published Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Ron Littlefield emails show flawed, petty mayor

  • photo
    Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield
    Photo by Lido Vizzutti

In his final State of the City address on Monday, Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield defiantly addressed criticisms and sidestepped failures. He also spent much of his speech counting successes -- largely a series of boondoggles and corporate welfare handouts.

Looking back, it's hard to imagine how this administration could be so failed that its only "successes" are actually fiascos themselves. Until, that is, Chattanoogans are able to see how Littlefield actually spent his time in office.

A review of several hundred emails that Littlefield sent while in office indicates that, rather than governing, the mayor spent some of his time ridiculing residents, attacking opponents and even making his own wife the butt of a joke.

The emails, obtained through state open records laws, show that Littlefield regularly used taxpayer-funded city employees and resources to fight efforts to recall him in 2011.

On August 15, 2011, Littlefield emailed himself -- during regular office hours and on his City of Chattanooga email address -- a fundraising letter he crafted in an attempt to raise money for his recall defense. There is no worse abuse of tax dollars than to use them to assist in political fundraising, but Littlefield did it repeatedly.

In another example, Littlefield worked with city Media Relations Director Richard Beeland and Deputy Mayor Anita Ebersole to obtain and use a video to raise money for his recall defense fund.

Littlefield also enlisted Ebersole and Marie Chinery, assistant to Chief of Staff Dan Johnson, to create an anti-recall beverage cup. The cup, which featured the phrase "I DON'T RECALL" on one side and "Mayor Ron Littlefield, City of Chattanooga" on the other, was created on taxpayers' time.

When they weren't busy engaging in political fundraising on taxpayers' time, Littlefield and his team sometimes turned their attention to investigating and attacking city residents.

Littlefield kept a list of the church connections of groups and individuals involved in the recall effort. He emailed the list to Beeland "for use, if needed." The shocking list could have been used to confront and needle his political opponents.

In an e-mail with the subject "Recallers" Littlefield asked Beeland if there were: "Any crazies there tonight?" Beeland responded "Yes," then named two recall advocates by name and complained that one was submitting a number of requests for public records.

When a city resident called for an audit and investigation of the office of the media relations director, the resident asked for an audit because she believed Beeland, as media relations director, was, among other things, "denouncing and denigrating grassroots efforts" to recall the mayor."

In an email about the matter, Littlefield mockingly told Beeland: "Oh no. Now you are in trouble." To which Beeland replied by calling those behind the grassroots efforts "a bunch of nuts" and "crazies."

Also in 2011, facing an effort by city police officers to improve their pay and working conditions, Littlefield lashed out at Officer Phil Grubb, the president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 673. In an email to a friend, Littlefield called both Grubb and Grubb's father "unhappy" and made fun of Grubb's weight. Littlefield went on to say, "There was a saying regarding someone that was constantly disgruntled and disagreeable: 'The only way that he could be a bigger jerk is to gain weight.' It appears that Phil has pushed that concept about as far as practicable."

Littlefield didn't reserve his snide remarks and rude comments to his enemies.

In a May 2009 email to Littlefield while he was on vacation, Chinery asked "How's the beach?" Littlefield took the email exchange as an opportunity to demean his wife with a pun, replying "Lanis? Oh, she's fine. No -- you said 'beach,' well that's different."

Perhaps if Mayor Littlefield had spent less time acting like an out-of-control petty tyrant and more time doing the peoples' business, he'd have more to show for his eight years in office. Instead, he will be remembered as a failed mayor -- and, judging by his own emails, a flawed and petty man.

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MasterChefLen said...

Mayor Littlefield, don't let the door hit you in the rear end on your way out. Soon your buddy Jack Benson can join you as well.

March 12, 2013 at 12:17 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Littlefield and his staff used city tax resources, equipment, staff, and time to harass citizens. The new information with the emails is not only misuse of citizens funds, but it is grounds to sue to the mayor, Beeland, and the worthless Anita for direct violations of law regarding public equipment, Really, a mayor that refers to his wife as B in emails, class act.

March 12, 2013 at 6:36 a.m.
simplico said...

this dude is an elder at Calvary Chapel. I wonder if making jokes about your wife being a b***h are okay for elders there?

March 12, 2013 at 10:27 a.m.
jesse said...

If you think he's flawed and petty now you should have known him back when he was a city commissioner ! He's ALL WAYS had an inflated opinion of his self!

March 12, 2013 at 11:23 a.m.
Jasonwalker said...

The transition from this man to Andy Berke will be nothing less than a period of enlightenment for Chattanooga, Tennessee. Ron Littlefield was a truly terrible mayor, widely criticized for a selfish administration characterized by acting big while thinking small. Good riddance, Ron. I cannot express how genuinely happy I am that someone else, anyone, is taking this office from this man. That the new occupant will be Andy Berke shows Chattanooga has very good years ahead.

March 12, 2013 at 11:58 a.m.
fairmon said...

Littlefield is a good example of an individual with an entire career in public office. They feel ownership of the entity, in this case the city, to do with as they please and view the money as theirs to spend as they please. They become blind, out of touch, with any but their immediate circle and special interest. What he did not point out is most of the progress in Chattanooga is from private money and investments. Surely his crony Benson will be replaced.

March 13, 2013 at 8:58 a.m.
dandy said...

This article is ridiculous. There is no substance here. I thought journalism was about finding the truth not writing a hit job. Littlefield may be in the wrong, he may have broken the law, but who cares if he made a joke about his wife? Or called someone fat? You could take anyone and pour through their emails and find something you can make appear inappropriate.

How about some evidence he spent tax payers money? How about some documentation? I don't give one hot damn about your opinion, but if you have some evidence, I would love to see it.

March 13, 2013 at 6:17 p.m.

dandy, the article is about the Mayor's flawed and petty behavior. Official business emails prove it. I'm sure Drew will get around to highlighting the corruption and cronyism with a later article.

March 14, 2013 at 8:07 a.m.
TirnaNOG said...

RE: "jesse said... If you think he's flawed and petty now you should have known him back when he was a city commissioner ! He's ALL WAYS had an inflated opinion of his self!"

When I went before the city council to speak out about police brutality during the time Mr. Littlefield was on the city council, he was the only one who showed a genuine interest. Two other city councilman, one from the very district I live, actually got up and walked out. They only returned when they realized no one was following them. Mr. Littlefield asked pertinent and precise questions.

If others had shown even a smittering of equal interest way back then, perhaps Chattanooga wouldn't be facing national and perhaps international scrutiny over the Tatum beating caught on video, along with a 50 million lawsuit. Instead, like all injustices that have been committed in Chattanooga, and with help, the problem was downplayed, ignored and the people who made every attempt to sound the alarm were attacked, threatened and at times even harassed for speaking up.

Mr. Littlefield is not the villain he's being made out to appear. It was more of a personal vendetta on the part of the ones who initially went after him. It all started with them accusing the mayor of catering to black voters (honestly, some openly accused him of this); they openly voiced their opinions and disdain by openly writing to an online news site. That he wouldn't allow the police to forcibly remove the homeless and, in their words, dump them across state lines. Then there was the annexation issue (because they didn't like breathing the same air as the poor and homeless (although they breathe it anyway); along with a few other personal dislikes, such as: He won't do what we say. No kidding! They actually said this. The mayor is the MAYOR of the city, and not a small exclusive few.

March 14, 2013 at 4:29 p.m.
jesse said...

That's strange tirna, because when Ron was a city commish. there wern't no city councilmen from districts!Sounds like B/S to me!!

March 14, 2013 at 8:03 p.m.
TirnaNOG said...

Who cares what you think, jesse? All I know is I appeared before the city council to speak out about police brutality that was taking place at that time, and whatever Ron Littlefield's title was during that period, he was there, sitting alongside the other city council people. This was somewhere around early to mid 2000.

I had no idea who he was at that time, and only recognized him later from the media. Steve Parks was Chief of Police at the time, I do believe. They'd run off that Chief they hired from Texas. I forget his name.

There's been a city council of some kind or another since the 1980s and '90s. I know this, because I worked with one of the wives of one of the city council people.

When others tried to silence me, Mr. Littlefield waved his in such a way as to tell them to allow me to speak. He then waved his hand again when my time was up to allow me to speak well over the time limit normally allowed. I remember it to this day, because of the kindness he showed me, and how some of the others basically snubbed me. Some even snickered and talked down to me.

March 14, 2013 at 8:30 p.m.
TirnaNOG said...

It came to me, Chief Jimmy Dotson was the one they ran off, because he wouldn't do what he was told. He sought to carry out his duties as a real chief and not a puppet, controlled by the puppet masters.

March 14, 2013 at 9:43 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Bahahah, Chief Dotson was the worst cheif ever. Corker fired him with the full support of the people. Gone Gone Gone.

March 14, 2013 at 10:05 p.m.
TirnaNOG said...

One of your own well known and liked police officers once stated Corker wanted them to do things that "made him want to go home and take a shower." Maybe Dotson refused to become dirty?

And what people was that? You always seem to talk in the plural sense, as if everyone is onboard with you. Is that for courage? Sign of insecurity?

March 14, 2013 at 10:11 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Yes, I am a member of several conservative groups, and make no mistake about it WE are on board. Yes WE.

I think you are a coward, liberal, that thinks she knows alot, but cannot even disern between when you spoke to a city council to Jessee. Unless you have been to my home, you don't know jack about me.

You portray a perpetual viticm, and are no concern to me at all.

March 14, 2013 at 11:09 p.m.
TirnaNOG said...

Oh, I do know when and why I spoke before the city council. I just chose not to disern {I think you meant DISCERN?} certain information.

I'm the coward? But you're the one who obviously feel the need to speak constantly in plurals for added support and gather as many followers as possible?

And you don't know me.

Where have I said I was a victim of anything? Telling the truth does not equate to being a victim.
You're the one who's constantly in attack mode.

she? What she?

Go get some sleep. You're unraveling and becoming incoherent.

March 14, 2013 at 11:31 p.m.
aae1049 said...

TingDong you portray yourself as perpetual victim, and ignore blatant corruption from the EAC office and the Littlefield administration that has intentionally taken public resources for real needs to enrich themselves. Hey, that's your problem not mine. You asked about the use of the term "we, I am blessed with lots of great friends that work on these issues. Off to get open records.\

March 15, 2013 at 9:09 a.m.
TirnaNOG said...

And you, aae1049, portray yourself as a perpetual stalker with serious mental and emotional issues.

I have great friends too. Real friends who don't spend their every moment of every day hating, dividing, and spewing poisonous venom. They are filled with joy, light, love, honor, humanity and compassion. Something you apparently lack. You're apparently a very miserable person. Get help.

March 15, 2013 at 9:26 a.m.
cooljb said...

If not for the conservative watcher types this area would be a complete and utter sewer of political incest and abuse, really, worse than it is now. Doing personal stuff, especially re-election stuff while on the clock and using government property to do it is a BIG no no. He and his pals knew that and broke the law anyway. Needs to be held to account, easy.

March 16, 2013 at 8:16 a.m.
Lr103 said...

Before investing everything you've got in that belief, cooljb, maybe you should have someone go back and investigate some of those past conservative elected officials and their administrations. The things Littlefield and his administration are accused of wouldn't likely show up on the radar in comparison to some of those prior mafioso types.

March 16, 2013 at 5:11 p.m.
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