November 15, 2017
Last Friday, November 10, Facts Matter, along with four Addison taxpayers, attended the hearing for Landmark Structures Motion for Summary Judgment to have Addison’s lawsuit against them dismissed.
Also attending were City Manager Wes Pierson and the Town’s attorney, Brenda McDonald. Conspicuously missing were any of the taxpayer’s elected representatives. Even the Judge questioned the legal counsel pleading the case for Addison, asking if any of Addison ‘s Council members were in attendance. The answer was, “No”.
The reality is, this lawsuit is quite simply about doing what’s right:
1) Landmark installed wind turbines that failed three times and despite attempts to repair, they simply never worked. Even in baseball, with three strikes you’re out.
2) More than $1M taxpayer dollars was spent on faulty turbines. Taxpayers deserve to have their elected officials fight to recover taxpayer dollars.
It is inconceivable why not one of the Town’s elected officials cared enough to even show their faces at this hearing. At the Town Meeting on October 30, resident Bob Jacoby questioned the Mayor, asking if he and the Council were going to fight for the taxpayers. The Mayor responded “Yes,” yet he, himself was off cruising the Caribbean on the date of the hearing and neither the Mayor Pro Tem, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem or any Council member felt compelled to show up for their constituents. It’s demoralizing to taxpayers that these same elected officials have time to show up for ribbon cuttings and social activities as documented by all the photos in the Town’s newsletter, yet when it comes to showing up to demonstrate support for recouping taxpayer dollars, they’re missing in action.
Each party was given 30 minutes to give oral argument for their position in the case. At the end of the hour the Judge made no decision on the Summary Judgment.
Interestingly, while one Addison resident recently claimed to have Ron Whitehead and Lea Dunn’s depositions, the judge didn’t have them. So at the end of the hour she directed Landmark’s attorneys to provide her forthwith the full depositions of Whitehead and Dunn and ordered that all documents, including depositions, be filed 30 days before the trial date, which is March 5, 2018 at 9 a.m. As of Monday, November 13, only excerpts of the depositions were available on the court website. Reading from what is available it is interesting how vague Dunn’s memories are. For example she responded such things as “I don’t recall,” “I truly can’t remember,” “I can’t say for sure,” “I guess,” or “I really don’t know,” 13 times throughout a mere 23 pages that were available.
Mr. Whitehead had a few less “I don’t remember” type responses—8 in the 18 pages available. But he did seem to have recollection that somewhat conflicted with what he wrote in his own newsletter when he responded, “I don’t recall anybody ever putting a dollar figure to that [excess energy] or explaining that it would produce any significant revenue.” Here’s what Whitehead wrote in his March 27, 2009 Town Newsletter as part of “A Note from City Manager Ron Whitehead.”
“What should a 21st Century water tower look like and do? Freese and Nichols Engineering was brought in to partner with local artist Brad Goldberg and our public works and parks department. The charge we gave them was to answer the question above and to think about design elegance and sustainability. They have come up with a wonderful design that is fully operational through the use of wind driven turbines on the top of the structure. In fact the turbines will produce more electricity than we need to operate the water tower and we can get credit for returning that excess power to the grid.”
Whitehead also testified that his involvement was primarily from an aesthetic standpoint—“The council always recognized that that was one of my talents,” he testified. The operations, he said, he left to the technical people.