Jan 29 2008
07:10 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

When the discussion turned to the issue of county employees serving on County Commission, Commissioner Mark Harmon proposed letting the people decide or failing that a common sense approach regarding commissioners voting on their own salaries and operations.

Commissioner Lumpy Lamber apparently disagrees:

That’s when Lambert yelled at Harmon, "How does that arrogant little university twit sit up there and make decisions?" Harmon is a University of Tennessee journalism professor.

That is some unbelievably rude and uncivil behavior for an elected public official. And I don't even know what it means. This stuff isn't even funny any more. It's just pathetic and embarrassing.

reform4's picture

I have never....

.. ever been so embarrassed in all my life. To think that such behavior exists in the public record for Knox County government is appalling.

There were certainly lots of fireworks to keep us awake during up the SEVEN HOUR MEETING:
- Moore spending (I think) an hour and a half asking the same question of Ragsdale's staff regarding the expense account (all for naught, though)
- Larry Smith publicly chastising Tramel & KCSO staff for "laughing it up" during Moore's interrogation. And I call B.S. on Brian Hornback's claim that "other side was doing it." I sure didn't see it.
- Not just the Ann Robinson/Lumpy flap in the hallway, but watching all the reporters tripping over themselves to get to the hallway to cover it. Is watching Lumpy make an ash of himself really news? I'd prefer to leave it as a secret joy to those of us who were there (although I stayed in the room). I dunno, I have to see Brian Paone's picture first. He says it's pretty good. :)

Fighting for Reform and Representation, Fourth District
Steve Drevik, Commission Seat 4-B

Anonymous's picture

You can call the Brian's

You can call the Brian's Blog post BS if you desire. It simply demonstrates that you are a attempting to shield for and provide cover for R.Larry, Mark and Tony.

However, as I and at least three others in attendance at the meeting recall you left the Main Assembly Room to rubberneck the exchange in the hallway between Lumpy and Mrs. Robinson, you obviously missed the childish behavior between R. Larry, Mark and Tony and missing the business portion of the County Commission meeting.

IF (Big word) you are are elected, will you walk out on important business before the County Commission to rubberneck the next Lumpy exchange?

Brian Hornback

rikki's picture

to rubberneck or not to rubberneck?

will you walk out on important business before the County Commission to rubberneck the next Lumpy exchange?

or will you walk out to ask Lumpy what the hell he is doing in the lobby while there is important business before the commission?

reform4's picture

Oh dear Brian...

I know what a stickler you are for total accuracy and demanding corrections and apologies on people who get it wrong.

I'm sorry, but I have to call BS twice in row on you, my friend. When the commotion started, I purposely did not leave because:

(a) I felt giving such behavior more attention simply rewards such behavior. Having raised kids, I know that's the wrong approach, and I was personally appalled that the KNS folks ran out to cover the hallway tiff.
(b) I wanted to follow the proceedings of the Commission, because that's why I go and suffer through SEVEN HOURS of this crap. I'm trying to follow what's going on for the Fourth District.

So again, your recollection is incorrect. If you need confirmation, you can ask Hubert, Paone, or Jamie Dobbs, all of which were seated next to me. In fact, I commented to one of them (not sure which, I think it was Hubert) about how I didn't want to leave the chamber, citing reason (a). Having, again, never left the chamber, I can say that what I viewed was a commission working hard to ignore the screaming in the hallway and getting on with business. I can't say I watched all three of the commissioners you named, but I do remember watching Mark for a reaction, and seeing none at all. Perhaps you can review of the CTV broadcast might catch a momentary smirk I missed.

But overall, your post is dead wrong. Of course I would never leave the meeting and business at hand to rubberneck at the train wreck that is Lumpy's commission career. I already have a track record of doing so.

Again, I know what a stickler you are for total accuracy and apologies on your blog, so feel free to hit that "reply" button when you're ready.

Thanks in advance, and look forward to seeing you at the next meeting.

Fighting for Reform and Representation, Fourth District
Steve Drevik, Commission Seat 4-B

Anonymous's picture

Interesting that you would

Interesting that you would say that you commented to Hubert or Paone that you didn't want to leave the Chamber, because you must have been talking to yourself in the Chamber or talking to them in the hallway. Both of them were in the hallway. In your earlier post you indicate that you can't wait to see Paone's picture in the hallway. So I say that you are the king of BS, get your facts straight, my liberal friend. I am sure that I will see you again soon

reform4's picture

I wasn't watching them either

If Paone left, I didn't see it, I wasn't watching him. So check with the other two. I'm pretty sure Hubert didn't leave and I know Jamie didn't leave. I truly wish you would not spread lies about other people. Again, I was there to watch commission business, and I had no interest in what transpired on the other side of the glass doors.

(Hey, if you're just ticked that Lee may not win his primary, don't blame me, blame Ed).

SteveMule's picture


Don't argue with Mr. Hornback. He operates on the principle of Steve Colbert's "Truthiness." Nothing you say will change his mind. All you have are the facts and, unfortunately, they don't count.
Take Care, Be Good and don't play in the street!


KC's picture

This stuff isn't even funny

This stuff isn't even funny any more. It's just pathetic and embarrassing.

I beg to differ. It is funny in the sense that those who continue in this type of discourse apparently have no idea how much they're damaging themselves, their interests, and their allies.

bizgrrl's picture

Yowza! They should sell

Yowza! They should sell popcorn.

mbradley's picture

Well, I surely don't want to

Well, I surely don't want to defend Lumpy on this at all but the KNS actually didn't do a very good job on framing the essence of this exchange from last night. Yeah, he said all that and yeah it was ridiculous, but he was attempting to make a point about people being able to understand another's perspective... The twit comment was preceded by some disjointed dialog about poor people, academia, etc.

As I said, it was disappointing to witness but I'm also disappointed the linked KNS report so poorly reflects the actual exchange.

Sam's picture

Here is what Lumpy said:

It not really a lot better.

"We've got Mark Harmon over here, lives in academia, works at a university, yet makes decisions that affect projects, building projects that are gonna affect poor - and I'm talking poor, people making under $20,000 a year - will affect poor people's jobs, and what they say is 'how does that arrogant little university twit sit up there and make those decisions that keep us from having jobs?'"

Ragsdale2010's picture

The problem is people collecting 3 or 4 checks from

public employment and the law while proposed to keep county employees off county commission is a good first step in the process. Problem is now we have people making decisions on the activity of government that are pulling 3 or 4 checks from their government/public employment and their process doesn't bode well for the private sector jobs/business/industry that Knoxville needs to develop to stabilize their role and maintain some relevance in the East Tennessee economic landscape.

Problem is not confined to Mark Harmon, you've got Dan Murphy on the school board, who is a UT accounting professor (publicly paid) and a school board member (publicly paid) and the school board is a completely disfunctional entity which creates more political/community problems than it could ever hope to solve.

Yes, we need to ban county employees from serving on county commission, but we also need to ban public employees from servicing in any elected office such that people who depend on the government for their job and making decisions of the activities of the governemnt of which they are employed.

Joe Taylor's picture

Commissioners Mark Harmon and Phil Ballard abstained.

The real crime last night was Commissioners Mark Harmon and Phil Ballard who abstained in the voting to kill Ragsdale excess personal spending...

We did not elect these guys to abstain... we elected them to vote... grow a pair and do your job!!!!

ma am's picture

Lumpy's idiocy

If a highly educated person shouldn't make decision affecting poor people, then who should? Is only the Lumpster qualified enough to make these decisions?

rikki's picture

sloppy journalism

That is a horrible characterization of that exchange. Lambert didn't yell at Harmon. He had the floor, and he was explaining that people in his district don't complain about school teachers on commission, but they do complain about "that university twit" who "makes decisions for them." It was an inelegant way to make a point that did not need to be made, but it was not a direct attack on Harmon. Lambert was trying to explain that he disagrees with those people.

Also, I can't believe there is no mention of the whole compost-facility episode, in which a citizen plopped down a handful of cassette tapes and said he had worn a wire into the Mayor's office and Commissioners' offices and in which Paul Pinkston's inability to comprehend the situation pushed several lawyers and litigants into sketchy and difficult positions with respect to an ongoing lawsuit.

The whole meeting was a painful lesson in why stupid people should not be elected to deliberative bodies. Moore and Pinkston asked the same questions over and over because they wanted a different answer and were too stupid to comprehend what they were being told. You could see the grown-ups getting increasingly impatient with them, with Troyer at one point telling the chairman to stick to his own agenda. Pinkston simply does not belong on county commission.

ThomasD's picture

Thank you - Mark Harmon

I want to thank Commissioner Harmon for his comments last night regarding my proposed appointment to the Ethics Committee. The Commission voted to defer this issue until February, as the Ethics Committee is not sure elected officials should serve on this committee. I find this very interesting since elected officials currently sit on this Committee.

I could not attend the meeting between the Commission and the Ethics Committee last Monday due to the death of my Father. Commissioner Harmon stated that I should be appointed and informed the Commission of my loss.

I want to thank Thomas "Tank" Strickland for his comments as well. Commissioner Strickland noted that the School Board should have a seat on the Ethics Committee.

I cannot tell you how many times people have told me that I am crazy for wanting to volunteer and serve on the Ethics Committee. I think the School Board needs representation on this committee and I have no problem serving.

One Commissioner noted that my appointment would equal 10 members and possibly result in a tie vote. I have to laugh at that comment. The solution to this problem is very simple as the Commission can add one more person or remove one of the elected officials.
I am beginning to think certain people do not want me on this committee.

I thank Dr. Harmon for his comments and the only "NO" vote on delaying the decision of my appointment to February.

Thomas A. Deakins
Knox Count School Board Representative - District 6

FtnCity HAPPY's picture

No thanks to Mark Harmon fron the 2nd District

Mark I am in the 2nd District. We have you and only you representing us on Commission and for you to abstain from last nights vote was on the mayors issue was a slap in the face. Like it was said before grow some balls and do what you are elected to do. Vote for the people in your district that voted for you.

I do not care how you would have voted on this just give us a voice that is why you are there.

Joe Taylor's picture


More I think about Mark Harmon and Phil Ballard abstaining on the vote to cancel Ragsdale spending account the more upset I am... here is the problem... not only did the 4th district have no commissioner representing the citizens of the 4th district... the 2nd and the 6th district did not have anyone represent them when Harmon and Ballard abstained...

Why would they abstain is the question... only reason I can think as to why a commissioner should ever abstain is to avoid voting on any items which is a direct conflict to that commissioner....

Why did Harmon and Ballard abstain... do they owe Ragsdale... have there been favors passed between Ragsdale and Harmon and Ballard... I want answers...

It is bad enough that the 4th district has no representative... but for Harmon and Ballard to abstain and cause two additional districts to have no voice is very troubling…

Johnny Ringo's picture

One other solution

One Commissioner noted that my appointment would equal 10 members and possibly result in a tie vote. I have to laugh at that comment. The solution to this problem is very simple as the Commission can add one more person or remove one of the elected officials.

Another solution would be to follow the general teaching of Robert's Rules of Order and have the Chairman of the committee abstain from voting except where necessary to break a tie.

jwlknox's picture

Public employees serving

With a little research you can find that banning government employees from holding office is only legal if they hold office in the governmental entity in which they work. For example, the city of knoxville forbids city employees from holding city office, but they cannot keep them from holding county or state office.

rikki's picture

Also, such laws prevent

Also, such laws prevent employees from holding a public office and a paid job at the same time, not from running for office. In other words, you can run, but if you win, you must resign from your job to serve in office. The proposal before the commission would force people to resign simply to declare their candidacy.

It is not even clear what problem this proposal is intended to solve. Preventing a school teacher from running for county commission serves no purpose I can discern. The only rationale offered last night was 'the people want it, so it must be good.' This is just the rudderless paddling because it gives them something to do.

The actual problem, county offices turning into de facto campaign headquarters, is not addressed by this proposal.

Bird_dog's picture

I wonder if the rank and file employees could even do this?

Aside from the conflicts of interest, potential abuse, and special interests that might exist, how is it that you can work full-time and still have the time and flexibility to be a "part-time" County commissioner, for example. Salaried administrators could take liberties with their responsibilities, but what about an elementary school teacher - or custodian. Do you think they are allowed to hold another part-time job that conflicts with their "day job" and still get paid? Or an entry-level deputy, clerk, secretary?

This is not like jury duty.

R. Neal's picture

The proposal before the

The proposal before the commission would force people to resign simply to declare their candidacy.

You sure about that? (I couldn't watch the meeting.) If that's the case, then I agree it's a B.S. solution.

As mentioned previously, I have no problem with a law that says county employees can't also hold elected office. But they shouldn't have to resign to seek it.

Also, I thought the original proposal by the One Question people was for an ethics policy, not an ordinance. Did it morph and I missed it?

rikki's picture

I'm not sure, but the debate

I'm not sure, but the debate last night sure made it sound like the proposal would prevent county employees from running, not just from holding office. I am assuming the debate was relevant to matter at hand, which is not a good assumption with this cast of characters.

They were voting on putting the question on the August ballot as a referendum (it failed 5-5, I believe), so it certainly would hold more weight than an ethics policy.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Below is a recap of other local, state, and federal instruction prohibiting employees of various government entities from serving on the legislative bodies and/or elected boards of those same governments.

• City of Knoxville, with regard to service on the Knoxville City Council (City Charter, Article IV, Section 40): “No person shall be eligible to serve in the office of councilmember who holds any other elective public office or who is a City of Knoxville employee (and) any councilmember who shall cease to possess any of the qualifications herein enumerated shall forthwith forfeit the office.”
• Knox County, with regard to service on the Knox County School Board (County Charter, Article V, Section 5.01): “No member of the Commission or any other public official or employee of the Board of Education shall be eligible for appointment or election to the Board of Education.”
• State of Tennessee, with regard to service in the state Senate or House of Representatives (Tennessee Constitution, Article II, Section 26): “No judge of any court of law or equity, secretary of state, attorney general, register, clerk of any Court of Record, or person holding any office under the authority of the United States shall have a seat in the General Assembly; nor shall any person in this state hold more than one lucrative office at the same time...” (Note: Per legal staff with the State Election Commission, legal precedent exists for defining “lucrative office” to include state employees.)
• United States of America, with regard to service in the U. S. Senate or House of Representatives (United States Constitution, Article I, Section 6, Item 2): “No senator or representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time, and no person holding any office under the United States shall be a member of either house during his continuance of office.”

In contrast, a single statute exists in state law to condone the practice (TCA 5-5-102), which reads as follows:

• “Notwithstanding any provision of the law to the contrary, any county employee, otherwise qualified to serve as a member of the county legislative body, shall not be disqualified from such legislative office by reason of being a county employee.”

On January 12, 2007, the Tennessee Supreme Court opined in Jordan vs. Knox County that, by virtue of our status as a home rule county, Knox County can change the executive and legislative structure of its government in any way that a majority of voters approve in referendum.

Yes, Randy, it is the intention of Knox Charter Petition to enact a county ordinance barring all county employees from service on commission. See (link...).

Bbeanster's picture

I have a hard time

I have a hard time justifying treating teachers in the same way as, say, an employee of a sitting trustee or tax assessor or clerk who gets hired for some made-up job. Watching Lumpy denigrate Tony Norman for being a teacher was nauseating.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Appropriations vs. Allocations

Generally speaking, the concern that arose in Knox County, One Question focus groups last summer was one of commissioners who were also county employees voting on budgets for the departments employing them.

WRT to the proposal of Knox Charter Petition (KCOQ's successor) to exempt all county employees, including school system employees, from commission service, some school system folk I've spoken with are objecting. They point out that commission sets their total budget, but does not address how that total budget is allocated among line-items.

Personally, I'm not sure I'm persuaded by that distinction. It seems to me to be hair-splitting that isn't particularly relevant. Apparently, a majority of folks whose comments were compiled in the Baker Report agreed.

(And surely it goes without saying that Tony Norman is my hero, too. Glad he chose to retire, tho.)

Bbeanster's picture

What if Tony Norman hadn't

What if Tony Norman hadn't had the means to retire? Should he have been forced to make that choice? I think this is an extreme over-reaction.

rikki's picture

threat level off-white

I'm not at all happy that West High students were deprived of an outstanding teacher. What was Norman going to do? Use his one vote among 19 to battle for some marginal bump in the school budget, then pray the School Board translates it into teacher salaries, then dance around at Burger King because he can now afford large fries instead of regular?

rikki's picture

So the proposal bars

So the proposal bars service, not candidacy. That is more reasonable, but I'm still not sure what the point is. Of all the instances of conflicts of interest or abuse of office I can think of, few involve county employees acquiring or exercising elected power.

jibthe3rd's picture


commissioners are suppose to represent their district...this basically means citizens are voting by proxy and they do expect a vote to be cast...abstaining suggest that you are trying to stay out of it for personal reasons....it only leaves the citizens to come to their own conclusion as to why you are not voting....and it also leaves them without a voice....

Anonymous's picture

Not sure about these

Not sure about these reformers. If this made sense why does it take so many words to explain. Just sounds like a way to take people out of serving. I dont like it.

Bbeanster's picture

Awww, don't pick on

Awww, don't pick on Hornback. He's pitiful -- kinda like a jackass in a hailstorm not knowing where to turn or able to figure out which side to pick. He's been a Ragsdale suckup for the longest time, but he's a Scoobie suckup too, and the situation is becoming incredibly ugly. A GOP civil war. If the Hutchison faction wins out, he'll drop Ragsdale like he did Fred Thompson. I'm thinking that must keep MRR up nights.

Anonymous's picture

Thank you. I am a uniter not

Thank you. I am a uniter not a divider.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Not sure I understand the apparent lack of support here for barring all county employees from service on county commission.

And Anonymous, I shared the long-winded "context" post to indicate that our current practice of allowing these employees to serve is contrary to the practice of every other level of government--local, state, and federal. It's an anomoly.

(As to the length of that post, don't shoot the messenger. All I did was cut and paste the statutes/constitutional phrasing; I didn't write them.)

Rachel's picture

I support the idea of

I support the idea of barring county employees from serving on (but not for running for) Commission. This policy seems to work well in the City, and I think it would restore some trust in County govt.

My only reservation is teachers. I suppose legally they would have to be treated like other county employees, but somehow they seem different. Not exactly sure why.

jbr's picture

So the city does not allow

So the city does not allow teachers to serve?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Consolidated school system

jbr, since the city and county school systems consolidated (1987?), all teachers are county teachers.

I suppose the city allows county teachers to serve on council, though, since they wouldn't be voting on county school budgets.

But take a close look at that "context" post of mine above. You'll see that none of these entities, local/state/fed, allow this "double-dipping" practice.

Bbeanster's picture

Teachers are not banned from serving in the General Assembly

Despite the obvious logistical problems of being in two places at once, here have been teachers serving in the state legislature for as long as I can remember. Maria Peroulas, for example, was a teacher and after she was elected, was assigned to some administrative job that allowed her to be in Nashville during the winter.

rikki's picture

allowing these employees to

allowing these employees to serve is contrary to the practice of every other level of government

Perhaps there is a reason for that. Counties have a lot more employees, relatively speaking, including school teachers, librarians, clerks, etc., so an exclusion at the county level affects a much bigger chunk of the citizenry. Also, county budgets are smaller, so there is less temptation and opportunity for corruption.

School system employees are already precluded from serving on the school board, so keeping them off commission is pointless.

You say you don't understand the opposition to the idea, but you have not explained what problem it is intended to fix. Consistency with higher levels of government? Why should we want that? Different levels of government have different powers. Give me an example of how a county employee might abuse a commission seat.

reform4's picture

Non-budgetary allocations and appointments

The two biggest issues would be non-budgeted allocations (e.g., additional funding to the office the commissioner works for which, depending on their position/level, they would get to spend or might be rewarded by their boss for the extra money) and appointments of replacements for vacancies, where they might get to appoint their new boss, for which they could be handsomely rewarded, given the "perogative of the offficeholder" rules we have in place.

What we need are clear and strict conflict of interest rules. This alternative came up Monday, and Mark Harmon is going to take the lead in developing this. I already suggested some details from my 10-point reform plan (Link...check here for specifics). Read and see what you think. Would a proposal like this satisfy the concerns of both/all sides?

Fighting for Reform and Representation, Fourth District
Steve Drevik, Commission Seat 4-B

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Yes, Steve

Rikki, Steve's first paragraph states the problem exactly as I would have. We have recently seen Craig Leuhold's integrity questioned on just this point.

This proposed ban would protect the public against waste and abuse, of course, but it is also protective of commissioners, in that it negates the possibility that any commissioner could even be suspect of such charges. Checks and balances protect *both* parties, public and public officeholder.

But Steve, the only way I can think of that any conflict of interest policy could do the same is to require the recusal of any commissioner who is also a county employee. Again, that budget is a pretty important vote. I, for one, wouldn't care to be represented by someone who couldn't cast a vote on the matter.

(Gone to the Election Commission office now...)

mbradley's picture

I, for one, wouldn't care

I, for one, wouldn't care to be represented by someone who couldn't cast a vote on the matter.

That is, assuming you have the right and opportunity to vote for them to begin with, of course...

rikki's picture

First of all, Tamara, checks

First of all, Tamara, checks and balances exist between the three branches of government, and they are the product of oversight, not blanket prohibitions. Please stop abusing the term.

Secondly, you are both ignoring the fact that a commissioner is one of 19 votes. There are 18 checks against any attempt to abuse the 1/19 share of power. Conflict of interest guidelines are more than adequate to address the rare instances where such a conflict actually amounts to anything. Banning thousands from service is gross overkill.

The charge against Leuthold was pure opportunism. It makes no sense because commission has no control over the trustee's budget. This proposal is nothing but opportunism. It's a bone to throw voters in hopes of quieting them before they start demanding actual reforms aimed at actual problems, and it's a way for candidates and commissioners to pretend they are being responsive to voter anger without anything actually being at stake.

Bbeanster's picture

Rikki, I've got to say that

Rikki, I've got to say that the record is replete with fee office holders and other elected officials trying to control outcomes by leaning on employee/County Commissioners to vote a certain way. The courthouse is a favor machine. Mike Lowe certainly leaned on Leuthold when it suited him. And the rift between property assessor candidate/commissioner Phil Ballard and sitting property assessor John Whitehead had an unusual amount of light shed on it (Ballard was expected to vote the way Whitehead's son-in-law Scoobie Moore wanted him to vote on some issues, and lost Whitehead's support when he didn't vote the "right" way).
Last spring, we saw KCSO employee Lee Tramel sitting on commission voting himself a big, fat pension. KCSO collected commissioners like I used to collect Fiesta wear.

I do think that teachers are in a special category, though, and although a teacher/legislator could be expected to be a zealous defender of education, I see that as a very different thing than advancing the agenda of Tim Hutchison/Mike Lowe/Steve Hall, etc.

rikki's picture

KCSO collected commissioners

KCSO collected commissioners like I used to collect Fiesta wear.

Certainly, but this was not done by stacking the commission with deputies. It was done through Hutchison's influence over campaign donors and Republican partisans. None of that would be impacted by this look-busy measure.

Tramel was not elected, of course, and a ban against county employees being appointed to commission might make sense. A ban against relatives of county politicians being appointed or hired might make sense. A conflict-of-interest guideline dictating that someone like Tramel recuse himself from something like the pension vote makes sense. Wasn't the pension put before the voters as a referendum anyway?

There are real problems with county governance, and this is a proposal that does nothing about them and wipes out a huge pool of qualified potential candidates while getting that nothing done.

reform4's picture

Budget Exception

In my proposal (check the link) an exception is carved out for the annual budget. Yes, it's the one chance for a commissioner/employee to vote in favor of something affecting his office, but any particular office would be an insignificantly small part of the overall budget, and individual commissioners don't write the budget, so having the budget as a special exception is a reasonable concession to resolve 99.9% of the other conflicts that exist.

Again, I think it's a proposal that would resolve a lot of issues without getting us into a disenfranchisement argument. Thus, it's a passable proposal.

Fighting for Reform and Representation, Fourth District
Steve Drevik, Commission Seat 4-B

Anonymous's picture

So Shepard says we cant

So Shepard says we cant trust 12,000 county workers to be on commission. Why should we trust her?

KC's picture

I think deciding who should

I think deciding who should serve on commission or council is best left in the hands of the voters.

If there's a conflict of interest, the commissioner or council person should recuse him or herself.

As much as people preach on here about legislating morality on a state or national level, they seem to be eager to do it locally.

mbradley's picture

County Commission as a full time job

If the county is going to exclude employees from serving, the commission needs to be a full time job with a full time salary. That way an employee can decide to run and if elected they can still pay the mortgage.

Of course, that kind of move would also favor a smaller legislative body in an attempt to lower overhead.

Set a salary and disclose it. Base it on the starting salary of a school teacher or a patrol officer. None of this per diem stuff like the General Assembly.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Betty: No, I can't see any conflict in teachers serving in the state legislature, either. Teachers aren't employees of the state, so they're not presuming to vote on the budgets of their own employers.

Anonymous: The issue here isn't trust, it's checks and balances of the sort that exist at every other level of government--local, state, and federal. Why should the same checks and balances not exist on county commission?

Gary: Why would county residents knowingly chose a governmental structure that meant county employees would either vote on their own employer's budget OR have to exempt themselves from that very important consideration? There are other structural options, as in the one chosen by every other level of government.

mbradley: Is there some reason that this hypothetical county commissioner must either work for the county or be unemployed? Is he that unemployable, that no one else would hire him?

Sheesh. You've heard the logic behind the proposal, so I could only repeat what I've already explained. I'm done.

Bbeanster's picture

Tamara, legislators have

Tamara, legislators have input on and vote on the governor's education package, as well as the funding "formula" that LEAs base their budgets on.

I will never vote to ban teachers from serving on legislative bodies on any level.

Bidnsman's picture


Lumpy Lamberrt is the most embarrassing, useless, problem generating County Commissioner ever in Knox County. If you looked in the dictionary under “Dumb Redneck” you would see a picture of Lumpy. Why is the News Sentinel so taken with Lumpy that they put him on the front page every week. I just hope the voters in his district have the good sense to send him back home.

KC's picture

Why would county residents

Why would county residents knowingly chose a governmental structure that meant county employees would either vote on their own employer's budget OR have to exempt themselves from that very important consideration?

Why did voters keep returning term limited officials to office? I don't know.

But now it seems like people are setting up litmus tests for the reasons why people vote the way they do, and if those reasons don't make sense to the powers-that-be, then we need to restrict the rights of voters concerning who they may choose, or not choose, to serve in office. That's a little scary.

Bird_dog's picture


did voters keep returning term-limited officials to office?

The power of the incumbency; running campaigns from the office; and we didn't know there were such serious abuses until Jan 31.

Anonymously Nine's picture

You've heard the logic

You've heard the logic behind the proposal, so I could only repeat what I've already explained. I'm done.

Is that a promise? "War and Peace" has less words than your posts on why teachers can't be trusted to be on Commission.

I was wrong, you are not the Maya Angelou of quibble, you are the Stephen King of quibble. It just never ends.

KC's picture

I do think that teachers are

I do think that teachers are in a special category, though, and although a teacher/legislator could be expected to be a zealous defender of education, I see that as a very different thing than advancing the agenda of Tim Hutchison/Mike Lowe/Steve Hall, etc.

While I don't believe county workers should be kept from serving on commission, it's a sheer fantasy that teachers and administrators are apolitical, and anyone who knows 10 per cent of what goes on in the AJ building downtown should know that.

RayCapps's picture

No one sitting on the

No one sitting on the commission should be allowed to vote on any issue affecting a department which employes them. Whether that is achieved by recusal or a blanket ban on county employees sitting on commission matters not one whit to me.

What I think would be far more effective at stopping some of the payroll padding, nepotism, special favors, etc. would be to establish a proper civil service code. Positions ought to be filled by testing, seniority, and performance not by who you know. The military has been extremely successful weeding out promotions by favortism and the federal government generally has been more successful than what we see in Knox County. Patronage at taxpayer expense is what really burns my behind, not so much having a teacher or even a deputy sitting on the commission.

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