Sunshine Lawsuit Trial Continues

By: Kim Bedford
By: Kim Bedford

Knoxville (WVLT) - A Knox County commissioner has testified that he had clues almost two weeks before the official vote that his fellow commissioners had already decided who would replace a dozen term limited office holders.

Testimony appears to back claims from a citizens group and the editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel that those appointments violate Tennessee's open meetings law.

Commissioner Mark Harmon has spent much of the day on the stand.

He says his first sign of a deal was a committee meeting in which he saw little support for calling a special election op even conducting a straw poll.

Days later commission staff called him he says he thought he was being asked whether he would be available for a specially called meeting to appoint those replacements.

Instead he was counted as among those commissioners in factor of it.

Later he said other commissioners told him that they were pretty sure that one term limited commissioner had the votes to guarantee her step son would replace her, and the commission chairman's campaign treasurer would fill another seat, "I think its fair to say that we had a closed inside system that led to that outcome. Pow pow pow, it was all worked out beforehand. I would conclude that yes."

Harmon admits he and another commissioner had agreed to support each others candidates for certain seats, but that it fell apart when it became clear to him that certain selections were foregone conclusions.

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