Over the objections of Charles Womack, the Cookeville City Council voted Thursday night to cease the investigation into Mayor Ricky Shelton’s hiring at Cookeville Regional.
“From the outside and from what this council can view, Mr. Shelton hasn’t done anything wrong in the eyes of this council,” Council Member Eric Walker said. “And for what this council has the authority to look at, he hasn’t violated anything that this council has authority over.”
Minutes earlier Womack said the council should ask the Cookeville Regional Board of Trustees to undertake an investigation.
“To my knowledge, they’ve just sat back and said things are doing OK,” Womack said. “And so I think it would be reasonable to ask the hospital board to undertake an investigation of the hiring.”
Womack said the city’s examination did not and could not examine whether Cookeville Regional violated its charter or bylaws by hiring Shelton. Council Member Mark Miller seconded the amendment.
However, in a procedural matter, Walker said the council was simply considering at that moment whether to accept the letter of findings from Attorney William Carver. Walker said the council’s next step would be discussed in the next action item. Womack agreed. The council accepted the letter and then began discussions on how the council should move forward.
“It’s hard to investigate something and not assume that accusations are being made,” Walker said. “I don’t feel like this council, or at least it wasn’t my intention to make any accusations of anyone, but rather to build clarity for the public and to hopefully conclude a matter of uncertainty for this council. I am somewhat disappointed that the findings have shown that the Cookeville City Council’s role in the hospital operations are much more limited than I was aware of in the beginning, and that is that no consequence other than studying this further. That is what what has been acknowledged by multiple attorneys. I have a lot of respect for the mayor and I hope that we can conclude this with all fairness. And I want to see that this council does reach some sort of conclusion in the matter, even though its scope is limited.”
Neither Womack nor Miller offered the idea again of asking the CRMC board to investigate. Miller voted to cease the investigation.
The council did vote to send the findings of Carver to the CRMC board.