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Council Moves Forward on Proposal to Strip Mayor’s Powers

Ashland City Mayor Steve Allen (Photo: Facebook)

-Micca Terrell

After hearing the results of the City Attorney’s investigative report during a special session April 26, the Ashland City Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to move forward to strip the powers of Mayor Steve Allen.

Chris Kerrigan, Ward 3 Councilmember, who seconded the proposal initiated by Vice Mayor JT Smith, said in a phone interview with The Post that the council had already asked Allen to resign, and since Allen did not want to do that, the council went ahead with the ouster proceedings. Kerrigan added that City Attorney Jennifer Noe would be taking over the ouster proceedings and there was not a specific time frame on the process.

Noe shared details of her investigation during the specially called meeting. The report included interviews with current and former employees, as well as contractors. The two current employees were both department heads, Chuck Walker, Ashland City Fire Chief, and Scott Sampson, City Parks Director.

The report detailed an incident from March 9, 2022, in which Allen became upset and invaded Walker’s personal space when the council awarded the contract for the new fire hall to the Parent Company and not to the company that Allen’s son-in-law works for, Orion. The son-in-law would have been superintendent of the project, had Orion won the contract, according to the report.

Noe explained that the city’s Code of Ethics requires employees to disclose if they had any personal interests which would affect city decision making and policy. While the Code specifically does not mention in-laws, it does mention children.

The report also detailed an incident in which Allen became upset about the city awarding a contract to Impact Pyro rather than the same fireworks vendor from past years. In the report, an unnamed city worker explained that a friend of the mayor worked for the prior vendor, and that the mayor shared information about Impact’s bid with the other company prior to the council awarding the contract. The report stated Allen became “combative” and “red-faced” during the incident. The Code of Ethics stated that city employees may not share information they receive through their office about a competitor’s bid.

Noe’s investigation included information from the State Comptroller’s report, in which Allen was shown in surveillance footage allegedly using the city’s lawnmower for personal use. Allen is also accused of using a city-issued credit card to purchase more than $3,200 in meals without documentation. Allen was indicted on official misconduct charges in November 2021, according to a press release from the Comptroller’s Office. The Code of Ethics also includes the stipulation that employees may not use municipal equipment to their personal advantage.

Mayor Allen is scheduled for a May 13 court hearing regarding the official misconduct charges.

Worrick Robinson, Allen’s attorney, did not respond to phone calls or emails by press time.


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