Thursday, May 19, 2016

May 19, 2016 County Commission Executive Session: Settlement?

County Attorney Chris Capps is holding an executive session with his clients (county commission) today at 4:15.

Best bet is that the major topic is a proposed settlement of the Sheriff's salary suit against the county.

After the trial of this matter, Brittain told Capps and the other attorneys hired to represent the county to file an appeal. That appeal has not been heard.

Because this is not a meeting open to the public, the commissioners can not deliberate, take a vote, or make a decision to accept or reject a settlement while in executive session.

If commissioners want to make a decision about a settlement, yes or no, they must come out into the "sunshine" of an open meeting.

Sheriff's Salary Suits: A Summary from CTAS (County Technical Assistance Services)

Sheriff's Salary Suits--Excerpts from CTAS Manual (County Technical Assistance Services):

"[T]he Sheriff has sole discretion to request the number of assistants he believes are ‘actually necessary to the proper conducting’ of his office, as well as the salaries he feels are necessary to attract and retain them.” [Cite]...

The petition must be filed by the sheriff within 30 days after the date of final adoption of the budget for the fiscal year...

In the petition, the sheriff must name the county mayor as the party defendant. The county mayor is required to file an answer within five days after service of the petition, either admitting or denying the allegations of the petition or making such answer as the county mayor deems advisable under the circumstances...

The court will develop the facts, and the court may hear proof either for or against the petition. The court may allow or disallow the application, either in whole or in part, and may allow the whole number of deputies or assistants applied for or a less number, and may allow the salaries set out in the application or smaller salaries, all as the facts justify...

Either party dissatisfied with the decree or order of the court in the proceedings set out above has the right of appeal as in other cases. Pending the final disposition of the application to the court, or pending the final determination on appeal, the sheriff may appoint deputies or assistants to serve until the final determination of the case, who shall be paid according to the final judgment of the court. T.C.A. § 8-20-106...

The cost of the suit is paid out of the fees of the sheriff’s office. The sheriff is allowed a credit for the same in settlement with the county trustee. T.C.A. § 8-20-107... 

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 8-20-105, it is the duty of the sheriff to reduce the number of deputies and assistants and the salaries paid them when it can be reasonably done. The court or judge having jurisdiction may, on motion of the county mayor and upon reasonable notice to the sheriff, have a hearing on the motion and may reduce the number of deputies or assistants and the salaries paid any one or more when the public good justifies.


Monday, May 02, 2016

Brittain Decides To Appeal Court's Decision in Sheriff Jarnagin's Salary Suit

Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain has decided to appeal the decision entered on April 14, 2016, in Sheriff's Jarnagin's salary suit.

Brittain is appealing the Circuit Court decision to the extent it authorizes Jarnagin to hire additional deputies, with equipment, and awards attorneys' fees to the sheriff.

The appeal was filed April 22, 2016.  

Tomorrow's post will have more on sheriff's salary suits and a link to CTAS (County Technical Assistance Services) information. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Public Services Committee Rejects Ford's Resolution Asking that MUS Build-out in Populous Areas of Hamblen County Before Going into Other Counties

At the March 7, 2016, Public Services Committee meeting, Hamblen County Commissioner Stancil Ford introduced a resolution to request that MUS build out its Fibernet service in Hamblen County before entering into a plan to provide Fibernet outside of Hamblen County.

The resolution asking that MUS build out in Hamblen County before jumping county lines was voted down in a 6-3 vote. 

Commissioners Stancil Ford, Tim Goins, and Johnny Walker voted FOR the request.

Commissioners Howard Shipley, Rick Eldridge, Randy DeBord, Hubert Davis, Joe Huntsman, and John Smyth voted NO to the request.

Here are videos of the discussion:

Part 1

Part 2

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Tennessee Coalition for Open Government (TCOG) Blogs on Hamblen County Government

The Tennessee Coalition for Open Government has a blog post about Mayor Brittain's action in censoring and editing public comments OUT of the videotape of the January 2016 Commission meeting,
Here is the link to the TCOG post:
TCOG supports transparency and open government at all levels.

Hopefully, Mayor Brittain and Chairman Eldridge and those unnamed and so-far "silent" commissioners who want to censor and edit tapes of Hamblen County Commission meetings are having second thoughts.

When you start censoring and editing tapes of public meetings, you are starting down a slippery slope.

When your first censoring and editing adventure is to edit public comments out of tapes of public meetings, you are on the most slippery slope of all! What is next?

Stopping the taping altogether?
Stopping public comments altogether?  
Censoring tapes of public meetings is not just a problem in itself. It is a symptom of a deeper problem and attitude toward the public.

There was never, to my knowledge, any censorship or editing of tapes of commission meetings during the past 12+ years of taping.

Why did Mayor Brittain decide in January 2016 that it was suddenly time to censor and edit public comments out of the tape of the meeting?

First, it's not his meeting.
Second, it's a meeting of a public body and public comments are on the published agenda of that public meeting.

Some commissioners may not like certain members of the public who speak at meetings.
Some commissioners may not agree with some of the public comments that are made at meetings.   
The Mayor may not like some members of the public and may not agree with some of the public comments that are made at meetings.

That's fine. That's understandable.

But that is not a justification for the Mayor and (some) Commissioners to decide to censor a tape of a public meeting in a misguided attempt to get back at those members of the public whom they personally dislike or who express opinions with which the Mayor and (some) commissioners disagree.

This is America. 

Public officials should not be promoting government editing and censorship of tapes of public meetings.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

February 21, 2016 Mayor Brittain Directs That Tapes of Commission Meetings Be Censored To Remove Public Comments

Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain and every County Commissioner will say (I hope) that they believe in open and transparent government.

The local media says that it supports open and transparent government, running editorials every March supporting "Sunshine Week," a statewide celebration of Tennessee's Open Meetings and Open Records Acts.

After the January 14, 2016, commission meeting, I received information that Mayor Brittain had told the individual taping the meeting to cut the camera off during the portion of the meeting when public comments were made. I was very concerned about this, and I explained what I knew about this censorship to the commission at its February 18, 2016, commission meeting.

The video shows Mayor Brittain admitting that he asked the individual taping the January 14, 2016, commission meeting to censor the taping of that meeting by turning the camera off during the public comments portion of that meeting. 

Commissioner Johnny Walker asks if Brittain has the authority to direct that the camera be cut off during public comments. Walker then asks Brittain why he ordered the editing of the tape. Brittain responds: "I thought that it was in the best interest of the meeting."  Walker responds: "That portion of the meeting is not important? I didn't hear you." 

Commission Chairman Rick Eldridge then states that removing public comments from the tape of the public meeting was some sort of "compromise." Eldridge does not state who was involved in the  "compromise," when discussions about the taping/censorship occurred, or when the "compromise" was voted upon.

Why is this commission secretly agreeing to some sort of "compromise" to censor the tapes of its public meetings to edit public comments out of the tapes?  This type of censorship and editing of a public meeting is something you would only expect to hear about in a third-world country.

What is it about a three-minute comment by a citizen that terrifies the mayor and at least some county commissioners to the point that they secretly reach an agreement outside of a public meeting to censor public comments out of the official tape of a public meeting of the Commission?


Hamblen County Commission meetings have been taped for the past 13 years.

When I ran for county commission in 2002, taping and airing public meetings was a key part of my platform.

Upon taking office in September 2002, newly-elected Commissioner Nancy Phillips and I pushed for the taping. Ms. Phillips took the lead in working with Charter to get cameras and related equipment donated. She and I obtained a local donation of microphones, a soundboard, and related equipment. 

For nearly 13 years, the entire meeting was taped from start to finish, including public comments which were and still are part of each meeting.  The local cable providers then aired the tape of the entire meeting on the local PEG (public, education, and government) channel(s).

Sometimes I agreed with a citizen making a public comment. Sometimes I disagreed. I never attempted to restrict a citizen's right to speak, nor did I ever propose secretly or openly that the tapes of commission meetings be edited to remove public comments by anyone.


Monday, January 11, 2016

January 11, 2016 Hamblen County Audit Findings for Fiscal Year 2015

The Hamblen County audit for fiscal year 2015 (7/1/14-6/30/15) is on the State Comptroller's website.

Click here to see the audit.

Findings are reported on pages 212-215.

The Mayor's office had two findings:

2015-001 Accounting records were not maintained on a current basis for the audited year FY 2015 and beyond.

The Mayor's office did not reconcile general ledger cash accounts with the Trustee's office from March 31, 2015-June 30, 2015 on a timely basis as required by Tennessee Code Annotated 9-2-138.

The Mayor's office did not post revenues to the general ledger for July and August 2015 until October 2015.

2015-002 Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS) payments were not remitted timely resulting in the assessment of penalties. 

Retirement contributions for the month of May 2015 were not remitted to TCRS timely as required by Tennessee Code Annotated 8-35-206(g) resulting in the assessment of $5,038.00 in penalties.

There was a finding involving the Highway Commission:

2015-003 A county road list was not submitted to the county commission for approval at its January 2015 meeting as required by Tennessee Code Annotated 54-10-103.

There is a finding involving the Trustee's Office:

2015-004 Certain accounts maintained by the Trustee were not adequately collateralized/secured.

The Trustee was not able to provide documentation that funds exceeding $1,034,000 in a brokerage account were adequately secured in May, June, and July 2015.

There were two certificate of deposits totaling $495,544 at one financial institution. This amount exceeds FDIC insurance limits of $250,000 by $245,544. The trustee provided a list to the depository with directions not to deposit more than $250,000 in one financial institution but did not monitor the subsequent report which showed $495,544 in one institution.

Friday, December 25, 2015

December 25, 2015 Merry Christmas!

Luke 2  King James Version

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30, 2015 City Council Holds "Special" Meeting For One Item: To Increase City Administrator Tony Cox's Compensation Package Again

Below is a video of City Council in a "special" called meeting on November 24 voting to increase City Administrator Tony Cox's contract compensation package yet again.

The Council met on November 17 (one week before the special called meeting) and is scheduled to meet in regular session again on December 1 (one week after the special called meeting).

Apparently, someone decided there was an emergency at City Hall that required that council run a newspaper ad so it could meet in special session at 11:00 AM on November 24 for 12 minutes with its attorney present and with no public comments ----to talk about the "urgent situation" involving revisions to Cox's contract. And these revisions won't take effect until January 1, 2016. 

Sort of odd how this urgent situation arose and someone decided consideration of the proposed salary and benefit increase absolutely could NOT wait 7 days for council's next regular meeting day (December 1) and time (5 PM) when the public that foots the bill could be present and when the regular agenda would provide an opportunity for public comments.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Nov 29, 2015 Solid Waste Board Asks DA To Seek Restitution from Ronnie Brady

The Hamblen County/Morristown Solid Waste Board was asleep at the wheel for the 3-plus years during which its Director Ronnie Brady stole nearly $225,000 from the Hamblen County/Morristown Solid Waste Authority.

Brady was indicted after a special investigative audit was completed by the State Comptroller's Office. Click here for a prior post with links to the State Investigative Audit. Tracing the money that Brady took back to its source, the money came out of the pockets of the taxpayers and residents of Morristown and of Hamblen County as the City and County paid monthly garbage disposal/tipping fees to the Solid Waste Authority and Brady, in turn, siphoned a lot of these taxpayer dollars/public funds for his own use.
Recently, the Board voted to ask DA Dan Armstrong to request that Brady make restitution to the Hamblen County/Morristown Solid Waste Authority for the insurance deductible and extra audit expenses that the Authority incurred when the theft was finally discovered. Here is the SWB on November 20, 2015, voting to seek restitution for extra audit services and the insurance "deductible." There are rumors afloat that this restitution is part of a plea deal that has been offered to Brady. It remains to be seen if DA Armstrong plans to let someone steal nearly $225,000 in public funds and only have to make restitution for an audit and an insurance "deductible."


The Board's former chairman Stancil Ford was an "in-law" of Brady up until Stancil's divorce years ago. Ford and the rest of the Board apparently had such great faith in Brady that they didn't bother to make sure that all payroll and other checks that Brady was writing on the City/County Solid Waste Board checkbook were legitimate.

For years, while the SWB did nothing, Brady helped himself to an extra $190,000+ in payroll checks AND paid some of his car repair and credit card expenses (including a trip to Disneyworld) with public funds. Brady apparently felt that his $80,000+ salary along with car allowance and insurance benefits was not "enough." The SWB's former auditor Craine-Thompson-Jones didn't catch the theft until after several years had passed and Brady had helped himself to nearly a quarter million dollars --or more-- of public money!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

November 11, 2015 Veterans Day

vetsday HONOR VETS with wreath and flag.gif
In honor and in remembrance of all who have served the United States of America in the armed forces at home and abroad...

In honor of all who currently serve the United States of America in the armed forces at home and abroad...

Americans owe a special debt to veterans of all branches of the armed forces. Our freedom has been bought and maintained with their sweat, blood, and devotion to duty.

Many have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Freedom is not free.

The American Soldier

It is the soldier, not the reporter,
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,
Who has given us freedom to demonstrate.

It is the soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who gives us freedom.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

July 12, 2015 Former MPD Officer Michael Hurt Charged with Theft and Official Misconduct

The Tennessee Watchdog has an article about allegations and an investigative audit by the State Comptroller alleging that MPD Officer Michael Hurt pocketed and used public money for his own personal use.

From the Watchdog:

"In Morristown, Tennessee, police seized cars and demanded cash, which a police sergeant allegedly kept for himself — $6,000 in all, a state Comptroller’s report says.

According to the audit, a Hamblen County grand jury indicted Hurt on charges of two counts of theft over $1,000, one count of theft over $500 and one count of official misconduct.

District Attorney Dan Armstrong told Tennessee Watchdog on Wednesday he had no comment beyond what was in Wilson’s report.

Hurt, the report went on, 'altered records, failed to record or receipt the majority of the cash and made a false entry in police department records in an apparent attempt to conceal his activities.'"

Click here for the full Watchdog article.

The Comptroller's Audit/Special Investigation on this matter was released on July 8, 2015. 

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

July 8, 2015 Brittain Proposes 20-cent Property Tax Hike to County Budget Committee

All the talk about conservatism in county government was just that---talk, meaningless babble.

At yesterday's budget meeting, County Mayor Bill Brittain pulled out the old shell game--moving taxpayer/public money from one pile to another and then from another to another.

Since this shell game and exercise in money-shifting accomplished nothing, Brittain then proposed a 20-cent property tax "solution." A10-cent hike for the General Fund (sheriff, courts, mayor's office, county clerk, Cherokee Park, etc) and a 10-cent hike for the Highway/Road Department (paving projects).

And even that huge 20-cent property tax hike didn't take care of the Brittain spending budget, so Brittain also proposed that the county appropriate the spending of $447,000 from the county fund balance (savings/reserves). Sort of like a person getting a hefty salary increase and then still having to dip into their savings account to meet their proposed spending plan.

Brittain then distracted commissioners with some "pick your poison" options for the Highway Department---instead of a 10-cent property tax hike for the Highway Department, he said commissioners could enact a $22 increase in the wheel tax OR they could do a 3-cent property tax increase and a $16 wheel tax increase,

Brittain saved any mention of the school budget to the end of his presentation. The school budget is primarily a function of State BEP money and local money which can not decrease from year to year.

To his credit, Stancil Ford asked Brittain about the state BEP money. Brittain stated that the schools are getting 2 million in new state BEP money for the next budget year.

Then the discussion turned to local money for the schools. Last year, the schools received $25,736.740 in local money. That amount can not decrease, but there is no requirement that it increase. Despite the county's and the taxpayers' economic situation and despite the fact that the schools are getting a 2 million boost in state money, Brittain proposed that the local money for schools be increased by $515,987 to $26,252,727.

Ford pointed out to commissioners that the local money did not have to increase. With the schools already set to get 2 million more from the state, the local money budgeted for education could stay the same as last year ($25,736.740) and the $515,987 could be moved to the county general fund or highway department.

It was an amazing presentation from the conservative Mayor of Hamblen County who handed out his budget changes and sweeping "spend and tax" proposal(s) at the beginning of the meeting, leaving commissioners little time to read and study the different scenarios. Of course, making budget changes and tossing out multiple proposals at the last minute gives a distinct advantage to the Mayor in that most commissioners are not prepared to ask questions right after they get a new 19-page document outlining convoluted revenue and spending changes.

Just like Washington DC, the game is the same in Morristown and Hamblen County, Tennessee.

Grow government. Hide the ball. Make a few token budget "cuts"--"cuts" that are not really cuts but are simply reductions in the previously proposed increases. Then increase taxes and spend other people's money to grow the little kingdoms at the courthouse and at the city center.

Hire and make jobs for relatives and friends. One-bid contracts. Boards that provide zero oversight so that $225,000 can be stolen (Solid Waste Board).  And while salaries and benefits are the largest component of the county and school budgets, don't provide a list of employees by name and position with 4-year historical data on hourly rates or salary.

And then let the chest-thumping begin as all proclaim themselves the most conservative people on the planet. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

June 18,2015 SWB Committee To Recommend Rodefer Moss as New SWB Auditor Replacing Craine-Thompson-Jones

Three Hamblen County/Morristown Solid Waste Board members (Bob Garrett, Doe Jarvis, and Tom Rush) met this morning and reviewed proposals for auditing services from three CPA firms.

The members rated each proposal and decided to recommend that the full board approve Rodefer Moss as the new SWB auditor--replacing longtime local auditor Craine-Thompson-Jones.

The recommendation will apparently go to the full board for action at its meeting tomorrow at 9 AM at the Health Department.

For a brief history of the SWB saga and theft of over $220,000 by its former director Ronnie Brady, click here, here, and here.

June 18, 2015 Hamblen County/Morristown Solid Waste Board Theft and Trip to Disney World Comes in Third Place in Beacon Pork Contest

Hamblen/Morristown former landfill director Ronnie Brady's theft of over $220,000.00 from the local Solid Waste Board garnered third place in a "government pork" poll by the Beacon Center.

Click here for the poll results.

Brady's theft was beaten out for the top "pork" spot by the transfer of $165,000,000.00 of taxpayer dollars to VW in Chattanooga and the $46,000.00 spent by Governor Haslam to come up with a new state "logo."

Brady's theft was accomplished primarily by issuing LOTS of "extra" solid waste payroll checks to himself and also using solid waste funds to pay his personal bills.

The theft went undetected for at least 3-1/2 years even though there was a nine-member board with oversight duties, even though the SWB was audited every year, and even though SWB chairman Stancil Ford was supposed to physically sign or personally stamp his signature on checks along with Brady's signature.

Most businesses and governmental entities require TWO signatures on all checks to try to prevent exactly what happened at the solid waste board.

Ford, however, was not personally signing or personally stamping the "extra" checks. Ford apparently had given Brady access to Ford's signature stamp which, of course, defeated the whole purpose of having two signatures on checks.

After all, it's not really a "check and balance" against potential theft when one person (Brady) can sign his signature to checks and can also stamp the signature of the other person (Ford) on the checks.

Giving someone your signature stamp or access to your signature stamp opens the bank door for theft. 

And the door to the SWB bank account was left wide open by Stancil Ford failing to physically sign SWB checks or at least go and use HIS signature stamp on the checks HIMSELF.

Maybe Stancil deserves an "assist" in helping Ronnie Brady win 3rd place in the Beacon pork and waste (and theft) contest!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

June 16, 2015 Solid Waste Board Receives Three Proposals for Auditing Services--Current Auditor Craine-Thompson-Jones Doesn't Submit a Proposal

The Hamblen County/Morristown Solid Waste Board received auditing proposals from three auditing firms on June 15, 2015. Two were Knoxville firms and one was from Johnson City.

Longtime local Solid Waste auditor Craine-Thompson-Jones did not submit a proposal.

SWB Chairman Tony Cox discussed reviewing SWB professional contracts (auditing, legal, and engineering) at an Executive Committee meeting back in February 2015. Executive Committee members appointed by Cox are Cox, Keith Jackson, and ex officio (non-voting member) County Mayor Bill Brittain. 

SWB member Doe Jarvis proposed soliciting qualifications from auditing firms at the May 2015 SWB meeting and pointedly criticized the local auditors for failing to catch the theft of over $220,000 by SWB Director Ronnie Brady.  Click here and here.

You can see the opening of proposals here:

By newspaper notice last night, it was stated that the Audit Committee will review the proposals tomorrow at the SWB Office on Sublett Road at 10 AM and make a recommendation to the full board at the SWB meeting on Friday, June 19, at 9 AM at the Health Department building.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

June 4, 2015 Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson: Stancil Ford Violated Tennessee Law (TCA 12-4-101)

Tennessee's conflict of interest laws are weak in many areas. However, they are crystal clear in one area--elected officials, committee members, and those holding similar supervisory positions can't supervise themselves.

Now let's look at Stancil Ford and the Hamblen County/Morristown Solid Waste Board (SWB).  

In February 2014, former SWB Landfill Director Ronnie Brady resigned amid allegations of theft from the SWB. Brady was indicted in March 2015 on charges of theft over $60,000. The Tennessee Comptroller's Office put the theft at almost $228,000.

Following Brady's resignation, the SWB named one of its own--SWB member Stancil Ford--as interim landfill director. Ford served as interim landfill director and later as an "assistant" interim landfill director up through May 30, 2014. Ford remained on the Board during that entire time. Ford received about $8800 during the 3-1/2 month period that he was interim director, "assistant" interim director, and a member and Chairman of the SWB.

On April 29, 2015, Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson informed the SWB that Ford had a statutory conflict of interest in serving on the SWB and serving as SWB landfill director/assistant director. Ford violated TCA 12-4-101.

[Ford is a sitting county commissioner. He was also the State Representative for Hamblen County for many years until his defeat in 2002.]

Sunday, May 31, 2015

May 31, 2015 Hamblen/Morristown Solid Waste Board Seeks Proposals for Auditing Services

The joint Hamblen County/Morristown Solid Waste Board (SWB) is advertising for proposals for auditing services.

As I mentioned in a prior post, Doe Jarvis made the motion to look at new auditors for the SWB back on May 16, 2015. The vote was unanimous. [SWB Chairman Tony Cox was absent when the vote was taken.]

On Friday, May 29, the SWB put an ad in the paper for auditing services. Interested firms can pick up packets at the SWB office to use in submitting proposals.

Proposals have to be turned in to the SWB office by 10 AM on Monday, June 15, 2015.

At a previous SWB executive committee meeting, SWB Chairman Tony Cox had mentioned that the Board might need to review certain professional positions and decide whether to keep the current auditors (Craine-Thompson-Jones), the current engineer (Matt Hatfield), and current attorney (Chris Capps).

The search for new auditors comes on the heels of a report by the Tennessee Comptroller's Office that over $220,000 was taken by SWB Director Ronnie Brady between July 2010 and January 2014.

Brady resigned in early 2014 and was indicted for theft over $60,000 by a local grand jury on March 2, 2015.

More details are here. To see the Comptroller's report, click here.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

May 17, 2015 Solid Waste Board Votes To Look at Changing Auditors

The agenda was very light at the Hamblen County/Morristown Solid Waste Board meeting on Friday, May 15.

Chairman Tony Cox, who is also Morristown City Administrator, was not present. Longtime SWB member Bill Blackburn presided.

About the only non-routine action was a motion made by Doe Jarvis, who is also a Hamblen County Commissioner, to send out a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for auditing services.

Jarvis stated: "I personally am not satisfied with the audits we received. I wasn't on the board at the time, but I know that we went ... three years, four years, with an issue that wasn't picked up.

[Jarvis was apparently referring to the three or four years that former landfill director Ronnie Brady was writing himself an extra $192,000.00 in payroll checks over and above his approximately $80,000.00 annual salary.]  Click here and here.

During discussion, Jarvis commented: " I think we need new auditors because they [current auditors Craine-Thompson-Jones] didn't pick up what they should have picked up, in my opinion."

The vote was unanimous to issue an RFQ seeking qualifications from auditing firms interested in performing the SWB audit.

Larry Clark, administrative services director for the City of Morristown, was present and commented that it might be hard to issue an RFQ, get proposals back, and select a new firm within the timeframe (June 30, 2015)  given by the Comptroller for having an audit contract in place.

Jarvis' response: "Why can we not ask for forgiveness versus permission on something like that? We do it on everything else."

Jarvis added: "I think it's absolutely ridiculous that our auditor is still doing our books or still doing our audit. Our former auditor should not be doing that work."

NOTE: In a February 6, 2015, meeting of the SWB Executive Committee (Tony Cox, Bill Brittain, and Keith Jackson), Tony Cox stated that the SWB may want to look at its outside contracts (auditor, engineer, and attorney) and determine whether the SWB is happy or if it is time to go back and start "looking."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 14, 2015 Dr. Parks, Susan Widener, and Nancy Phillips Resign from MH Humane Society Board

[Due to editing/posting problems, the layout of this post may have excessive spacing. I will fix it later when time allows]

The Morristown-Hamblen Humane Society met last Monday in a hastily called special meeting in an attempt by several members and one faction of the Board to oust the following five Board members: Mary Ann Toffoletto, Susan Allen, Dr. Michael Bratton, Judy Stockard, and Bette Crawford. See prior post here.

The vote was 109-91 to keep those members on the Board.

At last night's meeting, the first held following that vote, President Daniel Parks, Vice-president Susan Widener, and Board member Nancy Phillips resigned right after the meeting began. Parks and Widener were present. Phillips was not there. Parks gave a brief statement and then handed in his resignation along with that of Widener and Phillips, effective "immediately." Widener and he then left the meeting.

The Board was obviously surprised but immediately named Dr. Michael Bratton to preside over the meeting and everything proceeded.

The Board received the recommendation from the committee that interviewed candidates for the Shelter Director position.

Stan Eversole was nominated for the position. Mr. Eversole told the Board that he was extremely honored but would not be able to take the position as he had recently received a threatening note that seemed directed not only at him but at his children.  The note and the threat were reported to the HC Sheriff's Department.

County Mayor Bill Brittain, who was a member of the Director selection committee, was asked by other committee members if he had told anyone about the selection of Eversole. Brittain stated that he had told Dr. Daniel Parks and Nancy Phillips. At the end of the meeting, Brittain asked to make a statement. He said that all he did was answer the question honestly and no one should read anything else into that.

The committee agreed to meet again and present another name for the Director position.

In other action, the Board formally voted to notify city councilman/realtor Paul LeBel that they will not pursue the purchase of a building on South Liberty Hill Road for which some former Board members, acting through Perry Hall, had initiated and supported some form of option to purchase agreement.

Voting on new by-laws and the annual May meeting were discussed.

UPDATE: After the meeting adjourned, Sonya Shipley, County Mayor Bill Brittain's appointee to the Board, resigned.