Alleging that one of its members is disruptive, a city board has taken the unusual step of asking city officials to remove him.
The Oak Ridge City Council will consider the request to remove Pedro Otaduy from the Oak Ridge Beer Permit Board during a Monday evening meeting. Council appoints Beer Board members, and it is the only body that can remove them.
Beer Permit Board Chair Randy Tedford said Otaduy speaks without being recognized by the chair at meetings, argues with other board members, fails to follow proper procedures, and raises issues that aren’t on the agenda. He has also provided legal advice to applicants, which is unlawful when done without a law license and could result in litigation against the board and city, Tedford said in a June 17 letter to City Manager Mark Watson.
“Attempts by myself and other members of the board to rein in Mr. Otaduy’s behavior have been unsuccessful as the behavior either continues during the meeting or the same behavior returns at a subsequent meeting,” Tedford said. “Mr. Otaduy has become an impediment to the board’s work and his behavior has become so obstructive that the board is hindered from functioning effectively.”
But in a telephone interview Sunday, Otaduy denied that he has been disruptive.
“Of course, that isn’t correct,” he said.
He said the city had asked him to resign, which would have kept the disputes from becoming public, but he refused.
He called the actions since then “some sort of a plot pushed by the city administrator and the legal department.”
Otaduy said the Beer Permit Board is anti-business and acts arbitrarily, and it doesn’t follow rules and is not democratic. He alleged the city doesn’t want him at an upcoming “show cause” hearing for a local bar.
Tedford said Otaduy’s actions have made other members uncomfortable, and annoyed or seriously frustrated them. One has been discouraged from participating in board discussions, and another has considered resigning.
“This is more than simply disagreement among members during meetings,” Tedford said. “Mr. Otaduy’s actions are disruptive and disrespectful and have caused the board to no longer work well as a whole.”
In a June 24 letter to Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan and the City Council, Beer Permit Board Secretary William Barton Bailey said he will not serve on the board again when his term ends if Otaduy is still on the board.
“He has turned what I would have previously described as smooth-running and efficient meetings into veritable circuses,” Bailey said.
Otaduy said he is working on responses to the letters from Tedford and Bailey.
“This is really disgraceful,” he said.
Otaduy was appointed by City Council on Dec. 17, 2012, to serve the rest of a term in a vacant seat set to expire Dec. 31. On Sunday, he suggested the board and Council take no action now, but change the whole slate of board members in December.