SMOKE SCREEN - OPEN MEETING
BACKROOM MEETING WITH UNION BUSTER ATTORNEY
BY: PAT HUNTER
March 18, 2011
The Lenoir City Utilities Board is a nine-member board comprised of six Lenoir City Council members, Mayor, and two Knox County representatives: LCUB Chairman Tony Aikens (Chief Deputy Loudon County Sheriff Dept.), Eddie Simpson (Loudon County Road Superintendent), Douglas (Buddy) Hines, Mike Henline, Jim Shields, Bobby Johnson, Sr. (Lenoir City School Board), Harry Wampler, Pat Beasley (Knox County) and Joel Garber (Knox County).
A "PUBLIC NOTICE" advertised in the March 9, 2011 Daily Edition notified the public of a Special Called Lenoir City Utilities Board (LCUB) Meeting to be held at 9:30 AM, Friday March 11, 2011 at Lenoir City Hall. The meeting notice and agenda named one agenda item, "Discussion of LCUB labor issues". The meeting notice and agenda did not notice an Executive Session. Why mislead the public into believing that an open meeting would be held, when just the opposite was planned, a closed door meeting in the backroom? Click to view LENOIR CITY UTILITIES BOARD SPECIAL CALLED MARCH 11, 2011 AGENDA
LCUB Chairman Tony Aikens called the meeting to order and asked Gail Vann (Administrative Assistant) to take roll call. Vann called the names one by one as board members in attendance replied. Beasley. Here; Garber. Here; Henline. Here; Hines. Here; Johnson. No reply; Shields. Here; Simpson. Here, and Wampler - no reply. Aikens said he was supposed to be here. "The only thing that we have on the agenda is "Discussion of LCUB labor issues".
"Our attorney is here, Mr. Ward Phillips representing Lenoir City Utilities and he asked that we go into Executive Session as soon as we open the meeting" said Aikens. I would like to give Mr. Wampler another, I knew, Mr. Johnson wouldn't be able to be here because of a family illness but I would like to give, Ward, if we can if its proper to give Mr. Wampler another five (5) minutes. Sure replied attorney Ward Phillips. Before we go into Executive Session if that's ok, Thank you, concluded Tony Aikens.
Harry Wampler arrived around 9:41 A.M. Chairman Aikens asked other board members "Ya'll ready" as board members stood up and walked down the hallway to the small backroom; LCUB employees Suzan Williams, and Gail Vann, and board member Pat Beasley followed. Two others trailed behind, Shannon Littleton, and Ward Phillips. LCUB Manager Littleton remarked " We're going to go into the backroom, Ward". Littleton then approached Ward Phillips handing him a letter from the Comptroller's office. Phillips commented something about, ...It's really odd that the Comptroller is apparently getting sort of aggressive. As the two walked to the back, additional comments were made about the City of Elizabethton, and former Comptroller John Morgan. Click to view TENNESSEE COMPTROLLER'S JAN, 31, 2011 LETTER TO MAYOR TONY AIKENS PDF (LETTER FROM VAN SHAVER)
Over one hour passed, LCUB Chairman, board members, and LCUB personnel (Littleton, Williams, Vann) and attorney Ward Phillips returned to the Council meeting room. Buddy Hines sat and quickly motioned to adjourn the meeting. However, Chairman Aikens waited until Beasley returned to her seat to call the meeting back to order. Aikens then asked for a motion to adjourn. No public comment was allowed at the beginning or end of the meeting. With no explanation, a motion was made by Mike Henline to adjourn, followed by a second from Eddie Simpson. It's interesting to note, that LCUB attorney Bud Gilbert was not in attendance.
If you are a Lenoir City Utility Board ratepayer, please view the Audits located on this website, and the Comptroller's letter. These are serious financial and management issues, which your utility board appears to be unwilling to address in public!
(NOTE: A quick search on the internet shows that Edward "Ward" Phillips is with the Knoxville law firm of Kramer Rayson, and his specialty is employment litigation, and employment and labor law. He is also known by some as the union buster. Over 10 years ago, attorney Ward Phillips represented the City of Harriman, and Harriman Utilities Board. Phillips and two other attorneys won the case that eliminated the union. A lawsuit (IBEW -International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 760) v The City of Harriman and Harriman Utility Board) was filed in Roane County Chancery Court (Chancellor Frank Williams). IBEW lost the case and filed an appeal. According to public records, "This appeal from the Roane County Chancery Court concerns whether the Chancery Court erred in determining that a collective bargaining agreement entered into between Appellant, Local Union 760 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and Appellees, the City of Harriman and the Harriman Utility Board, is null and void. We affirm the decision of the Chancery Court and remand for further proceedings, if any, consistent with this opinion...")
GAIL VANN, PAT BEASLEY, SHANNON LITTLETON & WARD PHILLIPS WALK TO THE BACK
GAIL VANN (L), MIKE HENLINE (STANDING), BUDDY HINES (SITTING OUT OF VIEW) SHANNON LITTLETON, TONY AIKENS, HARRY WAMPLER , SHELLY HERRON (CITY HALL CLERK) GOES TO CHANGE TONY AIKENS NAME PLATE AS MEETING ENDS.
SUZAN WILLIAMS, LCUB ASSISTANT MANAGER (R) & GAIL VANN (TABLE)
3. FINDING: Unauthorized negotiated contract
Our audit revealed that in 2002, the EES and the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers Local Union 934 entered into a collective bargaining agreement. However, current state law does not authorize the system to enter into a collective bargaining agreement. In two cases, Weakley County Municipal Electric System v. Vick, 43 Tenn.
App. 524, 309 S.W.2d 792 (Tenn. Ct. App.1957) and Local Union 760 of the Intíl Bhd.Of Elec. Workers. v. City of Harriman, No. E200-0367-COA-R3-CV, 2000 WL 1801856 (Tenn. Ct. App. May 14, 2001), the Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled that municipal electric systems could not lawfully enter into contracts with labor unions.