Despite the fact that two community meetings were held with courthouse leaders to address concerns, several questions remained unanswered as council resolution RS2009-979 went to vote last Tuesday. Here is a list of unanswered questions that was sent to council members before the vote from one concerned leader:
No media cameras captured community meetings attended by Chief Serpas and Mr. Riebeling, but I've received e-mail correspondence written by attendees who reported that both Metro officials came across as arrogant, paternalistic, and close-minded to concerns; and reportedly, Chief Serpas appeared to attempt to physically intimidate CM Bo Mitchell, who questioned the purchase decision. Serpas accused leaders who questioned the quick purchase as having an "emotional attachment" and failing to comprehend the decision.
- Is the former car dealer lot the best location for much needed West Precinct expansion and DNA Lab?
- Was comprehensive study and planning done to conclude the final location?
- How conclusive is the overall plan?
- Can the project on that location be done under $14 million as it has been said?
- How much will the budget increase once construction advances as it is currently estimated $14,918,316.75?
- What kind of environmental measures are considered? Are they just ideas or achievable?
So, I was surprised at the lopsided council vote last Tuesday, given how badly the community meetings sounded. Here's a breakdown of the votes for and against RS2009-979 to purchase the property for $4.2 million without any pre-purchase planning (private appraiser valued it at $4 million):
"Ayes" -- Tim Garrett, Megan Barry, Ronnie Steine, Jerry Maynard, Lonell Matthews, Frank Harrison, Walter Hunt, Jamie Hollin, Mike Jameson, Erik Cole, Karen Bennett, Jim Forkum, Rip Ryman, Darren Jernigan, Jim Gotto, Carl Burch, Bruce Stanley, Phil Claiborne, Anna Page, Sandra Moore, Krisine LaLonde, Erica Gilmore, Buddy Baker, Edith Langster, Jason Holleman, Sean McGuire, Greg Adkins, Randy Foster, Duane Dominy, Vivian Wilhoite, Jim Hodge, Park Toler, Sam Coleman, Carter Todd (34)The seller of the property is the trust of Bob Frensley, who according to the Tennessean, "significantly" patronized local politicians "for many years." Also, WSMV reported on Friday that an ethics violation complaint has been filed against council members Ronnie Steine and Buddy Baker for concealing information that a trustee for Bob Frensley is Metro police Captain Mickey Miller, former commander of the West Precinct.
"Noes" -- Charlie Tygard, Eric Crafton, Emily Evans, Robert Duvall, Bo Mitchell (5)
"Abstaining" -- Mike Craddock (1)
With all of this coming down, I'm disappointed that 34 council members went along with the Mayor's Office and Chief Serpas without asking more questions about it.