The regular September Crossville city council meeting had moments of anger and shouting between some members as discussions of the hiring of a new city manager came up on the agenda.
In addition, apparent angry words from one council member to one candidate were caught on security video.
L-R, Council members Souza, Wyatt, Mayberry, Harris and Kerley
Councilman Pete Souza asked for the item on the agenda and requested three minutes to speak on the matter, saying he did not want to make a motion. Mayor James Mayberry supported his motion to speak but councilman Jesse Kerley immediate called a point of order saying that a motion to suspend the rules was required as you can't just make a motion to give the floor away.
Kerley looked to city attorney Will Ridley who said that a motion had to be made to do something and then speak to the motion or a motion to suspend the standing rules was needed.
Mr. Souza argued saying, “I've set her over and over when people have made motions and discussed stuff with no action over and over.”
Ridley answered, “The mayor runs the meeting and it's his call. If you want to overrule him, you're welcome to appeal the decision.” Ridley added that to suspend the rules requires a ¾ vote that would need 4 votes for approval.
Full discussion of city manager deadline extension
Souza then moved that the city council not act on the appointment of a city manager until after the upcoming city council election. Mayor Mayberry gave the second. That elicited a point of order from Mr. Kerley saying that the previous motion on hiring the city manager from July needed to be rescinded again.
Mayor Mayberry said, “You all voted out having work sessions and you said that we didn't need work sessions because we needed transparency by doing more things at the council meeting and here we are at a council meeting and we can't discuss items.
After a comment by councilman Danny Wyatt, Mr. Ridley stood to say that if Mr. Souza wanted to restate his motion but before he could finish the statement Mr. Souza jumped in saying, “All I want to do is talk for 3 minutes. That's all I want. I don't even want to do a motion. It is pretty poor when the city elects me to represent them and I'm not even allowed to speak at a council meeting for three minutes? That's pretty ridiculous.”
Souza finally agrees to make the motion and takes the floor. Souza discusses the petition from the candidates for city council in the upcoming election asking that the council put off the hiring until the new council takes offices. Souza says if the current council hires a manager in October, they could be removed by the new council in December at a cost of up to 6 months of salary.
When Souza is through, Mr. Wyatt says there seems to be some confusion, “The action in July didn't say anything about hiring a city manager by this council, just that we were going to accept resumes for 60 days.”
Wyatt continued by making a motion to rescind the previous action and extend the acceptance of resumes to October 15 and those would all be forwarded to MTAS, the Municipal Technical Advisory Service for rating and ranking to be returned to the council by November 15. Council member Pam Harris seconded that motion though Mr. Souza's motion remained on the floor.
Harris then addressed the controversy, “I don't know what in the world has got this all blown out of proportion. Lets use some common sense here, if you take resumes until September 30 and then you turn them over to MTAS, obviously they got to have time to rank them. The whole idea was to get the ball rolling down the road.”
Mr. Souza thanked Mr. Wyatt and Ms. Harris and the motion to extend the deadline to October 15 passed unanimously.
During the time of public comment, council candidate J. T. Brownstead got up to speak and thanked the council for changing the timeline.
City Council Candidate J. T. Brownstead thanks council for the action on hiring city manager.
After the meeting ended, Brownstead tried to go to each council member and thank them individually but got a cold reception from Mr. Kerley. In the video below you can see Kerley refuses to shake hands with Brownstead and then shakes his finger at Brownstead making several comments. According to Brownstead Kerley accused him of making signs for J. R. Blankenship, something Brownstead said he had nothing to do with. Blankenship and Kerley have made numerous accusations against each other for several months. In addition Kerley accused Brownstead of being in the parking lot with Blankenship but Brownstead was in the council chambers sitting with another council candidate Terri Neal Manning instead.
Silent video of interaction between councilman Jesse Kerley and candidate J. T. Brownstead