Thursday, June 28, 2007

Major investigation of Sevierville Lobbyist

This is a fascinating article about a lobbyist for Sevierville and the attempt to get liquor by the drink attached to a tourist development zone bill and the involvement of a developer who owns 1,000 acres inside the TDZ. There is a strong indication that Mayor and Aldermen broke the open meetings law: "The next day the mayor submitted a letter indicating city support after he consulted aldermen by phone."

The lobbyist is quoted as saying
"I always wait till the end of a legislative session before quietly massaging legislation of this nature through the process."

Link

Bishop said he and Atchley were in Nashville May 22 to speak to legislators about another bill. Developer Jim Calkin, who owns about 1,000 acres in the TDZ, including the land around the Events Center, asked them that day if there was any way to get liquor by the drink approved in the zone.

That was why they asked Biddle about it, Bishop said.

Atchley also said the liquor discussion started at Calkin's request, and that Calkin also had lobbyists working on it.

Biddle and Bishop admit that before the session started in January they discussed how a bill involving the sale of liquor by the drink might be handled, leading Biddle to include comments about the matter in a letter he attached to his January invoice to the city.

"As to consideration of authorizing 'spirits' within a specified development area, we will have around till the end of April to decide exactly the 'if's, how's, and when's,'" the letter said. "I always wait till the end of a legislative session before quietly massaging legislation of this nature through the process."