Mayor releases city emails

Josh Ray

Josh Ray

By: 
KELLY MORGAN ◆ KELLY@LEBANONDAILYRECORD.COM

One week after Lebanon Mayor Josh Ray confronted the city council during a heated work session meeting, the mayor has released a series of city emails to the public.

“These are public documents that are releasable to the general public,” Ray wrote in a Facebook post. “I am releasing my documents both to inform the public and acquit myself of the notion of being difficult to work with.”

Ray announced that he had made a Sunshine Law request for the emails during a June 1 work session meeting at which he also complained that council members Gib Adkins, Ken Eldridge, Sheila Mitchell, LeAnn Mather and Bob Garner had called a closed session without consulting him first. Ray later told the Daily Record that he thought the council was planning to discuss his resignation during the closed session.

According to city ordinance, four council members can call a special meeting without the mayor’s consent if they send a signed written notice to the city clerk.

The full text of the ordinance states:

“The mayor, or in absence of the mayor the mayor pro tem, may notify the council to hold a special meeting and set the agenda when in his/her judgment it is needed to transact city business. At a special meeting no other business shall be transacted except those set and posted agenda items.

“Without either the mayor or mayor pro tem consent, any four (4) members may call a special meeting by signed written notice to the city clerk. The notice shall include the list of agenda items to take action on. This notice shall be served to all members of the elected body.“

The closed session was added to the end of the agenda for a previously planned work session meeting, but it was cancelled before the meeting began.
However, Ray began the work session with a complaint about how the closed session had been called.

“They mayor is supposed to set the agenda,” Ray stated to Councilman Bob Garner during the meeting. “This is part of the problem. I have to fight — 14 months I’ve tried to fight to have some sort of mayor authority, and I always have to fight you guys, and before I had to fight another individual.”

“Well, I’m sorry; I didn’t know that’s the way it worked,” Garner answered.

Garner made similar comments at several other points in the meeting.

On Thursday, Ray released a May email from City Attorney Chris Allen to Garner in which Allen paraphrased the ordinance that allows four council members to call a special meeting, as well as a similar email to Ward 1 Councilman Ken Eldridge. In a Facebook post, Ray wrote that the email between Allen and Garner “refutes his later claim in a public meeting that he was not informed that the mayor calls the meeting unless “absent.”

Ray said Friday that he interprets the ordinance to mean that four members of council can can only call a special meeting if the mayor is absent or if the mayor won’t call the meeting himself.

However, Chris Allen said his opinion was that the phrase “in absence of the mayor” only modifies the clause that allowing the mayor pro tem to call a meeting.

For the complete article, see the Weekend print edition of The Daily Record, or view the e-Edition online.

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