“Vigorously hunt for that witch, with a study designed to ferret out the witch, as though one indeed exists. Then, when none is found, the citizens will be reassured that no stone was left unturned, that if there were problems, they would have been found.” – Dr. Horton
The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the TWO April 21, 2015 City Council Special Meetings; both were called by the city manager. The complete agenda packets are found here and here. This meeting was not videotaped by the city, but an unofficial video may soon be available. Draft meeting minutes will most likely be posted at the city website as part of the May 2015 Regular Meeting Agenda packet.
The first meeting had the following two resolutions:
- A resolution waiving competitive bids and awarding Sutphen Corp for repairs to the ladder components of the fire department’s tower truck in an amount not to exceed $38,000. Motion approved 7-0
- A resolution approving an agreement with TVA to add a new a deposit assurance program that would allow the city to offer said program to specific customers that could reduce the impact of their deposit requirement. Motion approved 7-0.
The second special meeting agenda mirrored that of Councilman Callison’s email discussed here. The following items appeared on the agenda for/as “Discussion and Consideration:”
- Request Rex Barton to create a new random list of officers to interview.
Hensley motioned to interview all officers and then revised to include all ORPD employees as well as former officers who had departed since Akagi’s arrival. Motion approved 5-2 with Gooch and Smith voting “Nay”
- Determine point of contact in the police department to help coordinate the schedules of those officers selected to be interviewed.
Smith amended to have Human Resources at the point of contact. Motion approved 6-1 with Baughn voting “Nay”
- Establish a temporary email account that allows input from interested citizens. Emails will only be considered from those who provide their name and full address. The emails shall be monitored, reviewed, and assembled by an affiliate of MTAS and submitted to Rex Barton for possible inclusion in the MTAS report.
Callison motioned to vote on item #3 as written. Motion approved 5-2 with Smith & Baughn voting “Nay”
As discussed here, this meeting was called because MTAS denied former officers the ability to participate in the investigation and transmitted the names of the current officers they intended on interviewing directly to Chief Akagi. These two actions violated the expressed will of council. The focus of this meeting was to discuss and establish parameters of this investigation. Ironically, that was the same purpose of the March 27th meeting, in which I made some similar suggestions but could not garner enough votes for any of my motions. Because of this and the fact that no other council members made any suggestions, zero parameters were set during the March 27th meeting.
In spite of a proven conflict of interest, an obvious inability to handle such an investigation and a vocalized concern by various ORPD employees, council chose to continue down the path of allowing MTAS to conduct this investigation. In fact, it was revealed and affirmed by the city attorney that MTAS in no way could ensure the anonymity of the interviewees since they are subject to the Tennessee Open Records Act. At one point in the discussion, I motioned to terminate the MTAS contract and pursue a request for proposal process. That motion failed to gain a second even for discussion. The newly created resolution will now require a re-negotiation of the MTAS contract.
I supported the first motion since council was determined to move forward with MTAS. I did not support the second motion because I felt it was inappropriate to involve HR in scheduling and because easier means exist to accomplish the same thing, i.e, Mr. Barton could directly coordinate with employees through a number of different modes of communications.
I found the third motion to be completely irrelevant and rather bizarre. Unfortunately, a few folks have attempted to twist the matter into an accusation that I attempted to suppress citizen input. That is simply not true since citizens already have mechanisms to share their concerns with council on this matter and have done so quite frequently via email, letters to the editor, phone calls and post mail.
Second, the notion to include all citizens in the investigative process was something that Mayor Pro Tem Smith originally brought up in our February 9th meeting. Council agreed at that time, however, that such a motion would broaden the scope and process so greatly that it would exceed the intent of the investigation which was to examine the issues of morale, turnover and policies within the department.
Finally, as reported here, I publicly challenged the behavior of two individuals. The first was Joe Lee. Mr. Lee is notorious for his attempts to berate, belittle and intimidate public officials. He has now taken to doing the same towards citizens. In addition to maligning them on BOE member Angi Agle’s website and in the comments section of Oak Ridge Today.com, at one point in a recent meeting, he rudely started taking pictures of an individual seated next to him. During this meeting, he moved to a position within the peripheral view of citizens addressing council and began audibly taking photos of each individual who approached council. I expressed my concern that he was attempting to intimidate and requested that the mayor ask him to stop. The mayor and councilman Hope objected given that there were other citizens filming the meeting. I did not push the issue but there was clearly a difference between the intent of the activities.
Second, during the meeting, I quoted Mr. Callison from our February 9th meeting in which he repeatedly used the pronoun “we” in his sales pitch of Rex Barton. He made statements like, “The resolution focuses on the original issue….turnover rates in the police force. We think that’s a broad a very broad term that allows an investigator, an independent investigator to look at the issues that might be present…we received Mr. Barton’s resume …” I finally asked Mr. Callison to whom he was referring since, at that point, council had not yet voted on conducting an investigation. At one point in his response, Mr. Callison referenced Councilmembers Smith and Chinn and I asked if they had colluded on the matter outside of a council meeting. Mr. Callison denied that they had and I apologized to both Chinn and Smith. Mr. Callison, however, never did explain who “we” was.
I stated that this entire ordeal (selecting MTAS) appears to have been a coordinated effort to deceive the public. I base that claim on the fact that Mr. Callison suggested that council retain Barton’s services before the investigation was ever approved by council, pushed for MTAS before any other firms could be considered and continued to push to keep MTAS after they demonstrated deficiencies at the onset of the investigation.
What’s more, after the investigation had begun and within 24 hours of each other, both Mr. Callison and Angi Agle attempted to usurp council authority by providing their own, nearly identical, parameters of the investigation. Ms. Agle has created an anonymous website solely focused on maligning individuals who seek a fair, unbiased investigation and her husband has rallied in support of Chief Akagi to the point that he has declared some kind of “war” on me and my supporters by stating that only when we cease our activities will “there be peace.”
These instances, coupled with their attempts to salvage the use of MTAS give the appearance that there are a group of individuals working outside of public view to manipulate the outcome. I remain deeply concerned that the process has been compromised to the point that public trust has eroded beyond repair.
A Note about District Attorney Dave Clark
Since I introduced the issue of the Order of Protection taken out against Chief Akagi, a number of individuals including Councilman Hensley, found reason to dismiss the matter entirely by standing on a claim that DA Dave Clark excused it. This week, however, DA Clark denied ever opining on the matter. Read here and compare to what he was quoted as saying in the 2/2/15 edition of the Oak Ridger entitled, “Baughn: Investigate police chief, manager” The Clark reference is over halfway through and reads as follows:
“Contacted by the newspaper for legal definitions, Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark explained Friday that there are two types of orders of protection. The first is the “ex parte order” and, in that type of order, the respondent has had no opportunity to provide input before the order was granted.
An ex parte order would not have prevented Akagi from possessing a firearm, Clark indicated. A regular order of protection would have prevented him from possessing a firearm – which Baughn alleges – but such an order was never issued against him, according to Blount County court personnel.”
Given how many people have publicly referred to Clark’s comments and the obvious attention he has paid to the issue (he personally attended the March 27th meeting) it is rather curious that Clark chose not to issue a public correction on the matter until AFTER the POST investigation was initiated well over two months since he was originally quoted. It may be quite revealing to hear what the highest ranking law enforcement official in our district has to say in an official response to the POST request.