Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 19, 2010 Scott Purkey Is No Longer a Member of County Civil Service Board

Rusty Cantwell, Hamblen County's attorney, and Jeff Taylor, attorney for the Hamblen County Civil Service Board, have reviewed the case law and citations that I provided to Taylor about a month ago and have agreed that Scott Purkey legally gave up his position on the Civil Service Board last fall when he accepted appointment to the Construction Board of Appeals. 

Scott Purkey is the nephew of County Mayor David Purkey and former Sheriff Otto Purkey. Scott was  appointed to the Hamblen County Civil Service Board in early 2009.

Although state law says that a member of the civil service board can not hold any other elected or appointed position in the county, Scott accepted appointment as a member of the Construction Board of Appeals in the fall of 2009.

When I pointed out to the Hamblen County Commission that Scott's membership on two boards was a violation of the civil service act, Scott tried to resolve the problem---and hold onto his Civil Service Board position--- by resigning from the Construction Board of Appeals. [And, no, the local "news"paper didn't report this intial allegation during the public comments portion of a Hamblen County Commission  meeting]

The problem with Scott's violation of the law and his attempt to fix it by resigning from the Construction Board of Appeals---as I mentioned in several earlier blog posts--is that there is case law that when an individual accepts a second "incompatible office,"  he automatically gives up the first office.

Scott was appointed to the civil service board first. When he accepted appointment to the board of construction appeals at a later date, he voluntarily and automatically gave up his civil service position since he could not serve on both and chose to accept the board of construction appeals appointment.

Click here, here, and here.

But never fear, Scott is launching a campaign to get re-appointed to the Civil Service Board. And  there are several county commissioners who will do whatever Scott and his uncles (County Mayor David Purkey and former Sheriff Otto Purkey) ask as the Purkeys continue to nip at Sheriff Esco Jarnagin's heels because Jarnagin defeated Scott's Uncle Otto and David's brother Otto in 2006.

A lot of people think that county commissioners would not and should not appoint people who have been and who are active opponents of the Sheriff to the Civil Service Board.  Independence and fairness should be the hallmark of service on the Civil Service Board.

Because current Sheriff Esco Jarnagin defeated Scott's Uncle Otto Purkey in 2006, appointing Scott Purkey to the Civil Service Board that handles grievances against Sheriff Jarnagin is like stacking a jury with friends of the Defendant. 

Civil service was adopted as a means to help remove politics from the Sheriff's department. Scott Purkey should not even ask to be appointed to a Board that handles grievances against the man who defeated his Uncle Otto, but he will. 

Scott Purkey's  first and now this second effort to get on the Hamblen County Civil Service Board is tainted and compromised by his political and family ties to the man (Otto Purkey) who lost a heated political race to current Sheriff Esco Jarnagin in 2006.

But this is Hamblen County, and the Purkeys, who still haven't forgotten and haven't moved past Jarnagin's victory over Otto in 2006, continue to try to make things difficult for Jarnagin. It will be interesting to watch the politics of Scott Purkey's push to get back on the Civil Service Board where he can vote on issues involving the man (Esco Jarnagin) who defeated his Uncle Otto Purkey.

It will be interesting to watch as commissioners put on blinders to vote for Scott Purkey, ignoring the political and family ties that naturally compromise and raise questions about Scott's independence and fairness in anything involving Esco Jarnagin. 

If the shoe were on the other foot, wonder how many commissioners would appoint someone with strong family and political ties to their opponent(s) to a board that handles grievances against commissioners?

If a commissioner were a defendant in a trial, how many commissioners would want to have the trial before a judge or jury with strong family and political ties to their opponent?

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