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ourview: sunshine


Farragut’s Economic Development Committee grew by one member at the last meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Thursday, Sept. 24.

The new member is Turkey Creek developer Jim Nixon, who no doubt would be an asset to any community’s economic development committee.

What sparks interest about Nixon’s appointment is that during the Board’s previous meeting Sept. 10, Alderman Bob Markli tried unsuccessfully to have Nixon appointed to the committee.

The reasoning aldermen gave during that meeting for deciding to pass over Nixon, which seemed appropriate at the time, was that he had not applied for a seat on the committee. Further discussion during the meeting revealed that no Board member knew with certainty that Nixon was even interested in serving on the committee, since the application period ended July 10 — two months ago — and Nixon still had filed no application or appeared before the Board concerning his participation.


The question rises as to what changed over the two-week period between meetings that completely altered the course of action initally taken by Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen?

Staff at farragutpress requested copies of all e-mail sent and received by Board members during this two-week period from the Town.

After reviewing Board e-mails, it is clear an e-mail campaign was conducted within the Board, promoting the addition of Nixon and advocating action on other matters.

Simply, Town business was being discussed behind closed doors. Town business that Tennessee’s Open Meetings Act says will be conducted in open forum — in the sunshine.

After reviewing video of the Sept. 24 meeting and confirming relatively no discussion pertaining to the merits for Nixon’s appointment and a unanimous vote for approval, it is clear the matter was campaigned and settled outside the public forum.

Were no lessons learned from the recent Knox County Chancery Court ruling by Chancellor Daryl Fansler that found several members of Knox County Commission were indeed in violation of the state Open Meetings Act for discussing Commission business behind closed doors?

While we have no issue with the results of the meeting; we in principle have a major problem with how the issue was resolved.

The Open Meetings Act is clear and Town business is to be discussed in open forum and in view of the public.

It’s not a request, it’s the law.

 

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