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It's unfortunate that Eric Morris posts so much deceptive material, but at least Facebook is doing a better job of taking down the pages that spread such misinformation. ----Ron Sturgeon, HUBA
HALTOM CITY, TX, September 21, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) is a group of Haltom City business owners focused on making Haltom City more business friendly so that it consistently bests other nearby cities for new business startups and becomes the first choice of entrepreneurs looking to relocate or start a business.
"HUBA has offered to work with Haltom City to offer no-cost mentoring to new entrepreneurs who want to open new small businesses but must negotiate complicated conditional use permitting to get the doors open in Haltom City," said HUBA founder and longtime local business owner Ron Sturgeon.
At a July 12 Haltom City Council Meeting, Eric Morris offered public comment about HUBA in an email that was read into the public record. "Rather than supporting HUBA and its efforts to bring more new small businesses to Haltom City, Eric Morris questioned HUBA's estimate of how many businesses its mentoring could help to get started," said Sturgeon. In his email, Morris argued that Haltom City was oversaturated with auto-related businesses because it had more than neighboring cities and urged the council to adopt the new restrictions. You can hear Mr. Morris's comments at 1:01 into the video of the Council Meeting.
In the same email, after identifying himself as a Republican Precinct Chair, Morris called the business group a special interest group, and urged members of Haltom City Council to be skeptical of it, its agenda, its track record and its leadership. The city council has a policy of not allowing disparagement of individuals, but the mayor, Dr. An Truong, allowed the email to be read. Mr. Morris chose not to appear personally at the meeting even though all the other speakers did.
At the time, HUBA was arguing against a proposal before Haltom City Council to restrict new auto repair shops, tire shops and quick lubes to the industrial parts of Haltom City exclusively and to allow them there only after the owner had undergone a lengthy process of public hearings to get a conditional use permit (CUP).
Haltom City had previously allowed automotive businesses with public hearings in the commercial zones also. The city's use matrix previously gave Haltom City Council the flexibility to approve an automotive accessories retail outlet, for instance, while not allowing a collision repair shop or car dealer in the sections of the city with commercial zoning.
"HUBA supported the old use matrix because Haltom City has a lot of vacant spaces suitable for these uses, especially in south and central Haltom City," said Sturgeon.
HUBA argued that the free market and competition was the best way to determine how many auto shops or tire shops a city should allow and that making existing businesses in these categories legal non-conforming would unjustly lower the value of these businesses and their real estate, hurting small business owners who had been part of Haltom City for decades," said HUBA Communications Director Joe Palmer. HUBA supports limiting these uses to industrial areas or to commercial areas of Haltom City with a CUP.
"Morris is serving as an alternate on Haltom City's Planning & Zoning Commission at the same time he criticizes a group of local business owners, opines about use and zoning matters, and criticizes people who appear at Council meetings or have business with the city in private Facebook groups where he is a moderator or those friendly to him are," said Sturgeon.
He frequently reposts his criticisms on his official Republican Party Precinct Chairman Facebook page," said Sturgeon. One of the private Facebook groups Eric has been associated with is Haltom City Politics, a Facebook group started and controlled by Councilwoman Tiffany Chandler and her husband Nathan Chandler.
Facebook has shut down Haltom City Politics twice because so many of the posts contained false or misleading information," added Sturgeon. The Chandlers and Eric Morris have now turned the group into a personal blog, Haltom City Politics, The Page, HCPTP, so that they can avoid meeting the standards Facebook has set for posts in groups about politics, said Sturgeon.
Other private Facebook groups controlled by the Chandlers where Eric Morris regularly posts political content or serves as an administrator or moderator include Haltom City Talks and Haltom City Politics Uncensored. Additionally, the Chandlers have accounts on other social media sites, including www.parler.com, www.Wimkin.com, http://www.MeWe.com and www.CloutHub.com. When Tiffany Chandler became disillusioned with Facebook, she invited her followers to find her on those sites and she set up pages for Haltom City Politics on at least one of the sites (See screenshot of post). Some of these accounts are set to private, so it's not clear how many of them have posts about Haltom City. It's unclear whether Eric Morris posts or maintains pages at any of these other sites.
"On his official Republican Precinct Chairman Page on Facebook Eric Morris re-posted a post from Haltom City Politics, The Page, that said I am the owner of 24-7 press release, a nationwide company that distributes media releases for businesses, including Haltom United Business Alliance." "Simple web research on the company would have been enough to show that was not true," said Sturgeon.
Morris has also posted a video to another of the Chandler's private Facebook groups that he had a freelance video maker named Big Man Tyrone produce that claimed that HUBA is a special interest group controlled by Wall Street and that the group is intent on buying control of the Haltom City Council. The video has since been taken down.
"It's unfortunate that Eric Morris posts so much deceptive material, but at least Facebook is doing a better job of taking down the pages that spread such misinformation," Sturgeon added.
"We were flabbergasted that the biggest advocate for tighter restrictions in the use table on new small businesses in Haltom City and for making scores of the city's existing businesses legal non-conforming and lowering the value of those businesses and their property was a Republican Party activist," said Sturgeon.
In drumming up support for the new restrictions, Morris posted about HUBA on his Republican Precinct Chairman Page: "Have you ever found yourself driving around Haltom City and wondered why there are tire and auto shops on every corner? Why are there empty buildings everywhere? Why isn't the city doing something to improve this? The reason is every time the city tries to improve anything people like HUBA come along and push back against change! Why because it is beneficial for them to have loose city zoning to conduct business however, they like, regardless of the surrounding establishments."
"Those with business ownership experience know that one of the reasons Haltom City has so many vacant buildings is that many local commercial real estate brokers won't show property in Haltom City, or will show it only as a last resort, because they don't think they will get their commissions because they don't think the new business will actually be able to open, especially if the use requires a CUP," said Sturgeon.
"Eric is in his early twenties and has lots of time to gain experience and learn more about the business of commercial real estate," said Sturgeon.
"HUBA also wants to see changes in Haltom City's use table that will allow businesses like drop off dry cleaners and pool accessories stores, and other low-intensity uses, to be allowed to open in commercial zones in Haltom City without a CUP," noted Sturgeon.
HUBA supports these changes partly because they will expand and strengthen the business tax base in Haltom City and make it easier for the city to pay its first responders and firefighters wages that are competitive with those of surrounding cities.
"Some homework on HUBA will show that I have said that I'm not planning to open any new businesses or buy any property in Haltom right now and that no other members of HUBA are contemplating doing so," said Sturgeon. "I also don't own any of the properties or businesses that were affected by the recent changes to the use table that Haltom City Council passed," he added.
"We're not trying to help Haltom City for personal gain," said Sturgeon. "We're doing it because it will mean more jobs, more opportunities, more choices and more prosperity for the people who live in Haltom City, especially South and Central Haltom City, and we think all of those things are good," added Sturgeon.
All HUBA's members own businesses in Haltom City. HUBA has asked that business owners who live in other cities be allowed to volunteer and serve on Haltom City's economic development committees in an advisory-only role so that the local business community can grow.
"We want to make it easier for the mom-and-pop businesses that are in Haltom City to thrive," said Sturgeon, who started his first business in Haltom City nearly 50 years ago and still employs 9 in the city.
"Eric has spent a lot of time online digging up old accusations against HUBA Communications Director Joe Palmer, a longtime activist in Republican politics. Also, Eric Morris breathlessly reported that I contributed money to a Democrat, so I must not really support conservative principles, and so on," noted Sturgeon.
"I'm a resilient guy and I don't worry about the chatter," said Sturgeon. "Joe Palmer and I and the other HUBA members are going to keep right on trying to champion free markets and the other issues that are important to Haltom City's small business owners," added Sturgeon.
About Haltom United Business Alliance
Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) wants to make sure Haltom City is business friendly and to nurture small business growth, including automotive businesses. HUBA would also like to see more restaurants including breweries and a major grocery store come to Haltom City. HUBA is focused on strengthening the business tax base in Haltom City so that Haltom residents do not face tax increases. HUBA is also focused on reducing regulations and red tape that slow new business formation in Haltom City or impede the growth of Haltom City's existing small businesses. HUBA supports having at least two members of Haltom City Council who have owned small businesses and would like to see greater representation for members of Haltom City's Hispanic community on City Council. Although HUBA does not endorse candidates, HUBA believes that voters benefit from having a variety of qualified candidates to choose from. If you are interested in running for Haltom City Council and would like to discuss your vision for Haltom City, please contact Joe Palmer. Anyone who owns a business in Haltom City is eligible to join HUBA. Dues are $20 annually or $50 for a lifetime membership, and membership is 100% confidential. To join, contact Joe at (682) 310-0591 or by email at [email protected]. Visit the group's Facebook at Haltom United Business Alliance.
About Haltom City
Haltom City is a medium-sized city between Dallas and Fort Worth in Tarrant County, TX. The city is diverse and majority working class, with a growing population that is approximately 10% Asian-American and 45% Hispanic. Haltom City benefits from being only minutes from both DFW Airport and Downtown Fort Worth, with direct access to major highways including I-820 and SH-121. Small businesses that have historically provided products, services, and jobs to residents and are a vital part of the city's economy. Haltom City has an opportunity for continued growth through undeveloped land and many vacant buildings, especially in major corridors close to the city's center. The city has good staff and a city manager who is interested in seeing more businesses, but they can only do as directed by the council.
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