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Voters, democracy take it on the chin from commission

Knox County residents should be mad. No, not mad, furious.

Last week at this time the dust had settled on a new Knox County Commission, not one founded on representative government, but one of oligarchy.

For those who don’t have their dictionary handy, oligarchy is a government in which a small group exercises control for corrupt and selfish purposes.

How else could the procedure followed by County Commission to replace term-limited commissioners be construed?

Of course, why this whole scenario came about or why these eight term-limited individuals held seats and the financial cost to taxpayers is a subject best left to attorneys and class-action lawsuits.

Voters should be furious about the blatant disregard for the law exercised by these so-called representatives of the government.

For those present or watching the proceedings Wednesday, Jan. 31, on public television, seat after seat was filled from nominations by sitting commissioners or from the public.

Prior to the Jan. 31 commission meeting public forums were held at schools and in West Knoxville at the Frank Leuthold Public Library.

From these meetings we in the media were led to believe that those being seriously considered for seats would be present to state their case and introduce themselves to those who were unfamiliar with them.

Little did we realize until the actual meeting this was just a “dog and pony show.”

When the dust settled it was apparent that the positions had been filled via back-room meetings and telephone calls — a clear violation of The Tennessee Open Meetings Act.

The state open meetings law ensures that the public’s business is conducted in the “sunshine,” or in an open forum. The law generally prohibits governing bodies, such as school boards and county commissions, from operating behind closed doors. Governing bodies means members of any public body, which consists of two or more members, with the authority to make decisions for or recommendations to a public body on policy or administration.

Gentlemen and ladies, based on your conduct, words and deeds, you violated the law and the public trust, let alone the intelligence of the taxpayers, which cannot be mended.

How can representatives that openly show no regard for the law lead a society?

Has our body of laws changed now and we only have to obey the laws we pick and choose?

Much has been said about the selection of Josh Jordan and his criminal ties. He has been pardoned by his peers in the public forum based on his youth at the time.

Commission, what is your excuse? You are all mature adults who take an oath and tell us you know right from wrong.

Unless a court intervenes or a special election is held, when the next election cycle rolls around voters should express their dissatisfaction and anger with this conduct by voting out not a few but all members of this commission — term-limited or not.


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