OTHER COUNCIL BUSINESS
The City Council also unanimously gave Mayor Andy Berke the green light to purchase the former Harriet Tubman public housing site for $2.6 million.
Chattanooga Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem wants to sack the city’s transportation director because the councilman believes he was called a “crook.”
In a letter to Director Blythe Bailey on Tuesday, Hakeem said he will ask the City Council to defund Bailey’s position.
Hakeem wrote: “The fact that you took your unprofessionalism and disrespect of me to the next level to attempt to soil my credibility says that you are unmanageable and a loose cannon that should be eliminated from local government.”
Last week, Bailey questioned whether Hakeem’s proposal to funnel money into a private taxi company violated the city’s purchasing policy. The email was in response to Hakeem’s invitation for Bailey to attend a meeting with Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority, the City Council and Millennium Taxi cab owner Tim Duckett to talk about a proposal to partner with Millennium.
Mayor Andy Berke’s chief of staff, Travis McDonough, defended Bailey and said the administration wouldn’t allow personal agendas to dictate decisions.
“We are confident we have the best people in place to implement sound policy to benefit the entire city and not let personal agendas drive decisions,” he said in a prepared statement.
At the end of the City Council meeting Tuesday, Hakeem called for a Human Resources meeting next week to talk about what Bailey said in his email.
Hakeem also asked to deffer a City Council vote Tuesday to decide whether to pass a key initiative within the Transportation Department led by Bailey called complete streets. He said the reason for his decision was because he has multiple questions for Blythe and doesn’t know whether the ordinance would help his district.
“I can’t tell you how it’s going to benefit my district,” Hakeem said.
Councilmen Ken Smith and Larry Grohn also opposed the current ordinance that will redefine ways residents use city roads. But they said they thought the ordinance was incomplete.
After the vote to defer the ordinance, Hakeem said he sees the issues separate from his desire to have Bailey fired.
Instead Hakeem said he believes Bailey has not addressed the needs of the inner city and he hasn’t been able to get information he’s requested from the Transportation Department.
“For too long the people in the inner cities interests have gone unnoticed,” Hakeem said. “We’ve tried to put things on the table that haven’t been addressed.”
McDonough said the Transportation Department has done a great job in it’s first 11 months of existence.
“Over the past 11 months, the Transportation Department has been connecting neighborhoods to each other, people to opportunity, and businesses to markets,” he said.
Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at email@example.com or 423-757-6659.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...