Fri
Mar 31 2006
03:51 pm

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...

More after the jump

 

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.

 

Topics:
262
like
Blake's picture

Why so worked up?

I think this is a bit overblown. What remedies did the TN Supreme Court need to give everyone? Term limits are constitutional...what else needs to be added? Sure, it's an election year, and the filing deadlines are not that far away (I'm assuming so for Knox...not sure though)...but are you *that* afraid that your local government is going to collapse? Are you *that* afraid that capable people won't be running for these offices? They can, I assume, extend the filing deadlines, right?

 I'm also not understanding where R is coming from when he said, "Unbelievable. It no longer appears there is government in Knox County by the people, for the people. It's government by the powers that be, for the powers that be."

What "powers that be?" The powers that be are the ones who are getting booted off the ballot. Or one would think.

This is far from anarchy. Don't get too worked up about it.  :)

R. Neal's picture

Just checking in between

Just checking in between copying/restoring files, but I couldn't let this pass.

Blake, if you read what I wrote, the "unbelievable" was in reference to the fact that a) term-limits were voted in overwhelmingly by Knox County voters 12 years ago, b) the Knox County Election Commission (nor the voters, nor the candidates) has ever abided by them, c) the Knox County Election Commission nor the County Law Director has ever asked for a definitive ruling, yet d) in the aftermath of a TN Supreme Court decision saying all of that was wrong for twleve years, the Election Commission now wants to ask "permission" from those affected to enforce the law.

And I don't think Rikki's assessment is overblown. I think it's an idea with merit and could help avoid total chaos. I'm just not sure what the legal precedent or authority would be. It would seem to require an amendment to the Knox County Charter. Which would take a referendum. Which there is no way could happen before May 2.

So, see, it really is approaching total chaos. Hell, even Victor Ashe is demanding a new ballot from Poland. How much more screwed up can an election get?

Rachel's picture

Well, it appears this is

Well, it appears this is more or less settled. The Election Commission has been advised that they do not have the authority to remove names from the ballot at this point. So all the names will stay on the ballot for the May 2 primary.

After the primary, however, if any of the incumbents win, they will be declared inelgible to appear on the ballot for the August general election. Their party will be allowed to choose a replacement candidate.

E.g., if Mary Lou Horner wins against the two Republicans running against her in the primary, she will be declared ineligible and the local Republican party will choose her replacement. It does NOT, btw, have to be one of the other two people running in the primary. The replacement will run against any D or I already on the ballot.

This basically means the party apparatus is going to end up choosing a bunch of Commissioners rather than the voters. But in essence that kind of happens now, so maybe it's never mind.

All of this assumes no successful law suits to the contrary. But the State Supreme Court was pretty damn clear (and unanimous), and its ruling is not subject to reconsideration.

Bean's picture

Don't worry, be happy--

Here's why:

You say "I think this is a bit overblown. What remedies did the TN Supreme Court need to give everyone? "

--The Supreme Court gave no "remedies" regarding the impending election.

"Term limits are constitutional...what else needs to be added? Sure, it's an election year, and the filing deadlines are not that far away (I'm assuming so for Knox...not sure though)...but are you *that* afraid that your local government is going to collapse?"  Are you *that* afraid that capable people won't be running for these offices? They can, I assume, extend the filing deadlines, right?"

--Yes, it is an election year, but aside from that, you are wrong on all counts. Filing deadlines are long since past. Election dates and deadlines are set by law and cannot be "extended."   

 "I'm also not understanding where R is coming from when he said, "Unbelievable. It no longer appears there is government in Knox County by the people, for the people. It's government by the powers that be, for the powers that be.

"What "powers that be?" The powers that be are the ones who are getting booted off the ballot. Or one would think."

--The powers that be are the party executive committee members who will choose the replacements for the egotistical incumbents, who are going to use this damned glitch in election law that denies anyone the right to remove their names from the ballot even though they cannot serve, to continue to campaign as though it were business as usual. And of course, working with those party regulars are the usual big money special interests that keep this body doing things like not passing storm water regs and looking the other way when big developers flout the law--

"This is far from anarchy. Don't get too worked up about it.  :)"

--So what if an election that should, by rights, be a victory for democracy is about to turn into a bonanza for party hackocracy and special interests, eh, Blake?

Car Guy's picture

Bean is right. If the Dirty

Bean is right. If the Dirty Dozen stay on the ballot (which apparently they are) and "win," they are not eligible to serve (that is, unless they file their own lawsuit using taxpayer funds to still try to still have a grip on power, and some are meeting with an attorney next week. So how do you feel getting to fund last gasp litigation to ignore the will of the voters and the Supreme Court?) .

But if everything holds up and these folks can no longer serve, but "win" their primary, these "winners" help get to hand pick their successor through the party caucus system. And how much say do you, the voter get? None. It's the ultimate backroom deal.

The only way to stop this hand picking of the successors is to vote for the opposition of the Dirty Dozen whenever possible.

Rachel's picture

I think Bean's and Carguy's

I think Bean's and Carguy's analyses are correct, and I'm none too happy about the seats being filled by party caucuces. As far as I can tell, however, that's the (most) legal way to do it. It's too, too bad this decision didn't come down before that filing deadline.

That said, I'm still happy with the decision itself. At least we'll only have to deal with these particular new bozos for 8 years, instead of an entire quarter century.

rikki's picture

why so kneejerk?

Instead of making dismissive assumptions, why don't you read one of the many articles RNeal linked to that discuss the particulars. The filing deadline passed several weeks ago. Early voting starts in two weeks. The timing on this decision is horrible.

And what is it about pointing out some of the problems with the decision and how it was handled, mentioning a precedent that could help resolve the situation and proposing a solution that minimizes the disruption that strikes you as "so worked up"? It seems to me you are the one going off half-cocked.

Car Guy's picture

Any chance we can get the

Any chance we can get the President to send in the National Guard to install a democracy?Laughing

Rachel's picture

Several of the commissioners

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.

Just so you know, the nine Commissioners who voted with Pinkston (it was a 10-8 vote) were Jordan, Harmon, Hammond, Moore, Horner, Cawood, Mills, McMillan, and Clark.  All but Harmon, Hammond and Moore are impacted by the Supreme Court decision.

 Strickland, Collins, Tindell, Moody, Schmid, Guthe, Leuthold, Griess voted to sell the building.  I believe Stephens did not vote.

 BTW, I hear some in the County are back to advocating a metal storage warehouse on the school site - the very same proposal that set off the movement to save the school almost 4 years ago.  Sigh.

Bill Young's picture

democrats

I am advocating the democrats do 3 things if an incumbent wins the primary & is not put on the general election ballot.1.Hold County Commission District Conventions.2.Only allow voters from those districts to vote.3.Allow everyone that voted in the County Commission District Democratic Primary to vote.In the 1st district,4yrs ago,1300 voted

Car Guy's picture

http://www.hallsnews.com/columns/bean.htm

Here's Betty Bean's column on the whole mess.

Word has it this afternoon that Shurf-suing Herb had a meeting with Bee Deselm and John Schmid and Schmid is joining the suit tomorrow to oust Tim Hutchison. Apparently Schmid turned down the opportunity to sue his cohorts on commission, instead going after Hutchison, but that in turn will pull in the other office holders such as Martha Phillips, Mike Lowe and Mike Padgett.

Also, Mary Lou Horner was MIA from discussing on live television at WBIR this morning the term limit issue. Despite being able to be at a banquet last night and campaiging there, she suddenly called WBIR at already 10 minutes into the airing of the live Inside Tennessee broadcast to say she couldn't come. Hmm....

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is used to make sure you are a human visitor and to prevent spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding.

TN Progressive

TN Politics

Local Media Blogs

Shopper Columns

Local News

News Sentinel

State News

Wire Reports

Site Statistics

Last 7 days:
  • Posts: 26
  • Comments: 540
  • Visits: 15,606
  • Pageviews: 42,482
Last 30 days:
  • Posts: 106
  • Comments: 1552
  • Visits: 46,611
  • Pageviews: 119,877

TN Progressive

Nearby:

Beyond:

At large: