published Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Councilwoman Deborah Scott blasts Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield


by Cliff Hightower
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City Councilwoman Deborah Scott lashed out Tuesday at Mayor Ron Littlefield for an email he wrote to City Council members, asking them to stop burying department heads under information requests.

"I'm going to keep getting the records and I'm going to keep asking the questions," Scott said.

The email was sent to council members Tuesday morning, and Scott read the email before the start of Chattanooga City Council committee meetings.

Littlefield said in the email that it is not the job of the council to run the day-to-day operations of the city.

"Some of you are asking questions that cannot be answered without undertaking a college course on how things work," he wrote.

He asked that all records requests go through the mayor's office now instead of department heads.

"My answer to that is 'no,'" Scott said. "I'll get the information if I have to file a Freedom of Information Act request."

The mayor was unavailable for comment Tuesday. Richard Beeland, his spokesman, said the only thing different would be the process. He said some council members request information directly from the department heads, and it puts them in uncomfortable situations because they report to the mayor. "We've always provided information, and we never said we wouldn't provide information," he said.

At one point, during the meeting, Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd said she wondered if this is a conversation Scott should be having "with the mayor."

"I've been on the phone with the mayor and he hung up on me," Scott said.

She said a few weeks ago she called Littlefield to ask him why some information was appearing in the newspaper before the council heard about it. She said he abruptly ended the call.

Councilman Andraé McGary said he felt he and others also had some concerns about communication. The council decided to take the matter up in a committee meeting at a later date.

In other news, the council approved 9-0 applying for a $1.5 million federal grant to help combat gang activity. The grant would last three years and pay for a variety of programming.

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