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.”


PHOTOS: Swearing In Ceremony At Convention Center

Woman Charged With Filing False Report Leading To Amber Alert

A Chattanooga woman has been charged with filing a false report after she falsely said her child was missing, setting off an Amber Alert. At approximately 12:20 p.m., the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 4026 Shallowford Road in reference to a child abduction. Letrice Patterson, 32, the child’s aunt, said her silver 2010 Mercury Muron was stolen and the child was ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)

Fast-Starting Vols Gear Up For Another Mobile QB

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – It’s a new week for Tennessee’s football team, but the challenge that awaits in Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon will be a familiar reminder of the one the Volunteers just completed. The Volunteers have a short week to prepare for Arkansas State, a team much like Utah State, which relies heavily on a dual-threat quarterback and a physical front line. ... (click for more)

Chris O'Brien And Andres Santiago Named To Southern League's Weekly Honors

Tuesday, the Southern League announced that Chattanooga Lookouts’ catcher Chris O’Brien has been named Southern League Player of the Week and pitcher Andres Santiago was named the Southern League Pitcher of the Week for the period of August 25-September 1.  O’Brien is the fourth Chattanooga Lookouts’ position player to earn a weekly accolade from the league this season while ... (click for more)