Friday, June 23, 2017

JOHNNY SOWELL EXPOSED - PART 2 - FRAUDLENT MAYOR OF SHIRLEY, AR

JOHNNY KYLE SOWELL - ILLEGALLY RAN FOR AND HELD OFFICE OF MAYOR OF SHIRLEY

In Part 1 of this series we exposed Sowell as a failed Arkansas State Trooper wannabe and one of, if not the worst,  recruit ever in the history of the Arkansas State Police (the exception being tainted ABC Enforcement Director Boyce Hamlet).  

In this installment, we will expose him as an illegal mayor of Shirley and illegal voter in city elections.

Arkansas Code Annotated §14-42-201 requires that candidates must live in the corporate municipal limits at the time they file and when they hold office.



The Arkansas Municipal League, an organization that assists Arkansas towns and cities covers this fact in one of their publications.




Links to relevant Arkansas Supreme Court case precedents as referenced above:
Thomas v Sitton  and Davis v Holt.

Sowell's residence has never, repeat never, been in the corporate municipal limits of Shirley and he was not a resident at the time he ran of held the office of mayor in 2014 until his resignation in December 2016.  A clear violation of the law.

Official records of Van Buren County show that his residence is in the county, not in the city limits of Shirley.
 

SOURCE: ARKANSAS SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE (ASDI) MAP VIEWER - http://agio.maps.arcgis.com/apps/View/index.html?appid=7228c164af7a42539911e087b825693c

Records on file in the Van Buren County Assessor and Tax Collector's Office both clearly show that Sowell's residence is in the county and not inside Shirley city limits and no city taxes have ever been collected or paid due to that fact that he resides in the unincorporated area of the county.


BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF SOWELL'S RESIDENCE FROM COUNTY ONLINE RECORDS - OUTSIDE CITY LIMITS OF SHIRLEY





SOWELL'S RESIDENCE - LOCATED OUTSIDE CITY LIMITS OF SHIRLEY



THIS 2016 RECEIPT IS DIFFERENT THAN ALL OTHERS AS THERE IS A MORTGAGE ON THE PROPERTY AND THE BILLING IS DONE BY CORELOGIC TAX SERVICE RATHER THAN THE COUNTY - notice no disbursement to the city

This is the 2015 tax statement, no collection or distribution for city taxes as the property is in the unincorporated part of the county.





SOWELL'S POOL ACROSS THE STREET FROM HIS RESIDENCE



Even the personal property records indicate that no city taxes have been assessed of paid as he lives in the unincorporated area of Van Buren County.




If Sowell actually lived inside the city limits of Shirley, the tax statement would look like the one from property that he owns that is inside the city limits - with taxes going to the city.

REAL ESTATE THAT IS LOCATED INSIDE THE CITY LIMITS OF SHIRLEY HAS TAXES GOING TO THE CITY WHILE PROPERTY IN THE COUNTY DOES NOT

Back in 2000, Angie Sowell, Sowell's wife, requested that their residence be annexed into the corporate/city limits of Shirley.  




Then in 2002,  the city sent a letter to Ralph Blagg, who performed legal work for the city when necessary.



The letter to Blagg indicates that the annexation of the Sowell's residence was approved by the city council and voted on in a meeting on February 19, 2001.

This was a huge mistake by the city aldermen as they did not follow the legal requirement necessary to annex property into the city. They were not to vote on it until certified notices were sent to adjacent property owners and notices were published in the newspaper. Plus the required updated maps and paperwork were never filed with the county or the required state offices.

Arkansas Code Annotated §14-40-605 states that the city council is to notify the county clerk of any annexation and submit a copy of the plat of the annexed territory and then the documents are to be sent to the Secretary of State. The  clerk is to also submit information about the annexation to the Director  of the Tax Division of the Public Service  Commission.

The Tax Division with the Public Service Commission had no record of the alleged annexation.  They told us the last annexation in Shirley took place way back in 1970 according to their records.





Arkansas Code Annotated § 14-40-501 clearly and unequivocally states that in order for a city to annex unincorporated land, the municipality must have completely surrounded the unincorporated land.


This was not the case for the Sowell residence.  It was not in anyway completely surrounded by the town of Shirley.

The Van Buren County Assessor verified that no record of the annexation was filed with the county. 



We also requested documents from the city of Shirley.






The city had no records, other than the two letters (posted above) and minutes of the meeting back in 2001. They assumed Blagg took care of everything. Ha!




Worthing told use the same thing in a message attached to documents she mailed to usShe also verified that the Sowell's have illegally voted in city elections. If they did not reside in the city limits, the were not legally entitled to vote in city elections.







Blagg told us in a telephone conversation that he had given all the documents to the city back then and if the didn't follow the established procedures according to the law then the vote didn't mean squat. 

Records filed with the state indicate that the last annexation by the city of Shirley occurred in 1970.

That means that Sowell made false statments when he filed for office. He was not legally eligible to run for or hold the office of mayor of Shirley as he was not a resident.





Sowell could be the subject of fines, especially of he continues to vote in city elections.  

Sowell is also a prime target for an illegal exaction lawsuit.  If one is filed against him, he could have to reimburse the city of Shirley for all the funds paid to him as salary.

One has to wonder if Sowell is so stupid to not realize that no city taxes were being assessed or collected for his residence and personal property for so many years if the home had been annexed into the city. Did he notice and not care?

There is speculation that Sowell had something to do with the 911 map being manipulated to show that his home was inside the city limits.

FRAUDULENT MAPS TO GO ALONG WITH A FRAUDULENT MAYOR


We understand that the state Board of Election Commissioners is investigating Sowell and if they find a violation has occurred he is subject to a public letter of censure and a fine of up to $1000.  The Secretary of State's office has also expressed and interest in this matter.  Will the state Attorney General be next on the list?

Sowell resigned as mayor during a December 21, 2016 meeting of the city council.  

In Part 3, we will delve into some shady dealings Sowell was involved in while he was illegally in office that led to his resignation and an investigation still under way by the FBI.




Monday, June 19, 2017

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON USES PUBLIC FUNDS TO PANDER THE BLACK VOTE TO HELP HIS RE-ELECTION BID



GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON - PLAYS FAST & LOOSE WITH PUBLIC FUNDS TO HELP WIN VOTES



Gov. Asa Hutchinson is giving $150,000 from an emergency fund to three private historically black religious affiliated colleges to provide grants to assist their students - Arkansas Baptist College and Philander Smith College in Little Rock, and Shorter College in North Little Rock.




From the Governor's Emergency Fund, Hutchinson plans to give $80,000 to Arkansas Baptist College; $55,000 to Philander Smith College; and $15,000 to Shorter College to provide Arkansas Future Grants, according to his proclamations. His proposal sailed through the eight-member legislative Governor's Emergency Fund Review Committee last week.
 

"The reason for the distribution to the three private colleges is that these schools previously benefited from scholarships and grants that were terminated under the ArFuture legislation," Hutchinson said Friday in a written statement in response to a question about whether giving emergency funds to the three schools was part of a deal with Democrats to unstall the bill in the Senate Education Committee.

Right.

Since he became governor in January 2015, Hutchinson has set aside more than $750,000 from the Governor's Emergency Fund for more than 20 agencies and groups.


During the past decade, the largest amount spent out of the emergency fund was $472,500 in fiscal 2014, with $350,000 set aside for Pulaski County tornado debris removal, according to records of the state Department of Finance and Administration. Democrat Mike Beebe was governor then.


The latest flap over the emergency fund was in January 2007, when Gov. Mike Huckabee spent the last $13,000 in that fiscal year's $500,000 fund to partially pay the Department of Information Systems to crush the hard drives on the governor's office computers during the transition to Beebe's administration.




During the past 20 years, the most spent out of the fund was $868,483 in fiscal 2001, finance department records show. Huckabee, a Republican, set aside $240,000 for the Arkansas Development Finance Authority to use with federal funds to acquire 11 homes, relocate nine residents and help six homeowners replace their homes in Stamp near the former Red River Aluminum site, which some believed was the source of health problems.


Hutchinson's two largest proposed uses of emergency funds have been $100,000 apiece for the nonprofit group called Restore Hope and the Morgan Nick Foundation of Arkansas.


In August 2015, Hutchinson organized a two-day conference aimed at addressing problems with foster care and prisoner re-entry and called it the Governor's Restore Hope Summit.


In a proclamation dated May 20, 2016, he set aside $100,000 from the Governor's Emergency Fund for operational expenses of Restore Hope to unite and engage communities in meeting the needs of prison inmates and foster children needing homes.


A nonprofit group called Restore Hope Inc. registered with the secretary of state's office on Jan. 1, 2016, with J. Paul Chapman Jr. as its incorporator, organizer and registered agent, according to the office's website.






In his proclamation dated May 20, 2016, the governor noted that he organized a summit called Restore Hope and he followed up by authorizing the formation of a nonprofit called Restore Hope "tasked with making real challenges in the way our communities respond to these programs.


"(T)he nonprofit is in need of financial resources for personnel and operational expenses, and private donations are not yet adequate to meet its needs," Hutchinson wrote in his one-page proclamation.


In another proclamation also signed May 20, 2016, Hutchinson set aside $100,000 for the Morgan Nick Foundation of Arkansas to provide direct services to the families of missing children.


"Private donations have never been entirely sufficient to adequately sustain the operating costs of the Morgan Nick Foundation," the governor said in his proclamation.


Asked last week why he set aside the most money so far for the two groups, Hutchinson said, "They are both two statewide needs addressing foster care, prison re-entry and child safety.


"The use of discretionary funds does not require long-term financial obligations of the state," he said.


When asked how many emergency funding requests he's received, the governor responded: "Emergency and supplemental funding requests to my office are expressed as a general need, and the request is not directed to a specific funding source. When the need is determined to be valid, then we start looking for an appropriate discretionary fund that might work."


The Bureau of Legislative Research interprets state law to require that the Governor's Emergency Fund Committee review emergency and non-emergency uses of the fund, said Kevin Anderson, an assistant director of fiscal services for the bureau.

KEVIN ANDERSON - BUREAU OF LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH

Arkansas Code Annotated 19-2-404 authorizes the governor to issue a proclamation declaring that an emergency exists "in the event of riots, threatened riots, sabotage, public insurrection, threatened insurrection, storm, flood, famine or other public calamity which jeopardizes the public peace, health, and safety of citizens of Arkansas that calls for immediate action."




Other proposed uses of emergency money must go before the Governor's Emergency Fund Review Committee, whose members are the chairmen and vice chairmen of Legislative Joint Auditing Committee and Legislative Council.


The committee started meeting last year, said Marty Garrity, director of the Bureau of Legislative Research.


MARTY GARRITY - DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH

Sen. Bill Sample, R-Hot Springs, said, "In the previous administrations, they were just letting us know they were using [the emergency fund]. But that is not what the law says, so we are going to be following the statute."

STATE SENATOR BILL SAMPLE

It's been rare for the committee to decline to review any governor's request to use emergency funds, according to Anderson.


During its 7-minute meeting last week, the committee declined to review Hutchinson's request to give $7,500 to the nonprofit Sonny Boy Blues Society for increased safety and security for the Arkansas King Biscuit Blues Festival at Helena-West Helena. Over the past 20 years, the society has received some emergency funds.


"This festival has grown into a popular attraction, drawing over 100,000 visitors, outstripping the resources of the Helena/West Helena Police Department and Phillips County Sheriff's Office as they try to provide adequate protection and security for the event," Hutchinson said in his proclamation.


But Rep. Richard Womack, R-Arkadelphia, pressed Hutchinson aide David Bell, "Why is this now an emergency? Who dropped the ball and is not prepared?"

STATE REPRESENTATIVE RICHARD WOMACK


In response, Bell said the governor provided the same amount of funding to the nonprofit last year.


"It is something that the governor wanted to go ahead and do again this year," Bell said. "You are correct. It is not something that's a surprise. But it is something that helps with public safety and helps with keeping the cost down for the nonprofit that's running that."


But Sample said, "I just think this is a slippery slope that you are going down."

Slippery is right.

Friday, June 16, 2017

JOHNNY SOWELL EXPOSED - PART 1 - FAILED STATE TROOPER AND FRAUDLENT MAYOR




Readers will recall a post made back in October 2016 that detailed apparent misuse and commingling of funds by the 20th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland (and reported to be the next U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas).

The information we uncovered led to the U.S. Department of Justice investigating Hiland and his Drug Task Force head Johnny Sowell and later on to an investigation by the FBI agents assigned to public corruption cases.

That post resulted in a flood of emails to us to look into Sowell as he was illegally holding the office of Mayor for the City of Shirley and he was doing so other sketchy and possibly illegal things. Here are a few examples.
 


  
We did confirm that Sowell had illegally held the office of Mayor (he never has lived within the city limits of Shirley - more on that later on) and we did  little more digging and found some incredible and unbelievable information about Sowell's brief stint as an Arkansas State Trooper.

Sowell began his career in law enforcement with the Cleburne County Sheriff's Department in 1990 and bounced around several agencies until he wrangled his way into the Arkansas State Police in May of 1995.



Sowell didn't last long with the Arkansas State Police.  He has the distinction of being one of the worst recruits in that agencies history.


Read what his superiors had to say about him.



BY THE THIRD DAY OF TRAINING SOWELL WAS GETTING ATTENTION , IN A NEGATIVE WAY

SOWELL WAS SO OUT OF SHAPE HE COULD NOT EVEN DO A "FEMALE STYLE" PUSH UP



"SOWELL HAS A SORRY ATTITUDE"; "HE [SOWELL] JUST LOOKS AT YOU WHEN HE IS BEING CORRECTED AND GOES ABOUT HIS BUSINESS OF BEING LAZY, WHICH HE IS VERY GOOD AT"; "HE [SOWELL] IS AS UNFIT AS ANYONE I HAVE EVER SEEN"





It's a wonder that any law enforcement agency would have employed him, much less the National Guard.  Sowell spent two years in Kosovo with NATO peace keeping forces (August 2000 through July 2001).  Maybe that is where he learned some of his sketchy, criminal traits.
  
Sowell bounced between various agencies again until 2007 when he went to work for the 20th Judicial District on their Drug Task Force.

In 2010  Sowell ran for and was elected Mayor of Shirley. The problem with that was that he was not legally entitled to run for or hold that office.



Arkansas Code Annotated  § 14-42-201 states that candidates and office holders for Mayor must reside inside the city limits during the campaign and when in office.



Sowell did not live inside the city limits of Shirley when he ran for Mayor or when he illegally held that office.

To be continued in Part 2.