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Charter Amendments — for and against

More than 52,000 Knox County citizens signed the Orange and White Petitions for the right to vote on Charter Amendments 3 and 4. These amendments would institute ethical standards and structures that are the attributes of the best local governments around the nation.

The amendments result from extensive public meetings and research on other governments by the Baker Center at The University of Tennessee.

They have been endorsed by the Knoxville News Sentinel, and by the Public Trust PAC, chaired by former State Sen. Ben Atchley and former Knox County Executive and County Trustee Tommy Schumpert.

You can find information about the amendments — even arguments for and against — at www.knoxaccountability


Question 3 contains changes to County Commission that would:

1. Allow every citizen to vote for 3 of 11 Commissioners (one per district and two at-large) rather than the current 2 of 19 (district only). (Currently, the 5th District is 50 percent larger and has one additional Commissioner, but that size difference would be corrected in 2010 when this change goes into effect.)

2. End Nepotism.

3. Halt Commissioners’ practice of voting when they have conflicts of interest.

4. Bar Commissioners from employment by other branches of County government.

Question 4 contains changes to the Executive Branch that would:

1. Streamline the Executive Branch to save taxpayer dollars by changing the frontier-era, non-policymaking, elected fee offices (clerk, trustee, and register of deeds) and the law director to duties handled by appointed department directors. These directors would be appointed by the next mayor (in 2010), with the approval of Commission, and the right of removal for cause by Commission.

2. Prevent waste, fraud and abuse by establishing an independent inspector general.

3. Bar administrative conflicts of interest (for example, a law director preparing ballot summaries highlighting the opponents’ campaign theme when his position is directly affected by the amendments).

The opposition keeps insisting that you will lose your right to vote if the amendments pass. These are the same folks who ignored term limits for 10 years, brought you Black Wednesday, and fought to prohibit you from voting on these amendments.

In Knox County right now, every citizen votes for 30 Knox County officials. How many of those officials can you name? If you cannot name them, how can you hold them accountable and how much are they costing you in wasted expenses?

As a comparison:

• Each person in the City votes for six City officials.

• Each person votes for three officials at the State level.

• Each person votes for four officials at the Federal level.

If Charter Amendments 3 and 4 pass, each citizen of Knox County will still vote for 27 Knox County officials.

And, what do you get in return for reducing the number of County officials you vote for from 30 to 27?

1. Tax Savings of up to $4.5 million a year from bringing the fee offices into the regular County budget.

2. An end to finger pointing between competing heads of Knox County’s executive branch.

3. More citizen voice on County Commission by voting for three of 11.

4. More accountability — we know exactly who to blame if things go poorly.

5. Checks and balances on power that are the attributes of the best local governments.

6. Ethical standards that end nepotism, conflicts of interest, and Commissioners working for other branches of County government.

You don’t lose your right to vote — your vote just yields a more efficient, ethical and accountable County government!

As one of 380 volunteers in this effort, I urge you to vote for Charter Amendments 3 and 4.


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