Brentwood commissioners argue over ethics following deputy mayor’s censorship attempt
At its May 24 meeting, the city of Brentwood commission discussed censorship procedures. (Wendy Sturges / Community Impact Journal)
For the second consecutive meeting, the City of Brentwood Commission debated the city’s deputy mayor censorship attempt.
During the May 24 meeting, Commissioner Regina Smithson expressed concern over the lack of proceedings regarding the attempted censorship of Deputy Mayor Nelson Andrews on May 10.
At the last commission meeting, Andrews was accused by resident Gerald Witcher of breaking city codes by illegally parking 21 vehicles in green spaces along a road. Andrews is the owner of Andrews Transportation Group, which operates three car dealerships in the city and has undergone renovations in the past year.
“These [city] the codes were designed to keep our roads clean and safe, ”said Witcher. “They are not ambiguous and Nelson Andrews is fully aware of their existence. As commissioner, he ignored them for his own sake of financial gain, and other auto dealers must abide by these regulations just like the rest of the citizens must abide by these rules and regulations.
In response to the charge, Andrews said the cars were parked on the green space due to a combination of rain and a construction delay.
“I would like to offer my sincere apologies to [City Manager] Church [Bednar] and the staff, if there are any among you, felt a kind of undue pressure from me as commissioner during this building process, as I never intended to use my role as commissioner. volunteer, member of the board of directors and city commissioner. to influence one of the processes [during] building, ”Andrews said.
Bednar said he gave Andrews the flexibility to temporarily park the cars during construction.
Witcher said he was also unhappy that the committee voted to nominate Andrews as vice mayor, saying Andrews did not receive enough votes from residents in the 2019 election to justify receiving the post.
Some commissioners have come to Andrews’ defense, citing past events where Witcher has made similar calls to censor former commissioners as well as Witcher’s open disapproval of elected officials.
“In my many years here, I’ve only had two occasions where someone has asked for a commissioner to be sanctioned, and Gerald, you’ve done it both times,” said Commissioner Anne Dunn. “I don’t know the circumstances of Nelson’s case, but I do know Nelson, and I find it hard to believe that he wouldn’t bow if he was told to do so by city ordinances.
Despite comments from city staff and commissioners in his defense, Commissioner Mark Gorman brought forward a motion at the end of the meeting to censor Andrews until his company adheres to city codes and has paid the fines. unpaid.
“As authority figures, we have to hold ourselves to a high level of responsibility,” Gorman said.
The committee voted 3 to 3, with Commissioners Ken Travis, Susannah Macmillan and Gorman voting for, Mayor Rhea Little, Dunn and Smithson voting against and Andrews abstaining. As the vote was tied, the motion was not carried, according to Little.
Although this item was not on the agenda for the May 24 meeting, the issue was raised again during the Commissioners Reports portion of the meeting. Smithson said the no-confidence motion was brought forward inappropriately and without investigation by the town’s attorney.
“I found it incredible that one of the commissioners brought forward this motion without knowing the process,” said Smithson. “It wasn’t necessary what happened. I’m embarrassed, and it could have been sorted out in such a different way.”
City attorney Kristen Corn said the motion did not follow proper city procedures to censor a commissioner because an investigation by city staff is needed before a vote can take place.
“Ethics investigations can be initiated by a complaint, or by me acting on my own if I have information or reasonable suspicion of a violation,” Corn said. “Complaints will only be dealt with if they are in writing, signed by the person making the complaint and submitted to me if it is a complaint against an employee other than the city manager or myself.”
Other things to note
At the May 24 meeting, the City of Brentwood Commission also took the following action:
- The commission postponed an engineering deal for a proposed roundabout for the intersection of Holly Tree Gap and Murray Lane. The intersection is currently a three-way stop, according to city staff. Commissioner Dunn called for the vote on technical approval to be postponed to June 14 to give staff more time to compile data on road accidents at existing roundabouts, which was unanimously approved .
- The committee also approved, at first reading, an ordinance establishing a tax rate for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. According to City Manager Kirk Bednar, the tax rate should be reduced from $ 0.36 per $ 100 of home valuation to $ 0.29 per $ 100 of home valuation. The rate was lowered following the Williamson County tax reassessment, which increased the property’s value.