Monday, March 31, 2008

March 31, 2008 Jailer Lynn Wolfe Sues Sheriff Esco Jarnigan

What can public documents tell you that no public official will tell you? Plenty. What can public documents tell you that no newspaper will tell you? Plenty.

Lynn Wolfe filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Esco Jarnigan in federal court in January 2008 because Sheriff Jarnigan would not promote him to road deputy. Click on the first images above to read the 5-page complaint.

Wolfe was Hamblen County's chief detective under former Sheriff Otto Purkey. Chief Detective Wolfe was driving a county cruiser in December 2000 returning home from an out-of-county "party" when he totaled the county's 1999 Ford Crown Vic in a one-vehicle accident.

According to reports, a blood test was administered at M-H Hospital showing that Mr. Wolfe was legally drunk at the time of the accident. Wolfe resigned after the accident and received a severance package that was agreed to by County Mayor David Purkey (former Sheriff Otto Purkey's brother). Click on the Feb. 2, 2001, letter above.

According to several individuals, including one who talked to Mr. Wolfe several months ago, Mr. Wolfe is related to both Purkeys.

What actually happened in December 2000 and afterwards? Did Wolfe make restitution to the county for the vehicle he wrecked while DWI?

Hamblen County filed suit against Lynn Wolfe in 2001 to recover the costs of the cruiser that was totaled in December 2000 when he was DWI. An August 29, 2002, Agreed Order provided that Wolfe was to pay the county $6,250.00 for the 1999 Crown Vic.

The terms of the agreement were that Mr. Wolfe could pay $6,250.00 cash or he could work the payment off performing community service at $6.00/hour. Click on the Agreed Order above.

According to County Trustee Bill Brittain, Wolfe chose the community service option. Did Wolfe really "pay" for the cruiser through community service?

Or did the taxpayers pay for the car, pay for the lawsuit, get an Agreed Order requiring that Lynn Wolfe make restitution to the county, and then have all this ignored by Lynn Wolfe, Mayor David Purkey, and several others who saw or prepared the paperwork and were in the know?

Three community service "time sheets" that Wolfe filled out and that were turned in to Mayor David Purkey are shown above. Two of them are signed by Gary Templin. Look at these time sheets and see how many hours of "community service" were performed as restitution. These time sheets are public records that are kept in the County Mayor's office.

The three time sheets do NOT show even one hour of time worked. Instead, they show that Mr. Wolfe somehow pre-listed about 130 dates, signed his name beside each date, and then had his community service "supervisor" Gary Templin sign and turn in the time sheets even though the "time" sheets had NO TIME on them.

Who is Gary Templin? Gary was Assistant Director of County Maintenance on the dates shown. But there's more! Gary's boss was Director of County Maintenance Harold Wolfe, Lynn Wolfe's father.

It will be interesting to see if other community service time sheets are suddenly found somewhere in the Mayor's Office or elsewhere when it comes time to determine if Mr. Wolfe actually made restitution to the county as stated on Page 2 of his complaint. The time sheets that the Mayor has provided thus far don't show any restitution.

How could anyone--Mayor Purkey or even Lynn Wolfe himself--have known when Lynn had "worked off" the $6,250.00 judgment when the only time sheets the Mayor's office has show ZERO TIME WORKED?
Who was supposed to see that restitution was made? Who knew that "timeless" time sheets were being handed in? Who ignored the "timeless" time sheets? Why?
The kinships and resulting conflicts of interest are obvious. Even Mayor Purkey and the Wolfes knew there would be a stink with Lynn Wolfe supposedly working off his judgment by working for his dad's County Maintenance Department.
No problem. Mayor Purkey sent Harold Wolfe a note telling Harold Wolfe what to say about Lynn Wolfe making court-ordered restitution by working for his father's maintenance department.

Purkey's note of 9/13/02 (click on above memo) says:

"Harold, If anyone asks, Lynn is being supervised by Gary Templin. Gary can see me for the details. Thanks, D"

Why would the County Mayor have to tell Harold Wolfe that Lynn Wolfe is being supervised by Gary Templin? Didn't Harold, Director of County Maintenance, already know that his assistant was supervising his son?
Did Gary really supervise Lynn Wolfe or did he just dutifully sign time sheets for his boss's son--time sheets that didn't even have one hour of time on them?

The details of Templin's supervision of his boss's (Harold Wolfe's) son (Lynn Wolfe) are found in the public documents shown above and others.

Conflicts of interest. Sweetheart deals by your kinfolk. Turning in blank community service time sheets to your kinfolk that list lots of dates and that are signed by your "supervisor" (your dad's assistant) but show NOT ONE HOUR OF TIME WORKED.

Being re-hired by your kinfolk Otto Purkey. Purkey loses the election and there's no longer kinfolk to promote you to road deputy.

File a civil service complaint against the new Sheriff because he won't promote you to a road deputy position for which you are not eligible because you are not POST-certified as a result of your DWI.

And now a civil rights lawsuit against the new Sheriff because he won't request a POST-certification waiver so Lynn Wolfe can somehow get back "on the road again."

Nepotism at its worst. Conflicts of interest all over the place. Public documents tell the tale.
Now what does the county do about it? What, if anything, will be done to make sure that restitution is made and that lack of oversight and ignoring "timeless" time sheets never occur again?
Who watches the watchers? Who protects county tax dollars?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

March 21, 2008 Stancil Ford: There Is An Inquiry Going On

Yesterday's Hamblen County Commission meeting was over almost as soon as it began. Votes were quickly taken. There was little or no discussion.

About the only time you heard anyone speak --other than Chairman Ford--was during the public comment portion of the meeting.

There was one public comment. It was made by an individual who identified himself as Mr. Walker.

When Mr. Walker started to approach the microphone, one county commissioner began squirming and turned to Chairman Ford and asked the Chairman not to let Mr. Walker speak.

Chairman Ford, however, wisely chose to allow Mr. Walker to speak during the part of the meeting that is open for public comments.

Mr. Walker asked why he had to pay $750 to get a vehicle out of impound. At that point, Chairman Ford told Mr. Walker that there was an ongoing "inquiry" about the $750 that he had had to pay to get his vehicle.

Apparently, Chairman Ford, the commissioners, the press, and many others in and around the Courthouse are aware of the issue that sparked Mr. Walker's question and are also aware of the reason that one particular commissioner did not want Mr. Walker to be allowed to speak at all.

After Mr. Walker's question and Chairman Ford's response, no other official said a word.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

March 20, 2008 Four for Four: Batting 1.000

I'm batting 1.000! See my predictions in my March 15 post.

According to yesterday's page 8 Tribune article, the City of Morristown is moving ahead with plans to hold a city-wide referendum after the narrow failure of the February 5th countywide sales tax referendum.

Nothing surprising about that. In every pre-February 5th front-page tax-promotion article in the Tribune, the City repeatedly stated that it would hold a city only sales tax referendum if the February 5th countywide referendum failed.

Where I'm 4 for 4 and batting 1.000 is in predicting the City's four plans for spending the $2 Million dollars that the City estimates it will take in if its city-wide referendum passes.

My March 15th predictions in blue and the City's March 18th intentions in red:

1. The City will reduce last year's historic $0.37 property tax increase by $0.15.
The City will reduce last year's historic $0.37 property tax increase by $0.15.

2. The City will give some of the increase to the schools.
The City will give some of the increase to the schools.

3. The City will use some of the increase to build up its fund balance that has been drained.
The City will use some of the increase to build up its fund balance that has been drained.

4. The City will use some of the increase for capital expenditures.
The City will use some of the increase for capital expenditures.


The article adds that the City will probably hold a special election instead of just placing the referendum on the ballot for the already-scheduled August or November election.

This means that the City taxpayers will have to pay roughly $8,000 for costs of the special election where there would be no cost to City taxpayers if the measure were placed on the August or November ballot.

In addition to the $8,000 in costs for a special election, the City is apparently planning to spend another $12,000 of taxpayer dollars for, as the paper reports, "public education and advocacy."

[NOTE: During the last referendum, the City was reported as planning to spend $4,000 for public education and advocacy via letters and signs to promote the sales tax. Looks like the City's ante has tripled.]

It's time for another prediction.

If it ever looks like the city special sales tax referendum won't pass---even with free front-page Tribune advertising/articles and even with the spending of $12,000 taxpayer dollars for "public education and advocacy"--- then the City will spend even more and do whatever it takes to educate and advocate for the passage of this referendum.

Cut spending? No. Live within your (the taxpayers') means? No.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

March 15, 2008 Another Sales Tax Referendum?

Same song (More Taxes); Second Verse (Another Sales Tax Referendum)

The City of Morristown is going to discuss a City-wide Sales Tax Increase Referendum at its March 18 meeting.

Click here to see the entire City Council Agenda for March 18. The last page lists items for the Council's Work Session on that day.

Item #1 Discussion of City-wide Local Option Sales Tax Referendum.
Item #2 Budget Review.

Wonder if anyone at the Council will add an item to the Work Session agenda?

Item #3 How to Live Within a Budget (Like the Citizens Do) by Making Painful Cuts (Like the Citizens Do) and Eliminating $100 Million Dollar Wish Lists.

Locals are aware that a countywide sales tax increase referendum was on the February 5 ballot and was narrowly defeated.

The countywide referendum was defeated despite the efforts of the City in using tax dollars to put up Vote YES signs and to send out mass mailings to Morristown residents urging them to Vote YES; despite County Mayor David Purkey and Commission Chair Stancil Ford (with help from the P-16 Council and the Tennessee Technology Center) sending out letters to county residents urging support for the referendum; despite the School Board's support; despite the Chamber of Commerce's support; and despite the unending free daily front-page advertising/articles in the Citizen-Tribune telling everyone how truly GREAT a sales tax increase would be.

When will the government decide it has enough of our money?

The current 9.5% sales tax is already HUGE and hits lower and fixed-income individuals with a vengeance.

Shortly after I paid our property taxes (February 29!), I ran into an acquaintance and we started talking about taxes. He, like so many others, is sick of taxes, taxes, and more taxes; fees, fees, and more fees. Then he said something that I've heard before but it bears repeating.

The government taxes us when we earn money and then taxes us again when we spend what little we have left!

Apparently, the City of Morristown is determined to increase the current 9.5% sales tax. With the failure of the first (countywide) referendum, my guess is that the City will schedule a citywide sales tax referendum and will say that if the increase passes: (1) they will reduce last year's city property tax increase by 15-cents; (2) they will give some of the increase to the schools even though not required to do so; (3) they will use some of the money to build up the city's reserves that have been drained by years of uncontrolled spending and borrowing; and (4) they will use some of the money for capital projects.

Now if I were a city resident, I would have a question about this. With the February 5 countywide referendum, the city expected to get $1 Million new sales tax dollars and said that it would use the $1 Million to reduce the city property tax rate by 15 cents.

With a proposed citywide referendum, the city expects to take in about $2 Million new sales tax dollars. If I were a city property taxpayer, I would expect that $2 Million to translate into nearly a 30-cent city property tax reduction!

This is nothing more than a desperation tax to cover years of uncontrolled spending, outlandish borrowing, and living high on the taxpayer's dollar.

And you can bet that the Citizen-Tribune will be behind this tax increase all the way with constant free front-page (advertising) articles and pictures---just like it did in pushing for the countywide tax increase.

I think I can even tell you in advance how this tax increase will be "sold" to city voters. The theme of the tax increase will be that out-of-towners will pay most of the new taxes.

Tax yourself so you can tax others at the same time.

But out-of-towners don't have to come here to shop any more. Major retailers have opened stores in surrounding cities. And with the price of gas, an out-of-towner would certainly think twice before traveling anywhere to shop.

So will an added tax really mean more revenue or will it just be a negative that discourages people from driving to Morristown to shop?