Commissioner Joe Graham Becomes Focus of Squabble Over Discretionary Spending

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF)- Hamilton county commissioner Joe Graham became a lightning rod at Wednesday’s meeting.

The Lookout Valley commissioner asked for approval of getting 32-thousand dollars in discretionary funds to replace windows in the John A. Patten Recreation Center.

What he found was strong criticism from several of his colleagues.

That request for funding became the focal point of a simmering internal squabble among the commissioners.

Graham has become known for opposing the traditional 100-thousand dollars in discretionary funds for each commissioner.

He’s also known for his strong criticism of fellow members.

TIM BOYD, DISTRICT 8 “I’ve got issues with the fact that our fellow commissioner Graham has been critical of us ..the commissioners for 18 months …that kept their discretionary fund ..that we, as we were accused of reaching out and grabbing the funds.”

Graham did not take his discretionary fund this year, but he did have money left from a previous year he wanted to use.

But other commissioners say he did not support similar requests for their district improvements.

RANDY FAIRBANKS, DISTRICT 1 “I have before me right here, ten projects in district one that I brought before this commission last year, that approved, that were approved unanimously, except for one vote: uh, commissioner Graham voted “present” on all ten of those.”

Sabrena Smedley accused Graham of using the media against fellow commissioners.

SABRINA SMEDLEY, DISTRICT 7 “Not only is it happening in the media, but check out facebook. Check out facebook. Commissioner Graham attacks us repeatedly on facebook ..check out his facebook page, you’ll be quite amused.”

GREG BECK, DISTRICT 5 “This is an embarrassing situation. And all of you out here know it…media, you know its an embarrassing situation…and we’re here to do the county’s business…not to beat up on a commissioner.

JOE GRAHAM , DISTRICT 6 “If you agree that this is a good spend, with previously approved, budgeted funds that I’ve had in my account for a very long time, then I would greatly appreciate your vote.”

It didn’t happen.

In a split vote, with district 3 still vacant, the commission refused to approve the resolution.


Categories: Government & Politics, Hamilton County, Local News

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