During Tuesday’s meeting, City Council members elected new people to lead the council and dealt with two social issues.
Council leader switch-up
District 2 City Councilman Jerry Mitchell stepped down from his position as council chairman.
The council then elected District 3 City Councilman Ken Smith to serve as chair and District 7 Councilman Erskine Oglesby as the new vice chairman.
The chair and vice-chair positions each have a one-year term. Council people may only be in a position for two consecutive terms at a time.
Directly following his appointment, Ken Smith reinstated District 4 City Councilman Darrin Ledford as the chairman of the planning and zoning committee and appointed District 6 City Councilwoman Carol Berz as the chairwoman of the budget and finance committee.
This is not the first time Berz has had the position. District 1 City Councilman Chip Henderson was in that position between her terms.
Smith said he will continue to make committee chair appointments in the weeks that follow.
City Council passed an ordinance on final reading that bans aggressive panhandling citywide in a 7-2 vote.
Mitchell and District 9 City Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod were the only two council people who voted no on the legislation.
The legislation passed the first reading last week with the same vote.
The ordinance had been the subject of many conversations since the beginning of March when Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy brought a proposition to City Council. Many showed concerns about the effects the ordinance might have on people who were homeless. Others felt that the ordinance might violate the first amendment.
Homeless camp relocation funding
City officials asked council members to allow the city to allocate $12,000 in an emergency fund to help house those being relocated from a homeless camp on East 11th Street.
News Channel 9 reported that the city is working on relocating about 100 homeless people who were living in a field known as Tent City because the field used to be a dumping ground for hazardous material.
“Last Friday, we found out that the land is actually contaminated, and it’s a detriment to their health if they stay there long-term,” Chattanooga Homeless Program Coordinator Sam Wolfe said.
The $12,000 will be sent to the Chattanooga Community Kitchen to help house the relocated ex-tenants for 15 days.
One citizen came forward at the meeting to voice his frustration with the entire relocation project stating that he wondered if it was an “overreach of authority.”
“It seems to me that it was a targeted selection,” Rick Carpenter said. “There was a camp being built there and it was tents. That’s not what we’re envisioning [for] Chattanooga.”
Alina Hunter-Grah is a contributing writer. She currently attends UTC, where she was previously the news editor of the student newspaper, The University Echo. Alina also worked at CNN during the summer of 2017 and is the former Chattanooga correspondent for 2nd & Church, a literary magazine based out of Nashville. You can reach Alina at [email protected] or on Twitter @alinahuntergrah.