East Ridge Council Members Allegedly Discuss Gobble Tapes At Private Session

Friday, February 15, 2013

Four of five East Ridge City Council members held a private session on Thursday with attorney Hal North and discussed tapes that are allegedly in the custody of former City Manager Tim Gobble.

Interim City Manager Eddie Phillips said, "It was an executive session. It was nothing secret. No big deal."

But he said he could not discuss the topic of the meeting or what transpired.

Mr. Phillips said the council is able to meet in closed-door sessions with the attorney "on matters that remotely could possibly result in litigation."

The council recently entered into an agreement with Mr. Gobble in which he got seven months of severance pay and the two sides agreed not to sue each other.

All the council members were present except for Larry Sewell.

The council has several times discussed in open sessions an alleged tape or tapes made by Mr. Gobble in which a council member allegedly threatened him with his job.

At one meeting, Councilman Sewell asked Mr. Gobble if a councilman had threatened his job, and he said one had.

Apparently, the tape or tapes will remain in the custody of Mr. Gobble unless East Ridge officials press to get them, which sources said was not likely. 

Mr. Gobble recently resigned under duress with three members of the council apparently ready to fire him.

The same three - Marc Gravitt, Jim Bethune and Denny Manning - ousted City Attorney John Anderson the prior month.

Frances Pope, a citizen activist, recently made a Freedom of Information request for the tapes. She was told they were not in the city's possession.

Ms. Pope said Councilman Sewell told her on the phone that he had listened to a tape involving the alleged threat. At a recent council meeting, Councilman Sewell said he had not listened to a tape.

Vice Mayor Bethune said he had asked Mr. Gobble directly about the tapes and he told him there were none. 


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