Monday, September 24, 2007

The Bolus affair

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the river of controversy that was the "meeting that shall live in infamy" on January 31 was the early swearing-in of newly-appointed Knox County Commissioner Charles Bolus. Bolus is a friend of Commission Chairman Scott Moore, and so it is widely reputed that Bolus was sworn in in order to cast the deciding vote for Lee Tramel in a process that appears to have been fixed:

Although the appointees named at the Jan. 31 meeting to replace term-limited officeholders were supposed to be sworn in as a group after the meeting, Bolus took his oath mid-meeting.

He then would be key to breaking a tie on a hotly contested 4th District seat in favor of sheriff’s employee Lee Tramel.

Moore talked on his cell phone to attorney John Valliant around the time that Bolus would have headed down a hallway to be sworn in.

Valliant met Bolus at the end of the hallway.

Bolus testified in Knox County Chancery Court [Friday] that he just decided on his own to be sworn in early.

In reporting these facts, the News-Sentinel ought to be clear with the reader as to the legal implications here, because those who are perusing the paper may not be aware of the fact that since he was appointed to fill a vacancy, Commissioner Bolus had the right to be sworn in immediately upon his appointment if he so chose. According to Bolus' testimony, this was the choice that he made.

The problem lies not with the fact that Bolus chose to be "sworn in early," but with the reality that others who were appointed did not opt to take their oaths of office with the same immediacy. To Lumpy Lambert's credit, he pointed out within that meeting that any other persons who had been given appointments to the Commission also had the right to be sworn in right away and to take their seats as Bolus had done. Just how clear was that made to the other appointees? Since they were all doubtless aware that Bolus would have the tie-breaking vote in the most contentious remaining vacancy that day, what was it that caused the other new appointees to eschew their duties until after that fateful meeting?

That is one question that absolutely needs to be answered.



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