In this section we are going to back up a bit and describe the atmosphere, as well as go deeper into officials publicly condoning unlawful behavior by one of their own, and the "mysterious appearance" of a great deal money in the city budget.
Before the meeting, a young man arrived, wearing the orange quarry hat, to stand in line at City Hall for the meeting. We asked him if he was from Vincent as none of us recognized him. He said "No" and that he had lived in Talladega and was now in Sylacauga. We then asked him why a Vincent Council meeting was of interest to him, to which he replied, "I'm coming for the job fair."
Job Fair? We have heard that one before and know it is one of the "tactics" used by WRQ to get bodies in Vincent from other areas as a false show of support for the quarry. They promise folks dinner and whatever else they can think of, to get them to come to Vincent, wear a yes quarry t-shirt, hold a sign and pack public meetings so the citizens of Vincent cannot attend their own meetings.
We asked this young man, "Who told you it was a job fair?", he pointed over to the quarry office, where Kathy Copeland (quarry spokesperson) just happened to be standing outside, and he said, "The lady over there, that lady who is in the office there told me it was a job fair."
We told him she did not tell him the truth and would he go look at the notice on the door of City Hall and see what tonight was really about. He did and then went back to the waiting car of the person who drove him up there and they left.
This happens all the time and the numbers of these "trucked in supporters" has dwindled of late probably because word has gotten around that they are being used by the quarry folks. Times are hard and to waste time and money on gas to get to Vincent is not something they can keep doing continually.
It is especially despicable that the quarry folks seem to take advantage of and use people who are poor and in real need of employment as a means to an end for them. Kind of reminds us of the "Big Mule" coalition tactics.
6:00, the doors open to City Hall and the clerk, Joy Marler, passes out numbers on slips of paper as to who would enter the meeting room, and who would have to sit in the overflow room (court room), because the fire code for capacity was being enforced for the first time in a year.
*Note on Mrs. Marler:
A substitute reader was requested for Mr. Frederick Kidd's presentation to the council due to a family emergency, which is reasonable and understandable. Mr. Kidd was going to read the declaration submitted by the Evangel Temple Pastor against the quarry. The substitute reader was requested to be Kim Riggins, a wonderful lady and well-liked by the community.
Mrs. Marler, presumptuously assumed authority to allow this reasonable request was up to her and said "NO" when it was made. The Mayor overrode her allowed it as well he should. The reader should know the requesting parties were black and the Evangel Temple is one of our black churches.
You decide if race was an issue or it was simply Mrs. Marler's attempt to be non accommodating to the opposition against the quarry.
It should also be noted that speakers in favor of the quarry dwindled from five to one: the other four either stepped forward and relinquished their time or left the meeting and did not exercise their time.
Those who sat in the meeting room were unable to sit in the closest seats because "reserved" had been placed on them. One set of seats closest to the council table had been reserved for Jim Hurley, WRQ president and Robert Fowler (BARD lobbyist and WRQ attorney).
When this was questioned by some of the citizens as to why these two had been given reserve seats and not to the other large company in town who opposes the quarry, the Mayor said; "We gave them those seats in case they had something to say about what is presented here tonight, they should be able to respond to what is said here."
Isn't that accommodating of him? He doesn't extend the same "courtesy" to the other business in Vincent that has been here a very long time and supplied residents with over 200 good jobs, but these "outsiders" get a front row seat?
As the Council and Mayor were at the table and before the meeting officially commenced, Council member Ralph Kimble had the city finance sheet in his hands and began questioning the Mayor about the 101,000.00 discrepancy in the city budget and where it came from.
The Mayor said the city had a money market account and the market "Had been up lately." Mr. Kimble said; "That much? I still don't understand why this says 101,000.00 is what we have in the budget, is there an itemized list of the money?" The Mayor them offered; (appearing to the observers to be making it up as he went along) "No. Well, now you know you have sales tax and business license fees in there too, it's all in there, that's part of it too you know."
He wanted that questioning to be over and went on to start the meeting. It is interesting that there was no itemization of the budget and a fair question would be why not and are they required by law to do so?
Something had occurred regarding Zoning Board member Don Driggers (who is also on the Industrial Board, the same people serve on different boards, why is that?) that had some citizens up in arms for good reason that has the entire town calling for "the barn to be cleared" and recall started against the city council and the Mayor.
Mr. Driggers applied for rezoning on a small piece of land for a nursery business in a recent Zoning Board workshop. Zoning was approved, but no site plan was ever presented, no business license had been issued before he opened the business, and he had failed to correct the issue of safe egress and ingress with the driveway into the business which fronts state Highway 231.
A recent purchase had been made for plants that included a receipt in which no tax was reflected. What normally costs a dollar or less in many places for a doggone pack of petunias costs three dollars at Mr. Driggers business. Good grief....
It is rumored heavily in town by folks that know Mr. Driggers well, that the only reason he opened this business is to benefit from the quarry needing landscape material for their berms. Unless "special treatment" is given to Mr. Driggers yet again, it was overheard in public that the quarry can only buy from "certified nurserymen/landscapers", which Mr. Driggers is not.
It is our understanding that when Mr. Driggers was told that by the planners involved with the quarry that he reacted as if he had been punched in the stomach, and got all twisted and flapped up about it like rusty tin on an old house in an ill wind.
If this is true, the rumor, which we do not claim it is, then it goes along with all the rest of them trying to profit from their official positions from this quarry.
Without a business license, there is no EIN number and proper reporting to the state of Alabama on any tax collected from sales. A huge violation of federal and state laws, people go to jail for this as well they should. Had it been a regular citizen I am sure there would have been consequences, but since it was Mr. Driggers and he is "one their own" this is what happened next:
1. Mary Lee Reynolds moved that Mr. Driggers be granted a business license immediately.
2. City Attorney, Corey Moore told Mrs. Reynolds within earshot of the closest seats, but quietly enough that he probably didn't think anyone was paying attention, that; "We could just give him a business license" when Mrs. Reynolds asked him; "Can't we just do that, give him a business license?"
So there you have it. Our city "leaders" at work, condoning violations of the law, administering no penalties and giving cover to Mr. Driggers unlawful behavior.
This brought about loud protesting from the meeting room, especially in response to Ann Gibbons' words of protest, which ended with thundering applause from both rooms.
Demands are being STRONGLY made by an overwhelming majority of citizens for the immediate resignations of Mrs, Reynolds, Mr. Driggers and city attorney Corey Moore.
The looks on the officials faces was priceless, but still that same aloof attitude of "I do not care, I am above the laws of this state as a city official and can do whatever I want" was as thick as red clay on the soles of farm boots.
This is why the observation has been made that the officials run this city as if it were their own private business rather than a municipality and subject to prescribed laws and ethics as well as the citizens wishes.
The question has been raised by one astute thinker that perhaps the city has already issued a business license to WRQ, before the city council vote, and that is where the "mysterious money" has come from.
It is an excellent question and the city has so far refused requests for the records and a reasonable explanation.
The question was also raised as to why the same people serve on so many boards.
Another excellent question that deserves a reasonable explanation to the citizens of Vincent.
When the meeting ended, Mrs Jordan-Smith was surrounded by Jim Hurley, Stephen Bradley and Rob Fowler like bees buzzing on crimson clover. They were all laughing and exchanging pleasantries and saying how glad they all were to see each other.
They walked out into the night smiling and laughing as if they were all "old friends." Mrs. Jordan-Smith bid them goodnight with; "It was so good to see all of you!"
Mrs. Gibbons who was standing nearby said; "Well, hello Bridgette, aren't you glad to see me too?" Mrs. Smith responded with a curt, "NO" and walked away from one of her own citizens in favor of the "terrible trios" company as they left.
Is it any wonder to you readers and observers of this situation, why WE are hotter than two dollar pistols here in Vincent?
It is past time for some trips to the woodshed to commence and justice to come riding into this town on the white horse called accountability.
POLITICAL CORRUPTION IS A NATIONWIDE ISSUE AFFECTING ALL OF US. ALABAMA RANKS #5 AS THE MOST CORRUPT STATE. *DOJ 2007 stats
Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton
PERTINENT ENVIRONMENTAL AND CORRUPTION ISSUES IN OTHER STATES ARE ALSO DISCUSSED
NO OTHER COMMUNITY, RICH OR POOR, URBAN OR SUBURBAN,BLACK, BROWN,RED, YELLOW OR WHITE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO BECOME AN "ENVIRONMENTAL SACRIFICE ZONE."
Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder
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