Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Citizens And Taxpayers of Bowling Green and Warren County In Kentucky Have A Right To Know The Absolute Truth Of The Downtown Parking Structure Wrap Financial Disaster



"We the citizens of Bowling Green and Warren County charge our political leaders and law enforcement officials to get to the bottom of this financial disaster regarding the downtown parking structure wrap. We trust that they will fulfill their obligations to do so and find whoever is guilty of misuse of public monies whether by indictment and jury trial or other means. On the other hand, we depend on the legal system to find those accused not guilty if that be the case. Regardless, we the taxpayers deserve the absolute truth."-Galen A. Smith Sr.


Suit outlines alleged effort to appropriate tax dollars (A Top Front Page News Story Published By The Bowling Green Daily News)


By WES SWIETEK wswietek@bgdailynews.com
Sep 13, 2017





Clinton(from left), Chris and Ed Mills pose for a photograph June 21, 2012, on the downtown parking garage. The city filed a federal civil lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green regarding the development. It names as defendants Mills Family Realty and its predecessor MR Group; the officers of that group, Ed Mills, Chris Mills and Clinton Mills; and Bowling Green businessman Rick Kelley. The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.Miranda Pederson/Daily News

A lawsuit filed by the city of Bowling Green regarding the initial development of the wrap around the downtown Bowling Green parking garage, then known as Hitcents Park Plaza, paints a picture of businessmen looking to pad their pockets with taxpayer money.


The defendants, however, call the suit frivolous and a waste of taxpayer money.

The city filed a federal civil lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green regarding the development.

It names as defendants Mills Family Realty and its predecessor MR Group; the officers of that group, Ed Mills, Chris Mills and Clinton Mills; and Bowling Green businessman Rick Kelley. The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.

A civil complaint represents only a plaintiff’s claim, and the defendants have the right to file a response in court. No formal responses had been filed as of Wednesday morning, according to court filings.

The suit accuses the defendants of “fraud, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, civil conspiracy and conversion. Defendants, engaged in – and conspired to engage in – a pattern of racketeering activity intended to defraud the Plaintiff out of millions of dollars. Defendants also committed fraud, violated their fiduciary and contractual duties to Plaintiff, and engaged in a civil conspiracy to enrich themselves at the expense of the Plaintiff.”

The suit alleges that “as a direct result of Defendants’ tortious and fraudulent conduct, Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer several million dollars in damages.” The suit alleges that the defendants “wrongfully diverted and illegally used bond funds ... to establish and operate their own private businesses.”

Mills Family Realty was chosen in 2012 as the developer of the project, which was financed by about $22 million in county bonds.

Mills Family Realty hired Kelley, the former owner of Mariah’s restaurant, as a consultant for the development. Mariah’s eventually moved into Hitcents Park Plaza.

The suit alleges that Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson in May 2013 asked members of the Mills family whether Kelley was involved in the restaurants in the development, with Wilkerson expressly stating “that the bond funds are not a ‘Rick Kelley Bankruptcy Bailout Fund,’ ” according to the suit. In response, Wilkerson was assured that Kelly wasn’t involved in the project, according to the suit, but that “in fact, upon information and belief, Rick Kelley eventually earned as much as $2.07 million dollars from his involvement with the Project.”

The suit alleges that the defendants improperly commingled various revenue in the project, altered an operating agreement without the city’s knowledge to operate their own businesses and used and overspent Tax Increment Financing District revenue “on working capital for their own benefit, resulting in the project’s collapse.”

Ed Mills and his sons Clinton and Chris Mills are also affiliated with the project’s initial namesake tenant, the Hitcents technology firm.

Mills Family Realty had a subsidiary subtenant known as MR Group to operate restaurants in the development.

“MFR ultimately spent over $12.7 million on tenant improvements for restaurants and banquet space leased and operated by its subsidiary, MR Group. (An amount over $9 million more than the total allowance in the construction agreement, and over $7 million more than that allowed in the sublease agreements.) This was done for the sole benefit of Mills Defendants, who are all owners and operators of both MFR and MR Group,” the suit alleges.

The alleged mismanagement led to the project’s troubles and the city “did not discover – nor could it reasonably have discovered – this fraudulent conduct ... until sometime in 2014-15, when the Project unraveled and Defendants’s fraudulent conduct came to light.”

The defendants’ actions, the suit argues, amount to a violation of the federal racketeering statutes, common law fraud, breach of contract, conspiracy and five other related offenses. It asks for damage amounts to be determined, but says damages are “believed to exceed $500,000” on each of the nine counts.

Clinton Mills said Tuesday the Millses feel “confident that the city’s basis for the claim are inaccurate.”

It is “unfortunate that the city is wasting taxpayer money on such an exercise. We look forward to defending our position,” he said.

Kelley’s attorney, Alan Simpson, called the suit “frivolous” and “an outrageous waste of taxpayer money.”

The suit stems from issues related to the development of the wrap around the downtown parking garage, which became public when contractors filed more than $2 million in liens in February 2015 on the almost-complete project, saying they were not being paid for their work. Restaurants in the building also closed and several lawsuits followed. Ultimately, the county issued a new $30 million bond to pay contractors and finish the project with a new developer.

A review conducted by then-state Auditor Adam Edelen and released in December 2015 concluded that there was overspending on the project of $9.7 million, resulting in a $4.5 million deficit; poor oversight on the project by elected officials; and numerous, often contradictory, agreements guiding the project.

“The city, especially the mayor, have been trying to vilify Rick Kelley for years now. This is the latest attempt to do so,” Simpson said Tuesday. “This lawsuit is frivolous and they know it. Every one of the expenditures was approved by the bond counsel ... there is no mistake in that. Why wasn’t the city’s bond counsel sued? The city all along knew bond proceeds were being used for working capital.”

Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron said in December 2015 that his office is reviewing the state audit, but he has not since provided an update on the status of his investigation.

Simpson said Tuesday that the FBI had also reviewed the case “and has taken no action. For the city to file (a suit claiming violation of federal laws) flies in the face of law enforcement.”

Last month, the Bowling Green City Commission in a 4-1 vote approved allowing the Keating Muething & Klekamp law firm of northern Kentucky to file the civil action, with only Commissioner Brian “Slim” Nash voting no. Nash said he did not believe the city could recoup any money through the suit and that it would place a black cloud over continuing downtown development.

The case was assigned to the docket of U.S. District Court Chief Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr., according to court records.




– Follow News Director Wes Swietek on Twitter @BGDNgovtbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Total Solar Eclipse 2017 Will Be The Biggest Thing That Hits Bowling Green, Ky., Since American Idol Came To Town

     
Reading Sunday's Bowling Green Bowling Green Daily News, it appears that our state, county and city is again making some last minute preparations for the onslaught of hordes and throngs of people predicted to arrive and stay to our local hotels and eat at our local restaurants bringing in thousands of dollars for our local economy to view the total solar eclipse which is due to be here one week from today.  Although, emergency responders from the state, county and city did actually start making plans for the big event in the early Spring according to the Bowling Green Daily News which is a good thing.
      When I found out that all of our local hotel rooms were booked up from a customer who works in our hotel industry last week, I posted something about it on Facebook and the next thing I know, word is getting around in our community that we are going to be loaded down with people coming to our town on Aug. 21.  It's even all over the news now. I think for a lot of us here in Bowling Green, reality is just now setting in on how big this thing is going to be for us since American Idol came to town seeking local talent.  Or the time President Ronald Reagan came to town at the last minute in 1988 to stump for Vice President George H. Bush at Diddle Arena at Western Kentucky University or the time President Bill Clinton came to town in 1984 to attend longtime Congressman's William H. Natcher's funeral.  Natcher was from Bowling Green. 
      However, I think American Idol was a bust for Bowling Green because they only showed a disappointing couple short second clips of our hometown on the show.  Our city and county government spent hundreds of dollars providing security for the American Idol crew for the couple of days while they set up downtown on Fountain Square with their roped off areas and tour bus.  Yes, hundreds of singers showed up but was it worth it?  I think the city and county thought that we were going to get some good publicity out of the deal which did not happen as we all know now. 
     
 But no, this total solar eclipse thing appears that it will be much, much larger than American Idol will ever be.  I don't we really can imagine how big it's going to be.  Bowling Green is in the 100 mile wide band that runs across the nation where you are suppose to be able to see the total eclipse and it will start locally at 1:27:23 p.m. and end at 1:28:39 p.m.  So for just a little over a minute, this will be a historic, once in a lifetime event for a lot of us.  Supposedly, everything will go dark, just like it will be night time during this short time period frame  I would think if it's cloudy or raining, it will still go dark outside for this amount of time. Be sure to have your iPhones plus eye protection, to video the event, so that you can post it on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or Instagram!
     Remember also, experts are saying to keep your vehicles fueled up, have plenty of water on hand (Huh? I'm not sure about this one. Maybe if you get stuck in traffic?) and be prepared for heavy traffic.  Also, have the right eye protection.  I am just a little concerned here.  I'm starting to think maybe I should take the day off work and wait it out on my front porch with my vehicles parked in the driveway, safe and tucked away.  Of course, I'll make sure that I have plenty of water, food and supplies.  But I don't have a generator.  Will I need a generator?  I hope not. But I will probably just work in the morning (if I can get around town in the Bowling Green heavy predicted traffic), come home, eat lunch and then go outside to view the total solar eclipse with my wife and Aussie dog. After the celestial event occurs and if I am bewildered enough or totally in awe, I just may take the rest of the day off until traffic dies down before I venture out into the streets of Bowling Green.  Because I surely do not want to get caught in traffic!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ole Miss Needs To Get In Front Of The Eight Ball And Extinguish The Public Relations Disaster And Media Fires Over Former Football Coach Hugh Freeze Abrupt Resignation

   


We're all worthwhile fallible human beings. Although, I have been living away from Mississippi for 30 years now, I try to keep up with my Mississippi friends and my Alma Mater at Ole Miss mainly on social media these days. I am still a fan of Ole Miss football somewhat and I try to keep up with the program through the media and watch the games on television while living in Kentucky for all these years. I depend on the media to tell me what's happening with the program whether it be television, radio or social media. Being a former journalist and currently a blogger, I try to see the issues in an unbiased and objective fashion. It's what I learned in journalism school at Ole Miss in the early 80's. However, because I have to depend on the media these days to get my information of what's happening, a lot of times I will get the biased opinions. I feel sorry for

Coach Freeze and his family as well as the Ole Miss community, alumni and the major Ole Miss football donors and supporters. But obviously this is a major, big, world-wide news story and it's not going away anytime soon. Yes, the Christian element is there and a lot of people are bashing him over it including other Christians. But the university has to deal with this public relations disaster, get in front of it and try to get it under control so it will die down. Also Coach Freeze will have too somehow also. He will have to face the media again eventually. Whether the whole truth comes out of what's been going on for sure, I don't know. You have good journalists and bad journalist out there. By the time this thing is over with, I don't think it's going to be pretty either way. We all need to keep praying for Coach Freeze and his family. And also for the Ole Miss and its football program including team, coaches and players.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Until Hell Freezes Over, Hugh Freeze Will Likely Never Be Ole Miss' Football Coach Again

 I've been listening to the Sirius Radio College Sports Nation Channel 84 while working in the truck all day today. I've been hearing lots of ins and outs and insight from different radio hosts and callers regarding the big college sports news story about Ole Miss Football Coach Hugh Freeze's abrupt resignation last night. His character has come into question and now all of his years of coaching at Ole Miss are in question too by the university and the public. This mammoth news story has gone viral and world-wide.
At first when I heard the news last night that he has resigned from his position of head football coach at Ole Miss, I thought maybe Coach

Freeze was calling escort services and massage parlors for his players or new recruits. Now, I'm starting to believe Coach Freeze might have sex addiction issues. Since he makes five million dollars a year as a head coach, I'm sure he could afford to easily feed his sex addiction with those types of services. Money was not an issue apparently. By all means according to media accounts including his own Twitter account, Coach Freeze appeared to be a good Christian man, a good husband and a good father. However, I hate to see a man of his stature fall from a grace in such a public way. With all this happening with Coach Freeze and Ole Miss currently in the midst of a media firestorm and a shark news feeding frenzy, now I am thinking "Was it worth all this negative attention and bad publicity for Ole Miss to have a Sugar Bowl victory and two wins against Alabama under Coach Freeze?" Hindsight is 20/20 and only time will tell.  But from what I am hearing today on the satellite radio channel, it appears it's not going to take very long for us to find out.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Phillips Family IGA In Hiseville, Ky., Offers Fresh Hot "Charlie Biggs' Fried Chicken That Hits The Spot In Rural Southcentral Kentucky

     I remember growing up down in the Deep South in North Mississippi in the late 70's that there was nothing better than a thick cut piece of bologna slapped on two slices of Wonder white bread, a slice of thick cheddar cheese with mayonnaise on a hot summer day. Also, I always had a bag of Funyuns Onion Flavored Rings and a Nehi peach soda to go along with it.
    Nowadays, when I travel and work the back highways of rural Southcentral Kentucky, I always seem to find these nice little country stores that has a deli in the back that serves some sort of hot food.  One of my favorites is Phillips Family IGA http://www.phillipsiga.com/ in Hiseville, Ky., several miles north of Glasgow, Ky., just of U.S. 31-E and several miles east of Cave City.
     Of course, they can make you a fresh bologna sandwich if you wish. But I prefer their "Charley Biggs' Chicken and Sauce."http://charleybiggs.com/  It's a deli brand of fried chicken that I am sure that you can get at other similar types of rural grocery stores across the country.  To me, there's nothing better than a Charley Biggs' chicken breast and a couple of fried potato logs. I love their "I'm on Fire!" which is Charley Biggs' "Kickin' It Up Hot Sauce." It's hot but it's damn good and it goes great with the fried chicken breast and potato logs.  Usually, I''ll grab me a ice cold, 12 ounce can of Coca Cola to go along with it too.
   
The next time you are up that way, you've got to try Charlie Biggs' chicken and sauce at Phillips Family IGA in Hiseville.  The Phillips family are super, friendly people and apparently they have been serving the grocery needs of their little community for years.  But for an outsider like me from Bowling Green, who pops in every now and then, you can't go wrong with their Charley Biggs Fried Chicken at their deli in the back of the store.  You know, I think they may even be giving the Colonel a run for the money these days.  At least I know they are in their little town with a population of 240 citizens and the surrounding area!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Remembering Bowling Green, Ky.'s "Kenny Rogers Roasters," "Backyard Burgers" and "Boston Market" Restaurants

    I am a restaurant fan.
If you live in Bowling Green, you almost have to be.  We have a lot restaurants to choose from in this town.  As a matter of fact, I think there's almost 300 restaurants located here with a population of 65,000 citizens-mom & pops, national chains and lots of ethnic restaurants (Chinese, Asian, Indian, Mexican, Bosnia and etc.) And if you love pizza, we also have tons of pizza restaurants in Bowling Green.  Especially, pizza delivery!  We also have several BBQ restaurants-the mom & pop and national chains too.
   
But what I want to know is what happened to our Kenny Rogers Roasters, Backyard Burgers and Boston Market?  Yes, we used to have those in Bowling Green!  Kenny Rogers Roasters was at Fairview Plaza Shopping Center on U.S. 31-W By-Pass where McDonalds is now and the Boston Market was on Campbell Lane where the strip shopping center is that houses the FedEx copy center and an ethnic restaurant as well as a retail shop or two.  And Backyard Burgers used to be located in front of Big Lots on Nashville Road where the strip shopping center that houses Dunkin Donuts and a Mexican restaurant and some retail shops.  (For a while, strip shopping centers were popping up all over Bowling Green.  Now, it seems apartment buildings are  popping up all over the place).
    I really liked all three of those restaurants and ate at them several times in the 1990's and 2000's.  I enjoyed their food, their service and the interior decor of all three.  However, they are all now in the boneyard of the Bowling Green restaurant scene.  It's a very tough market in our town and extremely hard for the small mom & pop restaurants to make a go at it.  I have lived here for 30 years and I can't tell you how many restaurants have come and gone through the years.  I always like to call it when I see this happen, "Another one bites the dust."
    If I can think of some more restaurants that have come and gone through the years in Bowling Green, I'll be sure to write about them in this blog later on.  And if you can remember any, please let me know.  Thanks and "Happy Dining" in our big town of good ole Bowling Green!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Whatever Happened To The Wizard Staff And Tree Spirit Walking Sticks Little Yellow Shack In Summer Shade, Ky?

SUMMER SHADE, KY _ I still drive by here several times a month. But it's a mystery to me.
     And nobody seems to know what happened to the Wizard Staff and Tree Spirit Walking Sticks little yellow shack in Summer Shade https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_Shade,_Kentucky on Ky. 90 between Glasgow and Burkesville. I know a few people who lives in the area since the shack has been razed for a couple of years now. But again nobody can tell me anything about it. There's another little shack still standing several yards away where the other one used to be.  There's also a small Church of Christ building across the highway not far from the shack used to be. Sometimes I think maybe the religious people of the community may have something to do with its disappearance. But that's just me thinking out loud.  I assume a lot like a lot of people do in society.
       The stick carving shop was the brainchild of Robin Bryan, a laid off drywaller, who made the Wizard Staffs and Tree Spirit Walking Sticks and sold them to the public out of the little yellow shack. Supposedly, Bryan said that some people claimed that the sticks had "magical powers and changed their lives" when I interviewed for my Youtube channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEEG7b-WZZvvFN23LFMWJEA?view_as=public After I purchased my own Tree Spirit Walking Stick from him for $10,
I used my old Kodak digital camera seven years ago in October of 2010 to interview him.  It's my highest viewed Youtube video still to date with over 13,000 views.  My video only has a few thousand views compared the millions of videos on Youtube with millions of views. But's that's okay, I'm still glad I had a chance to capture Bryan in a brief interview on video while cars and trucks were passing by us just a few feet away on the highway on a busy fall afternoon.
      I even had one complaint on my Youtube channel that the cars and trucks were way too loud and that they barely could Bryan hardly talk. Lol.  I had to explain to that person with a comment posted below his that we were only a few feet from the highway from where the little yellow shack stood and that camera was not of the highest quality.
     I also remember I asked Bryan what types of people purchase his Wizard Staff and Tree Spirit Walking Sticks and he said that all types of people purchased them.  I also asked him if any local celebrities such as the band members of the Kentucky Headhunters or Black Stone Cherry had purchased any of his sticks and he said, "Yes," but he was not a liberty to say which members had.
     So if you know why the little yellow shack was torn down or if you know what happened to Bryan, please let me know.  That's just the nosey reporter in me coming out who still likes to hang around apparently.