Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

December 3, 2013

Looney seeks evidence from Souza

Souza asks that allegations of conflict of interest be placed on work session agenda

By Jim Young
Chronicle correspondent

CROSSVILLE — The city's Northwest Connector project has been the target of accusations by Crossville City Councilman Pete Souza, but now one of the people mentioned in Souza's latest “white paper,” as he calls them, has fired back.

Crossville attorney Tom Looney has written a 10-page letter to Souza that reads much like an interrogatory concerning Souza's recent position paper addressing the Northwest Connector in which Souza claims a conspiracy of “good old boys” exists.

Souza's report indicated he had a proof of many of the claims he made in the report and Looney's letter requests, as a constituent, that Souza provide that proof to him. In fact, Looney's letter has a list of some 42 questions, including a number with sub-questions, based on the report that Souza released Nov. 8 which includes references specifically to Mr. Looney selling land.

Souza had requested at the end of his position paper that a discussion of his allegations of possible conflict of interest by Mayor J.H. Graham III be placed on the next work session agenda. Other items on the work session agenda set for this afternoon at 4 p.m. in the third floor city hall conference room includes several matters on the agenda for next week's regular meeting, such as the upcoming recreation grant application, sign ordinance changes, maintenance concerns of councilman Souza and Souza's proposal to drop health insurance for council members.

Looney's letter to Souza goes into Looney's local background and states, “It appears that you are using your official position to suggest that all of our other elected officials, except you, are unethical, corrupt and fleecing the taxpayers.”

Looney continues, “It is hard for me to understand how a person would voluntarily choose to work and retire to Crossville, and then proceed as an elected official to destroy its positive progressive history by making personal attacks on public officials and private citizens who have volunteered their own blood, sweat and tears to make Crossville the desirable destination it is.”

Looney states his letter should not be construed as a personal attack on Souza and stated several times that the two men have never met. Looney' wrote that there is room in public debate for honest differences of opinion; “however, no one is entitled to make up their own facts. The facts walk in the door by themselves and they can't be changed once established.”

Looney writes, “I am taking you up on your solemn promise to share your investigative materials and third party statements.” Over five pages of questions follow.

At the end of the questions, Looney writes, “In the unlikely event that you do not have documentary or corroborating proof as requested above, may I assume that any assertion made by you for which you have nothing to back you up is a mistake and not true?”

Even though the city offices have been closed for the holiday, a response from Souza was sent out to council members. Souza responded to Looney saying, “ Sir, your arrogance is impressive, congratulations you receive the Thanksgiving turkey award.”

Souza continued, “It is obvious your intention is to damage my credibility and or cause me to disclose what evidence I have on you [sic] clients and probably get me to lose my temper. I will however answer some of the questions and if you have anger control issues as the mayor does you may want to have medication available because your damn sure not going to like it. I will respond when I get back into town within a reasonbale [sic] time.”