The MIDCOR/JCIDC Settlement opened this past Friday to the public
but prior to that much had occurred: BY:TAMI (girl Friday)
You can read the settlement legal document here
County legal fees: I posted recently that JCIDC/MIDCOR had at least 50 thousand in legal fees. That figure was based on numbers discussed/presented by jcidc/midcrop at their recent annual meeting. It was during the meeting they basically announced a settlement was underway when the director said the hemorrhaging has stopped. Of course the reference was to the money that was bleeding from the groups reserve cash/ budget. However their actual legal fees are substantially higher & may actually exceed the county’s. Keep in mind the "county lawsuit" has taken just over 2 years, so it has been a very long process that began February 2014 just after Schafer was elected & gave Commissioner Little the vote needed to drop JCIDC over then Commissioner Cash’s objection. What followed was the county’s most monumental public temper tantrum ever as Truax, Ungru, Trevor Crafton, Hadley & even one of the Grote boys showed up to scream , stomp & bully Schafer & Little. At one point I believe at least several of them threatened to hold their breath unless Schafer or Little changed their vote. It was a huge fiasco with the pro JCIDC guys throwing fits & the ladies from Visit Madison & Main Street acting as cheerleaders in the audience applauding & yelling out for their boys as they kicked & screamed on local cable video. That is why & how all this started- with a bunch of grown men acting like out of control brats who couldn't’t accept no for an answer. So before you blame anyone for costs you might re-watch at least that video.
In addition what most citizens don’t know is that the legal fees are actually best described as 3 separate cases rolled up in one big bill---one with Switzerland County that JCIDC caused, a 2nd to recover attorney fees because JCIDC kept causing legal problems and a 3d because the entire time JCIDC/MIDCOR was harassing the county & interfering with government business, they did so while acting in an unethical, illegal manner. So once you look at who started things, how long they took and how many “cases” were involved- you get a better feel for the value returned on the total cost paid.
Let’s start with the 1st case- I had never heard the word inter-pleader until JCIDC’s board & staff including Julie Berry & Mr.. Ungru, Mayor Welch, ex county attorney Georing & Commissioner Cash took it upon themselves to interfere between Switzerland & Jefferson County. Because of their actions Switzerland County filed suit against Jefferson County & they withheld riverboat gaming money illegally. The county needed an attorney – they didn’t go looking for legal trouble- JCIDC caused it. Early on Ungru announced that JCIDC had great community support & that they didn’t even have to pay attorney fees because Susan Sparks was donating her time. Personally I think Susan donated time because she had recently handled Ungrus divorce & believed the GO8 when they said it would be over soon. But in the end what really matters is that the county was forced to retain legal counsel & they did that with one of the best, if not the best in town, Joe Colussi. Unfortunately, as Joe was working the case he kept coming across documents that proved not only that JCIDC had acted illegally with Switzerland County but also Wil Georing had been a very “bad boy”. In fact, Wils behavior was so bad that the judge in Switzerland County was going to kick him off the Switzerland vs Jefferson County inter-pleader case. Just hours before the judge was ready to can Georing- he withdrew as counsel & Switzerland County decided to “cancel” their lawsuit and give Jefferson County all the money they owed us. But it was too late, Jefferson County tax payers had already spent a great deal of money and Little and Schafer believed JCIDC/MIDCOR should pay those fees.
That brings us to part 2 of the lawsuit. By this time JCIDC/MIDCOR knew they were “screwed”. They were embarrassed by Switzerland County’s quick decision to withdraw the inter-pleader case. In fact JCIDC didn’t even know it had happened. The Forum picked up the public documents filed in Switzerland County before Sparks took the time to investigate the fast moving events. I couldn’t imagine what it was like for JCIDC/gang of 8/EDP/Midcor/ the alliance (or whoever they legally were at that moment)to read in the Forum of all places, that they had lost their case in Switzerland County. Instead of accepting the loss with grace & dignity, paying the attorney fees as rightfully owed- they opted to throw yet another set of tantrums. They repeated loudly, often & publicly that they would fight the county & take it to court for as “long as it took.” I imagine, but am not sure that it was around that time that their attorney Susan Sparks decided she didn’t want to donate more time to case that was going to drag out “no matter what.”
So “County Lawsuit- The Sequel” opened to mixed reviews. Some thought the county should just pay Colossi's bill & let JCIDC off the hook but the majority had a different opinion. Much of the evidence, including the misconduct by Georing was part of the public record & had made its way to the forum & social media. People knew what JCIDC & associates had done & deeply disapproved especially since some of the guilty were prancing about town calling themselves industry leaders who envisioned a better future for the few 300 people or less they could get to attend their meetings. So yes, it was the public that demanded the commissioners recover attorney fees from JCIDC. It was JCIDC that threw another tantrum & said – "we’ll show you we’ll drag this through court until the public gets mad about the attorney fees." So Joe Colussi did his thing & gathered evidence & sent documents & required depositions & discovery and the next thing you know Wil Georing signs & sends an illegal affidavit to the Judge in the attorney fees case. In doing so he actually documented for the record his own misconduct & illegal activities. As it turns out everyone in the USA except the “Rat” knows an attorney can’t testify against his current or past clients. And as we all know Georing was not just pals with ex-Commissioners Julie Berry & Mark Cash; he was county attorney many years. In what seems to me to be one of the biggest WTF was he thinking moments in this entire case- Georing TELLS the judge to find against the county & award fees to the JCIDC because “he said so.” So as we a came to the end of County Lawsuit the Sequel we were left with nothing more than a cliffhanger and the question - How could Wilbur and Sparks do that to themselves?
Time and documents pass and by opening Day for “The County Lawsuit- III” JCIDC & pals have come unglued at their ongoing defeats. They dig in yet again & inform commissioner Little they will see him defeated in the fall election as well as send a nasty email that calls into question Schafer's “manhood”. Basically, the local bullies were recruiting new members & calling names. It was nothing if not predictable. None the less the plan was to win the battle by removing Little from office or placing Schafer under so much pressure that he would “cave”. They didn’t bother with Commissioner Cash as he was on their side & they assumed Cash was safe against an unknown named David Bramer. I believe they thought it was an ingenious plan to paint Little as an irresponsible money wasting official who was needlessly spending tax dollars on a frivolous law suit. Basically their goal was to in-elect Little & replace him with pro JCIDC candidate Ice and as a backup plan keep beating up on Schafer who often struggled with public confrontations hoping he would cave. JCIDC may have pulled off the coo were it not for a few pesky facts. The public was NOT behind JCIDC & unknown to JCIDC everybody’s favorite elected official Larry Wynn was behind David Bramer, Mark Cash’s opponent. In the end Little trounced Ice, Bramer took Cash’s seat, they insulted Schafer for no reason & the entire county laughed uncontrollably at a group of people who couldn’t seem to do anything except throw tantrums & dig themselves into deeper and deeper holes.
After their embarrassing election defeats- JCIDC/MIDCOR attitudes shifted- they began to talk less about lawsuits & more about settlements. Of course their idea of settlement meant they got off without paying & they didn’t have to admit guilt & anything bad that was discovered during the process would be pulled from public record & could never be talked about again. Honest, that’s what they wanted. Little & Schafer said no- Cash was a lame duck who was worried more about protecting fellow Georing gang pals- Georing & Julie Berry. Toward the end Colussi & the commissioners simply grew tired of playing nice – Colussi demanded the board members produce their insurance policy that covers the board in case they are azzholes or incompetent or in this case both. He later informed the judge the county just wanted to go to trial, but before they do he asked the judge to rule on Georings illegal affidavit & a few weeks later asked the judge order Julie Berry into a deposition that she kept dodging with excuse after excuse. And what do you know- Sparks name stops appearing on court documents, some insurance firm in Louisville is on the case & after a few shorts weeks of reviewing the facts- that firm says settle with the county. In an epic power struggle that split the JCIDC “family” between those who wanted to accept defeat & settle and those who liked beating their heads against the wall, it became clear that no matter what, at all costs Julie Berry could not & would not give a deposition about her many meetings & "friendly conversations" with ex-county attorney Georing.
The insurance company informs JCIDC they will be on their own dime if they don't settle and would have to start spending their own money again after already having spent what conservatively would be more than 100 thousand over the last two years. In addition board members may have to accept some personal liability for the costs because it was clear JCIDC was guilty. Julie Berry refused to give a deposition because everyone knew she had more dirt on Wilbur & Sparks and the illegal and unethical conduct than the big pile that was already part of public record. JCIDC board members had to pick- either risk being liable for the money on their own since they tried to hide all cash that hadn't already paid out to Sparks, get it from the city or settle.
The city council quietly, behind closed doors said no way aren't paying the bill, JCIDC was running out of money and not a single board member wanted to cough up their share of a settlement. Next thing we know the losers sign off on a document that says:
Here's the money we owe from County Lawsuit I–The Interpleader. They agreed to pay 40 grand by the 17th. (which will come from the insurance company. But JCIDC had to admit they did wrong. They also had to admit county was right. Then they had to make a public apology for being such azzholes and admit they were wrong which of course they did at their loyal attorneys expense. They threw Sparks under the bus because they wanted to make it clear the reason they were such azzholes and incompetent was because they didn't understand the complicated state laws involved in the case even after having paid Sparks big bucks to fight for their version of them. (They could have asked Colussi, JB or half the citizens of the county to explain it and saved some money)
But most importantly it says on #11 in the Analysis of Proposed Settlement that one the matters addressed by the settlement was “unethical conduct in the public record." Which means of course that the Sparks & Wilbur are up the creek without a paddle as they can be held personally liable for costs incurred as a result of their illegal, unethical actions. (see the Sequel and Part III)
Maybe the county will attempt to recover those costs incurred because Wilbur, Sparks and pals acted illegal. It would be a slam dunk because well- everything is already there as part of the public record and acknowledged in the settlement agreement. But if they don’t, citizens can file a complaint & although they can’t act for the county or recover dollars- there’s enough damning evidence in the public record- thanks to the JCIDC settlement that Sparks and especially Wilbur would face severe outcomes –including and up to disbarment.
So – did the county spend too much on what's really 3 different lawsuits over a period of 2 years plus? Maybe unless you add up the fact that in the three years since JCIDC threw the first stone & started the mess the county would have paid out approximately 180 thousand with another 60 to 80 grand schedule in 2018 for a total of 240 to 260 thousand before we revisit what started this whole thing in the first place. Remember it was Schafer's election in 2014 that made kicking JCIDC out of county taxpayers pockets a reality. Norbert is expected to run for re-election in 2018. Does anyone think JCIDC will let this all go, turn the other cheek & let Norbert run a peaceful, successful campaign? I don't know, but the last time these guys got upset they were willing to cheat, lie, threaten & spend more than a hundred grand just to get even because they lost the Switzerland County Inter-pleader case. The truth is its already started- they need Schafer out because Little isn't expected to run again. So if they defeat Schafer its a new game in less than 4 short years. thanks for reading Tams