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Mountain Park Life :: Forums :: City Issues
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Lake Litigation Expenses - now at $2.4 million!

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GeorgeM
Tue Nov 23 2010, 05:40PM
Registered Member #390
Joined: Wed Jun 10 2009, 10:29PM
{LOCATION}Posts: 26
For those who are keeping track, and for those who are trying to determine whether or not the city was victorious in the lawsuit, the city has now incurred $2.4 million in legal fees and expenses.

In the meeting last night one citizen stood, raised his hands, and declared, "We Won! I'm so proud of this community - We Won!"

The reality is, WE LOST in a horrible, devastating, butt-kicking defeat. The city spent $2.4 million (and counting) to recover $45,000 (plus a little from the final ruling on the Clean Water Act involving two defendants who are broke, out of business, and uninsured). The lakes are not going to be cleaned by the developers. The community has been divided like never before. And we have suffered an awful tax burden for 5 years.

The measure of success for the lake litigation has always been:

1. Are the lakes going to get cleaned up?
2. Will the city be reimbursed for all costs and expenses in bringing the lawsuit?

For the majority in the community this has never been about "being right," it has been about economics (measured by comparing the cost to the benefits) and judicious stewardship of one of the best things about Mountain Park - the lakes - for our enjoyment and for our children.

By all reasonable and economic measures, the lake litigation was a disaster.

For those who want tangible evidence of a "win," I'm sure the Watershed Society will be happy to issue "Certificates of Victory" to all who care. The rest of us want the financial burden lifted and clean, sustainable lakes. City Administration: Stop the bleeding. Stop paying the lawyers, experts and Claire Johnson. Get back to the business of running and maintaining our city and our lakes, the way it should have been done starting in 2005.

$2.4 million would have cleaned up our lakes several times over - particularly with the help of grants which the city is now seeking. Why wasn't this the direction chosen in 2005?
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jet
Sun Nov 28 2010, 09:35AM
Registered Member #444
Joined: Thu Nov 18 2010, 09:57AM
{LOCATION}Posts: 9
George, I have followed your posts and opinions as long as I've lived out here and with interest for the most part. With respect, I would ask why do you feel the need to continue to beat the dead horses? Really, no offense George, but what is it you feel you need to continue to get across that you haven't already communicated 10 to 20 other times? I'm simply curious.

I don't know a soul that considers what occurred in this lawsuit a 'success'. I think it's fair to assume that the majority of folks out here are tremendously disappointed for all sorts of reasons and ideas. I don't want to assume to speak for others however. This lawsuit has gone through many processes and seated councils. I would guess the reasons these councils maintained their allegiance to the lawsuit arose out of information we as citizens weren't privy to and I must respect the process of executive privilege. I cannot believe that this many seated councils were wrong in their judgments and beliefs. Most of our council members are and were simply good neighbors trying I would hope and do believe, doing their dead level best, and also contributing their valuable time and energy to serve us. They are human, they make mistakes at times, but too many people on council continued to move this case forward, in spite of you and others making your well formed thoughts and advice known. I just have to believe our councils were acting upon the best advice and consideration of our city attorney and attorneys, for better or worse. Perhaps they were misled and if so, that I believe, is worth looking into. Our lawyers it would appear from the little I really know, did not prove our case, in spite of their reputation as being some of the best environment lawyers in Ga. from what I've heard, but I don't know. From what I do know we had a valid environmental case and it was clear to me anyway that the clean water act was violated in Lake Garrett and Cherful alot with sustained damages. Something failed us imo, but all we have control over is understanding what our councils did or didn't do. If our lawyers failed us then we will have to accept this and get past it, perhaps not pay the remainder of the bill, I don't know really. I just strongly do not believe there was anything nefarious or political going on. JMO mind you.

I am certainly disappointed George, as are most that I speak to. I would most definitely appreciate and like answers from the council and city attorney as to what information and advice they were given, like to have what was once privileged info now made public to the degree it can be and shared with us. I would like to understand the disconnect between how it was decided to continue moving forward with this case and the severe beating we ended up taking. I think if we could have this type of transparency and conversation, we might be able to work on repairing our little community on many levels. I think we all deserve this as the majority in town supported this lawsuit and our councils. Surely it is needed as bitterness and finger pointing will not move us forward in any productive way.

I see that you are angry George and have diligently kept abreast of all aspects of this case, and for the most part I've appreciated your opinions and, I am counting on and will assume was, 'factual' info that you placed on this forum. However I am of the opinion that perhaps what is now called for is the process of forgiving and coming together with the intent to move forward for the city, our friendships, the lakes and getting back on track financially. Anger will just keep us in a destructive place George and placing blame, finger pointing, naming names to the exclusion of others, etc...will only takes us so far, take us backwards, but it is certain to keep this town divided Yes, mistakes were most likely made, poor decisions may too have been made, we're all human, but primarily it was the developers who made grievous mistakes and decisions as well, and the ball began rolling with the onset of all the development, so please let us remember this.

I am trying to understand your continual posting and the rubbing in of how terrible things are and were George-it's been years of you doing this and while I understand you feel you have perhaps become a spokesperson for your version of this lawsuit's 'reality' and perspective, I just don't get what your point is? I know you feel you have been 'right' all along and others 'wrong', and that you maybe posted info to save the city, but at some point, these decisions were just not in your hands. Surely you have every right to do and say what you have, but I finally feel like addressing this with you here in a respectful way George. The community is so split on this and imho I just would like to see us move forward kindly, not 'right' not 'wrong', but just fallible humans doing their best, and not continue to wallow in bitterness, blaming, division, resentment and anger. I don't really understand your particular anger with certain people and groups that you continually refer to as being complicit with failing the city. Actually my family and I just recently became members of the MPWPS in order to show support and solidarity to and for the lakes, and I don't see anything nefarious or 'political' in this group and would wonder why you think they would issue 'certificates of victory' in this suit? What's your beef w/them in particular? Maybe it's just me but I see them as supportive of the council and lawsuit. I cannot speak for them or others but besides that one citizen who clapped and thinks we won, I don't think another person would possibly believe there was any sort of victory here. As you stated so well, we sustained a brutal, punishing loss-a slap in the face. It hurts, we all are hurting and trying to find maybe closure on this, in our own ways, but again I would like to say let's move forward in a forgiving place, and most importantly together in the spirit of being a cohesively functioning and hopefully productive community again. There is so much right about Mt. Park to focus on and look forward to.

Still, I do believe a dialog between our council and citizens as to the disconnect would assist this process. I for one have questions as to the role our City Attorney, a non environmental lawyer, advised council throughout this process, and maybe the councils' decisions to continue to use him for this for so long and in light of the complexity of this case. Many of us have questions and concerns and yet I think there are ways to address it with the intent of healing and releasing old hurts and blame.

I hope George, you will hear this in the spirit it's been written in. You have made all your opinions and research so well known in this community and for quite a while, I hope you understand my addressing this is a part of the dialogue I personally believe needs to occur to move past these last difficult and taxing-figuratively and literally, pun intended!, years. Thank you if indeed did hear me out on this.
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GeorgeM
Sun Nov 28 2010, 03:59PM
Registered Member #390
Joined: Wed Jun 10 2009, 10:29PM
{LOCATION}Posts: 26
If the points I have made are well understood, why has the city continued to spend until the litigation costs now exceed $2.4 million?

If the litigation expense information was not posted, where would it come from? Are you hearing it from City Hall, Council or the city attorney? Yes, of course there have been a series of posts with this information - the numbers keep climbing.

Has the city released a single litigation document in 5 years? Without the MPL posts would the community have had access to the jury verdict form?

I'm not an angry person. Frustrated, perhaps, as are many citizens, as we see our tax dollars wasted and the city's balance sheet destroyed. You should be too, jet. There is a part of the community that is trying hard to find a victory someplace in the lake litigation - they were represented at the last Council Meeting - apparently you were not there.

There is an important decision facing the city - perhaps as important (an ominous) as the decision to file the lawsuit in the first place. The decision is whether or not to appeal the verdict. I will continue to present a fact-based discussion until that decision has been made.

A patient begins to heal once the illness is identified and treated. Mountain Park will continue to bleed until the litigation financial burden ends. Then, you may begin to see healing in our community.
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jet
Mon Nov 29 2010, 12:03AM
Registered Member #444
Joined: Thu Nov 18 2010, 09:57AM
{LOCATION}Posts: 9
Thanks George for your reply, I appreciate you responding to what may appear as criticism, yet I am only attempting to understand what I perceive as ongoing anger-you say frustration and you know better than I what you feel.

Respectfully I would say that in spite of the points you've made-being well understood and the Council still continuing to spend is maybe b/c they have information you aren't privy to George. What else could it be? This is why I do believe a dialogue between citizens and Council as to their thinking over the course of these years may be helpful.

As to you not posting information: several things come to mind. One is that had you not been posting someone else may have come forward that would have done it, but since you were doing it they felt it not necessary. Again my understanding is that the Council could not be more communicative in this regard due to executive privilege and think about it, had they told us it would have likely ended up in the hands of the defendants. My perception is they were protecting our case and doing due diligence. The informative you provided George, as a citizen, could be considered up for interpretation. I'm not saying at all you distorted or omitted anything, but also 'anything' coming from a non-approved source apart from the City would have to be considered as non binding or not technically legal or correct. Again not saying you did anything wrong but attempting to provide information, but to my thinking, if it did not come from our Mayor, I wouldn't find it all encompassing and legit. JMO and I do not want to offend you in the least. We all have our different POV's here and I want to be respectful. This is simply mine.

I see for me anyway that you are angry, rather "frustrated" at those in charge, that you are not in charge of this lawsuit. This is the way it appears to me George.

As to you telling me I "should" be frustrated, well, I have been at times. Mostly with the defendants however. I think our City attempted to fight a good fight and do the right thing. I do not think they ever-any seated Council-thought for one minute they were wasting our monies, nor out to destroy our balance sheet.

So I have been frustrated by all sorts of aspects of this case and it has been very frustrating to continue to support the City in this endeavor for so long being kept in the dark so to speak, but this is life and politics and reality in my view. You win some you lose some, but we tried to do the right thing and lost. In my opinion for the City to have done nothing would have been a grievous insult to the citizens of this town. I guess I see it that somebody has to win and somebody has to lose, unfortunately we lost. Is the end of our City, our lakes, our future? Heck no! We get up and get going again and look to what we can do for the lakes, the citizens, and most importantly as "friends and neighbors" as you have stated in your newsletter many times.

It is 'us' that's important-the people and the environment that matters. We make Mt. Pk what it is, not some stupid loss. We aren't defined by this loss in my view George, but I don't see the importance as some may to be 'right' either. Our City will recover financially in time. I personally did not suffer with the tax situation that arose from this lawsuit, some may have and I regret this, however this is what occurs in life and trying to problem solve.

I really do believe we had a very valid case. In further thinking I do wonder if our lawyers were not strong enough in making our case. I have my doubts, but I am not one to hold onto regrets for too long. I personally would rather see people heal from the division this litigation has seemingly caused.

As to those you say want to find a victory in this litigation, well so what? If they do they do. I'm not sure what you mean but I can guess you are speaking of those supporting an appeal process. I don't but that doesn't mean others can't state their opinions. I think our Council will consider this very carefully and in light of the terrible loss we incurred I would not envy them. I feel sure the Council knows full well your feelings George and as well as the other sides' too. Still, they must follow what they know to be the best for us. We elected them-remember? You were their primary supporter if I remember correctly and wanted them in office. Trust them George, they are good people fundamentally and trustworthy. I am so glad I am not in their shoes as they are in a difficult place-and no I'm not friends with any of them.

They will make their decision and I think they will weigh all sides carefully. Nonetheless whatever occurs, it is not the end of the world nor of our little town. We are survivors out here from what I see. It is one of the very things that drew my wife and I here to begin with. It is thankfully not a subdivision, but a little town with a history and spirit and full of individualists. I like living here and want to stay, yet am so discouraged by the anger and division and backbiting that many of us see and I am just giving voice to here now.

I understand you feel you are providing an important service to many George and have no doubt you have many very grateful to your assistance. I understand you saying you will continue to present facts to us. However much I would like to take confidence in your facts is my issue with what I perceive to be your anger and frustration. Facts for me, coming from such a seemingly one sided position, with the tone of a degree of righteousness is hard for me to give much attention to. I know I may be a minority stating this, but I choose my news sources in the same way-a source that sounds too 'right' or 'in the know exclusively' is not what I consider an arbiter of solid news. Agenda driven news scares me frankly. JMO and I respect fully your right and desire to do exactly what you do George.

Maybe one day we'll get past all this and it will be time to come together in the spirit of friends and neighbors undivided, just for fun and community building. Clearly from what I'm seeing we're just not there yet. But it will happen and this loss with not be our defining feature-unless folks decide that they want it to be. I hope not. I have kids that I want to raise in the spirit of a small town-with the values and friendships it can bring.

One last thing I'd mention from observing your posts George, and one you may well have thought about. It seems to me you are frustrated your info has not been taken seriously by the Council; that you aren't in a position of power. I would suggest you consider running for office George-it may lower your level of frustration if you were in power and making all the decisions others just cannot seem to get right. So I thank you again for the dialogue with me and hope we can learn from each other's points of views and feelings George.
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GeorgeM
Mon Nov 29 2010, 02:06AM
Registered Member #390
Joined: Wed Jun 10 2009, 10:29PM
{LOCATION}Posts: 26
If you would like to continue the personal part of this discussion, I will be happy to do so over lunch. Jet, you have chosen to speculate about many things which actually have been answered.
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Sam
Mon Nov 29 2010, 02:25AM
Registered Member #424
Joined: Fri Aug 06 2010, 09:06PM
{LOCATION}Posts: 18
Jet, why do you think that the lake lawsuit is a "dead horse" with all these Executive Sessions about it still being held?

Evidently, some claim victory so why not do it again with an appeal? I'm sure Martin Shelton is telling them that we have grounds for appeal hoping to keep the cash flow coming. That is some of the information that the city council has.

I want information from you or George Mendon. If you don't want it, I suggest you ignore it but I won't.

I even read the City Council minutes but find no current information about the lawsuit for the general public and the subject should have come up. Lakes usually reports nothing in these meetings, not that I would blame that council person for the neglect.
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jet
Mon Nov 29 2010, 06:45AM
Registered Member #444
Joined: Thu Nov 18 2010, 09:57AM
{LOCATION}Posts: 9
Hi Sam, thanks for joining in. About the dead horses-I am referring to George here and his continual opposition to the litigation (of which of course he has a perfect right to imo), and how the Councils-over 4 seated councils, have chosen to ignore his input and info and advice. They clearly are not interested in what he thinks imo, so I asked, why does George keep trying to beat the proverbial horse? Evidenced by his last paragraph in his first post of this thread, as well as many of his prior ones. It just appears either no ones listening, reading here or cares.

About an appeal: maybe the Council will decide to appeal-above my pay grade-or below it actually :). I don't have the info they possess. I don't hear what the lawyers tell them, nor our City Attorney. I personally don't support one myself, but people are processing a tremendous loss out here and maybe for some, an appeal is their idea of righting 'wrongs', revenge?, correcting an unfair verdict??? I don't know. As for Mr. Shelton, yes, I would think he has 100 reasons for wishing for an appeal, however imo, if one is considered it should be reviewed by an outside environmental legal source and have a very very strong basis in fact and reality to pursue it. Again my newest thinking is that our lake lawyers failed us, b/c I do think from those I've known and spoken to, we had initially a strong valid case. JMO Sam.

Don't know specifically what you're referring to when you say you want information from me or George? And what you mean if I don't want it, for me to ignore it. Care to clarify? I am trying to reach out to dialogue here to move on and welcome input.

It doesn't surprise me that you find no minutes that would reveal info on this litigation Sam as I believe it all occurs under/in 'executive privilege' sessions. Same with lake reports.

Sam what's your feeling about the litigation? Do you support an appeal? That I don't doesn't mean I wouldn't care to hear how others feel. Do you feel the city is divided and has suffered in community spirit since the lawsuit began? I'd welcome whatever you'd like to offer. We could start another thread for this maybe.

Hi George, I think I'd prefer to cover this here, but thanks for the offer of lunch. I'm not thinking there is a 'personal' part to this George as I'm getting the info you've put out here for the most part. I've been given, over the years we've lived out here, copies of the "Friends and Neighbors" newsletter you issued. I have nothing personal to discuss with you really. However as I've said, I'm only commenting on what I perceived your tone has been in much of your posts and how I don't feel the Council is addressing anything you've said so far from what I can see. Also from the info you've put out with your opinions.

I personally don't feel I'm "speculating", but you can think this. And if things have been answered before or somewhere else what is the problem with readdressing? After all we're in a new place-we've lost and hopefully it's over. Time to move on. My thinking is that regardless of what you and anyone else says or will say, the Council is acting out of Executive privilege of which we are not and for me it is a "let go and let God" stance at this point. Of course I am not asking you not to fight, I just think all this terrific energy and desires you have to be involved at a deeper level could be channeled to now bringing the community together-that's basically it. You have clearly done what you have believed to be the correct thing George, which is admirable and you are tenacious no doubt.

One last thing I said to Sam which I do believe: the few that want to see this appealed may be in a place of real disappointment and regret, may be in an emotionally raw place and think that an appeal is the answer. If this is occurring-folks wanting an appeal, then maybe a compassionate reply-and I'm not speaking of you here-but by others, may be in order. The Council I feel certain would not support one out of any sort of emotionalism and impulsiveness. I know you feel logic and reason may not inform the council George, but I do.

There's only one and one way only I'd support an appeal possibly and that is if Mr. Shelton's firm funded the entire process w/out Mt. Pk. shelling out a single dime. Regardless, we all are still going to be fine one way or another.
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Whizbang
Mon Nov 29 2010, 02:14PM
Registered Member #286
Joined: Tue Feb 05 2008, 03:55PM
{LOCATION}Posts: 13
yippee
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jet
Mon Nov 29 2010, 04:51PM
Registered Member #444
Joined: Thu Nov 18 2010, 09:57AM
{LOCATION}Posts: 9
You're not needed here anymore Bong, so go smoke it elsewhere. After all I'm not addressing those who are irrelevant now. No need to be rude and if you don't like it don't read it. But I forget, you thrive on being anonymously difficult.
I well may move on as I'm using this forum I thought, in the spirit in which it was intended, what a concept!, a communal place for the spirit of the city. But it is becoming clear that only a few folks use it-maybe 5 or 6, some of which don't even live here anymore and use fake names. Some folks can't let go I guess.
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Sam
Mon Nov 29 2010, 11:07PM
Registered Member #424
Joined: Fri Aug 06 2010, 09:06PM
{LOCATION}Posts: 18
Jet, I did not understand what you meant but now I do. I just didn't want to lose an information source for me.

Still, when a professional gives me advice, especially for free, I give it a great deal of thought and usually take it, from plumbers to doctors and lawyers. A few, but not all, may not want to listen to George Mendon and give him a chance out of personal reasons that I know nothing about is what I decided.

I also thought we had a good case for the lawsuit and it should have shown a profit because we were wronged. We failed because of the fee arrangements with this attorney that took away any incentives for him to settle with the developers because there was nothing in it for Martin Shelton to do that. The key to it was to stop paying him as soon as possible and that stands true now.

I'm not for an appeal or spending any more money with the prior track record that I see and we're responsible for that, there's no one to blame because we're responsible to manage who we hire so inevitably it is us in the end.
I think that we got in over our heads from the start and it'll stay that way so stop now. There was more to this than I thought but I knew not to blindly put my fate in attorneys' hands while paying them hourly.

After proving that the erosion took place and it ran into our lakes, we then needed to prove a great deal of erosion over a short time span from each development. I thought that we had some way to prove this, but a jury says we didn't. They may have claimed that the velocity of water because of the development increased erosion downstream from the development but could not prove it as well.

A normal development takes an average of one to two months in preparation for the homebuilders. Most of the environmental damages are in the first month when they grade the streets and lots. If it was nine developers then we're talking about nine months of silt based on an average with no facts about any of the developments but an average is all I have to go on

If we could not prove it then it was damaging to claim an unrealistic volume over a short period of time, leaving the jury to decide for themselves rather than giving them something reasonable to deliberate on.

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