Montgomery County, TN – The Clarksville-Montgomery County Regional Planning Commission voted to hire Nashville attorney, H. Rowan Leathers III of the Nashville law firm Miller & Martin PLLC, to investigate an employee grievance filed by John Spainhoward against Mabel Larson, a member of the planning commission.
In a special called meeting on Wednesday, Clarksville City Attorney Lance Baker and Montgomery County Attorney Austin Peay gave three recommendations to the commission for their consideration.
There wasn’t much discussion about any of the law firms, and the commission voted to hire Leathers because he had offered to handle the case for a “flat fee.” The other two attorneys were over $280.00 per hour, and couldn’t put a time frame on what their investigation would cost.
Planning commissioner Bryce Powers had some serious concerns about spending the taxpayers dollars on an investigation, then not knowing if the planning commission could even do anything about it once it was completed.
Chairman Mike Harrison echoed Powers’ concerns, but there was no support from other commissioners. Lance Baker emphasized to the commissioners that they could conduct an investigation themselves, but because the subject of the investigation is also a planning commissioner there would be criticism and questions raised about what they had done.
Commissioner Robert Nichols asked if they knew what the commission could do about the grievance, what actions if any they could take, and what would satisfy John Spainhoward after the grievance had been settled.
There were very few answers to those questions.
Baker told the planning commission they had three options:
- First, they could do nothing.
- Second, they could vote to “censure” Mabel Larson
- Third, they could recommend Ms Larson’s removal from the planning commission, which could only be done by the State of Tennessee, “With due cause.”
Neither Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan nor Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers were in attendance as they were on an inner-city visit to Iowa.
Chairman Harrison reiterated his contention that Spainhoward’s grievance is “probably a civil matter” and can’t be decided within the Regional Planning Commission.
Newly hired Planning Director Dave Ripple was at today’s meeting, but had little comment on the proceedings.
Follow Clarksville Online for an in depth interview with Dr. Ripple this weekend.