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Agenda set for meeting- Young’s contract on the line

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By Susan Sharp

On Monday the LaFollette City Council met to set the agenda for next week’s meeting.

As the workshop progressed it became evident council member Hansford Hatmaker had many items he wanted to see taken care of.

Among Hatmaker’s business is City Administrator David Young’s contract.

“He has checked it from one end to the other,” Hatmaker began referring to the Tennessee Municipal League (TML) representative he had sent the contract to for review.

Young’s contract with the city is illegal, Hatmaker said of the TML analysis.

This disclosure prompted a verbal exchange among the council.

“Your city attorney drew up every word,” Young countered.

Recalling his interview process with the city, Young said council members, at that time, “enticed” him to leave his career in order to work for LaFollette.

“You think you are ready for me well I am ready for you,” Young said to Hatmaker of the possibility of his contract being revoked.

Councilman Bob Fannon then interjected that Young’s contract with the city was a binding agreement.

Young again reminded the council the city attorney Reid Troutman drafted the contract. He also said he worked for two months at the city “in good faith” while waiting for Troutman to finish the document.

Sticking with his view that the contract was not legal, Hatmaker said the TML representative had cited five cases where these types of contracts had been deemed void by courts.

Young quickly disagreed with that statistic.

As Hatmaker continued to protest the legality of Young’s agreement with the city. Fannon suggested, with a laugh, Hatmaker should “go ask Wayne” for an opinion on the matter.

Earlier in the meeting, Hatmaker had been insistent that city codes officer Wayne Gregg investigate a personnel matter despite the fact he is on medical leave.

“Hansford just go ahead and do what you want, nobody is going to stop you,” Fannon added.

Council member Wayne Kitts then offered his input into the situation saying that contracts were standard in most businesses.

However, Hatmaker disagreed with him claiming because Tennessee is an at will state, contracts had no meaning.

“So you are saying (LaFollette Utility Manager) Kenny Baird, (LaFollette Housing Authority Director) John Snodderly, (Director of Schools) Dr. Martin, all of those contracts are illegal,” Fannon asked Hatmaker.

“Yeah, they are all illegal,” he said.

Young then offered his breakdown of what at will meant- someone is terminated for a reason or “somebody pays the bill.”

This contentious debate came on the heels of one regarding moving an employee.

In February, an attempt was made to move Meagan Hill, a part-time employee with the police department, into a full-time position in Young’s office.

However, Fannon had challenged the way the transfer was decided on by the council. When he did this it was in court and a temporary restraining order was issued to halt the transfer.

On Monday Hatmaker said he wanted to reinstate Hill, paying her the money she would have earned if moved in February.

The court would not allow this essentially, throwing it out, Fannon said.

“Let ‘em throw it out, it won’t be the first time,” Hatmaker said.

With Fannon asking Hatmaker to wait and proceed the “right way” Young broke in saying this was the first he had heard of this.

“Well you are going to hear about it tonight Mr. Young,” Hatmaker said.

“Let’s do this the correct way,” Fannon said adding there should be an interview process with recommendations being brought to the council.

Hatmaker rejected Fannon’s request.

Kitts also asked Hatmaker to consider what Fannon was suggesting because it was in step with the city charter.

“I want it on the agenda to reinstate her, not hire her,” Hatmaker said with his voice rising.

Kitts and Fannon continued to ask Hatmaker to follow the charter and “do it right.”

To illustrate his point, Kitts said he had voted no on Hill’s hiring the last time because the correct hiring procedures weren’t followed.

As Hatmaker repeatedly said he wanted the item on the agenda, Young offered a possible solution.

He suggested that Wanda Dower and Terry Sweat interview Hill because they would be working with her if the transfer occurred.

If they believed she was right for the position, they could make that recommendation on Tuesday night.

“That sounds good, sounds like you are following the charter, too,” Kitts said.

Also stirring disagreement among the council was the pending grievance against Young filed by city employee Linda White.

Mayor Mike Stanfield said he had received a letter from Troutman instructing him to appoint someone to investigate the allegations.

That is when Hatmaker proposed Gregg look into the matter.

Kitts questioned if that was feasible given Gregg’s medical leave status.

Fannon questioned if Gregg was qualified to conduct that type of investigation. He recommended a police officer would be a more appropriate person for the job.

With questions circling about whom would be most neutral and most qualified, Hatmaker said, “If Jesus came here and he done it, somebody is going to be disappointed.”

Fannon again said a police officer would be the most logical option to investigate the allegations of inappropriate conduct White had levied against Young.

“Wayne is just Wayne; he is fair,” Stanfield said.

It was agreed that Stanfield would approach Gregg about conducting the investigation.

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