Lebanon Police chief Scott Bowen physically escorted a Lebanon man out of a city council meeting Tuesday night.
Derek Dodson spoke before Mayor Phillip Craighead and the council questioning many of the mayor's business practices involving city projects, including the arena.
During the eight minute incident, which was captured on tape, Dodson is heard asking, “Mayor Craighead, regarding your arena proposal. Do you have any conflicts of interest that you haven't disclosed to the council or to this community with regard to that?”
Mayor Craighead responded by saying, “Listen, make your statements.”
Dodson then continues to bring up a number of business deals involving the city and the mayor that he believes are questionable.
“It gives the appearance you have something to hide, because you don't want scrutiny. Personally I think you have a lot to hide,” he said.
Occasionally the mayor is heard injecting, reminding Dodson to stay on point.
“We are talking about the arena, not things of the past,” Craighead is heard saying.
After several minutes of sometimes contentious bickering between the two, the mayor eventually summoned the police chief to the podium after Dodson questioned a bank loan involving the mayor.
The situation escalated as both men attempt to talk over one another. Before being escorted out from the city council chambers, Mayor Craighead told Dodson he is fed up with the accusations.
“Listen, I am tired of you making accusations and I will contend with you later, but listen where we are right now, there are no conflicts of interest,” the mayor said.
He continued, “What you threw out there is where I have refinanced my properties that I have had for years and you make an accusation that I am being bought out for something like that Derek Dotson, well you are in trouble. I will be talking to you later. Escort him from here.”
Nashville's News 2 Investigates spoke with city attorney Andy Wright who said Dodson was removed from the council chambers because he became disruptive.
“The city of Lebanon has a liberal policy allowing citizen comments. We block off time for citizens to address city council, about any topic, not necessarily what's on the agenda, and not limited by time or policy. We ask them to stay on topic, and if they get long winded or off topic, the mayor will steer them back in line, and ask to get back on topic. People usually vent and say what they have to say and it is addressed,” he explained.
Wright added, “[Dodson] started to address the mayor, and issues he has with the development plans the city has with a private developer. He started going into a decade's worth of projects the city has been involved in and making accusations that are baseless. He doesn't think that but based on his opinions, at the very least his accusations questioned the propriety of the mayor's dealings and at the very worst they allege potential criminal activity of the mayor.”
He continued, “He was allowed to speak close to eight to nine minutes on this before making accusations, then the mayor asked him to stop and shut him down. He wouldn't, he continued, [and] became loud and boisterous, and the mayor directed the chief of police to remove him from the room. The mayor has a legal right to keep order in a public meeting; you don't have a legal right to disrupt a public meeting. You can be removed if you become disorderly.”
According to Dodson, whom Nashville's News 2 Investigates spoke to Thursday, he finds the incident amusing.
“The mayor seemed to have a melt down with me telling the truth,” Dodson said. “I thought it was a poor example of democracy in action to remove me ‘cause I told the truth.”
When asked if he became disruptive during the meeting, Dodson said that's “impossible.”
“I spoke the truth in a normal voice. I had in my hand, files and documents of everything I said and more, and possibly, the reason the mayor shut me down is that he feared what else I had that I had not mentioned yet,” he said, adding, “I think I was shut down because I told the truth out loud and I have the documents to prove that, and the fear was there that I would say more than I had all ready said.”
Mayor Craighead declined an interview with Nashville's News 2 regarding Tuesday night's incident.