No More Secrets on Javanon Meeting

The Javanon Soccer Club’s construction of a soccer building off Tucker Station Road has gotten a lot more press that it probably deserves, but here’s some more.

Here’s the way we see it. Bill Bardenwerper, attorney for Javanon, communicated to Planning Director Charles Cash and the Board of Zoning Adjustments that he didn’t want the April 20 hearing to be about Javanon president Ali Ahmadi and his personnel record. So someone, probably Cash, called a secret, illegal meeting in advance of the April 20 BOZA meeting to go over his concerns.

Ahmadi, who at the time the building was constructed was an employee of the city, has never attended any of the public hearings, hasn’t spoken to the media, was reprimanded by the city for his role in the scandal, and just last month decided to retire at age 53. Voluntarily, of course.

Much of the recent news revolves around BOZA’s illegal meeting held prior to its April 20 hearing, in which Javanon’s case was on the agenda. County attorney Mike O’Connell, in the latest round of media coverage, said that Bardenwerper and Cash were involved in setting up the meeting, and has said that all decisions made in the regular meeting must be reconsidered because it violated open meetings laws.

So now there’s another hearing scheduled June 15, and the approval given to the Javanon group April 20 has been rescinded until then.

Through an open records request, we’ve discovered that Bardenwerper tried to influence the content of the hearing and wanted to meet with officials in advance. And we came across his strong opinions on the coverage of the issue, especially Dick Irby’s reporting on Fox 41.

Bardenwerper, in two e-mails written prior to the meeting, was especially concerned about media coverage and whether or not Ahmadi would be the subject of scrutiny.

Read the Rest of This Mess After the Jump…

The Planning Commission didn’t provide documents in which the decision on actually setting up the illegal meeting was made, but let’s just get right to some of the startling communications from Bardenwerper, who represents Javanon and many other developers before BOZA. The following was sent April 13 to Bill Schreck, the city’s director of codes and regulations, and Jon Baker and Theresa Senninger of the County Attorney’s office, with a copy to Cash. It refers to a March 19 BOZA meeting.

The last BOZA hearing got way off track with BOZA talking about things not within its jurisdiction, acting like it was about to subpoena your and Javanon employees, demanding IPL records of inspections, getting into issues relating to local Fire District approvals, offering uninformed opinions as to what occurred with the factual evidence up on which to base those opinions, and so on. Ali Ahmedi’s personnel records, which I don’t know how those even got released to the press and to Porter, have also become a subject of discussion, which are irrelevant, not on point and inappropriate. I am worried that his coming Monday’s proceedings will get even more out of control than last time, in large part because of the media feeding frenzy.

Accordingly, even though last time I made sure our Javanon folks were as polite and contrite as can be and expect that our side will once again handle things the same way, I can’t speak for Porter’s group or BOZA, except to say I am more worried about the way things may proceed now than before, given Dick Irby’s/Fox 41’s continued intimidation and of Porter’s playing to the cameras. While I and my clients very much want this to be satisfactorily resolved on Monday, I can tell you that, because of the stakes involved, if things get crazy like before and, for example, Ali’s irrelevant personnel records become a subject of discussion as they have on in the CJ and on tv, we will object and just up and leave the proceedings. I’d rather battle this out in court if necessary, as in the Gordon Motor Sport case, if the proceeding are reduced to a farce.

So, as I know that all of you presumably seek to avoid another messy situation as well, perhaps we can meet to talk about some ground rules. Just a minor one, but as an example Porter used the “neither for  not against” period for several of  his opponents to testify, giving him twice the time we got. This time around, we honestly don’t even have a clue what BOZA’s purpose if of this hearing, despite what the motion said, because there’s really not anything more to say if it’s just all about whether to amend the CUP to permit the building. We all said it all last time, at least when it comes to what is relevant and/or within the authority of BOZA as opposed to the jurisdiction of IPL, but whatever the purpose of this hearing is, we want it to be fair and controlled. Let me know if you can meet. Many thanks.

So Bardenwerper posed a threat — if he didn’t get what he wanted from the city, he’d walk out of the proceedings. Cash seems to have complied with Bardenwerper’s demands and wanted to make sure Ahmadi’s concerns were addressed with board members.

On the morning of the April 20 meeting, at 6:35 a.m., Bardenwerper sent this in response to a letter from David Kaelin, president of the Tucker Station Neighborhood Association, in which Kaelin asked the Javanon board for payment of its legal bills.

You are entirely correct that Javanon families are good and decent people. But the same is true of those who have led and managed the organization. I have known Ali, in particular, as a dedicated public servant and extraordinary fair and generous person, and what some people have said about him, and about Javanon and other associated with it generally, especially how the building came to be built, has bordered on actionable slander. Even after I recommended that certain lies and will accusations stop, they continued. So if some Javanon parents got really upset and expressed their outrage to others, like FOX41, it was because the things that some people said, especially Dick Irby, were so grossly distorted. As is customary of FOX generally, Dick’s story was agenda-driven, and it was used to promote FOX, not the truth. He didn’t act like a journalist presenting a news story. Instead he manipulated the facts and fashioned a  story the way it suited his personal purpose, and that, of course, incited people to say things about Ali and Javanon that never were true.

So Dave, as you are threatening continued legal action here if Javanon doesn’t pay some people and organization money, you need to consider the actions of some people and organization money, you need to consider the actions of some people on your side of this debate, too, and the damages they have caused to Javanon and its people. Hoepfully, BOZA this morning will end this all the right way, and FOX41 and others will move on.

Obviously, the plan to get the media to move on didn’t work out, and it seems likely the neighborhood association has plenty of incentive to keep the story alive.