Council, police concerned judge’s inaction on dog cases may come back to bite someone
Posted: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 9:02 pm
By: Donna Ryder, Associate Editor
By DONNA RYDER
Union City Council members are fed up with cases being dismissed in the city’s court system and may take steps to change the way the judge’s seat is filled.
Council members learned Tuesday night that Judge Allen Nohsey had recently dismissed three dog cases which were brought before him. One was a vicious animal case, according to Police Chief Joe Garner.
“We are doing our job and will continue to monitor (the dogs),” he said.
Assistant Police Chief Perry Barfield told the council he was in court on another matter the day those cases were dismissed and Nohsey gave no explanation for dismissing them.
Councilman Bill “Rat” Harrison said he has received complaints from a resident about the dog problems and he informed the man there is nothing the city council can do if the cases are dismissed. “The city council’s hands are tied, the police (department’s) hands are tied,” he said, adding “The officers do all they can do.”
“You know someone’s kids are going to get hurt,” councilman Dianne Eskew interjected.
“We understand that. We’re doing all we can picking up the dogs,” Barfield replied.
Councilman Billy Jack “B.J.” Cranford asked if the judge is not to follow the city’s ordinances or “is he free to do what he thinks? … Aren’t there guidelines he has to go by, not just his personal feelings?”
City attorney Jim Glasgow Jr. looked up the code and read it to the council members, saying the judge is to “handle judicial matters.”
“What do we have to do to change the charter on how the city judge gets his job?” Cranford then asked.
The city judge is an elected official in Union City. The city’s charter is connected with that of Elizabethton in East Tennessee. If any changes are made, that city’s governing body must agree. Then, a legislator must present the change to the state legislature, where it must be approved.
“We’re not asking him to do anything wrong, just enforce the ordinances,” Harrison said. “He represents the same taxpayers we do.”
“I’ve always been taken aback because he doesn’t want to fine anyone. It’s a real good way to get re-elected,” Mayor Terry Hailey said. “I’m not for police being in the money-making business. … We just want the laws enforced.”
Hailey then asked what would happen if a dog continually is picked up by the city and then it hurts or kills someone. Would the city be held liable?
Glasgow said there would be no liability to the city because the police would be doing their job.
“It will be the city’s job to change how business is done,” councilman Johnny Bacon said.
After the meeting was opened in prayer by Glasgow, the council:
• Learned there are still no recommendations for filling a seat on the Municipal Regional Planning Commission. That body is to meet before the next council meeting.
• Agreed to authorize a letter of support for a Foreign Trade Zoning application for 222 acres in Union City. FTZs provide special customs procedures to U.S. plants engaged in international trade-related activities. Duty-free treatment is accorded items that are processed in the FTZ and then reexported and duty payment is deferred on items until they are brought out of the FTZ for sale in the U.S. market. Obion County Joint Economic and Community Development executive director Jim Cooper said FTZs are good recruiting tools.
• Awarded a bid to demolish property at 1306-1308 East Mercer St. to A & H Landscaping and Plumbing for $1,650. He was the lowest of four bidders.
• Accepted a bid of $11,750 from North Robertson Fire and Rescue for a compressor and cascade system being sold by the fire department. No bids were received for a vehicle being sold by the fire department. It will be included in an auction Thursday at the Obion County Fairgrounds.
• Approved the sale of items in an auction at the Obion County Fairgrounds, including a vehicle from the fire department, public works equipment and police-seized vehicles.
• Voted to renew CDs at Commercial Bank for a period of 12 months at 1.7 percent interest. Rates were received from three local banks. The 1.7 percent interest was the highest submitted.
• Agreed to a payment plan with RedFlex which is based on the number of citations paid. The city is in discussion with RedFlex to operate red light and speeding cameras within the city. Barfield said since the red light cameras have been deactivated there have been two T-bone injury accidents at Everett Boulevard which have involved red light violations. Hailey and Bacon voted against the measure.
• Heard the reading of a proclamation for National Police Week, which is May 9-15.
• Discussed traffic lights which seem to be changing too fast and those which don’t want to change to green.
• Informed interim city manager Kathy Dillon that Ann’s Place needs to be mowed.
• Asked when Main Street-Union City was going to start taking care of the flower beds at the intersection of First and Washington streets. Councilman Danny Leggett said they are filled with weeds.
Associate Editor Donna Ryder can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.5.10