Note: This story was last updated at 2:30 p.m.
An Oak Ridge official wants the City Council to consider removing Joseph Lee from a city housing board because of his criticism—she called it contempt—for the council members who voted against renewing the controversial traffic camera contract in March.
The City Council will consider removing Lee, who serves on the Oak Ridge Board of Building and Housing Code Appeals, during a Monday, April 14, meeting.
“I was not at all surprised by the 4-3 vote,” Lee wrote in a March 28 e-mail to Council member Anne Garcia Garland, who made the request to consider removing him on Monday. “After all, it was not about safety or the money, it is about the votes. Take the fact that your entire campaign to be elected to city council and combine that with the nut jobs that you are aligned with and cater to, it has been obvious for a very long time that we were never going to hear the end of your whining until you got another shot at this issue.
“The opening line of your Monday monologue said just that. There was no need to lie to us that evening about how this issue has divided the city. This city is divided over the cameras because you and your clan of ‘camera crazies’ have intentionally split this city apart in order to stir up the electorate and turn out votes for your twisted positions. You know that is true. To deny it only speaks volumes to the level of intelligence at which you function.”
The e-mail chain was carbon-copied to Council members, some city officials, and later reporters.
In the e-mail to Garcia Garland, Lee said he was surprised to learn that the “clown car has a comfortable seating capacity of four,” although it wasn’t clear if he was referring to the four members of the City Council who did not vote to renew the Redflex camera contract in a 4-3 vote on March 24.
“You and the clowns put on quite a show,” Lee said. “I have always enjoyed going to council meetings because it’s the best show in town. You kids put on the most pathetic display of lack of leadership and vision that I have ever seen. Not since a previous council years ago started the Mall Wars and damaged retail sales tax revenue in this town have I seen such foolishness. What I saw Monday was not people working together to move our city forward or even sideways but one big giant step in reverse. This was small ball being played in a big way and I am not a happy camper. It would be illogical for any of these characters to think they have done the right thing for our city.”
Lee said that the decision to not renew the contract “blew a $500,000 hole in the annual city budget.” He also took aim at other camera opponents, calling one “the city moron” and another “the village idiot.”
Council does not remove board members very often. But the seven-member body did remove a member of the city’s beer board in July 2013 after two other members of that board said member Pedro Otaduy had been disruptive and argumentative, and turned what had been smooth-running and efficient meetings into “veritable circuses.”
On the Board of Building and Housing Code Appeals, Lee has often been the fiercest critic of Applewood Apartments owner Joe Levitt, who has appeared before the board on issues related to apartment repairs and demolition orders. Lee and Levitt have frequently clashed.
The resolution to be considered by the City Council on Monday would remove Lee from the Board of Building and Housing Code Appeals and positions on any other boards, commissions, or committees appointed or elected by the City Council. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Monday, April 14, in the Municipal Building Courtroom. You can see the agenda here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.