The fight over government transparency in Mount Pleasant has reached a boiling point.
This all started a couple years ago when the city put in a water system, which pushed Mount Pleasant to have some of the highest utility bills in the state. The issue led to some serious citizen involvement. And now, new issues have come up, such as the city manager's credit card and the city attorney's payment.
City Manager Michelle Williams' credit card statements were printed in the local paper. Certainly, Williams has legitimate city expenses. But some residents want to know why the city spent $122 at Petsmart and why Williams went to dinner at China Chef and O'Charley's on the same day.
Dan Doubleday signed up for three minutes of public comment at the last commission meeting to ask those exact questions.
"I guess I spoke for about 10 seconds time. I didn't yell, I didn't use profanity. I was talking about the same way I am now. And Tom Hardin, the city attorney, interrupted me right at the first. I have the right to speak for three minutes, and he denied me that right," he said.
Witnesses say police then escorted Doubleday out of the meeting, basically kicking him out without a chance to speak.
Mark Henderson also has some unanswered questions. He says that he and County Commissioner Bob Shackleford have calculated that the Mount Pleasant city attorney is paid an average of $138,000 in attorney fees, which is way more than other Tennessee city of a similar size.
"Obviously, this is a poor city. The jobs simply aren't here anymore. Most people here work elsewhere, and we can't afford a gold-plated city attorney," Henderson said.
The problem for these residents is more than the expense, it's the lack of transparency.
Channel 4 tried to get some answers, but Hardin and Williams did not return calls.
"It seems to me that the people in Mount Pleasant who run our government are afraid to answer questions about what they do and what they spend. And I maintain the idea that every citizen has the right to come up and ask," Doubleday said.
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