Arriola, Tygard spar over wedding-fee refund

Monday, February 20, 2012 at 3:40pm

In a testy email exchange with Metro Councilman Charlie Tygard last Friday, embattled Davidson County Clerk John Arriola asked for the withdrawal of legislation that urges him to refund $40 fees to couples he charged prior to performing their marriages.

A Tygard-sponsored nonbinding memorializing resolution, which requests Arriola return to nearly 3,000 couples more than $119,000 in cumulative wedding fees, is set to go before the Metro Council on Tuesday evening.

Tygard alerted Arriola of his resolution by providing an ultimatum, outlined in an initial email last week: either return on his own accord mandatory $40 wedding fees a state audit found he charged or Tygard promised to introduce the resolution that would formally request Arriola return the money.

If Arriola agreed to refund his fee collection, Tygard said he would withdraw the legislation.

But Arriola, in a Friday email, said his office has already returned fees to couples who have “requested” the return of fees.

“If you had been following the operations of my office, you would have learned that I have returned monies to any couple that so requested, as it relates to their wedding ceremony,” Arriola wrote to Tygard. “This is my policy as the County Clerk and it will continue. Therefore, I respectfully request that you withdraw your resolution as promised in your email.”

That prompted Tygard to ask Arriola a series of questions via email.

• During what time period was the refund offered?

• Of the almost 3,000 weddings performed, was the offer of refund given at the time of the ceremony? If not, how was the refund offer conveyed to these couples?

• How many refunds have been given? Over what period?

• Was refund by cash or check? Personal or business?

• If a couple wanted a refund today for a ceremony performed in the past, would you honor that request? If so, what is the procedure to request/receive the refund.

“John, we have been friends (at least in my eyes) for a long time so I hope you aren't taking this personally,” Tygard wrote. “I am fulfilling my responsibility as a Councilman to the constituents who have contacted me about this issue.”

In response, Arriola didn’t address Tygard’s questions. He instead reaffirmed that a policy is in place to refund couples, though he did not provide specifics.

“As you suggested in your email, if I had a process for returning monies to couples upon request, then you would withdraw the resolution,” Arriola wrote. “I advised you that such is my policy and it will remain in place. You stated that you would withdraw your resolution if such was my policy. I responded in good faith to your query. I assume you were acting in good faith with your promise to withdraw the resolution. So, pursuant to your assurance, please withdraw your resolution.”

Tygard capped Friday’s email exchange, asking Arriola to provide “answers to the questions I asked previously.”

22 Comments on this post:

By: Nitzche on 2/20/12 at 3:10

this is funny...a resolution? what does that do? next i am stopped by the Police for speeding, I am going to ask for a resolution!

By: Ask01 on 2/20/12 at 3:20

Nitzche, I was going to ask you let me know how that works for you, but considering the how Metro functions, I'm almost certain you would be front page news after a well documented arrest for who knows what offenses aside from speeding.

Not to mention becoming cannon fodder for the discussion boards.

The bright side is, this will keep the council distracted, hopefully keeping them from doing any damage by chasing other pet projects.

We can only hope.

Plus, it is great fun to watch Metro meltdown, even if only slightly.

By: political1iam on 2/20/12 at 3:58

Tygard wants Arriola to resign so he can try to get the Council appointment to that office.
He can't win an election ,so he is badgering Arriola with a meaningless resolution.If the people decide that Arriola has not fulfilled the duties of his office then they should vote him out,and let Tygard run! See how that works for Tygard.
Tygard should be married to Michael Craddock, they are both full of hot air and no substance!

By: Ask01 on 2/20/12 at 4:10

The drama of Metro government!

Perhaps that could be a locally produced reality show, highlighting the trials and tribulations of governing the capitol city of a major southern state.

This might be a hit, although the drama might be more of a comedy to those from out of state.

By: bfra on 2/20/12 at 5:21

Ask01 - Not to worry, out of state people already laugh at what we have running the Metro Government. Starting at the top, on down!

By: spooky24 on 2/21/12 at 5:28

What a pitiful childlike show. Come April 15th I want a resolution passed that says taxes stink.


By: budlight on 2/21/12 at 6:30

"But Arriola, in a Friday email, said his office has already returned fees to couples who have “requested” the return of fees."

OMG. I'm sure there are some people who don't even know that Arriola ROBBED them.

OUT! Get him out of office. Prosecute him for robbery. He robbed the people and the county. He is a thief.

Look up ALL the people and give ALL the people their money back. NOW! And put him in Jail. He can share a cell with the councilman who should resign for soliciting a prostitue when he goes to jail.

By: WayneR on 2/21/12 at 7:53

Isn't this the same "Mr. Ethics" Charlie Tygard who funneled $10K dollars of taxpayer money to the Bellevue Exchange Club when he was, and still may be, the club treasurer?

To quote The Enclave:

Here is the list of tax dollars to non-profit organizations that Mr. Tygard leveraged (all were approved by the Metro Council with no debate--with the exception to the Bellevue Exchange Club request, which was delayed for several months after Metro Finance learned that Mr. Tygard was an officer of the club--and signed by the Mayor):

$1,000 to the YMCA
$10,000 to the Bellevue Exchange Club

Mr. Ethics, indeed.


By: TOPDOG... on 2/21/12 at 8:08

Even a dog wont do tricks without a reward of some kind forty bucks is barely a tip.I suggest Tygard is the typical political hypocrite. if he had taken his time, effort and expense to perform these tasks, he would not be so fast to start whining. He needs to be aware of his own lack of ethics in his own affairs.It sounds like one thief complaining that the other thief stole more than him.

By: Melstruck on 2/21/12 at 8:25

"But Arriola, in a Friday email, said his office has already returned fees to couples who have “requested” the return of fees."

This statement concerns me. Mr Arriola kept the $40 fees personally, these fees were not revenue to the city. If he's saying "his office" returned the fees, does this mean the city (taxpayers) are paying back the funds that he personally kept? The taxpayers have a right to know where these refunds came from!

By: joedonbob on 2/21/12 at 9:29

Melstruck you are an idiot

this is what arriola said

"If you had been following the operations of my office, you would have learned that I have returned monies to any couple that so requested, as it relates to their wedding ceremony,”

you quoted the author of the article.

clearly said he returned it.

By: Eye Nose & Now ... on 2/21/12 at 10:30

It looks like John Arriola is headed to the same place his brother
went: Prison.

By: bfra on 2/21/12 at 10:31

joedonbob - NO you are the idiot! Arriola has, with out a doubt, shown he places himself above the law. Therefore, his words do not necessarily mean he has returned the money out of his personal account, as he seems to consider the office he holds as his own personal office. For this to be believed, he would have to show bank records of his personal account!

By: wasaw on 2/21/12 at 11:17

political1iam , we have one (1) metro councilman who is doing his job, and you attack him. Charlie Tygard is not the crook here; it's John Arriola. I know them both personally. If I had to ask one of them to stay in my house to protect my family, it wouldn't be John Arriloa.

The reason Arriola is resisting Tygards questions is that he has only returned a small percentage of the $119,000 he stole. Why don't Arriola give the monies yet returned to a local charity. Answer: GREED. He still wants to benefit from his ill gotten gains. If you put him in a box with David Torence, Judge Gale Robinson, Vic Lineweaver, Judge Gloria Dumas, Richard Rooker, Ronnie Steine and Bill Garrett, who would fall out first? We all know the embarrassment these clowns have brought forth in employing their relatives, or not showing up for work. Does being a thief make Arriola any worse than the others? Probably not. In this Democrat controlled town, they all understand that they just might be the next individual on the chopping block. This is why the other council members are silent. He who lives in a glass house must not throw stones.

One last thing: don't hold your breath waiting for the local Democrat Attorney General, Tory Johnson, to actually do his job.

By: Melstruck on 2/21/12 at 11:44

Joedonbob - Wow, an idiot? That seems a bit harsh. You don't even know me.

I knew I was quoting the author and I still would like clarification. Even in the statement you quote, he says "If you had been folloiwng the operations of my office...". Yes, he said he returned the money but within the operations of his office. The office should have nothing to do with the refunds, as the money was taken by him personally, The taxpayers have a right to know if the money returned was his or if he's using city funds.

By: rickmuz on 2/21/12 at 7:04

All these negative comments about council members and resolutions... Have we sunk so low as a society that the CAUSE for all this discussion does not bother anyone? The man is basically TAKING $40.00 per marriage, telling you that it is a GRATUITY but won't marry you otherwise. If you accept money for a service and refuse to perform the service without the money... it's not a gratuity. It is a fee. A fee that you CANNOT UNDER METRO CHARTER CHARGE AND THEN PUT INTO YOUR OWN POCKET.

By: JayBee56 on 2/21/12 at 10:44

Wasaw, I'm afraid you may be right about any charges coming from the DA. Looks like a plain open and shut case, but this will die a quiet death while people wait on the DA to bring charges.

By: govskeptic on 2/22/12 at 6:30

Just from the answers or not answering Attorney Lewis gives the distinct
impression that the income tax on these marriage fees were not paid in
the years collected, but were refilled and paid after Mr. Arriola was caught
pocketing the money, just guessing but probably paid penalty and interest
as well. D.A. Johnson will put off action until all are retired or deceased to
make a decision!

By: pswindle on 2/22/12 at 1:33

Tygard, Leave him alone. This is nothing new. Now, that it has been brought to light, it can stop forever. Tygard, it is time for you to step down.

By: Bellevuebullets on 2/22/12 at 2:03

I read about Councilman talking about honor, integrity, etc. The best way to take the spotlight of yourself is to throw it at someone else. Has anyone on the Council realized how much money has been funneled from Metro Parks and Recreation to certain Councilman family member(s)? How can a person run a business with most expenses paid by Metro Parks and Recreation. Free electricity, sand, free grass cutting, free light maintenance, free water and sewer. While pocketing $80,000+ a year for a non-profit mainly run on the backs of Metro Tax payers and exclusive rights to use the Fields granted by the Metro Parks? Arriola is small potatoes compared to these numbers. Get on with the real investigation!!!!

By: standingonthetop on 2/29/12 at 5:23

John Arriola is a good man that comes from a good family. He has helped MANY people (including myself) over his many years of service with the state and with Metro.

When I see someone like this clown Tygart doing everything in his power to hurt Mr. Arriola and his reputation over something that has been practiced for decades in the clerk's office, it infuriates me! I would all but guarantee that if Tygart was the clerk he sure as hell wouldn't turn away a nickle as a "gratuity" or otherwise for performing the same service as Mr. Arriola did. Then again, I'm equally sure we won't have to worry about that since Tygart couldn't get elected as Dog Catcher!

Tygart should find something constructive to do with his time like find a way to reduce monies spent by him and the Metro council on meaningless bullshit like greenways and firework displays that cost in the millions of dollars when we don't have enough ambulances to serve the county, hospital services being cut, enough police protection, and roads that have potholes the size of craters! That's what he should concern himself with!

By: CitizenV on 4/20/12 at 2:56

Tygard is a scumbag and not one to talk when it comes to shady business matters while in a govt seat, as others have pointed out here. I've personally had a run-in with him while simply contacting the Council Members to notify them of my disapproval of the currently proposed Davidson County property tax hike. Upon receipt of my letter, he responded by explaining in a very condescending, rude fashion that he has made a point to ignore public opinion of his actions and policies while running for 6 elections and will continue to ignore them if deciding to run again. Very telling. Unfortunately for me, I made the mistake of contacting the Council Members via my work email address. Charlie used this to call my Corporate HR office to complain about me, accused me of claiming to represent my company with my letter, and attempted to endanger my job -- all for simply voicing my opposition to a tax hike. This man is a dirty, malicious, vindictive human being and has no place holding any level of public office.