Last minute debt deal a day late and $4 trillion short

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September 26th, 2009

Guest Editorial by Councilman Iglehart

After last week’s article on backdoor politics and my past personal financial situation, some of you may wonder, what is the real story? And, is this really a campaign issue?

Councilman Igleheart

By Roswell Councilman Kent Igleheart

After last week’s article on backdoor politics and my past personal financial situation, some of you may wonder, what is the real story? And, is this really a campaign issue?

Clearly, for my opponents it is. It is embarrassing for me. However, I challenge anyone to show how any of this has negatively impacted my actions, decisions and record of accomplishments on Council during the past eight years.

One could view this to be an issue if this was my first run for Council, with no record to be judged upon. However, I have a strong, reasoned, record serving the citizens of Roswell. Regardless of my personal financial issues, I have been recognized as one of the most fiscally conservative elected officials on any City Council in North Fulton. In Roswell, I have been one of the few to annually dig through hundreds of pages of budgets to offer significant cuts. I’ve been the only one to vote against a tax increase and against a deficit budget. I have consistently been on the right side of the issues important to Roswell residents – billboards, gas stations, cell towers, rezoning, redevelopment and transportation – just to name a few.

Just the Facts

The complete background was not provided last week so I felt I needed to do that here. Let me give a summary – the details won’t fit in this space but I’m happy to share them with anyone.

My company managed a non-profit entity that was awarded grants for alternative fuel vehicle projects. We engaged in a substantial amount of time to write the grants, create a project selection process and manage that process. Payment was to come later – which was standard for us. The actual contract for federal dollars went through insurmountable government red tape. Ultimately, funding switched to another project.

When everything fell apart I was left holding the debt. Because the non-profit entity had held the grants, my for-profit company could not easily sue for damages. Mistake? Of course, and I’m paying for that today – both literally and figuratively.

Other debts were generated shortly thereafter as creditors moved to obtain their monies. I was then unable to pay some outstanding balances and I had to set up a payment plan for a portion of my Federal and State income taxes (I paid thousands of dollars in taxes, these were the additional amounts due each April). Several of these are now in court records. I continue to make payments on the amounts still due.

I was counseled to declare bankruptcy but refused. I accepted responsibility for those debts and have paid off a great deal to date.

A tax lien from 1993-1994 was also cited. This was primarily due to a debt owed by my first wife’s ex-husband. They filed taxes jointly so legally, she was also liable. We accepted responsibility for that debt and paid it off.

Is this a long-standing or on-going series of poor financial judgments or mismanagement? No. A few very bad results have stemmed from a few specific events in a particular time period. I have accepted responsibility for my actions and have continually worked hard to meet the obligations created.

I don’t mean to make light of the situation, but this has given me an even greater appreciation for the impact taxes can have on someone’s life. In these difficult economic times, many people have suffered far worse than I have. Each of us knows someone in Roswell that has had a more difficult situation or is on the brink of similar things happening.

My opponents have said they will continue to bring this up during the campaign. However, this whole scenario has been playing out while I’ve been on Council. I would challenge anyone to show where any of this has had any impact on my actions as a Councilmember. My opponents can choose to pummel me with this, but that will just be mean-spirited. It is simply a diversion from the real issues that our city faces: inappropriate development, reckless spending, deficit budgets and looming tax increases.

Dirty Politics?

Now, what about the recent developments described last week? When I told The Beacon what happened, I repeatedly stated that there were no overt threats. Nothing was ever ominous and I never felt any fear. However, in meetings with Randy Whatley, Jay Litton, and Rich Dippolito it was clear to me that reading between the lines, an undertone of strong pressure existed. Essentially, they suggested that I back off from statements I made earlier about my experiences on Council with David Tolleson and then, and only then, would their resources be put to use to help me. If I didn’t, things would be quite difficult.

I talked with them a few times and even invited them all to a second meeting. I thought these were my friends and I still hoped that they would ultimately back off and support me, as they had done in the past. I was mistaken.

Three things happened that brought a more ominous situation to light. First, an unknown political novice, represented by Mr. Whatley, qualified to run against me. Second, Mr. Dippolito announced he would support this opponent. Third, Mr. Whatley tipped off the media as to my financial woes.

With all of this after the fact, the dots could be connected. If I had played ball, and supported their mayoral candidate, I fully believe I would be running with their support. I had to decide if I was willing to retract factual statements about actual experiences and be their pawn, or live with myself. You see where that got me today.

Politics can be a dirty business. You know when you sign up to run that this type of thing happens. However, it has never happened to this extent in Roswell. I think Roswell deserves better than this.

I’ve always been a fighter. I don’t know how it will turn out this time but I’ll know I did the right thing. I’ve been on the right side of the issues that matter to Roswell residents - isn’t that the key attribute you want in your City Council representative? I’m also willing to stand up to this kind of dirty politics in Roswell and I hope you will too. Roswell deserves better and I need your help to fight back.

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