published Monday, January 17th, 2011

Red Bank city manager may be on hot seat


by Chris Carroll

Red Bank City Manager Chris Dorsey has five bosses, and four of them aren't happy.

He may not have his title much longer after seven months of under-the-radar firings, lawsuits and police turnover.

His contract renews automatically in September unless a majority of the Red Bank Board of Commissioners wants to go another way. Interviewed Thursday and Friday, no commissioner endorsed him for another year.

"There are some things he's recently done that look a little strange," Vice Mayor Greg Jones said.

Commissioner Ruth Jeno defended Dorsey, describing him as a "professional."

"At some point we need to have a special called meeting to do an evaluation and see where we are," Jeno said. "But the commission needs to back off and let him do his job."

Others were more explicit about their intentions.

"We need to have some honest dialogue back and forth before we reach a consensus on his term here," Mayor Monty Millard said. "I'm not sure we'll renew."

"I just don't think this dog will hunt anymore," Commissioner John Roberts said. "It's time for a change."

Dorsey is the city's highest-paid employee at $90,000 a year.

"Would I have done anything differently?" Dorsey said. "I don't think so. ... The city manager handles personnel decisions so those decisions are not influenced or taken personally by commissioners. I hope they will respect that."

Suits and claims

Dorsey came to Red Bank in 2005 after 18 years in Memphis city government. Long hailed as a financial wizard, his recent personnel moves haven't garnered the same praise.

"Not every decision made by a city manager is an easy one," he said.

In July, police officer Bradley Hanon privately lobbied Jones and Commissioner Floy Pierce to work for then-chief Larry Sneed's dismissal. Dorsey never said exactly why he fired the chief. Then-Mayor Joe Glasscock and Jeno -- Sneed's friends -- said they didn't know about the firing until the media reported it.

The controversy set off four $1.5 million lawsuits that named Dorsey as a defendant. One was from Hanon, who claimed the city manager endangered police officers by employing Sneed as long as he did.

A few months later, Dorsey commissioned an outside investigation into a Nov. 16 search conducted by Cpl. Rebecca Chauncey, Officer Eric Massengale and Hanon. Investigators said the trio searched several homes without warrants, consent or life-or-death circumstances.

The officers also asked Red Bank Fire Department personnel to break open a door blocked by guns and ammunition, the investigation concluded.

Still, Millard, Jones and Piece objected to Dorsey firing Chauncey and suspending Hanon and Massengale.

Hanging on a vote

Hanon resigned Jan. 10. In a letter to the city, he wrote that Dorsey and Police Chief Tim Christol forced his resignation by abruptly changing his shift.

"He's a good officer, and we're the loser," Pierce said. "My patience is growing thinner and thinner [with Dorsey]. ... Right now I'd hate to say which way I'd vote on his contract."

Jeno claimed that her colleagues were intervening in personnel matters.

"You watch some of these commissioners, and you can see that a couple rookie police officers are pretty much calling the shots lately," Jeno said.

Dorsey's contract states he can be terminated by resigning at the commission's request or by a majority vote in a public meeting to fire him.

If Dorsey is terminated, he's entitled to six months of base salary, car allowance and health insurance.

"Sometimes it gets trying, but I like where I work," he said. "I hope I can stay for a while."

Contact staff writer Chris Carroll at ccarroll@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6610.

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inquiringmind said...

They are mad at him because he disciplined some Nazi storm troopers who forced their way into a citizen's house without a warrant or justifiable cause? Please.

January 17, 2011 at 9:44 a.m.
soahawk said...

“Nazi storm troopers” What an idiot… I am a police officer here in Chattanooga, and what these officers did was by no standard criminal. These officers were acting in good faith, operating on the totality of the circumstances with information given to them at the time. What you have to ask your self is this. Would these same officers have been disciplined this way under normal circumstances?
Chief Christol – I don’t know what class on management you attended, but I would have to ask did you pass that class?? Placing two officers, with this amount of history, on the same shift is absolutely ridiculous. I am sure you have a rehearsed explanation for your actions, but the general public can see what is happening here. Did Dorsey promise you a job with him after he gets fired?

January 17, 2011 at 10:30 a.m.
Salsa said...

He did their dirty work for them when he got rid of the police chief. Now they are going to get rid of him as I originally predicted when it first happened. The politics in Red Bank are so transparent and predictable.

January 17, 2011 at 11:13 a.m.

Soahawk, I agree that Nazi storm troopers is too hyperbolic, but I agree with both salsa and inquiring mind.

I have lived in Red Bank most of my life, and the police have consistently proved to me to be violent, dumb, and harassing.

My spouse has had a gun drawn next to her for no good reason, and my son avoids Dayton Blvd b/c he drives a nice sports car and doesnt want to be tailed for no reason.

I believe the citizens of Red Bank should have a public meeting (in the Church of Christ banquet hall perhaps) to discuss these heavy-handed tactics of the police and the related Red Bank Gov policies.

On a larger note, the police believe the general population to be guilty until proven innocent, not the way it should be, and this is leading to the militarization of the police and subsequently more draconian law enforcement policies, such as what soahawk is saying: i.e. that police do not need a warrant or justifable cause to enter your place of residence, but merely to "act in good faith."

Give me a break already. The fourth amendment has been evicerated. We as a people have no privacy. Lets deal with it productively and not with an "us vs. them" mentality so often personalized by the lowest paying, but hardest working law-enforcement group: cops.

January 17, 2011 at 12:46 p.m.
retiredcpd said...

Should City Manager Chris Dorsey be fired "YES".

It is amazing to me that this has continued for so long with little or no concern from the Media, the Public or Elected officials.

The City Manager fires a Police Chief and appoints a rookie Sergeant as Acting Chief. A Sergeant that has not had "One Minute" of Management or Administrative Training and absolutely no experience in doing the job.

And to no ones surprise he begins to make stupid changes effecting the entire department and is not only allowed to do so; but openly supported by the City Manager. These actions alone will cost the City of Red Bank "Millions" when all is said and done.

Then to beat it all, punishment and disciplinary actions are taken against officers without the support of any type of City or Police "Policy" and again no one questions this. Not the media, public or elected officials.

Had any of this taken place at the highly accredited Chattanooga Police Dept. it would have been front page news for days, and the lead story for every electronic Media outlet and without end.

The Double Standard shown in this City is an insult to the true hard working men and women of all police agencies in this area.

Retired CPD Officer,

January 17, 2011 at 2:04 p.m.

The whole lot of them(Commissioners et al) need to go- way too much "bed-buddying". A whole lot of new people in the Red Bank City Government would be a great starting point. This town on its way down the toilet already-the only way to save what could be a shining haven in Chattanooga is to clean house from stem to stern-no disrespect to the PD intended but if they need to clean house as well then so be it.

January 17, 2011 at 5:26 p.m.
whiznnthewind said...

I don't understand the constant lament that the whole of Red Bank has problems. We don't hear of issues from other departments such as Fire, Public Works and City Hall. What are their feelings? Too much of the controversy stems from the commissioners and the police department, constantly. Red Bank is probably in the finest financial shape it has been in a long time, if ever. While other local communities are raising taxes and shutting down services, Red Bank has not. They have actually added, such as the dog park. In these trying times, that is phenomenal.

I have had a few jobs in my time and I do know a couple of things that wouldn't sit well with my employers, suing them and insubordination. Red Bank has some outstanding officers but these rookie cops have blatantly thumbed their noses at their supervisors more than once. Hanon doesn't need to be a police officer and he wouldn't make a good employee for any outfit the way he operates. Keep in mind he quit. Refused to work with others. The police force is fairly small and it would be nearly impossible to accommodate his wants and not have him work with the officer he is suing at some point in the future. How does she feel? No complaints from her. It's all about poor little Bradley.

"This dog won't hunt". This coming from a commissioner who has attended all of 4 or 5 meetings since November. Given the holidays and weather, John Roberts seems quick to point fingers. Now there is a dog that won't hunt. He is obviously not the independent thinker I voted for. And now regret.

Get out and support Dorsey as he tries to help improve the police department and the city, in spite of commissioners who want to undermine police department authority from the sidelines. Floy Pierce will destroy the chain of command in the police department if the city is forced to rehire a quitter who doesn't care what he costs the city. Why is she defending Hanon and ingnoring everyone else? That is treason.

January 18, 2011 at 7:02 a.m.

Has anyone asked the Commission why they are supporting these two police officers that have filed lawsuits against the city instead of supporting the citizens? As I recall Mr. Hanon was spared being fired for entering the home on Greenleaf St. without a warrant. He resigned after learning his shift had been changed. Mr. Hanon is a police officer, and should expect to work whatever shift he is needed to work. That's shift work, and if he can't handle it he may want to rethink his career choice instead of getting made like a child and quitting. Mr. Hanon needs to grow up, and do his job the correct way. Mr. Dorsey has been more than fair with Mr. Hanon. The City of Red Bank is in better financial shape than ever and Chris Dorsey has done a great job getting, and keeping us there.

January 18, 2011 at 10:58 a.m.
HomelessD said...

I had to register, so that I could leave a comment after seeing these posts.. lol Supporting Citizen = Chris Dorsey Whizninthewind = Chris Dorsey's Wife (weird name choice) Actually both may be Chris Dorsey… Can you at least get back to work for the last couple of months that you will remain employed for Redbank and quit trying to create your own good Press while you’re sitting in a Redbank office, at a Redbank computer, and while being paid by hard earned tax dollars of red bank citizens. You seem way too informed about these topics and have only made this single comment and registered on the days that these articles came out.. so sad people.. get to work! Actually from what I have been reading, maybe you should just sit quietly for the next couple of months..

January 19, 2011 at 2:39 p.m.
buttercup02 said...

I wonder how many of you actually know any of the Red Bank police officers personally, or any police officers at all? It's so easy to judge an entire department based off of one experience you or someone you know has had. The administration almost seems to make an effort to create a highly stressful work environment for its officers and attempts to make them as unhappy in their careers as possible. And Tammy Delashmitt didn't complain about working with Hanon? Of course not! She made an illegal arrest and not only got away with it, but gets the shift of her choice!It's gotten to the point where the decent officers are running for the hills. It takes a special kind of moron to have a nasty opinion on something they know nothing about.

January 21, 2011 at 9:43 p.m.
honest1 said...

Jeno, if Dorsey is such a professional why has he been served with so many lawsuits. Maybe,,,because he is an arrogant idoit. What would you know about a work enviroment anyway.

January 22, 2011 at 2:27 a.m.

Red Bank PD is a Joke! Fire em all!

March 3, 2011 at 9:08 p.m.
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