THE HUNTER REPORT
Solid Waste Commission's - New Year Challenges
Meet the Twins
BY: PAT HUNTER
Have you heard the old joke, how many attorneys does it take to change a light bulb?
Well, in this case, how many attorneys does it take for the Loudon County Solid Waste Disposal Commission (LCSWDC) to run a meeting and conduct business?
According to the Tennessee Comptroller website county audit division, since 2007 to 2011 an estimated $215,888.00 was paid in legal fees, and which does not According to the latest LCSWDC financial audit ending June 30, 2012, legal fees were $33, 329.00.
The county attorney doesn't attend every Loudon County Commission; why then does the solid waste commission require an attorney to be present at every meeting? Other commissions such as planning, election, etc., don't have an attorney present at all monthly meetings.
At the Jan. 8, 2013 Loudon County Solid Waste Disposal Commission meeting, the following solid waste commissioners were present: Chairman Steve Field, John Watkins, Bill Waldrop, Jim Aikins, and Ted Sitzlar; absent Robert Harrison, and Aprell Patterson.
Attendance was higher than normal. Several residents, a county commissioner, convenience center director, two landfill consultants, two Santek employees, and a mystery lady. Not one but two attorneys from Kennerly Montgomery law firm sat in the front row, which attorney Coulter "Bud" Gilbert normally occupied. Chairman Steve Field opened the meeting. " The folks that are here regularly will notice that Bud Gilbert is not here and I’ll let Jon explain the situation with what happened with Mr. Gilbert at Kennerly Montgomery so I'll give the floor to you”.
Hello, I'm Jon Peyton, I'm a partner at Kennerly, Montgomery and Finely and effective the thirty-first day of last year, Bud (Gilbert) resigned from our firm to go on and do other things. Steve (Field) thought that it would be good idea for me to come for continuity purposes. Kennerly Montgomery has about twenty lawyers that specialize in various things and we hope to continue to represent you at your pleasure but I wanted to give you an update and I'm happy to answer any questions that the board may have. This is another partner Kevin Stevens. Just to be clear, we are both not on the clock tonight and we wanted to introduce ourselves and answer any questions.
The public asked a variety questions and comments concerning attorney fees, attorney Gilbert's suspension, land acquisition, and the solid waste commission's authority. Attorney Peyton replied that he did not have any information and that he would look into that and get back on the various matters.
Chairman Steve Field commented that at the period of time of attorney Gilbert's suspension that he did not practice law or bill during that period. (Note: Please see below).
Chairman Field spoke about wanting to continue in the same manner however, next month he asked that Kennerly Montgomery make a presentation so the solid waste commissioners could weigh their options concerning legal counsel.
One Year Earlier ...
LCSWDC December 13, 2011 - Gilbert Suspension
At the December 13, 2011 solid waste commission meeting, during the Attorney's Report, three matters were reported including: 1). Santek's proposal for a topographical survey, 2). Advertisements of meeting notices, and 3) Attorney Gilbert's suspension. The first two matters were included in the minutes however the suspension was not. Attorney Gilbert publicly apologized about his suspension because of what he described a "little lapse" in his Continuing Legal Education (CLE). According to Gilbert, no fees would be charged during his suspension. His license was re-instated. The whole experience was an ordeal. What he learned was that he was no longer a member of the firm. His name was taken off the letterhead, and he had to leave the firm immediately. They were meeting that night to decide whether he would come back as a shareholder and one person wasn't for it. He purportedly did not learn about his suspension until November.
His name appeared in the Tennessee Supreme Court Order list filed on August 31, 2011. According to the website, certified letters return receipt requested went to the last business address. As noted in the Sept. 13, 2011, and Oct. 2011 LCSWDC minutes, attorney Gilbert attended both public meetings. Also, attorney Jon Peyton attended the Nov. 8, 2011 LCSWDC meeting, but nothing was said about the suspension. In July 2012, there was a public censure from the Board of Professional Responsibility for practicing law for two months while on suspension before updating his CLE.
IN THE NEWS
KNOXVILLE NEWS SENTINEL
"Knoxville Pension Board attorney draws public censure" Friday, July 20, 2012