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our view: sunshine redux

In light of our editorial last week, “Ourview: Sunshine,” a few interesting comments have surfaced — three of which appear as “letters to the editor” on this page — that need to be addressed.

The editorial pointed out that communication between members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen was subject to the state of Tennessee Open Meetings Act, or Sunshine Law, and was not going to be overlooked by this newspaper.

Alderman Bob Markli, in one of the letters appearing in this issue of farragutpress, has come forward and taken responsibility for initiating the e-mail that brought attention to the matter. He goes on to explain in his view how the appointment of a member to the newly formed Economic Development Committee transpired.

In the other letter penned by 14 Farragut residents, we are called upon as a Town to show appreciation to the Board members and “celebrate the fact that we are fortunate to live here. No city tax, good service from the employees, great parks, plenty of activities, a wonderful museum and many other things that could not be so positive without people willing to spend the countless unpaid hours they do to make our life better.”

Both letters cloud the real issue at hand — obeying the Sunshine Law.

What we at farragutpress contend and pointed out in the Oct. 1 editorial is that written or spoken dialogue between members of Board of Mayor and Aldermen on any subject pertaining to Town matters is and was in violation of the law — fruit from the forbidden tree.

We have no argument that the appointee to the committee will no doubt serve the Town well, but facts are facts. The e-mails are readily available and support our contention there were violations of the Sunshine Law — unintentional or not.

The recent case in Chancellor Daryl Fansler’s court involving the state of Tennessee Open Meetings Act and Knox County Commission should be on each newly elected official’s mandatory reading list about what is considered proper communication between elected officials.

If the subject is related to Town business in any way — an appointment, a levied fine, a stop work order, a new ordinance, whatever — members of the Board, Commission or committee cannot discuss it outside Board, Commission or committee meetings, all of which should be open to the public as well as the press.

It’s no different than the driver who doesn’t stop at a red light before turning right on red, both are against the law and it’s up to you, as Board members, to set the example. The red light cameras are watching and so are we.


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