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By John Coffelt, Staff Writer
The Coffee County Commission decided Tuesday to reappoint Jimmy Bradford to the Ambulance Authority , in an 11-to-9 vote, against the suggestion of the Tullahoma caucus.
The appointment came amid confusion about a roll-call vote between nominated District 18 commissioner Myra Patton and Bradford, who nominated himself.
County Mayor David Pennington paused the meeting, halting commissioner Lee Duckett’s motion to appoint Bradford chairman to confer with parliamentarian Joe Pedigo and county attorney Robert Huskey about how to proceed when commissioner Virgil Alford essentially made a motion for a reconsideration of the vote.
“I don’t believe the vote stands,” Alford said, “because we didn’t have a motion and a second.”
Earlier in the meeting, committee nominations involving multiple appointments were decided with a with a roll-call vote and then finalized with a second vote when a caucus-nominated member had been challenged by a second, ad hoc nomination.
The decision was made that the original roll-call vote for Ambulance Authority would stand.
Following the procedure set in “Roberts Rules of Order,” motions can be connected with nominations, Pedigo said.
“Each caucus would nominate – that was considered a motion. A second was given and the nominees from the three caucuses were voted in,” explained Pedigo.
“When we came to Mr. Bradford’s runoff, it was my judgment to proceed with a motion.”
Pedigo deferred to the county attorney for his insight to the county’s constitutional bylaws, specifically those that govern the election of officials.
According to Huskey, the appointment of the Ambulance Authority falls under the category of an election, rather than as a motion that needed seconding.
Summarizing the county constitution Huskey said, “When there can be nomination, members make nominations. When the nominations cease, you have a vote.”
A majority of the full commission, 11 votes, is required.
“All persons receiving the majority of votes shall be considered elected. We had a role-call vote between two people and, according to our rules, there was an election – an 11-to-9 vote,” Huskey added
He said a second, final vote was not needed because Bradford had been duly elected by the roll-call vote.
The appointment comes amid criticism of the management of the service.
“I am disappointed at my fellow commissioners not respecting the wishes of the Tullahoma caucus,” said commissioner Rush Bricken. “There really and truly is a need for change in leadership.”
Bricken noted recent improvements in the service, but said that improvements have come only because of the pressure being placed on the service.
“It shouldn’t take hammer over the organization to make it run right.”
Ambulance Authority committee member Janet Fann defended the service with criticism of the recent CTAS report that pointed out several weaknesses of the service.
“We (the Ambulance Authority committee) realized that CTAS had not interviewed any of [the employees]. [CTAS personnel] only handed them surveys and that was it. I don’t feel like, in good faith, that they can send this survey and give [an accurate impression of] what is really going on.”
Fann said the complaints that she received from EMS employees concerned mostly the press’ handling of the story.
“Their complaints mainly was what had come out in the paper, what had been said to the newspaper and how it was reported,” she said.
She said the service’s problems started as fiscal problems that were the result of the billing program put in place over a year ago.
“We made a mistake getting this new billing service and it’s like it’s been hell ever since,” Fann said.
Bricken responded saying, “The issues that I have over the last two months deals with operational issues – of sexual discrimination, of racial discrimination issues and equipment not being put on trucks.
“To me, that reflects atrocious management. To tolerate that and have confidence in management is ridiculous.
“If Bradford is not willing to change management, then we need to change that position,” Bricken said.
Bradford responded that none of the complaints of discrimination involved EMS director John Cathey.
“There’s other problems that we have to take care of in Tullahoma and that’s adding another ambulance,” Bradford said.
Fann shared her support for Cathey saying that the supervisor that received the most complaints has since been demoted.
Bricken said the complaints involve more than one supervisor.
“It’s scary what some of the employs were saying,” he said.
Fann countered that this should not be aired at the meeting.
“They also expressed to you, and some others, about the advertisement, about the paper – of what they were writing. You know what, we’re not going to settle this out here in public,” Fann said.
Earlier reports indicate that the CTAS inquiry was conducted with employee questionnaires that included a comment section, and was based on the reviews of financial operating data and a Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat analysis.
The report found “lax internal controls of county assets, poor communication and leadership and inadequate revenue realization.”
As a part of a list of recommendations, the report suggested job shadowing by both to aid communication and understanding between commissioners and EMS personnel.
Bradford’s term expired in 2012. His new appointment lasts two years.