I want to express my sincerest appreciation to and admiration for the countless individuals who participated this night and in the weeks preceding it via letters to the editor, emails and phone calls to council and social media discussions. With a packed court room and tremendous overflow outside, this council meeting brought out the largest turnout of attendees that any of us had ever seen. The meeting lasted for a total of 5 hours, ending around midnight with much of the original audience still in attendance. We even had two citizens compelled to leave their homes in the middle of watching the meeting to come speak out. Furthermore, I’ve received dozens upon dozens of comments from people who stayed up to watch the entire meeting from home. It was truly a night “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
Voting details on the issues that brought most to our meeting (read here, here and here) are located at the very end of this post. For those who are interested, the video of the entire meeting is posted here. I will post follow up information regarding the investigation into the police department issues shortly.
The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the February 9, 2015 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet as well as a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will most likely be posted at the city website as part of the March 2015 Regular Meeting Agenda packet.
VII. CONSENT AGENDA 4 items passed by unanimous vote
b. Resolution authorizing the Mayor to sign the Anderson County Basic Emergency Operations Plan
c. Resolution approving the Beer Board’s amendments to their rules related scheduling and location of meetings.
d. Resolution to apply for (and accept if granted) a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant Program for an estimated amount of $25,000. No financial match required.
a. Resolution to address the lead paint issue at the Oak Ridge Preschool NTE $150K and to be funded through remaining Red Light Camera funds (current balance of $450K.) Motion passed 6-0 (Chinn abstained)
b. Resolution supporting joint efforts with the BOE to develop replacement options for the Oak Ridge Preschool and to prioritize Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) Motion passed 6-0 (Chinn abstained)
c. Bid award of $81,927 or mowing contract of non-rights-of-way to B & B Services Inc Motion passed 7-0
d. Bid award of $64,678 for lighting installation (hazardous portion) in the library to First Place Finish. Note: Previous estimates for this work were projected to be $150K. Motion passed 7-0
e. Resolution authorizing comment submittal to DOE regarding conceptual design of the K25 history museum at fire station #4 and related projects. Note: Total project cost range to be $17-25million, no local funding commitments were made as part of this resolution as confirmed by the city manager during this meeting. Motion passed 7-0
f. Resolution to dissolve the solid waste fund (refuse/trash/etc) into the general fund per changes in state law . Motion passed 7-0
g. Resolution creating a Special Events Advisory Task Force to review and provide recommendations for city-supported special events. Main Motion passed 7-0 subsequent to the following:
- Smith motion to remove Baughn as chair failed 5-2 with Smith and Hensley voting “Yes”
- Baughn motion to appoint Linda Mabry in Smith’s slot (she’d proclaimed having found no one willing to fill her slot) failed 5-2 with Baughn and Chinn voting “Yes”
- Smith motion to appoint Judy Gray as her designee (per Callison’s suggestion) passed unanimously.
IX. PUBLIC HEARINGS AND FIRST READINGS OF ORDINANCES
An ordinance amending the zoning ordinance map by changing the zoning district of a 2.58 acre parcel on laboratory road from B-3 Roadside Business to B-2 General Business Motion passed 7-0
XII. COUNCIL REQUESTS FOR NEW BUSINESS ITEMS OR FUTURE BRIEFINGS
a. A resolution initiating an investigation (into the ORPD issues discussed here). Discussions lasted 3-4 hours and included tremendous public input. Summarized, the following resulted:
Baughn proposed to amend the original resolution to include the following:
WHEREAS, the City Council desires a third party to review the merits of paying Mercer Group $24,448.68 for the recruitment of James. T. Akagi; and WHEREAS, Mr. Watson has repeatedly claimed that he did not know Mr. Akagi before he hired him; and WHEREAS, Mr. Akagi spoke at a League of Women Voter’s meeting in 2011 where he told a story of how his parent put him in touch with Mr. Watson so that he could assist Mr. Watson in vetting candidates for the job he now holds; and WHEREAS, both men have admitted that their parents know one another; and WHEREAS, Mr. Akagi’s wife was a resident of East Tennessee before Mr. Akagi moved here from Oklahoma; and WHEREAS, Mr. Watson and Akagi graduated from the same high school in Lawrence, Kansas (population <70,000 at the time); and WHEREAS, confirming that Akagi worked for Watson’s father, Akagi’s attorney has stated to the press that “he was a young patrol officer for a few years in Lawrence, Kansas, when Watson’s father was city manager”; and WHEREAS, it is understood that Mr. Watson received much of his formal education at University of Kansas at the same time that Mr. Akagi’s father was a professor at that same institution. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF OAK RIDGE, TENNESSEE: Pursuant to Article II, Section 9, of the Charter of the City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, City Council, charged with good stewardship of the taxpayer’s money, acknowledges the need to explore the veracity of Mr. Watson’s claims that he did not know Mr. Akagi and to explore the statistical probability that six different coincidences are simple that, coincidence hereby authorizes an independent third party review of the relationship between JAMES T. AKAGI and MARK WATSON prior to their arrival in Oak Ridge. Motion to amend failed 5-2 with Baughn and Chinn voting “Yes”
Baughn proposed a second amendment to the original resolution to include the following:
WHEREAS, Article II, Section 9, of the Charter of the City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, authorizes City Council by resolution to make investigations into the affairs of the City and the conduct of City departments, offices, boards, commissions, committees, and agencies, and for said purpose may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony, and require the production of evidence; and WHEREAS, the City Council desires a third party to review the content and legal ramifications of the above referenced cases to determine that compliance with all relating statutes were adhered to; and WHEREAS, Mr. Watson had knowledge of these proceedings but did not apprise council of them; and WHEREAS, city police department employees participated in testifying on behalf of Mr. Akagi; and WHEREAS, the stipulations of the order of protection need to be made clearly known in order to determine if they were ever violated; and WHEREAS, the evidence that compelled a judge to grant the order of protection may speak to the suitability of Mr. Akagi’s position as a Law Enforcement Officer and as a Chief of Police. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF OAK RIDGE, TENNESSEE: Pursuant to Article II, Section 9, of the Charter of the City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, City Council, City Council hereby authorizes an independent third party review of the court documents and proceedings relating to case #E-22639 Blount County Circuit Court and the Order of Protection (OP-20698) issued out of Blount County General Sessions Court against James T. Akagi from April 11, 2012 – June 19, 2013 to determine if any local, state or federal statutes or ethical codes were violated. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that City Council will select an independent third party and such review shall be conducted within ninety (90) days after the party is selected with the report delivered to City Council for any necessary action. Motion to amend failed 5-2 with Baughn and Hope voting “Yes”
Callison offered substitute resolution in place of the original resolution to include the following:
A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING AN INDEPENDENT THIRD PARTY REVIEW OF THE TURNOVER IN THE OAK RIDGE POLICE DEPARTMENT PURSUANT TO ARTICLE II, SECTION 9, OF THE CHARTER OF THE CITY OF OAK RIDGE, TENNESSEE. WHEREAS, Article II, Section 9, of the Charter of the City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, authorizes City Council by resolution to make investigations into the affairs of the City and the conduct of City departments, offices, boards, commissions, committees, and agencies, and for said purpose may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony, and require the production of evidence; and WHEREAS, City Council desires to hire an independent third party to review the turnover rate in the Oak Ridge Police Department. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF OAK RIDGE, TENNESSEE: Pursuant to Article II, Section 9, of the Charter of the City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, City Council hereby authorizes an independent third party review of the turnover in the Oak Ridge Police Department. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that City Council will select an independent third party and such review of the turnover rate in the Oak Ridge Police Department shall be conducted within thirty (30) days after the party is selected with the report delivered to City Council and the City Manager for any necessary action. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the selected third party will be a person with a strong background in law enforcement and municipal law such as a retired Tennessee state trooper, a retired criminal court judge, or a Municipal Technical Advisory Service consultant. Resolution was amended to include “morale and administrative policy issues” into the scope of the investigation. Amended substitute resolution was approved by unanimous vote.
b. A resolution to censure councilmember Trina Baughn and to remove her from all committee assignments. Motion withdrawn by its author, councilmember Charlie Hensley