Burkley Allen and Russ Pulley, appointed along with five other Metro Council members by Vice-Mayor David Briley, will form a Special Committee to investigate the use of public money by Nashville Mayor Megan Barry during her two year extramarital affair with Metro police officer and head of her security detail, Sgt. Robert Forrest.
The Metro Nashville Council resolution establishing the Special Committee restricts the investigation to the expenditure of public funds:
A Special Committee to investigate the circumstances involving travel and other expenses, including overtime expenses, potentially related to the Mayor’s admitted improprieties involving an employee of the Metropolitan Government to determine if there was any improper use of public money.
While the Special Committee is not charged with looking into the Mayor’s potential ethics violations, Briley did suggest that the Committee coordinate their inquiry with the Board of Ethical Conduct and the Metro Audit Committee which is also investigating the Mayor’s affair.
With regard to selecting members for the Special Committee, Vice-Mayor David Briley stated that he was looking at “people who have demonstrated neutrality in terms of the politics and people who are open-minded in terms of looking at the facts fairly.”
Last week, Special Committee members Burkley Allen and Russ Pulley voted against convening the Special Committee on which they now serve. In direct contrast to Vice-Mayor Briley’s goal for how the Committee’s conclusions will be received by the public, Pulley was quoted saying “I don’t think you can keep the perception of politics out of this committee.”
If voting records are any indication of a Council member’s politics, Burkley Allen and Russ Pulley may not measure up to the standards and goals Briley set for the Special Committee as stated in his letter to the committee’s members:
The most important objective of this Committee should be that its conduct and deliberations be seen as fair and impartial. That objective will be met if the Committee engages in a complete, objective investigation of the “circumstances involving travel and other expenses, including overtime expenses potentially related to the Mayor’s admitted improprieties involving an employee of the Metropolitan Government to determine if there was any improper use of public money.” The investigation should not stray from these limits.
Meeting that objective also requires that the Committee demonstrate no bias or prejudice either for or against the Mayor or her administration. Each of you has pledged to me that you will conduct yourself in a manner that demonstrates such neutrality.
Last week both Allen and Pulley voted against adding language to the ballot for the May 1 county-wide referendum setting forth the estimated actual cost of the Mayor’s transit plan. The expanded explanation of cost for the transit plan, referred to by many as the “transparency amendment” had to be added by a separate amendment to existing language and required a vote by Council members.
The transparency amendment passed by a vote of 21 in favor, 16 against, 1 abstention and 1 not voting. Both Allen and Pulley voted against the amendment that expands the cost estimates that will now be on the May 1 ballot:
This transit program’s capital cost is estimated to have a present day value of $5,354,000,000 and the program is estimated to require $8,951,062,000 in revenue through 2032. Once construction is complete, the estimated present day value of recurring annual operating and maintenance costs is approximately $99,500,000.
The Metro Nashville Council’s Special Committee will hold its first meeting Thursday, February 15th at 4 p.m. in Committee Room 2.