Monday, July 06, 2009

July 6, 2009 City and County: Briefs and Upcoming Posts

A lot has happened locally over the past several weeks.

Democrat State Rep. John Litz announced that he would not run for re-election and said that he was not ready to comment on his future plans.

Democrat Larry Mullins jumped into the vacuum and announced that he is a candidate for state representative. In Mullins' announcement, it was mentioned that his wife Kathy Trent Mullins will not run for re-election as Circuit Court Clerk for Hamblen County.

John Litz later announced that his future plans include a race for County Mayor against Republican candidate Bill Brittain. [I don't think that John will have any opposition in the Democrat primary. There is a very slim possibility that Bill might have some opposition from an elected official who was miffed when current County Mayor David Purkey apparently got a group together and pretty much selected the current Republican candidate line-up without considering or consulting with that individual. The current Purkey line-up for the two major offices is Brittain for Mayor and Purkey's Finance Director Nicole Buchanan for Trustee.]

The School Board is meeting with the Hamblen County Education Committee on June 7 to discuss the Board's plans to spend $5.3 million on environmental and maintenance issues (roof, etc.) at East High. If you can get off work at 1:00 pm on that day, you might want to attend.

City Administrator Jim Crumley has been asked by at least four councilmembers to resign or retire or somehow get the heck out of City Hall. City Mayor Sami Barile hates the possibility of Jim leaving. With Jim gone, Barile loses her right-hand man and the source of her knowledge of city government.

With the prospect of Crumley's exit, Mayor Sami Barile is now telling government officials to act with civility at city council meetings. The local "news"paper has also editorialized for civility. Civility is important, but the Mayor needs to realize that disagreements and discussions are not automatically indicative of a lack of civility. And, hopefully, she will even come to recognize that questions are not micro-managing. If she had been paying attention and asking questions before and after taking office, maybe she would have known of the financial disaster that awaited her after she was sworn in in May 2007. In any event, Mayor Barile needs to worry less about what she considers a lack of civility and start worrying more about learning firsthand what's really going on in city government and in the City of Morristown.

Barile and council need to start addressing the jobs situation, skyrocketing unemployment in the City, the red light cameras, spending problems, the city's huge debt, sewer issues, and the lack of accountability. If and when Crumley is no longer spoon feeding Barile/council with his misleading analyses of the state of the city, Barile and company should set up procedures that will provide for checks and balances on the incoming administrator.

The Mayor and council need to be kept in the loop about city government (pay raises, car allowances, cell phones, contracts, sewer, spending). The Mayor and council need to eliminate the free-rein that Crumley had to spend and shift money around (in bunches of up to $10,000) without explaining the reason in advance and without getting council's permission in advance. Any contracts negotiated by the City Administrator or others need to come before the council for final approval and the contracts should be in final form and available to councilmembers for review at least a week before the contract is placed on the agenda for a vote.

In other news, former Hamblen County Deputy Dexter Morris was convicted in federal court of violating the civil rights of females stopped and detained by him and of lying to federal agents when confronted about the incidents.

There was testimony that a number of complaints were filed against Morris during the tenure of former Sheriff Otto Purkey and that Purkey ignored or dismissed the complaints, eventually promoting Morris to patrol officer. Other testimony indicated that Deputy Ernie Burzell handled a complaint filed by a 16-year old girl who was stopped by Morris without cause. Morris allegedly fondled the girl and apparently admitted to Burzell that he had no reason to stop the teenager and that he had asked the girl "What does a 16-year old do to get those boobs?" Burzell took no action on the complaint and entered nothing in Morris' file about the incident.

I will discuss these items in more detail in future individual posts

A lot more local governmental happenings and revelations are on the horizon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That will be an interesting Mayoral race. I will be watching with great interest.