Why are rules and policies ignored or broken?
By: Pat Hunter
November 10, 2008
Many government entities and agencies adopt rules to conduct meetings. Loudon County Commission, Loudon County Board of Education (School Board) and Lenoir City Regional Planning Commission, has adopted Robert’s Rules of Order to govern meetings and policies and procedures to govern their respective government entities.
Transparency ensures that public monies are spent efficiently. Being open and better informed benefits a free society. Everyone should strive to follow the rules and procedures. Decisions are made everyday that affect our quality of life. And when some in government don’t bother to follow the rules and policies, everyone should know who did what.
· Chairperson Monty Ross adjourned the BZA October meeting after the Board approved several variances for Lowes. After Ross adjourned the BZA meeting, the Lenoir City Regional Planning meeting followed to discuss and approve the site plan for Lowes. But problems surfaced about parking and landscaping issues. Councilman Eddie Simpson made a motion to reconvene the BZA meeting to offer a special exception. Ms. Ross and Planner Newman saw no problem with reconvening the BZA meeting that had already been adjourned. A Lowes employee voiced her concerns that she felt that a meeting could not legally be reconvened after the meeting had been adjourned. She was concerned about a legal challenge. Monty Ross looked bewildered; she didn’t seem familiar with Robert’s Rules of Order. A vote was taken and Ross did not reconvene the BZA meeting at the insistence of the Lowe's employee. One more thing, Ross does not ask for public comment after each agenda item at public meetings as it was the practice of past planning officials. Usually, the only way the public is allowed to speak is to force the issue. I wonder if Ross has ever bothered to read the U.S. Constitution or Bill of Rights? Video Clip - Planning meeting
· At the October 16, 2008, School Board meeting, Board member Larry Proaps called for the “question” preventing Board member Lisa Russell from speaking about her concerns and asking her questions. The issue concerned $3 Million in various school renovations and projects. Chairman Tate was not aware of following proper protocol when it came to the “question.” This procedure was used incorrectly to prevent Russell from speaking or airing her concerns before the vote was taken. Video Clip Proaps calls for question.
In another instance, a School Board member sent numerous requests during a two month period trying to add several matters on the workshop agenda. The items were eventually added to the agenda but it looked and sounded like the Board member was given a difficult time. Public money requires public discussion, why try to silence certain School Board members?
School Director Wayne Honeycutt
· At the September School Board workshop, a taxpayer shared his concerns about how he sent numerous email requests to Loudon County School Director Honeycutt Central Office staff requesting to add his name to the agenda. He requested to be placed on the agenda so he could address the School Board about changing their current policy to allow the public to speak on non-agenda items. After repeated requests he gave up. Video Clip - A taxpayer followed policy but he was not allowed to speak.
· The November 13, 2008 School Board agenda was prepared and sent however School Director Wayne Honeycutt’s staff didn’t seem to follow Roberts Rule of Order when it came to preparing an agenda. It seems that Honeycutt’s office didn’t indicate the matters to be considered under at least two headings/names. When the public pays good wages and benefits to employees, isn’t the public entitled to quality work and professionalism?