Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Video Update: The 2/21/2012 Council Meeting, Council tells Arriola repay the money and you gotta go.

(Update 2)
Here is the complete video of last night's meeting.

This is a short meeting.
See 4:27 to see  Brady Banks slip in and takes his seat behind Ronnie Stein who is delivering a committee report.
To skip the boring stuff go to  17:56. That  is the start of  discussion of the two resolutions concerning John Arriola.  The first one is the resolution by Councilman Robert Duvall calling on Arriola to resign and the second one is by Councilman Charlie Tygard calling on Arriola to return the marriage license fees he collected.

(Update 1)
Brady Banks who was recently arrested in a police prostitution sting operation arrives for the Council meeting. He left early avoiding the press.

Robert Duvall moved his motion calling for Arriola's resignation. He recited the problems with Arriola's management and said the list "speaks for itself." Charlie Tygard takes the floor saying, "I rise in support out of sheer frustration." Metro Council passed the resolution calling on Arriola to resign! The vote was 25-5-7.

 Next the Council took up Tygard's bill asking Arriola to return wedding fees and the resolution was approved by voice vote. 

(Original post with revisions)
Tygard and Arriola's attorney engage in heated exchange. 
Brady Banks a no-show.

So far, Brady Banks is a no-show at tonight's Council meeting. He was not present for the Rules Committee. Banks has issued no statement and it is unknown if he has hired an attorney to represent himself.

In the Council's Rules Committee, the Committee interviewed attorney Jon Ray Clemmons, who is in line to take Katy Varney's spot on the fair board. Councilman Tony Tenpenny, who has been a vocal advocate for keep the fairgrounds, asked Clemmons about his experience with fairs. Clemmons said he had worked with fairs and had ran the goat show at the Wilson County fair. Councilman Mitchell asked Clemmons about his organizational skills from past work experiences.

The Committee took up Robert Duvall's resolution calling for Arriola to resign. Arriola's attorney Bryan Lewis spoke on behalf of Arriola and said the clerk's office has adopted 10 to 11 of the comptroller's audit's findings. He asked the committee to defer again this resolution which was deferred last Council meeting, until District Attorney Johnson releases the findings of his investigation.

Councilman Barry asked the Council's attorney,  Jon Cooper, what was the mechanism for ousting a constitutional officer. Cooper explained there was no recall option. The Council can only ask the Department of Law or the DA to initiate ouster proceedings. The grounds for ouster are malfeasance in office.

Councilman Charlie Tygard asked Arriola if he would speak and answer some questions, but Arriola's attorney, Bryan Lewis, said he would not permit his client to testify. Tygard asked Lewis if Arriola had paid taxes on the fees he collected for performing wedding ceremonies and Lewis said Arriola had filed a proper income tax return. Apparently it got quite heated in the committee room with raised voices. Reporter Joey Garrison of City Paper tweeted, "CM Steine has to intervene to stop the back and forth yelling between Lewis and Tygard."

There was a lot of questioning about the return of the marriage fees which is the subject of Tygard's resolution. Lewis argued that Tygard's resolution should be withdrawn because Arriola had already offered to return any fees from anyone who was not pleased and wanted a refund. Council Duvall said he did not believe Arriola had advertised his offer to refund fees and Lewis said he did not say they had advertised it. Council Tygard said he would pay the postage and printing of a postcard to notify the 3,000 couples who had paid $40 each for wedding ceremonies that a refund was being offered. Lewis said he had no authority to accept such an offer.

Tygard's resolution calling for Arriola to return all the fees he had collected for performing weddings was put to a Committe vote and failed. The vote was 0 for, 1 against and 8 abstentions (0-1-8). The one vote against was from Councilman Anthony Davis.  

Why were there 8 abstentions?  We should  expect the members of the Committees to make a recommendation one way or the other. How can the Council relay on the committees to offer them guidance if the committee won't vote? Is it simple cowardliness and fear of going on the record or is there some legitimate reason why 8 of 9 committee members abstained? Below is a list of those who serve on the Rule Committee:
Ronnie Steine – Chair
Brady Banks
Megan Barry
Anthony Davis
Tim Garrett
Erica Gilmore
Chris Harmon - Vice Chair
Jason Holleman
Lonnell Matthews
Bo Mitchell
Sandra Moore

Councilman Josh Stites tweeted, "Just a reminder that as an elected official I am able to officiate your wedding. Only gratuity I need is naming rights to your firstborn." I like that. This calls for a little humor.

Joey Garrison tweeted that, "Radio talk show host Carol Boyd is shouting at Arriola outside the council chambers. 'You are a disgrace!' Boyd yells."

The above was assembled from live tweets from various people mostly those of Joey Garrison of the City Paper, Michael Cass of the Tennessean, Phil Williams of Channel 5, and Sky Arnold of Fox17, and from watching the live streaming on Metro Channel 3. Updates to follow

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