Thursday, May 17, 2007

May 16, 2007 Anonymous(e) Pops Up at Cuppa Joe

Thanks to Joe Powell for mentioning my post on the violation of the Sunshine Law by the Hamblen County Commission at the May 8th meeting of the full Commission.

Joe has always been a crusader for open government and for getting rid of backdoor deals.

Apparently, a Courthouse Anonymous(e) was lurking on Joe's blog and started whining when Joe linked to my post where I reported that there was no public notice of the May 8th meeting of the Hamblen County Commission at which the Hamblen County Ethics Committee was appointed.

How the Commissioners sat there silently on May 8th while the County Mayor, the Commission Chair, and the County Attorney somehow said with a straight face that the county actually met the "adequate public notice" requirements of the law even when there was NO PUBLIC NOTICE or announcement of the meeting is more than a wee bit hard to understand.

Here is my reply in Joe's comments section to Joe's Anonymouse.

Linda said...
Looks like there might be an Anonymous(e) in the courthouse to go along with those termites!

Where did Anonymouse deal with the issue which was: was "adequate public notice" as required by law provided for this "special called meeting" of the Hamblen County Commission?

Anonymouse appears to admit that the requirements of public NOTICE were not met when he says "I don't think there was any DELIBERATE attempt to keep the meeting from the public."

I stated much the same thing in my post when I said "It was probably hoped and expected that the press would notify the public."

BUT IT DIDN'T HAPPEN as hoped or expected.

That means that there was not adequate public notice. There was NO public notice. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

Anonymouse should do a little reading: The law says that the County must provide "adequate public notice" not "adequate press notice."

You are absolutely right in your last comment--as soon as it was realized that the law had not been followed regarding notice of the meeting, it should have been stopped and re-scheduled with proper notice to the public.

I'll have a lot more on this on my blog in a day or so.

The Sunshine Law and the Public Records Laws are among THE most important tools and safeguards that citizens have to protect from secret meetings and to enable them to try to find out what's going on with their money and their government!

Because these laws are citizen-friendly and are so useful to citizens, governments love to stick the "troublemaker" label on those who try to enforce and actually use the law to get information.

Sorry about that, Anonymouse! Until the Sunshine and Public Records (Laws) are repealed, I'll continue to use them to get info and I'll continue to remind officials that it isn't a public meeting and the Sun isn't shining if you haven't announced the meeting to the public!

If that makes me a "troublemaker," so be it.

This "troublemaker" has saved county taxpayers a ton of money by asking questions and checking out financial info much to the chagrin of Anonymouse.

I saved the taxpayers $1.1 million dollars in 2005 by checking the math in the calculation of the county's new tax rate after the 2005 re-appraisal. I checked the rate that the state had provided and that county finance officials were using in the budget process in 2005.

I found out that the rate was 11 cents too high. This would have resulted in the over collection of $1.1 million from Hamblen County taxpayers. My figures were quickly verified as correct, and the state and county then corrected and lowered the certified tax rate by 11 cents.

Remember the $18,000 that we have saved every year since 2002 by using the state auditors which I pushed for in 2002?

And there's more we could be saving right now and could have saved over the past several years if certain spending and procurement practices were changed.

I'm sick of taxes going up, up, and away!

So, Anonymouse, watch out.

The taxpayers need commissioners who will work with the public as "watchdogs" of the public pursestrings---and not be timid "lapdogs" who spend too much time worrying that they might not get invited into the inner sanctum of government.

Anonymouse, smell the coffee and quit blaming others and trying to deflect attention from the issue. You have admitted that the public wasn't notified about the meeting: "I don't think there was any deliberate attempt to keep the meeting from the public."

Deliberate or not deliberate, it really doesn't matter. THERE WAS NOT ADEQUATE PUBLIC NOTICE OF THIS MEETING!

Is it that difficult to accept and properly deal with what you yourself have admitted. It's not rocket science. If there wasn't public notice, if it was just a glitch, do what Joe said, re-schedule the meeting, provide adequate public notice, and do it over the right way!

And next time, take an ad in the Legal/Public notice section of the paper to provide notice.

That's what the county does for rezonings and lots of other special meetings. Then you don't have to worry about someone else taking care of "adequate public notice."


Aunt MeMe said...

Thanks (once again), for keeping tabs on our local government. There are so many things we citizens miss. . . For example, I just recently found out (through a web search) that there was a civil rights-violation lawsuit filed against the MPD and David Purkey in March of this year (2007), and another one filed just yesterday. Funny how we never read these things in the local newspaper. . . Maybe the lawsuits are frivilous. Maybe they hold no merit. But we, as taxpayers, have the right to know when our taxes are being used for ANYTHING; including legal fees. Thanks for all you do. -Carol

Linda said...

I appreciate your comments, and thanks for reading.

Thanks for your comment on my March 7 entry, too.

Conflicts of interest and double (and even triple) dipping are outrages.

Sadly, the double and triple dippers are paid with our tax money and they just laugh all the way to the bank.

Conflicts of interest and double dipping lead even good people down the well-worn path that is paved with good intentions, nifty sound bites, and, of course, lots of that green stuff!