Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The suit goes on

The Knoxville News-Sentinel's lawsuit against Knox County for violating the Tennessee Open Meetings Act may face a bench ruling as early as this morning, according to News-Sentinel editor Jack McElroy. As chronicled here, there is little doubt that both the Knox County Commission and Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale engaged in conduct that was unethical. It certainly violated the spirit of the Open Meetings Act, even if the Chancellor should find that it did not violate the letter of the law.

As it turns out, Chancellor Darryl Fansler has just ruled (as of about 10:30 AM) that the News-Sentinel's suit can continue:

Fansler ruled, however, that the act does not require any such quorum in order for a meeting between commissioners to violate the spirit of the law.

He set a trial date for Aug. 28.

Fansler's bench ruling could mean that the Knox County Commission is in big trouble, as judges generally do not issue bench rulings of this nature if they do not believe the suit itself not only has merit, but also has a reasonable chance of success.

In the same vein, the Knox County Ethics Committee has requested that District Attorney Randy Nichols investigate now-departed officials of Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale's office. What will these investigations (if they actually occur) reveal about Mike Ragsdale's knowledge of wrongdoing?

For once the KNS is performing the primary function of a community newspaper: The guardian of good government.



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