Monday, April 14, 2008

A "Palace Revolt" In An American Town?

I seldom take on the local city issues on this page - I live in Hamblen County and the city of Morristown is not under any representative form of government. A hired administrator calls the shots, the mayor and council members usually tackle only one duty: hiring/recruiting the administrator. For years and years I've heard many city residents clamor and complain, but taking action is seldom a priority.

Decisions are made by administrative staff and the mayor and council simply approve items via routine votes in meetings which are never broadcast on the public airwaves (even though the city has it's own cable television service).

But I almost spewed coffee when I read this sentence today about a push in city council to remove the current administrator:

City Council members Rick Trent and Claude Jinks are trying to stage a palace revolt to depose Morristown City Administrator Jim Crumley, but right now, they're on their own."

A Palace Revolt? What an elitist view! If the local government is palacial, doesn't that make those who live in the city peasants, serfs, or even less?

Perhaps, it sadly is too true a metaphor- unknown machinations of the self-anointed battle while residents have no democratic representation, no voice, no input into the political world of their own community.

Much of the current rancor comes from the fact the city is pushing a local tax increase to offset years of bad spending policies which have left a $40 million (Correction: make that $70 million!!!) pile of debt, due mostly to long-needed $20 million sewer system repairs (which residents are now paying for with giant fee increases) and to the $20 million-plus in debt for building the city's cable television service.

The council created this mess, led knowingly or not over the financial edge, but the total burden of debt will strike hard on the backs of residents and businesses via ever-rising taxation or loss of services.

Will residents ever take control of their own community? It all makes me most thankful I live in the county instead.


  1. paige7:56 AM

    i always enjoy it when you take on local issues here, even though i know it's not your main focus. Since there's no accountability for our palacial rulers, it's nice to read someone talking about it, somewhere. And oh, what a mess it is!
    Just another peasant . . .

  2. Lots of small towns operate under the system you describe. Do you attend public meetings at least and voice your opposition to policies you disagree with?

  3. I no longer attend city meetings, as I am not a city voter - though I do share my thoughts with a few members of the council and some city workers. for a long time, I have been outspoken against the City Admin-style government, but I doubt that will ever change. But I really have no voice in city government.

    I do attend the County Commission meetings, where my vote and my representation by elected officials is clearly worth far more.

  4. Anonymous7:07 PM

    You're against city administrator-style government? What's the option? How many people in Morristown without great jobs know enough about MUNICIPAL finance to do what city administrator's do. And you'd elect someone, perhaps, without these job qualifications who could run the city into the ground in four years?

  5. Anonymous7:14 PM

    and nobody got what you said about a palace revolt.

  6. Joe, there's a very small "talent pool" in small towns (I briefly lived in a teeny tiny one, so I know ....). The folks that run for office and get elected often don't have the time or experience/knowledge to properly run a city government. And when that happens you end up with city clerks and department heads becoming de facto administrators; they are less accountable than a city administrator would be.

  7. so government is beyond the capability of anyone else?

    all the towns, large and small, in this country which are helmed by Mayors and Councils elected by the voting population are incompetent?

    and isn't it true that the current 'professional' administrator has in fact run the city's finances into a $40 million deficit?

  8. Anonymous8:11 PM

    No, Joe, the accumulated debt is around $70 million. The city council approves the budget, not the city administrator.

    And few are cities in the population category of Morristown who are run by mayors.

    You always seem to screw up when you talk about city government. You should stick to reviews of horror movies and referrals of blog sites that are better than yours.

  9. Anonymous9:14 AM

    So sad that if the debt is worse, it's your fault Joe. LOL.

    Sounds like Anonymous is another city employee or fat cat living on tax dollars. And it is impossible to change the government in Morristown, since it might reveal the names of those folk who really run the city.

    Morristown is soooo unique - like no other city. It's the town where only idiots live and only genius smart people come to govern them.

  10. the amount of debt (double what i had originally mentioned) has been corrected in this post.

  11. TnReader5:48 PM

    Yes, Joe is a fault for actually mentioning the gross mismanagement, the total incompetence, and the total lack of voter input and concern. All the things Anonymous endorses.

    And hey, Anon likes two out of three of your post topics - that means you're way above average!!