published Friday, June 14th, 2013

Chattanooga mayor's office dissolves 311 director's job


by Cliff Hightower

Anita Ebersole, longtime deputy to former Mayor Ron Littlefield, has been removed as 311 director and the position has been dissolved, according to Mayor Andy Berke's office.

"That position has been eliminated," Lacie Stone, Berke's spokeswoman, said Thursday.

Ebersole has been reassigned as an administrative support assistant and her salary reduced from $98,538 to $33,229 a year, records show.

Littlefield created the position and placed Ebersole in it in February, almost a month and a half before his administration left office.

Some former council members questioned why the department, which provides information about city government and answers nonemergency service requests from city residents, needed a director when it already had a manager.

In January, Littlefield attempted to install Ebersole as City Court clerk. Some City Hall insiders speculated he was trying to find her a safe harbor for after he left office, but the plan came to nothing when the City Court judges objected.

Neither Ebersole nor Littlefield could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Stone said the administration deemed the position unnecessary, and the department will be using more technology and innovative approaches to accomplish its mission.

Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem said Thursday that Ebersole is a "valued employee" and he hopes she continues to serve the city.

He said he can see the logic of using technology to improve 311 service.

"I would hope that she's being removed because her skill sets are best used elsewhere," he said.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him at twitter.com/cliffhightower or facebook.com/cliff.hightower.

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