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Dresden Mayor files lawsuit against alderman

Story by Press Reporter Shannon Taylor

The Dresden board of alderman received a civil summons filed by Dresden Mayor Jeffrey Washburn. The complaint is for the “permanent restraining order and restoration of rights of office.”


He is the plaintiff and has named as defendants Sandra Klutts, Gwin Anderson, Lyndal Dilday, Ralph Cobb, Willie Parker and Kenneth Moore.


The suit comes one month after the board voted to censure Washburn, request his resignation and reinstate the city’s Facebook page with city recorder Jennifer Branscum as administrator.


Although Washburn lists Moore as a defendant, he cites that “by reason of information and belief does not believe that Moore was an active participant in the actions complained herein unless the evidence proves otherwise.”


The causes of action that Washburn lists in his complaint are two counts of violation of the Tennessee Open Meetings Law, conspiracy to deprive the plaintiff of his constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press, violation of the provisions of the city charter, violation by knowingly and willfully violating the rights of the plaintiff, violation of the established city policy setting out the social media policy and actions taken to deprive the mayor of his lawful duties and conducting a vote on a resolution of censure read by Alderman Klutts to the board and voted on in violation of the city charter that requires resolutions to be in written form before being introduced.


Washburn’s statements of fact pertaining to the case state that “Moore did not participate in the acts complained but that he has material knowledge of such acts.” It states that “the defendants discussed and planned outside regularly called and public meetings and carried out a reading and voting on a resolution of censure using fabricated and largely untruthful statements or half-truths deliberately used with the intent to deceive the public and media.” It states that the resolution by Klutts was voted on by the board without discussion which “conclusively demonstrated that the alderman had engaged in unlawful conduct by improperly discussing and deliberating toward a decision outside the scope of a lawfully called meeting.”


It states that the defendants discussed and planned outside of regular meetings a plan of action to change the Dresden city charter to approve the hiring of a city manager and remove those powers from the mayor. “The implementation of that would increase salary, benefits and potentially transportation by approximately $100,000 per year or more and increase the city property tax rate by approximately 25 cents annually.”


It states that the defendants engaged in a course of action in the past of violating the Tennessee Open Meetings Act to discuss business of the city outside of open and public meetings and that the defendants failed to give adequate public notice of the meetings, record minutes or conduct them publicly.


It states that the defendants have “unlawfully discussed and conspired and thereafter voted to deprive the Plaintiff of his constitutional rights.”


It states that the board of alderman did not have the right to direct the mayor on what news he posts on his personal news Facebook page, the “Weakley Times.” It states that the defendants deprived him of his federal and constitutional rights and that such actions were discriminatory because “the defendant did not in any manner approve any action to limit or direct the content of other news outlets.”


It also states that the board had no authority to remove Washburn as the administrator for the city’s Facebook page.


Washburn is seeking that the court issue a temporary injunction prohibiting the board from interfering with the Plaintiff’s rights and privileges, and that following a hearing, if a default judgement is granted, the Court issue a permanent injunction.


Washburn is seeking that the resolution read by Klutts be named null and void based upon open meetings act violations and due to a failure to submit a copy of the resolution in writing prior to the meeting.


Washburn is seeking that the court enter an order directing that the censure resolution and vote be stricken from the official minutes.


Washburn is also seeking that the court find the defendants have violated provisions and award him judgement for the damages allowed as well as a permanent injunction prohibiting further violations. Washburn is also seeking that the court find the board violated the open meetings act and issue a permanent injunction prohibiting them from further violating that law. Washburn also requests that the costs be charged to the defendants individually and/or collectively so as not to impose costs on the taxpayers and that he be awarded his attorney fees and court costs to be paid by the defendants as well as any other relief he is entitled.


Washburn will be representing himself in the case.


The Press was able to speak with Klutts who stated that she thought Washburn was wrong about things in his civil suit and that she doubts it will get brought up at the board meeting on July 11th.


The board meeting held July 11th had to be rescheduled due to lack of a quorum present.


This is a developing story.



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