Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Scott Moore: Knox County Commission meeting=going to church

If you thought that Knox County Commission Chairman Scott Moore has been acting as though he were above the law, he didn't do himself any favors in correcting that impression by his courtroom testimony.

When asked, for instance, if he was aware that ex-commissioner Bee DeSelm had sued years ago to have term limits enforced in Knox County, Moore answered it this way:

“That’s great, but the citizens of Knox County continued to elect the people they chose to elect.”

They also voted in 1994 for term limits on county officials in a referendum. The county did not enforce the law based on an opinion (not a court decision) from the State Attorney General. As we have since learned from the Tennessee Supreme Court, they think that legal advice was a heaping pile of crap.

As a disclaimer, I ought to point out that I am no great proponent of term limits (as some conservatives are). For the most part, I think they cause vastly more problems than they solve-a subject I may broach in a future discussion. However, the people of Knox County voted for term limits, and the refusal of county officials to voluntarily enforce the referendum result is the root cause of all of the problems Knox County is presently facing-The News-Sentinel would do well to remind readers of this on a regular basis throughout this trial.

Moore was later asked if attorney John Valliant, who regularly lobbies the commission on behalf of developers, also represented commissioners who waged a legal battle to have the county’s charter and, therefore, term limits struck down. Moore did not answer directly, instead offering a critique of the state Supreme Court ruling that backed term limits, leading to a controversial Jan. 31 meeting at issue in the sunshine law case.

“How do we know they’re right?” Moore asked about the high-court justices. “We abide by their rulings. That doesn’t mean they’re right. It’s their opinion.”

While Moore is quite right that Tennessee Supreme Court Justices are not infallible and (in the past) have been known to issue rulings that seem to have a basis straight from the psych ward at Vanderbilt Hospital, when it comes to a matter such as whether a County Charter squares with the State Constitution-especially since there are only two such active documents in the State of Tennessee, I am inclined to think the Court's legal opinion is going to be a bit more well-informed than my own.

On refusing to allow commissioners or residents to speak during the Jan. 31 meeting, Moore said, “I go to church. I don’t talk during the service.”

Attending a meeting of the Knox County Commission is akin to visiting the Lord's House and attending Divine Service? Someone call a choir and an organist! Apparently, we all need to head down to the City-County Building in Knoxville so Preacher Moore can make sure we get blessed. Make sure and don't talk during the service, you hear?

On January 31, I believe some citizens and candidates wanted to stand up and testify. Can I get a witness from the congregation?

I will happily defend Chairman Moore's right to private telephone conversations with whomever he may choose. However, when it comes to denying citizens the right to speak at a public meeting while making decisions about who will represent them, his attitude wreaks of arrogance. That reality is very hard for the News-Sentinel to slant.



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