Tempers Flare at Commission Meeting

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - They've rejected asking for a special election to fix it. Now, Knox County Commissioners also have said no to re-doing it themselves. We're talking about that controversial vote that replaced 8 term-limited commissioners.

As Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd tells us, Monday's decision leaves commissioners with two lawsuits challenging that vote. The do-over, as sold would have given commissioners a way to save face and save money by getting them out of the courts and back in voters good graces, but some claim it'd buy more grief and new battles

"Who done what wrong? Name one commissioner that done something wrong?" commissioner Paul Pinkston said. "There are so many possibilities for challenging the process. Why not take of the process?"

Commissioner Mark Harmon claims his do-over wouldn't have forced anybody to admit doing anything wrong back on January 31st, and the 8 folks appointed commissioners could stay on until their replacements were picked. However, only the 11 non-term limited commissioners would do the picking and only after reviewing all the candidates in an workshop type forum where voters could have a say.

"Do the right thing, and do it in a way that we all can respect and the public can get behind," commissioner Mark Harmon said.

" Would that not be a conflict of interest for any of these eight folks that have just been appointed?" commissioner Greg Lambert said.

Commissioner Greg Lumpy Lambert claims the plan would have forced the 8 replacement commissioners to vote themselves out of office or risk being accused of playing politics if they voted against it.

"Because how do you propose we throw someone out of office!" Lambert said.

"What commissioner Harmon's trying to do is go against the Supreme Court's ruling here!" Pinkston said.

"This isn't about who won and who lost, because the public lost, the public lost when we did not do it the right way," Harmon said.

"I'm not necessarily ready to go with this today, but I think we should make some kind of counter offer," commissioner Richard Cate said.

That, from one of the new appointees who otherwise would have to decide whether to vote himself out. The counter-counter-offer comes from another newbie on the same fence.

"Can we go to the News Sentinel and offer it to them to wait on the study committee, til it comes back from the state legislature to see what the state legislature says?" commissioner Lee Tramel said.

The committee that is studying the open meetings law. The motion carries on the commission, but not amongst some in the crowd.

Monday night, News Sentinel editor Jack McElroy, tells us the lawyers will look at it, but the whole point of suing was to insure Knox County pick its replacement commissioners in public, complying with the spirit and letter of the open meetings law.

Commissioners have approved an expanded ethics committee to be a watchdog over county government as Tennessee's new state law requires. Of the four citizen members, two are pastors.


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