Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Secrecy, Gifts Ok'd For Sullivan Commission

A staggering endorsement of secrecy and influence peddling got the green light this week in upper East Tennessee government. Existing Open Meetings law was snubbed and a dubious Ethics Policy was embraced by the Sullivan County Commission in their last meeting.

The governing body first approved an odd change to their Ethics Policy, wherein a subjective test by the elected or appointed government official will determine if a gift creates any conflict. Sullivan County Attorney Dan Street said the policy is based entirely on a gift receiver's opinion:

One commissioner offered the following description of the new policy’s approach to gifts, and no one said he was wrong: “An individual still makes the decision based on their own standards.”

Street said the policy would be hard to enforce with such a subjective measure.

“You could have someone receive a $10,000 car and stand right in front of you and say it didn’t influence them,” Street said."

As if an elected official would report receiving a gift which made them alter their votes or actions. This terrible idea gets adopted as legal policy??

The commission also approved a resolution supporting less oversight of officials and more chances for larger numbers of office holders to meet secretly to debate and decide on policy.

"[The Commission voted to]
say Sullivan County supports changing the law so that members of any elected body could meet and talk about public policy in private as long as there is no quorum present. A quorum of the 24-member Sullivan County Commission, for example, is a simple a majority, or 13 members. The commission’s committees — which now meet in public, monthly — have only eight members each."

UPDATE: Here's an idea from Taxing Tennessee -- Using Sullivan County Commission's logic "it is quite appropriate to allow taxpayers to decide if their taxes are too high or too low."

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:09 PM

    oh joe, if you only knew what else is going on in Sullivan county. Mayor Godsey fired the tourism director and eliminated her position, although he cant do that due to that position was created by resolution....What kind of government are they running?