published Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Meeting about city transport chief canceled

Chattanooga City Councilman Yusuf Hakeem
Chattanooga City Councilman Yusuf Hakeem
Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Hakeem Email On Firing Blythe Bailey
Hakeem Email On Firing Blythe Bailey
Yusuf Hakeem Email
Yusuf Hakeem Email
Blythe Bailey Email
Blythe Bailey Email

A City Council meeting requested by Chairman Yusuf Hakeem to consider whether to sack the city's transportation director has been canceled.

The request was made at Tuesday night's City Council meeting after Hakeem accused Transportation Director Blythe Bailey of calling him a "crook" and disrespecting the chairman.

"Today you disrespected me and questioned my ethics; tomorrow it will be one of my colleagues," Hakeem wrote in an email. "You are unmanageable and a loose cannon that should be eliminated from local government."

The accusations stemmed from an email Bailey wrote that questioned whether Hakeem's proposal to funnel money to a private taxi company violated the city's purchasing policy. Bailey then declined to attend a Monday meeting to discuss the proposal.

Mayor Andy Berke's administration backed Bailey. And several city council members questioned whether there should be a public meeting to scrutinize Bailey, who Berke hired 11 months ago to head his newly created Transportation Department.

Councilman Jerry Mitchell, who is chairman of the Human Resources Committee, had reservations about the meeting and said he canceled the meeting Wednesday afternoon after Hakeem said "he didn't see the need for the meeting."

Hakeem didn't return calls seeking comment. City spokeswoman Lacie Stone said Hakeem hasn't spoken with the administration or Bailey about resolving the issue.

At a separate public meeting Wednesday to update the public on a citywide public transportation study, Berke praised Bailey for the work he's done so far with the city.

When Bailey stood to give his presentation, he thanked Hakeem by name and other council members in the standing-room-only audience for attending the meeting.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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