Knoxville (WVLT) - Knox County Commissioners have decided not to re-do the appointments that replaced 12 term-limited office holders. A process that has gotten them sued on ground they violated Tennessee's open meetings law.
The move could take this issue to trial. In fact, it could mean a month and a half of trial, at least 5 dozen witnesses and your tax dollars will pay for all of it.
The editor of the news sentinel claims that commissioners violated the Tennessee Open Meetings Act by talking about whom to appoint a Sheriff to three other countywide offices and to eight commission seats all outside of a public forum.
The law defines a meeting as a convening of a governing body for which a quorum, a simple majority of members, is required to make a decision or to deliberate.
But Knox County Law Director says that a literal reading of that law keeps commissioners from discussing important business.
"Under the News Sentinel interpretation of the law your District 2 commissioners can’t even get together to discuss fixing a problem in your neighborhood,” says Law Director John Owings.
Actually, the law says nothing shall be construed as to require a chance meeting of 2 or more members to be considered a public meeting.
Besides County Commissioner Mike Hammond says Tennessee lawmakers plan to consider revising and clarifying the open meetings law next year. By opting to defend their vote that replaced the term limited 12 prepare to hear a lot of ugliness.
"In trial all of these things will come out. And we will know for sure who did what and who said what and, as I understand the way the lawsuit and the trial will go, each individual commissioner will be judged innocent or guilty in each of the 12 appointments,” says Hammond.
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