Friday, October 06, 2006

Let it all hang out

There has been some speculation about the nature of the call for an investigation into the Harber Affair in Knox County. Are there some who think that merely calling for an investigation will be enough to silence those of us who have spent a whole lot of time and energy beating the drum for this entire matter to be thoroughly examined. Of course, just bringing it to the floor isn't enough-for the Harber Affair to be resolved in an appropriate manner the Knox County Commission must investigate the matter with the power to subpoena evidence.

Gene Patterson is quite right that it will take 13 votes from the Commission to investigate with subpoena power. As of this morning it has been passed from several sources to The World that the Commission does not have those 13 votes, but it could have them in the coming days. That is why there may be a method to Greg "Lumpy" Lambert's madness. Lambert is telling the press that he believes Mike Ragsdale is innocent but that this investigation is needed in order to "clear people's good names." It is good logic, because if Mike Ragsdale, Mike Arms, and the rest of the County Mayor's office is innocent of any wrongdoing, they would want an investigation-so would Ragsdale's supporters on the County Commission and in the Knox County Republican apparatus. The reason that an innocent Team Ragsdale would welcome an investigation into the Harbergate Affair is because if Mike Ragsdale is innocent, he comes off smelling like a rose. If he and his supporters on the Knox County Commission are intent on avoiding an investigation, it appears that they may have quite a bit to hide.

For the record, Mike Ragsdale has denied any wrongdoing in a very public way, as he appeared on Tennessee This Week and broke a lengthy silence about the Harber Affair. President Nixon also denied wrongdoing in the Watergate Affair, but when the matter was actually investigated the truth of that denial became far less clear.

It is quite understandable that there are a lot of folks that want to give the Mayor the benefit of the doubt, but if Mike Ragsdale is truly innocent the investigation will bear that reality out. A lot of people have asked me why I am still interested in Knox County politics even though I now live in Jefferson County. It is simple-Mike Ragsdale wants to be our Governor one day, and Tennesseans need to know whether this man is worthy of the office. Mike Ragsdale has been accused of using his agents-one of which was Tyler Harber-to launch political hit jobs against people who were opposed to him or his programs. These hit jobs are alleged to have been accomplished in ways that are blatantly illegal, including (but not limited to) hacking into computers and/or reading private e-mails. These are tactics that make the Watergate plumbers look like quiet secretarial staff by comparison. What is even more despicable in a personal way is that many of these people are fellow Republicans who rightly opposed him on the wheel tax, and that is at least part of the reason that Mike Ragsdale is an unpopular man in many conservative circles in East Tennessee

If Ragsdale is found to have had any role at all in such activities, however small that roll might have been, the necessary steps should be taken to remove him from office post-haste. If Mayor Mike Ragsdale is indeed found to be completely innocent as he himself claims, then the man who would be Governor comes out of an investigation looking like such a good public servant that his enemies will do anything to destroy him. If Ragsdale has done nothing wrong, he not only has nothing to lose from an investigation, he has everything to gain politically.

I challenge Mayor Ragsdale to let East Tennesseans see and hear of his innocence, and let us judge the situation for ourselves. As an innocent man who has been falsely accused (and who wants to be Governor in 2010), not only should he embrace a full and complete investigation, it would speak volumes about his character if he openly encouraged commissioners to vote for the subpoena power so that his innocence (and the "personal vendetta" he alleges that his opposition has against him) might be proven for all to see.

Further, when these special hearings begin, let them be televised on T-SPAN government access all over East Tennessee so that the public can see just how badly an innocent man has been maligned. The major Knoxville television stations might consider airing large portions of the hearings each day so that the maximum number of citizens can be made aware of this terrible miscarriage of justice. Let us have Harber in the morning, Harber in the evening, Harber at suppertime. When everything is finally aired in the open, then the people can determine who they believe.

Then again, if the Mayor is innocent and his supporters on the Commission do not join other Commissioners in voting for subpoena power, then reasonable people must then be forced to ask: What are innocent people hiding from?



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