By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
A special-called meeting by the Barbourville City Council Tuesday yielded little public information.
The agenda for the meeting listed a single purpose — to hold an executive session for the discussion of pending litigation.
All five council members were present — Ronnie Moore, Sherman Lawson, Gary Williams, Wilma Barnes and Janet Hyde — as well as newly-appointed Mayor Darren West, who called the meeting to order.
Also present was the city council’s recently-hired London attorney Joe Childers.
Moore motioned to go into the executive session at 6:03 p.m. to discuss “pending litigation” — and the waiting game began.
At 6:43 p.m., council members reconvened the meeting — and that’s when West announced to the audience of one that no action was taken during that executive session.
The meeting was subsequently adjourned.
After the meeting, Childers could only confirm the topic of discussion was the recent civil action filed by attorneys for the city’s recently-ousted mayor, David Thompson.
That action was filed March 20 in the Knox Circuit Clerk’s office against the City of Barbourville and its six council members.
According to court records, Thompson’s attorneys — Billy J. Taylor and Scott M. Webster — filed an appeal concerning the council vote to remove Thompson from office.
And the appeal alleges violations of Thompson’s rights of “due process.”
These latest actions stem from an extensive state forensic audit of the city of Barbourville’s coffers — which, when released in January, revealed 28 critical findings, several of which allegedly involved the mayor and his wife, Wendy Thompson.
City Attorney Charley Green Dixon was tasked by Thompson to review the 28 findings and implement the recommendations given by the state auditor’s office.
Then on Feb. 24, a public meeting was called by Thompson to review the findings for council members and have Dixon explain what recommendations had been completed and what steps were being taken to correct the others.
Less than two weeks later during city council’s regular monthly meeting March 6, council members presented Thompson with a letter apparently signed prior to the meeting asking for his resignation — which Thompson did not do.
Council members stated in their request they based that decision on 11 of the state auditor’s 28 findings.
When Thompson did not resign, a special meeting called by council members was scheduled for March 11 to discuss and vote him out.
However, before that meeting, Thompson’s attorney filed a civil action on his behalf against all six council members, charging them with two violations of the state’s Open Meetings Act — violations which allegedly occurred during the decision process to vote Thompson out of office.
Part of that civil action was to file a motion for an injunction to stop the March 11 meeting, but Taylor said the day after, “I withdrew my motion for an injunction because (it) was only to prevent (the March 11) hearing — so it was basically a moot point to have (the motion hearing).”
Now the appeal has been filed — and this appeal charges that the city council violated Thompson’s Constitutional rights when deciding and then voting to oust him from office.
No court dates have yet been set in this case.
By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
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