Rental Property and City Contracts: Profitable
“government business is the local’s business”
Little Chicago Watch began examining the residency issues of Paul Page, former General Services Director in 2010 after the Times Free Press (TFP) published an investigation commissioned by the City of Chattanooga (Curtis Investigations, 2008). The examination of Page’s residency expanded after LCW members learned that Hamilton County property tax bills for Paul Page’s address of record, 214 Frawley Road, East Ridge were sent to a contractor that began receiving contracts totaling $6,547,500, after Page was hired by Mayor Ron Littlefield in July 2005 and claiming residency at the contractor’s property. The examination again expanded into contracting practices of the City of Chattanooga, and a conflict of interest review. This piece will serve as one of three examinations of questionable contracting relationships and practices of our local government. The following is a brief of the attached records catalog.
The purpose of this document is to examine the residency of former General Service’s director Paul Page with respect to establishing who is the owner of record of the property at 214 Frawley Road in East Ridge, Tennessee, and to provide a timeline of associated contracts between the City of Chattanooga and the property owner. The primary objective of this exercise is to examine whether a conflict of interest existed in the contracts that followed Paul Page establishing residency at the contractor’s property.
Research of City of Chattanooga Council minutes and resolutions awarding contracts was conducted with respect to the property owner of record of 214 Frawley Road. Other records included a review of the City of Chattanooga Charter defining residency, personnel policies, and Paul Page’s personnel file. Property records were obtained from the Hamilton County and Walker County Assessors of Property to simply verify ownership with sales data. Direct interview with Paul Page by Curtis Investigations was utilized. Hamilton County Election Commission campaign disclosures were collected. Interviews were not conducted to observe a strict adherence to verifiable records only. Little Chicago Watch never reports hearsay. MLA citation format is used to reference documents for easy retrieval. Every statement is referenced to supporting documentation. Our objective is MLA researched pieces, we try.
Paul Page was employed by the City of Chattanooga in July 2005 as the Director of Assets; Mayor Ron Littlefield served as a reference when Page applied for that job (Hightower, Oct. 11). A review of Mr. Page’s personnel file included a copy of a State of Georgia drivers license listing his address as 12 Rock Brook Cove, Rossville, Georgia 30741 (City Personnel File, 2011). The same personnel file contained an application listing 214 Frawley Road, East Ridge, Tennessee 37412 as Page’s address of record.
An investigation report by Curtis Investigation that was commissioned by the City of Chattanooga in 2008 included a direct statement from Paul Page regarding his residency. On October 31, 2008, Curtis Investigations reported the following statement from Paul Page regarding his residency:
“He (Paul Page) was asked if he lived in Tennessee pursuant to the City rules and regulations? He stated that he did, on Frawley Road. He was then asked where he wife lived? He (Paul Page) said the she lived in Georgia at 12 Rock Brook Cove in Rossville, Georgia. He (Paul Page said that he lived in East Ridge, Tennessee, but he would go to his home in Rossville, Georgia on the weekends” (Curtis Investigations, 2008).
The Walker County Tax Assessors office lists Paul Page as the owner of record of the property located at 12 Rock Brook Cove, in Rossville, Georgia, since 2002 (Walker Co. Prop., 2011). It is noteworthy, but not significant to this piece, that City of Chattanooga employees are mandated by the City Charter to reside in Tennessee, or be eligible to vote in Tennessee. As previously cited, Paul Page’s personnel file contained a copy of his Georgia driver’s license. The personnel file contained no proof of Tennessee residency. The Hamilton County Election Commission records do not list Paul Page as being a registered voter (Ham Election Commission, 2011). Registration to vote is not mandated, the City Charter lists the following regarding employee residency.
“Employees and appointed officials required to be residents or legally qualified voters.
All employees of the city shall either be registered voters in the State of Tennessee, or eligible to vote in the State of Tennessee, except that those employees currently employed (as of January 18, 1990) and living outside the State of Tennessee shall be exempted from this provision.
The real task of Little Chicago Watch regarding residency was to determine the earliest known record where Paul Page began using the address of 214 Frawley Road in East Ridge as his residence, and his relationship to the owner of record. A brief review of the 2005 Mayoral campaign financial disclosures filed with the Hamilton County Election Commission list Paul Page as providing $500.00 of in-kind transportation expenses on March 23, 2005. Paul Page reported his address to be 214 Frawley Road in campaign filings (Campaign Disclosure, Feb. 20 to April 2, 2005). The same campaign disclosure lists Paul Page as receiving a reimbursement from the campaign funds for $100 in fuel costs, and 214 Frawley Road is again listed as the address. The financial disclosures review for the Littlefield campaign indicates that the earliest date Paul Page used the 214 Frawley Road in East Ridge address was March 23, 2005 (Campaign Disclosure, Feb. 20 to April 2, 2005).
The Hamilton County Register of Deeds office indicates that owner of record of 214 Frawley Road is recorded to be David William Brackett, Jr. who purchased the property on August 18, 1978 (Ham. Co. Deed Book 2524, Page 0021). The Hamilton County property tax bills for 214 Frawley Road are mailed to 6223 Lee Highway, Suite 210, 37421-2967, which is business address of Earthworx, LLC. The Secretary of State lists Dixon Brackett as the registered agent, and President of Earthworx LLC (TN Sec. of State, 2010). The 214 Frawley Road address was also reported as Dixon Brackett’s business address under registration as a State of Tennessee approved minority business in 2006, under the business title of (TN Minority Bus, 2006):
Brackett Construction Services
214 Frawley Road
East Ridge, Tennessee 37412
Hamilton County Assessor of Property records indicate that Earthworx, LLC is receiving the Hamilton County property tax bills for 214 Frawley Road, and the agent or principal of Earthworx, LLC, Dixon Brackett, has registered prior businesses to the 214 Frawley Road address. It is well established through records provided that Dixon Brackett is the owner of the property located at 214 Frawley Road, is paying the property taxes for 214 Frawley Road, and is the principal of Earthworx, Inc.
The City of Chattanooga resolutions were reviewed for the period of March 2005 to present to determine the number of contracts Dixon Bracket has received through her companies, Earthworx, LLC and Brackett Construction Services. This search yielded $6,547,500 in contracts awarded to Earthworx, LLC. The first contract was awarded on September 20, 2005, approximately 3 months after Paul Page was appointed by Mayor Littlefield, and approximately 6 months after Paul Page was reporting Dixon Brackett’s property as his residence.
Earthworx, LLC Contracts
Date Resolution No. Contract Award
September 20, 2005 Resolution 24553 $925,000
August 22, 2006 Resolution 24850 $925,000
September 11, 2007 Resolution 25258 $625,000
February 12, 2008 Resolution 25416 $195,000
June 10, 2008 Resolution 25557 $675,000
January 27, 2009 Resolution 25813 $2,805,000
January 19, 2010 Resolution 26180 $397,500
The scope of all contracts awarded to Earthworx, LLC are related to wastewater and stormwater mapping common to utilities. Two of the aforementioned contracts were change orders or increases in the original 2005 and 2006 contracts awards. The financial value of all the contracts awarded to Earthworx, LLC, after Paul Page claimed residency in the principal’s property was $6,547,500.
A second review of City Resolutions indicates that Earthworx, LLC had not contracted with the City of Chattanooga prior to the appointment of Paul Page to Director of Assets in July 2005, and Page establishing residency in Dixon Brackett’s property. The resolutions prior to September 2005 indicate that another local company was performing the mapping of wastewater and stormwater systems for City of Chattanooga government.
LCW researched and could not locate contracts awarded to Earthworx, LLC by the City of Chattanooga prior to September 2005, or prior to Paul Page’s appointment and residency at Dixon Brackett’s property. If such contracts do exist prior to September 2005, we will correct the report. LCW researched resolutions prior to September 2005, extending back to 2000, and no prior contracts with Earthworx, LLC were located.
A review of City Council Minutes yielded that on June 9, 2009, Mayor Ron Littlefield appointed Dixon Bracket, principal of Earthworx, LLC, and owner of Paul Page’s residence of record to the Chattanooga Wastewater Board (Council Minutes, June 2009).
• Appointment of DIXON G. BRACKETT as the Citizen Representative required by City Code to fill the expired term of John Lyons for a four year term expiring June 30, 2013.
The June 9, 2009 appointment of Dixon Brackett to the Wastewater Board was during the same period Earthworx, LLC was executing approximately $6,547,500 in contract awards. It is indisputable that Dixon Brackett, Earthworx LLC, was performing wastewater mapping based upon a tertiary review of pay requests. A change order contract was issued to Earthworx, LLC on January 19, 2010 in the amount of $397,500, six months after Brackett’s appointment to the Wastewater Board (Resolution 26180, 2010).
Update October 17, 2011
Little Chicago Watch has confirmed that Paul Page’s son, Brent Page, was employed by Earthworx, LLC in 2007 through internet sources, and a former employee of Earthworx. While we normally do not accept or collect verbal information, we have a three point confirmation, two records, and one verbal, that Brent Page was employed by Earthworx, LLC in 2007. This information is not stand alone significant, but is noteworthy in total information, and will be added to the summary of all that is known to evaluate conflict of interest.
*Note to LCW: Records also indicate that Mark Keil, Director of Information Services hired Brent Page on April 29, 2011, as this relates to another contracting practice.
Review and Summary
Little Chicago Watch has established the following facts through documents.
1- Paul Page was appointed as the City of Chattanooga as Director of Assets in July 2005 (TFP, 2011).
2- Paul Page listed the address of 214 Frawley Road, East Ridge in the Littlefield for Mayor Campaign financial disclosures filed with the Hamilton County Election Commission, dated March 23, 2005 (Campaign Disclosure, 2005).
3- Dixon Brackett is the owner of record of the property located at 214 Frawley Road in East Ridge, and tax bills for the property are mailed to Earthworx, LLC (Ham. County Tax Assessor, 2010).
4- Dixon Brackett is the registered agent or principal of Earthworx, LLC (TN Sec. of State, 2010).
5- Earthworx, LLC has been awarded $6,547,500 in contracts from September 20, 2005 through January 19, 2010 (Resolutions 24850, 25258, 25416, 25557, 25813, and 25813).
6- LCW’s review of resolutions between January 2000 to March 2005 indicates that Earthworx, LLC had not previously contracted with the City of Chattanooga (Res. 2000-2005).
7- Paul Page stated to Curtis Investigations that he has resided at 214 Frawley Road, since being employed with the City of Chattanooga in July 2005 (Curtis Investigations, 2008).
8- Mayor Ron Littlefield appointed Dixon Brackett to the Chattanooga Wastewater Board as a voting member on June 9, 2009 (Council Minutes, June 2009), at the same time Earthworx, LLC was executing $6,547,500 in wastewater mapping contracts (Resolutions 24850, 25258, 25416, 25557, 25813, and 25813).
9- Paul Page’s son, Brent Page, was employed by Earthworx, LLC in 2007 during the contract award period (Internet Resouces, Brent Page).
Pending and Under Review
1- Review all campaign financial disclosures for 2005 and 2009 filed with the Hamilton County Election Commission for mayoral elections.
2- There is an allegation that the contracts awarded to Earthworx, LLC were not advertised as a Request for Proposal (RFP) for professional services, and the competitive qualifications process was bypassed. LCW is reviewing the City’s archived advertising for RFP legal notices. LCW will also file an open records with the City of Chattanooga to review the contract files.
Links to Documents
MLA Citations and Records Catalog
City of Chattanooga, Tennessee Government. City Charter. Effective, Oct. 3, 2011.
City of Chattanooga, Tennessee Government. Minutes City Council. June 30, 2009.
City of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Page, Paul Personnel File-Open Records. Effective Sept. 2011.
City of Chattanooga, Tennessee Government. Resolution 24553. Sept. 20, 2005.
City of Chattanooga, Tennessee Government. Resolution 24850. Aug. 22, 2006.
City of Chattanooga, Tennessee Government. Resolution 25258. Sept. 11, 2007.
City of Chattanooga, Tennessee Government. Resolution 25416. Feb. 12, 2008.
City of Chattanooga, Tennessee Government. Resolution 25557. June 10, 2008.
City of Chattanooga, Tennessee Government. Resolution 25813. Jan. 27, 2009.
Curtis Investigations: Commissioned by City of Chattanooga. Report Paul Page: Director of General Services-TFP. Oct. 2008.
Hightower, Cliff. Times Free Press: Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield will Fill Paul Page’s Position. Oct. 11.
Hamilton County Election Commission. Campaign Financial Disclosures-Ron Littlefield. Reporting Period: Feb. 20, 2005 to Apr. 2, 2005.
Hamilton County, Tennessee Government. Assessor of Property Inquiry: 214 Frawley Rd. Deed Book 2524, Page 0021. October 7, 2011.
State of Tennessee Government. Fair Housing List of Minority and Female Contractors, Suppliers and Services. 2006.
State of Tennessee, Secretary of State. Earthworx, LLC Registration. 2010.
Walker County, Georgia Government. Property Tax Search: Page, Paul R. Oct. 2011.
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