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Jerry Lewis

Beach Fanatic
Mar 19, 2010
357
94
Walton County attorney Lynn Hoshihara announced Tuesday that she will take a voluntary leave of absence while lawyers review a land deal that has been questioned.

County officials signed a contract Sept. 21, 2010, to buy a parcel of land on the south side of Chat Holley Road near the south end of the Clyde B. Wells Bridge for $354,000 from 331 Bayside Properties, a company formed by developer Lloyd Blue.

The county bought the 33-foot-wide strip of land to upgrade the intersection of Chat Holley and U.S. Highway 331.

Read the legal history of the property »

However, questions have arisen over whether Bayside Properties owned the property when the county approved the contract and whether the county actually owned part of the parcel.

“The county did not own the purchased property as of October 2010,” Greg Kisela, county administrator, told county commissioners Tuesday. “We know we owned it in 1917. In 1927 or 1930, a tax deed appears to transfer ownership to private property. That property was transferred to Mr. Holley. We now have additional information that we didn’t have before.

“The county did not own any property when it was purchased. We may need to look to bring in special counsel to look into this further.”

Commissioner Sara Comander recommended that Hoshihara and any other county employees involved in the purchase be placed on paid administrative leave while the case is being investigated.

“We need to go forward and hire outside help to look at the purchase so the public knows we are being completely transparent,” Comander said. “This is not a disciplinary action, but we have rules and we need to follow them.”

Comander and Commissioner Scott Brannon voted in favor of the recommendation. However, Larry Jones, Cecilia Jones and Kenneth Pridgen voted no.

Last week, Hoshihara terminated attorney George Ralph Miller’s contract with county. Miller, who had been on retainer for two years, oversaw the land purchase.

“We reacted rather than acting wisely,” Comander said. “We’ve got too many questions and no facts.”

Speculation about the purchase came up nearly a year ago, Comander told fellow commissioners. However, Suzanne Harris, a Walton resident, said an investigation did not begin until she raised questions to the board.

“Ya’ll didn’t even have a contract when you gave them the money,” Harris said. “How did we let it happen that we signed something from someone who didn’t have a right to even sell the property?”

Comander again raised the recommendation to put Hoshihara on administrative leave, but could not get enough votes.

“I’m not placing blame here, but everyone involved should not be involved while we investigate,” Comander said. “We need clarity with this. I don’t think this will take a long time. I just think everyone involved needs to take a step back.”

Commissioners voted to hire outside counsel to investigate the deal.

Hoshihara also offered to take 30 days leave using her vacation time while the purchase is investigated. Clay Adkinson, a contracted attorney, will oversee her duties in her absence.

“She is going to voluntarily step aside, but will give us a few days for Mr. Adkinson (before leaving),” Comander said. “By the end of the week he should be in. I don’t think the investigation will take more than 30 days to clear up.

“We’ve known about this for a while,” she added. “This is not about friendships … It’s about business. It’s hard sometimes but that’s our job.”

Read more: http://www.nwfdailynews.com/articles/document-43937-walton-land.html#ixzz1ZFRYWTM2
 

Jerry Lewis

Beach Fanatic
Mar 19, 2010
357
94
Funny how some of you are quick to assume the worst. I will reserve judgement until all the facts are in. We should know better then to trust media especially in this day and age of gotcha pretend journalism entertainment.
 

scooterbug44

SoWal Expert
May 8, 2007
16,736
3,327
Sowal
This isn't the 24 hour news cycle trying to garner ratings - this is local press reporting on a story over several weeks.

It's either massive incompetence or illegal activity and kickbacks. Don't know which is more worrisome.
 

30A Skunkape

Mr. Small Box
Jan 18, 2006
10,192
2,206
50
Backatown Seagrove
Funny how some of you are quick to assume the worst. I will reserve judgement until all the facts are in. We should know better then to trust media especially in this day and age of gotcha pretend journalism entertainment.

Many of the players named above have elegantly honed their reputations for real estate/goodoleboyism shenanigans. Do a little research for yourself and you too will take the jaundiced view.
 

Bob Hudson

Beach Fanatic
May 10, 2008
1,066
739
Santa Rosa Beach
A public records request has been made for the following required document that might be interesting to read:

State Statute 286.23 Real property conveyed to public agency; disclosure of beneficial interests; notice; exemptions.—

(1) Any person or entity holding real property in the form of a partnership, limited partnership, corporation, trust, or any form of representative capacity whatsoever for others, except as otherwise provided in this section, shall, before entering into any contract whereby such real property held in representative capacity is sold, leased, taken by eminent domain, or otherwise conveyed to the state or any local governmental unit, or an agency of either, make a public disclosure in writing, under oath and subject to the penalties prescribed for perjury, which shall state his or her name and address and the name and address of every person having a beneficial interest in the real property, however small or minimal. This written disclosure shall be made to the chief officer, or to his or her officially designated representative, of the state, local governmental unit, or agency of either, with which the transaction is made at least 10 days prior to the time of closing or, in the case of an eminent domain taking, within 48 hours after the time when the required sum is deposited in the registry of the court. Notice of the deposit shall be made to the person or entity by registered or certified mail before the 48-hour period begins.

(2) The state or local governmental unit, or an agency of either, shall send written notice by registered mail to the person required to make disclosures under this section, prior to the time when such disclosures are required to be made, which written request shall also inform the person required to make such disclosure that such disclosure must be made under oath, subject to the penalties prescribed for perjury.

(3)(a) The beneficial interest in any entity registered with the Federal Securities Exchange Commission or registered pursuant to chapter 517, whose interest is for sale to the general public, is hereby exempt from the provisions of this section. When disclosure of persons having beneficial interests in nonpublic entities is required, the entity or person shall not be required by the provisions of this section to disclose persons or entities holding less than 5 percent of the beneficial interest in the disclosing entity.

(b) In the case of an eminent domain taking, any entity or person other than a public officer or public employee, holding real property in the form of a trust which was created more than 3 years prior to the deposit of the required sum in the registry of the court, is hereby exempt from the provisions of this section. However, in order to qualify for the exemption set forth in this section, the trustee of such trust shall be required to certify within 48 hours after such deposit, under penalty of perjury, that no public officer or public employee has any beneficial interest whatsoever in such trust. Disclosure of any changes in the trust instrument or of persons having beneficial interest in the trust shall be made if such changes occurred during the 3 years prior to the deposit of said sum in the registry of the court.

(4) This section shall be liberally construed to accomplish the purpose of requiring the identification of the actual parties benefiting from any transaction with a governmental unit or agency involving the procurement of the ownership or use of property by such governmental unit or agency.

Anybody taking bets !
 

rocketman

Beach Comber
Jun 28, 2008
48
11
Wait and See

I'm with Jerry Lewis' comment on this one. Let's see how everything shakes out. Perhaps, we'll look at the political affiliations afterwards. In essence, who supported who in previous elections and if there is a vindictive witch hunt in the making/process.

Rock on,
Rocketman
 

scooterbug44

SoWal Expert
May 8, 2007
16,736
3,327
Sowal
I don't think this is a witch hunt - I think someone is screwing the taxpayers to make money and I am tired of it.
 
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