Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

May 16, 2013

Special meeting on decorum set after contentious council meeting

By Jim Young
Chronicle correspondent

CROSSVILLE — A special called meeting of the Crossville City Council has been called for Friday at 1 p.m. by Councilmen Jesse Kerley and Pete Souza in order to revisit two items from the council's regular May meeting earlier this week.

During the regular meeting it was also reported that the KKK plans to hold a rally in Crossville this summer.

The two called meeting agenda items include matters relative to the city manager and compliance to Robert's Rules of Order and decorum of council meetings. The item concerning the city manager stems from a motion by Councilman Danny Wyatt concerning morale of employees over rumors of firings, reassignments or reorganizations. Wyatt's motion was that the interim city manager be instructed that no firings or other personnel changes be made without council approval until a permanent manager is hired. The motion was seconded by Councilman Pete Souza.

The motion elicited comments from Crossville Fire Department Capt. Rick Myers.

Myers confirmed rumors have traveled around. He said no fire or police department in the state is better than those in Crossville. Myers said many people had contacted him about comments made by Souza they had heard on the radio about “cowboy antics.”

At that point, Souza stopped Myers and asked if anyone at the meeting heard him say anything like that? Souza continued that “the story on the radio was erroneous. I did not say that, and my attorneys have been in contact with (the station WIHG-FM). I apologize for anything that was miss said”

Myers said that if that was the case, he apologized to the council and he would take the information to his personnel.

Kerley commented strongly, “Never is it true that any member of this council has asked Dr. Miller to fire, reposition anyone. If someone has told you that, they are a bold faced liar.”

Kerley continued, “This is a bogus motion, by the way. This stems off of a little tantrum Councilman Wyatt threw after he didn't get his way. This is disrespectful to Jack Miller.”

City Attorney Ken Chadwell was asked about the legality of the motion as generally the council controls the manager and the manager then has responsibility for the remaining city personnel. Chadwell said the council could take this action. He said the council hires the manager and sets the policy for the manager to follow.

The motion was unanimously approved.

The second item on the called agenda stems from the discussion of Souza's item on meals and catering. During that discussion, some raised voices between Souza and Mayor J.H. Graham III led to Souza claiming the floor as Graham attempted to correct what he felt was an erroneous statement by Souza. Souza called point of order and said he still had the floor, but the mayor also spoke.

As the discussion calmed back down, Souza moved that any food/meal purchase in excess of $150 be approved by the council. The motion failed for lack of a second but the discussion led to the second item on the called agenda.

Another surprising bit of information revealed at the council meeting came during Chadwell's report. Chadwell reported he had spoken with a representative of the Ku Klux Klan and they were interested in expanding into the area.

According to Chadwell, the group wants to hold a rally at the Spirit Broadband Amphitheater this summer because they have identified Crossville and Cumberland County as a place of growth for them. Chadwell said he had two phone conversations with someone he referred to as a “grand imperial wizard of the KKK.” He added, “They are coming to town.”

Chadwell said he had lengthy conversations concerning distributing literature and, while they wanted to put literature in plastic bags and toss in people yards, he informed them that was not legal. Chadwell said they can stand on public sidewalks and hand out literature and they expect to start in the next several weeks.

The rally is expected to be held sometime in July and may require a surcharge beyond the regular rental charge because of the need for security by the city police. Chadwell said he was told the group would be promoting anti-drug messages, the right to bear arms and getting God back in schools.