By Jim Young
Councilman Pete Souza's continued allegations of wrong doing by members of the Crossville City Council angered one councilman enough to attempt to force Souza to produce copies of documents and files of evidence at city hall and “back up his allegations.”
City Attorney Ken Chadwell was detailing his actions to pull together information from files, records and minutes on the subjects of concern related to questions by Souza, following direction from the city council and City Manager David Rutherford at the last council work session. These files would then be reviewed by the council along with a list of available retired judges. One of those judges could then be chosen to review all the information and render an opinion on the actions taken and whether there was any ethical concern about the actions of any member of the council or individual involved.
Chadwell said the initial plan was to have these files ready by the first of January but, with the holidays, he felt a more realistic date for them to be ready was by February.
Chadwell then addressed Souza and said it would save the city both time and money if he would bring his files and information to city hall to be added to the files being prepared for the review. Souza said while Chadwell's plan had merit, he said he did not feel that his records should be considered public records as he had spent his own money and traveled all over the state to collect the information he has. Souza said his files also had names of people he had talked to and who had given him information.
Souza explained that he planned to offer two resolutions in January to clarify the situations, saying the people are entitled to a resolution in this.
Addressing Chadwell, Souza said, “I will not produce my records to you, sir, but come January I will have a resolution on how to dispense those records.” He described the investigation as a puzzle and said that “the information that fills in the puzzle is the stuff that I have.” Souza continued, “I will also establish at that time a means for the public to make judgment on me as to whether I should be retained in office or whether I should leave.”
When asked by Chadwell who his attorney was, Souza answered that it was James Thompson.
Chadwell said he felt it was the duty of any councilman, or anyone else for that matter, to report immediately if they ever suspect wrong doing by a council member, city employee or anyone else.
Councilman Danny Wyatt said he felt that by withholding the information on the allegations he has made, Souza had attacked almost everybody in the room. Wyatt continued, with anger in his voice, saying, “My iPad is full of emails of alleging 'everybody here is crooked' and I'm done with it.”
Wyatt then moved “to see if this council has any subpoena power to subpoena Mr. Souza's information.” Wyatt then recounted Souza's previous attempts to prove ethics issues against Chadwell by going so far as to have a policeman deliver the envelopes of evidence to the council members. Wyatt reminded the council, “and you know what it was? Nothing, absolutely nothing!”
Wyatt moved that “Mr. Souza have his information to back up and corroborate all these allegations by Jan. 1 and I'll ask for a second.” The second came from Councilman George Marlow.
Souza said again the files had been given to various federal and state agencies and, adding what sounded like a dare, “there is an ongoing investigation, boys. Go ahead and do it.”
Wyatt commented saying, “Let's let them do their jobs and leave it out of these council chambers. We've got business to do for these taxpayers out here and they're getting tired of this. Let's leave it to the authorities and let's get on with life. If you are going to accuse somebody, you need to be man enough to back it up.”
Wyatt called for the question and the vote, with Councilman Jesse Kerley absent, was Wyatt and Marlow in favor while Souza and Graham both abstained. Graham declared the motion had passed.
Souza's comments after the meeting adjourned were, “Now they have to figure out how to enforce it.”