published Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Former Marion County planning member disputes resignation

Marion County Mayor John Graham
Marion County Mayor John Graham
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

JASPER, Tenn. — When Marion County commissioners voted to replace a county Planning Commission member last month, they did so because that member had resigned.

Now, ex-planning commission member Roy Brackett claims he never resigned.

On Monday, Brackett, who is the county's building inspector, told the board that there "might have been a mistake or a misunderstanding" at last month's meeting.

The board voted 8-6 in February to appoint local businessman Bill Hewgley to serve out the rest of Brackett's term after County Mayor John Graham told them Brackett had resigned.

"I just want to let everyone know that I did not resign from the planning commission," Brackett said. "I was asked to, but I did not resign."

Graham said he didn't think the County Commission meeting was the "correct place to have this discussion," and that Brackett should have come forward at last month's meeting.

"We had multiple discussions about his resignation," he said. "[Brackett] never once said, 'Let me think about that. I don't want to do that.' Never. Not one time."

Graham said he came to last month's meeting "100 percent clear in my conscience" that his statements on Brackett's resignation were correct.

"By making this statement tonight, he has impugned my integrity," he said. "He's called into question my honesty. ... I don't take that lightly, and it disturbs me greatly."

Brackett and Planning Commission Chairman Phil Smith met with Graham on the morning of last month's meeting to discuss the issue.

Graham said he told both men that he was going to recommend Hewgley to fill Brackett's vacancy, and Brackett never said anything negative about it.

"If Mr. Brackett had decided or felt like he could not resign, he could have called me at any time on that Monday and told me that," Graham said. "He knew I was going to come here and tell [the board] about his resignation."

Getting Brackett's resignation in writing would have been preferable so there would be no confusion about it, County Attorney Billy Gouger said, but it's not required.

Commissioner Jodi Rollins said he doesn't think the issue between Graham and Brackett is personal, and the county's building inspector probably shouldn't be a voting member of the Planning Commission anyway.

"It just seems to be a little gray area," Rollins said. "If you're not making the rules, and just enforcing them, then that's fine. If you get to make them and enforce them, too, it's a little gray."

Brackett said he didn't resign, and he doesn't understand why Graham would want him off the planning board.

"I work in the planning office," he said. "I just don't understand why I'm being picked on. What did I do wrong?"

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlew is34@gmail.com.

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