FULL INTERVIEW: Mayor Barry answers questions related to affair - WSMV News 4

FULL INTERVIEW: Mayor Barry answers questions related to affair with former bodyguard

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In a one-on-one interview, the News 4 I-Team asked Mayor Barry some of the questions many have wondered since she went public with her affair last week.

Here is a transcript of the interview.:

Alanna Autler, Reporter: Mayor Barry when you were in Athens, why did you stay extra days in Athens with nothing on your schedule while taxpayers paid for the hotel room for Sgt. Forrest?

Mayor Megan Barry: We are now under a, cooperating with the TBI and all those questions are being asked and answered in full cooperation with them, and I look forward, I know when all of this is said and done, I’m confident that there will be no misuse of taxpayer dollars found.

Autler: So today, you cannot answer what you were doing that weekend in Athens?

Barry: I was there on business and it was a business trip. It’s really a wonderful thing when mayors get to go and connect with other mayors and to travel so we can promote what’s Nashville doing.

Autler: I know you did go on business, but there was nothing on your business schedule for that Saturday and that Sunday. Are you able to say what you were doing that weekend?

Barry: In cooperation with the TBI investigation we continue to provide them the answers, and I look forward to knowing that were no taxpayer dollars misused in any way.

Autler: Can you say the same for the San Francisco trip? Why did you arrive two days earlier before the business conference with nothing on your schedule while taxpayers paid for the expenses for Sgt. Forrest?

Barry: Like I mentioned, we are fully cooperating with the TBI investigation, and at the end of this, I am fully confident there will be no finding taxpayer dollars were in any way misused.

Autler: I know this is an uncomfortable question, but it is one that many people have asked us: did you have intimate relations with Sgt. Forrest on out-of-town trips partly paid for by taxpayer dollars?

Barry: I’m fully cooperating with the TBI investigation. There are some parts of this that I’m going to have frank conversations with them about. This is part of the ongoing investigation.

Autler: And again, that’s something you cannot tell us today? That we are asking...

Barry: Yes, ma’am.

Autler: Do you feel it was inappropriate to recommend Sgt. Forrest's daughter for the job for Metro Legal, effectively creating the position?

Barry: The young woman who you were talking about was fully qualified to do this job. She had worked in Metro, she had interned in Metro, and I think it’s really unfair that there is anything being said about her. She was absolutely qualified for this job and she got it because of her qualifications.

Autler: Did Sgt. Forrest ask you to talk to John Cooper with Metro Legal about this position?

Barry: She was fully qualified. There were lots of people who stepped forward and said she should have this job, and I was happy to lend my voice.

Autler: So you can’t tell us if you had any conversations with Sgt. Forrest about this position?

Barry: I was happy to lend my voice, along with many, many other people who wanted her to be considered for this position, but she got her job because she got her job because she was qualified.

Autler: Based on your travel schedules, it appears you started traveling with Sgt. Forrest in April 2016. Is that when your affair started with him?

Barry: We started our affair, as I said, in the spring of 2016.

Autler:  And is that part of what the TBI investigation is going to be looking at -- whether your travel with him picked up after the start of that affair? 

Barry: My understanding is the TBI will investigate whatever they want to investigate. I think what the concern has been if there is a misuse of taxpayer dollars. I fully said I was having an affair.

Autler: Pension officials are saying that Sgt. Forrest could receive a pension of up to $80,000. Of course, he accrued a lot of that overtime while he traveling with you. Do you think that he should get that pension?

Barry: Sgt. Forrest worked for Metro PD for over 30 years. His pension will be a reflection of the hard work that he did, and I’m fully confident that what he worked, he is owed. 

Autler: Do you think the TBI will ask you to pay this money back related to trips?

Barry: We will fully cooperate with the TBI, but I think at the end of this, there will be a finding that there was no taxpayer dollars ever used.

Metro Legal Director Jon Cooper also released a statement about hiring Macy Amos:

"Macy Amos was hired through the standard Department of Law hiring process. Ms. Amos first interviewed with the Department of Law in November 2014 while she was in her final year at Belmont School of Law. She was found to be very qualified, and it was determined that she would be a good fit for the Department of Law upon graduating from law school, assuming a position was available. Macy had interned with both Mayor Purcell and Mayor Dean, and had essentially been around Metro Government her entire life. She made it clear in at least two interviews that working for the Metro Department of Law was her "dream job". 

The Department of Law interviews qualified candidates throughout the year, even when there is no vacant position at the time. When a vacancy occurs, we go to the list of those who had exceptional interviews and credentials and try to match a candidate's qualifications and skills with those needed for the position in question. At the end of each interview, Deputy Director Mike Safley informs qualified candidates that they should keep in touch periodically regarding their interest since we never know when we are going to have a vacancy. Macy followed up with him at least four times over the next year.

Soon after assuming the position of Director of Law, I identified a need for a new attorney position based upon several factors, including the attorney time needed in traffic court, the increase in the number of environmental court cases, and the need to cover clients when attorneys are absent for an extended period of time, such as maternity leave. I expressed this need for a new position to the Mayor, and subsequently the Department of Finance. 

This particular position is what the department refers to as a "utility" attorney position. This means that instead of being assigned to a particular team, the attorney fills in where needed and also handles a larger caseload in General Sessions Court. Macy was a logical choice given her qualifications, longstanding interest in working as a Metropolitan Attorney, and recommendations from attorneys she had worked with in the past. The Mayor did recommend Macy in a meeting with me at some point during the process, as did a number of people in the legal community. As Director of Law, I solely made the decision to hire her. 

Macy has not received any promotions or raises not provided to all similarly-situated Metro Legal attorneys."

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