Letter: PBA chapter president hopes for fair, thorough investigation of ORPD

Editor’s note: This is a copy of a March 3 letter to Oak Ridge City Council.

Dear Oak Ridge City Council members:

I am honored to communicate with you today regarding a very important issue affecting the members of the City of Oak Ridge Police Department. Many of them are affiliated with the Knox County Chapter of the Southern States Police Benevolent Association.

Before I discuss the issue at hand, I want to give you a very brief background regarding the PBA. We are not a union. We do not engage in union activities such as work disruptions or strikes. We are respectful when working with the administrations our officers serve. I’ve found most problems can be resolved if both parties come to the table with an open mind and a willingness to compromise.

The law enforcement officers from Anderson, Loudon, Roane, and Knox counties that make up our chapter depend on our local chapter board to monitor situations and protect their interests. Mostly those interests are confined to the following: a fair working environment and returning home safely at the end of a watch. [Read more…]

Letter: Praises Baughn, says City Council needs more like her

To the Editor:

I would like to commend the outstanding job that Trina Baughn is doing on City Council. Of all the members of City Council, she is the most knowledgeable about the city’s massive and rising $186.4 million debt. Trina Baughn understands the history of how this debt was accumulated; she also has developed a strategic plan to help the taxpayers resolve this debt.

While Oak Ridge slipped deeper into debt, past City Councils have wasted and squandered taxpayer funds on law firms in Washington, D.C., to lobby for more money for Oak Ridge’s government facilities, as if lobbying rather than the qualifications of local scientists could swing federal funding to Oak Ridge. The taxpayers derived zero benefit from those lobbyist payments or the largesse City Council has bestowed on the Chamber of Commerce over the years. [Read more…]

Guest column: Moving forward in Oak Ridge

With the recent uproar centered around the Police Department in our rear view mirrors, I think it is important to review what was accomplished and why.

The decision to perform a functional audit on the Police Department is a good step especially when taken in context. These kinds of audits focus on best practices, applied over the department’s field of responsibility that need to be reviewed periodically depending on a department’s complexity and size. Besides just by a calendar rotation, other events to trigger such reviews may include leadership turnover in the department to give incoming management a clean slate of actions and priorities.

I believe that since this door has been opened, it would be wise to broaden it city-wide. Think about whether such an audit could have raised awareness of our lack of proper sewer maintenance over the decades and prevented the rush and financial inconvenience that the mandate from the EPA imposes. [Read more…]

Letter: City willing to address questions, wishes county could say the same

To the Editor:

I can’t help but comment on the difference between our county government and the government of the City of Oak Ridge.

In Oak Ridge, questions have been asked about the city government, and most of the City Council said they had a duty to look into the issues and either address real problems or clear the names of the those being accused of wrongdoing.

Now look at our county government. I have been to too many committee meetings and full commission meetings to even count. We have meeting after meeting where the benches in the room are filled with concerned citizens. Many of us believe there is ongoing wrongdoing and abuse of our tax money in the office of the law director.

I and almost two dozen citizens put our names to paper to officially raise these issues, and there are many more who have given us support or who feel the same way. But no one on county commission seems to care. [Read more…]

Letter: Hensley wants to deny Baughn the right to serve, represent

To the Editor:

I was surprised to hear that Charlie Hensley even has a voice.

That when issues arise and he is not in charge of public discussion of important issues, he tries to silence or sweep things under the carpet.

This is so: That issues have no governing decision to bring the issue into a final end.

That’s like hiring a design firm for a Senior Center, then doing nothing.

The City Council wants everything to be status quo. [Read more…]

Letter: Please consider listening to officers’ concerns

Randy Myers

Randy Myers

Note: This is a copy of a February 2 letter from former Oak Ridge Police Department Officer Randy Myers to the City Council.

I wanted to respond briefly to the articles that have been written about the administration of the Oak Ridge Police Department. My comments are not directed at any one individual but only at the situation itself.

I’ve been in law enforcement for 25 years now. I know firsthand the stress that an administration can cause on their officers, but I wanted to point out something that most either do not know or just won’t bring it out.

No matter what agency you work for, there are issues within that department that some officer will complain about, or they simply just do not like. They may complain a little, but for the most part they move on with their life. [Read more…]

Baughn asks for investigation of police chief; Hensley seeks reprimand of Baughn

Trina Baughn

Trina Baughn

Charlie Hensley

Charlie Hensley

Note: This story was updated at 7:08 p.m.

On one hand is Oak Ridge City Council member Trina Baughn. She’s called for an investigation of the police chief.

On the other is City Council member Charlie Hensley. He wants the seven-member Council to reprimand Baughn.

It’s not clear which side, if either, will prevail during the Monday night meeting of the Oak Ridge City Council.

The two Council members, who have a strained relationship, have dueling resolutions that could be considered on Monday. Either one would require a second from another Council member to be discussed and four votes to be approved.

Both resolutions follow more than one week of accusations and allegations that have roiled and divided the community. They have focused, in particular, on the management of the Oak Ridge Police Department by Chief Jim Akagi and raised questions about the turnover rate and whether it is high. Some of the most blistering criticisms have come from former Oak Ridge Police Chief David Beams, who said he still visits the city. [Read more…]

Oak Ridge city calendar for Feb. 2015: City Council, boards, commissions

Here is the calendar of meetings of the Oak Ridge City Council and boards and commissions for February 2015: [Read more…]

BOE, City Council to tour possible new preschool building

161 Mitchell Road

The Oak Ridge Board of Education and City Council will tour this building at 161 Mitchell Road on Thursday afternoon. It’s a possible new home for the Oak Ridge Preschool.

 

Note: This story was last updated at 8 p.m.

The Oak Ridge Board of Education and City Council will tour a building on Mitchell Road on Thursday afternoon that could be a new home for the Preschool.

Built as a temporary building, the current Preschool on New York Avenue is 70 years old and in need of repairs.

A new School Administration Building and Preschool has been on the city’s wish list for years. But now education officials say the Preschool has to be renovated or vacated by next year in order for the school system to continue to receive federal Head Start funding.

They’ve recommended a long-term lease for the Preschool, with an option to purchase. Oak Ridge Schools has also recommended buying the Chamber of Commerce building for a new School Administration Building and remodeling the G Building at Oak Ridge High School to accommodate administration support services, a “better defined” Alternative School program, and the ROTC program. [Read more…]

Letter: Supports schools’ proposal for Preschool, Administration building

To the Editor:

Kudos to Dr. Bruce Borchers and the school staff for the creative and practical fresh look and proposal for resolving the dilemma of our 71-year-old pre-K and Administration building. I believe this solution is fiscally far more attractive and feasible than any alternatives that were suggested in the past. At this point, I am soundly behind it.

Kudos too, to Parker Hardy and the Chamber for being willing to discuss the possibility of letting their building be part of the plan. [Read more…]

Letter: Asks Council, BOE to work together to approve, fund Preschool plan

To the Editor:

We have a unique opportunity for this community to come together, not just for the good of the schools, but for the good of the people.

The Oak Ridge school system is a big draw for newcomers to the area. When our family chose to relocate to East Tennessee, the Oak Ridge school’s reputation was a large factor in purchasing a home here and joining this community. As our oldest moves through elementary school, I can say this was the best decision for our family.

Oak Ridge is filled with teachers who truly care for their students. And, the Preschool is no different.

The Oak Ridge Preschool is an essential, irreplaceable entity that serves so many families. Two of my children have had the privilege of attending the Preschool and growing through the care of the teachers and staff. [Read more…]

Letter: Chinn wants to be mayor, help attract new families, industries

Rick Chinn

Rick Chinn

City Manager Mark Watson and honorable members of Oak Ridge City Council,

First, I would like to congratulate the new members elected to Council and express my enthusiasm in working with the three sitting members of Council for the coming years. I feel we have a great group of leaders and know that if we work together, we can accomplish some great things for the City of Oak Ridge.

In my opinion, a key to making these great things happen is working together in electing and supporting our new mayor. That said, I would like to officially announce my interest in becoming the new mayor.

I believe the mayor’s position is much more than cutting ribbons and running the monthly meetings. The mayor, in my opinion, is the chief lobbyist of the city.

We are unique from most cities in the fact that our health as a city is tied closely to the choices that are made by both state and federal lawmakers. [Read more…]