East Ridge fires attorney 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

At the very end of a four-hour meeting, the East Ridge City Council voted with no discussion to fire City Attorney John Anderson.

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 there was no discussion of the reasons for the firing.

The motion passed 3-2: 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 meeting with a prayer.

Anderson said he'd enjoyed working for the city.

"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."

According to Times Free Press archives, because Anderson has a severance package, the city must pay him a lump sum equal to three times his monthly compensation, based on the average from the previous 12 months. Given his $158,000 earnings in the 2010-11 fiscal year, that would be about $40,000.

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Anderson survived a termination vote in March 2011 after 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 2009-10, 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.