Monday, September 22, 2008

Jumping Through The Looking Glass

Activities of the Bayview Chamber of Commerce grow curiouser and curiouser. On the heels of the fiscal disaster over the July Fireworks Raffle, (legal fees still not publicly disclosed) the September meeting got even more bizarre. The developer group planning to establish a golf course community on the back side of Bernard Peak was invited to speak to neighbors concerns. It turns out that those that own land on Twete Road or Good Hope Road, feel the age old complaint, "we bought rural land and you want to change that!"

About 50 or 60 people showed up, primarily to address the development. County Commission President, Rick Curry and a sheriff deputy were present as well. During the meeting, the power went out and stayed out for the rest of the event. Between lanterns and the deputy's spot light shining through the window, the meeting went on. After about 30 minutes of discussion regarding the development, Chamber president, Jim MacDonald, claiming illness and that he still had a meeting to run, gave the folks 5 more minutes to conclude the discussion. Five minutes went by, and he gaveled the debate closed, and suggested they could continue out in the parking lot.

What happened next was surreal. With the deputy and Curry looking on, about 12 people in all were left in the room. Skip Wilcox made a motion that $960 of the proceeds from the fireworks raffle be donated to the community Center foundation. Treasurer, Kathy Ellis supported the motion, allegedly claiming she had a telephone meeting with Lynette Cravens of the State Lottery Commission. She went on to say, (paraphrased) that the chamber had to give that money away, at least 90% of the proceeds, or face a $10,000 fine. Over the objections of Ralph Jones and George Grandy, the motion was passed.

It is necessary to point out that Skip Wilcox, Kathy Ellis and Tom Ellis are Community Center Foundation Board members. They did not recuse themselves. This apparent conflict of interest bring up several points, some possibly illegal acts. First, representing the raffle as benefiting the fireworks fund which is held separate from the general fund, then giving the money away to another organization that the proponents are officers of, smacks at the very least, a conflict of interest, and possibly raffle fraud. Secondly, When, the next morning, Ralph Jones called Lynette Cravens at the lottery commission, she denied ever having such a conversation with anyone in the chamber about anything and promised to clarify that in a letter to the chamber. If this is true, that would constitute a deliberate fraudulent act. According to Jones, the chamber secretary, Claire Cosgrove admitted to receiving the letter from the state, but as of this date has refused to divulge the content or show the letter to him.

What motivated these officers to do these things is a mystery. We intend to find out what if anything was illegal, and pursue that course. This doesn't bode well for the future of the organization.

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