Signal Weighs Ouster Of Dorsey As Town Manager; Failure To Require MACC Director, Other Employees To Do Their Jobs Primary Reason For Council’s Displeasure, Mayor Says

Sunday, January 12, 2014 - by Judy Frank
Signal Mountain workers spent Saturday afternoon erecting no trespassing signs at a town property that has been vandalized, some council members said, due to lack of vigilance by the town manager
Signal Mountain workers spent Saturday afternoon erecting no trespassing signs at a town property that has been vandalized, some council members said, due to lack of vigilance by the town manager
- photo by Judy Frank
Come Monday night, Signal Mountain town manager Chris Dorsey – hired for that position just six months ago – should find out whether he still has a job.
 
Mayor Bill Lusk confirmed Saturday that several council members, himself included, have profound concerns about what they perceive as Mr. Dorsey’s failure to carry out his responsibilities and are considering firing him.
 
The issue is not listed formally on the agenda of Monday’s night’s regular council meeting, he said, as it was at a heated work session on Friday.
 However, he added, any of the five council members could bring it up during the informal discussion period near the end of the meeting.
 
Attempts to reach the town manager for comments on Saturday were unsuccessful. The woman who answered the phone at his home said he is out of town dealing with family matters.
 
However, she added, he will return in time to report to work on Monday morning and plans to be at the council meeting that night.
 
Mayor Lusk said the situation boils down to the fact that the town manager “has lost the confidence of a majority of the council members.”
 
“I’ve been a manager for most of my all-too-lengthy career,” he said, “and when I mention to someone on my staff  that something needs to be done, I follow up to see that it actually happens.”
 
He is particularly unhappy about two instances where the town manager has not done that, he said.
 
The first, he said, is the persistent resistance of the director of the Mountain Arts Community Center – a town employee – to write grant proposals and fundraise in general.
 
“That is part of her job description,” the mayor said, noting that he himself has repeatedly asked the employee what kind of progress on grant proposals she is making.
 
The invariable answer, he said, is that she’s “working on one.”
 
Annette Allen, another council member, said she believes both the town and MACC supporters “could learn a lot from Bachman,” a former school building in Walden that has been transformed into a community center which is virtually 100 percent self-supporting.

“We should be considering all possible revenue streams,” Mrs. Allen said.

Echoing the mayor, she noted that “Soliciting and writing grants is part of the director’s job description. Grants and fundraising are essential to (paying for) ongoing improvements to the building.”

Neither MACC nor town officials, she said, should “expect taxpayers to pick up the entire tab” for the whopping $1.6 million total in repairs and improvements the community center has told the town the building needs.

Further, she said, “It’s vital that a new Friends (of MACC) group form that can resume fundraising activities . . .  I would like for the MACC board or a new Friends group survey the community to find out what programs citizens would like to see at the MACC. By appealing to a broader base, MACC is likely to draw more financial support from citizen donations.”
 
Not all council members, however, share the mayor’s concerns.

“I support Chris Dorsey 100 percent,” Bill Wallace wrote in a brief and to-the-point email. “The town is fortunate to have someone with Chris' experience and maturity.”
 
Monitoring MACC is not the only area where the town manager has failed to meet council expectations, Mayor Lusk said. For example, he said, although his contract requires that he move to Signal Mountain within a year Mr. Dorsey has shown no sign of doing so.
 
In fairness, however, Mayor Lusk said that reluctance may be due to the fact that he’s known at least since his three-month review in October that a majority of council members was unhappy with his job performance.
 
“At this point (since Mr. Dorsey may lose his job) I’m kind of happy that he hasn’t moved up here,” the mayor said candidly.
 
Another failure on Mr. Dorsey’s part, according to Mayor Lusk, is his lack of monitoring of vandalism of a piece of town property on the brow, near the intersection of South Palisades and Wilder – where some neighbors had talked openly about their desire for a “better view” – that left the area an eyesore pocked with unsightly stumps and felled trees.
 
Neither the city manager nor the employees responsible for oversight of the property bothered to check to see whether the temporary no trespassing signs erected at the site had put an end to the amateurish clear cutting, the mayor said.
 
In the end, he said, it was he himself – alerted to the situation by concerned area residents – who informed Mr. Dorsey that trees and other vegetation were still being cut.
 
As a result, permanent no trespassing signs were posted at the site on Saturday afternoon.
 
At this time, the mayor said Saturday, he personally has no plans to make a motion Monday night that Mr. Dorsey’s employment be terminated. However, he added, he has not ruled out doing so.
 

Mayor Lusk said he discussed his concerns with Mr. Dorsey prior to the Friday meeting – as he has on previous occasions – and told him at that time that if a motion to terminate the city manager was made and seconded, he would vote for it.

Mr. Dorsey was fired as Red Bank city manager after a long tenure there. After he took a job in Florida, East Ridge commissioners wanted to hire him. However, he turned that job down to work for Signal Mountain. 


Man Injured In Drive-By Shooting On Judson Lane

A man was injured Monday night in a drive-by shooting on Judson Lane. At approximately 6:36 p.m., Chattanooga Police responded to the report of shots fired near the 2500 block of Judson Lane. During that investigation a person suffering from a non-life threatening gunshot wound to the right forearm arrived at a local hospital. ·          ... (click for more)

Collegedale Among Cities Fighting Coppinger Plan For Sharing Sales Tax

Collegedale officials said Monday they oppose an effort by County Mayor Jim Coppinger for the county to get a share of sales taxes with the municipalities. Mayor Katie Lamb said she attended a recent municipal meeting about shared sales taxes with the state of Tennessee. Of the 7 percent state sales tax collected by the state, 4.6 percent of 6 percent of the total is given ... (click for more)

Why Is The City Diverting Federal Transportation Funds From Real Need?

The city of Chattanooga and CBL, owner of Hamilton Place Mall, would have the mass of taxpayers believe that improving mall access from the interstate is not impacting us financially.   Namely, CBL has committed to fund the city’s match of $8 million, so they will receive $32 million in Federal Transportation Funds that are allocated annually to local jurisdictions through ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Hero Is Coming Home

In late September, a very special funeral will be held in Bearden, Tenn., when 1 st Lt. Alexander “Sandy” Bonnyman Jr., will finally come home to lie in peace with his family. Sandy’s been dead for 72 years now, ever since he was killed in combat on the Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands on Nov. 22, 1943. He and a number of other Marine heroes were buried back then in a shallow ... (click for more)

NPSL Championship To Be Played In Chattanooga

It's Chattanooga FC taking on the New York Cosmos B for the National Premier Soccer League’s national championship and the Scenic City's Finley Stadium is the site Saturday, August 8 at 7:30 p.m. Thanks to a 9,000 plus crowd at Chattanooga's 3-0 semifinal win against the Indiana Fire, the Tennessee team broke the league’s previous record of 8,878, which was ... (click for more)

Jones Press Conference Kicks Off Vols' Preseason

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Coach Butch Jones held his preseason football press conference on Monday at Neyland Stadium. Jones heads into his third season with visible enthusiasm after the Vols finished off the 2014 season with an impressive win over Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl, following that up with another nationally ranked recruiting class. "In terms of our football team, we ... (click for more)