THE HUNTER REPORT

 

Editorial

No statesmanship at public meetings

 

  

Commission Chairman Bledsoe (l), but Mayor Arp rules the roost at commission's workshop meeting

 

Childish, Immature and Embarrassing!

By: Pat Hunter

Citizens pay nice salaries and fringe benefits to elected officials but is unprofessional and rude behavior part of an elected official's duties, responsibilities and job description; not hardly? 

Knox County Commission addressed Commissioner Lumpy Lambert's rude behavior when he attacked a citizen in the audience. On the other hand, Loudon County commissioners just sat at a recent workshop meeting while the County Mayor made sarcastic barbs to a lady. Is unprofessional behavior the norm in Loudon County? Several years ago, the News Herald reported Lenoir City Judge Terry Vann's attack on then Lenoir City Treasurer Recorder Debbie Cook. He provoked Ms. Cook and he asked for her resignation. The attack was described as an "ambush". People in attendance were stunned by Judge Vann's public behavior. To the best of my recollection, Ms. Cook was always very professional as Treasurer Recorder and whenever I requested viewing public records she was always prompt and courteous.  

The News Herald has yet to report how County Mayor Doyle Arp provoked a citizen at the Jan. 25, 2010 commission workshop meeting. Perhaps our hometown newspaper doesn't consider the Mayor berating a private citizen to be news worthy but what kind of a message does this send to someone who is considering running for public office if a public servant can act like this and not be held accountable for his or her actions? The newspaper has a duty to keep the public informed even if it means stepping on toes of VIP politicians. The public has a right to know what is said and done at public meetings as citizens prepare to vote for the best candidates to serve the public good. There is also another serious issue, denial of viewing public records, which the newspaper did not report.

How many times has Mayor Arp publicly stated that it's not a mayor�s meeting but a commission meeting? Nonetheless, Mayor Arp who is not the Chair of Loudon County Commission ruled the roost at the commission workshop meeting. In a standing room packed conference room, first to speak was a Greenback minister of school age children. The minister addressed county officials about the ongoing Greenback School issues but the Mayor did not take the minister to task over his comments, past or present. Greenback School has been in the news for numerous gas leaks (10 plus). The Greenback community anxiously awaits Commission's approval to fund the construction of a new Greenback School given the numerous life safety issues there. 

 

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Second to speak was a grandmother. She introduced herself as a concerned person of four grandsons attending Greenback School. She wanted to be more proactive and get involved and ask several questions of commissioners. She spoke about going to Mayor Arp�s office to see financial records (interest rates, terms, etc) concerning funding of phase 1 school building program.

She explained how she spoke to the Finance Director Tracy Blair but she was not provided with the information, which she sought. The very same information that Mayor Arp had earlier told Commission, "...That information is available. Ms. Blair has worked on that." She asked how she could see the information. Click  Jan 4, 2010 commission meeting. Why the doubletalk Mayor Arp?

 

Click The Mayor explained that the information would be provided to commissioners that night and that Mrs. Blair was doing her job. He spoke about his office staff taking the time to talk to everyone that came to his office. We are cordial to everyone even to people who are not taxpayers in this county, "which includes you" Arp commented.

She responded that she had 4 grandsons. "So are you saying that since I am not a taxpayer of Loudon County that I do not have a stake in what is decided upon" she asked? She asked Arp why he had made that statement. He accused her of blasting him at the last 2-meetings and how she was not going to blast him tonight. ..."I'll rule you out of order" Mayor Arp commented.

The grandmother tried to explain that she wasn't blasting him. If you want something you need to treat people right, he commented. What about the Mayor's treatment of citizens?

You have blasted us and me at the commission meeting. ..."Get on with your presentation because I am fixxin to cut you off" as the public looked in disbelief.

The grandmother didn't even get to speak for 5-minutes as Commission Procedures permit before Mayor Arp cut her off unlike private citizen Commissioner Nancy Marcus who spoke for 45-minutes at the Feb. 16, 2009 commission workshop meeting. "Commissioner Marcus argues against new Greenback School."  NEWS ARTICLE

The grandmother commented that Mayor Arp had not addressed her question about the availability of the financial records. The work was being finished today. Arp indicated that she would receive the financial information at the end of the meeting. Just because the Mayor isn't seeking a second term to public office that doesn't give him the right to bully citizens (mostly women) or hide public records! Why did he say..."That information is available..." on Jan 4th?

You don't need to be a taxpayer to view records. "The Tennessee Public Records Act provides that any citizen of Tennessee has the right to personally inspect a public record unless there is a state law that restricts or prohibits inspection" Source: Office of Open Records Counsel, State of Tennessee. 

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I believe the grandmother deserves a public apology from the Mayor for his unprofessional behavior and from commissioners for sitting idly by and saying nothing!

Kudos to Knox County Commissioners for having the courage to do something about the unprofessional behavior of Commissioner Lumpy Lambert!

Mayor Doyle Arp - January 4, 2010 Commission meeting

Click to watch video clip  Jan 4, 2010 commission meeting, Commissioner Austin Shaver made a formal request, a motion, to ask the finance director seek terms, rates, loans so Commission could continue to developing more concrete numbers as to what Commission could afford without a property tax increase to fund the school building program. Mayor Arp quickly responded "...we are already doing that....That information is available. Mrs. Blair has worked on that" but now the Mayor appeared to be back peddling on his earlier comments. 

 

 

Tennessee Public Records Act

...Any citizen of Tennessee has the right to personally inspect a public record

� 10-7-503. Records open to public inspection -- ...Any citizen of Tennessee has the right to personally inspect a public record...

� 10-7-505. Denial of access -- Procedures for obtaining access -- Court orders -- Injunctions -- Appeals -- Liability for nondisclosure

(a) Any citizen of Tennessee who shall request the right of personal inspection of any state, county or municipal record as provided in � 10-7-503, and whose request has been in whole or in part denied by the official and/or designee of the official or through any act or regulation of any official or designee of any official, shall be entitled to petition for access to any such record and to obtain judicial review of the actions taken to deny the access.

Office of Open Records Counsel
505 Deaderick Street, Suite 1600
James K. Polk Building
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-1402
(615) 401-7891, Fax (615) 741-1551
Toll free number: 1-866-831-3750
Email address: open.records@tn.gov

http://www.tn.gov/comptroller/openrecords/our_office.htm

 

 

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Rev. 01-31-2010