New Day, or Old Stench?

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - A lawsuit is challenging the decision, but until it's heard, twelve new Knox County officials selected on Wednesday spent Thursday, adjusting to their new jobs.

The first thing eight new county commissioners received? A copy of the new Ethics Code.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd shows you why some believe they'll need to live it, to get the bad taste out of citizen's mouths.

"The whole commission stinks, unfortunately," says former Commissioner John Schmid.

The stench, former Commissioner John Schmid alleges, comes from a selection process that's given his fourth District two new appointees neither he nor his counterpart wanted, thanks to pressure tactics and manipulating which new appointees, got sworn in when.

"It's obviously, the sheriff versus Ragsdale," says Schmid.

"I would think there's no deal-making," says Commission Chairman Scott Moore.

Chairman Scott Moore says commissioners and county employees may have talked with one another during the frequent recesses between votes, "but I can tell you it was the Mayor's Administrations, his Deputies, his PR down there twisting arms, wanting to cut school projects."

"The meeting he orchestrated yesterday speaks for itself and I think speaks directly for Scott's honesty," says Dwight Van De Vate, spokesman for the Mayor's Office.

"Wanting to cut parks if people didn't vote a certain way," Moore alleges.

"If he wants to find a guilty party, I'd suggest he go find a mirror," Van De Vate says.

Neither side has offered any kind of proof that we could verify independently.

So among the newbie appointees:

"What do you see your role as? Caretaker, peacemaker, or mentor?" Boyd asks newly appointed Commissioner Frank Leuthold.

"Maybe all of those," he admits.

Frank Leuthold brings 20 years experience and a guarantee he won't run for election.

"I don't know that I'm smarter than anybody else, but I have more experience, in terms of budget processes and so forth," he says.

The son, who's succeeding his mother, says he'll ask her advice.

"But mostly try to read and understand to the best of my ability and just look around and do my own research," says newly appointed commissioner Josh Jordan.

"Number one is to have a thick skin, number two is to have a short memory," counsel from the newly-appointed County Trustee Fred Sisk.

And within it, a warning, "I don't think you're going to be able to please the public, being that they didn't have the say so that they wanted to have," Commissioner Josh Jordan says.

"The public is going to speak in 2008 when they go to the ballot box, and that's when they'll remove the stain they may see on their government," says Van De Vate.

A lawsuit, filed on behalf of Knox County voters, claims county commissioners violated Tennessee's open meetings laws with secret discussions about whom to appoint to the twelve county positions opened by term limits.

No date's been set for a hearing.


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