Public Works Director Hatton Wright’s Ethics Complaint against Mayor Linda Elam
In April of 2007, Mayor Linda Elam was charged with violating the City of Mt. Juliet’s code of ethics by Public Works Director Hatton Wright. One of the charges made by Mr. Wright was that the Mayor had violated the city’s personnel rules when she discussed a sexual harassment complaint at the end of the City Commission meeting on Monday, April 9th (video clip here and below).
When the Mayor learned of the complaint, on Sunday April 15th, she immediately called for a special meeting of the City Commission for the following day – apparently believing she had the votes to have the complaint dismissed. At that called special meeting on Monday, April 16th, the City Commission (much to the Mayor’s surprise) determined that the complaint had enough merit to warrant further investigation and appointed City Attorney Paula Flowers to investigate.
Over the course of two weeks, Ms. Flowers interviewed seven witnesses and then submitted a written report to the City Commission. The result of all this activity were a substantial amount of time at three City Commission meetings (4/16, 5/7, & 5/14) and the creation of lots of public documents (see below for links to them).
After the special meeting on 5/7, a source at City Hall said over 50 copies of a CD with the full witness interviews were requested (by commissioners and members of the community). Curiously, there are also recent reports that citizens have not been able to get the documents upon request. Which underscores one of the useful functions of the internet.
Below are links to many of the relevant documents. If anyone knows of more, please send them in an email to email@example.com.
City Commission Meeting, 4/09/2007 (last 10 minutes), Mayor Elam attacks City Manager Shearer and Public Works Director Wright.
City Commission Special Meeting, 4/16/2007
Hatton Wright, Public Works Director 4-19-2007
Shannon Joyner, Assistant PW Director, 4-19-2007
Marlin Keel, City Engineer, 4-19-2007
Rob Shearer, City Manager, 4-20-2007
Debbie Moss, Zoning Administrator, 4-20-2007
Bobbie Franklin, City Planner, 4-20-2007
Linda Elam, Mayor, 4-25-2007
Affidavit of Louis Oliver, Planning Attorney, 5-3-2007
Take the time to read all the way through Mayor Elam’s statement and you’ll notice that she’s sending email to the City Manager, suggesting changes in the way the City does inspections on development projects using the email account of her employer, Commercial Realty Services.
In the City Attorney’s report, she mentions that Linda Elam has provided an affidavit to the effect that she is no longer an employee of CRS, but is now a “contract employee.” This is what passes among lawyers as a way to resolve a conflict of interest! No, I’m no longer an employee. Yes they’re still paying me, and I’m still working on their behalf, but I’m no longer an employee. Voila! No conflict of interest here!
And although Mayor Elam gave the City Attorney an affidavit in April stating that she was no longer an employee of Commercial Realty Services, as late as July 15, 2007, she was still listed on their website with her own CRS email account. (The contact page has since been wiped clean!)
City Commission Special Meeting, 5/7/2007
City Commission voted to defer taking action for one week
City Commission Regular Meeting, 5/14/2007
City Commission eventually voted 3-1 to censure Mayor Elam
We start with Citizen Comments: part 1, part 2 & part 3
(commissioner’s reports omitted – none of them said anything about the ethics complaint. The meeting then moved on to resume ‘old business.’)
part 4 (citizen comments by Huber, Mack, & Wolentarski)
part 5 & part 6 (citizen comments and statement by Mayor Linda Elam)
part 7 (statement by Vice Mayor Ed Hagerty)
part 8 & part 9 (questions and statement by D2 Commissioner Ray Justice)
part 10 (Commissioner Justice makes motion to admonish Mayor Elam)
part 11 (Mayor Elam responds and attacks the City Planner)
at 4:28 into the part 11 video, D4 Commissioner Jim Bradshaw makes a motion to suspend the rules to allow the City Planner to respond to the Mayor’s attack. The Mayor declares that this will take a 4/5th vote. The vote is 3-1 to suspend the rules with the Mayor abstaining. She announces that the motion to suspend the rules had failed. She was wrong. First, it takes a 2/3rd vote to suspend the rules according to Robert’s Rules of Order. Second, only those casting votes (excluding abstentions) are used to calculate the fraction. The Mayor’s ruling was wrong and the will of a 2/3rd majority was obstructed. The City Planner should have been allowed to speak.
Pay particular attention to City Attorney Paula Flowers, as she leaps into action to correct the Mayor’s erroneous ruling. Pretty stunning work for $200/hour. Didja see it?
Moving on, D1 Commissioner Justice and Vice Mayor Hagerty then defend the City Planner.
part 12 (debate concludes, final vote is 3-1 to censure Mayor Elam)
Chronicle of Mt. Juliet, 5-30-2007
Vice Mayor Ed Hagerty defends decision to censure Mayor Elam
City of Mt. Juliet Code of Ethics, adopted September 25, 2006