Greg Vital Says He Was Only Speaker Interrupted At TVA Board "Listening Session"

Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Greg Vital addresses TVA Board
Greg Vital addresses TVA Board

Businessman Greg Vital said he was the only speaker who was chided for going over the three-minute time limit at a Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors "listening session."

The Georgetown property owner said, "I was interrupted after I moved past the stated time limit, but the government agency did not interrupt  others who exceeded the time limit."

Mr. Vital registered to speak to the board on behalf of four property owners whose private property is being condemned using TVA’s government power of eminent domain to pave the way for Project Viper, TVA’s “once in a lifetime” project that relocated the power control center from downtown Chattanooga to property the government bought in Meigs County.

Mr. Vital said, "Multiple speakers exceeded the three-minute time limit, including a 4-minute, 18-second speech by a teacher from Kentucky, where TVA is planning to shutter two coal plants. “I was pleased that the board listened to that lady’s message because you could feel the sincerity.”

He said his remarks were interrupted at the 3:28 mark. "The whole thing was just another example of how out of touch TVA is with its customers. Seven armed TVA police offers, undercover officers with earwigs and a room full of TVA employees pretty much sums up the transparency of TVA. “

In his remarks, Mr. Vital said, “The behavior we have witnessed since TVA intentionally misled the Georgetown community in August of last year about Project Viper is that of an arrogant, paranoid, disrespectful bully who could care less about private property rights, regular citizens or the land.”

He said after the meeting that he doubts TVA will respond to his request to the board for TVA leadership to come to Georgetown and meet with concerned residents and property owners.

“Honestly, I don’t believe TVA has the courage to come,” said Mr. Vital. “These people can’t fulfill one of the basic requirements of government transparency, which is a willingness to talk to its customers.”

He made these remarks:

Good afternoon. My name is Greg Vital, and I am a resident of Georgetown, Tn. I have lived in Hamilton County for 45 years. Today, I am here representing three neighbors and myself:  a young family of four, a 90-plus-year-old woman, a gentleman with Alzheimer’s and myself, all impacted by eminent domain action by TVA and Project Viper.

The greater Chattanooga area has been good to me in helping build a company of 1,500 employees in five southern states serving seniors.  Farmland conservation, our national parks and Native American history have been my passions and hobbies for the past 30 years.

So, it saddens me to stand here to discuss the destruction of farmland, historical areas of significance to The Trail of Tears and a small rural community.

I appreciate the original intent of TVA to protect the Tennessee Valley from flooding and to bring electric service to the region, but its behavior may have outlived their usefulness.

TVA has a long history of trampling over landowners and abusing property rights, while hiding behind the TVA Act of 1933.

Each member of the TVA Board has a background that indicates you understand customer relations and public perception, but nothing we have seen over the past six months reflects that, and the logical conclusion is that TVA has a serious problem in how it treats its customers.

The behavior we have witnessed since TVA intentionally misled the Georgetown community in August of last year about Project Viper is that of an arrogant, paranoid, disrespectful bully who could care less about private property rights, regular citizens or the land.

TVA is the poster child of a government agency that has zero commitment to transparency.  All we need to do is look at the Kingston coal ash debacle.

Why did you feel it’s necessary to intentionally mislead the community about a $26 million powerline expansion until the Chattanooga Times Free Press unearthed the story of a $300 million control center and relocation of over 200 employees from downtown Chattanooga to rural Meigs County?

The name TVA picked for this project – Project Viper – is an accurate reflection of how TVA has treated residents and citizens of Georgetown for the past six months while they planned in secret this project for the prior four years. The picture of a venomous snake slithering along its way accurately portrays the behavior of TVA in Georgetown. It is the 2019 version of the legacy TVA built with the Tellico Dam and Land Between the Lakes land takeovers.

As one of the four property owners who have been drug into federal court, when a “quick take” eminent domain action against our properties was filed in November 2018 so TVA can cut a 1-mile swath through farmland, a private business and a residence in order to get power to the site of Project Viper. Property owners hardly had time to hire lawyers before TVA was granted permission to enter the property.

This came after three months of useless discussions with TVA about changes to the proposed route across the farmland. TVA has not provided alternatives other than on our property but has options along the public right of way. TVA could connect to power lines along the front of the site and will eventually. The intention to stall and not engage in anything resembling good-faith negotiations was obvious each time.

The TVA agenda tomorrow regarding TVA aircraft reminded me of the security helicopters flying over the location of TVA’s informational meeting last year, and the planes flying over Georgetown last year during an informational meeting.  TVA is the organization that introduced the show of armed guards to escort archeologists and environmentalists now on the property.  Again, acts of intimidation and arrogance.

TVA chooses to hide behind eminent domain rather than exhibit transparency and accountability with its Project Viper in Georgetown.  Why would any organization name its new develop Project Viper and then use eminent domain and think they can build community support?

Yes, TVA is about to change the face of a rural community with Project Viper, and we ask TVA to change its approach to Georgetown going forward. To start, we invite TVA to come to the community and talk about the impact of Project Viper, the lack of infrastructure and community impact to a rural farming community.

Thank you for the time.

Mr. Vital earlier filed suit in Federal Court against TVA on the condemnation issue, but lost. 

Click here for video of Mr. Vital speaking to the board.


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