Attorney:Locked city meeting was ‘inadvertent’

Published 11:02 pm Thursday, December 18, 2008

FRANKLIN—Some eyebrows were raised Saturday when citizens were locked out of the City Council’s two-day planning session held at the Business Incubator — an inadvertent mistake, one city official said. Since the meeting was held in open session, citizens should have been allowed to listen in.

“I tried the door, but it was locked,” said resident Thomas Councill Jr. “I was thinking, they want to do right, they want the door open. So I called the police dispatcher to get someone to come open the door.”

Councill said the dispatcher told him there was nothing that could be done to open the doors.

City Attorney Taylor Williams called the incident an “unfortunate circumstance.”

Williams said the officials in the planning session unlocked the door so the public could get in, but tenants at the Incubator likely kept locking the door because they weren’t aware of the session.

“It was an inadvertent situation,” Williams said. “They didn’t realize what was happening.”

Vice Mayor Raystine Johnson said she thought it was odd that no citizens showed up to the public meeting on Saturday.

“I did notice no citizens were present on Saturday, but they were allowed to come since it was a public meeting,” she said.

Unapproved minutes and an agenda released from the meeting revealed most of the council’s time was spent in team-building exercises where members shared events that shaped their lives and values.

The council also developed operating guidelines meant to maximize the effectiveness of working relationships among the mayor, council members and city staff members.

Johnson was pleased with the session, but said the council must now get to work.

“I think it was important to find out that all of council was basically on the same page about ways to improve the city,” Johnson said.

“We had a lot of great ideas. Now it’s up to us to put them in place.”

Councilman Barry

Cheatham agreed.

“I think it went really well,” he said. “I think we have a good game plan in place about how to move the city forward.”