East Ridge City Council votes to fire City Attorney John Anderson

photo Over 150 people packed the East Ridge City Council meeting Thursday night. Staff photo by Shelly Bradbury
photo John Anderson attends an East Ridge City Council

The East Ridge City Council voted to fire City Attorney John Anderson at the end of Thursday night's 4-hour council meeting with no discussion.

Councilman Jim Bethune made the motion to immediately terminate Anderson's contract, and Councilman Denny Manning seconded.

Bethune then immediately called for the question, which meant none of the councilmen could discuss the reasons for the firing.

The motion passed with a 3-2 vote: Bethune, Manning and new councilman Marc Gravitt voted to fire Anderson, while Mayor Brent Lambert and Councilman Larry Sewell voted against.

Anderson has worked as East Ridge's part-time city attorney since 2008.

Lambert disagreed with Bethune's move to cut off discussion.

"That was pretty bush league," he said. "This is an important item and to cut off discussion is really pretty low."

After the vote, Lambert asked Anderson to end the council meeting with a prayer.

Anderson said he'd enjoyed working as the city's attorney.

"My wife is here tonight and I want to thank her," he said. "If it's been hard on anyone these last five years, it's been hard on her."

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According to Times Free Press archives, because Anderson has a severance package, the city is required to pay him a lump sum that equals three times his monthly salary, based on the average from the previous 12 months. Based on his $158,000 salary in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, that sum would be around $40,000.

This is not the first time Anderson has butted heads with the council. He came under fire in March 2011 for billing the council $250 an hour on top of his $90,000 a year retainer. Manning and Bethune voted to fire Anderson at that time, but were outvoted.

He collected $132,000 in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, according to Times Free Press Archives.

Despite the concerns, the council voted in December 2011 to extend Anderson's contract through 2015. Lambert said at the time that he did not think Anderson was overpaid.