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Activist files ethics gripes after judge blocks suit to delay police budget vote

Courtenay Cholovich, a teacher and artist, had a hearing Tuesday afternoon attempting to block Chattanooga city council from voting on a city budget that left untouched more than F$70 million outlay for the city’s scandal-ridden department of police. (Photo Courtenay Colovich)

In Tuesday’s court hearing, Cholovich v. Chattanooga City Council, Chancellor Jeff Atherton ruled in the petitioner’s favor on the fourth (and most important) point in evaluating the need for a restraining order against the final vote on Mayor Berke’s alternate budget — that “granting the injunction will serve the public interest.”

By Courtenay Cholovich

While city council was able to proceed with the vote, this ruling strengthens the constituent’s convictions of the need for greater transparency in Council procedure.

The complaint being submitted to the Chattanooga city board of ethics deals with violations by the council of the city code of ethics and their own rules of operation regarding council behavior/conduct in the June 16 meeting.

Members of council were observed to have behaved in a manner unbefitting of office by citing personal reasons (such as refusing to be present for another long council meeting with the public in favor of personal family time), speaking disrespectfully to those who would address council (and not being called out upon it by Chairman Chip Henderson per his duty), using a meme posted by an individual outside of the prior week’s meeting as a reason to cut short public comment (which is seen as a First Amendment violation), and by not showing accountability to their positions/participation at all times in the meeting by constantly turning off and on their cameras (or being blocked from view by the share screen timer being used).

The complaint is being submitted to the board of ethics but because of obvious conflicts of interest with the chief ethics officer (who is the city attorney, Phil Noblett, who was in court with me Tuesday) and with other ethics board member Council chairman Chip Henderson, the complaint was also copied to the mayor’s office, to Chancellor Atherton’s office, and to the other Ethics board members — the HR director and CFO of the city.

Per city ethics code, councilman Henderson must recuse himself from examining this case and city attorney Noblett is also urged per code to find someone else to preside on this matter in his stead.

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