Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

May 21, 2013

City reverses decision limiting interim manager power

CROSSVILLE — Meeting in special called session Friday, the Crossville City Council reversed a unanimous decision from earlier in the week concerning the interim city manager and more than one council members seemed to have admitted to violating the sunshine law.

During their regular May meeting, the council approved a motion presented by mayor pro-tem Danny Wyatt to require interim City Manager Jack Miller to bring any personnel changes to the council for approval, essentially removing a major part of his responsibilities from the city manager. The item was not specifically on the agenda but was brought up under the city manager’s report.

Wyatt said the reason for the action was a series of rumors brought to his attention about alleged politically motivated firings and/or reassignments of city employees. He said he felt the best way to quell those rumors was to take the action he proposed. Wyatt’s motion was approved unanimously by the council.

Prior to the first vote at the council’s regular meeting, Councilman Jesse Kerley asked city attorney Ken Chadwell if the action was legal. Chadwell responded that it was legal.

A called meeting was requested by Kerley and Councilman Pete Souza the following day to revisit that action. Kerley said he felt the action was not allowed by the city charter.

Kerley said the reason he had voted for the original motion concerning the interim city manager was to be able to bring it back up at a later time. Under rules, only a council member who voted with the prevailing side can bring an item back up for discussion. During Friday’s meeting, the discussion of the action became heated at times and both Kerley and Souza discussed state law and the city charter that they interpreted as not allowing the action.

Souza reported he had talked to two individuals at MTAS, the Municipal Technical Advisory Service of the University of Tennessee, and both had indicated the council’s previous action was not allowed. Chadwell then read from a copy of an opinion concerning an interim city manager that he had pulled from the MTAS website stating that the action could be taken to restrict the power of an interim or temporary city manager position. Chadwell also spoke to the issue of the Crossville city charter, saying that it does not address an interim city manager, only an “acting city manager.”

The motion to rescind the previous action was made by Souza and seconded by Kerley. Wyatt reminded the members that Miller had twice agreed to accept the restriction and asked if he still felt that way.

Miller’s responded, “In retrospect, it seemed like an affront to my integrity.”

Miller recounted his many years as a city manager, including eight years previously at Crossville. Miller said he is a member of the International City Managers Association (ICMA) and is a credentialed city manager through that program. He added that he follows a strong code of ethics required by the organization. According to the ICMA website, Miller is one of 19 credentialed city managers in Tennessee.

Miller said, after the meeting, he thought more about the action and said he felt “offended” and “neutered” by the action.

Miller stressed, “I wouldn’t be a professional hit man for any one of you,” and he asked that the council express some degree of confidence in their interim manager.

During discussion of the motion, Kerley accused Wyatt of spreading the rumors about the issue and Kerley. Wyatt said he was not on trial and he refused to respond to Kerley’s accusations.

Souza said that Wyatt had first approached him about possible firings directed by Kerley and Souza to be carried out by Miller. Souza continued that he then discussed it with Kerley and told Kerley, “I will not participate in any firings, which he (Kerley) did not ask for anyway.”

The discussions above appear to be in violation of the sunshine law.

Kerley said he also talked to Miller about firings and Miller assured him there would be none.

“Now there’s a rumor out there that there was a conspiracy to fire Mr. Miller,” said Souza. Souza concluded saying that he would not be part of any politically motivated firing.

Councilman George Marlow commented that Miller had said he was OK with the action and, according to Marlow, told him after the meeting that it might make his job easier.

Kerley again spoke and took aim at Wyatt, describing his anger and strong words following the hiring of Miller as interim manager. Kerley described the motion Wyatt made as an action of harassment.

According to Kerley, “Lots of people heard (Wyatt) saying this stuff.”

Marlow spoke saying, “I’ll take some of the responsibility for Councilman Wyatt being upset because he and I discussed this prior.” In a statement that again appears to be an admission of sunshine law violation, Marlow said he hoped to hire someone from inside city hall for an interim position, but the person he supported felt it was not in their best interest to take the position.

Marlow continued, “About an hour before the meeting, I got the information and I didn’t have a chance to contact Councilman Danny Wyatt so I’ll agree that I voted opposite what I had discussed with him and he probably had a reason to be upset.”

Tennessee’s sunshine law prohibits elected officials from discussing official business privately or in groups outside of a public meeting that the public is notified about. It is often done but can create problems for elected bodies, as the Knox County commission found out several years ago when a series of appointments were overturned by a judge.

While there is no criminal penalty, a lawsuit can be filed to have a decision set aside, requiring the elected body to revisit the decision at a later time. It can create a lack of confidence in elected officials as well cost taxpayer money to pay for the plaintiff’s attorney.

1
Text Only
Area News
  • quackers at the library.jpg Spring jamboree

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Suspect charged in Sportsman Club break-in

    A Crossville man has been arrested and charged in connection with the burglary of a shooting club's building in the county that occurred last week, according to arrest reports.

    April 17, 2014

  • Panel discusses auditing hotel/motel tax collections

    Commissioners on the budget committee discussed the possibility of auditing hotels and motels in the county regarding the collection of hotel/motel tax collection figures being down.

    April 17, 2014

  • Repent burglar must serve time

    Some defendants cry, because they get caught, and others are tearful with remorse. No one in the courtroom doubted Robert Killeen's sincerity when he apologized to his victim, his loved ones and supporters for committing crimes against an elderly widow, stealing the money her late husband left her.

    April 17, 2014

  • Panel OKs budget amendments

    The Cumberland County Budget Committee approved a $134,506 budget amendment for the Cumberland County Solid Waste Department in order to accept a grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for enhanced waste oil collection.

    April 16, 2014

  • Council votes to seek RFQs for wastewater operation

    The city of Crossville has had a 20-year relationship with Veolia Water, the contractor that currently operates the wastewater treatment plant for the city, and while council members say they don't have a problem with the company's service, they have voted to send out requests for qualifications (RFQ) to determine if they have the best company operating the facility.

    April 16, 2014

  • Police: Couple sets up house in Tansi pool

    A Lake Tansi couple who suddenly found themselves without shelter set up a temporary home in an indoor pool area at the resort/retirement community, according to police arrest reports.

    April 16, 2014

  • certifying machines.jpg Certifying early voting machines

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mobile Vet Center in town Wednesday

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will have a Mobile Vet Center (MVC) in Crossville at the Cumberland County Community Complex 1398 Livingston Rd. on Wednesday, April 16. MVC 844 will be at the Community Complex from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

    April 15, 2014

  • The Palm Tree Revisited

    Palm Sunday is right around the corner. Since we don't have palm trees in our neck of the woods, there probably aren't many people who think about their unique characteristics. Several years ago I read a devotional by Dr. Cecil A. Fayard Jr., “The Palm Tree Revisited,” and want to share some highlights.

    April 15, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice