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Council and Mayor eliminate themselves from policy to hire relatives

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By Natasha LaFayette

The LaFollette City Council’s decision to eliminate the nepotism policy only as it pertains to them came as a surprise to many on Tuesday night.

A workshop was held prior to the meeting to discuss the policy, yet no alternatives or decisions on the policy were discussed.

The workshop ended with Councilman Hansford Hatmaker saying the council should just vote on it.

And the council did vote when Hatmaker made a motion to exclude only the council and mayor from the policy, leaving the policy intact for department heads and the city administrator.

“I make a motion that we eliminate the council members and the mayor from the nepotism policy,” said Hatmaker when Mayor Mike Stanfield asked for suggested motions on the policy during the meeting.

Hatmaker explained his vote, saying the council members and mayor were not supervisors, only policy makers.

Discussion on the council’s ability to hire and fire employees as it relates to the  nepotism policy was not discussed.

“Mr. Young is the man who is to carry out or implement any policy that we implement,” said Hatmaker. “It is left up to Mr. Young and the department heads to supervise the employees in the city of LaFollette.”

After the motion was made Councilman Wayne Kitts and Bob Fannon voted against the motion while Hatmaker and Councilman Joe Bolinger voted in favor of excluding  only the mayor and council from the policy.

“I would like to say that in a community this size the nepotism policy is quite restrictive,” said Bolinger. “For that reason only, I second the motion.”

When it came to a tie, Stanfield broke the stalemate, eliminating the council and mayor from the policy.  The nepotism policy previously stated a relative of the council, mayor, city administrator and department heads could not be hired unless they were the only qualified applicants.

Brian Tiller, Bolinger’s nephew, sat in the audience with his wife during the meeting. Tiller’s pending application for employment with the LaFollette Police Department had not yet been considered because of his relationship to Councilman Bolinger, according to Police Chief Ben Baird in a previous interview.

In a phone conversation last week, Bolinger said he did not agree with doing away with the policy completely.

“I don’t do favors and no one has asked me for any either,” said Bolinger last Thursday.