The Holiday Island Suburban Improvement District Board met Sept. 28, where the agenda was promptly adjusted by Chair Ken Brown to address recent accusatory claims of HISID malfeasance by Holiday Island City Council candidate Barbara J. Talbot.
The claim was publicized in a news release by Talbot on Friday, Sept. 25 stating that the organization “Against Incorporation” would be holding two meetings on the same day in the Veterans Parks in Holiday Island where she and City Council Candidate Rick Chambers were releasing “information showing that Holiday Island Suburban Improvement District has been using public money in direct donation to a political committee committing possible election law violations and providing false and incomplete information to members of Holiday Island.”
The first part of the claim referring to election law violation said that HISID commissioner Dan Kees asked for an attorney’s opinion of Cherokee Village Suburban Improvement District lawsuit which Kees shared with the City of Holiday Island Incorporation Committee. The cost of the attorney’s opinion was a public expense to HISID, and Talbot claims the sharing of the opinion to the private COHIIC is “a possible direct violation of election law.”
Kees holds memberships on both the board and committee. He called Talbot’s claims “inaccurate and unfounded.” Kees said the attorney’s opinions were requested by HISID “in the context of protecting the interests of HISID and the property owners.”
When HISID passed a resolution supporting the upcoming election on the issue of incorporation, Kees said, “Consequently it would be proper for the district to seek to understand the impact of incorporation on the district and to assure that any transition of responsibilities from the district to the city would be done in a way that would be beneficial to the district and the property owners.”
Talbot supports her second claim of “false information” by referencing the attorney’s opinion on the Cherokee Village lawsuit which she believes indicates a potential future tax increase, which contradicts Kees’s public statements of having no plan to raise taxes. Talbot’s statement said the result of the lawsuit “will likely have serious negative impact against HISID as it will set precedent for HISID to follow and cause a reduction in funding of at least $450,000. This would cause the new incorporation to seek a 16-mill levy vote of the people to makeup this shortfall.”
“It is pure speculation on their part as to how the case will be resolved and what impact that may have on Holiday Island,” Kees responded. “The committee’s opinion is that it could just as easily be settled such that the impact would be favorable or neutral to Holiday Island. In any case, regardless of how it is settled, there would be no need to impose a 16-mill property tax to maintain the roads. A 5-mill property tax is the maximum the law allows for cities, so a 16-mill tax is not even possible.
“Their calculation totally disregards any turnback money the city will get for road maintenance. And the committee has since day one included in the plan they distributed the possibility of imposing the 5-mill property tax at some point if necessary to transition an essential service to the city. The committee does not anticipate that being necessary at this time and those committee members running for office have committed to not imposing it.” Kees said all the attorney’s opinions and discussions were done in order to gather facts.
Tempers raise the temperature
Caught in the crossfire of the pro and against battle of incorporation was HISID District Manager Lawrence Blood, who attended the first publicized meeting held by Talbot where he was asked to leave, or in Talbot’s words during public comment, “Ordered from private property.”
Talbot issued a formal complaint against Blood, saying Blood “became disruptive” citing what she believed was escalated aggressive behavior and abusive language. Talbot requested immediate disciplinary action by HISID.
Susan Roson made a similar complaint, also asking for disciplinary action stating that Blood, at that same event, started screaming and yelling in front of several witnesses and “he called me a lying bitch.”
Roson said several times she backed up, but he stepped forward getting just six inches away from her nose, “He was so violently mad he was frothing at the mouth.” She asked for disciplinary action and said, “I am afraid of Mr. Blood – I believe that Mr. Blood is very aggressive and dangerous – he was very abusive – I am unsure what will happen to me now—I feel very unsafe. Mr. Blood violated my personal space, called me awful names, he was unprofessional.”
In response to Talbot and Roson’s claims Blood said, “For the most part I disagree.” He did say however, “I did call her [Roson] a phony and a fake.” Later Blood asked that public Zoom comments be repeated due to a technical difficulty in electronic recording, and he replied to the repeated comments again saying this time, “I did call her [Roson] a fraud and a fake.”
Blood said the level of misinformation at the Against Incorporation meeting from Roson and others was staggering. After the HISID meeting Blood revealed he said these words because Roson first engaged him from at least 25 yards away saying, “My response was not premeditated.”
Witnesses of the altercation were Carroll County Sheriff’s Dep. Aaron Ingle, as well as resident Barbara Kuhn who offered a follow-up public comment about Blood. “Yes he [Blood] was visibly upset,” Kuhn said. But she said she understood his frustration as the Against Corporation individuals “have slandered all of us and are trying to do the same to Lawrence and I hope you [HISID Board members] will take that into consideration when going into Executive Session.” After the executive session the Board decided to conduct a more comprehensive investigation and made no staffing decision at the time.