Crossville mayor, Adams tell two stories about job

Crossville mayor, Adams tell two stories about job

April 8th, 2010 by Chris Carroll and Dan Whisenhunt in Politics Local

Hamilton County Commissioner Curtis Adams says officials with the city of Crossville, Tenn., called him and asked if he would be interested in becoming its next city manager.

But Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham III remembers it differently.

Mr. Graham said Mr. Adams called him on March 8 about Crossville's open city manager position. Previously, Mr. Graham had said he had called Mr. Adams about being city manager.

Mr. Graham confirmed Wednesday that Mr. Adams was the only person interviewed for the position. The job was not advertised, the mayor said.

"The City Council of Crossville makes the decisions of who we're going to interview and who we're not going to interview," Mr. Graham said.

Mr. Adams has said he drove to Crossville on March 9 for a brief interview before the council unanimously voted to approve him that night.

Attempts Wednesday to reach Mr. Adams were unsuccessful.

This is the second time Mr. Adams' story about how he got the Crossville job has come into question.

On Wednesday, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that Mr. Adams received campaign contributions from Crossville Councilman Boyd Wyatt and Crossville Realty President Dean Bennett, who is the brother of Hamilton County Assessor of Property Bill Bennett.

When he announced he was going to work for Crossville, Mr. Adams said he had never met the council members who voted to give him the job. He said Tuesday what he meant was that he did not meet them immediately before the meeting the night he was hired.

Bill Bennett confirmed his brother is a friend of Mr. Adams and said he, too, had contributed to Mr. Adams' campaign.

Dean Bennett and Mr. Wyatt also share a connection. The company Mr. Wyatt retired from, Averitt Express, rents a building in an office owned by Crossville Realty. At the recommendation of Mr. Wyatt, Crossville Realty received a contract from the city of Crossville to lease office space in 2009, Crossville City Council meeting minutes show.

Mr. Graham said he had several conversations with Mr. Adams before voting to hire him, but there were no salary negotiations.

Mr. Graham said he wasn't aware that Mr. Wyatt had contributed $1,000 to Mr. Adams' county commission campaign in 2006. But the mayor said he saw no conflict of interest as it relates to the city's ethics code.

Mr. Graham said he did not remember the specific language of the city's ethics code.

"As far as reviewing the ethics ordinance, we have not done that for several months," he said.

The city code says a voting member shall disclose "any personal interest that affects or that would lead a reasonable person to infer that it affects the official's vote on the measure." It also advises that "the official may recuse himself" from voting.

"What Mr. Wyatt does and what Mr. Adams does as far as running their races is their business," Mr. Graham said. "I'm not particularly interested in that."

Attempts Wednesday to reach Mr. Wyatt were unsuccessful.

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: Finance forms show Adams has Crossville connections

Article: What commissioners will do with Adams' seat is a mystery

Article: Commissioners take turns roasting Adams

Article: Commission debates whether to fill Adams' seat