BY JASMINE WILLIAMS
GLEASON (January 4) – The City of Gleason’s office of city recorder is currently under investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office for actions that took place under the previous board of mayor and alderman.
As this is an ongoing investigation, little information has been released by the City of Gleason or the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.
Mayor of Gleason, Charles Anderson, declined to give comment regarding the investigation and referred public statements to Gleason’s City attorney Beau Pemberton.
In Pemberton’s statements he reported the office of city recorder is currently under investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office. All activities in the office that are being looked at occurred during the time Diane Poole was mayor and none of the activities occurred during the tenure of newly-seated Mayor Anderson or board members.
The city is reportedly in discussion with the Comptroller’s Office. The City of Gleason Mayor and Alderman, along with the city attorney, are fully cooperating with the investigation. As the investigation is ongoing, the city has not received any final documentation over this situation.
Pemberton could not give any specific details about what the Comptroller’s Office is looking into, a timeline for when this investigation could be concluded or what the outcome of its investigation could be. He did, however, state the Comptroller’s Office is receiving statements from those who might be involved directly or indirectly with the events that are under investigation. Pemberton said he presumed that when this investigation concludes, the Comptroller’s Office will publish its findings as the office does with all investigations pertaining to local government.
Beau Pemberton also reported as of Monday, December 28, city recorder Angela Hunt tendered her resignation to Mayor Anderson who accepted. In her letter of resignation there was no mention of the investigation; only stating that for personal reasons, she was stepping down. Nothing was discussed during her resignation.
To his knowledge, Pemberton stated the investigation began several weeks ago, but could not give an exact date due to him only being briefed on the situation after he was brought in as Gleason’s city attorney.
When asked if the investigation was for former city recorder Hunt or the office as a whole, he stated that the investigation is associated with activities that were done under the city recorder’s office and Angela Hunt was the city recorder. Regarding if other people were involved with these activities, that to his knowledge, there was not and that these activities were done strictly under that office.
When asked if the previous mayor and city board knew of these activities under investigation, Pemberton could not provide an answer as Pemberton did not serve as the city’s attorney during Diane Poole’s time as mayor. Typically, the city recorder will report to the mayor, which is why he emphasized that the activities under investigation happened under the Diane Poole’s administration as mayor.
“But to the extent of which the mayor and board may or may not have known of these activities,” Beau Pemberton stated, “I cannot say because I do not have any personal knowledge of it.”
The Comptroller’s Office is currently looking into all accounting and financial records pertaining to the city and that was as far as Pemberton was been briefed on the situation. Pemberton compared the Comptroller’s Office with a law enforcement agency, that he, along with the mayor and board of aldermen, are only briefed on this investigation on a need-to-know basis.
Pemberton concluded by saying he wanted to let the citizens of Gleason know, “Mayor Anderson and the board intend to be as transparent as possible under the circumstances under this investigation and that the mayor and board’s role is to restore confidence in the city government through this process.”
An interim city recorder has not yet been named, as of press time. The Gleason board will meet in a special session Thursday, January 7, to discuss this matter of hiring a new city recorder. This meeting will double as the regular monthly board meeting. The board will take up discussion over hiring a new city recorder and will most likely begin advertising for qualified candidates to begin submitting resumes to the city for this job position.
The investigation is being conducted through the Comptroller’s Office under the division of Local Government Finance, which handles all statewide activities regarding city financial activities, record keeping, along with looking at any alleged or preserved irregularities or misconduct.
When contacted for official statement regarding this investigation, John Dunn, the Director of Communications with the Tennessee Comptrollers Office stated this, “The Comptroller’s Office has broad authority to review government entities including the City of Gleason. It is our policy to not comment further.”
John D. Cressman, Assistant General Counsel and Small Business Advocate with the Comptroller’s Office was contacted to release any early public documents regarding this investigation. “Unfortunately, the type of record you described in your request is confidential under Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-504(a)(22). We are unable to provide records relating to investigations or confirm whether there is even an investigation taking place,” Cressman responded.
The Office of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury is responsible for the audit of state and local governmental entities and participates in the general financial and administrative management and oversight of Tennessee state government. This office also is a member of many state government committees, boards, and commissions, and staffs several boards, including the State Funding Board, Utility Management Review Board, and Water & Wastewater Financing Board.
A city recorder’s position in a city government is to be responsible for a broad range of administrative, accounting, and support services under the general supervision of the mayor and city governing body. A few of the responsibilities that might go to a city recorder include: preparing annual budgets for all funds, being responsible for accounting and financial records of all funds, including bank statements and invoices, bond payments, drafting checks, and accounts payable, depositing city receipts at the bank, issuing licenses and keeping a variety of records, such as property tax relief vouchers and business tax licenses, and preparing statements and makes a variety of reports for solid waste collection, workers compensation claims, annual audit and certain state agencies.