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Mayor defends practices

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By Natasha LaFayette

At the end of the LaFollette City Council’s Monday night workshop, in which tension was high, Councilman Bob Fannon addressed some issues with Mayor Mike Stanfield.

Fannon outlined the duties of city administrator, council and mayor. He claimed the mayor’s position is to conduct meetings and break ties. The city administrator is to handle all the daily operations of the city, according to the city charter, Fannon said.

Fannon read from a prepared list of examples, citing what he believes are situations where Stanfield has imposed himself on the administrator’s duties.

Fannon said Alma Orick recently used a room at the recreation center for free with the permission of Stanfield and Councilman Hansford Hatmaker.

“She said Mike and Hansford said she could have the building,” said Recreation Director Johnny Byrge.

Stanfield denied the allegations, while Hatmaker did not comment.

“Did she tell you I said she could have room rent for free? Well, she lied to you and you should have called me,” said Stanfield.

Orick said she would pay $35 for the room rental, which she used for a wedding reception, in a phone conversation on Tuesday.

Fannon’s next example of the mayor’s alleged zealous behavior was a trip to Gatlinburg with Terry Sweat, who handles the city’s finances.

“Upon whose authority,” asked Fannon regarding why Sweat accompanied Stanfield without Young’s approval.

Stanfield replied, “My authority,” and Fannon said he did not have that authority.

“Well when you got a city administrator says he ain’t goin no damn where with me,” said Stanfield.

City Administrator David Young then denied telling Stanfield he would not go anywhere with him.

Sweat confirmed he went with Stanfield to Gatlinburg for a legislative conference.

Fannon asked the council if they would approve of him taking a city employee out of work for the day and Stanfield said it was fine if it was city business.

“I am telling you that you are overstepping your boundaries as mayor of the city of LaFollette,” Fannon continued.

Hatmaker, interjecting himself into the debate, advised Stanfield to do like Clifford (Jennings), cut people off and go on to the next thing.

Next on Fannon’s list was Stanfield’s appointment to the LaFollette Planning Commission, LaFollette Housing Authority and other boards.

Fannon stated he did not know whom Stanfield had appointed to these boards.

Hatmaker said Young would make the council aware of where everyone was, but Young stated he was also unaware of the appointments

“You need to make a letter from the mayor to the council as a courtesy,” said Fannon.

 Fannon stated anything the mayor and council does needs to be presented to Young before it is brought before the board.

“What have I done Bob that has not been run through David that is this important to you,” asked Stanfield.

Fannon responded by continuing his list, which the next item was the use of cell phones.

“I believe the mayor was going to cut out waste, if Mr. Hatmaker has one then Mr. Bolinger needs one, Kitts needs one and Fannon needs one,” said Fannon.

Stanfield replied, saying if Fannon wanted a cell phone the city would get him one. “Money’s no object Bobby,” said Stanfield.

When Fannon asked who authorized the purchase of the cell phones, Stanfield said he did.

“You don’t have the power to authorize the spending of monies,” said Fannon.

Stanfield replied, “Bob, I’m so sorry you don’t get your way every time.”

Fannon continued to accuse Stanfield of spending city money, not following the charter and ignoring his campaign promise to cut waste in the city

“Bob, you’re just a miserable little man,” said Stanfield in retaliation of Fannon’s comments.

Fannon requested the spending of money and the use of cell phones both be put on the agenda for the upcoming meeting.

“I personally will vote for no councilman having cell phones,” said Fannon.

He agreed department heads and the mayor needed cell phones for the flow of communication.

“Let’s just take ‘em all up,” said Stanfield in response to Fannon’s suggestions.

Young stated the mayor, city administrator and department heads need cell phone for quick communication.

As Fannon continued to express his frustration toward Stanfield for issuing a phone to Hatmaker, Stanfield interrupted saying, “Listen, duck head, I didn’t order him one.”

Young said he could purchase everyone a phone. Stanfield suggested Hatmaker give his phone to Fannon.

“I’m not given Bob nothin’,” said Hatmaker.

Councilman Wayne Kitts recommended everyone study their designated duties as they are described in the charter.

“This is all changed since the election, before they did what they wanted to do because they had the vote. They done whatever they wanted to, it didn’t have to be right,” said Hatmaker.

Fannon said he was not done and Hatmaker exclaimed that Fannon was never going to be finished.

The next item on Fannon’s list was city vehicles.

“I want the public to know you are using a city vehicle when you have your own car,” said Fannon to Stanfield.

But Stanfield defended himself, saying he has only used the vehicle for city business.

“It has never happened in the past,” said Fannon. “I think we are overstepping our bounds.”

At that point, Stanfield stood up and left, calling the workshop meeting to a close.