Thursday, August 27, 2009

August 27, 2009 Crumley's Departure and Information That the Trib Doesn't Report

Sometimes, there is so much going on at home and at work that posts get postponed. [I like puns. If you don't, just give that last one the obligatory groan.]

Here's a quick catch-up post on the City Council meeting on August 18 with some interesting information that the Trib didn't report!

City Administrator Jim Crumley was "honored" at a reception at the City Center on August 18. At the council meeting that followed, Mayor Barile, Crumley's most ardent supporter, gave him a plaque and Crumley then gave his farewell speech to the assembled council and public. It was a whopper! He thanked the council and the staff for accepting his leadership and then said that there are issues of leadership in the current council.

Crumley added: "I forgive you all for the mistakes in judgment that you have made." He also offered his two bits (pun intended) of advice on the process for hiring a new city administrator. "You all have to find a leader...somebody who ends this 4-3 environment...You have got to stop the fear in your professional staff...You have got professional employees who are right now afraid to give you honest, professional recommendations because they are in fear of their jobs... I wish the City of Morristown the very best...This is not the time to hunker down. This is the time for our city to be moving." Not one person clapped.

The Trib reported Crumley's farewell speech.

What Bobby Moore, the Trib's city council reporter, did NOT report were some very interesting public comments made at the meeting.

One citizen stood up and said he was offended by the use of the term "railroad" job in reference to the firing of Crumley. [That was a term used by Mayor Barile to express her disgust at the firing/resignation that she then voted for.] The gentleman thanked the four who had removed Crumley and expressed his displeasure at Mayor Barile's removal of Kay Senter as chairman of the Finance Committee. He added that the local paper's reporting was so one-sided that it was like watching "MSNBC."

Steve Sublett also addressed council. He asked council if they knew that the Industrial Board was harassing his neighbors, wanting to buy their property. He also wanted to know if council has approached Jefferson County to let them know that Morristown is interested in property in Jefferson County. In an apparent reference to the East Tennessee Progress Center, Sublett reminded the council that "you've got 500-600 acres out there. I don't believe you need to harass people who aren't interested in selling."

He then mentioned another "pretty good rumor" that the city is interested in a new Exit 9, one mile past the current Exit 8. He asked, but received no response to his question: "Why would the city need an exit another mile up the interstate?"

Sublett added that the Industrial Board is interested in an Exit 6 as well. He mentioned that the city owns no property there. Why is an exit needed there? Most of the property being looked at is in Jefferson County. Sublett closed by saying that he'd like to know if the council "has a clue" about what is going on at the Industrial Board. No one responded, but after a long silence, Mayor Barile said: "The Industrial Board is always looking to bring in new jobs."

Sublett replied: "You already have 600 acres out there. The City is already 77 Million in debt. How are you going to buy more property? Who's going to fund that?"

No member of the council spoke. If they knew anything about discussions about purchasing property in Jefferson County and two next exits, councilmembers and the Mayor were not talking. Finally, Barile thanked Mr. Sublett and said: "I will talk with the Industrial Board and see what is happening."

She may do it, but I would suggest that no one holds his or her breath while waiting for Barile to find out and actually report to the council and to the public about what is going on at the Industrial Board in regard to purchasing property in Jefferson County or pushing for two new exits on I-81.

Hopefully, Mayor Barile has not signed any "confidentiality" agreement with the Industrial Board or others--like Jefferson County Mayor Alan Palmieri did--where she has agreed to keep public business a secret from the public. [Jefferson Countians found out that their Mayor, Alan Palmieri, and two county commissioners signed confidentiality agreements with Norfolk-Southern railroad and thus agreed to keep information about public business a secret. Word got out in Jefferson County, but only after word leaked out that discussion and conduct of public business was taking place behind closed doors. Someone needs to get an understanding of what the meaning of "public business" is and what the Tennessee Open Meetings Act is about. Of course, Hamblen County has its own problems abiding with the Open Meetings Act. Here and here.]

The Jefferson situation has been reported extensively in the Knox News-Sentinel. Here. Here. Here. Here. The comments that follow each article in the News-Sentinel are usually worthy of reading regardless of your personal position on the issue at hand.

Only if you were at the city council meeting would you know about the praise for the four councilmembers who pushed for Crumley's departure. Only if you were at the meeting would you know about the intriguing public comments by Mr. Sublett. Bob Moore of the Trib never mentioned the comments of either of these individuals.

Of course, Bob is the powers-that-be personal, if unofficial, press agent. Bob works for the only major newspaper in town and its owner is Jack Fishman--leader of the City's Industrial Board. Bob, if he wanted to be a reporter checking out leads, could have walked into Fishman's office on the day following the meeting and asked his boss if Mr. Sublett's information is correct. Of course, Bob may have already known about this whole deal. We'll soon see if Bob knew or followed up on this situation. When will Bob, the investigative reporter, confirm or quash the report that the city/industrial board is or is not trying to buy property in Jefferson County despite still having hundreds of acres of undeveloped land in the East Tennessee Progress Center?

Maybe that article is still to come?

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