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Board reviews attorney billing


A teleconference between Town Attorney Tom Hale and a “distraught” staff member’s brother became an item of contention at Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, Thursday, March 26.

As first reported on Farragut First Edition at www.farragutpress.com, Hale said the teleconference concerned an incident in which a staff member (apparently Human Resources Manager Janet Curry) “had been treated poorly in her mind and attacked by another staff member.”

“He was a person I know and he knew I was the Town attorney,” Hale said.

“A lot of people who have problems with the Town frequently call me,” he added.

Alderman Tom Rosseel asked Hale if he called the principals involved in the incident to verify facts; Hale said he called the receptionist.


“I was trying to figure out if we would have another threatened lawsuit by a staff member,” he said.

“I am confident the person who caused the event went and spoke to Mr. Palmer,” he added.

“Sue Stuhl [leisure services director] talked to me about the event but I was never contacted by anybody about a complaint,” Palmer said.

“Not everybody makes a complaint when they have a little problem in the workplace. Some people just go and get over it,” Hale told Palmer.

The teleconference was one of several “concerns” Rosseel expressed about a $48,217.20 bill for Kramer Rayson, Hale’s law firm.

“There are several things I had looked at and had concerns with on the Kramer Rayson bill,” Rosseel said.

“There was no indication that Mr. [Dan] Olson or, following that, the acting Town Administra-tor at that time, Mr. [Gary] Palmer, was consulted,” he added. The teleconference occurred the day after Olson announced his resignation as Town Administrator, which was effective Feb. 16.

Rosseel also had an issue with two memos (to Palmer and Public Relations Coordinator Chelsey Riemann) generated from Hale’s office and signed by Mayor Eddy Ford on behalf of the Town.

“I guess I don’t understand why this should have been handled by the Town Attorney, and I don’t understand why the Town Attorney would review a memo from Mayor Ford,” Rosseel said, adding he never saw any memo claiming to be the Town’s stance.

“I didn’t receive a copy of it in advance; there was no review, no discussion, but it went out as if it came from the Board, which it clearly did not, because I never saw it,” Rosseel said.

“I prepared the memo. My office prepared the memo because it was the proper legal response to the complaint that had been made,” Hale said.

“I will not come in here and defer to five people voting on a legal matter like that,” he added.

“I did not suggest that, but I did not see it … there was no discussion of any part of it,” Rosseel said, asking why Ford signed the memo if Hale wrote it.

Hale said the Town Administrator normally signed similar memos, and would have had he not been involved in the situation.

Ford moved to pay the bill in its entirety; Haynes seconded. The vote passed four to one; only Rosseel dissented.

 

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