Grohn Hits Berke Administration As COO Kean Departs; Chairman Hakeem Says Grohn "Went Over The Line"

Thursday, October 24, 2013

City Councilman Larry Grohn, noting that city COO Andrew Kean is leaving after six months on the job, on Thursday hit the administration of Mayor Andy Berke  "for its complete lack of transparency, all sorts of arm twisting and personal witch hunts."

Councilman Grohn questioned an upcoming resolution for a $96,000 expenditure with the PFM financial management firm.

He said, "Mr. Kean was brought in here to install outcome-based budgeting, but now we are having to pay PFM to finish the job. He was brought in from Rock City at a young age with little experience, and I don't think he was up to the task."

The councilman said the proposed budget work "comes just four and a half months before we are supposed to get the next city budget."

Councilman Grohn said of the PFM contract, "Here is a firm that the city did business with 10 or 12 years ago and now we are saying we are giving them a 'continuing' contract without a bid. This is a firm that Mayor Berke's wife worked under the local PFM operator, and it doesn't pass the smell test." Officials in the mayor's office noted that Ms. Berke worked for David Eichenthal when he was at the Ochs Center, not at PFM.

He noted that PFM earlier got $100,000 from the city to work on the fire and police pension fund issue.

Councilman Grohn said he initially had been unable to get any information about the status of Mr. Kean from the administration.

He said, "The last city administration was not transparent and this one is even worse. And it is just as vindictive."

City Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem praised Mr. Kean and said Councilman Grohn "went over the line" in his remarks about him and the Berke administration.

The chairman said, "I am extremely disappointed in the remarks of my colleague, and I am going to have a conversation with him about it."

Chairman Hakeem said, "I think the council as a whole treats each other very respectfully and we expect that to carry carry over to the general government as well."

He said Councilman Grohn should have not brought the mayor's wife into the issue and it should have been "based on the facts".

Chairman Hakeem called Mr. Kean "an asset to the city." He said, "We all have been here just six months, and I think we have accomplished a doggone lot in that short time."

He said the Berke administration "has been very transparent. I don't know of a single question that we have asked them about the budget that they have not answered." 

He said he does not believe other council members agree with the Grohn remarks.

Travis McDonough, chief of staff, said, "We work extremely closely with all councilpersons to ensure they have the best and most accurate information, especially as it pertains to their districts. I believe the council persons would agree that this is a priority of the Berke Administration. Unfortunately, Councilman Grohn appears to be more focused on making false statements about this administration and our approach to Budgeting for Outcomes than paying attention to the issues facing the community.”


Alexander Comments On Passing Of Scotty Probasco

Senator Lamar Alexander released the following statement on the passing of Scotty Probasco: "Scotty Probasco was Chattanooga's cheerleader, a vigorous and generous advocate for so many good causes. I am especially grateful for his service on our state's governing board for higher education. He was a close friend. Honey and I will miss him greatly." (click for more)

Chattanooga Police Investigate 1 Robbery, 7 Burglaries April 11-15

The Chattanooga Police Department investigated one robbery and seven burglaries in the period April 11-15. The robbery was at: 300 CHERRY ST 4/12/15 0:01 120 120 ROBBERY 3 37402-   The burglaries were at:   709 Old Dallas Road 4/11/15 17:30 220 220 BURGLARY/BREAKING AND ENTERING 3 37405- 2506 CHAMBERLAIN AVE 4/11/15 13:40 220 220 BURGLARY/BREAKING ... (click for more)

Proud Of Hometown Boy Turned Global Leader, Bob Corker

Time Magazine has it right.  Not only is Chattanooga’s own U.S. Senator Bob Corker one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” but he is probably now the most prominent leader in the history of our city.   At a time of extreme frustration with Washington and Congress in general, Bob continues to rise above the division and rancor to build consensus and solve ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Great Work, Ol’ Pro!

Years ago I was lucky enough to be the seatmate of Scotty Probasco on an airplane bound for somewhere and he taught me a word that has helped me be a much better person than I ever thought I could. We were already swell friends, since he’d watched me grow up at First Presbyterian Church every Sunday with his kids, and he liked some of the stuff I tried to write back then. So ... (click for more)

Geno Phillips Wins Third Chickamauga Chase 15K Title

There was almost an event for everyone Saturday morning in the 47 th running of the Chickamauga Chase. As has been the case from the beginning, there was the 15K main event that attracted 373 finishers while another 392 took part in the 5K.   And yet another 126 decided to stay off the road and participate in the eight-mile trail run. And while weather in recent days ... (click for more)

Bennifield, Warren Key Players in UTC Spring Game

According to UTC football coach Russ Huesman, the annual Spring Game is about staying away from injuries, get a good look at the younger guys who are fighting for playing time, and more pass plays than running the ball.   The White Team defeated the Blue Team 6-0 on a pair of field goals by junior Henrique Ribeiro.       Players of the Game: Sophomore ... (click for more)