TJ Heinert - Papillion City Councilman

TJ Heinert - Papillion City Councilman

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Concerned Citizen

Omaha, NE

#1 Jul 4, 2007
Published Wednesday | July 4, 2007
Financial woes dog Papillion official

A Papillion City Councilman says he's trying to work through long-simmering financial troubles that led to felony bad check charges filed against him last month.
T.J. Heinert The Sarpy County attorney charged T.J. Heinert with issuing two bad checks, then dismissed the charges a day later after he made good on the debt. A felony conviction would have disqualified him from serving on the council.

County court and government records show a history of tax liens and judgments against two of Heinert's companies going back five years.

Heinert, 30, who represents Ward 4 in northwest Papillion, said his troubles peaked last year, partially stemming from the 2006 bankruptcy of Omaha home builder Benchmark Homes. He said he worked as a subcontractor for Benchmark.

Heinert said he's trying to pay off his debts and "get the ship righted." He said he shut down the two companies because of "severe" financial issues. Monarch Grounds Maintenance and MGM Hardscape Construction have been the subject of 13 state and federal tax liens for nearly $190,000 in unpaid taxes between 2002 and 2006.

The IRS liens, which made up the vast majority of the total, were for unpaid federal employment taxes.
Heinert, who was elected to a four-year term in 2004, did not offer a detailed explanation for the unpaid taxes. He said his business grew too fast and "certain things weren't done 100 percent the right way."

"The bottom line is we got it taken care of," he said.
He said he made a lump-sum payment last year for taxes he owed on liens filed against Monarch Grounds Maintenance. His lawyer, Kathryn Derr, said the payment settled the personal liability he had for the taxes, though the corporations may still owe taxes. State and county records this week show that four of the 11 liens against Monarch Grounds Maintenance have been released.

The IRS says it promptly releases liens that are paid off. However, releases can take some time to show up in public records.

Heinert said he's working on releasing the liens against the other business, MGM Hardscape. One lien was released last month.

Representatives of the IRS and Nebraska Revenue Department said privacy rules prohibit them from discussing a taxpayer's efforts to pay off a debt.
Heinert said that for nearly three years, he got about half his concrete work subcontracting from Benchmark. Work was "hot and heavy" in 2004 and 2005, he said.

<article cut short due to length>

Omaha, NE

#2 Jul 4, 2007
Seeing this article on the front page of the Midlands section this morning was very disappointing. The City is doing great things and currently has very good leadership.

I highly respect anyone that starts a small business. I also respect anyone that can manage that business through bad times.

I cannot respect non-payment of payroll taxes. That is a fundamental obligation of hiring someone. It is a part of the salary equasion. The first time you miss a payment you need to serously look at your business revenue and expenses. I cannot respect the continued disregard for non-payment of taxes.

I also expect elected officials to be held to a higher standard. They seek the position and with that they should hold themselves to the standard.
Small Guy

Papillion, NE

#3 Jul 5, 2007
I too have high respect for anyone that start a small business and employee people. The backbone of this country is the small business man.

I also think a lot of companies have a significant amount of their revenue tied up in too few customers. A very important piece of advice for the small business man is to diversify beyond the couple of clients that got you started and made you successful.

A lot of businesses have liens. The easy way out is to call it quits and file for bankruptcy. The ethical way to do things is to keep fighting to make it, scale back if need be, keep cash flow coming and gradually build your way back.

Good luck Mr Hienert
Wal Mart

Delmar, IA

#4 Jul 12, 2007
T.J. should resign. How can he vote on issues like payroll increases to City Council when he has tax liens, judgements, and writes bad checks. The Benchmark deal was years ago, he wrote bad checks 2 months ago. A Felony! This guy can't manage his own finances, and he is to vote on major financial issues facing the city?
Business Man

Omaha, NE

#5 Jul 12, 2007
If you have a small business with short-term contracts and high fixed costs it is not unrealistic to think it could take you two years to recover from loosing your large primary customer.

I hope that is all it is. If it is I also will cheer on that businessman to keep fighting to pull out and make it.

I do not know TJ's personal business so can't comment specifically on that. What I do want to do is give any small businessman the initial benefit of the doubt.
Wal Mart

Delmar, IA

#6 Jul 13, 2007
I agree to your comments about a small business, etc.. My point is he should resign as there is too much potential for a conflict of interest with his financial condition, plus 100% of his time should be spent on paying debt to people that trusted him. If you have ever sat in a city council meeting you will expierence the massive ego this individual has, which has probably contributed to his problems. For his business, his family, and the creditors(many other small business people) he needs to re-focus his energies.
Business Man

Omaha, NE

#7 Jul 14, 2007
The massive ego I won't argue one way or another. From what I have observed his personality is the same as it was before he was on City Council. If you watched any of the WalMark proceedings at the Planning Commission you would have seen that same personality. If anything (right or wrong) he is consistent with the personality and ego. So, with his move to the City Council the people in his part of Papillion voted for him. They voted for that personality. So because he is consistent there and the people that voted him in asked for it, I couldn't use his ego as a reason to resign.

As far as the refocus of energy I do not know enough about the situation to comment. Just the bit that was in the paper.
Old Friend

Omaha, NE

#8 Jul 20, 2007
This is nothing new. T.J. has been writing bad checks for years. He used to write bad checks to employees of his lawn business in highschool that one could not cash them for. I am not surprised at all by this.
Wal Mart

Delmar, IA

#9 Jul 23, 2007
Bottom line is T.J. thinks he is above everybody else and he is, just ask him..
Business Man

Omaha, NE

#10 Jul 23, 2007
I won't agree or disagree with you; however, for sake of argument let's say you are right. With that being said, I still go back to what I wrote earlier - its the same personality that existed on the Planning Commission and the people in his area of town choose to elect him to City Council anyway.

Apparently that is the personality that the majority of the voters wanted (like it or not), else he would not have been elected. If they would not have wanted that personality then Mr Zeeb would have been elected or anyone else could have stepped up and ran.
Small Guy

Omaha, NE

#11 Jul 23, 2007
Sometimes the personality of a small business guy involves an ego. If they did not have that drive or think of themselves as better then they would be working for someone else.

It can also be that ego or drive that makes someone push through hard times in business and eventually pull it out. If they did not have that drive or think of themselves as better they might just chuck it all, take the easy way out and file for bankruptcy.

I may not like a big ego, I may choose to not work for a big ego, and I might choose to not purchase from a big ego - but I respect any small businessman who pulls it out in tough times.

If that big ego contributes to that gumption to make a go of it, then I guess in a sick way I respect that big ego.
Wal Mart

Delmar, IA

#12 Jul 24, 2007
As a SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS OWNER I agree 110% with your comments.... The challenge is how you channel that ego into making decsions that are basic right and wrong decisions. Your ego can get in the way... There are many examples, and the NBA official living in a million dollar house, driving a BMW has a huge ego. Michael Vick has a huge ego... My only point early on is that Mr. Heinert should resign from the council. He has hurt many small business people with his actions as a business person and should not be allowed to vote on matters of financial impact.
Small Guy

Omaha, NE

#13 Jul 24, 2007
I agree with everything you said, except the resignation portion (lacking any fraud - in which case I think the law will require him to step down). Like it or not, he is the same personality as when he was elected and the people he is representing choose him over another candidate. If those people decide they want to "undo" their vote they do have that avenue through the recall process and I have not seen any movement afoot by them to hit the "undo" button.

Papillion, NE

#14 Jul 25, 2007
This is a very interesting discussion. I am glad to see that all agree on how important small business owners are to the economy. Also glad to see that all understand how hard it is to be a successful small business owner. Finally happy to see all agree that small business owners can fall on hard times and that its better to fight through that then to file bankruptcy.

I too understand that their is either a City law or a State law that does require an elected official to be removed from office when there is a felony involved. The little bit I understand from the newspaper article that does not apply here since he took care of the checks just before it became a felony.


Papillion, NE

#15 Jul 25, 2007

The interesting part is then the ability to hold office if a bad situation occured but it was not at the level of a felony.

If the situation causes an inherent conflict of interest then I think the State has defined what those specific situations are where an elected official cannot vote.

Absent a state defined conflict of interest and absent a felony through the legal system where does that leave you.

I agree with the first poster that said elected officials should be held to a higher standard, but how do you do that. I think the natural way is to leave it to the voters that choose that person in the first place.

The people choose to put that person where they are. If those people feel that the elected person is holding to the standard they have set, then do nothing.

If those people feel that the elected person is not holding to the standard then I agree with the other poster that they have a predefined method of (as you said it) "hitting the undo button" and using the recall process.


Papillion, NE

#16 Jul 25, 2007

Again, absent Fraud and absent Conflict of Interest as defined bv the state it comes down to:

(1) The electorate agreeing with their original vote and doing nothing.

(2) The electorate deciding that enough has changed in the character of the elected individual that they do a recall.

(3) Or the elected individual having an epiphinay (didn't spell that one right) realizing that their basic character has changed or that their personal situation has changed to the point that they resign.

(4) If they choose to voluntarily resign are they then shortcoming the electorate that choose to put them there? I don't know the answer to that one.

If you choose #4 then what is the standard in the future to say that you've come to that point.

Fraud is clear. Conflict of interest is clear. Do nothing is clear. Recall is clear. Voluntary resignation I'm not sure if that is a good thing or not.


Papillion, NE

#17 Jul 25, 2007
I appologize - my last post was way to long - but I do have one more thing to say:

Thank God for the US and democracy! In what other country can you have this type of open discussion; have the freedom to vote who you want into office (good or bad); and have the freedom to begin a process to remove someone from office.

Thank you to the military members that fight to keep us free; to all who uphold the constitution; to all that engage in discussion - its the tension of the viewpoints that keep us centered; and to those that freely choose to put themseves in the public eye and run for office (good or bad).

This is a great country! God Bless the USA!

(how did that become so sappy? oh well)

Papillion, NE

#18 Sep 5, 2007
Whether he should be on the Council or not I won't argue, but WOW - does he ever have an ego!
Wal Mart

Delmar, IA

#19 Sep 6, 2007
See my comments above on ego...he uses his ego and sense of power in the same manner Michael Vick did.... as I have said before, just ask him... he is better than all of us

Papillion, NE

#20 Sep 7, 2007
His term on the city council should be coming up. Is there anyone strong in his part of town that might be thinking of running against him?(WalMart - you?)

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