East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert on Thursday night had a police officer escort East Ridge City Judge Arvin Reingold from the East Ridge City Council meeting.
The mayor had instructed Judge Reingold to stop addressing the council, saying he had been given 10 minutes - five minutes more than the allotted time. The judge kept talking, saying, "You just don't want to hear what I have to say."
Mayor Lambert said, "I am going to ask you to sit down. If I have to ask a police officer to escort you out, I will.
When the judge did not sit down - saying he was "just warming up - the mayor had a police officer lead him from the room.
Judge Reingold came back into the room a short time later and chatted with a number of individuals, joking with them. When he got in the vicinity of Public Safety Commissioner Eddie Phillips, the same officer who had led him out came over to the judge. Mr. Phillips said later there was no confrontation with the judge, and he had notified him through an officer that he could come back in the council room. Judge Reingold, during a break in the meeting, went up to Mayor Lambert and had a conversation with him.
The judge had begun his remarks by saying he was "tired of disparaging remarks about the court and the clerk's office." He said he had read in the council meeting that Mr. Phillips said the police "have issues with the judge and the clerk's office."
Judge Reingold said, "The court and the clerk's office have been lambasted long enough." He said any issues should be brought straight to him. He gave out his home and office phone numbers to the crowd.
He said problems for the court and clerk's office had begun when on Sept. 4 City Manager Tim Gobble became upset about the handling of a case in which his daughter was the victim of an armed robbery.
The judge said Mr. Gobble went to the clerk and chastised in a public place.
Judge Reingold said he had himself told Mr. Gobble that his daughter would not have to be present for a Sept. 11 hearing in the case.
He said he and the clerk's office had been attacked on the city's Facebook page.
The judge said, "This bickering has got to stop if we're going to have an honorable city and one we're proud to live in."
Also in the stormy session lasting over four hours counting the agenda meeting, citizen Frances Pope asked Mayor Lambert when there would be a decision on the issue of whether Mr. Gobble had violated the personnel policy in the hiring of a 19-year-old church friend for a $35,000-per-year post working closely with him.
Mayor Lambert said he was looking into the issue and would have an answer later.
City Attorney Hal North said, in a case where a job description was altered, he would have recommended the position be readvertised. The initial job description called for 3-5 years of office administration.
Mr. Gobble said he had gotten a written legal opinion from former City Attorney John Anderson that the hiring of Chris Clabough "was according to all rules and regulations and was done legally."
Councilman Marc Gravitt said, "This issues has come up three or four times and we are just now hearing about this letter?"
Several citizens called for the city to act to purchase recycle cans for 80-90 citizens who are on a waiting list, saying the program is popular and it saves the city on landfill disposal costs.
Mr. Gobble said the city had bought additional cans with the $10,000 approved earlier by the council. He said he needed approval from the council to go above that amount. He said, "We've already spent $150,000 on recycle cans. I expect the council will approve additional money and we'll buy the cans."
The council tabled resolutions to spend $40,000 for new electronic sign boards at the Community Center by City Hall and for Camp Jordan and to spend $80,000 for baseball and softball field improvements at Camp Jordan.
The council approved a budget amendment to cover $100,000 in employee "bonuses" voted at the previous meeting.
The council again discussed the $180 per year sanitation bill, which this year is tacked onto the property tax bill. One couple said they had no advance notice of the bill and did not budget for it. They said they were advised it is due at the end of February.
Mr. Gobble said the city could take partial payments in such a situation. He also said that notices would not go out to those who don't pay until after the end of June. The $180 covers July 2012 through June 2013.
The city manager said the city needs to take in $1.4 million to cover sanitation costs. Susan Bedwell of the trustee's office said most citizens appear to be paying the fee. She said mortgage companies are also cooperating though she said some did not notice the item and did not initially pay it.
She said about $890,000 has come in thus far.