Friday, April 21, 2006

County Charter invalid?

Five of the twelve term-limited County Commissioners (including my own Commissioner David Collins) filed suit in Knox County Chancery Court Wednesday to have Chancellor John Weaver declare the Knox County Charter null and void. Not part of the charter, the entire charter.

Now, this is an obvious attempt by the term-limited Commissioners to get around the term limits referendum. To be fair to these particular five Commissioners, it is worth pointing out that the theory under which they are operating is based on one of Chancellor Weaver's previous opinions, namely the opinion in which he declared that the term-limited Commissioners could not be removed from the ballot in the May 2nd Primary.

Let us put aside my opinions on term limits for a moment (I am against them), if Chancellor Weaver rules the County Charter to be not constitutionally sound, what happens then? Clearly, we would return to the basic law for county governments as provided in the Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 5. Beyond that, however, what do we do? Do we call a convention after the Charter is ruled invalid to write an entirely new charter to put before the voters? If so, when do we call this gathering? When do we vote on the new document?

If the Commissioners' suit is successful, they will have opened an entirely new can of worms.


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