County Commissioner David Sharpe had strong words for the county mayor
County Commission members said Wednesday they are fed up with an ongoing battle between County Mayor Weston Wamp and County Attorney Rheubin Taylor, calling it a "witch hunt," "middle school stuff" and a "soap opera."
The Wamp office accused the county attorney of tipping off the city to an unpermitted ramp built for last Friday night's Christmas tree lighting at the County Courthouse. Then, County Auditor Jenneth Randall said she "got a tip" that attorney Taylor was not following certain procurement rules.
She said on payments to outside lawyers that are above $25,000 those should go before the County Commission and have contracts signed by the county mayor. County Attorney Taylor said for 29 years he had been handling the payments by approving invoices and passing them on to county finance. He said all of the outside payments to law firms are discussed privately with the commission members in closed door legal sessions.
Commissioner David Sharpe said County Mayor Wamp "has not attended any of the legal meetings" since he came into office. He said, "If he (Wamp) "would quit hauling it over to Chattanooga State and the Board of Regents and focus on county business, we wouldn't have to deal with this mess. Stop playing politics. The campaign's over."
Commissioner Joe Graham said, "I'm ready for the nonsense to stop. We have to get past the witch hunt and the self-inflicting issues. We've got to stop with the petty middle school stuff."
Commissioner Greg Beck said Wamp chief of staff Claire McVay "besmirched" attorney Taylor in saying attorney Taylor making the ramp tip to the city was "indicative of the dysfunctional work environment the county attorney has created not only for the mayor, but for the administrators and directors across county government." Commissioner Beck said no county administrators or directors had told him of any concerns with attorney Taylor.
Commissioner Warren Mackey said, "Actions that have been taking place in county government just don't feel right. It feels like a witch hunt. What is prompting all this? Who are they going after? It just does not feel fair."
Chairman Chip Baker said, "We need to get past this soap opera stuff," but he said all county officials need to abide by county purchasing rules. He said, "What you allow you condone."
A hearing had been set for Thursday morning in a Chancery Court lawsuit filed by the county attorney and counter sued by the county mayor. However, it was postponed due to a trial being underway in Chancery Court.
A new hearing date has not been selected.