published Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

City judges lash out at mayor

by Cliff Hightower

Two city judges criticized Mayor Ron Littlefield on Tuesday for suggesting that their courtrooms be moved out of the courthouse.

The city administration fired back, saying the judges' jobs might be eliminated.

City Judges Russell Bean and Sherry Paty confronted the City Council's Legal and Legislative Committee on Tuesday about Littlefield's suggestion that the courts and the City Court Clerk's office move from the Hamilton County Courthouse.

"I hope you will not stand by and let one person single-handedly destroy something that is working," Paty told committee members.

Littlefield was not present for the meeting, but Richard Beeland, the mayor's spokesman, said there are no plans set in stone to move anything.

But he added that, besides looking at moving the judges, there is the possibility of eliminating one judge's position or eliminating both judges and letting the General Sessions Court take over their workload.

City officials said they might see up to $50,000 in savings by moving the facilities, but could not provide details on where the savings would come from.

Littlefield announced almost three months ago that he was thinking about moving the court clerk's office to City Hall. That could also mean moving the judges, but not necessarily to City Hall, city officials said Tuesday.

Bean and Paty said Tuesday they believed the mayor might be eyeing the old Tennessee American Water building at the corner of 10th and Lindsay streets. They said they believe the city is spending money to renovate the building in an attempt to move the city courtrooms into them.

Beeland didn't deny that the Tennessee American building, which is owned by the city, is a possible destination for the courtrooms, but he said anything discussed now is premature because the mayor's office still is studying the cost savings for all options.

"It seems like the judges and the council have the cart before the horse," Beeland said.

He acknowledged that construction work is taking place at the building but called it routine maintenance.

Paty presented the committee, which is made up of all council members, with a list of reasons why moving into the Tennessee American building would not work.

She said the rooms in the old water building were too small and could present a fire code problem if crowds were large. The building also would be unsafe for transporting prisoners in and out of the courtroom and might be a problem for handicapped people needing access to the courtroom, she said.

She and Bean also said they see no way the city could save money with the move because it would have to pay all utilities in the building, instead of sharing the costs with the county, as it does now at the courthouse.

They also said there could be the added expense of hiring more security personnel, because some of their security is provided by the county.

Bean held up an old Chattanooga News Free Press article from the 1990s when the new courthouse opened. In the story, then-City Council Chairman Littlefield called the building a "one-stop shop for area lawbreakers" and a "monument to city-county togetherness," Bean said.

Bean and Paty called on the council to investigate the matter, find out where any money to renovate the water building was coming from and immediately stop the mayor from proceeding.

"This is the council's call," Bean said.

Council members said they would call a special committee meeting and ask the administration to provide costs for renovations and any potential moves.

"Are we benefiting?" asked Councilman Russell Gilbert. "Based upon what I'm hearing now, it could be more expensive."


City Attorney Mike McMahan announced Tuesday during the Public Works Committee meeting that his investigation of Citywide Services Director Jimmy Templeton should be completed by next week. The committee was set to hear from Templeton concerning allegations made against him in an audit by City Auditor Stan Sewell. The audit said Templeton conducted city business with companies that employed three of his family members. Council members said they would wait until next week to hear Templeton's side of the story after the city attorney's inquiry is complete.

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jpo3136 said...

We have not seen any recent evidence that Mayor Littlefield is capable of making rational evaluations of Owner's Equity in a budget. Not only does he not meet the state's requirements for managing municipal budgets of Chattanooga's size, but he has actively created several failures.

With a 47 million dollar Police budget, Mayor Littlefield has failed to support the rolling of police patrol cars throughout the area. His take-home car fiasco is an embarrassment to providing basic protective services throughout the entire area.

I am surprised that adjacent jurisdictions have not sued him for failing to fulfill the City of Chattanooga's half in mutual support agreements for police protection.

Meanwhile, he continues to provoke the creation of a buyout/leaseback outsourcing scheme for those patrol cars.

Now, he intimidates the judiciary by threatening to fire them if they do not comply with his wishes for office space. How petty.

I wonder if they will be able to adequately concentrate on cases, despite the Mayor's open and self-serving intimidation tactics. Perhaps he is trying to manipulate a case? Or, maybe he wishes to cultivate a general groundwork for favorable decisions in his future?

We don't know, but it is below our expectations to hear of the Mayor threatening or intimidating a judge through paycheck withholding and termination, as described above. Let's hope it's an inaccurate summary.

Perhaps Mayor Littlefield would like to enlighten us with his estimates for securing those courtrooms, which would mean the operation of a duplicitous weapons detection and screening area.

They don't make robo parking meters or key card garage door openers for that.

Maybe the courts should keep as they are unless the people vote otherwise.

February 2, 2011 at 12:56 a.m.
Allison12 said...

Littlefield's actions are highly irratic, and illogical. Is he all there?

February 2, 2011 at 8:03 a.m.
dendod said...

Somebody tell Littlefield that he's not king of Eqypt. Wake up Chattanooga. Littlefield must dream this crap he comes up with. How about a little more reality injected into his plans.

February 2, 2011 at 9:19 a.m.
BOOBOO99 said...

Ron Littlefield needs to be ousted like the Egyptian 's Leader.. The People of chattanooga needs an uprising against him to show the citizens are still in charge.IF the people dont stand up against these threats made by the mayor and the Chattanooga goverment they will rule us like puppets..So dont complain when you dont like SOMETHING that has been done by the City government..TAKE ACTION! Citizens shall have the last word.

February 2, 2011 at 9:26 a.m.
Gilligan said...

Littlefield finally grew some cajones! Emboldened by the recall failure, thanks to a Judge who was incompetent!

February 2, 2011 at 10:19 a.m.
MountainFire said...

Would you really expect anything more from a man like Littlefield? He only cares about himself and nobody else which was made PAINFULLY obvious with the take home car fiasco. He needs to just go ahead and resign.

February 2, 2011 at 2:44 p.m.
Allison12 said...

MountainFire The recallers tried to force the Worse Mayor Evers resignation, and he filed a lawsuit to keep his job. You see these crooks have access to our hard earned tax money. It will take another recall to get Littlefield out.

February 2, 2011 at 3:28 p.m.
reynolds6842 said...


February 2, 2011 at 4:17 p.m.
cinderella said...

Wasn't it Judge Paty that bucked King Littleman by bringing to light his demand that The Pet Company be closed down via her recusel from the case? Now he is threatening to let one or both of the judges go? You don't buck him EVER! He is an out of control thug.

February 2, 2011 at 7:25 p.m.
heneh said...

Why wasn't there an investigation into the e-mails he sent the Judge, while the trial was going on, trying to influence the outcome?

February 2, 2011 at 8:07 p.m.
midnitewatchman said...

A barrage of attacks on the legal enviroment yet... check out the names and salaries on this article?

Missy and Margie Crutchfield? Hmmmmm..

February 2, 2011 at 10:18 p.m.
hambone said...

I don't live in Chattanooga or Hamilton County for that matter. And glad of it!

You folks need to run Littlefield out of town on a rail! ASAP

February 2, 2011 at 10:53 p.m.
Allison12 said...

As I understand Missy is Margie Crutchfield at Chattanooga, but is Missy O'Shea in the adult film, New York Nights.

Of course, the City released the salaries as a PR damage control.

February 2, 2011 at 10:55 p.m.
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