Chairman Hakeem VS City Transportation Director

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: Harrison Pirtle
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Updated: 3/19 6:47 pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF-TV) - Is it a misunderstanding---or a permanent breach in the fabric of Chattanooga city government?
Mayor Andy Berke's hand-picked team was shaken this week when city council chairman Yusuf Hakeem called for defunding the position of the Transportation administrator, Blythe Bailey.
The three were at the Multimodal Transportation meeting Wednesday morning.

Council chairman Yusuf Hakeem and other council members held a meeting last week to talk about incorporating private taxi service into CARTA's over-all transportation plan.
When transportation chief Blythe Bailey questioned the inclusion of only Millennium taxi company, the chairman fired back.

YUSUF HAKEEM, CHAIRMAN, CITY COUNCIL "At this point, that is still my recommendation..that that position be defunded. And I think, I had to say it in that way to get the attention of the individual involved...because, I'm not accustomed to being called a crook."

But Hakeem, Mayor Berke and Bailey were all at the CARTA public meeting at the downtown library.
The mayor again outlined his goals, and backed his transportation director.

MAYOR ANDY BERKE, CHATTANOOGA "As part of that, we recruited Blythe Bailey, our administrator of transportation ...and he has done a phenomenal job over the last year of making sure we implement that vision...so Blythe, thank you very much."

Hakeem told WDEF News 12 his threat to defund the job, was intended to get the attention of Bailey and the Mayor for his taxi proposal.

YUSUF HAKEEM "CARTA doesn't go,I'm going to use the term "door-to-door"..in the sense when people need to go to the grocery store when they need to...to go to the doctor ..things of that nature."

Hakeem says the program would have included other taxi companies, not just Millenium.
He says the wrong message was sent about that meeting.
Hakeem says his response to Bailey is not personal.
And Bailey returned the courtesy---by acknowledging Hakeem's presence at the meeting.

Mayor Berke's office says it has not been contacted by Chairman Hakeem to ask for a meeting.

The city's Multimodal Transportation plan is being presented to various groups.
It was a standing-room-only meeting Wednesday morning at the Chattanooga public library.

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