THE PUTNAM PIT, INC., and
vs. Case No. 2:97-108
CITY OF COOKEVILLE, and
JIM SHIPLEY, in his official
capacity as City Manager of
the City of Cookeville,
THE DEPOSITION OF GAIL FOWLER, a witness,
was taken before Phyllis J. Stinson, a Notary Public and Court
Reporter within and for the State of Tennessee, at the Law
Offices of O'Mara & Johnson, 317 West Spring Street,
Cookeville, Tennessee, on Friday, June 26th, 1998, pursuant to
Agreement and the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, on
behalf of the Plaintiffs in this cause.
STINSON REPORTING SERVICE
P.O. Box 1417, Cookeville, Tennessee 38501
For the Plaintiffs: SAMUEL J. HARRIS, ESQ.
P. O. Box 873
Cookeville, Tennessee 38503
For the Defendants: JOHN C. DUFFY, ESQ.
Watson, Hollow & Reeves, P.L.C.
1700 First Tennessee Plaza
800 South Gay Street
Knoxville, Tennessee 37901
T. MICHAEL O'MARA, ESQ.
O'Mara & Johnson
317 West Spring Street
Cookeville, Tennessee 38501
It is stipulated and agreed that the deposition of
GAIL FOWLER, may be taken by agreement at the Law Offices of
O'Mara & Johnson, 317 West Spring Street, Cookeville,
Tennessee, June 26th, 1998, on behalf of the Plaintiffs,
pursuant to the provisions of the Tennessee Rules of Civil
It is further stipulated and agreed that all object-
tions, except as to the form of the question, are reserved to
the time of trial; that formalities as to signature of the
witness, notice and filing are expressly waived by counsel;
that the reporter, being a Notary Public, may swear the
2 WITNESS: PAGE
3 GAIL FOWLER:
4 Direct Examination by Mr. Harris: 3
6 (No Exhibits were marked.)
9 the witness herein, having been first duly sworn to state the
10 whole truth, testified as follows, to wit:
13 Q. Will you state your name for the record?
14 A. Gail Fowler.
15 Q. Where are you employed?
16 A. City of Cookeville.
17 Q. What do you do there?
18 A. I'm Administrative Assistant to the City Manager,
19 and Administrative Support for the Mayor and Council.
20 Q. You know who Geoff Davidian is, correct?
21 A. Yes, I do.
22 Q. You know what the Putnam Pit is.
23 A. Yes, I do.
24 Q. What is your opinion of the Putnam Pit?
25 MR. DUFFY: Object to the form of the question.
1 Q. (By Mr. Harris) Do you like the Putnam Pit?
2 A. I don't like or dislike it.
3 Q. Do you read the Putnam Pit?
4 A. I have seen it from time to time.
5 Q. When is the last time you have read it?
6 A. I don't know the exact date, but it's been a few
8 Q. Do you read it on the Internet?
9 A. I have seen it on the Internet, yes.
10 MR. DUFFY: Can I ask, are they the same?
11 MR. O'MARA: Oh, no.
12 MR. DUFFY: The paper and the Internet?
13 MR. HARRIS: No.
14 MR. O'MARA: They are not the same from day-
16 Q. (By Mr. Harris) Has Geoff Davidian ever been rude
17 to you?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. How has he been rude to you?
20 A. Certain remarks he would make concerning documents
21 I would provide to him. I also consider it rude when someone
22 indicates they will be at my office at a certain time, set an
23 appointment, and then they don't show up or don't call to
24 cancel or reschedule. I consider that rude.
25 Q. He has never insulted you, personally, has he?
1 A. No.
2 Q. Has he ever used foul language in your office?
3 A. Not that I recall.
4 Q. Has he ever yelled at you?
5 A. He has raised his voice to me.
6 Q. Did you think he was going to do violence?
7 A. No.
8 Q. Well, is Geoff Davidian a likeable person?
9 MR. DUFFY: Object to the form of the
11 Q. (By Mr. Harris) Well, answer it, if you can.
12 A. I suppose he could be.
13 Q. But you don't like Geoff Davidian.
14 A. I didn't say that.
15 Q. No, but I'm asking you now. Do you like Geoff
17 A. I don't particularly care for him, no.
18 Q. You don't like him?
19 A. I'm not going to say that I don't like him. I
20 don't really have strong feelings either way about it.
21 Q. I see. But he has not done anything, other than
22 the fact that he has made requests for records and that has
23 meant additional work for you in the sense if he wasn't
24 there, you would be doing something else. I mean you have no
25 personal animosity toward him.
1 A. His inferences suggest to me that he questions my
3 Q. Okay. Will you be specific? What inferences are
4 you thinking of?
5 A. I don't know the exact date. Prior to a Council
6 meeting, I was actually making some copies for him to dis-
7 tribute to the City Council and he made some type of comment
8 to me about a file that I had, that I had better keep that
9 file in order, that he was sure the F.B.I. would be subpoena-
10 ing that file at some time. Those type remarks.
11 Q. Has Geoff Davidian -
12 A. I'm sorry.
13 Q. Go ahead.
14 A. (Indicating).
15 Q. Has Geoff Davidian ever joked with you about
16 anything, joked or made a witty remark?
17 A. His attempt to?
18 Q. Fair enough.
19 A. Not necessarily, but I would consider it so.
20 Q. So there were times when you perceived him as
21 attempting to be humorous?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Is it possible he was being humorous when he talked
24 about the F.B.I. file?
25 A. I did not take it that way that day.
1 Q. Do you remember the events involving Geoff Davidian
2 and yourself on October 3rd, 1997?
3 A. If you explain what those events were, I might be
4 able to recall, but to just give me a date, no, I do not.
5 Q. Okay. On October 3rd of 1997 Geoff Davidian came
6 in town and wanted to see the parking ticket records, and
7 according to the complaint -
8 MR. O'MARA: Could you specify whether you
9 mean parking tickets or parking ticket computer files?
10 MR. HARRIS: Okay.
11 Q. (By Mr. Harris) He wanted to seen parking ticket
12 records, regardless of the form in which they are stored. Do
13 you recall him coming over and talking to you after he had
14 talked to Lieutenant Honeycutt?
15 A. There have been several occasions where we have had
16 conversation regarding parking ticket data. I know of one
17 instance where I had a file that Nathan kept at my office,
18 because Nathan was scheduled to be out of his office that
19 day. Mr. Davidian had indicated he would be coming to
20 Cookeville to inspect that record, so I had asked Nathan to
21 allow me to have it in my office. I don't know if that is
22 the day in question.
23 Q. In our complaint that would seem to be the day we
24 are referring to. Regardless of the fact you don't remember
25 October 3rd, on this particular day, do you remember what you
1 told Geoff Davidian?
2 A. Once again, I want to reiterate that I don't know
3 if we are speaking of the same day, because we have had so
4 many meetings over records. If it is the day I'm thinking
5 of, the file that I had done, I believe, was a print-out that
6 Nathan had prepared for Mr. Davidian of some 40 pages that
7 had a list of names, and I believe that I have indicated to
8 Mr. Davidian I had that file in my office.
9 I don't recall if he looked at it that day or not,
10 but I do know that I returned that file to Nathan after the
12 Q. You don't recall Geoff Davidian telling you he was
13 referred to your office by Lieutenant Honeycutt, if he wanted
14 to see parking ticket information in electronic format?
15 A. Yes, there was a time that did occur.
16 Q. Do you remember the exact date?
17 A. No, I don't.
18 Q. Did this happen more than once?
19 A. I don't know if it happened in person more than
20 once. There were some electronic mail correspondence that
21 occurred between the City Manager, Mr. Davidian, and myself
22 concerning that data.
23 Q. On the date that Geoff Davidian came into your
24 office, do you recall how many times -did he come back
25 several times that day? Do you remember?
1 A. I don't know.
2 Q. You don't know?
3 A. Oftentimes when Mr. Davidian is in Cookeville he
4 will be in and out of my office several times, but I could
5 not tell you exactly on that given day if he was in and out
6 of my office more than once.
7 Q. Do you remember what specifically you said to him
8 that day?
9 A. No, I do not.
10 Q. Do you remember if he just said he would like to
11 see any kind of parking ticket records whatsoever?
12 A. I do not recall that. However, I do not maintain
13 parking tickets in the City of Cookeville Municipal Building,
14 and I would assume that I would have had to direct him to go
15 back across the street to the Police Department, because I
16 don't have those records in my office. He would have had to
17 go to another physical location to see them.
18 Q. Do you remember whether Geoff Davidian told you
19 that he had just been to see Lieutenant Honeycutt on that
20 particular day?
21 A. Not on that particular day. I do not recall. Once
22 again, we had several conversations about the parking tickets
23 and the data, and the way it was maintained.
24 Q. What specific statements do you remember Geoff
25 Davidian ever making about parking tickets, wanting to see
1 this data? Do you remember anything specifically?
2 A. He has asked numerous times to have the parking
3 ticket data in electronic format, and he has asked and been
4 shown numerous times the major parking tickets, themselves,
5 but I have never been the one to show him those records
6 because I'm not the custodian of those records.
7 Q. But you do remember there was a day he came to
8 you -
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. - asking for those parking ticket records?
11 MR. O'MARA: I object to the form of the
12 question. You keep saying parking ticket records. You don't
13 make it clear, Mr. Harris, whether you are speaking to the
14 parking tickets themselves, as Mr.- I'm sorry -Officer
15 Honeycutt said, the source documents, or whether you are
16 talking about the computer records, or whether you are talk-
17 ing about a file that he wanted to have them in electronic
18 form. I wish you would make that clear to the witness.
19 MR. HARRIS: Fair enough.
20 Q. (By Mr. Harris) You stated previously there was
21 one day that you remember Geoff Davidian coming and talking
22 to you directly, face-to-face, in your office regarding
23 information on parking tickets, regardless of the form in
24 which they are kept. We are talking about just the general
1 MR. O'MARA: That's not what she said. That
2 is not a fair characterization of her prior testimony.
3 MR. HARRIS: I didn't say it was.
4 MR. O'MARA: I'm pretty sure that's what that
5 question said.
6 MR. HARRIS: All right. I'm asking this now,
7 Mr. O'Mara, so listen. I will say it slowly so you can
8 understand it.
9 MR. O'MARA: Sam, it's not necessary for you
10 to insult me with your comments. I'm here and I can listen.
11 MR. HARRIS: Mr. O'Mara, I don't need to
12 insult you with my comments. Miss Fowler, I will say it
13 slowly so you can understand it, because I know it's a
14 lengthy question and your attorney asked me to be very
15 crystal clear as to what we are talking about.
16 Q. (By Mr. Harris) There was a day Geoff Davidian
17 came to you and talked to you directly about parking tickets,
18 is that correct, that you remember?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Did he ever come to you on any other day and talk
21 to you about parking ticket records face-to-face?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Okay. On any of those days, was that a day that
24 Lieutenant Honeycutt was scheduled to be off?
25 A. Ask me that again, please.
1 Q. Okay. How many times did Geoff Davidian come to
2 you and meet with you face-to-face talking about parking
3 tickets, parking ticket records, data, information concerning
4 parking tickets issued to citizens by the City of Cookeville,
5 and at the same time that was a day that Lieutenant Honeycutt
6 was not working or was scheduled to be off that day?
7 A. I would say once.
8 Q. Once. So my following questions will talk about
9 that particular day.
10 A. That particular day.
11 Q. On that particular day--and I will refer to it as
12 that particular day. On that particular day, do you recall
13 specifically how many times Geoff Davidian came to see you
14 that day?
15 A. No.
16 Q. You don't know whether it was once or twice?
17 A. No.
18 Q. Do you recall whether Geoff Davidian on that
19 particular day told you that he was referred to your office
20 by Lieutenant Honeycutt?
21 A. Yes, and I would like to explain that, if I may.
22 Q. Go ahead. Sure.
23 A. The particular day that we are speaking of was a
24 day that Lieutenant Honeycutt had requested leave, had filled
25 out a form and had it approved, and he had advised me that he
1 would be out of the office. Unbeknownst to me, he came into
2 the office later that day.
3 So I wanted to make that clear, because it's
4 sounding a little bit unusual, but that is why when
5 Lieutenant Honeycutt was supposed to be out of the office
6 that Davidian was referred to me by Lieutenant Honeycutt.
7 Q. That's why I'm going to go through this slowly and
8 refer to that particular day.
9 A. Okay.
10 Q. Do you know what I mean by that particular day?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. On that particular day, Geoff Davidian had already
13 spoken with Lieutenant Honeycutt that morning. Do you recall
14 if that is correct?
15 A. I don't know if it was the morning.
16 Q. On that day sometime before he came to see you.
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. And Lieutenant Honeycutt referred Geoff Davidian to
20 A. Is that a question?
21 Q. Yes. Do you know if Geoff Davidian said that to
22 you, that he was referred to your office by Lieutenant
23 Honeycutt on that particular day?
24 A. Yes. To the best of my recollection, yes.
25 Q. Okay. Do you know why Lieutenant Honeycutt would
1 have referred Geoff Davidian to you on that particular day?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Why?
4 A. Because of the question concerning the electronic
5 data being provided to Mr. Davidian.
6 Q. Did Geoff Davidian -what did you tell Geoff
8 A. I don't recall.
9 Q. Do you recall if Geoff Davidian ever asked to see
10 just the parking tickets in the paper form that they are
11 issued, the copies that are issued to the public?
12 MR. O'MARA: On that particular day?
13 MR. HARRIS: On that particular day.
14 THE WITNESS: I don't recall.
15 Q. (By Mr. Harris) Do you recall in detail anything
16 that you said to Geoff Davidian on that particular day?
17 A. No.
18 Q. Do you recall, in general, what transpired that
19 day, on that particular day?
20 A. I would have posed the question about the elec-
21 tronic data to the City Manager and quite possibly, the City
22 Attorney, and had a request been made to view the paper
23 tickets, I would have referred Mr. Davidian back across the
24 street to the Police Department. As I said earlier, I do not
25 maintain those records in my office. I'm not the custodian
1 of those.
2 Q. So the only thing you had in your office on that
3 particular day was 40, 41 pages of print-out of the records
4 request Geoff Davidian previously had received.
5 A. That is correct.
6 Q. Didn't have the parking tickets, themselves, in
7 paper form?
8 A. No, sir.
9 Q. Didn't have some massive main frame or computer
10 system of some type that stored all of that parking ticket
11 data in your office, did you?
12 A. No, sir, not in my office.
13 Q. Have you ever heard anybody at City Hall, the City
14 Council, any employee of the City of Cookeville, say anything
15 negative about the Putnam Pit?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Who? Do you remember who?
18 A. No.
19 Q. Do you remember what they said?
20 A. Not particularly verbatim. I would not state to
21 you any particular person said these words about the Putnam
23 Q. Have any other employees said to you that Geoff
24 Davidian has been rude or has harassed employees?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. What employees?
2 A. Jerry Purcell, Pat Coomer, Linda Davis, Stephanie
3 Miller, and some former employees that are no longer with the
5 Q. Do you remember their names?
6 A. Bob McCawley.
7 Q. Could you spell McCawley?
8 A. Capital M, little C, capital C-a-w-l-e-y.
9 Q. Have you ever heard Mr. Shipley say anything, state
10 his opinion about the Putnam Pit?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. What did he say?
13 A. Again, not to quote, I think the general feeling
14 was he didn't have a real high opinion of it.
15 Q. What do you mean by that?
16 A. Mainly because it's often not factual.
17 Q. What do you mean by that?
18 A. Or accurate.
19 Q. Okay. So by high opinion, what do you mean by high
21 A. Well, if you were writing it as one of the, you
22 know, top ten novels, it wouldn't be No. 1 on the Best Seller
24 Q. I see. It's down near No. 10, in his opinion?
25 A. I don't know that I would go that low.
1 Q. Is it a fair characterization on a scale of one to
2 ten with one being the most that he thinks it attributable to
3 journalism, and No. 10 being that he doesn't think it's well,
4 Mr. Shipley -by a high opinion, you mean he doesn't like the
5 Putnam Pit?
6 A. I can't speak for Mr. Shipley.
7 Q. In terms of what he said -
8 A. I'm giving you my opinion.
9 Q. You said he didn't have a high opinion of it.
10 A. I didn't say that.
11 Q. Okay. What did you say about high opinion?
12 A. Those were my words.
13 Q. Right. That was the impression he gave you.
14 A. That was my general impression.
15 Q. I'm not saying he used those words, but that was
16 your impression. Was there anything he said that gave you
17 that impression?
18 A. Not necessarily, no.
19 Q. Did he ever say it simply because he resented the
20 Putnam Pit taking up all of the City of Cookeville's time?
21 A. No.
22 Q. Have you ever prepared a time chart for how much
23 time the Putnam Pit has come in, and by Putnam Pit I mean the
24 Putnam Pit and Geoff Davidian, and attempted to access public
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Have you ever done that for the Herald-Citizen?
3 A. No.
4 Q. Have you ever done that for the Putnam Morning
5 Star, or Putnam Star?
6 A. (Indicating).
7 Q. That's no?
8 A. That's no.
9 Q. Have you ever done that for any of the television
10 stations locally?
11 A. No.
12 Q. Has the Herald-Citizen ever come into your office
13 to ask for records requests?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Have they done that in the last year?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. What did they ask for?
18 A. I don't know. Normally we can handle their
19 requests with a phone call. There might be -I can't recall
20 specifically. I just know that, yes, we have responded to
21 some of their requests within the last year. I can't tell
22 you specifically what.
23 Q. Do you know whether the Herald-Citizen has ever
24 been denied a request for public records?
25 A. Not to my knowledge.
1 Q. Do you know about the Putnam Star?
2 A. Not to my knowledge.
3 Q. The Putnam Star has never been denied a public
4 records request, right?
5 A. Not to my knowledge, but let me point out that not
6 all of the record requests would come through my office
8 Q. But of the record requests made to your office, has
9 the Herald-Citizen or Putnam Star, the local radio and tele-
10 vision stations, or even Nashville media? Of the record
11 requests that come through your office, has any other media
12 been denied access to public records?
13 A. Not to my knowledge.
14 Q. In the past year, have you ever made the Herald-
15 Citizen, a reporter or somebody representing the Herald-
16 Citizen, have you ever made them fill out a written records
17 request from the City of Cookeville when they have asked for
18 records from your office?
19 A. If it was a phone inquiry, no.
20 MR. HARRIS: I think that's all.
21 (Whereupon, the deposition of GAIL FOWLER was
22 concluded on Friday, June 26, 1998.)
2 STATE OF TENNESSEE
3 COUNTY OF PUTNAM
4 I, PHYLLIS J. STINSON, a Court Reporter and
5 Notary Public in and for the State of Tennessee at Large, DO
6 HEREBY CERTIFY the foregoing deposition was taken at the time
7 and place set forth in the caption hereof; that the witness
8 herein was duly sworn on oath to testify the truth; that the
9 proceedings were stenographically reported by me, and the
10 foregoing pages constitute a true and correct transcript of
11 said deposition to the best of my ability.
12 I FURTHER CERTIFY that I am not a relative or
13 employee or attorney or counsel of any of the parties hereto,
14 nor a relative or employee of such attorney or counsel, nor
15 do I have any interest in the outcome or the events of this
17 IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto affixed my
18 official seal and signature this 29th day of June, 1998, at
19 Cookeville, Putnam County, Tennessee.
20 My Commission expires November 20, 2000.
Phyllis J. Stinson
Notary Public at Large
State of Tennessee