Hamilton County Commission decides Larry Ables to remain chief magistrate

Hamilton County Commission decides Larry Ables to remain chief magistrate

October 26th, 2011 by Ansley Haman in News

Larry Ables, Hamilton County's chief magistrate, speaks to commissioners about a security and correction report during a Hamilton County Commission meeting in this file photo.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.


* Hamilton County received a bid for a 2.737 percent true interest cost on an $86 million bond issue. The rate, which will save the county more than $2 million, is a 9.3 percent savings.

* Commissioners will take up an amendment to its redistricting plan next week. They also will vote whether to hold the March primary along newly drawn lines.

* Commissioners also will vote next Wednesday whether to authorize Mayor Jim Coppinger to enter an agreement with the City of Chattanooga for geotechnical and geoenvironmental work necessary to design the Homeless Health Care Clinic.

POLL: Do you agree with the commissioners' decision to keep Chief Magistrate Larry Ables in his current post?

Document: Letter regarding staffing issues at Hamilton County Jail

Letter regarding staffing issues at Hamilton County Jail.

Hamilton County Chief Magistrate Larry Ables is keeping his job.

After the County Commission deadlocked 4-4 last week on whether to retain Ables as chief, Commissioner Tim Boyd returned from a trip to cast the deciding vote for him on Tuesday.

"I feel like I do a good job and that they did the right thing," Ables said after Tuesday's meeting. "For a whole year I never had any complaints about anything, so I'm not sure where the idea to get rid of me came in."

Ables, who is in his third term as chief, came under fire in August after writing a letter to Sheriff Jim Hammond questioning jail staffing.

Then in an August county commission meeting, commissioners Joe Graham and Greg Beck questioned the way Ables presented his concerns.

Commissioners deadlocked 4-4 last week in two separate ballots. Boyd was absent at the time, so the body opted to defer the vote until Boyd could break the tie.

Ables is commission Chairman Larry Henry's nephew.

Henry disclosed his relationship Tuesday before voting for Ables. Last week he opted not to make an announcement about the relationship.

"I knew this body was aware of it," Henry said.

In years past, Henry also abstained from voting on magistrate appointments. This year he decided to support Ables because he said Ables has done a good job in his time as chief to increase record-keeping, reduce wait times and prevent complaints.

Attorney Rheubin Taylor reiterated that Henry's vote for Ables did not violate the county's ethics policy.

Commissioners Beck, Boyd, Henry, Warren Mackey and Chester Bankston voted for Ables. Commissioners Jim Fields, Graham, Mitch McClure and Fred Skillern voted for Randall Russell for chief.

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