As of Thursday, Dec. 29, the incumbent aldermen for each of the four Brentwood wards, whose terms expire in April, have filed to run for another term. An elected official not filed (Dec. 17 was the first day), is Mayor Chris Thornton. When asked in city hall on Thursday, he was noncommittal; he said he hasn’t made a public statement.
In an email to 40 South with the subject line, My Rebuttal To Bola Akande, Doug Gruder, whose oak was removed by the city on Friday, has responded to the city administrator’s report of the meeting on Tuesday between Gruder, city staff members and elected officials. His first comment is a complaint that Akande misspelled his last name — it’s since been corrected. Among other items, Gruder says he hasn’t received the arborist report on the tree, which he had requested, and that he will make his own determination if the tree was in the city easement/right of way. Brentwood resident livid after city cuts down oak
Aldermen report on meeting with resident whose oak was removed by city
City statement on removal of resident’s oak
City offers no details on oak removal; owner posts ‘no trespassing’
Gruder’s comments: (as before, all capitalizations are Gruder’s)
Readers, please take note that Bola Akande, after all that has happened, has not even gotten the spelling of my last name correctly even after receiving multiple emails from as well as reading all of the articles that have come out of the paper. I find that to be an insult to the injury I have already sustained from their office!
Doug Gruder, the Brentwood resident on Urban Avenue whose approximately 120-year-old oak was removed by the city on Friday, met with his ward 2 aldermen (Brandon Wegge and Sunny Sims), the city administrator and city arborist on Tuesday. Wegge sent this statement from the meeting to 40 South — from Sims and him — to 40 South that afternoon. First thing they did was apologize to the resident, Doug Gruder. City Administrator Bola Akande also made a statement on the meeting. Wegge and Sims’ statement:
Note: This response is from Sunny Sims and Brandon Wegge – Ward 2 Aldermen
Our sincere apologies to Doug- no resident should have to come home to this kind of shock, further exacerbated by it being over the Holiday break.
Doug Gruder, who had an oak tree removed from his yard on Friday with no notification to him, met Tuesday with his aldermen (ward 2) and city staff members. Gruder was told in the meeting that the city had determined that his tree was in poor health and posed a liability for the city, also that it was in a city easement. Everyone in the meeting agreed that a breakdown in communication caused Gruder to be in the dark about the decision. Gruder’s aldermen, Brandon Wegge and Sunny Sims also had a report from the meeting. Akande emailed the following report to 40 South:
Alderpersons Brandon Wegge and Sunny Sims, Peter Van Linn, Parks Operations Superintendent and I met with Doug Gruder today for approximately two hours in the City Administrator’s office.
The city of Brentwood — via email from Brentwood City Administrator Bola Akande — didn’t share any further details about the city’s removal of a mature oak tree from a resident’s property on Friday, or how the city plans to handle the situation. Akande responded to an email from 40 South to her and Brentwood Mayor Chris Thornton Sunday night, requesting a response or explanation about the city’s removal of resident Doug Gruder’s tree. Akande’s response was: “a meeting has been scheduled with the resident and his Alderpersons. Both his Alderpersons met with him over the weekend.” Gruder’s Ward 2 aldermen are Sunny Sims and Brandon Wegge.
Brentwood resident Doug Gruder was still furious, pacing his front porch Monday morning, three days after employees of Davey Tree — authorized by the city of Brentwood — removed most of a 120-year-old oak tree in his front yard. He said he’s slept four hours since it happened. He said he left for work at 7:15 Friday morning and came home to find most of the tree that once shaded his home gone. He was so upset he called Brentwood police. Chief of Police Dan Fitzgerald said Monday that they were called, but it’s a city hall, not a police matter.
I (40 South editor) had a meeting with Brentwood residents Barry Williams and Louise Charboneau Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. at the city’s Oak Tree Park to hear their objections to the city’s plan to remove trees there — I arrived 15 minutes early — the trees were already coming down. The trees were removed to clear the way for a parking lot, according to Williams and Charboneau. Williams and Charboneau had told the Board of Aldermen on Monday they wanted to pause the project — that there were alternatives. Ward 3 aldermen Andy Leahy also tried to arrange a meeting with Akande Monday night. That meeting was to happen Wednesday afternoon at the park, they said.
The city of Brentwood was the focus of a four-week-long study done by a Coro™ fellow. Coro “trains ethical, diverse civic leaders nationwide,” according to its website. Sarah Cornett, of Sacramento, CA, graduate of Whitman College in California, was assigned to Brentwood. According to the city, over the past four weeks Cornett worked on updating the city’s Newly Elected Official Orientation Manual. In the process she went to board and committee meetings, received tours, and interviewed department heads and Mayor Chris Thornton.
Brentwood officials this year passed an ordinance requiring all elected officials (mayor and aldermen) to disclose real estate property they own, also any business interests. Recently it has all been posted on the city website. City administrative directors are also required to disclose property owned and business interests. Property owned by Brentwood’s elected officials:
Chris Thornton (Mayor)
9421 Tilles Drive (residence)
2301 S. Brentwood Boulevard
David Dimmitt (Ward 1)
9104 Pine Avenue (residence)
2100 Swim Club Lane, Brentwood Swim Club owner, according to his statement
David Plufka (Ward 1)
3 Middlesex Drive (residence)
Sunny Sims (Ward 2)
2016 Spanish Drive (residence)
Brandon Wegge (Ward 2)
8537 Douglas Avenue (residence)
Share owner of Brentwood Swim Club
Andy Leahy (Ward 3)
2833 Manderly Avenue (residence)
Steve Lochmoeller (Ward 3)
8831 Madge Avenue (residence)
1531 Swallow Drive
1536 Swallow Drive
9084 W. Swan Circle
Tom Kramer (Ward 4)
8933 Swan Circle (residence)
1453 Oriole Place
9052 W. Swan Circle
1718 Blue Jay Cove
9055 N. Swan Circle
8829 Wrenwood Lane
1597 Thrush Terrace
9053 N. Swan Circle
2427 Annalee Avenue
2433 Annalee Avenue
2437 Annalee Avenue
2419/2423 Annalee Avenue (50 percent)
9004 Mortiz Avenue
8910 Eager Road (immediate family)
8912 Eager Road (immediate family)
1601 Thrush Terrace (immediate family)
8906 Eager Road (immediate family)
9146 Eager Road (immediate family)
8939 S. Swan Circle (immediate family)
9069 W. Swan Circle (immediate family)
1613 E. Swan Circle (immediate family)
9057 N. Swan Circle (immediate family)
According to a source, the city of Brentwood’s human resource manager has recently left the employment of the city. He said several employees have confirmed it. The former employee, Alexis Perdomo, no longer appears on the online city staff directory. Perdomo replaced Julie McMillian as the human resource manager for Brentwood in January 2016 after McMillian left the city to work for SSM Health, where she’s been since September 2015, according to Linkedin. Brentwood Mayor Chris Thornton and Administrator Bola Akande both said by email that the city doesn’t comment on personnel matters, when asked about Perdomo.
Brentwood officials at their meeting on Monday will consider a resolution to remove ‘hazardous or compromised’ trees trees from city property and authorize the funds for the job. Alderman Tom Kramer responded to an email from 40 South News and said the 2014 Brentwood Tree Study referred to 99 hazardous or compromised trees proposed to be taken down. He said about two thirds of the trees remain, and the resolution provides the funding, and any pruning and planting/replanting described in the study, if funds remain. Alderman Dimmitt authored the resolution, Kramer said. Also on the agenda, the officials will consider a resolution for the city of Brentwood to implement an access control system at city buildings for its elected officials.