Commissioner Dozier Defends Property Purchase from CRA Developer After Vote

Commissioner Dozier Defends Property Purchase from CRA Developer After Vote

On October 23rd, 2014, the Community Redevelopment Agency voted 7-1 to provide IB Tallahassee, LLC, as the owner of the Doubletree Hotel at Adams Street, up to $682,000 in CRA grant funds.

Among those elected officials that voted for the grant was Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier.

Less than three months later, public records show that Commissioner Dozier purchased a home located in Lafayette Park from Catherine D. Baker and John Thomas Burnette.

Mr. Burnette was listed as the Manager of IB Tallahassee, LLC, according to the state of Florida Division of Corporations in 2014 and 2015. Both Ms. Baker and Mr. Burnette were mentioned in the recent FBI subpoenas delivered to city hall related to the investigation of the CRA.

Also, TR has previously reported that Mr. Burnette is a major campaign donor to local government races.

According to property records, the purchase of the property by Commissioner Dozier took place on February 18th, 2015 in the amount of $188,600.

The prevailing ethics rules state that “No public officer or employee of an agency shall have or hold any employment or contractual relationship with any business entity or any agency which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business with, an agency of which he or she is an officer or employee,..”

However, an exemption is available to an elected official if the purchase of goods or services is at a price and upon terms available to similarly situated members of the general public.

The final price of $188,600 was never advertised to the general public.

The specifics of the real estate transaction are as follows:

On May 7, 2014 the property was appraised for $280,000 by Timberlane Appraisal with the condition of adding a new roof estimated to cost approximately $10,000.

On July 19, 2014, three months after the appraisal the property, was listed on the MLS for $230,000.

On October 29, 2014 the price was reduced to $215,000.

On December 22, 2014 the price was reduced to $199,000 and on January 12, 2015, the property was removed from the MLS.

After viewing the property, Dozier told TR she discovered that the home was owned by Mr. Burnett.

After being removed from the MLS, Ms. Dozier signed a contract on January 21, 2015 and on February 18, 2015 the property was sold for $188,600.

Real estate professionals consulted by TR stated that the $91,400 drop from the initial appraisal to the final sales price leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

There was no indication of major problems with the home in the appraisal and TR confirmed there were no permits on record indicating major repairs.

Commissioner Dozier Responds

Dozier told Tallahassee Reports, “I am exceptionally careful about conflicts of interest” and  “I am confident the purchase of this home was conducted per our ethics rules.”

In addition, Dozier said the transaction was at “arms length” and that she was not personally involved in direct negotiations regarding the purchase price. Rather, the negotiations were handled by her real estate agent.

Why the difference between the appraised price and sold price? Ms. Dozier offered that the house had been used as a rental for a number of years and that the market ultimately determines prices.

58 Responses to "Commissioner Dozier Defends Property Purchase from CRA Developer After Vote"

  1. Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, supposedly a nonprofit hospital, is also included in this good ole boy political cesspool.

    Thanks to a dollar-a-year lease with the City of Tallahassee (which owns the TMH land, buildings, and everything inside the buildings)a country club TMH board of directors has control of more than a half billion dollars worth of assets.

    Mad Dog Construction President Laurie Dozier was on the TMH board of directors seemingly forever. When Laurie Dozier finally came off the board, the city commission which vets the TMH board members replaced him with Kelly Dozier, Laurie Dozier’s wife and Kristin Dozier’s stepmother.

    Have you ever wondered why so much of the TMH construction is done by Mad Dog? Is this a self-dealing conflict of interest?

    Meanwhile the country club board pays TMH CEO Mark O’Bryant more than $1 million a year while cafeteria and laundry workers struggle to survive on poverty wages.

  2. I think that this much to do about nothing…I’ve known Kristen since she first got elected…I don’t always agree with her, but she does listen to all that want to approach her and provide their opinion…having said that the price sought versus the price paid is a constant variable because the price of homes are fluid…the key question is, did she violate the law or the spirit of the law?…I don’t see anything in this story that proves that…linking someone to Burnette and Baker is titillating and even salacious, but that’s about it…I’m much more interested, and all TAXPAYERS should be more interested in tax dollars being spent inappropriately…in sum, where’s the beef here??

    1. It is a small town Barney, I will concede. But the coziness by leadership with Mad Dog, the CRA, Corey, Pittman, Yordon, Miller, et. al., is well, too cozy.

      For 14 years, we have continuously been misled by the City Commission and their unethical behavior. It is no surprise that any citizen paying attention would now be highly suspicious of the County Commission as well.

    2. “…the price sought versus the price paid is a constant variable because the price of homes are fluid…” ??? That’s pretty high sounding double talk.
      How much business or how many requests for insider dealings did you or your clients have with Ms. Dozier, the county or the CRA last year? If your answer is none, I will give your comment greater credibility.

  3. Dr. Holifield here you are again telling the truth. You spoke of breast feeding in the African American community for more than 20 years. Now that some people think money can be made breast feeding is good for the babies. You said the CRA was corrupt and now the FBI is investigating. Lets just hope that the FBI can not be swayed by corruption for the Tallahassee elites. As for that Rob Renzi I here that he is a racist pig and big bully. I’m not sure who let him into the Tallahassee elite. Only a coward would try to run this lady out of town. I mean I’ve seen here pick individuals up off the street and take them home and feed them. Always making sure people get what they need. Helping people get their SSI and such but she never ask for a dime. Shame on this PIG. Where are all the people we need to speak out against this PIG.

  4. Can I now say “I told you so?” I’ve been complaining about a corrupt CRA for years.

    As for Kristin Dozier, don’t forget that the CRA Doubletree Hotel money also went to benefit her daddy, Laurie Dozier, at Mad Dog construction. It’s all in the family.

    As for the CRA, what we have are pigs feeding at the trough. Remember the thousands of CRA dollars that went to Ron Sachs for improvements on his non-blighted office building. The work was done, of course, by Mad Dog Construction.

    Remember the $1.5 million of Frenchtown/Southside CRA money that went to Big Bend Cares/CarePoint despite their refusal to treat the uninsured. This despite the fact that there are 47,000 people in Leon County with no health insurance.

    To add insult to injury, the black community will suffer in perpetuity financially because, as a nonprofit, the property will be removed from the property tax rolls forever. There will be no appreciated value. The black community will suffer forever.

    As for CEO Rob Renzi, Big Bend Cares/CarePoint are suing Sylvia Hubbard, a black woman who has provided HIV services to the black community for more than a decade. They apparently are trying to run Hubbard out of town.

    As for me, Renzi threatened to call the police on me as if there are not enough black men already in the Leon County jail.

    When a white man such as Renzi calls the police on a black man, good things seldom happen.

  5. It’s pretty obvious that the Tallahassee Metro area has a finite number of creatures in this relatively small swamp. The list includes virtually every elected politician, higher up city/county leaders and the folks in private enterprise (lobbyists, developers, etc.) that feed and support and receive taxpayer-funded kickbacks in return.

    How exactly is this swamp drained? I have no clue. The creatures have built a really good wall around the place.

  6. After reading the preceeding comments particularly as to the original appraisal ($280,000), subsequent MLS listing at 18% under said valuation($230,000) , and further reductions under MLS that place asking price at 29% below appraised value ($199,000) it would appear there may be some reason to revisit the appraiser for a possible explanation of subsequent events after the appraisal was made, that may have effected the market value of said property. And at least he/she should have the opportunity to further explain their work product . An appraisers estimate of Market Value is as of the date of appraisal, and as market or physical conditions change, so can subsequent estimates of value change. (up, down, or sideways) !

  7. Perhaps the real estate deal was above board – it IS possible. But why are we handing money in “grant funds” – which sounds like they don’t have to be paid back – to an operating business i.e. The Doubletree?

    1. Talk to The owner of Avenue eat and drink – along with other restaurant owners downtown – and ask their opinion of the city and county giving their competition tax dollars to build restaurants and patios. None of these people are particularly politically active in the local community, but they have strong opinions about their money being spent to build up the competition I get to them. If the Tallahassee Democrat and skip did not have its head completely up some of these local officials behinds, it would have already done a story like that.

  8. I think many of the comments here are fair and insightful. However, I also think what is missing, and has been alluded to by Dr. Jackson, is simple. Elected officials should not enter into these type of agreements, purchases, etc. with people who directly benefit from votes on the CRA or either Commission. I could not care less whether it is technically legal or not – it is wrong. I personally like Kristin – though I do not share many of her views. However, I have trouble buying she did not know an owner was J.T. His name is announced when he has a hand or ownership in anything. It just is what it is…His hotel had no business getting CRA money for improvements to benefit his place at the literal expense of others. When this home was bought, there were a LOT of other homes for sale. A smart decision would have been to purchase another home to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Sadly, the record is stuck and we hear the same song over and over.

      1. It is germane because, unlike the Democrat, I do not let my personal opinion of someone impact my view of their actions or inaction. I think she was wrong and the word is more is to come on the story. The bottom line is the Democrat staff sit on boards and are chummy with all of the people they are professionally charged with holding accountable. It is reflected in the coverage, or lack thereof.

  9. Inside sources close to Dozier state leading up to the closing she was saying she couldn’t have afforded the house if J.T. had not given her such a great deal. There is more to the story here… check the Innovation Park connections to Burnette/Rivers, Inkbridge, the solar sausage grant, and Dozier’s tenure as President of the Board. Dozier never should have served as Innovation Park’s President – that is a direct conflict with her role as a County Commissioner. Keep digging.

    1. Point of fact:
      LCRDA (Innovation Park)Board of Governance has 11 members, one of whom is a Leon County Commissioner. Therefore serving as President on LCRDA Board was not a conflict for a County Commissioner.

  10. I am not defending Ms. Dozier, but if the property was on MLS for $199,000 and did not sell, and she later purchased it for $188,600, that is between 5% and 6% less than the last asking price on MLS. It would appear she paid market price for the property. She set herself up for all of this scrutiny by dealing with someone who had received government funding-probably not a good decision on her part.

    1. It’s really not about the price, but who she was doing business with after voting in commission for project for this same person.

  11. It appears as though the appraisal completed was over-valued. Based on the listing history of the property the market did not react to the offering price which was below the inflated appraisal. The property was marketed and experienced adequate market exposure and the reason it might not have sold is that it was simply overpriced.

    1. It’s really not about the price, but who she was doing business with after voting in commission for project for this same person.

  12. Just maybe everything was on the up-n-up. Maybe KD didn’t know who’s house it belonged too. Maybe it was coincidental the house was over estimated at the beginning listed price. Maybe other people thought the home was not worth it at $91,000 less then it originally listed for. Maybe it was just a happenstance that JTB just completed a contract with the county and KD just happened to be in the house buying market within the next year. Maybe, just maybe? People even if all these maybe’s are just what it is, it still does not bode well towards KD’s ethics. I was born but it wasn’t yesterday. Make excuses if you want, but it still stinks to high heaven.

  13. I wish some of the usual posters on this site showed the same enthusiasm for criticizing the president’s lack of ethics, or Republican politicians in general, as they do for the city commission’s.

    On that note, Gillum along with the rest of them belong in jail.

    1. I’m not defending the present White House administration, but seriously? After eight long years of suffering under obama, no rational, honest person can even begin to talk about Trump’s still-unproven “lack of ethics” without lengthy beforehand discussion of obama and his most unethical, corrupt administration in American history. We still don’t know half of what went on, but what little we do know is inarguably highly illegal and some of it treasonous. obama, both Clintons, Loretta Lynch, Eric Holder, and many other obama administration officials should be behind bars in a truly awful prison, and hopefully Jeff Sessions will make that happen at some point.

      All that said, I detest the Establishment Republicans as much as I do the Liberal Democrats – they are both the same brand, but the Dems are at least open about it.
      Closer to home, this city’s officials deserve every bit and more of the criticism and disgust they themselves have earned. Pointing out the cesspoool of Washington doesn’t in the slightest obviate or offset the systemic corruption and “lack of ethics” in this city and county’s government. They earned this reputation – it is no one’s fault but their own that they are now a target of the FBI. They deserve every charge that’s levied against them, and I hope all the charges stick. I agree Gillum and the rest of them should be in jail – with obama and most of his administration.

        1. Just as the brevity of your comment also confirms something. Evidently the “enthusiasm” for criticisim you desired in my comment was either absent or aimed at parties you considered undeserving of it.

          1. You mean that baseless hyperbole you spat out. Here’s a tip, don’t get your debating tactics from Rush Limbaugh.

            If right wingers are to be believed, then reality has a liberal bias.

          1. Please support your argument. “Not really” is a baseless rhetorical comment with no substance. I on the other hand continue to come here to read need that the mullet wrapper will not report but am continuously turned off by the level of vitriol hurled at liberals and even moderates.

            Now, some of you I know and loathe personally because you are more or less hypocrites that personify the angry white male stereotype that feel a constant need to lash out at anyone who may think otherwise.

  14. Several years ago, I had a conversation with a highly placed individual at City Hall. The subject of taxes, budgets, and raises came up. This person stated that at the city it wasn’t a bid deal, “we will just increase your electric rates”.

  15. I’m unsure what “real estate expert” you spoke to but I disagree with your interpretation of the data. As a Realtor and a Broker I do not see a scandal. I reviewed the MLS record. The home was on the market to the public for five months and pricing started 50k less than the appraised value you quote. If it was such a deal why didn’t it sell? It was offered to the public at 199k starting December 22nd and there were still no offers. Then the listing was canceled on January 12th. The listing went contingent January 22nd for 11k under the list price that had been advertised to the public for over a month. It is not uncommon for a home to be under negotiation when the listing expires- the 10 day gap is not unusual. Also Most buyers do not offer list price and 11k under list is not a surprising place to start an offer especially in the 2015 real estate market. I negotiated even better deals for some of my clients during the same period.
    I do know the commissioner but was not involved in the transaction.

    1. Hi Barry, thanks for commenting. You offer a valuable perspective that provides more information to readers. One of the troubling components of the transaction is the major drop over less than 12 months from the appraisal estimate to the final sold price. From your perspective is that abnormal? What is a potential reason? Thanks again.

      1. I would love to see the appraisal. I will say from 2014 to 2015 the market will still in decline. I also trust the folks at Timberlane and would ask them why they think it sold for so much lower than the year old appraisal. I believe they would tell you an appraisal is their best guess at value. But ultimately the market tells you what a home is worth.

        I’m sure we have all seen homes go for way above and below appraised value.

        1. Barry, with hundreds of options that do not include buying a home from someone to whom your Board just gave $700k – wouldn’t it make sense to buy another home? Really – JT’s home?

          It looks ridiculous because it is ridiculous.

          1. Funny. I’ve never once seen the name of the seller advertised on a real estate sign. Having bought a couple homes in Tallahassee, I didn’t know the identity of the seller until closing day when we shook hands and signed closing statements.

            At what point in your past real estate transactions have you quizzed your Realtor about the personal information of the other party?

        2. Appraisal is on MLS. I think this is just the case of an appraisal that might of overvalued the property at the time, due to the limited sales activity in the market.

        3. We were starting to come out of the decline around the 4th quarter of 2012. But I agree with your analysis of the listing history. The appraisal was simply overvalued. It’s also likely that the cost to replace an asbestos roof is a lot more than 10K.

  16. So…had a funny conversation with someone high up in County government who said that Tallahassee Reports is “targeting” commissioners with misleading information. I mostly listened – trying to hear a rational argument. This person doesn’t know that I am a frequent reader and like so many others who dare to read about our incompetent local government, am also sick of the corruption. Just nodded for a while. But all I heard was a Tallahassee insider echo chamber. Whining and complaining about the spotlight being shone on them.

    Truth is, everywhere you turn around – even “the good ones” – and I have always thought of KD as a “good one” are getting trapped in a culture of corruption, doing things they know are wrong – thinking they are not going to get caught.

    Purchasing a home from JT at nearly $100,000 below market value after wining and dining the guy with public dollars is by any stretch – unethical. And possibly illegal. If brought before a grand jury – which people forget – is made up of mostly non elite working class people who hate politicians – I’m gonna bet this is an indictable offense. Ham sandwich anyone?

    The list of casualties is growing.

    On one hand I want it cleaned out. On the other hand, this is going to destroy careers in a huge way and part of me is sad for that. I don’t like it when people hurt themselves.

    I think KD is a good person at heart, but this is absolutely indefensible.

    1. Saying she purchased the home for $100,000 for market value is not aaccurate. She purchased it for $11,000 under the final list price after being on the market for five months. I am a real estate broker and during that period of the market this would not be unusual.

      1. Forget the sales price it doesn’t matter. State Ethics Ordinance says she can buy from whom she has a government relationship but the purchase price MUST be offered to the general public first! Only one person, one commissioner was offer an opportunity to buy JT’s house for $188,000. That is an ethical violation- period!

      2. Word games. If the home were to be put on the market today and someone else (besides Dozier) owned it, the market value would be around $250,000-$260,000. Sales price and market value may not be the same…as in this case.

  17. Sounds like “CRA” should stand for “Commissioners’ Robbery Account”. Just more examples of the embedded, system-wide corruption of Tallahassee-Leon County government officials. And while they’re all enriching themselves by plundering our tax dollars for their own personal gain, they’re ignoring the increasing violent crime rate as Tallahassee’s reputation solidly remains the state’s worst city to live, crime-wise.

  18. Look at the intersection of Monroe and Tennessee. We all knew that the Walgreens was a dumb idea. Who would go there? How many people live nearby? How much did the CRA pay?

    Now we have this large building at that intersection when what we need is a dadgum right turn lane to help reduce the traffic congestion.

    Keep allowing and encouraging building right up to the road and we will never be able to fix our roads, build sidewalks, or bike lanes.

    1. Well, we could have easily made a case to widen Gaines St. too. But it got narrowed instead. Ever needed to get across town on the southern side and had to use it? It’s a two-lane by two-mile parking lot, and not just during rush hour!

      Meanwhile, sounds like Dozier’s trying to make the case that her residence had gone to, ahem, “pot.”

  19. Do we really need to be using tax dollars to help a big hotel to renovate or whatever? Shouldn’t it be for run down properties and to attract new businesses to economically depressed areas? I don’t think the Doubletree falls into either of those categories.

    1. A real one that addresses elected officials and has serious consequences for those caught feeding themselves from the public table!

    2. Great idea, the city ethics board has been so effective we need another one for the county! Or, we could just throw $250,000.00 down a rathole ever year to achieve the same result.

    3. Great, the city ethics board has done such a great job, we should create another one for the county. Or, we could just throw $250,000.00 a year down a rathole and achieve the same result.

  20. Well here we go again with another deal that looks corrupt by one of our city commissioners. I suppose there are many people who would think getting a house reduced by 91 thousand dollars was terrific. I never cease to be amazed by what I learn about our city officals from Tallahassee Reports. This deal stinks to high heavens. Surely when we elect city officals next time people will be informed enough to vote some of them out.

    1. Mary, not a big deal but Commissioner Dozier is a county commissioner. Scott Maddox and his crime family operate out of city hall. But both individuals are on the CRA board that is one area of interest for the FBI!. I know there is so much crime and self serving actions in our community it is hard to keep track of it all!

    2. There once was a retired state law enforcement officer who was selected as a manager in a state agency by the agency’s deputy secretary. A few months later, at Christmas, the new agency manager anonymously gave an expensive gift to the deputy secretary. The agency IG investigated the gift after allegations about the gift were received from other agency employees, and the giver was identified. The deputy secretary claimed she did not know who the gift was from but that defense was discounted by the IG based on conflicting evidence.
      Because the agency head was politically ambitious, both the deputy secretary and the manager she had appointed were quietly terminated.
      That deputy secretary knew who the gift came from, so did Commissioner Dozier. Both had a duty to decline their gift.

    3. Mary, I admire your optimism regarding the voters being informed enough to vote ethically challenged politicians out of office. The fact is the majority of voters are not informed, and don’t care about ethical lapses. Elected officials rely on that premise. They also rely on being reelected by low information voters who vote for the name they recognize, or the one who is the right race, gender, party, or has the most campaign signs. Our city, our county, our republic is in the hands of uninformed voters.
      I only wish I shared your optimism.

  21. It is unfortunate that commissioners do not understand that they can’t give away almost a million dollars in tax money to an individual and then immediately enter into a private business relationship with the recipient of this money! It is clear that the purchase price paid by Commissioner Dozier was never offered to the public. This special pricing for an elected official seems to clearly violate the state ethics ordinance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.