Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 29, 2012 LeBel and Company Reject #13 Chris Horne (VIDEO)

LeBel is fast on the draw...At the February 21, 2012, meeting of City Council, LeBel moved to reject Chris Horne's nomination to the Morristown Utilities Commission Board. Bob Garrett, former longtime MUC employee, seconded and faster than you can push a voting button, Chris Horne became the THIRTEENTH person rejected by LeBel and Associates. 

LeBel and Associates (Paul LeBel, Kay Senter, Bob Garrett, Chris Bivens, and Claude Jinks) evidently don't think much about the candidates being sent to the Mayor by MUC. Not one of 13 has been approved. See the complete list of rejectees by clicking on February 28 post.

While LeBel and Asoociates continually vote to "reject," Mayor Danny Thomas and Councilman Gene Brooks have supported the business people, physical therapists, bankers, plant managers, CPAs, contractors, and former councilmembers who have been nominated by MUC and submitted to Council for a full vote.

It's nice that MUC Board members (George McGuffin, Harold Nichols, Gene Jolley, Lynn Elkins, and Max Biery) have a wide array of well-connected friends who are willing to let their name be put up for certain rejection.  The old "take one for the McGipper" syndrome.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February 28, 2012 Chris Horne Is THIRTEENTH Person Rejected for Appointment to MUC Board

Mayor Danny Thomas' nomination of Chris Horne to the Morristown Utility Commission was quickly shot down at the February 21 meeting of the Morristown City Council.  Click here to see LeBel and Company reject Mr. Horne.

Voting to reject Horne (because he's not George McGuffin) were Councilmembers Paul LeBel, Bob Garrett, Kay Senter, Chris Bivens, and Claude Jinks.

Voting for Horne were Mayor Danny Thomas and Councilmember Gene Brooks.

Chris Horne now goes down in the annals of Morristown history as the THIRTEENTH person nominated by the Mayor since July 2011 (from a list provided to him by MUC) who has failed to get the approval of council:

1.  Mike Minnich
2.  Glenn Thompson
3.  Carroll Fowler
4.  Wally Long
5.  John Allen
6.  Mike Davidson
7.  Bruce Sluder
8.  Jerry Isaacs
9.  Gene Lynch
10. Steve Henrikson
11. David Wild
12. Steve Isaacs
13. Chris Horne

And the beat goes on....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

February 23, 2012 The Mayor's Letter, Public Comments, and the Amended Public Comments Ordinance

There was a packed house at Tuesday's council meeting and lots of public comments about public comments.

It started with an Ordinance passed by Councilmembers LeBel/Senter/Bivens/Garrett on first reading on 2/7/12 to revise the city council's Agenda format and put public comments at the end of the meeting after all votes had been taken. LeBel was also proposing speaking guidelines that would reduce the time allowed for public comments from three minutes to two minutes. The  Ordinance was opposed on 2/7/12 by Mayor Thomas and Councilmembers Gene Brooks and Claude Jinks.

To protect the public from the negative effect of the Ordinance passed by LeBel/Senter/Bivens/ Garrett, Mayor Thomas sent out a letter to the citizens just over a week later alerting them to the second reading on that ordinance on February 21, 2012, and encouraging them to come to the 2/21/12 meeting and speak on this issue. Click here to see the letter.

Mayor Thomas had tried on 2/7/12 to head off the LeBel Ordinance putting public comments at the end of meetings and the guidelines that would reduce the time allowed for speakers from three minutes to two minutes. 

Thomas tried to get Councilmembers to slow up and consider formats with more public comment opportunities on agenda items before votes were taken. Thomas suggested that no vote be taken on the LeBel Ordinance so that a work session could take place. Thomas showed the Council the "recommended" MTAS (Municipal Technical Advisory Service) agenda that provides for public comments prior to votes and at the end of the meetings. [Public hearings on 2nd readings of ordinances were unaffected by either the LeBel or Thomas proposals.]

Councilmembers LeBel/Senter/Garrett/Bivens wouldn't slow up and wouldn't change their ordinance to add public input on agenda items such as contracts, resolutions, and appointments before votes were taken. 

With no "news"paper editorial standing up for the people of Morristown, Mayor Danny Thomas did what he could to make sure that the citizens knew that the LeBel, Senter, Garrett, and Bivens  Ordinance on public comments was up for second and final reading on 2/21/12.

Mayor Thomas wrote a letter alerting citizens and went to the "news"paper on 2/14/12 to ask that his letter be published as a Letter to the Editor. The "news"paper apparently refused--but did offer to take the Mayor's money if the Mayor wanted to run the letter as a political ad and mentioned a possible news article.  Mayor Thomas mailed his letter out directly to the voters.

At some point, LeBel, Senter, Bivens, and/or Garrett decided to amend the agenda format that they had voted for on 2/7/12 and apparently Kay Senter delivered an "amended" Agenda format to the City Administrator's Office on 2/16/12---after the Mayor had discussed his letter with the "news"paper and after the letter had been mailed out.

On Tuesday 2/21/12, Senter walked into the council meeting in front of a packed house and quickly moved to amend/replace the Agenda Ordinance that had passed on 2/7/12---and that put public comments at the end of the meeting--with the amended Agenda Ordinance that she had brought to the City Administrator on 2/16/12.  
What Senter was officially proposing on 2/21/12--adding a time for public comments on agenda items BEFORE votes were taken and general public comments at the end of the meeting--was pretty much what Mayor Thomas had suggested on 2/7/12 but which was rejected at that time by LeBel/ Senter/ Bivens/Garrett in favor of THEIR Agenda putting general public comments at the end.

After Senter presented the amended (and very improved) agenda ordinance, Paul LeBel, Chris Bivens, and Kay proceeded to attack the Mayor for sending out his letter to citizens.

You would have thought they had ALWAYS planned to allow more public input rather than less. You would have thought that  THEIR VOTE to put public comments at the end of meetings and THEIR  GUIDELINES to reduce the time allowed for speakers had never taken place and caused the letter to be sent out.

The video above shows how citizens can make a difference.  Rev. Richard Crayne gave a moving account of those who fought and died for our liberty and for freedom of speech.

Brenda Goodson thanked the Mayor for sending the letter and suggested that council get a larger meeting room because "we're coming back." Ricky Lowe wondered what would have happened if the Mayor had not sent out his letter. Brian Southerland told councilmembers that if you don't have the time to listen to the people, don't run for office.

The 2/21/12 Amended Agenda Ordinance was a great victory for the people. What started with a vote by four councilmembers on 2/7/12 to marginalize and reduce the time for public input ended up as an Ordinance that passed unanimously on 2/21/12 providing for more opportunities for public comment and preserving the three minute time limit. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

February 18, 2012 LeBel Reverses Course on Public Comments at City Council Meetings

Above (left or top) is the agenda format that Paul LeBel, Kay Senter, Bob Garrett, and Chris Bivens  voted for on first reading at the City Council meeting on February 7, 2012.  LeBel's Proposed Order of Business put all public comments near the end of the meeting---after all votes had been taken.  It also reduced the speaking time from three minutes to two minutes.

Mayor Danny Thomas, Gene Brooks, and Claude Jinks voted against the Lebel plan with Mayor Thomas mounting a vigorous push for more rather than less public input. Mayor Thomas even sent out a letter to voters to let them know about the LeBel-Senter-Garrett-Bivens move to put public comments after all votes were taken and to reduce speaking time to two minutes.

Above (right or bottom) is an amended Order of Business that will apparently be the one put forth by LeBel and company for second reading and public hearing on February 21, 2012, at 5 PM at the City Center.

After passing the "public at the end" format, it looks like LeBel had a change of heart or felt some constituent heat and amended his Order of Business to let the public speak on agenda items before any votes are taken and to make general comments at the end of the meeting.  Regardless of the reason for the change, it is a good move.

LeBel had gotten the public upset with his plan to put public comments at the end of council meetings. Kudos to LeBel for deciding to change his initial proposal before the final reading on February 21. 

Even with the amended Order of Business, LeBel-Senter-Garrett-Bivens are apparently still pushing to reduce the time allowed for a speaker to address an issue down to two minutes. But maybe that will be amended, too.

Friday, February 17, 2012

February 17, 2012 Mayor Thomas' Letter To Morristown Taxpayers

Morristown Mayor Danny Thomas recently wrote and mailed the above letter to Morristown taxpayers to warn the citizens that four Morristown City Councilmembers voted on February 7 to put public comments--other than required public hearings--at the end of council's agenda. The second and final vote is set for February 21.

In addition to voting to move public comments to the end of council meetings, Councilmembers Paul LeBel, Kay Senter, Bob Garrett, and Chris Bivens voted to reduce the time allowed for each speaker from three minutes down to two minutes. 

Mayor Thomas and Councilmembers Gene Brooks and Claude Jinks stood up for the people.

Mayor Thomas tried to postpone any action on the agenda changes to allow more review of the situation. The four wouldn't wait. 

Thomas explained that the proposal by Paul LeBel (supported by Bob Garrett, Kay Senter, and Chris Bivens) would result in the public being unable to speak about bids/contracts/ appointments/ resolutions/new business or any agenda item (other than required public hearings on the 2nd reading of ordinances) until after council had voted on that item.

The Mayor showed council that MTAS (Municipal Technical Advisory Service) encourages more public input rather than less during council meetings. That didn't sway the four.

The Mayor pointed out that the Hamblen County Commission, on which Councilman LeBel sits, puts public comments at the beginning of its meetings and allows all speakers three minutes and allows five minutes to speakers if they pre-register to speak. That didn't sway the four.

Nothing that Mayor Thomas or Councilman Gene Brooks said had any effect on the four councilmembers who are now going after the people in an effort to stifle expressions of concern or dissent at meetings.

On February 7, Paul LeBel, Kay Senter, Bob Garrett, and Chris Bivens continued down their chosen path of putting the people last --figuratively and literally.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February 14, 2012 "Lucky" Thirteenth List of MUC Nominees

The three nominees for a seat on the Morristown Utilities Commission (MUC) are Jo Ervin, Chris Horne, and--surprise, surprise, surprise--George McGuffin.

These three were selected by MUC in a special called meeting at 10:15 AM yesterday morning. 

According to the MUC Private Act that was approved by 72% of the voters in a 2001 referendum, MUC is the primary gatekeeper in the appointment process since MUC has total control over who is considered for the MUC Board.

The Mayor takes the MUC-provided list and submits the name of one nominee to council.

The Council then accepts or rejects.
So far, twelve MUC lists have been sent to the Mayor. Each time, the Mayor has submitted one name to the full council. And all twelve MUC nominees have been rejected.

February 14, 2012 Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day

Salvatore Vuono:

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

February 8, 2012 No. 12 Steve Isaacs Shot Down by The Five

The Morristown Utilities Commission Board, headed by George McGuffin, recently recommended three names to Mayor Danny Thomas for appointment to the MUC Board. The slate of three candidates: Steve Isaacs, George McGuffin, and Chris Horne.

At yesterday's council meeting, Mayor Thomas submitted the name of Steve Isaacs to the council, and the council quickly rejected Isaacs 5-2. Voting to reject Isaacs were Paul LeBel, Kay Senter, Bob Garrett, Chris Bivens, and Claude Jinks. Supporting Isaacs were Mayor Danny Thomas and Councilmember Gene Brooks.

Steve Isaacs is the TWELFTH person to be nominated by Thomas, and the TWELFTH person to fail to win the approval of a majority of council.

Friday, February 03, 2012

February 3, 2012 CFA Site Has Channel 8 (WVLT) Report on Five Councilmembers Trying to Change the Voter-Approved MUC Appointment Process

Citizens for Accountability has posted the video of a Ch 8 segment that aired on WVLT-TV on Wednesday evening.

The newscast discusses the local controversy generated by five councilmembers (Paul LeBel, Kay Senter, Bob Garrett, Chris Bivens, and Claude Jinks) who have aligned to reject not one, not two, but ELEVEN different mayoral appointees to the Morristown Utilities Commission (MUC) Board.

[Jinks, whose daughter-in-law works for MUC, cast a vote for the mayor's first appointment and then joined firmly with The Five in supporting current MUC Chair George McGuffin and rejecting everyone else]

Click here for the CFA post.

Click here for the original WVLT video and text of its report.


The current appointment process for MUC Board members was submitted to the PEOPLE, along with other MUC changes, for approval or disapproval in a 2001 referendum.   The MUC referendum, including the current appointment process, was approved overwhelmingly by 3,202 voters in 2001 (72% FOR 28% AGAINST).

As a result of the referendum, recommendation of candidates for MUC Board membership comes straight from the MUC Board which is chaired by 34-year member George McGuffin who wants to stay on the Board for another five years.

A list of MUC-candidates is sent to the Mayor, who then submits the name of one of the MUC-provided candidates to the full council for approval of disapproval. So far, ELEVEN MUC-provided candidates have been submitted to council by the Mayor, and all ELEVEN have failed to be approved.

So, MUC keeps sending lists of more MUC-approved candidates to the Mayor, and The Five keep rejecting every mayoral nominee.

MUC Chair McGuffin will not step aside and let someone else be appointed. McGuffin pretends to sit on the sidelines as a spectator while he actually backs and encourages The Five councilmembers to keep on shooting down the very people who have been recommended for an MUC Board seat by the MUC Board that McGuffin chairs.

How do The Five propose to get McGuffin back on? Change the law.  The integrity of the 2001 Referendum means nothing to the Five, so they have asked our local state representatives (Rep. Don Miller and Sen. Steve Southerland) to get the state legislature to help change the local law/MUC Private Act to alter the voter-approved appointment process without holding a referendum to see if the PEOPLE want to change what the PEOPLE voted for.

Why are McGuffin and The Five and their associates willing to go so far as to attack and overturn a referendum in order to keep McGuffin in place?  Well, it appears to be either a raw power grab by McGuffin and Company and/or part of a political vendetta against Mayor Thomas. 

From here on, you can only laugh when these officials publicly encourage people to vote and talk about the integrity of elections and preventing voter-fraud. Those nice little public statements are nothing but garbage when these officials are making a mockery of a local referendum as they try to overturn the MUC-appointment process that was approved by 3,202 voters---72% of all votes cast---as part of a series of 2001 changes to MUC.

If The Five want to make changes to the MUC appointment process and protect the integrity of the 2001 MUC Referendum,  it's really quite simple to do. Put the proposed changes on the ballot for a vote of the people. 

Maybe the people want to change the MUC appointment process that they voted for in 2001. Maybe the people do not want to change the MUC appointment process that they voted for in 2001. 

The council included the current appointment process as part of the MUC ballot question in a 2001 referendum, and 72% of the voters said YES.  Why are Five Councilmembers so afraid of putting their proposed changes on the ballot again to see if the VOTERS want to change what the voters approved in 2001?

Thursday, February 02, 2012

February 2, 2012 Happy Groundhog Day

This isn't the weather-predicting Punxsutawney Phil, but he's a cutie anyway!

Click here for Groundhog Day lore. At 7:25 AM this morning, we will know what Phil thinks about weather for the next six weeks.

Breaking news: Phil saw his shadow and crawled back in his burrow for six more weeks of winter!