Editor’s Note: For those few who might be reading about this situation for the first time I will provide some basic background information. First of all, search and scroll on back on my website citizensforgoodgovernment.org for my previous articles regarding Mr. Willie Green, Sports Complex and Federal Lawsuit Green v. City of Shelby, Rick Howell.
Mr. Willie Green is a former NFL football player with two Superbowl Winner Rings. Mr. Green has a Master’s Degree in Sports Education and is now a local business man in Cleveland County.
As noted in the following message to the Pastors and Community Leaders in Cleveland County, the City of Shelby adopted a Ten-Year Master Plan in 2008 calling for a sports complex to be developed by a Public-Private Partnership that is very similar to other Public-Private Partnerships between Shelby, Cleveland County and others. Except that Mr. Green proposed to invest his own money and resources in the project and that Mr. Green is the only black member of the community to ever make such a proposal. Mr. Green presented his proposal to the City of Shelby and Cleveland County to provide this Sports Complex exactly as described in Shelby’s 10-Year Master Plan.
Shelby Mayor Stan Anthony, an Architect by trade, was hired to do some initial and preliminary work on Mr. Green’s Sports Complex Project but was NOT chosen to do the bulk of the remaining Architectural work because of his providing a higher bid than other competing architects.
Although Mayor Anthony and the City of Shelby were initially favorable to Mr. Green’s proposal to provide a Sports Complex in accordance with the Shelby 10-year Master Plan, the timing of Mr. Green’s selection of another Architectural Firm seems to overlap a “souring” of support by the Mayor, City Manager and City Council of the City of Shelby. False and defamatory things were said about to the public and behind Mr. Green’s back. The Shelby City Council refused to allow Mr. Green to make an official presentation to them.
All of this discord originating from the City of Shelby resulted in Mr. Green filing a Federal Lawsuit against the City of Shelby and the City Manager personally for defamation and discrimination. The City of Shelby has, to date, filed several “Motions to Dismiss” the lawsuit that were denied by a Federal Judge who Ordered them to continue with the lawsuit process. But, instead of following the Judges Orders, the City of Shelby has filed another frivolous “Motion to Dismiss” that has yet to be decided by the Federal Judge.
That is a short description of the background information in this matter. As we have stated several times, it is our belief that, if Justice is done, Mr. Green will win this lawsuit on its merits and be awarded large sums of money. But Mr. Green, by the message he provides below, has offered an “olive branch” to the City of Shelby in hopes they will come to their senses and do what they said they wanted to do in the first place.
Another aspect of this situation is the LOUD silence in the community, especially the black community, in providing support for a black businessman who is offering assistance in resolving large social problems in Shelby. Such as the rising crime rates among young black men who have been locked out of places to go and things to do at such places as the Shelby YMCA and even the Shelby City Park. Rev Lamont Littlejohn as well as Shelby Police Chief Jeff Ledford were recently quoted in the Shelby Star newspaper stating such as noted above. Rev. Littlejohn stated that even an “abandoned building” would be a start. Mr. Green’s proposal offers much more than an abandoned building. Also, a single Black Preacher, Rev. Billy Houze, has now spoken out by calling upon ALL Preachers in Cleveland County to support the goals of Mr. Green’s Sports complex. We provide below, in full, Mr. Green’s statements to the community as well as Rev. Houze’s call for support.
This is Mr. Green’s communication to the Public:
(To) Pastors and Community Leaders in Cleveland County,
Subject: Lawsuit Update City of Shelby & Rick Howell
Just a quick update on my Federal Civil Rights lawsuit against the City of Shelby and City Manager Rick Howell.
As most of you know, several months ago, in an effort to end the lawsuit, so I can start with the construction of the sports complex. I asked the City to simply put back on the table what they initially offered me, but later pulled. I am told that a vote was taken in closed session at the City Council meeting and the decision was to delay addressing the issue in hopes that I would run out of money and give up, thus the “90-day Rule” strategy they use when it comes to dealing with people in the minority community.
The City Council based their decision not to allow me to make a public appearance in front of the Council because of Rick’s comments in his email and other conversations with the council members. By law, Public officials are only protected from liability when they act without “malice or corruption.” If they act maliciously or beyond the scope of their official duties, they may be sued in their individual capacities for such actions. Our argument is that Rick acted maliciously when he made those defaming and derogatory comments about me without any proof and we asked the City for any documents to supports Rick’s claims and the City of Shelby responded by saying “To my knowledge no such documents exist.”
The City and Rick Howell are represented by an attorney working for the insurance company, who is looking out for what is best for the City of Shelby and not what is best for an individual City Council Member, the Mayor or City Manager. If the judge denies the City and Rick Howell’s motion and the lawsuit continues, Rick Howell can and will be sued personally and without the taxpayers being responsible for his legal bill. It will be interesting once the Discovery questions that we have submitted are answered and sworn deposition testimony of those involved is taken, to see how many others within our government agencies have too acted with malicious and corrupt intent.
It’s important to remind the community that the City of Shelby passed a Resolution in 2008 of a 10-year Master Plan for Parks and Recreation. The resolution called for a City partnership with a private business to build a sports facility for travel ball sports and for 8-years no one answered the call. So, in 2016 I approached the City with a plan to build a 60,000 SF sports complex in the heart of the city at Holly Oak Park, the historically known park used by the black community for over 50-years, that had been left with no improvements, unlike the other parks in the City that has received millions of dollars in improvements. The city first accepted my idea, but then denied it because of misinformation by the City Manager. It’s time that the community starts asking the question of why pass a resolution but don’t follow through with what you voted to do? And it’s time for those government elected officials and employees to start asking yourself, do you want to be part of litigation because you supported this effort to defame my character and stop me from helping the kids in this community become better athletes and better role models?
The Rev. Lamont Littlejohn has stated truthfully that “kids are being locked out of places such as the YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, and even city park.” My sports complex will not turn away any kid in Cleveland County or surrounding counties who are wanting to improve his/her way of life and my facility will give them the same opportunity to train in a state-of-the-art sports facility and not in an “abandoned building”. And those families who can’t afford a membership will not be turned away, we will have scholarships for those families. I grew up in a poor community and I know the challenges some of our kids face because they can’t afford the training. That won’t be the case in my facility.
I will continue to keep the public updated on this case and my effort to build the sports facility and I ask for your continued support.
Willie A. Green
This is Rev. Billy Houze’s statement in answer to Mr. Green and call for all Preachers to support Mr. Green’s efforts:
On Wednesday, October 9, 2019, 11:49 AM, Billy Houze wrote:
I want to thank you for your dedication to continue and win for the community even if they are not always fully aware of what they need. I appeal for all preachers to join in the fight to achieve the goal sought by Mr. Green. I urge you to let’s join together and push for its success with our voice being heard and efforts genuine. My opinion! Billy
Editor’s Note II:
I support and expect good government in Cleveland County, Shelby, North Carolina and in the USA. The issue described in this article indicate good government is lacking in both Shelby and Cleveland County. And perpetuated by things such as the very, very low voter turnout of Shelby voters in this year’s Shelby Primary Elections. I urge all Preachers to send their flock to the Ballot Box for the November 2019 General Election. It is never too late to change for the better.