?Related: His mission: Stamp out property-tax scammers in
As the chairman, Donwell said he makes recommendations on property tax appeals to other board members. He also facilitates the review board meetings.
For Home Team, Donwell is director of lifestyle programs. His work has included presentations about the company's plan to acquire up to 4,000 foreclosed properties in
Donwell was at a recent Home Team pitch meeting to Councilman
The city's ethics ordinance prohibits public servants such as Donwell from “engaging or accepting private employment or rendering services when such employment or service is in conflict or incompatible with the proper discharge of official duties.”
Donwell said there is nothing improper about his role with the Home Team company. He said he disclosed his real estate interest with Home Team in a statement filed in August with the
“I try to be as aboveboard as possible with everything I do,” Donwell said in a phone interview. “It is not unusual for members of the community to sit on boards or commissions or participate in practices involved in the city and still do their other business.”
Home Team last month petitioned the city for the right to buy 2,000 to 4,000 foreclosed properties in northwest
Donwell was among Home Team members who attended a GRDC board meeting in hopes of gaining the neighborhood's support for their plan. Thomson, who made it clear he was not speaking for the entire board, said Donwell did not disclose his ties to city government during the meeting. The GRDC, which represents a neighborhood within the area where Home Team wants to acquire property, strongly opposes the company's plan.
The tax-foreclosed properties Home Team is targeting “likely include a significant portion of people who were either denied the poverty exemption (by the
Donwell said he very rarely exercises his voting authority as chairman of the board, preferring to make recommendations to other board members.
“I never really voted. I handle recommendations and things like that. I typically just make suggestions to the board. I just chair the meeting,” Donwell said.
As chairman and administrator for the board of review, Donwell's current one-year contract with the city pays him
Donwell also is seeking guidance from the
Home Team was founded by
Park Street appealed property values for three of its properties — each assessed under
Prentice downplayed Donwell's current role with the company. Donwell earned “a few grand here, a few grand there” when the company was getting off the ground but has since taken a step back. “We never actually hired him. He's not a payroll employee,” Prentice said.
“Willie's a pretty upstanding dude. I work with the guy and he's a friend of mine,” he said, adding Donwell was introduced to Home Team through another executive at the company. “I don't see him doing anything to hurt anybody to help me. That's just not what he does.”
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