Cookeville City Manager Shipley blocks e-mail, communication from Davidian, Ravnitzky to Cookeville to city council -- City council may hear complaints about Shipley at special 'work session' where the public cannot hear them

Although the constitution guarantees the right to petition government for redress of grievances, Shipley did not violate the First Amendment, Cookeville's city attorney contends. Mail from The Putnam Pit and Michael Ravnitzky, of, must now be sent through a third party to reach Shipley, who then passes them off to $125 an hour City Attorney T. Michael O'Mara to respond. Maybe if Mr. Shipley would stop hiding and do some work there would be less reason for disgruntled employees to talk about him, and less reason for city councilmen to hold work sessions to hear the complaints.

                              September 27, 1999

Geoffrey Davidian, Editor
The Putnam Pit
P. O. Box 1483
Cookeville, TN 38503

RE: Councilman Steve Copeland

Dear Mr. Davidian

Dr. Copeland will be unavailable this week but asked me to respond to your e- mail dated September 22, 1999, 4:48 p.m.

Dr. Copeland feels certain that your e-mail to him has not been blocked because he received your September 22 e-mail and wants you to feel free to correspond with him in that manner. Your right to petition to the government for redress of grievances through this means has not been impeded.

It is Dr. Copeland's perception that the City has been engaged in a lot of litigation but perhaps no more than at other times. Most of the conduct complained of by Reno Martin took place before Mr. Shipley became City Manager. The Holt matter is still in litigation and Dr. Copeland does not wish to comment on it. However, Dr. Copeland asks you to remember that several of the civil rights lawsuits were instigated by you and have been dismissed. It is Dr. Copeland's position that when sued the City has no choice but to defend itself.

In response to your question regarding upcoming lawsuits, Dr. Copeland knows of no lawsuits that are soon to be filed against the City.

Dr. Copeland's preference would be for you to present your information at a work session with the Council rather than a regularly scheduled Council meeting. He would have to poll other council members to see if they also favor a work session. At the work session you would be able to present information regarding Mr. Shipley and me. Dr. Copeland feels your request to make a presentation to the Council is based upon your assumption that you've been denied the right to petition the City government for redress of your grievances. Dr. Copeland fees that you have not been denied that right but will see whether there is any interest in having a work session with you.

Dr. Copeland feels that a discussion of the e-mail system of the City will probably not generate much in the way of information which will be useful in evaluating Mr. Shipley's performance. The proper way to evaluate a manager's performance is to deal in facts and not unsubstantiated opinions. If you want to provide Dr. Copeland the information found in the e-mail system he will attempt to determine whether the information may accurately be used in evaluating Mr. Shipley's performance.

As soon as Dr. Copeland has more information regarding a work session he will be back in touch with you.

Yours truly,

T. Michael O'Mara