers were true, according to the latest public information, he said. It is the city that needs to apologize for intimidating the group’s members and seeking to deny them their right to free speech, he said.

The call for an investigation aimed to “essentially hunt down, arrest and expose members of our tea party group as we made efforts to inform the community of horrendous plans for their community,” Harwood said.

“This flier contained truthful information based on the last known public meeting,” Harwood said. The “white paper” on which the flier was based later was changed, he said.

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“We haven’t stopped your free speech,” Rowland told Harwood.

“Have you passed any leaflets out to apologize to the 300 homeowners that this was not true?” he asked Harwood.

Rowland said the investigation was only to determine if laws were violated, and since none were the point is moot.

“If you are man enough, you will go down there and apologize,” he told Harwood.

“There is nothing for us to apologize about,” Harwood responded.

The group, he said, held a town hall meeting to seek explanations but only one councilman, Bill Estes, attended. Other council members, and Rowland, said they got the invitation after the meeting was held.

Tea party member Dan Rawls said that isn’t true because he sent the registered letters.

Councilman George Poe said he got a late invitation to a meeting to discuss something he had no intention of doing anyway.

“We couldn’t afford to buy 300 houses in the first place,” he said. “We have never talked about what we are accused of.”

If Harwood’s group was so alarmed, Poe said, they should have come to the council first with questions.

Rowland and Poe said they have not read the “white paper” from contracted consultants on which the flier was based. Harwood said the paper was handed out during a three-day public planning meeting at Bradley Square Mall.

Councilman Richard Banks, who said he has read the white paper, told tea party leaders they took the “300 homes” statement out of context. The original question was what would happen in the community if Whirlpool stayed in its old location, he said.

Consultants said that up to 300 homes might have to be seized through eminent domain to accommodate the company’s expansion there. But Whirlpool moved to its new Benton Pike site.

It was only a “what-if” discussion, Rowland said.

“There is nothing for us to explain, because there was nothing to it,” he said.

Contact staff writer Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfree press.com or 423-314-1029.

Public sounds off at Bradley County Comprehensive Plan Charette: Strongly disagree!

In Agenda 21, Government on April 21, 2012 at 11:10 AM

A strong and loud message was sent to hired consultants McBride Dale and Clarion, and that message was “We do not want this Comprehensive Plan and we strongly disagree with your goals!”

Many that attended the Charette on April 17, 18 and 19th, 2012, in the Conference room at the Bradley Square Mall saw a charade of plans that encompassed the Northern, Central and Southern portions of Bradley County!

These meetings were to inform the public, receive public input and then compile that information from the public and present it on the 19th and display the results for all to see!

Well, the public came, the feedback received, but no compilation of that input was done!

When asked why there was no data being displayed on the 19th as promised and as part of the contract, Greg Dale on the 18th said we really dont have time to compile it! Then turned to those listening, “I was only joking!”

When pressed for a more definitive answer the reply was that the data was overwhelmingly negative! He led us to believe his thoughts, which led to these opinions, was that the data may have been skewed by a few in the room with a different agenda than his!

Mr Dale went on to say that he believes this is the strongest negative response he has ever seen and that he doesn’t ever remember a community coming together and flat out saying no to a plan!

On the 19th as concerned citizens gathered to see the compiled results! None! Nothing! Not a single item of compiled data, just a bunch of hired consultants standing in a mostly empty room with other bureaucrats boasting on how good their maps were!

The community has spoken and the community of Bradley County does not want this terribly expensive and heavy tax burden well into our future and our childrens future!

This meeting carried a sense of impending doom and a certain feeling that this was a done deal with or without public input! After all, paying 525,000 dollars of taxpayers hard earned money for a plan, it had better go forward!

It was no secret that I was there to object to this large overreaching plan but what surprised me was the fact that many from different socio economic back grounds came out in droves to “strongly disagree” also with this plan! I saw county commissioners, Lawyers, Doctors, farmers, and little ole people with a 1 bedroom shack on a few acres that just wanted to keep their property taxes intact with no government plan to intrude in their lives!

Many of those people attending were professionally and warmly greeted into the room but once the majority of them were voicing discontent they would soon be seen as the “enemy” or villified for daring to speak out against this plan! By the end of the Charette, I felt deeply divided in the room! The few yes men and women to one side and the NOs to the other.

As the Charade ended and the small crowd dispersed, we left the room unsatisfied that our voice was not heard nor were our ballots accumulated!

If the reason for not doing them was “too negative” then I suggest that this plan not go forward! At the very least return my taxpayer money because you have contractually failed to meet your end of the deal! You have not provided public input or feedback as promised on this Charrette!

Concerned citizens and the public need to know that this plan is not being well received in this community! So pack you bags and let the people of Bradley County choose their own future, not let the government choose our path for us!

This obvious avoidance of the citizens of Bradley County cannot be ignored!

The people have a right to speak up and file grievance with their government! I am doubting our government leaders know that or are pretending that right doesn’t exist!

Whatever the conclusion, regardless of how frustrated you become with those annoying citizens, we have every constitutional, American right to be there! To become vilified by our government and it’s hired consultants is a shame!

To ask the citizens of this County to essentially “sit down and shut up” by members of our own elected body, this is the real tragedy!

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