Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 
Wednesday, October 03, 2007

They Still Don’t Get It

David Oatney says that he's certain that Jack McElroy had an ulterior motive in filing the Open Meetings Act lawsuit against the Knox County Commission. That's a view shared by many on the commission and their supporters, who defend the actions of the commission by claiming that this whole thing was a witch hunt aimed at returning control of the commission to County Mayor Mike Ragsdale.

At several points during the trial process, I talked to commissioners and their supporters who were eager to point out that there was really nothing new in what happened on Jan. 31st. The only reason the Sentinel made a fuss about it was that their side lost. A couple of commissioners made that argument on the witness stand.

The fact that's lost on all of these people is that the Sentinel's motives in filing the suit are completely irrelevant to the merits of the suit. The fact remains that the Commission violated the law, and they got caught at it.

Having watched the commissioners during their testimony, and more importantly,listened to their conversations during the breaks,one thing is clear; many, if not most of them,believe they did nothing wrong, and that this was all a big waste of time.

Depending on how Chancellor Fansler rules, they could be right.

By the way, we're already hearing about how much this trial cost the county. Don't believe it for a second. Fansler, Stackhouse, and Owings are all on salary. The bailiffs, and court stenographers are hourly, but they would have been covering another trial if not this one. Moncier and Hollow will be paid by the Sentinel. The only extra costs associated with this trial will be meals for the jurors. So when you see numbers like $300,000 dollars for the trial floated around, remember that the overwhelming majority of that money would have been spent whether we had this trial or not.

Posted by Rich
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The Verdict is In; Clean Sweep for the Plaintiffs.

3 weeks of testimony, pages and pages of phone records, hours of video and audio tape, all boiled down to 29 questions that would determine the outcome of the lawsuit filed by the Knoxville News Sentinel against the Knox County Commission.

29 questions put together by the lawyers for the plaintiffs and defendants that go to the heart of how Knox County government operates. Attorney for the plaintiff, Richard Hollow, made the case that sitting County Commissioners had violated the Open Meetings Act both before and during the January 31st meeting that filled 12 vacant seats. Herb Moncier, representing the 9 citizens allowed to intervene in the KNS lawsuit went further. He said that the sitting commissioners stole the government from the people of Knox County. Attorney for the defendants, Chief Law Director John Owings, said that the commission did nothing wrong, that it was just politics as usual.

12 men and women of Knox County had to answer 29 questions to determine which side prevailed.

And on every single question, they agreed with the plaintiffs. That makes County Law Directer Owings 0-lifetime regarding term limits and the Open Meetings Act, a fact I hope plays heavily in his upcoming battle for election. His early advice on the quorum defense killed the Commissions case before the trial even began. His anemic close, after letting Deputy Chief Law Director Mary Ann Stackhouse carry the burden of the three week trial certainly didn't help matters. I've said earlier that the commissioners were arrogant in their assumption that they could get away with this kind of thing, but that pales beside the arrogance of Owings, who tried to pass the back room deal making and vote trading as just politics.

But before the citizens of Knox County claim victory, there are few things to look out for.

First, Chancellor Fansler must decide the remedy for the situation. By law, he has two routes he can go. He can set an injunction against the commission,forbidding them from repeating their offenses. The principle benefit of the injunction is that if they do repeat, they can be charged criminally, instead of civilly. Unfortunately, the prosecution would face a substantially more difficult burden of proof, making it extremely difficult to prosecute. His second option is to nullify some or all of the appointments, and tell the County Commission to start over. What he cannot do is order a special election to fill the vacancies. That will require special legislation from the State. He can, however, issue rulings to force the Commission to amend the rules of the process to allow real public input, but as far as I know, there's nothing he can do to prevent the commission from putting the same people right back into the same offices. They would just have to do so in full view of the public, an act which would probably end their political careers.

I say probably because there is one more reason why the people of Knox County have no cause to celebrate just yet.

This whole mess is their fault.

The folks in Knox County elected commissioners they knew were term limited. Sure, now they want to sit back and jeer at the commissioners, but during the election, they either pulled the lever for them, or stayed at home on election day. What we can't be allowed to forget is that the twelve people who vacated their offices were openly elected by a populace who knew they were likely to be found term limited.

And given that only 8% of eligible voters voted in the City Primary a week ago, I don't see anything getting any better.

So if you're looking for huzzahs and hoorays, look elsewhere. The problem is still here and it's just as bad.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

We Have a Verdict

I just got a call from Jack McElroy and the jury is coming in with a verdict. We'll know their findings in less than half an hour. This isn't good for the defendants.

Remember, all the jury will do is answer questions about the process, and determine if any violations of the open meetis act took place. It will be up to Chancellor Fansler to determine what the remedy will be. That could range from throwing out the entire meeting to simply enjoining county commission from future violations of the Act.

Stay tuned!

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Monday Morning Coming Down

With apologies to Kris Kristofferson

9:35 Fansler gives the jury instructions about the closing argument process.

9:35 Mr. Hollow goes first. Hollow says that his case is that the Open Meetings Act was violated by the Knox County Commission between Jan 12 and Jan 31. He arrived at his case by reviewing video and audio tapes of the Commission meetings,and reviewing the depositions of the people involved.

"systematic,studied and deliberate exclusion of the citizens from the process of government."
"Orgy of political power."

Cites Commissioner Hammond's testimony.

Surprisingly few Commissioners in attendence, but several members of the election commission are here.


Reviews the history of the charter and the term limits fracas. Stresses that there was no time limit imposed by the Tennessee Supreme Court on replacing the term limited commissioners and county wide officers.

9:46 Scott Moore shows up.

Mr.Hollow claims that the "gentleman's agreement" to allow the term limited commissioners to pick their successors was "an abdication of their {the whole commission] responsibility," as it took the burden that the state constitution granted to th "legislative body"and placed it on only two people. That argument strikes me as pretty weak. If two people decide for their district, then the whole commission ratifies that decision,then the whole commission was involved.

Mr. Hollow goes into detail on the Scott Moore written letter calling for a special meeting of the commission on the 31st, how he had commissioners electronically sign the letter without ever reading it. Then he goes into the agenda for the meeting, pointing out that the agenda never went through a committee; it was written and accepted solely by Chairman Moore.

Mr. Hollow talks about the rules of the Jan 31st meeting, pointing out that the rules promulgated by Chairman Moore excluded the citizens. This argument is relying on an emotional response rather than the law. The Commission was well within its authority to appoint the commissioners without public input. The case is that the appointment process should have been public and open.

Mr. Hollow now points out that the rules forbade deliberations in the public meeting of Jan 31st. He asks if there could be no deliberations during the meeting, then the only time commissioners could have deliberated was during breaks and before the meeting.This argument speaks to the heart of the case. If no deliberations were allowed during the meeting, then when did they deliberate?

Mr. Hollow points out that J. J. Jones knew well in advance of the meeting that he would be the sheriff, based on the invitations sent out, no other nominations, 18-0-1 vote.

10:05 Mr. Hollow goes over the fee office appointments. He reminds the jury of the testimony from Mr. Emgee who was interested in the Register of Deeds office. He was told by his commissioner, Greg Lambert, that the deal was already done, and the vote on the 31st bore that out.

10:07 Mr. Hollow then looks at the appointment of Billy Tindell as County Clerk. Tindell will not run for re-election, and Scott Moore, who is term limited as Commissioner announces that he will run for Clerk.This finally explains to me why they voted Tindell into the Clerk's position even though it created the deadlocks in the 4th district; Moore wanted his future job held safely.

10:11 Mr. Hollow moves on to the 4th district. He points out that there was no motion, second, and vote to amend the agenda to handle the 4th district first. He points out that Diane Jordan changed her vote from Davis to Cate on the seat 4a balloting.

10:14 Mr. Hollow discusses the recess. He shows a photo of Pinkston talking to Jordan during the recess,and says that they were obviously talking about football. The crowd chuckles.The gallery is now full. Notes that after the recess conversation with Pinkston, Jordan switches her vote to Tramel. Then after another recess, the vote on seat 4b is moved to the back of the agenda.

10:20 Mr. Hollow points out that two commissioners recall that Josh Jordan was the predetermined candidate for the 1st district seat, even though the commissioners from the 1st, strickland and Jordan, do not remember it that way.

10:22 Mr.Hollow brings us to District 2 and Chuck Bolus. Points out that on the third ballot, Mr. Bolus has only 6 votes. Then there is a recess. No debate, no discussion, no deliberation inpublic, but them Mr. Bolus gets 11 votes. "During that recess, he picks up 5 votes. But do they bother to tell you how he got those 5 votes?"

10:25 Revisits the attempt to swear in Richard Cate early. Points out that this in itself was direct evidence of deliberation outside the public eye. Connects it to Bolus swearing in.

10:28 Mr. Hollow points out the "mystic appearance" of "Prince" John Valliant and the sudden materialization of the oath form without any act of volition on Chucky Bolus's part. "That stinks to high heaven."

10:31 Mr. Hollow points out that Scott Davis was allowed to speak when he withdrew his name.

10:34 Mr.Hollow goes into the Leuthold-Sisk situation and calls the $17k raise a "coincidence."

10:38 Mr. Hollow goes through the other appointments and points out when and where commissioners have admitted to deliberating under oath.

10:39 Mr. Hollow details the nominating committee process from the 9th district. Mr. Hollow says there was no number two man on the list of two. He must not have been listening to Hubert Smith's show on Sunday, where the second name, Charles Swann, was broken by Hubert on the air.

10:44 Mr. Hollow is harping on the fact that the commissioners in the 9th abdicated their responsibility.Again, this argument is weak, as the commissioners had the legal right to appoint whoever they wanted.

10:46 Mr. Hollow closes by pointing out that the statute says no deliberations or decision can be made in chance meetings, then points out how all the seats decided without controversy were evidence that decisions and deliberations made outside the public view. "What we're looking for is some sort of message through the only vehicle we have to tell these defendants to obey the law...Give us the courtesy of allowing our government to let us see how it is being run."

10:49 10 Minute Break.

11:00 Mr.Moncier begins his closing.
Again reviews the history of term limits. Moncier stresses the actions of the commissioners in holding on to their seats, challenging term limits, challenging the charter, and so on. "They fought it with every piece of your tax dollars."

"The people were the pawns of the people who owned your government."

11:09 Moncier gives a multimedia closing. "This trial is the equivalent of the American Revolution in Knox County."Wow. Herb is pulling out all the stops for this close. He's not arguing the law at all, making a purely emotional appeal to the jury.

11:14 Mr. Moncier disagrees with Commissioner Guthe. Friday the 12th was not Black Friday, that was Liberation Day. Friday the 19th was Black Friday.

11:19 "What the people have done is...put their government on trial."

11:22 Mr.Moncier is using slides to point out the inconsistencies in Chairman Moore's testimony. Then he attempts to quote Bismark about the law ans sausage, but it doesn't go very well.

11:26 Mr. Moncier takes on the gentleman's agreement by pointing out that we don't have nine counties in Knox County, and since commissioners from one district spends every district's tax dollars, then all commissioners have to act on all issues, including appointments.This argument is more entertaining coming from Moncier, but just as weak.

11:28 Mr. Moncier references Josh Jordan's issues twice without identifying them.

11:37 Mr. Moncier reminds the jury of Pinkston's testimony that he couldn't remember what he talked about with Moore and Lambert, but it wasn't about appointments.

11:30 "They stole your government, pure and simple."

11:40 Mr. Moncier deals with the Sisk Leuthold deal. again with the innuendo without any prof of wrong doing.

"...the immaculate conception of the oath..."

11:44 Mr. Moncier points out that Chairman Moore testified that he didn't know that Bolus was getting sworn in, despite testimony from Commissioner Smith. He also asks why Moore didn't end the 2 minute recess until Bolus was back from the swearing in.

11:47 There's a new sheriff in town, and his name isn't J.J. Jones; it's Scott Moore. Mr.Moncier is charging that if Tim Hutchinson has truly left the political scene, then Scott Moore has filled the power vacuum.

11:52 Again with Josh Jordan's background.

11:55 Mr. Moncier makes the point that all of the commissioners violated the Open Meetings Act.

11:57 Mr.Moncier points out that he likes Frank Leuthold, but believes the process by which he was appointed was wrong.

12:02 Mr. Moncier says he's almost glad Commissioner Lambert didn't give up his phone records because it would have taken him forever to investigate it. He points out that Pinkston and Harmon didn't turn over all of their phone records either.

12:05 The jury is beginning to look bored again. Moncier is running a series of pictures of the major players and commenting. There's no continuity to his close, making it hard to follow.

12:08 Mr. Moncier points out the Ms. Mary Anne Stackhouse said in her opening that she would cal all the commissioners,and he wants to know why she didn't call Lee Tramel or Richard Cate.

12:09 "Where is your defense Ms Stackhouse?"

12:11 Commissioner Schmid is a hero.

12:14 Mr. Moncier concludes. He wants to know what gave Chairman Moore the right to deliberate and discuss the appointments in private, thereby depriving the Knox County citizens of their rights. He also wants to know who proposed the rules of the agenda, and who voted on it.

"Chairman Moore said,'Here's how we're going to do it,' and 12 kangaroos followed him!"

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Afternoon Session Notes

1:00 Mr. John Schmid takes the stand. He says he was sorry that more members of the commission did not join him in appealing the decision that struck down term limits. When Ms. Stackhouse reminded him that she and John Owings joined in on that appeal, he reminded her that they only did so for the commissioners,and not the fee offices and sheriff. He also reminded her that she and Mr. Owings tried to have him removed as a third party to the appeal.

Mr. Schmid then testified that he was met after the press conference where Mayor Ragsdale made his proposal by Chairman Moore and Commissioner Lambert, who were very angry with him for supporting public hearings. Ms.Stackhouse asks a very general question, then allows the witness to respond at length. Hollow and Moncier ask very pointed direct questions requiring a yes or no answer.

I heard well before the meeting of the 31st that Cate and Tramel were locked in for the district 4 seats.

I talked with Commissioners Moore, Lambert, Ballard, Smith, Norman, Hammond. I didn't offer to trade votes, just asked for their support for my choice for my seat, just as I would support their choice for their seats.

I tried to pitch Mr. Fischer as a compromise candidate, since there was a power struggle between the mayor's faction and the sheriff's faction.

Schmid testified that Commissioner Griess told him that RIchard Cate was being sworn in early to break the deadlock. He confronted Mr. Cate and convinced him not to swear in early, and then had some "heated words" with Commissioners Lambert and Pinkston.

Schmid admits that he spent a lot of time during the recesses trying to convince Mr.Guthe not to pass, and to vote for Scott Davis.

Mr. Hollow begins his cross.
"Were there certain power structures in place in Knox County Government?" "Yes."
"Do you believe there was a contemptuous attitude displayed towards the law and the citizens of Knox County on the part of certain commissioners in the appointment process?" "Yes"
(The above question and answer was objected to and removed from the record of the trial.)

Mr. Schmid testifies that the agenda for the special meeting on Jan 31st never went through the agenda committee.

Mr. Hollow went through the meeting of the 31st.

Mr. Schmid testifies that the Supreme Court did not place a time limit on the proceedings, and there was no reason to hurry.

Mr. Hollow makes the point that by Chairman Moore's rules, there was no chance for the commission to publicly discuss the candidates and their merits, and Commissioner Schmid agrees that that was the case.

Mr. Hollow points out that by the rules Chairman Moore set up, the only time the commissioners could deliberate with each other was during recesses.

Mr. Hollow points out that the agenda showed the swearing in would occur at 2:00PM but no vote was taken to modify the agenda to allow Mr. Cate and Mr. Bolus to be sworn in early.

Mr. Schmid says he knew early on that the four county offices were a "done deal," and that there were invitations circulating for a reception for the new sheriff well before the 31st.

Mr. Schmid says he believes there was a violation of the Open Meetings Act. Mr. Hollow almost seemed to be the one testifying during this entire cross. Mr. Schmid spent most of his time nodding his head and agreeing with Mr.Hollow. I asked Mr. Hollow about this during a break, and he told me that leading questions are allowed during a cross examination. I think he went beyond leading questions to tying a bridle to the witness. But Ms.Stackhouse never objected.

2:00 Mr. Moncier begins his cross: The only thing different from the normal operations is that the events of the 31st raised the curtain on the way the government works. Schmid agrees.

Mr. Moncier points out that term limits were passed in 1994, and Schmid testified that the State AG at the time ruled the term limits unconstitutional. Moncier leads Schmid through a history of the term limits legislative battle in Tennessee. Ms. Stackhouse objected repeatedly to the long drawn out nature of the questioning, as it moved far afield from the issues of the trial, namely, did the commissioners deliberate in private. Mr. Moncier points out the contrast between Commissioner Schmd, who retained a lawyer who filed an appeal to the Weaver decision which held term limits unconstitutional, with the behavior of Commission Chairman Moore and his frequent and lengthy conversations with lawyer/lobbyist "Prince" John Valliant before and during the Jan 31st meeting.

He asked if Mr. Schmid saw conversations and lobbying going on during the recesses of Jan 31st. He testified that he saw Diane Jordan in a conversation during a recess with Commissioners Pinkston, Lambert, and Moore & Hutchinson (maybe), after which she changed her vote from Davis to Tramel.

2:20 Ten minute break

2:35 Former Commissioner John Griess called to the stand:

Ms. Stackhouse asked how he prepared for the appointment process. He said he started off trying to find a mechanism other than appointment. Griess said that (paraphrase) when it became apparent that we would have to appoint rather than elect, it was my job to find a candidate that was capable and knowledgeable about the history of the government. IN this process, I floated names past Craig Leuthold and Mike Hammond to get their response, and that's how I came up with Frank Leuthold. (end paraphrase)

Griess said the only commissioner that really lobbied him was Lumpy Lambert. He then remembered about BIlly Tindell lobbied him for the clerk's position. Ms. Stackhouse asked why he didn't sign onto the call for a special meeting and he replied that at that time, he was still trying to get a special election.

2:49 Cross by Mr.Hollow: Griess testified that he wanted a special election so he didn't have to do it himself. An appointment is very difficult and costly politically and personally.

(Short break while Chancellor Fansler was apprised of the birth of his grandchild.) Mr. Hollow briefly went through the events of Jan 31st,paying attention to the early seating of Chucky Bolus.

2:58 Cross by Mr. Moncier: Nothing major. Just that there was a phone call from Scott Moore. Mr. Griess testified that Mr.Moore only wanted to know who he was going to nominate for his seat.

3:03 Craig Leuthold takes the stand: Ms. Stackhouse examined his reaction to his father being appointed to commission. Craig Leuthold says he was trying to get out from his father's shadow, so he wasn't thrilled to have him on the commission. She asked him how he prepared for the appointment process. Leuthold said he read the resumes, faxes, emails, and letters from constituents and applicants.We've heard several times about the huge volume of interest in joining the county commission. How is it that we ended up with relatives/friends/associates of current or former commissioners?

Ms. Stackhouse asks if he had any conversations regarding appointments with any other commissioners? "I didn't want to be a part of any possible deal making because my father serve with integrity, and I'm trying to do the same thing."

Ms. Stackhouse asks if he had interaction with Commissioner Pinkston during the meeting on the 31st? Commissioner Leuthold answered yes, that Commissioner Pinkston asked him if he wanted him to vote for his Daddy. Leuthold testified that he hadn't asked anyone to vote for his father to that point and he wasn't about to start.

Mr.Hollow begins his cross: Revisits the interaction with Commissioner Pinkston and introduces a photograph depicting that meeting. Asks him if he decided to support the nominee of the term limited commissioners. He answered that it was a factor, but not the only one. The Mr.Hollow ran down a list of Mr.Leuthold's votes and for the most part, they did go along with the recommendations of the term limited commissioners.

Mr. Hollow asks again about the agenda,and again,Mr.Leuthold, like the other commissioners before him doesn't know who or how the agenda was written,and that he never voted on it.

Hollow: "Were you surprised that Mr. Bolus was sworn in early?" "Yes"

Hollow asks if Mr. Leuthold makes more money now that you're on the commission,and he says yes,about $17k.

3:37 Mr. Moncier begins his cross: Mr. Leuthold got a promotion from Fred Sisk after the commission meeting leading to his increase in income. Mr. Moncier asks if Commissioner Leuthold was elected because of his father's name. Leuthold responds that he campaigned very hard for his position.Moncier is making a big deal about the raise given to him by Fred Sisk. As innuendo it's effective but it would be more convincing if we had his full pay history available. There may be a very good reason why he got that raise.

Moncier then moves on to the phone records. There are only a few calls on the record. Mr. Moncier tries to get Commissioner Leuthold to admit to there being two factions on the board but Mr. Leuthold wasn't going along.

Mr Leuthold says that he knew they had 30 days to make the appointments, but couldn't tell the court where he knew it from. He also testified that Mr. Owings told him that a special election was not allowed by the law.

Mr. Moncier asked about the encounter between Mr. Leuthold and Mr. Pinkston. Mr.Leuthold had nothing to add and refused to characterize the encounter as an exchange.

A very brief redirect from Ms.Stackhouse that points out that Mr.Leuthold did not vote for Tramel.

3:56 Commissioner Ivan Harmon takes the stand. Ms. Stackhouse asked him how he prepared for the appointment process. He replied that he was happy that the 3rd district had no term limited commissioners,so his primary concern was the continued funding of on-going projects in his district. He said he attended the group meeting at Whittle Springs School.

Ms. Stackhouse asked of he and Ed Shouse encountered Commissioner Paul Pinkston at a Shoneys. Mr.Harmon said yes, but there was no deal making going on.

There was another meeting at another Shoneys with Greg Lambert and Mark Cawood. There was no discussion about nominations or appointments.

She asked about conversations during recesses from the Jan 31st meeting. He said there was one conversation with Mark Harmon on supporting his choice for fee office. Mr. Ivan Harmon declined to do so.

End of the day.

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Third Verse, Same as the First

by Richard Hailey
Just last night, I was reminded of
Just how bad it had gotten and
Just how sick
I had become.

Violent Femmes

Testimony in the Open Meetings Act lawsuit brought by the Knoxville News Sentinel against the Knox County Commission has reached a kind of relentless sameness as commissioner after commissioner admit to deliberating over everything from how the appointment process will be handled to which candidates would be appointed, and all outside of the public eye. This morning it was former Commissioner Guthe on the stand. While he tried to take a more conciliatory tone on the stand than did Commissioner Smith on Monday, his testimony was no less damaging to the defense. Mr.Guthe testified that he abstained from voting for either Davis or Tramel both because he was angry that his choice for his replacement wasn't honored, as he had honoered other commissioners, and because "[I]t was understood that one candidate would get ten votes."
Mr. Hollow "And that candidate was Mr. Tramel."
Mr. Guthe "Yes."
Mr. Hollow "And that those people worked somehow, someway, somewhere other than at the meeting [Jan 31st] to make that come about?"
Mr. Guthe "I'm sure of it."

Mr Herb Moncier, representing the nine Knox County citizens who joined with Knoxville News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy's suit against County Commission has begun working a new angle into his questioning. While it has no bearing on the case at hand, Moncier is making sure the jury, and the people following this case at home, know that incumbents have a huge advantage during an election cycle,and that these 8 commissioners will be running as incumbents unless Chancellor Daryl Fansler removes them from their seats as a result of this lawsuit.

This afternoon's testimony is expected to be taken up with former Chancellor Schmid's testimony.

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Wednesday AM Trial Notes

Here we go again. And again, italics means the comments are my reactions.

9:35 Tim Greene takes the stand, testifies that the only contact he had with commissioners was with Mr. Pinkston and Mr. Clark. He also said that he knew the sons of another commissioner, Mr Alshie(sp?). On cross, Mr. Hollow asked if he was running for election, and determined that his campaign chairman was the same Mr. Alshie(sp?). Mr. Moncier elicited testimony that Mr. Greene would not want to remain in the seat if the appointment process was found to be in violation of the law. There was a noticeable pause when he answered that question.

9:45 Commissioner Huddleston takes the stand. States he had conversations with Commissioner Smith and Ballard about his appointment but that he didn't go to any public meetings. On cross, Mr.Moncier asked if he was running for election, and if he was collecting money. Moncier also got the same statement from Huddleston about not serving if the appointment process was found to be in violation of the law. Mr. Moncier also asked if Commissioner Huddleston was aware that there was an Appellate court case asking for a special election in Knox County. Commissioner Huddleston said no.

9:50 Former Commissioner Guthe takes the stand. Asked what he did to prepare for the appointment process. He states that after the decision, he met with Commissioner Griess and together, they decided that a special election would be the best way to fill the term limited seats. They consulted with County Chief Law Director John Owings who told them that an election was not allowed by law,that the seats must be filled by appointment. Guthe said he investigated further, asking the State Senators if a special election were possible, and was told that if they got a super majority of commissioners to sign on, the senators could make an appeal to the legislature. Costs were discussed, as well as the oncoming Presidential primary. After discussion on the 26th, it was clear that there weren't even 10 commissioners in favor of a special election. He says he suggested to Chairman Moore the January 31st date.

Commissioner Guthe said that before, during and after meetings, there are conversations and "opportunities for commissioners to say 'Who do you want to nominate?' "
"I never disclosed who my choice is going to be."
"I will support whoever you [the term limited commissioner] nominate and I hope you'll do the same for me."
"Commissioner Schmid came by and he began laying out his scheme for filling our seats."

Commissioner Guthe stated that he did not go along with the plan,and he also said that he kept his silence on who he would nominate. He said he got a phone call from Greg Lambert to support George Stookesbury for County Clerk and informing him that Lambert was going to nominate Sharon Cawood. He got a call from Mike Hammond and Billy Tindell and told them both he would support their choices in their districts and hoped they would support his. Guthe heard from Schmid that Lee Tramel had the inside track to the seat Mr. Guthe was vacating. Mr. Guthe then said that he decided if the silent commissioners were working behind the scenes to place their candidate in his seat, he was going to make them work for it.

Mr. Guthe said that during the recesses, he just sat in his seat during two of them. During one, he left the building. "I needed to get some distance between me and what was going on inside."

He said Commissioner Schmid pointed out to him that Diane Jordan had changed her vote. He asked her why, and then said he didn't remember her answer.

Guthe was asked about the motion he made after he saw Chucky Bolus take his seat on the Commission. He said it was all about having another chance to get his candidate in. Again, he said he wanted to make whoever won the seat work for it.

10:28 On cross, Mr. Hollow emphasized Mr. Guthe's efforts for a special election, and then detailed the debate over an 'open' appointment process. Guthe said he was against a public hearing process, mainly because it provided commissioners political cover for their appointments, and it panders to special interests. "It would have been an exercise in futility, wouldn't it?" "Yes" Mr. Hollow then asked about the Jan 31st meeting, and whether the rules in place effectively removed all public input and oversight into the process. Mr. Guthe was a little evasive, but essentially agreed. When asked directly if the votes were lined up before the meeting, he was evasive, but then Mr. Hollow took him through each district seat up for appointment, and Mr. Guthe agreed that the choices of the outgoing commissioners were known ahead of time, and that he was going to respect the wishes of the outgoing commissioners.

Mr.Guthe testified that he abstained from voting because "[I]t was understood that one candidate would get ten votes."
Mr. Hollow "And that candidate was Mr. Tramel."
Mr. Guthe "Yes."
Mr. Hollow "And that those people worked somehow,someway, somewhere other than at the meeting to make that come about?"
Mr. Guthe "I'm sure of it."

10:50 Ten minute recess.

11:03 Mr. Moncier begins his cross. He begins by eliciting Mr. Guthe's knowledge of the good ole boys (my term) network in Knox County. Reviews an email between Guthe and Griess, in which Guthe wrote that "Scotty says that whatever Ragsdale's plan is, he wants to do the opposite."

Mr. Guthe said yes that he, Commissioner Griess, and Scott Moore were deliberating about how the process would take place. Moncier tries to get Guthe to admit that he was trading votes. Guthe would not make that admission, stating that his support for other commissioner's candidates was based on respect for the commissioner, not on an attempt to trade votes. Mr. Guthe seems to be trying very hard not to be as antagonistic towards the commissioners as Larry Smith was. He's working at not drawing conclusions about commissioners' actions. Is he trying to be fair, or to maintain his political connections?

Moncier then proceeds to question Mr. Guthe about the lawsuit to declare the Knox County Charter invalid. Mr. Guthe said he wasn't trying to maintain his seat, only to clarify the law regarding the charter. Previously in testimony, he called the day that the ruling on his suit came out as "Black Friday." Mr. Moncier is blasting away at Guthe for the lawsuit.

Redirect: Ms. Stackhouse revisits the idea of the special election, specifically a letter from the State Commissioner of Elections that stated that a special election was not authorized. Mr. Moncier asks if the State Commissioner of Elections is the same person who ruled that the term limited commissioners could remain on the ballot. Mr. Guthe says yes. Mr. Hollow points out that the letter doesn't say that a special isn't allowed, only that it can't be called by the County Election Commission.

11:47 Break for lunch till 1:00PM

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Greg Lumpy Lambert Speaks

Prior to the County Commission meeting Monday, I had the chance to speak briefly with Commissioner Greg "Lumpy" Lambert. He talked a little bit about blogging, and said he had also blogged for awhile, but lost his taste for it when his favorite venue went off line. The conversation shifted to the Sunshine Act and the trial, and he said that if the KNS interpretation held up, it wouldn't be the end of the world, that the commission could still function, it just might be a little bit harder. He mentioned adding workshops where the commissioners could hammer out their differences out of sight of the public, but with the press present. He didn't want to discuss the trial too much since he hadn't taken the stand yet, but he did say that anything he said in private, he repeated in public. He said specifically that he supported his candidates publicly as well as privately with the other commissioners. I'm paraphrasing and expanding a bit on what he said, but his thought was that lobbying and debating is an integral part of the process, but a part that works best when the commissioners feel they could speak completely candidly, without excessive public scrutiny. However, he also said that when discussion becomes deal making, i.e. "I'll vote this way if you vote that way" was an abuse of that process.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Gloomy Day for Defense in Sunshine Trial

by Richard Hailey

Stories with my name in italics above are ones written as a comparison to the KNS coverage. I write these as if I were a reporter for a paper, instead of a guy with an opinion and a laptop. They should be used to guage the accuracy of the KNS content, and with any luck, will be unbiased enough to show any bias in the KNS coverage.

The defense called Commissioner R. Larry Smith to testify today, and plaintiff's attorney Richard Hollow made the most of it. On direct examination by Knox County Chief Deputy Law Director Mary Ann Stackhouse, Smith detailed the extensive preparations he made for the appointments meeting held on the 31st of January, personally contacting over 70 interested applicants by phone. Hollow elicited even more detail on cross, getting into Smith's rating system, and his methods for evaluating applicants for all the seats. This made Smith's testimony that other commissioners "took the lazy way out" all the more devastating. Commissioner Smith went on to say that he nominated one candidate because he was "tired of family members being appointed to office."

Commissioner Smith was visibly angry at one point, when Herb Moncier, lawyer for the nine citizens who joined the KNS suit, informed him that a candidate selection committee selected their candidates without ever meeting with the public. "That was not how it (the selection committee) was represented to me. To me that’s not fair to the applicants."

While Smith had strong words for the behavior of the commissioners, his most damaging testimony came at the expense of Chairman Scott Moore, who testified earlier that he had no knowledge of Chucky Bolus's early swearing in. He testified that after the critical recess, as he returned to his seat, Moore told him, "We've got this taken care of now." He further testified that when he saw Bolus taking his seat, he knew exactly what the Chairman was talking about. Not only did this testimony directly conflict with Moore's, it also dovetailed with Commissioner Mark Harmon's testimony last week.

Commissioner Frank Leuthold and County Clerk Billy Tindell were also called to the stand, with their testimony mainly acting to confirm what was already presented. Court was adjourned early due to the regularly scheduled County Commission meeting this afternoon at 2:00pm. The defense case is expected to take the rest of the week, as Ms. Stackhouse has said she will call each commissioner to testify.

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Live Blogging Monday

It's Monday, and that means more live blogging from the KNS v KCC trial. It's going to be a short day today since the Commission is meeting, but we'll see what happens. Italicized comments are my responses, thoughts, opinions, or questions.

9:38 Larry Smith begins testimony. Received 78 notes of interest in open positions on commission, and interviewed by phone about 70. Met a couple of candidates during a Commissioner's night out. Brief interruption while Smith deals with cell phone issues.
Ms. Stackhouse: Did you talk to any other commissioners? Yes, Hammond and Ballard and maybe one other. Discussed candidates in general.
With all the faxes and resumes you claim you received, how is it that a convicted drug dealer is chosen as the best possible representative? "It got to be kind of a joke…and that’s good." "I was going strictly on qualifications."
Cross exam Hollow: You had a rating system that divided applicants by seat, party and a series of check-marks, what are they? I evaluated people like it was a draft and the check marks showed my favorites. More checks means better. Hollow: You marked Scott Davis very favorably. Why? He impressed me by what he said. Hollow: When you were doing ratings, had you heard from Mr. Tramel? Nope. Hollow: Was there a gentleman’s agreement about letting commissioners decide their own districts? I’ve heard it before, and early on. As we got into the process, there’s a lot of viable candidates and if the commissioners are doing due diligence, then that’s ok. Hollow: Did you show your notes to other commissioners? Yes. Hollow: Were you aware that the fee offices were basically a "done deal." I read that in the paper. Did you feel that the second in command was the logical choice for those offices. Sure. It didn’t work for the clerk office,did it? Nope. Hollow: Who made up the agenda? “I assume our chairman.” Did you ever vote on the agenda? I don’t recall. The agenda said that everybody would be sworn in at 2PM, correct? Yes. Why did you move District 4 to the head of the line? Because there were two seats to be filled. Hollow Ed Shouse, an experienced city councilman, got zero votes. And no floor candidates received a vote,correct? Yes.

10:09 Issues with internet access. I keep losing my connection. Makes live blogging interesting.

10:11 Hollow continues a lengthy recap of the voting on Jan. 31. Points out that Diane Jordan switched votes on the 7th balloting for seat 4b and Guthe switched from passing, to Davis to maintain the tie.

10:16 "Mr. Jordan interviewed very well."

10:23 Commissioner Smith "I was tired of family members being put into office...I think it was wrong."

10:25 Were you aware of a nominating committee in the 9th district? Yes, but it didn't turn out like I thought it would. I thought they'd listen to the community and let the people select their candidate. Instead, they had a meeting in a grocery store, and between themselves, selected the candidate, Mr. Green. Mr. Hollow: Would you be surprised to find ot that no-one was invited to those meetings? Yes. Would that change your feeling about those meetings? It's not the right thing to do.

10:29 Commissioner Smith is visibly angry and says that this wasn't how the 9th district nominating committee was presented to him. It's interesting watching Commissioner Smith, who was called by the defense, become visibly irritated during cross, not at the plaintiff's lawyer, but at the actions of Jan 31, the very actions he's being called to defend.

10:31 Commissioner Smith reports that after the recess where Chucky Bolus got sworn in early, Chairman Moore told him, "We've got this taken care of now."

10:33 Were you surprised to see Commissioner Bolus seated early? Yes, but those guys think outside the box. They push it.

10:37 I felt like the commissioners disrespected the candidates. They didn't listen to them, they ignored them at the Whittle Springs meeting.

10:41 Moncier takes over and goes back to the earlier meeting. Commissioner Smith says he likes his independence. "I don't need somebody to tell me how to vote." This implies directly that Smith feels that other members of County Commission do in fact allow somebody else to tell them what to do. Moncier points out that Smith never got a phone call from Lambert, Moore, or the rest of the sheriff's faction. Moncier: The end result of Jan 31 was that the sheriff's block maintained control. Smith: Yes. Why on earth did Stackhouse call Smith? He sounds more like a witness for the plaintiff. All I can figure is that they've based their defense on "Sure, it stinks to high heaven, but you can't prove anything," so we don't care how bad it looks.

Smith: You could see them all line up and march to the sheriff's .office

Moncier: "[Knox County is] controlled by the people who can count to ten." Referring to the majority faction on the commission.

11:00 10 minute break

11:17 Moncier: How much does a commissioner make? Smith: About $24k.

Moncier: DId you know that recesses were called to allow commissioners to talk in a back room? Yes. Do you approve? In general yes. There are times when you need to talk about somebody and you don't want to embarrass them.

Moncier: I read the transcript, and you said "What's going on here?" and people laughed. You were serious, weren't you? Yes. You weren't part of the plan, were you? No. The people weren't either, were they? Nope.

Redirect: Stackhouse: Are the 12 positions filled at the meeting up for election in 2008? Yes.

11:22 New witness, Frank Leuthold.

Stackhouse: Did you talk to any commissioners about applying? Yes. Did you talk to your son, Craig Leuthold? Yes. Did you attend any community meetings? Yes, with other candidates for fee offices.

Cross examination.

Moncier: Mr. Leuthold, even I would vote for you. I would hope so.

Questioning of Mr. Leuthold was very brief, with no real new information. No redirect by Ms.Stackhouse.

New witness Billy Tindell

Ms. Stackhouse: How long were you in county commission? 37 years in seat 2b. Did you decide after the Jordan decision that you wanted to be County Clerk? Yes. How did you let other members of county commission about your support for Jonathan Wimmer. Between Jan 12 and 31, what did you do to get ready for voting? Nothing in particular. I received hundreds of faxes and I read them then threw them away.

Cross examination

Hollow: Were you aware as you went into the commission meeting that if you were appointed to the position as county clerk, that you would not be ale to vote on the rest of the appointments? Yes. Mr. Jonathan Wimmer was your choice. Yes.

Moncier: Need a second. Hollow provides stage direction lessons for Herb. Moncier questioned Tindell about the decisions on how to conduct the meeting, and when to hold the meeting. Then Moncier questioned him about a sheriff's faction. He also asked about Scott Moore's plans to run for county clerk in 2008.

Court's done for the day.

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The Ripple Effect:  What Happens When This is All Over?

This is not part of the live blogging, or the coverage of the KNS, but is my own take on the KNS V KCC flap.

Well, that's the big question, isn't it?

Assuming that Chancellor Fansler rules for the plaintiffs,and finds that the County Commissioners did in fact violate the State Open Meetings Act, what can he do about it? And more importantly, what will happen afterward?

According to the law, Fansler has a couple of options. He can issue an injunction to the Commission telling them to cut it out. The injunction will carry with it specific penalties for continued violations of the Sunshine Act, but will leave the commissioners in place. Or he can void any actions taken by the Commission that he feels derived from violations of the Sunshine Act. This could include the removal of some or all of the folks appointed on Jan 31, leading to a complete do-over.

My guess is that Chancellor Fansler would lean towards an injunctive remedy if he felt that while there were violations of the Act, they were primarily individual in nature, and not symptomatic of organized activities by members of the commission. On the other hand, if he finds that the abuse was organized and widespread, then he may very well invalidate the proceedings of Jan 31.

That's when things really get interesting, because then every ruling made by the commission from Jan 31 to the present will be called into question. We could be dealing with lawsuits for years, as people who came up on the short end of zoning decisions, or other county business will appeal based on the fact that the commission was invalid. It could get very interesting and that's not even mentioning the battle over how to fill the vacated seats. The folks who gamed the system show no signs that they will go away without a fight.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

So, Let’s Sum Up

If you believe Scott Moore's testimony, then you must believe the following:
  • That Scott Moore spent 3 hours on the phone from Jan 12 through Jan 31 with Chucky Bolus, his former campaign manager, and the man he nominated for the 2nd district seat b, without ever discussing the nomination.
  • That Scott Moore spent an hour and a half during the same time period talking to Lee Tramel, the man he backed for district 4 seat b, again, without ever discussing the nominating process.
  • That Scott Moore spent an incredible 7 hours talking to Greg "Lumpy" Lambert during the same time period without ever discussing nominations.
  • That Scott Moore's call to "Prince" John Valliant moments before he (Valliant) escorted Chucky Bolus to get sworn in early, was totally unrelated to the process.
  • That Chucky Bolus decided all by himself to go find Chancellor Fansler and get sworn in early, even though a group swearing in ceremony was scheduled for later in the afternoon, and despite the fact that Richard Cate, appointed earlier to seat 4a, admitted that he had been pressured to swear in early in order to replace Schmid and get another Hutchison man on the Commission


You must also believe in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Great Pumpkin.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sunshine Act Trial-Tuesday Morning

My impressions in italics.

9:32 Mr. Hollow, Lawyer for the Plaintiff begins by citing case law supporting the validity of their request for a summery judgment against Commissioner Lambert for the failure to produce his phone records. He says that Lambert intentionally failed to produce the phone records.

9:35 Deputy Law Director Stackhouse responds by pointing out that even though Lambert did not produce his records, because the plaitiffs can work around it by correlating other phone records, a summary judgment is unecessary.

9:37 Chancellor Fansler says Lambert responded in a "cavalier manner." He wants to look at the the law cited by Hollow and wait for Cricket to respond to plaintiff's request for the records. He will wait a couple of days before ruling.

9:41 Jury arrives.

9:42 Courtroom is full today.

9:43 Chairman Scott Moore called to the stand. Mr. Moncier returns to the issue of the rules for County Commission meetings, which Moore used to deny citizens the ability to speak regarding any candidate for appointment. When Mr. Hollow asked Commissioner Moore about the rules,Moore said he didn't know exactly where the rule was. Mr. Moncier asked if Moore had had enough time over the weekend to find the rule. Moore reads the voting procedure. "In my mind, it's like baking a cake...If we added an extra step to it, you'd screw it up."

9:50 Moncier asks if Moore was aware that the County Charter said that the Commission could make the rules for the appointment process as they saw fit. Moore answers he's not sure, but he'll take Moncier's word for it. Moncier asks if Moore remembers telling Commissioner Schmid "no" when Schmid moved to allow the public to speak. Moore says he doesn't recall.

9:57 Moncier asks Moore if there was ever a vote on the agenda and Moore says there wasn't.

9:59 Moore wants to argue rather than respond. Moore testifies that the agenda was published and there was no objection. Moncier asks if Moore remembers getting a 4 page letter from citizens detailing objections to the planned meeting. Moore asks if any of those citizens ever contacted him or any other commission member. Moncier asks him to answer the question, and Moore admits he got the letter.

10:08 Moncier asks how did Moore's proposed agenda get sent to the KNS as the official agenda? Moore responded that somebody had to lay out the framework.

10:11 Moncier points out that there was a proposal to seek legislation for a special election, and asked Moore if he planned the date of the meeting to be before the legislature could pass the special legislation. Moore said no.

10:13 Moncier: Your proposal was to allow the Commissioners to make the appointment rather than allow the people to have an election, wasn't it? Stackhouse objects. Fansler overrules.

10:15 Owings was appointed by the County Commission wasn't he? Yes.

10:20 Mr. Hollow begins his questioning. Hollow: Are there any specific rules in the Charter regarding special called meetings? Moore: I don't know.

10:21 Mr. Hollow reads rules that say that the agenda cannot be changed for a special called meeting. Moore responds that the rule says nothing can be added, but things can be moved around. Mr. Hollow reads County Commission rules that state that if any commission rule conflicts with state law, the commission rule is not in effect.

Moore worked hard to avoid answering some questions, and to redirect answers for others.

10:25 Scott Barker called to the stand.

10:26 Moncier explores Barker's article reporting a possible meeting of commissioners discussing possible appointments. Barker testified that he talked with Commissioner Ivan Harmon, and that Commissioner Harmon admitted to talking to Commissioner Lambert in general terms about the appointments. Barker also testified that of the 8 commissioners he spoke to, 6 acknowledged talking to other commissioners about the appointments. Moncier has Barker read a direct quote from Moore on Jan 30th stating that lobbying commissioners would be against the law.

10:33 Jury sent out on morning break while an objection to a deposition Mr. Hollow wants to read. Objection overruled. 10 minute break.

10:54 Mr. Hollow reads from Commissioner Schmid's deposition. Schmid says he submitted a plan including public hearings, public debate, then an appointment process. He says that the plan was similar to that proposed by County Mayor Mike Ragsdale, and at one point, Chairman Moore also supported public meetings, but he changed his mind. Schmid was asked about factions on the commission. Scott Moore and Greg Lambert were aligned with the sheriff. "We can do anything we want." Lumpy Lambert regarding the appointment process as quoted by Schmid in his deposition.

Schmid "pled his case" for his candidate. He wanted a compromise candidate that wasn't aligned with the sheriff or the mayor. He also mentioned that the county wide offices, sheriff and the three fee offices had candidates that "had the votes."

11:11 Reading from the deposition continues. It was a "done deal" for the folks being appointed to the county wide offices. Recesses were commonly used when impasses occurred at County Commission meetings. They would take a break to try and "work things out." Often recesses were used to try and change commissioners minds to a new position.

11:16 The first recess came from an impasse over Guthe's seat. There was major lobbying and Schmid admits to being part of the lobbying. Guthe was angry that his candidate, Jim Smelcher didn't make it when that was the "gentleman's agreement" in place. There was heavy pressure on Diane Jordan to change her vote from Davis to Tramel. There was an effort to swear in Commssioner Cate early, but he backed out. Lambert called Schmid a "peckerhead." Commissioners invloved in trying to get Cate sworn in early to break the deadlock: Pinkston, Lambert, and Moore.

11:29 Reading from Schmid's deposition completed.

11:33 Moncier calls Hayes Hickman(sp?) to analyze telephone records. Hickman is a reporter for the Sentinel, and was tasked with going through Scott Moore's phone logs to determine his contacts with other commissioners. Long list of phone calls added to the record detailing contacts between Scott Moore and commissioners, the county mayor, and eventual appointees.

11:51 Moncier is stressing call volume patterns based on external events,ie County Mayor Mike Ragsdale's announcement of his plan for replacing the term limited officeholders.

12:00 Break for lunch

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Commissioner Lambert Takes Some Lumps

Richard Hailey

On Monday, the jury in the trial pitting Knoxville News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy and nine Knox County citizens against the Knox County Commission watched the public access tape of the January 31st Commission meeting that is at the center of the lawsuit. The record showed commissioners recessing several times when the appointment process didn't go smoothly,and spending a considerable amount of time discussing...something. The January 31st meeting moved quickly to it's conclusion, although on the recording, Commissioner Schmid referred to the process as "duplicitous and underhanded...insult to the people of the 4th district...selective swearing in...is stinking up the room."

However, the real fireworks of the day in court didn't take place until after the showing was finished and the jury dismissed.

At issue was a motion by the plaintiff for some kind of relief against Commissioner Greg Lambert for failing to turn over his phone records as subpoenaed earlier in the run up to trial. Lambert was not in the courtroom at the time,but his counsel, Deputy Law Director Mary Anne Stackhouse, said that he notified the plaintiff that he didn't have the phone records in question, and it was too late to get them now, since Cricket, his phone carrier,does not maintain phone records past 6 months. She also argued that if the plaintiff's wanted the phone records, they should have issued another subpoena to Cricket, instead of to Lambert. Richard Hollow, the lawyer for the plaintiffs countered her arguments, saying that Commissioner Lambert had a responsibility to provide those records,or to notify the plaintiffs if he was unable to do so.

Mr. Hollow went on to document to the judge just why the phone records were so important. According to him, Commissioner Lambert admitted in deposition to actions that violate the Sunshine Law, including conversations over the phone. Mr. Hollow wants the records to determine exactly who Lambert was talking to in order to find out who else violated the provisions of the act.

Chancellor Fansler was unsympathetic to Ms. Stackhouse's defense of Lambert. He pointed out that the other Commissioners had turned in their phone records, and questioned why Lambert was the only one who did not. He gave Lambert until 9AM today to present a written statement before ruling on Mr. Hollow's request for a summary judgment against Lambert, finding him guilty of violating the Sunshine Act.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

The Trial Continues:  The Afternoon Session

1:29 Court is called back into session.

1:30 Video replay resumes with election of district1a. Jordon nominates her son, Josh. Harmon nominates Helen Lewis. Smith nominates Nick DellaVolpe. Had to spell it;couldn't pronounce it. But he knows about him to nominate him for County Commission. James Golden nominated himself. Robin Brothers nominated herself. Norman initially passes, then votes for Jordan. Jordan wins 16-1-1 NO discussion at all.

1:36 District seat 2b Mark Harmon nominates Amy Broyles. Norman nominates Jonathen Wimmer. Smith nominates Deborah Porter. Moore nominates Charles Bolus. Charles Giles nominates Joseph WiIliams. Billy Tindell tries to stump for Jonathan Wimmer. Ballard passes, then votes for Broyles. Bolus 7 Wimmer 6 Broyles 3 Porter 2 Williams 0 and is dropped.

1:42 Second vote Bolus 7 Wimmer 6 Broyles 2 Porter 2. Ballard abstains

1:46 Third vote Bolus 6 Wimmer 6 Broyles 3 Porter 3 Ballard votes Broyles. Ivan Harmon switches to Porter.

1:49 Short recess.

2:01 Short recess becomes less short.

2:03 Fourth vote. After the short, non-deliberative 14 minute recess: Strickland, Ivan Harmon,and Smith all switch from Porter to Bolus, Mills switches from Wimmer to Bolus, and Ballard switches from Broyles to Bolus. Jordan is late to the vote. Bolus wins 11-5-2. NO public discussions at all.

2:07 Seat 5c and a short 5 minute break for the court. 5 real minutes, not commission minutes.

2:10 Norman nominates Theresa Shupp. Griess nominates Frank Leuthold with a speech about how wonderful he is and the pension plan. Hammond echoes Griess and says that Leuthold will not seek re-election. Lambert nominates Robin Butler. Bayard Donahoo nominates Tom Salter. Leuthold 15 Shupp 1 Butler 1 Salter 1. NO discussion at all.

2:16 Seat 6a Lambert nominates Sharon Cawood. Smith nominates Howard Phillips. Charles Giles nominates Jimmie Shelton. Cawood wins 15-2-0. NO public discussion at all.

2:20 Seat 8b Mark Harmon nominates Maurice Freed. Mills nominates Jack Huddleston. Rodney McCroskey nominates Kay Frazier with fervor. Bill Young nominates Tom Pressley. Huddleston wins 17-1. NO public discussion.

2:25 Seat 9a Mark Harmon nominates Martin Pleasant. Clark nominates Tim Greene. Matt Myers nominates Josh Lowe. Josh Lowe nominates Matt Myers. Nomination for the "Good Guest," who knows when it's time to leave. Rubye Wright nominates herself. Anthony McMahan nominates Ronald Lee Tucker, "This is a travesty." Greene 17 Pleasant 1. NO public discussion.

2:32 5 minute recess.

2:40 Seat 4b. Chuck Bolus sworn in earlier, Schmid "duplicitous and underhanded...insult to the people of the 4th district...selective swearing in is stinking up the room." Guthe notes that a new commissioner is seated so starting from scratch with 4b. Lambert asks that any other new appointees can take their oath and take their seat. Schmid makes the motion. No second. Chairman Moore says we don't have time to take a recess. Schmid withdraws the motion. Harmon nominates Elaine Davis. Norman nominates WIlliam Daniels. Ivan Harmon nominates Lee Tramel. Guthe nominates Jim Smelcher. Hammond nominates Scott Davis. Scott Davis withdraws his name, saying he hates seeing what is happening on the commission, and he wants it to move forward and get past the fighting. Oddly, there has been no fighting evident during the nomination and voting process. Tramel wins 12-4 Smelcher-1 Ms. Davis-1 Daniels. Hammond, Ballard, and Mills joined the Tramel group after Davis withdrew. NO public discussion whatsoever.

2:56 Video ends. Audio and private video for tomorrow.

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