While the District Attorney and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are done with their criminal probe, lingering questions remain. Members of Metro Council’s Special Committee as well as those on the city’s ethical conduct board say they hope to find some answers over the coming months.
Those that will attempt to move past what transpired between the former Mayor and her head of security to find out how it was able to go on so long — and how it might have affected citizens of Nashville in unforeseen ways.
Metro Council’s Special Committee
The Council’s Special Committee met Tuesday night after a Metro Council meeting. After one and a half hours of deliberation, the group decided not to disband the committee but did agree to make some changes in light of the Barry's conditional guilty plea.
Councilman Robert Swope pointed out that while their initial goal was to find out if there had been any wrongdoing, Barry’s resignation and charge answered that question.
The panel agreed they should set a new goal— to find out how to stop it from happening again. In order to do so, they’re planning to ask Metro Council to expand their scope, allowing them to make policy recommendations to the city after their investigation concludes.
Earlier in the day, Nashville’s new mayor, David Briley told reporters he didn’t think the committee was still necessary and encouraged members to reconsider the cost of hiring an outside law firm to investigate.
While the panel did not disband, they did agree to limit the amount of hours the contracted lawyers will work to keep costs down. Once 15 hours are billed — which are not to surpass a rate of $395 per hour — the firm must request approval from the committee to keep going.
The panel will schedule a meeting once the city’s auditing team completes their report.
Council Board of Ethical Conduct
Members of the city’s Council Board of Ethical Conduct then voted Wednesday morning to set a hearing despite the mayor’s resignation.
An outside law firm was hired last month to provide legal analysis of a complaint filed by Theeda Murphy, a local activist affiliated with Community Oversight Now, a group advocating for a police oversight board.
While it is traditionally the role of Metro’s law department to review complaints, the board wanted to avoid a potential conflict of interest.
Much of the conversation centered around the purpose of the investigation. After all, Barry is no longer a Metro employee.
In the end, citing a desire for “transparency and to foster public trust,” members of the board voted to look into two of four allegations in the complaint: former Metro Sgt. Rob Forrest’s excessive overtime —which he plead guilty to yesterday — and whether his relationship with Barry influenced her stance on the community oversight board. That proposal was publicly opposed by Nashville’s law enforcement.
At the hearing, members of Community Oversight Now provided WPLN with copies of several emails obtained through a public record requests. The emails show that Forrest, as well as Chief Steve Anderson, were looped into conversations related to the proposed oversight board.
Murphy believes the emails prove that officers were monitoring the social media accounts of activist groups pushing for an oversight board.
Forrest was working as head of security for Barry at that time, and Murphy says it’s unclear why he was included in those conversations. She says she hopes to present this information to the board.
A date for the ethics hearing has not been announced yet.
TBI Is Out
Earlier Tuesday, District Attorney Glenn Funk announced he’d asked the TBI to end their probe. The state agency confirmed they would heed his request.
It is still unclear what the TBI discovered, and the public will likely never know. TBI investigative reports are protected by Tennessee statute and are not considered public records.