Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

March 13, 2014

Souza: investigation not complete

Says will resign if new investigations find no wrongdoing

CROSSVILLE — "I am not walking away with my tail between my legs," said Crossville City Councilman Pete Souza Tuesday night as he discussed the Cumberland County Grand Jury report that found no evidence of any crime committed by city of Crossville officials in three real estate transactions.

Souza said he has already filed a fraud complaint with the Tennessee Comptroller's office and is seeking an investigation by the U.S. Attorney. And while several in the audience at the meeting expressed support for Souza to continue what he termed a "campaign pledge" to look into irregularities in purchase of properties, others called on the council to return its focus to growing the city.

"We've got to have growth," said David Simcox, Cumberland County property assessor and property owner in Crossville, saying negative comments on the city's leadership was hurting growth opportunities for the community.

"How much longer are we going to put up with your garbage and wasting people's time?" Simcox asked. "Either do it or go on. I'm tired of it. The people are tired of it. The taxpayers are tired of it."

Resident refutes previous claim

Souza was also taken to task by one resident who was the subject of one of Souza's accusations of a conflict of interest among council members.

Local businessman Bruce Wyatt said he does not own any property along the third section of the proposed Northwest Connector, noting he had sold his interest in Cotton Patch Properties more than 20 years ago and had sold the Plateau Travel Plaza in 2005.

"Today, I own nothing on the Northwest Connector," Wyatt said. "I wish I did, because that will be the next growth area of Crossville."

Wyatt reminded council members of the weight their words and actions have, and the attention paid to them.

"With that attention and respect comes a certain responsibility to make sure that you get your facts straight when you're making accusations involving private citizens," he said.

Wyatt said he supported the Northwest Connector, and believed he and Souza had a difference of opinion on the matter.

"I respect that. You're entitled to your opinion," Wyatt said. "But you're not entitled to your own facts."

Souza apologized to Wyatt, stating his information was incorrect.

"My point was never directed to you. My comment was directed to conflicts of interest that may exist for those who vote," Souza said.

"You have a podium from which you speak that's powerful," Wyatt said. "I have no podium, except here tonight."

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