The fallout from the state Supreme Court ruling is a mess. It is throwing the Knox County election into turmoil and threatening the integrity of the commission. On the other hand, we are talking about a rubber-stamp legislative body...
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whose members seem more concerned with guarding each other's backs than with making good choices based on informed deliberation. Several of the commissioners impacted by this ruling went along with Paul Pinkston's mathematically inept analysis of the sale of the old South High building, a mistake that will cost the county at least $200,000 plus the missed opportunity for a responsible development project in a neighborhood that welcomed the investment.
Nonetheless, the temptation to disregard county commission as already broken must be resisted. This mess is primarily the responsibility of the Supreme Court for handing down a poorly timed decision without any remedy or recommendation for applying it to the real world. The justices have been negligent. Responsibility also lies with Mike Moyers, the county law director, and his predecessor for valuing the opinion of the state attorney general ahead of the expressed will of the voters he serves and not forcing a formal court ruling long ago.
Figuring out who to blame solves little, however, and it seems to me we have precedent of some sort in the decision that came down when Knoxville instituted term limits. It was decided that terms would be counted from that day forward, so sitting city officeholders were all defined to be serving the first of two terms regardless of how many terms they had actually served. That would suggest that we do the same in this instance. All current county commissioners should be declared to be in their first term and eligible for one more election, and we can proceed with this year's votes as planned and avoid the chaos.
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