Knox County Commission chairman outlines rules for appointment proceedings

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

KNOX COUNTY (WVLT) The Knox County commission has new rules to follow at that meeting.

A judge ruled commissioners broke the law the last time they appointed 12 interim county jobs.

Commissioners say this round will be different.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy has more.

A judge ruled commissioners picked certain candidates in private, back-room deals the first time.

So those appointments were void.

Commissioners say they've learned their lesson.

And will follow Tennessee's open meetings law.

David Robbins' lost faith in Knox County Commission.

"It's a joke. Its pretty much been a joke for the past 20 years and I don't really see it changing much."

Last year, commission appointed 12 county offices.

But a judge ruled commissioners broke the law with back room deals and private conversations.

So tomorrow, they'll try again.

Robbins says, "I really don't see them pulling it off this time legitimately."

But commissioners say they changed process.

Thomas Strickland says, "we've set some ground rules and I'm going to abide by those ground rules."

Among those changes.

Greg Lambert says, "last time no public debate was allowed. This time you're going to have a nominating process."

Also all phones must stay off.

No recesses will be taken.

And anyone talking about appointments must do so from the podium.

No one can lobby commissioners on stage.

Its all to stay within Tennessee's Opening Meetings Law.

Lambert says, "I don't believe anybody is breaking it now because after the judges ruling we know that its inappropriate to discuss things were going to be voting on with each other."

The changes give Linda Jenkins some hope.

"I think they're going to be more careful because they know all the public is watching."

That includes her.

She's going to the meeting.

"The public wasn't invited last time behind closed doors and I want to see whats going on."

Strickland says, "I think they whole process should restore public confidence."

That process began weeks ago with public interviews of any interested candidates.

"We've had a very open and transparent process. Anyone who wanted to say anything about anyone concerning this process had the opportunity to do so."

Commissioners say its a better start than before.

Mark Harmon says, "the procedure tomorrow looks right, looks good. You never know till its over."

Robbins says he hopes so.

Commissioners won't take recesses.

But Chairman Strickland says if someone must briefly leave, the meeting will stop.

Commissioners won't discuss business until that person returns.

There's no guarantee the meeting will go smoothly

But commissioners say it will go by the law


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