A Lebanon resident announced plans to file a lawsuit against the City of Lebanon stemming from instances in which she claims the city violated state open meetings law.
Resident Lorrie Hicks said she and attorney Paul McAdoo plan to file a lawsuit against the city after she said the city ignored her concerns and requests related to Tennessee Open Meetings Act (TOMA) violations that took place on multiple occasions.
“We were met with silence, which, in my opinion, amounts to the city council and the mayor giving me and the citizens of Lebanon the proverbial ‘middle finger,’” she said.
The first violation occurred in February when Councilor Camille Burdine sent an email to other councilors detailing her intentions regarding a vote for a rezoning request. She followed that email with two more detailing her intentions to vote on other matters, which included responses from other councilors.
Hicks also claimed her and her husband were barred from council budget work session in April, which city officials admitted was a mistake. However, as Hicks highlighted, the Tennessee Open Meetings Act does not take into account intent.
Hicks requested the city bring in an outside person or group, such as the Tennessee Office of Open Records Counsel or Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, to conduct training about open records law for councilors, the city attorney, department heads and the mayor.
McAdoo, in a letter sent to the city, said Hicks hoped for a response to her request by June 26 in order to avoid “permanent injunction and year of judicial oversight that would come with a judicial finding that the City violated TOMA.”
Hicks said no action has been taken, and she believed a statement was coming from Lebanon Attorney Andy White, which she said has not happened.
“The arrogant refusal of this council to address these issues like mature adults is just astonishing,” said Hicks, who claimed she tried to work to compromise with city officials.
Wright said he could not comment on the case since it’s now pending litigation, but he did say councilors Burdine and Jeni Lind Brinkman did receive additional open meetings law training through already scheduled training for other boards and committees as new members.