Our city has a long history of corruption. The recall of Mayor Ron Littlefield was a grassroots citizen-led effort to hold our government accountable. Here are some of the most notorious instances of corruption within the Ron Littlefield Administration:
The Ron Littlefield Memorial Dump
In 2007 Mayor Ron Littlefield bought a known hazardous waste dump, the old Farmers Market, for an amount approximately $650,000 more than it had been bought for three years prior. The man who originally bought the property (prior to deeding it to his children, three months before the sale to the city) is William A. Thompson. Thompson is listed in federal court documents drafted by the FBI as being the central architect of Tennessee Governor Ray Blanton's Parole for Sale public corruption scandal that was revealed in a law enforcement sting. Thompson is also well known for being a major campaign contributor, supporter and personal friend of mayor Ron Littlefield. Eugue Overstreet, the pastor who worked closely with convicted felon Sheriff Billy Long for his drug running and public corruption operations, publicly took credit for brokering the deal between Mayor Littlefield and William Thompson. At the time of the purchase by the city, the Thompsons owed just under $200,000 in back taxes to both the city and county - approximately $70,000 more than amount that William A. Thompson originally purchased the property for. Also, the property could never have been zoned for the purpose of housing the homeless, the ostensible purpose the mayor provided for the city's purchase, since the property was a former superfund site and is leeching toxic waste, a fact the mayor, according to at least one news article, was fully aware of prior to proposing the purchase.
Times Free Press Report: Homelessness Panel Sees No "Rationale" for Mayor's Proposed Services Complex
Pulse Blog: Unseen Risk at Homeless Site Actually Seen
Video: Ron Littlefield Memorial Dump
Little Chicago Watch Brief: TN Par Farm Land: Littlefield, Lollipop, Eugene Overstreet
Lobbyists that do not Lobby
Ron Littlefield paid a lobbyist group $180,000 of tax-payer money to lobby on behalf of Chattanooga, of which $90,000 went to a very close friend of and major campaign contributor to mayor Ron Littlefield. Problem is, this friend was never registered to lobby!
Times Free Press: Lobbyist for City Not Registered
Backroom Sweetheart Land Deal to Campaign Manager Dale Mabee
Candidate Littlefield campaigned against our city's long history of politicians making backroom sweetheart land deals to connected land developers. Mayor Littlefield wasted no time in writing and approving a contract to his former campaign manager, downtown land developer Dale Mabee.
Times Free Press: Walnut Hill Investment Adds 22 Luxury Condos, but Critics Question Sale of Property
Chattanoogan: Dale Mabee: Our Firm Did Not Get Any Special Favors - And Response
Photo: Dale Mabee Land Deal
Mayor Bans Reporter from City Hall for Reporting the Truth
After Michael Weber reported on the Mayor's hiring of a lobbyist that never lobbied on behalf of the city and began digging around into the Mayor's firing of Parks and Recreation Department Head Rob Healy, he was summarily banned from City Hall. On local radio stations, the Mayor went on to engage in ad hominem attacks against the Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter, making anti-semitic and anti-Yankee comments. These shameful events were picked up by national and international newswires.
Times Free Press Editorial: The Mayor's Wrongful Ban
City Attorney Paid Illegally
According to both the Internal City Auditor and the Staff Attorney of the State Comptroller’s Office, Chattanooga City Attorney Mike McMahan had been involved in the illegal siphoning of hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax-payer money to his own private firm for decades.
Times Free Press: Auditor Says City Attorney Paid Illegally
Times Free Press: City Attorney May Face Criminal Investigation
Times Free Press: Attorney Billing too "Vague," Experts Say
Mayor Attempts to Influence City Court Judge Paty
City Court Judge Sherry Paty formally requested that the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office open an investigation into Mayor Ron Littlefield for his unconstitutional and unethical attempt to persuade her decision on a case under her direct purview. Judge Paty went so far as to describe the Mayor’s behavior as “an improper, unethical and perhaps contemptible disregard for the separation of powers between the judicial and executive branches of government.” She also went on to state that she was “not an arm or extension of the mayor’s office.”
Times Free Press: Mayor, Judge at Odds Over Pet Store Case
Chattanoogan: Judge Paty Says She Was Improperly Approached In Pet Store Case; Refers Matters to DA
Mayor Appoints Sexual Predator to Executive Position Without City Council Approval, Viciously Attacks His Victims
In 2006, Mayor Ron Littlefield hired Paul Page to a position created especially for him, called the Director of General Services. Mr. Page, who has been fired from four other municipal government and has a history of workplace sexual harassment controversies in other counties, was also known to be a friend of the Mayor’s. In 2008, two women filed complaints of sexual harassment against Paul Page. In response, the city retaliated against these women according to a finding from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Independent investigations as ordered by the City also found that Paul Page had sexually harassed multiple women. Equally as disturbing as the claims of sexual harassment is Mayor Littlefield’s silence in the face of these allegations. As the chief executive of city government, it is Mr. Littlefield’s responsibility to ensure that all employees can work in safe, harassment-free environments. Instead of protecting the victims, Mr. Littlefield instead rushed to protect the predator, Mr. Page, saying in the Times Free Press: “He’s expressed a desire to me to get out of the shooting gallery, which I can understand…”.
Times Free Press 2008: City Disciplines Page for Sexual Harassment
Chattanoogan 2008: Paul Page Suspended After Sexual Harassment Investigation
Chattanoogan: Flower Shop Owner Sues City's Paul Page
Dade County Sentinel: Chattanooga Official Accused of Sexual Harassment Has History in Dade County
Times Free Press: Paul Page Expected to Resign as Chattanooga's Director of General Services
Times Free Press: Paul Page Resigns City of Chattanooga Post Amid Allegations of Harassment
Nooga: City General Services Director Paul Page Resigns Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations
Corruption as Standard Practice in Department of Parks and Recreation
For eleven years managers of the Champions Club (a complex of tennis courts, showers, pro-shop, etc owned by the city of Chattanooga) who are employed by the City of Chattanooga, have been using city property, the city website and city employees on city time to host events from which they received "tens-of-thousands" of dollars while the city never received a dime. Parks & Recreation Department Head Larry Zehnder publicly defended this activity by saying that it was part of a contract that the auditor could find no evidence of having ever been approved by the Chattanooga City Council, having ever been signed, and officially expired ten years ago. According to the CTFP Zehnder said "he does not know why, but the signed contract has been lost prior to his arrival." City employees working on the tax-payer dime were selling the private merchandise of their city-employed bosses out of the pro-shop located on city property. Parks & Recreation Department Head Larry Zehnder said that this entire arrangement is "standard practice" and that everyone from Kinsey to Corker to Littlefield knew about the for-profit activities of city employees being financed on tax-payer monies - everyone except the City Council which seemingly knew about none of this and approved none of it.
Times Free Press: Champions Club Faces Investigation