Councilman, resident say Housing Authority members should be removed

Published 10:55 am Saturday, September 18, 2010

FRANKLIN—A city councilman and a resident both made calls for council members to be removed from the Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s governing board.

“Their view is skewed,” said Thomas Councill Jr. as he addressed the City Council Monday night.

Currently, Vice Mayor Raystine Johnson and Councilman Benny Burgess serve on the housing authority’s Board of Commissioners.

Councilman Greg McLemore said “many citizens” had expressed concern about council members serving on the housing authority’s Board of Commissioners.

He said it offers “undue influence” for council members to serve as FRHA commissioners when the FRHA comes before the council for direction.

City code allows for council members to serve as FRHA commissioners.

McLemore also accused Burgess of voting as a commissioner to give a contract to one of his business clients. Burgess vehemently denied the claim and said he reviews matters with the attorney before voting to ensure there is no conflict of interest.

“I don’t do anything until I say, “Am I clear?” Burgess said.

Councill also took issue with the burning of the Suburban Gardens apartment complex on Banks Street.

He said the already burned buildings were blighting the neighborhood and those yet to be burned were creating a haven for drug and gang activity.

Johnson said dry weather had caused delays and the next burn at the complex is scheduled for Oct. 9.

“It has been postponed and it does seem like a long time—it is a long time trying to get the whole project done—but it is because of the weather,” she said, adding that debris pickup was set to begin shortly.