Blue Plate Special - Hash & Re-hash JR's Job!
By: Pat Hunter
April 28, 2009
Lenoir City Council meetings usually don't take long since Council usually agrees on most things except for who should run the Recorder-Treasurer's office; an appointee recommended by a City Judge approved by Council or Bobby Johnson, JR. duly elected by the people.
First item on Mondayís April 27th Lenoir City's meeting agenda was "Consideration of City Council re-establishing the Court Clerk position to Recorder-Treasuryís office - Bobby Johnson, Jr." Lenoir City Council served hash and rehash when it came to reestablishing the Court Clerk position to the Recorder-Treasurerís office. Not in attendance was Councilman-School Board member Mike Henline or Judge Terry Vann.
Treasurer - Recorder Bobby Johnson, JR spoke about when he campaigned for office and how he told people that if elected he would ask Council "to get things back." He was referring to restoring the duties of Recorder-Treasurer in accordance to the Charter. First a legal opinion was obtained by MTAS, he told Council. MTAS is the Municipal Technical Advisory Service, which provides technical services to municipalities. Then Council wanted a legal opinion from the Attorney General, which was obtained in January 2009. He waited because he wasn't comfortable but that gave him an opportunity to get training and learn more about his department. Based on the two legal opinions and the Charter, he was now asking Council to get his duties back. Johnson, JR. also referred to the referendum ballot when over 80 percent of city voters voted against an amendment to the City Charter that proposed to change the position of Recorder from a popularly elected position with a 4-year term to a position appointed by and serving at the pleasure of City Council.
Councilman Aikens wanted to know if he was having any problems now. He responded no but he worried about something happening and he wanted complete oversight since the responsibility would fall on him.
Councilman Eddie Simpson and Councilman Tony Aikens were the most vocal about the subject. Councilman Simpson reiterated the facts as he knew them. He spoke about the clerk resignation and Judge Vann's recommendation and how Council had to appoint someone. The Charter clearly states that Mr. Johnson is responsible and have the title and he wanted the public to know why Council took the previous action but things were different now. Do we have the right stuff to act on this tonight, he asked.
City Attorney also spoke about the matter and asked for direction from Council. He also admitted that he had put together an opinion back in January but that he never gave to Council.
Councilman Tony Aikens asked City Attorney Littleton how much trouble it would be to file a lawsuit in Chancery Court. Attorney Littleton said that it wouldn't be difficult. He spoke about the Attorney General Opinion was just that, one man's opinion and to settle the matter, it might be a good idea to get the Chancellor's ruling, thought Aikens.
Johnson JR spoke about the various legal opinions, which Council requested and then complained about when it wasn't what some Council members wanted to hear. I don't want to ruffle any feathers but this opinion isn't good enough or that opinion isn't good enough, what about the next opinion?
Mayor Brookshire said that the Court didn't have to decide. Council could decide but it would take an Ordinance to undo an Ordinance but it couldn't be done at the meeting because there was no Ordinance to review.
"I just want to put it to bed and put it to bed, the right way" commented Councilman Aikens.
Conflict of interest - Johnson & Johnson
Councilmen Tony Aikens, Gene Hamby, Bobby Johnson, SR., Recorder-Treasurer Bobby Johnson, JR.
Councilman Bobby Johnson Sr. agreed to amend his original motion to postpone agenda item number one and to draft an Ordinance to restore the duties of the Treasurer-Recorder.
Councilman Aikens asked who made the motion and Johnson replied, "I did." Aikens brought up the subject of conflict of interest, which was precipitated by Councilman Bobby Johnson, Sr.ís motion. Councilman Aikens called for a Point of Order, I want an opinion, if we're going to do this the right way. A Point of Order is a question as to whether a proceeding is allowed by parliamentary procedure. Aikens explained how he had a problem with Johnson, Sr., voting on the motion pertaining to his son, Bobby Johnson, JR., but also with any matter involving your son's office. Councilman Johnson Sr. quickly withdrew his motion.
Mayor Brookshire asked for a motion be re-stated by another Council member. Councilman Eddie Simpson made the motion, seconded by Councilman Hines for Lenoir City Council to postpone item one on the agenda and that an Ordinance be drafted by the City Attorney for City Councilís review for the next Council meeting. Councilman Simpson also requested that copies of procedures followed in the past be provided to Council. All voted Aye with Councilman Johnson, Sr., abstaining.
Does JR get to be the Recorder - Treasurer after all - stay tuned for the rest of the story...