Monday, May 14, 2007

Shhh!! Ethics Committee Quietly Appointed

Hamblen County Commissioners met last week to appoint members of their new Ethics Committee.

But, as mandated by the state's Sunshine Law, did the public have any notification the meeting occurred? The answer appears to be No.

Linda attended the meeting last week, and did raise the question and reports on what happened here:

"
How can you conduct public business in public if you don't tell the public that there is a public meeting and if you don't provide notice as to when and where the meeting will take place?

There wasn't any Sunshine at the May 8th meeting even though it was an especially important meeting--a special called meeting during which appointment of the Hamblen County Ethics Committee would take place. The only other item on the agenda was termites in the Courthouse.

Mayor David Purkey, as expected, appointed commissioners Stancil Ford and Joe Swann and Trustee Bill Brittain to the Ethics Committee. Joe Swann then jumped in and nominated Jack Cartwright and Jim Harrison for the "regular citizen" positions."

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Joe,

What Linda fails to state is that two of the "very limited number of individuals" who received email notification of the meeting are Mike Rypel and Bobbie Young. They told Linda that they did receive and read the email notification, but each failed to publicize the meeting. Email is how the press is notified of meetings.

To hear Linda tell it, emails were sent to those few people whose attendance was required, and they held the meeting in a closet- with the lights off lest someone see light spilling under the door and become curious.

The press failed to publicize the information they received. The county government does not publish the newspaper, or broadcast local radio. Linda is not presenting the whole truth here, and you are perpetuating her omission of the truth.

Joe Powell said...

Thanks for the info Anonymous ...

And how deeply disturbing that the local news failed to announce the meeting.

Since the radio and newspaper in town is owned by the same company, the public had zero chance to know of the meeting.

Sounds as if the real omission of truth was perpetuated by the local news.

Anonymous said...

Well, they have had no trouble in the past getting meeting dates in the paper/on the air. I don't think there was any deliberate attempt to keep the meeting from the public. There is certainly a deliberate omission of facts by the former commissioner, however.

Joe Powell said...

Perhaps in interest of following the law, the meeting should not have been held until after a public notice was presented.

ScorpioRising said...

Oops, sin of omission. Mea Culpa from the media...meantime, the results were as planned: Not notification to the public...Linda seems to still be the demoness to some folks...interesting bit in the Knox. paper concerning a woman much like Linda who brought things to light, had all the facts and funny how she was also demonized when no political person wanted to address the FACTS, they attacked the person. I think no only the termites should be removed from the courthouse. OF COURSE it was a pre-agreed, setup deal. Duh.

Linda said...

Looks like there might be an Anonymous(e) in the courthouse to go along with those termites!

Where did Anonymouse deal with the issue which was: was "adequate public notice" as required by law provided for this "special called meeting" of the Hamblen County Commission?

Anonymouse appears to admit that the requirements of public NOTICE were not met when he says "I don't think there was any DELIBERATE attempt to keep the meeting from the public."

I stated much the same thing in my post when I said "It was probably hoped and expected that the press would notify the public."

BUT IT DIDN'T HAPPEN as hoped or expected. That means that there was not adequate public notice.

There was NO public notice. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

Anonymouse should do a little reading: The law says that the County must provide "adequate public notice" not "adequate press notice."

You are absolutely right in your last comment--as soon as it was realized that the law had not been followed regarding notice of the meeting, it should have been stopped and re-scheduled with proper notice to the public.

I'll have a lot more on this on my blog in a day or so.

The Sunshine Law and the Public Records Laws are among THE most important tools and safeguards that citizens have to protect from secret meetings and to enable them to try to find out what's going on with their money and their government!

Because these laws are citizen-friendly and are so useful to citizens, governments love to stick the "troublemaker" label on those who try to enforce and actually use the law to get information.

Sorry about that, Anonymouse! Until the Sunshine and Public Records are repealed, I'll continue to use them to get info and I'll continue to remind officials that it isn't a public meeting and the Sun isn't shining if you haven't announced the meeting to the public!

If that makes me a "troublemaker," so be it. This "troublemaker" has saved county taxpayers a ton of money by asking questions and checking out financial info much to the chagrin of Anonymouse.

I saved the taxpayers $1.1 million dollars in 2005 by checking the math in the calculation of the county's new tax rate after the 2005 re-appraisal. I checked the rate that the state had provided and that county finance officials were using in the budget process in 2005. I found out that the rate was 11 cents too high.

This would have resulted in the over collection of $1.1 million from Hamblen County taxpayers. My figures were quickly verified as correct, and the state and county then corrected and lowered the certified tax rate by 11 cents.

Remember the $18,000 that we have saved every year since 2002 by using the state auditors which I pushed for in 2002?

And there's more we could be saving right now and could have saved over the past several years if certain spending and procurement practices were changed.

I'm sick of taxes going up, up, and away! So, Anonymouse, watch out.

The taxpayers need commissioners who will work with the public as "watchdogs" of the public pursestrings---and not be timid "lapdogs" who spend too much time worrying that they might not get invited into the inner sanctum of government.

Anonymouse, smell the coffee and quit blaming others and trying to deflect attention from the issue.

You have admitted that the public wasn't notified about the meeting: "I don't think there was any deliberate attempt to keep the meeting from the public."

Deliberate or not deliberate, it really doesn't matter. THERE WAS NOT ADEQUATE PUBLIC NOTICE OF THIS MEETING!

Is it that difficult to accept and properly deal with what you yourself have admitted.

It's not rocket science. If there wasn't public notice, if it was just a glitch, do what Joe said, re-schedule the meeting, provide adequate public notice, and do it over the right way!

And next time, take an ad in the Legal/Public notice section of the paper to provide notice. That's what the county does for rezonings and lots of other special meetings.

Then you don't have to worry about someone else taking care of "adequate public notice."