Chairman Hakeem says city transportation director "should be eli - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chairman Hakeem says city transportation director "should be eliminated"

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CHATTANOOGA -

As the City of Chattanooga continues to grow and change Mayor Andy Berke's administration is looking at ways to improve transportation in the city. City council was set to vote Tuesday night on a new initiative but Chairman Yusuf Hakeem called for a delay on the vote and said transportation administrator Blythe Bailey should be fired.

The rift between Hakeem and Bailey started last week when Hakeem suggested a new agreement be made between the city and a local taxi company to establish a low-cost transportation program. Bailey said the proposal violated policy. Hakeem says he was accused of "being a crook."

"He has done a phenomenal job over the last year," said Mayor Andy Berke, referencing Blythe Bailey.

Mayor Berke started out Wednesday's public meeting on the future of Chattanooga transportation by thanking administrator Blythe Bailey for his hard work. But the administration's 'Complete Streets' initiative is being overshadowed as City Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem is calling for Bailey to be fired.

"All I know is I got an email, that in my mind, called me a crook," said Hakeem.

It all started when Hakeem sent Bailey a proposal. It suggests a low-cost voucher program be established between the city, CARTA and Millennium Taxi. Hakeem called it "a win-win for all involved." He said the public-private partnership would reduce long-term transportation costs but part of the deal includes CARTA and the city providing insurance and maintenance to Millennium's fleet. Bailey responded with in an email, saying "I have reservations about moving forward." He went on to say "naming a specific vendor" up front "may be a violation of purchasing policies."

When asked if he was trying to favor one company, Hakeem answered, "What we were trying to do was get a discussion started."

Tuesday, Hakeem issued a letter to the mayor's office and Bailey, writing, "Your position as administrator (should) be de-funded because of blatant disrespect." It went on to say, "you are unmanageable and a loose cannon that should be eliminated from local government." Hakeem called for a hearing on Bailey's job.

Channel 3 asked Mayor Berke about his reaction to Hakeem's suggestions and he answered, "People are seeing success in our Department of Transportation. You see the enthusiasm today. In general, we're not going to let personal agendas run the city. We're going to do what's best for everyone."

Bailey did not want to comment on the matter. Hakeem says it is not personal. He just wants better communication from Bailey.

"Somebody has to meet me at least part of the way," said Hakeem.

The meeting to review Bailey's position has since been canceled. There is no word on if any further talks about his position will be scheduled.

Hakeem says his request to delay the vote is separate from his 'rift' with Bailey. City council is expected to vote on the transportation initiative next week.

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