Chattanooga City Councilwoman Deborah Scott said Tuesday she would like to reopen an investigation of Citywide Services Director Jimmy Templeton and called for the council to transfer an attorney from the City Attorney’s Office to conduct the inquiry.
“I think we’re elected in an oversight capacity,” Scott said. “And I’m concerned we may be overlooking.”
A slew of conflict-of-interest cases involving city employees have popped up over the last year and not all council members agreed where the root of the problem existed.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
Several conflicts of interest cases have come before the Chattanooga City Council over the past year. They include:
City Attorney Mike McMahan charging the city for secretarial services.
Department of Education, Arts & Culture Administrator Missy Crutchfield using city resources for a private website.
Citywide Services Director Jimmy Templeton having involvement in city contracts with a business that employs family members.
Outdoor Chattanooga Director Phillip Grymes working as director of a non-profit agency that helps raise funds for the outdoor program while also being executive director of the program.
Source: Councilwoman Deborah Scott
“I don’t want Jimmy Templeton to be a sacrificial lamb,” said Councilman Jack Benson. “He had managers.”
Templeton faced scrutiny more than a month ago when it came to light that he possibly had involvement with contracts that employed several of his family relatives. A city attorney report released last week said Templeton had not been involved in any wrongdoing.
Scott presented a 40-minute presentation to the council Tuesday during a Budget, Finance and Personnel Committee hearing. She called it: “How is the city of Chattanooga doing on conflict-of-interest issues?”
“The more we have, the more I’m concerned,” she said.
Councilman Russell Gilbert voiced support at re-examining the case.
“I do think the attorney needs to look at it again,” he said.
One of her proposals would move an assistant city attorney from the City Attorney’s Office to work part-time specifically for the council. Councilman Andraé McGary questioned whether the City Charter would allow such a move.
Councilman Peter Murphy also voiced concerns.
“I thought we were here to talk about Mr. Templeton and not shanghai an attorney from the city attorney’s office,” he said.
Scott spent most of her presentation going over Templeton’s case, but also brought up three other past conflict-of-interest cases from the past year.
The council decided to hold off debate on the issue until a later date. Members said they wanted to get an opinion from the city attorney on whether the council could move an attorney from the office.