Butler County Times Gazette
  • Criss questions Fagg’s job as mayor

  • El Dorado resident Ramon Criss accused Mayor Mike Fagg of being a disgrace and not doing his job during his presentation to the El Dorado City Commission Monday evening.
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  • El Dorado resident Ramon Criss accused Mayor Mike Fagg of being a disgrace and not doing his job during his presentation to the El Dorado City Commission Monday evening.
    “I do have some issues that I feel need to be addressed,” Criss said.
    He began by reviewing Fagg’s employment as senior vice president of the Andover State Bank.
    “You’re held in very high standards obviously in a position such as that in the banking industry,” Criss said. “Then you should be proud.
    “When you were campaigning for the position you are presently holding one of the statements you made many times that qualified you for being mayor was you had 40 years of banking experience.”
    He added Fagg also had taken graduate courses in banking.
    “I assume it is safe to say you propagate the best interests of the bank and your employees and your money lender,” Criss said. “Every bank has a lending loan limit. When you hit that limit, you have to go to a corresponding bank. I guess to share the risk. I’m sure you would verify that lending money can be very, very risky.”
    Fagg agreed.
    “So I presume that you are very, very careful examining all the facts,” Criss continued. “You know all of the data when a client comes in. They come in to do business; to borrow money. They will be granted a loan or they will be rejected. Is that correct?”
    Fagg said it was.
    “Over a period of time I’m sure you placed millions of dollars of risk on the books,” Criss said. “You’ve written, I’m sure in your position, a number of large loans. Those loans can cover a range of things – property, real estate, automobiles, homes, just take your pick, plus many other things. I’m sure you are very capable of writing and providing pertinent correct information for purposes of drafting closing statement. You have to know the mechanics of it, what goes in a closing statement.
    “Obviously you are held in high esteem or you could not maintain a position such as that. Your judgement of character, courtesy to your clients, willingness to review and investigate the merits of your clients’ requests without bias. You become biased when it is determined in your opinion your client does not meet your loan requirements. I suppose we could say you become biased at that point. Until you get to that point you are judging and viewing your loan applicant in a totally unbiased matter. Is that right?”
    Page 2 of 9 - “I try to,” Fagg said.
    “When you were elected mayor you had the support of the majority of eligible voting citizens in El Dorado,” Criss continued. “You had their trust, you had their respect, you had respect for private property rights. You would invest your time to help conduct city government affairs.”
    He said Fagg would attend all scheduled meetings that goes with the job and execute his position in an unbiased manner, asking if that was correct.
    “I try,” Fagg said again.
    “Mike, the reason I’m here this evening, there’s been controversy,” Criss said. “You’ve raised it pertaining to current trades.”
    He was referring to Fagg’s request for a copy of the closing statement on the purchase of Prairie Trails Golf Course, which he made at the lat meeting.
    “Have you ever received a copy of the closing statement?” Criss asked.
    Fagg said he asked for it two weeks ago but hadn’t received it yet.
    Criss then handed out copies of the closing statement to the commissioners, staff and audience members.
    “We aren’t holding any secrets,” Criss said.
    Criss then continued by saying he contributes to people’s campaigns who he thinks would make a good representative.
    “I’ve never contributed to your campaign,” he said. “I want to clear that right now. I have given money to David Chapin, maybe Bill Young. Chase (Locke), I didn’t vote for you, not because I didn’t like you, I felt I didn’t have a good reason to vote against your opponent. Way back, Mike you appeared at a commission meeting here and made statements concerning a vote that was coming up. Do you recall what those statements might have been?”
    “I’m lost, Ramon,’” Fagg said. “Explain to me what you’re after.”
    “Have you ever offered an opinion that people who have accepted campaign contributions from me should not be permitted to vote on issues relating to Prairie Trails Golf Course?” Criss asked.
    “I don’t know,” Fagg said.
    “You don’t know?” Criss asked. “You have made statements. You are on audio.”
    “What statement have I made?” Fagg asked. “There is so much that goes on in this business, you tell me what I said.”
    Criss said Fagg had said anyone he or Ted Dankert has supported should not be entitled to a vote in issues pertaining to this commission and Prairie Trails.
    Page 3 of 9 - “I don’t remember, but I see where I would say that,” Fagg said.
    “You’ve questioned about this and I want to ask some questions,” Criss said referring back to the purchase of the golf course. “Who are you questioning?”
    Fagg said he had a lot of people asking him what they sold the country club for.
    Criss told him it was published in the paper sometime after Dec. 7, 2009.
    “On the city side, you have City Manager (Herb) Llewellyn and you had Jim Murfin pursuing all the matters pertaining to the city purchasing Prairie Trails,” Criss said.
    “I was trying to find the information out and I appreciate you giving this to me,” Fagg said.
    Criss said if Fagg really wanted to know, he should have found out himself.
    “I asked the city manager for this,” Fagg responded.
    “Why don’t you wait on yourself for a while?” Criss asked. “Can’t you look after yourself a bit?”
    Fagg asked who he should have gotten the information from and Criss told him he should have gone to the title company.
    “I didn’t know what title company,” Fagg replied.
    “You could have found out,” Criss said. “You didn’t work very damn hard I don’t believe.”
    “I really felt it was the city manager’s job to provide the information to me when I requested it,” Fagg said.
    “So you aren’t questioning anybody?” Criss asked.
    “I’ve had people ask me and I didn’t have an answer,” explained Fagg. “By getting the closing statement, I can give an answer.”
    Criss then asked Fagg if he was being biased toward him.
    “I try not to be,” Fagg said.
    “Have you ever been biased to me?” Criss said.
    Fagg replied by saying Criss had done a lot for the town.
    But Criss still wanted his question answered and Fagg said he didn’t think so.
    Commissioner Nick Badwey then entered the discussion saying, “When the commission bought Prairie Trails, we did it in an open meeting saying a price we were buying.”
    “If you are sure you aren’t point a finger at somebody, if you’re sure you’re not looking for trouble, you still haven’t told us what the question is,” Criss said. “I guess the question is why would you want to do this on television.”
    Page 4 of 9 - Fagg said that was the only time they had a meeting.
    “I’m sorry that the TV is on all the time that everyone can see what is going on,” Fagg said. “All I asked was for a copy of the closing statement. I didn’t accuse anybody.”
    Criss then started talking about the bicycle and walking paths. He said he had granted easements for this to the city and never charged the city a nickel. He wanted to know how they were funded.
    “How does that pertain to the closing statement?” Fagg asked.
    “Hey, I’m not done with you, Mike,” Criss said. “You have pulled some shenanigans that I’m not very proud of. I want to make those public.”
    “OK, let’s go,” Fagg said.
    Criss reiterated his question and Fagg told him they were funded through grant money, which he thought was a 90-10 match.
    Llewellyn clarified it all depends on the program.
    “Back when you had a running mate, Brian Shepherd, there was a question come up wanting to extend the walking path from the existing walking path down across the golf course down the south side of property I own out there,” Criss said. “You recall what happened to that?”
    Fagg said he did not.
    “Oh, you don’t?” Criss questioned.
    Fagg asked when that occurred, and Criss said he did not have the exact time and date.
    “Don’t clutter the conversation up with nickel and dime knowledge like that,” Criss said.
    Fagg said he asked because it might help with remembering.
    “You don’t know what happened with that project?” Criss asked again.
    Fagg said they did the project, but Criss said they did not.
    “You think that project was approved?” Criss asked.
    “No,” Fagg said. “I was confused going through the tunnel.”
    “So you’re admitting the city commission denied it?” Criss continued.
    “I don’t remember, Ramon,” Fagg said.
    “You don’t remember?” Criss said.
    “I’m sorry but back in 2003-2007 I don’t remember,” Fagg replied.
    “I don’t know why,” Criss said. “I remember.”
    “So what’s he point there?” Fagg asked. “I’m lost on the point.”
    Page 5 of 9 - “Did you ever make the statement there is a sidewalk on the north end of the golf course that runs from the established walking path over to Jason Drive?” Criss asked.
    Fagg said there was one there and Criss wanted to know if that was the excuse he used as to why one shouldn’t be built on the south.
    Fagg asked if they could make this a personal appearance and talk about that one again later.
    “I like being on the camera,” Criss said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the camera.”
    Criss then asked who owned the walking path on the north side and Fagg said he didn’t know.
    “That walk was on private property built with private money and you had absolutely no business encouraging people to use that walk,” Criss said. “That walk was put in for a purpose; for golf carts. It was extended to Jason Street because a number of residents in Vintage Place had golf carts. Did you ever ask me?”
    Fagg reiterated he did not know Criss owned it.
    “Mike, Mike, Mike, you know a lot of things,” Criss said.
    “Why didn’t you straighten me out at the time?” Fagg asked.
    He said the city was paying the insurance on the tunnels for the golf course.
    “If you owned it, I was sure there was some kind of deal made out there,” he said.
    Criss told Fagg to just answer yes or no.
    “Ask the question,” Fagg said.
    “Was there a great easement across my property up there for a sidewalk that was paid for with tax money?” Criss said.
    “I don’t know,” Fagg answered.
    “You should have found out before you just opened it up,” Criss said. “There was no tax money. It was an improvement I made on my own property.”
    “Thank you for doing that,” Fagg said.
    “Don’t thank me,” Criss said. “You don’t like me and you haven’t liked me for a long time.”
    He then went on to talk about the storage building that sold south across the tracks and Fagg said he did not remember it.
    “You don’t?” Criss questioned. “There apparently was a discussion in the meeting of the city commission to purchase that property. It came up for auction. Who did you and Shepherd send to bid on it?”
    Page 6 of 9 - Fagg said he didn’t send anyone.
    “You have no recollection, none whatsoever?” Criss asked. “Are you acquainted with Larry Adams?”
    “I know who Larry Adams is,” Fagg said.
    Criss said Adams bid on that property.
    “At the time for all I knew he was buying it for personal use,” Criss said, “but he wasn’t. He had absolutely no desire in owning the property. He admitted that, right shortly after the sale, to Joe Sundgren and he made the statement it would be passed on before the sun went down that evening, meaning he was there representing the city and low and behold what happened? The commission renigged. That sale didn’t go through. After old Larry wrote a deposit check, you folks left him hanging out. He tried and tried and tried. I don’t know how much I spent in legal fees. He had an attorney that wrote me letter after letter after letter why I hadn’t returned the money, saying it was an oversight.
    “It wasn’t an oversight on my part. I had no intention of returning the money. As you set there and say ‘I don’t know,’ I think you’re smarter than that. The city did in time purchase it. You don’t blame things like that on the city manger. The city manager is your employee. He follows you people’s instructions and it was not the city manager that said I decided we don’t want that property. That’s the commission’s decision. I want to ask you again, you aren’t biased in any way against me?”
    “Ramon, I try not to be,” Fagg said.
    “You try not to be, but now we’ve been on three issues that involve me,” Criss said. “You recall The Greens at Prairie Trails. You made such a big fuss about footprints.”
    He said Fagg maintained he was out of spec on the drawings when he started building houses there.
    Fagg said it seemed like it had something to do with planned development and they were going back in and changing things.
    “That was not a planned unit development,” Criss said. “You never tried to work anything out. You just said he’s in violation.
    “I’m going to carry it a step further. I secured a building permit and it was on the corner of Country Club Road. I went through all the engineering and layout expense, dug the footing, poured it, formed the stem wall and poured it. Then one day, somebody hands me a piece of paper that says you’ve got to tear it all out. You’re out of compliance. Do you have any recollection of that?”
    Page 7 of 9 - “Not that part,” Fagg said.
    “So to your knowledge there was never a request made to me to tear out the footings and foundations that have already been placed?” Criss asked.
    “Not from me,” Fagg said.
    “Were you aware of it?” Criss asked.
    “Ramon, you’re talking 10 years ago and what I do remember was that was a planned unit development. That was what I was being told at the time.”
    Criss said whoever told him that didn’t know what they were talking about.
    “How do you go back after you issued a building permit and say tear all of your work out, fill the hole up, you’re out of compliance?” Criss asked.
    He said he went to the Planning Commission to try to get it straightened out and asked how this happened.
    “David Yearout (the interim planning and zoning director) just grinned and shook his head and shrugged,” Criss said. “Shortly after that do you know what happened to David Yearout?”
    Fagg said he thought he took another job.
    “Did you vote to fire him?” Criss asked.
    “Absolutely not,” Fagg replied.
    “You think he just quit?” Criss asked.
    Fagg said the commission does not handle employment, the city manager does that.
    “You ran one city manager off and you fired another,” Criss said. “Firing seems to be your way. If you have the power and stroke and force behind you, you are a difficult person to get along with. Votes on this commission are 4-1, 4-1, 4-1. When you are the one dissenting, you are doing something wrong. If it was 4-1 a few times that is acceptable. You’re a negative influence on this commission. You go against the grain.”
    “I try to do my homework and do the right thing,” Fagg said.
    Criss then asked if the bank where Fagg works knew he was mayor and Fagg said they did.
    “How strongly do they sit on you telling you what you can do, when you can leave, when you come in?” Criss asked. “Have they ever told you that you cannot attend a work session?”
    “That is my job over there,” Fagg said.
    Criss then asked his question again.
    “Indirectly, yes,” Fagg said.
    “How can you set up there?” Criss asked. “You missed two meetings and you were late to a third one. Do you think it’s convenient for you to miss those meetings? You always come back, ‘I wasn’t there’.
    Page 8 of 9 - “You think you do a good job?”
    “I try to,” Fagg said.
    “You told the commissioners a while back ‘Gentlemen, I’ve done my job, now do yours?” Criss asked. “What were you talking about?”
    Fagg asked what issue he was talking about.
    “It hasn’t been that long back,” Criss said. “it was over the budget.”
    “I don’t think I said it that way,” Fagg said.
    “Am I way off course?” Criss said.
    Badwey answered that he was not.
    “You’re a disgrace,” Criss said. “I think you are a disgrace to this commission. You want to fight. You want to be disagreeable and, Mike, you’re smarter than that. You could be outstanding if you want to, but you just fool around and fool around and just approach the limits of a dud. I don’t want to beat up on you hard. I’m through now. There are several issues here I could talk about, but I think I’ve talked enough. You have been very, very biased against me.”
    He went on to point out he had asked to get the same abatements on his properties as the city gave on South High. He said he was told it only applied to that area though.
    Criss went on to say Fagg was acquainted with Jerry Blount, as he was with Shepherd, keeping the pot stirred.
    “It was an embarrassment to El Dorado,” Criss said. “I think there was a letter in the Times a few weeks back complaining about how your meetings were conducted. You probably didn’t read it.”
    Fagg said he did not see it.
    “I tell you, the world goes right by you and you see absolutely nothing, Mike,” Criss said. “You have a long way to go kid. I’m going to go home and watch the Royals play.”
    Young thanked Criss for bringing the closing statement and all he has done for El Dorado.
    That brought up one more point for Criss, saying everybody who had anything to do with the purchase of the golf course was straight as an arrow and was nothing to question.
    “That is not an opinion,” he said. “That is a fact.”
    Badwey then reviewed the purchase price was $2.7 million and Criss and Dankert gifted back $500,000.
    “No where in the country can you get a golf course as nice as that is with the amenities it has for $2.2 million,” Criss said.
    Page 9 of 9 - “I voted in favor of purchasing Prairie Trails in 2009 and I would do it again,” Badwey said.

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