Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 

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.
Posted by Rich
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This trial could be the most positive thing for every news organization in the state. It has already shown there are corrupt local leaders. It has already proven a heightened awareness of corruption is needed in every community. It has also shown the need for a really tough open meetings/records law in Tennessee. Most importantly, however, it is showing how effective a newspaper can be when it has guts enough to go to court.
Posted by John Henson  on  09/25  at  12:29 PM

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