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Effort fails to aid former fire chief
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McMinnville officials will be meeting this Tuesday to consider what to do, if anything, about a potential lawsuit brewing between the city and former fire chief Keith Martin.A Safety Committee meeting was called after Alderman Billy Wood attempted to stymie a lawsuit during Tuesday night’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting by making a motion the board offer Martin a severance package in exchange for an agreement he would not pursue legal action against the city.“I would like to make a motion that we offer Keith Martin one-year severance with a hold harmless to the city to protect the taxpayers and have this done in 72 hours and remove all objections to him drawing his unemployment,” said Wood.The motion did not receive a second.Alderman Mike Neal pointed out the city’s rules on procedure dictate the expenditure of money must come through a committee and be listed on the agenda before it can be considered, unless the board votes to suspend the rules.“I think before we do this, we need to consider No. 6 in our rules,” said Neal. “It says we can suspend the rules by a two-third vote of the board.”According to city attorney Tim Pirtle, the board can suspend the rules in “unforeseen emergencies when the city or its citizens will suffer if action is not taken immediately” and the board will have to decide if that rule applies in this case.If it does not apply, says Pirtle, the measure needs to be taken before the Safety Committee, which governs McMinnville Fire Department, and its recommendation sent to the board.On the Safety Committee are Neal and Aldermen Ken Smith and Rick Barnes.Smith said, “Mike, if we had a Safety Committee meeting next Tuesday night after or before the Finance Committee meeting, we could go ahead and clear that up and bring it to the board at the next meeting on May 27th.