Friday, March 19, 2010

March 19, 2010 Is Civil Service Board Member Scott Purkey Serving Illegally?

The 1974 Sheriff's Civil Service Act which has been adopted in Hamblen County provides for a three-person civil service board to test applicants, draw up employment rosters, etc.

The members of the Hamblen County Civil Service Board are Joel Seal, Tim Horner, and Scott Purkey. It is difficult to keep the tangled web of Courthouse kinships straight, but I understand that Scott Purkey is Mayor David Purkey and former Sheriff Otto Purkey's nephew and Junior Purkey's son. David, Otto, and Junior are brothers.

Yesterday at county commission, I provided the commissioners and "news"paper reporter Bobbie Young with a copy of the above section (TCA 8-8-406) of the Civil Service Act. You can click on the image to enlarge it.

During public comments, I read this short section that includes the statement that members of the Civil Service Board "shall not hold any elected or appointed office within the county."

I then pointed out that Scott Purkey is serving on the Civil Service Board while also holding an appointed position on the Construction Board of Appeals.  No commissioner said a word. Mayor David Purkey said nothing. County Attorney Rusty Cantwell said nothing. No commissioner asked Cantwell to comment. Chairman Stancil Ford finally said that he would look into it.

First, the Civil Service Board granted leave to deputies to run for office in violation of the Civil Service Act. Click here. Now--unless somebody decides that the words "shall not hold any elected of appointed office within the county" mean the exact opposite of what they say--it looks like a member of the Civil Service Board, Scott Purkey, is not "qualified" to continue service on the Board and is violating the Civil Service Act.

Scott is not only related to former Sheriff Otto Purkey, he worked for Otto in the Sheriff Department and supported Otto in the 2006 Sheriff's election. Because of his obvious partisanship, Scott should never have been appointed to the Civil Service  Board in the first place. Out of all the people in Hamblen County, surely there is a person who meets the qualifications of the act and who can be expected to act in an impartial and knowledgeable manner in fairly administering the Civil Service Act.

Scott Purkey's initial appointment to the Civil Service Board gets back to the good old boys network and keeping everything in-house. It is obvious where that style of appointment has gotten the Civil Service Board.  We'll soon see if Scott is so desperate to stay on the Civil Service Board that he resigns his Construction Board of Appeals position or if Scott finally recognizes that his "service" on the Civil Service Board was compromised from day one and that he should resign from that Board.

Just to make sure that all the info is out. Scott was appointed to the Civil Service Board first and then many months later he was appointed to the Construction Board of Appeals.  It will be interesting to see if someone tries to justify Scott's dual service by interpreting 8-8-406 as saying that you only have to be free of other office at the time you are appointed to the Civil Service Board--then you can accept all the other appointments that you want to. 
That, in my opinion, would be an absurd position but who knows what will be done or said to protect Mayor Purkey's nephew. 

If the statute is meant to prevent a conflict in dual service on the Civil Service Board and other boards of offices, then when you are appointed to the Civil Service Board and when you are appointed to another office doesn't matter.  TCA 8-8-406 simply says members of the Board "shall not hold any elected or appointed office within the county."  Scott Purkey is a member of the Civil Service Board and holds an appointed position within the county. 

While he could "resign" from the Civil Service Board, there is support for the position that when Purkey accepted appointment to the Construction Board of Appeals, he automatically gave up/resigned his position on the Civil Service Board without any other action being taken.

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