History and focus:
In 2008 the City of Shelby commissioned a group of “experts” to develop a 10-Year Masterplan for the City of Shelby. At the time I read that Masterplan, especially the part about removing the Confederate Soldier Memorial and all the other memorials around the Court Square. Vietnam, Korea, WWI and WWII too. History is history and I do not support trying to re-write it. Just learn from history and go on to do better in the future. Re-writing history is just a ploy for so-called “leaders” to ignore bad things and forge3t they ever happened. For the purpose keeping on doing the bd things over and over again. Forever it often seems.
Willie Green also read this 10-Year Masterplan and found that the City of Shelby was looking to build a sports complex as a public-private partnership. Willie, being a former NFL player, winner of two Superbowl Rings and now a businessman with a focus on sports and doing good things for students, especially athletics, was interested. Interested enough to contact the City of Shelby to explore this opportunity to fulfill what the City of Shelby had proclaimed to the world as what they wanted to do. And why not. Willie also has a Master’s Degree in Sports Administrations. That, plus business experience made Willie Green a perfect for what Shelby said that they were looking for.
So, Willie contacted the City of Shelby. City Manager and Mayor too asking if they were still interested in building a sports complex, along the lines of a private-public partnership as described in their 10-Year Masterplan. Documents show the City was interested. Willie then began developing his ideas. Willie also contracted with Shelby Mayor Stan Anthony, an architect by trade, to do his preliminary architect work.
Things were good and the planning was developing nicely. To the point that Willie needed to hire the architect that would do the final work. Willie shopped the work around to various architects and selected the one with the best value (price). It was NOT Mayor Stan Anthony’s firm and things went South from there. To the point of lawsuits in State Court, Federal Court and back to State Courts. As things stand right now, there is a lawsuit again Rick Howell for defamation. There are lawsuits against City Council member Violet Dukes as well as Mayor Stan Anthony. On a related, but unrelated matter involving a building project Willie Green was working on, but the City council denied his zoning change request without even allowing Mr. Green to speak, lawsuits are developing out of that too.
But the Rick Howell, as an individual, lawsuit has progressed the most and will be the topic for the rest of this article.
Regarding Rick Howell’s role as the City Manager for Shelby, normally such a position, when performed in a proper, legal, ethical and unbiased manner has immunity from prosecution. Unless malicious intent and a corrupt intent can be shown. Then a public official, elected or employed, can be sued as an individual. But there is a high standard of proof required.
So, Willie Green filed his lawsuit against Rick Howell in an individual capacity. Rick Howell, using a City paid attorney filed a Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit based on his having immunity. A Court hearing was scheduled for December 10, 2019 and I attended that hearing, along with others.
In that hearing, with Judge W. Todd Pomeroy presiding, Rick Howell’s Shelby taxpayer paid lawyer and her pitch to the judge that Rick Howell had immunity from prosecution. Willie Green’s self-paid attorney presented facts. laws and evidence that there was indeed malicious and corrupt intent on Rick Howell’s part; therefore, Rick Howell could be sued in his individual capacity.
As for me, I sat up front where I could see and hear everything that was going on as best as possible. I observed and noted Rick Howell seeming to squirm as the old saying goes, “like a whore in Church.” Rick Howell’s city-paid attorney, Martha Thompson, seemed to be unprepared and halting in her statements. It reminded me of a person trying to stick to a phony script that is different than the truth-and trying to hide the difference.
On the other hand, Willie Green’s self-paid attorney was well prepared, had his facts straight and answered every question from the Judge and Howell’s attorney correctly and without any hesitation.
The judge, Superior Court Judge W. Todd Pomeroy from Lincolnton was also observed to be totally alert, paying attention and not missing anything. This was my first-time court-watching with this judge presiding. I was well impressed. Judge Pomeroy was obviously aware that stripping immunity from a City Manager such as Rick Howell was a bid deal, a REAL big deal, and he did not intend to make any mistakes. And to the best of my understanding, Judge Pomeroy did not make any mistakes. Judge Pomeroy ruled that Rick Howell’s conduct was malicious and corrupt, Howell COULD be tried in his individual capacity and denied Howell’s Motion to Dismiss-which allows the lawsuit to continue toward a jury trial.
Of course, this puts Shelby City Manager Rick Howell in a fix with only two choices. Appeal the Judges ruling. Or, man-up for what you did and just go to trial and face a jury as they decide what your justice will be. Rick Howell choose to appeal the Judges ruling and continue using his city paid attorney. And continue to delay. Delay, DELAY!!! Hoping Willie Green will be struck by a streak of lightning. Fearing that it is himself, Rick Howell, that will be struck by a streak of lightning. And perhaps the whole City council and Mayor, before this blatant miscarriage of justice against Mr. Willie Green is over with.