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Emergency workers protest mayor's handling of resignation

Leaders of the Clinton Fire Department, rescue squad and ambulance service came to the Clinton City Council Monday evening to ask the City Council to ask the City Council and Mayor Cox to look into the resignation of Chief Tracy House and reverse the decision. The Chief was asked to resign after objectionable photos were found on the city police computer. He resigned from the position he held for several years.

 With audience members participating, a discussion took place about the resignation of the police chief. Councilwoman Phyllis Campbell made clear that the decision to accept House’s resignation was the Mayor’s alone.

Incident Commander during the 2009 January Ice Storm, Scott Smith, pictured at left, told the Council that he was proud to call House a friend and praised him for his dedication during the emergency, telling the Council that House slept on the floor of the emergency squad headquarters at least one night during the emergency. Smith said that House was always available to help. 

Local residents Betty Morrow and John Bowles echoed Smith's request that the Council take another look at House's resignation.

Coroner Paula Bowles asked what was in the employee handbook that was used for the resignation. The Mayor said he asked the city attorney. City attorney Leanna Wilkerson said that since House resigned the question of what rules he violated never came up. Wilkerson said that there is a general "conduct unbecoming" clause in most employee handbooks. When Tracy resigned, alternatives to firing were not considered.
 
Councilman Mickey Beck told the Council that past mayors had consulted the council. “I wish there would have been a chance for us to give some input. I don’t condone what he allegedly did. But I wish we could ha
 
Campbell said she had only heard about House when fellow councilman Howard Dillard called her.
 
The Mayor told her, “You were the only one. Everybody at Red’s knew all about it.”
  
Commissioner Yvette Thomas retorted, “Red’s not on the city council”
 
Thomas said that “we looked like Boo-Boo the fool because we didn’t know what was going on” She told the Mayor that a courtesy call would have been in order.
 
Councilman Howard Dillard said that Tracy bridged a lot of gaps in the community and he wished that the clock could be turned back and the situation being handled differently.
 
Councilman Beck asked that any further action be put on hold while the matter plays out. No action was taken on Beck’s request.
 
City Fire Chief Matt Walker arrived late for the meeting, bringing a copy of the Channel 6 news coverage of the House firing.  Walker read a list of statements from Mayor Cox’s television appearances and questioned the statements the Mayor made.
 
“Mr. Mayor, you said six tapes have been made public. Has anyone seen the tape? No. I didn't think so."
 
“Sex with adult women and adult acts….’ Walker read from his notes. Then he quipped , ” Personally, if it was me – I would like to have video tapes so I can look back twenty years from now” sparking laughter in the room.
 
Walker quoted the Mayor telling Channel 6 that “he arrests people for stuff like that.” Those are your exact words – but it’s not illegal. Those are your words, too.”
 
Walker told the Mayor, "Your conduct is out of line.  This is not about Tracy House’s innocence or guilt… this should have been handled in house investigation without fanfare".

Then Walker uttered the words that led coverage on Channel 6 news Monday night and Tuesday morning.  
 
You, sir, have made Clinton Kentucky look like an ass and I’m ashamed of it and I think a lot of people in this room are also ashamed.”
 
During the business meeting, the contract with New Commonwealth Gas Company was approved. New Commonwealth would no longer charge the city $1 a customer. The city is still trying to decide whether to take management of the gas company over. The council also heard that customer services in the Middlesboro office of the water company would be closing. After March 31, 2010, questions would be answered by the company’s Florida office.
 
The City Council spent time in executive session, presumably discussing the House resignation.
 
After the regular business session, a young man who said he had applied for the Clinton City Police Force inquired why he had not received a call back. He stated that his experience and training was superior to the female officer scheduled to start work at the end of the week. The mayor said that he had looked at the application records for several years back and highly qualified individuals also had not been hired.  Members of the council said often individuals apply for jobs, and then find something else.
 
 

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