Cleveland Mayor's Salary Raised, But Not As High As Projected; Council Critical Of Handling Of Lt. Tyson Case

Friday, August 29, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

The future salary of the Cleveland Mayor's Office was changed from a projected $40,000 annually to $24,000 during a special Friday afternoon city council meeting.

Councilman Richard Banks made a motion to raise the salary to $30,000, but the motion failed. 

The $24,000 salary will double the current $12,000 per year.

Councilman Banks said Mayor Tom Rowland, the second longest serving mayor in the state of Tennessee, goes "goes way beyond the call of duty." 

He said, "He has not been compensated for what he has done."

Councilman Banks stated that after Mayor Rowland eventually retires, "We have to have someone who will step in his shoes and look at what he's done and be somewhat encouraged to follow in his footsteps. Unless we set a compensation rate like other cities...then Cleveland will suffer." 

Councilman Dale Hughes also spoke during the meeting about the recent termination of Lt. Steve Tyson, who has been reinstated. Lt. Tyson was terminated after taking a pain pill for his kidney stones one night after work. Failing a random drug test, he was terminated without question. Community and family members took great issue with this, as well as its portrayal by the media.

Councilman Hughes asked the police chief, "You've known this guy for 27 years and you didn't show him the courtesy to call him in and eyeball him to see if he was impaired?" 

He said, "I'm disappointed...If it wasn't stopped at your level, it should've been stopped at the manager's level. He just deserved better treatment than that. I think somebody fumbled the ball on that."

The police chief and city manager Janice Casteel said they were only following procedure. During the previous city council meeting, the council voted to make changes to those procedures. 

Ms. Casteel said, "They don't have the discretion to pick this one or pick that one."

Councilman Banks said, "Every small offense does not warrant what Steve Tyson was subjected to." 

Councilman George Poe Jr. said the incident tarnished the image of the police department.

Councilman Banks made a motion asking the city manager and police chief to give the council all information relating to the incident including emails, phone calls and text messages. 

He said in order to prevent the situation from happening again, the council needs to fully understand what went wrong before the council revises the policy.

The motion passed.

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