THE HUNTER REPORT
ETHICS COMPLAINT in LIMBO
LOUDON COUNTY ETHICS COMMITTEE - NO SHOW
BY: PAT HUNTER
5th District Commissioner Chris Park Mayor Elect Estelle Herron, 1st District Commissioner Earlena Maples, Election Commissioner Betty Brown
Purchasing - Maintenance Director Leo Bradshaw (l), Betsy Beck attorney, Ethics Committee Chairman David Meers, Road Superintendent Sean Giles
How would you like a black cloud hanging over your head concerning an ethics complaint with allegations of wrong doing but the majority of the Loudon County Ethics Committee didn't bother to show up for the meeting to investigate an alledged complaint and the person making the ethics complaint withdraws his complaint at the last minute with no public explanation. Road Superintendent Sean Giles was left hanging in limbo by the Ethics Committee. No press was present at this meeting.
On Thursday, August 23, 2010 the Loudon County Ethics Committee was supposed to meet to hear a complaint filed by Tim Brewster against Sean Giles, Road Superintendent but the meetings was not held due to a lack of a quorum.
Sean Giles and Purchasing/Maintenance Director asked to sit at the conference table as Ethics Chairman David Meers spoke in an inaudible voice to his attorney.
As the public grew weary over the delay, Ethics Chairman David Meers replied that he was not supposed to communicate with the other Ethics Committee members about a pending complaint. But that didn't stop the questions from coming. Who's on the Ethics Committee? Why aren't they here? Why are they on the Committee if they don't want to bother to show up? The questions remained unanswered as Chairman Meers left the conference room to make some phone calls.
After a few minutes passed, Ethics Chairman Meers returned to his chair and said that the meeting had been rescheduled numerous times and prior to today, Mrs. Bright (County Mayor's executive assistant) had been contacted by Ms. Maples (Commissioner District 2) and Mrs. Brown (Betty Brown - Election Commissioner). The two would not be in today.
Chairman Meers relayed how Mrs. Bright had tried to contact Commissioner Chris Park and Mrs. Estelle Herron and without a quorum, that they would not be meeting today. No explanation was offered as to why neither bothered to attend the scheduled meeting.
Now in accordance to our ethics guidelines policy Meers said that legal counsel had a statement to make. Legal counsel Betsy Beck said that her recommendation would be that the primary complaint received was a letter from Mr. Tim Brewster and the complaint letter was removed by him on Friday (August 20, 2010).
According to the attorney, they were still prepared to hold the meeting because the ethics codes states the Ethics Committee can investigate any credible complaint outside of the Committee or anyone in the Committee has evidence of a possible infraction of the ethics code. We were prepared to ask Committee members if they had anything they wanted to say regarding this complaint. That was not possible because the rest of the Committee members didn't bother to show up. The attorney's recommendation was to contact the members of the Ethics Committee and inquire whether they had any ethical complaint that they feel that the Committee needs to look into and if they do not she saw no reason to reschedule another Ethics Committee meeting since the complaint was withdrawn. If they do, we will reschedule the meeting as soon as we can, investigate it and make a decision, she added. Ethics Chairman Meers concluded the meeting and wished everyone a good day.
Road Superintendent Sean Giles spoke. I've been going through "... with this guy" for years and his accusations, smearing my name around, I want an apology. I understand replied legal counsel. Ethics Chairman Meers replied that numerous calls had been made by Mrs. Bright, and him to the attorneys over the complaint. The complaint had kept Meers very busy and he was out of town and he was not privy to the letter (Brewster) until Friday at 4:00 P.M. and he didn't know that anything had been withdrawn. Giles was concerned about someone who would make the accusations and then drop it at the last minute. He didn't think that it was right and Ethics Chairman Meers agreed; how much time and money has this cost the County. You're right there, agreed Giles.
As a side note when I arrived at the County Office Building, I was greeted by Road Superintendent elect Eddie Simpson who was going into Mayor Arp's office. As I departed the County Office Building, I saw Tim Brewster sitting in the Election Office. Neither party attended the Ethics Committee meeting that didn't take place due to a lack of a quorum.
Other Ethics Complaints
This is the second ethics complaint filed since February 2010 when an anonymous complaint was filed with Mayor Doyle Arp's office against Trustee Estelle Herron. The Loudon County Ethics Committee voted to reprimand Herron, for improper use of county resources. According to a Knoxville News Sentinel article, "Herron, a Republican candidate for Loudon County Mayor and a member of the ethics panel, admitted to using the county postal meter to mail out invitations for the Loudon County Republican Women's Club Christmas dinner.
But one month later after the Herron complaint, a complaint was filed by Max Wilburn to Mayor Doyle Arp's office but for some unknown reason Max Wilburn's complaint went nowhere. According to a Knoxville News Sentinel article, Wilburn alleged that his "rival and other employees in the clerk's office are campaigning during working hours..." "Wilburn said he did some research and found that political activity during work hours by county employees is specifically prohibited in the county policy handbook in Section 6.5. The county handbook states: "No employee shall solicit political campaign contributions, actively participate in a political campaign or engage in other political activities when on duty, while at work or when acting in the employee's official capacity." The penalty for violating the policy may include disciplinary action up to and including termination."
NEWS SENTINEL Loudon candidates say rival breaking rules March 28, 2010