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Cleveland City Council Meeting 09-26-23

Tuesday, September 26, 23 The Cleveland City Council met yesterday. During the meeting, Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks presented a special com

Tuesday, September 26, 23

The Cleveland City Council met yesterday.

During the meeting, Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks presented a special commendation for Justin Spears, the founder and creator of the new disk golf course at Fletcher Park.

The Mayor also presented Corey Divel, who is leaving the City of Cleveland a special commendation, thanking him for his 12 years of service. Divel will be joining the City of Sevierville. 

During his report to the Council, City Manager, Joe Fivas, presented a letter to the Bradley Mayor, Gary Davis, addressing a prior request from the Bradley County Commission over the city purchasing the Inman Street Fire & Rescue building.

Manager Fivas suggested to the Council that the city build the County an 8,000-foot facility between Dooley Street and the Health Department in exchange for the Inman Street property. Although the letter does not bind the City to the proposal, it will be used as a starting point in the negotiations. 

Vice Mayor Avery Johnson questioned Fivas on the standing of an open record request filed by the NAACP of Cleveland and Bradley County. Manager Fivas stated to the City Council that he had responded to the request and passed out a copy of his responses to the requests.

Vice Mayor Johnson then asked for Lawerance Armstrong, the President of the NAACP, to respond after the presentation from Fivas. Mr Armstrong stated that he had been approached by several city employees with concerns. Those concerns mentioned by Armstrong during the meeting were bullying, lack of a way for employees to file grievances, job postings, hiring practices, and diversity considerations during hiring.

Armstrong says he wanted to speak with city officials about his concerns, but the questions he submitted through an open records request were not fully answered. He also said a planned meeting on September 18th was canceled. Armstrong then suggested that the Council ask Fivas to recuse himself from the request because he felt it was a conflict of interest.

Council member Bill Estes asked Armstrong which of the questions asked by the NAACP were in question. Armstrong replied that he felt the information was misleading and that trust had been broken between the two parties. Councilmen Estes, Hughes, and Vice Mayor Johnson all asked Armstrong to sit down with City Manager Fivas. Armstrong said he wanted to speak with employees in the City HR Department, not Manager Fivas. Vice Mayor Avery John made a motion to form a committee of Council members to sit down and discuss the issues with Armstrong.

The motion failed to garner a second. Mayor Kevin Brooks then once again suggested that Vice Mayor Johnson, Armstrong, and Manager Fivas meet. Armstrong ultimately agreed to the meeting but said “Without the recusal of the City Manager as a part of this process, it’s not going to get any better for the City of Cleveland. I am open to whatever the recommendation is of the City Council, however, I am making you all aware of the allegations and things that are taking place.” 

Council members also heard from Manager Fivas on the Tinsley Park Reimagination and unveiled a potential new design with 20 pickleball courts and 50 additional parking spaces. The estimated total cost will be between $3.5-4 million on a complete renovation.

The City Council will next meet on Monday, October 23rd. 

You can watch the meeting in its entirety below