November 23, 2017

Heard Citizen Unknowingly Appointed to Downtown Development Authority by Mayor

The City Council met Thursday October 6, 2011 for its regular monthly meeting at City Hall in Franklin. The council approved the previous meeting’s minutes unanimously, and then approved the meeting agenda, after striking one item under new business which was to include a discussion on a location change for the meetings.

In the department reports, Franklin Police Chief Kevin Hannah discussed two items. He first let the council know that a check from the U.S. Department of Justice Grant would be arriving soon, and he also stated that he would like to thank the local media for their help in spreading the news release which led to the capture of the suspect in the case involving the stolen vehicle recently.

He stated that soon after the release was issued both online and in the print papers that lots of great information came rolling in to his office which was very helpful in the case.

Mayor Chapman then acknowledged the great job that Chief Hannah was doing including one instance recently where he had worked 20 consecutive hours.

Alan Holcomb of the streets department was unable to attend but Mayor Chapman gave his report which noted that all city property had been cleaned and also noted that five street lights were not working but that they had been reported to the power company to be scheduled for repair.

Councilman Hamil then brought up that the owners of the property at the old Hilltop location were wanting to add a drain pipe to the property and would like the supervision of the street department to be sure the pipe was installed correctly. The board approved this 5-0.

The city attorney David Mecklin then let the council know that the check for the walking trail bridge repairs had arrived. He also stated that he was still doing research into whether or not the bond issued for the building of a new city hall might be able to be used for other projects.

Finally he brought forth that the board needed to approve some easements in the industrial park in relation to the new PPI building which the board did approve.

Item #1 under old business was the appointments to the Downtown Development Authority by the board. In the previous meetings it was agreed that each council member would nominate one person and that the Mayor would nominate two people.

Councilman Rogers and Manders had no appointments ready. Councilman Almond appointed Ms. Charlotte Dukes, Councilman Adams appointed Mr. Donald Rogers, Councilman Hamil appointed Mr. Sandy Dennis, and Mayor Chapman appointed Mr. Dwight McClendon and Mr. Russ Massa.

Mayor Chapman then decided that they would wait to approve the appointments at the next meeting once the other two appointments were determined.

Finally under old business the board agreed to have a budget meeting on October 17th at 6:00 p.m.

Under new business Melanie Banks made a presentation on behalf of the Paxon Learning Center. The board then approved the use of the community center by the organization which offers G.E.D. support and tutoring to teenagers.

After a brief discussion about  the city phone system lease no motions were made on the item.

The council then approved a motion to allow one of the City’s Police officers to move into a piece of vacant city owned property on Franklin Parkway at a rental rate of $300 per month with several stipulations. The property may be the site of a future boys/girls club if the city receives a grant they have been seeking.

Under the Group Insurance item on the agenda no action was taken.

The agenda then moved to public comments. Robert Copeland came forth to address several issues. Initially,  he commended Melanie Banks for the work her organization had done at Rock Ridge in the past.

Copeland next told the council he had four concerns as a citizen. First, he stated that trash was an issue. Said Copeland, “Trash is number one. We have way too much trash. I picked up a beer bottle yesterday on Newnan Street on the corner next to the Methodist Church and carried it all over town. Now that’s just ridiculous.”

He then addressed the fact that people were speeding down South River Rd. as he was walking to town. Finally, he stated that he would like to see a Community Foundation in order for the city to receive more grants.

Russ Massa, who was in attendance covering the meeting for The Heard Citizen then came forth to the podium to make a public comment about his appointment to the Downtown Development Authority by Mayor Teresa Chapman.

Mr. Massa stated that while he did appreciate his appointment by the Mayor that she had not discussed this with him at all and that he would respectfully decline the appointment.

Massa stated that he may have considered the appointment had the Mayor discussed it with him beforehand, but under these circumstances, he would pass. He pointed out that he had even had a phone conversation with the Mayor in prior days, but that she had made NO mention of it at all.

He added that it was very important to him as a member of the local media to be fair-minded in his reporting, and that obviously this would be a conflict of interest if he, in the future, needed to report something negative or critical of the authority. The board then voted to adjourn the meeting.

After the meeting, Mr. Massa made the following statement: “I was very surprised by what took place at the meeting tonight. I had no idea that the Mayor would be appointing me to the board. While I do appreciate the fact that Mayor Chapman thinks I would be good for the job, I do not appreciate her putting me on the spot in that way during a public meeting. I hope that in the future she thinks long and hard before making such a bold move. First and foremost, I am unsure if I feel that it would be proper for me accept this position as a member of the local media. Secondly, I do not feel that I should be eligible for this appointment because I am not even a resident of the City of Franklin. Finally, I would never accept an appointment under such “ambush” circumstances. Although I did find myself chuckling about it at the time it was indeed a bit unnerving that, for the first time in my life, I felt as if I might actually really be on an episode of candid camera.”

Comments

  1. you should go for it Russ…

  2. Jerry King says:

    It is my opinion that someone should make a sitcom using the city council as the premise for the show. I liken it to reading the comics in the Sunday paper.

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