East Ridge City Manager Tim Gobble on Thursday night urged the East Ridge Council to act quickly to have the city court clerk elected instead of appointed.
He said it could be done next spring in a special election that would cost the city about $10,000.
Mr. Gobble has been highly critical of the administration of longtime Clerk Joanne Thomas since they clashed recently in a matter relating to a case in which his daughter and her male friend were victims of an armed robbery.
Then at court on Tuesday night, attorneys Chris Dixon and Cris Helton said the city manager had injected himself so much into the operation of the clerk's office that a burglary case should be dismissed on grounds that the warrant was not signed "by a neutral and detached magistrate." Special Judge Kevin Wilson has taken the motion under advisement.
Mr. Gobble, at the close of Thursday night's City Council meeting, made a long list of charges regarding the office and said two Internal Affairs probes of the office that he said were initiated by the city police are underway.
He charged that the office misplaces files, botches tapes of hearings and has failed to turn over some $1 million in unpaid fines to a collection agency as directed to do so by the council.
City Attorney John Anderson had a resolution ready to move toward an elected city court clerk, but Councilman Jim Bethune said he was not ready for a vote. He questioned why Mr. Gobble had not brought up the charges against the clerk previously.
Councilman Darwin Branam brought up the idea of the city keeping a traffic court, but turning over other cases to General Sessions Court. But Councilman Bethune said that would require East Ridge officers to have to go downtown for court and rack up overtime.
City Manager Gobble said under a state attorney general's office municipalities with their own courts should elect their court clerks.
He said the elected clerk would be responsible for hiring staff and running the office and would be accountable to the voters. The term would be for four years.
Also in the meeting, two speakers who have been banned from further postings on the East Ridge Facebook page lambasted Mr. Gobble for cutting them off.
Mark Brandt said he was delisted "just because I disagreed. It was nothing vulgar that I wrote." He said, "If I disagree with something the city is doing, I should be able to voice it."
Trae Haggard said she was also cut off by Mr. Gobble for being negative, but she said, "He runs. rampant with his negativity - personally ridiculing and chastising city employees." She said some of her Facebook posts were "extremely petty, extremely arrogant and with a teenage mentality."
Mimi Lowrey, a council candidate, said she was "embarrassed" by some of the Gobble comments on the city page and she questioned "how much time he spends administering this page."
Frances Pope said of the city Facebook page, "I think it needs to be done away with altogether. I don't think it is productive for our city."
She said Mr. Gobble cut her off from posting on the page, then sent her an email saying she could come back "if I was not negative, mean-spirited or antagonistic."
Mr. Gobble said, to show how little time Facebook administration takes, said he took a picture of Ms. Pope speaking to the council and posted it on the page.
Ms. Page said, "I know, and it distracted me."
The city manager said those he bans from the page are those who use curse words or engage in personal attacks "if it happens repeatedly." He said there are about four or five on the banned list - not a dozen.
Mayor Lambert said he believes the page can be valuable such as the city manager snapping a picture of a new business.
Councilman Branam said he agrees with Ms. Pope that the city should drop the Facebook page.