City Council Resolution Is Critical Of Former City Attorney Hinton's Handling Of Global Green Lighting Settlement

Sunday, October 18, 2020

A City Council resolution is critical of former City Attorney Wade Hinton, saying he failed to inform the City Council of an agreement with the owner of Global Green Lighting involving over $6 million in lights bought by the city.

Attorney Hinton, who is running for mayor of Chattanooga, said he would comment after the City Council acts on the resolution. 

The resolution says attorney Hinton worked out a deal with Don Lepard of GGL in which lawsuits between the firm and the city were dropped and the city agreed that he could take back the remaining lights from a city warehouse. Mr. Lepard afterward picked up the lights.

The resolution says the settlement agreement "was not properly maintained or properly provided to the City Council in a public meeting during the time of execution and transfer of lights in June of 2018," and it "resulted in confusion and delayed action by the City Council on this matter.

City Auditor Stan Sewell had reported that when city auditors went to a city warehouse to inventory the more than $6 million they found that the lights were gone. He said the city had still been carrying them on its books.

The lights were bought during the Ron Littlefield administration as part of a planned $18 million purchase touted as saving the city $36 million over 15 years, plus providing security features.

Governor Bill Haslam was on hand at the launch of the new lighting system. He said, "This is another symbol of how Chattanooga's leading, really our country, in manufacturing."

When the Andy Berke administration came into office, the deal was canceled. Mayor Berke said hidden costs associated with the lights proved expensive and EPB had begun removing them after finding them inferior.

Here is the upcoming resolution:

It appearing that there was a dispute over the valuation of GGL lights based on the initial contract purchase by the City and technological changes in the electrical system by the Electric Power Board between the time of purchase by the City and the time that such lights were authorized to be transferred back to GGL in 2018; and It further appearing that the Settlement Agreement and Release of Claims signed by City Attorney, Wade Hinton, in 2018 (attached as Exhibit A) has resulted in the dismissal of all outstanding litigation between the parties, including EPB, in three different civil suits in Hamilton County, Tennessee Circuit Courts as Case Numbers 17-C-425, 17-C-535, and 17-C-1150 since October 15, 2018; and It further appearing that no Agreed Final Judgment was filed approving the transfer of lights which was authorized by the former City Attorney’s signature on the Settlement Agreement and Release of Claims, and Case No. 17-C-1150 was dismissed by the Hamilton County Circuit Court on procedural steps in 2018.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CHATTANOOGA CITY COUNCIL
AS FOLLOWS:

1. At this time, the City Council recognizes and acknowledges that GGL and/or Mr. Lepard removed the City owned Street lights Assets from the City’s storage facilities after being provided access and GGL and/or Mr. Lepard are properly in possession of all lights to which they received from the City pursuant to the Settlement Agreement and Release of Claims signed by City Attorney Hinton on June 6, 2018, as the City’s authorized representative.

2. The City Council ratifies and accepts all of the terms in connection with the dismissal of three lawsuits which has occurred following the execution of the Settlement Agreement and Release of All Claims against GGL, Don Lepard and the City that are set forth in Exhibit A to this Resolution.

3. The City Council ratifies and accepts the Covenants Not to Sue, Mutual Non-Disparagement, Indemnification, and all other terms and conditions contained in the Settlement  Agreement and Release of All Claims executed by Don Lepard and GGL dated May 17, 2018 and approved by the former City Attorney on June 6, 2018.

4. The City Council did not obtain any documentation from the former City Attorney that this Settlement Agreement and Release of All Claims was timely approved by the City Council within 90 days of its execution by the City’s authorized representative until it received a Memorandum from Internal Audit dated July 2, 2020.

5. It is Resolved that such documentation of this Settlement Agreement was not properly maintained or properly provided to the City Council in a public meeting during the time of execution and transfer of lights in June of 2018, by the former City Attorney, as required by City Code § 2-49, which has resulted in confusion and delayed action by the City Council on this matter.

6. The City Council ratifies this Settlement Agreement and Release of All Claims at this time and this Resolution ratifies all terms of the Settlement Agreement and the transfer of lights to GGL in full and final satisfaction of all parties’ claims.


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